Job Hunting When You Have One

Looking for a job to replace the one you have now makes a lot of sense. When you’re looking at the postings out there, you aren’t as desperate as you might be were you not working at all. You can afford to be selective, choosing to put off applying to jobs that don’t fully interest you; jobs you might actually have applied to in your unemployed past.

This job you’re on the hunt for has to pay you more than what you’re making now, be more stimulating, more meaningful and more of a career than a job; any or all of these possibilities. It might have to be closer to home, closer to the cottage, perhaps nearer the person you’re dating, have benefits or growth opportunities etc. Your next job has to in your view, be better than the one you have now.

And there you have it, the reason for looking for some other job; you’re seeking something better than what you have at the present. Lest you think you’re the only one looking for work when you have a job, let me assure you there are a great number of people who job hunt while working.

If you’re out of work, or you’ve been out of work in the past, perhaps you can identify with the anxiety and desperation you’ve felt in past job interviews. The increased pressure to get a job and stop the financial bleeding of your resources. Maybe you remember telling people you’d do, “anything” too. Hopefully, now that you are actually working, you’ve dropped, “Anything” as a job you were willing and happy to do. When I hear people say that – and just yesterday I heard that from 3 people – it’s a sad message to hear. I’ve yet to find the person who will actually do anything by the way.

One problem of looking for a job when you have one is your level of motivation. Most employed people don’t work at getting a new job with the same vigor they’d apply if they were not working. So many skim a few job websites daily, maybe apply to the odd job every couple of weeks or more. You know, there are other things to do that seem like more of a priority. The out-of-work person is more focused, determined, desperate, hungry – take your pick of words.

The upside of looking for work is coming from a position of strength; as you’re already employed, an employer interested in your services has to present something better than what you have now if they truly want to pry you away. But don’t delude yourself into thinking that just by telling them your present circumstances they are going to open the vault and ask you to name your salary. That might be the case in movies or if you’re the potential CEO of a company, but for most of us, it’s just not the case. Still, there’s a reason applications often ask you to state your current employment status and present salary.

One thing you need to address is whether to tell your current employer you’re looking for another job or not. There are clear advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, you might work for an employer that doesn’t want you using company time and resources to look for work, send emails, go to interviews etc. Then again, some employers encourage their workforce to grow as individuals whether that means advancing internally or sincerely wishing them the best as they move on.

At some point you’ll need to inform your employer. Maybe when it’s down to you and one other person for a job and the potential employer wants to speak with your references. That call to your current employer might not go as well as you’d like if it blindsides them completely. Then again, you might be imagining the scene when you just walk in and announce your impending departure.

I’ve found that people who are looking elsewhere for jobs – for the most part – mentally check out to some degree. As they look for a future with another firm, they stop investing themselves 100% in the job they have at present. If you listen to their words, watch them in team meetings or as they go about their day, they just perform differently. That may be only logical, but your present employer isn’t paying you less as you invest less in them, so you’ve got a responsibility to still deliver on your responsibilities.

If you’re the kind of person who likes to share your thoughts, you might even want to confide in a colleague at work; someone you can trust with your plan to leave. If I can give you one piece of advice on this, be respectful of that person. You might be putting them in some emotional conflict and divided loyalty. Is that fair?

Hopefully you work for the kind of boss who promotes personal development; who wants to see you move up and yes, sometimes move on. These Supervisors invest in the people they work with and share your enthusiasm for something new. They are the kind of people who appreciate a heads up that you’re looking, and give you the time to go to interviews etc. By setting the right climate where you can share without fear, they can better plan ahead for your possible departure.

Good fortune with your search. How’s it going?


Quiting After You’ve Just Been Hired Might Be Good

I know I’ve been in this position myself, where I accepted a job offer from an employer on a Monday, and before I even started, called back two days later and quit. Why would I have done such a thing? Of more concern to some, why would I be about to tell others that there are times when this is the right thing to do?!

This very situation came up during last week with the daughter of a co-worker. The daughter is a bright girl – or young woman depending on your preference – all of eighteen years old. Having been asked to look over her resume and make some suggestions, I noticed she had exclusively had experience in the field of recreation. March break, summer camps, after school programs; it was all confined to working for a local municipal recreation organization.

One of the things I was impressed by, was that according to her mom, she felt the need to get some experience doing some other work, in a different field, because she was thinking that down the road, it would give her different skills and that would be helpful on a resume for something else. This then was one of the first things that impressed me. Building a diversity of skills is always a solid plan that can put anyone in a position to adapt to job markets, change fields with less stress, appeal to an employer in many circumstances, and gain some empathy for people in other lines of work.

To carry on, what she had done was applied to a few different restaurants as a Waitress, with her eye clearly on one in particular, and to hedge her bets, and because she needed income, she also applied at a Boys and Girls Club, which provides children and youth recreational activities. Well, you guessed it, the Boys and Girls Club called her up and offered her a position. This position would bring her immediate income, and having completed her high school credits but not quite ready to make the leap to University, she is taking the year to upgrade her marks, and is therefore again in high school in what some call, the Victory lap. Saving money for University while essentially maturing and figuring things out just a little more, so she is emotionally ready for the move to campus and everything that comes with it.

So the turmoil is now the reality of knowing she has a job (yeah!), but not the one she wants as her first choice (boo!), and if she gets offered a job as a Waitress (yeah!), she’ll have to quit the job she’s accepted (boo!). This is the emotional conflict she is experiencing which goes against her ethics of quitting something and leaving the employer without a staff member when they’ve been gracious enough to hire her. While some people might not have any conflict of ethics at all, I suggest this conflict bodes her well because it attests to her qualities of responsibility, loyalty and dependability. She doesn’t want to ruin her reputation in any of those areas, and of course leave the employer in the lurch.

Now at eighteen, and having got a job in a youth organization, one thing is guaranteed; the Boys and Girls Club will have numerous applications from other young people who will jump at the chance to take the job if they get a call offering them one. So while it’s frustrating for organizations such as this, they are prepared to deal with these situations, and do so in fact on a regular basis. Contrast this for example with an organization searching for a CEO who might have to restart a hiring campaign taking the better part of a year to source the right person. Hardly comparable.

So how do you quit and leave the least negative impact? First of all, if the job you really want is offered to you, you accept. For the immediate moment you now have two jobs, and of course school on a full-time basis. Not being able to carry such a load, you must drop one job, and in this case the one which you earlier accepted first. Good advice is to think of the Band-Aid removal process. Drag it out, and it pulls hairs with it, and there is a prolonged stinging as each individual hair causes pain. However, grab hold and pull it off quickly, and it’s a sharp pain immediately and it’s over just as fast.

Pick up the phone right away and talk with your Supervisor directly. Two options immediately come to mind; you say you opt to concentrate on your school work to upgrade your marks, or you lay it all out and say you had previously applied for several other jobs and one has presented itself that will give you skills in different areas, and allow you to put more away to pay for University. The first option might be sticky if the employer has dinner out one night and you are the Waitress, whereas the second choice is understandable.

The worst thing you can do is delay informing your Supervisor at the first job you accepted. This only delays the inevitable, prolongs your stress, and of course the employer is still in the dark. Make the call or go in to see them in person. This can be a very character-building exercise.

Why Competent People Quit

Would you believe that in this rather tough economic climate, I have now personally heard from no less than three people in the last two days who have quit their jobs? And I might add that in all three situations, these people are competent professionals who don’t quit employment easily or often.

So what’s going on out there? I know that all three individuals read my posts, and rest assured I won’t be giving away your identities or exposing you to the minions of the internet! However, there are some lessons to be learned and some truths to be exposed in all three situations. Perhaps in the interest of helping others without injuring those concerned, I can share and gloss over to some degree a little with you the reader.

All three situations have some relevant and critical features that link them together, but the most striking is that all three individuals elevated their concerns to the right people instead of just announcing that they were quitting out-of-the-blue. In other words, there was a chance in all three situations that by bringing attention to significant problems, all three might have retained their positions if change had come about. Unfortunately, no change of significance did happen, and the result is that all three made a personal decision to seek employment in other places.

In two of the three situations, the jobs that people quit were ones that they had recently accepted. Didn’t these two do their homework? Didn’t they know what they were walking into? The answer actually is that both did in fact do some research and the jobs they were promised and the situations they would work in differed from the ones presented by the employer at the interview stage. No amount of planning, research and preparation can prepare you for a job if the job itself morphs into something different, or there is a significant change in hours, the job description, the location etc.

In one of the situations, the person resigned from a job to take the new position, and after three weeks on the job, the employer actually cut the position itself but retained the employee, and created a new position that differed substantially from the position the person had agreed to take when leaving their former employer. The result in that case was that the person told me that they felt they were doomed to fail in the new position because they were honest enough to admit they didn’t have the skills required to perform that job at a high level. So rather than accept a higher salary for a short time and then get fired, they took the high road and resigned.

Another factor involved in one persons decision was the attitude of the person to whom the employee reported to. That’s a hard thing to gauge at an interview. In this situation there is a history of people accepting the job which she did and then the position becoming vacated and advertised for. Sooner or later I suspect but will never know, if those in more senior positions from that company don’t draw the conclusion that it isn’t the applicants that are the problem but the supervision they are receiving. Perhaps that’s where the change is needed.

I am very interested in staying connected with these three individuals. Aside from being competent employees with personal ethics, skills and self-motivation, they are all professionals. Each of them will, if they include the positions on their future resumes, have to explain why they resigned and opted to look for work elsewhere. What will they say? I can tell you that all three will refrain from bad-mouthing the previous employers while at the same time being honest.

The injustice is that when you leave a position for reasons that are entirely justified, you still have to hope and trust that the new employer you are being interviewed by believes your story. And this element of doubt; that, “You’ve got to believe me” feeling, is unfortunate. The reason? Well the employer doesn’t HAVE to believe you do they? There are some people out there who quit jobs for very poor reasons, and in those situations the employer is entirely in the right and the employee is the problem.

So from the view of the new employer, they have the unenviable job of discerning which of the two you are; the disgruntled applicant who quit with poor justification or the applicant who quit their last job for reasons that were entirely justified.

When speaking of why you resigned from a position, good general advice is to be honest, succinct and to keep calm and in control as you are speaking. Your answer or reply should also end on a positive note. Any feelings of anger, revenge, and although it’s a strong word – hate, should be reigned in. In fact, doing a mock interview with a professional to answer this one specific question is a good idea. The question, “Why did you leave your last position?” or possibly even, “How would you describe your previous employer?”

Crafting an answer that is honest, doesn’t belittle the previous employer, and shows your professionalism, ethics, reasoning and good judgement is going to serve you well.

When To Quit

In 2012, the reality is that there is an increasing number of people who are working, or looking for work. In addition to these people, there are always some who have tired of looking for work but are going to jump back in to the job hunt when they think there is a good chance of landing a job. So how dangerous is it to quit a job you have now, and hope you can get another without going for too long without one?

To answer this question, you have to know the answer to a few questions. How competitive the market is in YOUR field. When was the last time you saw a posting for the job you want now? If you can’t remember the last time you saw a position advertised that you would like to apply for, odds are because the people in that field are not moving, the field itself is downsizing, the position is becoming redundant, the demand for people is shrinking, and possibly of course, those in the job now are happy as can be and don’t want to leave.

If you are at the point where it’s time to move on, you’d be well advised to do several things BEFORE you quit your current job. Here’s some of those reasons to consider:

1) Update your resume. Don’t wait until you are actually out of work and feeling the pressure to get a job. You should update your resume everytime you attend new training, get a certificate, take on new responsibilities etc. If you have an HR department, ask for a copy of YOUR latest job posting.

2) Network the References. You’ll be needing the support of people like present Supervisors, co-workers, colleagues you work on projects and assignments with. Now is the time to go out of your way to demonstrate all those great qualities that you want them to say you have. Be co-operative and friendly, smile and work hard.

3) Put Out Feelers. Start using those contacts you’ve been building up and let people know you are interested in looking at growth opportunities. If you’re leaving the field entirely, the feelers you put out will be with those outside your industry perhaps, and if you are seeking a move to the competition, arrange a luncheon or two and in a subtle way, work into the conversation the status of the company; are they hriing?

4) Tell the Boss. Whoa! What! Are you kidding?! Only in some situations might you share your plans with your Supervisor and this is really dependent on the relationship you have with him or her. In the worst situations, you might find yourself let go but in the best situation, your boss willl appreciate the notice, and may even be in a position to allow you time to go to interviews, lessen your workload etc. Sure would be nice to go to an interview with your boss knowing instead of pretending you’ve (cough) come down with something.

Quitting is best done of course when you have another job to go to. This way you can actually plan a break of a week or two and mentally shift from one job to another. Answering the question, “What are you currently doing?” is easier if you have a job rather than stumbling over your unemployment. Saying you are between jobs, out of work, on Social Assistance or you took sometime to get in touch with your real inner self never sounds as good as, “I”m currently at (position)  in the capacity of a (position) and while it pays the bills, I have realized I would much rather use my skills working as a (position) and your company offers an opportunity to work with an established, stable organization whose goals, values and beliefs closely match those of my own.”

Now the one time you should walk away from an employer is when you are being harrassed physically, sexually or mentally. However, you should always address this problem with the employer and see what they are prepared to do about it. It may be something that the employer can remedy and you find yourself wanting to stay. No one should ever have to endure abusive behaviour. If you walk and the employer did nothing, report the situation to the Labour Board in your area if you have one.

When you decide to quit, THINK DOWN THE ROAD. You’ll have to have a solid answer to the question, “Why did you leave your last position?” You’ll want to answer the question truthfully but at the same time not paint the employer in a negative light, because the interviewer won’t really know if the employer was the problem or perhaps it was you. They aren’t there to see your situation so they don’t know if they can totally believe you or not now can they?

If you are one of those lucky people who tends to get hired whenever you go for an interview, be enlightened; those days are fading. Many people I personally work with tell me they always got hired if they got interviews but today they aren’t getting jobs and that’s a new experience for them. It’s a tough market out there.

Oh and if you are going to quit, first think the decision through at least overnight and preferably much longer. Don’t make a kneejerk decision and regret it. Start slowly but methodically taking your personal things home over time. Whatever you do, don’t steal from the employer! Your reputation is at stake.

The one thing about quitting is that it is empowering. For whatever reason, being able to say, “I’m quitting” can feel good. It feels even better of course if you can tell co-workers and your employer that you are not just quitting your current job, but you are going TO another position and be honest. If you’re lucky, they’ll have a potluck or maybe take you to lunch and wish you well. Now wouldn’t that be nice! ORDER THE STEAK IF YOU’RE NOT PAYING!