by Amy Gallo
Looking for a job while you already have one can be stressful, especially in the age of social media when privacy is scarce. You don't want to rock the boat at your current company but you want to find the next great opportunity. Should you tell your boss you're looking? How do you handle references? If you get an offer, is two weeks notice really enough? Since how you leave your current job can be as important to your career as how you perform in the next one, you need to know the answers to these questions.
What the Experts Say
The job market may be bleak, but that doesn't mean you're stuck. If you've heard rumors of layoffs or you've simply outgrown your current job, it's ok to look. Priscilla Claman, president of Career Strategies, Inc., a Boston-based firm offering career coaching and management services, says the job market is more active than most people think. "For some people it's truly terrible but I know plenty of people who are leaving jobs and finding jobs." Of course, searching for a job while trying to stay employed is tricky. But if you manage it skillfully, you'll be able to move on without burning bridges, strengthening your professional relationships in the process, says Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, a senior adviser at Egon Zehnder International and the author of Great People Decisions. Just follow these principles:
Do your homework
Fernández-Aráoz says that the first step to any job search is a thorough analysis of what you're good at and what you love to do. Get clear on what you're looking for in your next position. Then reality-check that with the market. Are there jobs out there that have the characteristics you're searching for? Do you have the right qualifications? To help you assess, turn to trusted advisors such as friends in your field or search consultants.
Consider internal options first
Once you know what you want, start your search inside your company. "In my experience, all too often people don't work enough on trying to redefine their job and career prospects with their current employer, and prematurely decide to start looking elsewhere," says Fernández-Aráoz. There may be internal opportunities that will satisfy your needs, such as reshaping your job, moving to another team, or taking on a special project. If opportunities are limited or you're certain you want out of the company, then take your search outside.
Keep it secret if necessary - More tips and complete HBR article