How to Find a Job – Tips for a Successful Job Search

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Looking for a jobI'm officially looking for a job!
A couple of weeks ago, I talked about not being satisfied at work and I wondered if it was time for a career change. In that article, I wrote I was happy with my coworkers, had a reasonable salary, a good commute, and a few other positive key factors; everything was fine except the actual work…

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about not being satisfied at work and I wondered if it was time for a career change.

In that article, I wrote I was happy with my coworkers, had a reasonable salary, a good commute, and a few other positive key factors; everything was fine except the actual work I was doing.

Several months ago I reached a professional plateau in my current role, and I need a new challenge to continue to grow professionally and maintain my interest.

I have worked with my manager and his boss to find something within the company, and I’ve expressed my situation to them numerous times.

Unfortunately, there just isn’t anything within the company right now that will both meet my professional needs and align with the company’s needs. So, I have officially decided to begin my job search.

Why I’ve decided to move on. When I looked at these questions again and answered them truthfully, I didn’t like the answer I gave to some of them:

  • I do not feel like I’m continually growing and improving professionally.
  • My current position is a job, not a career (though my manager would say otherwise).
  • I’m not satisfied with my job duties; I believe I have more to offer.
  • I dread going to work and it is affecting my attitude outside of work.
  • Lack of Opportunity. This is the most important one for me. I am at a stage in my career where opportunity and growth are more important to me than the number on my paycheck. If I take advantage of the opportunity, the money will follow.

My plan for my job search. Obviously, I can’t go to my management and tell them I’m looking for a job. I also don’t plan on sharing this news with too many people I work with (the fewer the better!).

Over the next few days, weeks, or however long it takes, I will quietly begin looking at new companies and I will start making sure everything is in order at work – assignments completed, continuity books in order, etc.

I want to make this transition as smooth as possible for everyone involved.

How to Find a Job While You Are Already Employed

Here are a few tips I’ve learned regarding job hunting while employed:

Exhaust Internal Opportunities First

A new role within your company can give you a fresh perspective and rekindle your energy and appreciation for your career. Sometimes, though, there just isn’t anything available, or you need to get away from your company for other reasons.

I’ve clearly communicated my professional goals with my management team and exhausted all opportunities within my current role. I’ve requested more work, an internal transfer, and other professional changes.

There just isn’t anything available within my company right now. This has been going on for several months now, and a lack of opportunity and professional stagnation are two of the top signs it’s time for a new job.

Don’t Tell Management You Are Job Searching

Some people advocate 100% openness with your managers. In the case of job searching, I don’t.

You may be in line for a promotion or internal transfer only to have it snatched away the first time you mention you are thinking of leaving. Ironically, it may have been that promotion or internal transfer that convinced you to stay with your employer.

Communicate your desire for increased responsibilities, higher salary, different hours, or whatever you are looking for. But, don’t tell them you’re looking for a new job.

You might just be the first person out the door if your management thinks you’re leaving anyway. It just isn’t worth the risk.

However, if you’re suddenly laid off, there are strategic financial moves you can make to help supplement the temporary income loss. In this case, you could also research how and when you should file for unemployment benefits.

Be Discreet

Don’t talk about your job search with the receptionist, leave your resume at the office printer, or openly browse online job search engines, like Monster or Career Builder.

If you post your resume with these services, do so anonymously so your name doesn’t pop up if your current employer is researching new candidates.

It doesn’t take much to start a rumor, and once that rumor gets going, you may find yourself first on the chopping block if staff reductions hit.

Limit Use of Company Resources While Job Hunting

Many companies monitor computer use or have strict rules regarding the personal use of computers, telephones, printers, fax machines, or other resources.

The last thing you want is to get fired because you were caught using company resources while trying to get a job somewhere else. Do your job search from home during the evenings and weekends.

If you’re resigning from your job in the near future, you’ll also want to consider rolling your previous 401(k) assets into an IRA, among other options.

Schedule Interviews Wisely

The best time of day to schedule an interview is early in the morning, just before lunch, or near the end of the day.

These times make it easier to get away from work without arousing suspicion. If you need to, take a day off from work to take care of an interview.

You should also avoid scheduling phone interviews while you are at work – it is very easy to hear everything going on in a cubicle. If you need to, duck out to your car or go to a public place with a quiet atmosphere, such as a Starbucks or Panera Bread.

When you reach the end of your interview, remember verbal job offers are never set in stone. When it comes to job offers, make sure you get it in writing.

Dress Appropriately for Interviews – and Work

When you start interviewing, it is usually common to wear a suit and tie. However, many companies allow their workers to dress business casual.

If this is your case, don’t wear a suit and tie to work. At least don’t wear a jacket and tie. Bring them with you and stash them in the car.

Duck into a gas station or fast food restaurant on the way to your interview to arrange your tie. Or, you can tie your tie in the car using the review mirror, but it’s more difficult than it looks.

Discretion Above All

I know it seems like I recommend doing a lot of sneaking around, but that is not my intention.

You aren’t doing anything wrong by looking for another jobyou have to take responsibility for your career because no one else will.

Being discreet makes it easier to avoid rumors, keep your current job, and not burn any bridges in the process.

As long as you act professionally, you have nothing to worry about. Just remember that sometimes any job is better than no job.

Online Job Search Techniques to Avoid

It’s tough out there if you are looking for a job. While the Internet has made the job search a little bit easier, the use of technology isn’t fool-proof.

You can slip up just as much in the online job search as you can offline. And, when you mess up online, it’s extra-easy for a hiring manager to simply “trash” your resume or “delete” your email—without even giving it a second look.

That would be a disaster since you most likely spent hours writing an amazing resume.

As you begin your online job search, here are 5 techniques to avoid:

1. Mass Mail Your Resume

Email can be a great communication tool. However, mass mailing your resume—especially when it’s unsolicited—can be a huge waste of time and energy (and money, if you’ve paid for a service).

In some cases, the company may not even be hiring for a position. In other cases, a mass email of your resume indicates that you haven’t put thought into what you can offer the company.

Rather than blast a bunch of people with a generic resume, put some thought into where you are applying and what the employer is looking for.

2. Stick to the Major Job Sites

Sure, the big job search engines can provide hundreds — or thousands — of eligible job openings. But, it can be difficult to go through all of those jobs, and you will be among thousands of applicants.

In addition to visiting the big sites, look at niche job boards for specific careers and industries. You can also look on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and tap your social network. Here are some tips for using LinkedIn properly.

Finally, don’t assume that all job openings are even listed online. There is a hidden job market that relies upon word of mouth and recruiters to help fill job openings.

Even if you’ve already resigned from the working world, there are plenty of retirement jobs that can keep you busy while supplementing your current savings.

3. Use the Apply Online Option

Technology has made it simple to apply for a position online. Many job sites have the “apply online” option. Just click a button and get started.

Unfortunately, that is a good way to get lost in the crowd. All of those applications go to the same place, and it’s hard for an employer to distinguish between applicants.

Instead, check the listing to see if there is an email address for a specific person doing the hiring. Email your tailored cover letter and resume directly to that person, rather than using the provided form.

4. Neglect Your Social Media Profile

Your social media presence online is increasingly becoming an object of interest to potential employers. Pay attention to your privacy settings, and pay attention to images, status updates, and other postings.

Realize that Twitter and Tumblr, and even your blog or comments you make on other blogs, might be included in an online social media background.

There’s even a company that provides a social media background check to employers. If you look like a problem, you won’t be hired.

5. Limit Yourself to Your Last Job Description

The great thing about technology is that there are new careers available, and many opportunities and job descriptions that didn’t exist years ago.

Instead of limiting yourself to your last job description or your current career field, take some time to think about how your skills might translate to another career. You may even consider joining the air national guard or another military branch.

Many high-paying jobs don’t even require a college degree. This can help you broaden your search, and perhaps find a better fit in a new and exciting industry.

No matter what, make sure you learn how to evaluate a job offer before signing any paperwork, and take the necessary steps to prepare for sudden unemployment.

Check out what these bloggers have to say on job searching while employed:

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About Ryan Guina

Ryan Guina is the founder and editor of Cash Money Life. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over 6 years on active duty in the USAF and is a current member of the IL Air National Guard.

Ryan started Cash Money Life in 2007 after separating from active duty military service and has been writing about financial, small business, and military benefits topics since then. He also writes about military money topics and military and veterans benefits at The Military Wallet.

Ryan uses Personal Capital to track and manage his finances. Personal Capital is a free software program that allows him to track his net worth, balance his investment portfolio, track his income and expenses, and much more. You can open a free account here.

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  1. Nathan says

    Wow! I wish you the best of luck.

    You show integrity in your work, wrapping up your work so that it ends in a low-stress exit.

    I am just about finished living the same story. People and company are great (aside from the typical frustrations found in any company). Can’t say that I dread coming in each morning.

    Found the next job in my career and three weeks notice is served tomorrow. Have wound down reliance on my services (by training other people in subtle ways) at my current employer.

    Very exciting.

    All the best to you.

  2. FFB says

    Best of luck on your search! You’re in a position that allows you to keep looking until you find what you like.

  3. Ryan says

    Nathan, congratulations on finding a new position. That is very exciting and I wish you the best!

    I recently started training people on my tasks and involving other people whenever possible. There are a few tasks I perform that will involve a little more detailed training, but I can manage to do that after they find my replacement, assuming I find a new position! Thanks for the kind words and the best of luck to you in your new job!

    FFB, they say the best time to find a job is when you already have one! I’m hoping that this holds true for me! I’ll be sure to share updates. 🙂

  4. Laura says

    I’m on the job hunt as well. The main issue is the cost of living in our current area. the wages do not match the area’s cost of living. I enjoy my job and my coworkers, but it would be better to try out a different area.

    I wish you well on the job hunt. You have agood reason to look around.

  5. deepali says

    Good luck! I waffle about my job all the time. It’s great in all respects, but sometimes I just am not feeling the desk job. 🙂

  6. [email protected] says

    I’m with you on this. I’ve been looking for quite a while, and have been on several interviews, but nothing materialized that interested me

    I’ve worked though some executive recruiters but my industry (housing) is suffering right now. The MBA hasn’t helped either 🙁

    I’m still plugging along in the hopes that my current situation will change for the better. There’s a new guy coming up through the ranks that plays tennis with the CEO. All eyes are on him and he seems like someone I could enjoy working with. We shall see.

  7. Mrs. Micah says

    Good luck, Ryan. I hope you find something that doesn’t just pay the bills but fulfills you as well. 🙂

  8. Ryan says

    Laura, Good luck on your job search! I hope you find what you are looking for!

    deepali, I know what you mean. I used to work outdoors for a living. The elements could be rough at times, but the variety was nice. 🙂

    Ron, I wish you the best in your job search! Having an MBA with a lot of experience should get you in the door. You’ll find something. 🙂

    Mrs. Micah, that’s the goal. 😉

    Single Guy, Thanks. I’m hoping to find something soon. In the meantime, I am gainfully employed, so I have no true complaints.

  9. fathersez says

    All the best! I am sure you will go about this methodically.

    I am in the process of helping my daughters in their maiden job search.

    I look forward to hearing and learning from you on the steps you are taking.


  10. Brip Blap says

    Ryan, good luck. I’ll throw some cold water on things, though, by pointing out that if you have a good commute, good coworkers, decent pay, etc. you’re ahead of 90% of the population. I’m in a similar situation – my job bores me to tears, but it pays well, I like my coworkers, a “late night” for me is leaving at 6:00, and I seldom work 5-day weeks. I debate constantly whether the problem is my job – or me. I’m not sure (in my case) whether a change in jobs would be enough to excite me, or whether I’d really need a complete change in career. A change in career is a big change.

    I guess what I’m getting at is make sure you can make a big change, and don’t let yourself be constrained by things like commute, coworkers, pay, etc., because then you’re just switching for the sake of the 6-month honeymoon. I went through this mental battle recently and these days I’m trying to accept my job and developing my avocation (writing) instead.

    Now after all of that downbeat talk – good luck! 🙂

  11. Ryan says

    Brip Blap, Thanks for your viewpoint. I’ve looked at my situation from this perspective, and I realize I am lucky to have the position I do. My compensation is fair, and the commute and coworkers are what have kept me around this long. The issue I am facing is that not only is my job boring, but I am not growing professionally and there isn’t very much opportunity at my current company (and I’ve even tried to make opportunity and position myself for growth and more responsibility). I’m not planning on jumping on the first offer I receive just to leave. I plan on making sure the situation is one that satisfies most or all of my professional needs.

    Thankfully, I’ve got my avocation to fall back on as well. My blogs keep my very busy and give me the creative outlet I need. 🙂

  12. KMunoz says

    Good luck in the search! I look forward to reading about your job search while you still have one. I recently graduated from college and am at my first “real” job, and while I’m not planning on moving on for a year or two at least, it’d be very valuable information.

  13. Frugal Dad says

    Great advice! It’s hard to find a job if you don’t have one already, but doing so is a tightrope walk that could lead to burning some bridges if not done carefully. Your idea of pulling a Superman change on the way to your interview is a good one (too bad AT&T is doing away with phone booths).

  14. tom says

    Whether or not to tell your management depends on the relationship you have with them. I work for a huge corporation and had a good working relationship with my management. When my wife and I decided to move closer to the midwest/east coast (we were in Seattle), I told management of my decision and they said, we know people out that way, we’ll see what we can do for you. In the end, I found my new job on my own, but I don’t think it can hurt to be open with them (depending).

  15. Ryan says


    That’s a great point. In your situation, you may have been able to work an internal transfer to the location you wanted, ans maybe even have them pay for the move.

    My situation is a little different though. I have no desire to leave the local area at this time. Add to the fact they know I’ve been unhappy the last couple months, and I think it could end poorly for me if I told them my intentions.

    Thanks for the comment! 🙂

  16. Know The Ledge says

    I agree that the amount of information you tell your management will depend on your relationship with them. However, if you’re trying to move within your same company, your manager could potentially be a huge asset in getting you where you really want to go. You shouldn’t talk about leaving specifically, but definitely let them know that your current position is not aligning with your career goals anymore.

  17. Tom says

    Telling management that you are looking for other options can be great leverage to get a raise, promotion, or that internal transfer you are looking for.

    I think in most cases it is better to be open and honest.

  18. Ryan says

    Tom, it may be a good way to negotiate a raise or promotion, but it also may make management suspicious of your intentions or make them question your loyalty. I think a lot of it depends on your relationship and how secure you think your position is.

  19. Ace says

    See if you can get away with posting just your first name and initials for your surname. Then post a different number and email address from the database in your work. Definitely stay low key as using their resources will never reflect well on your own character.

  20. Somebody says

    Do you think that sending your CV to another company can pose risk? I mean, you don’t want your prospective employer to contact your current one, right? I’m working for a big international corporation, but I’m planning on going to an even bigger and even more international corporation in the long term. Should I be afraid of the latter contacting the former for some reason? Should I send an anonymous CV omitting any information which identifies me?

    • Ryan says

      There is always risk involved, so it’s up to you to try and mitigate that risk. Consider applying for a specific position at the company you wish to join, instead of just sending in your resume for any position you *might* be qualified for.

      Another way to go, and perhaps the best way, is to submit your resume to someone who already works there, and have them run it through their system or put it in front of someone who makes hiring decisions. That will increase your odds of getting an interview, and possibly getting hired. Be sure to let that person know you are currently employed and don’t wish your current employer to know you are looking at other options. They may check other references first, or hold off on contacting your employer altogether.

      I have never sent in an anonymous resume before, but I am assuming they would have some way of contacting you (otherwise it defeats the purpose)?

  21. NancyBeyond says

    I agree – I do the same thing. I learned a long time ago to always have an updated resume and to always be searching for the next job. In the past people would stay at companies for 30+ years but the world is different today. It doesn’t mean that you will actually leave your current company – just that you are prepared for all eventualities!

  22. Richard says

    Have you ever had that experience where you’re working in a job, a new vacancy arises because someone leaves, or is promoted or is simply created by a reshuffle and suddenly you get offered it?

    No interview. No formal discussions. Just a “would you be interested?”.

    If you applied for the job as an outside candidate you’d like have to send in a resume and covering letter. Wait for an interview. Do an interview, maybe with a presentation. Wait for the result. Maybe have a second interview and so on.

    But being on the inside opens up a whole host of possibilities and options generally not available (or even visible) to those on the outside.

    Therefore in my opinion a great networking idea to find a new job is to offer some of your time as a volunteer or a work placement. If you have somewhere in mind that you’d love to work, offer yourself to them free one day a week, or for a week while you’re on vacation from your other job.

    Soon enough you’ll not only figure out if you really *do* want to work there but you’ll get to know a lot of the team and will an obvious choice next time a vacancy comes up. I have even spoken to people who had a vacancy created specially for them after the employer discovered how great they were and didn’t want to risk losing them to a competitor.

  23. Eric Myers says

    Great article. Networking is certainly a key point to success, especially in today’s unforgiving market. It has never been easier than it is today with different social media tools. I recently put a QR code on my business card that allows members to scan my information into their phones and even if my information on my actual card changes the QR code can always be up to date. Amazing!

  24. krantcents says

    This is a situation where the business model changed! If you do not adapt, you lose big time. With minimum wage jobs getting hundreds of applicants, you need to distinguish yourself. The best way is to not use the old methods because you will be one of hundreds if not thousads applying.

  25. Chris says

    Regarding the job sites. I find that my alma mater has a useful site that is fairly specific to my location and skills. Also, I would recommend that anyone using niche sites or even craigslist be wary of anyone asking for credit reports or “background” checks that they pay for themselves. I’ve had friends who have paid these fees only to find out they were only distrustful marketers collecting the affiliate fees from the credit report providers.

  26. john says

    particularly point number 5. A friend of mine was a well paid accountant who quit to become an electrician and has never been happier. Before I was a financial adviser, I was an actor!

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