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How to Apply for Jobs When You Already Have One

Job hunting when you’re unemployed is one of the most stressful things you'll ever do. You feel pressured to jump on the first opportunity you find just to have a paycheck rolling in. But what if you're job searching while you already have a job? It sounds great in theory, but there are considerable challenges that come along with job searching when you’re employed.


How do you make time to find a new position when you’re already working full-time hours? How can you manage to be subtle about your search when you're lying every time you sneak out of the office for an interview?  


These can be murky waters to navigate, but not impossible. People do it all the time—think about the last person to give their two weeks' notice at your company.


Find the Time

Time is precious, and that couldn't be more true than when you’re balancing a job search and working 40+ hours a week. The key is making use of every spare moment. Use your evenings and weekends to write cover letters, peruse listings, and submit applications. Head out to your favorite coffee shop on your lunch hour to respond to some emails. Adequately use any small pockets of free time and your search won’t feel quite as overwhelming. No, it won't be your favorite way to spend your downtime, but it will be worth it.


WARNING: Do not do anything job search-related while you’re in your current office—even if it’s a small task like printing your resume. Not only is it disrespectful and unethical, but it’ll also make you anxious. You don’t want to respond to an email about a phone interview while constantly peering over our shoulder waiting for your boss to come around the corner. Or worse, book a conference room at work to have the phone interview while you’re supposed to be working.


Scheduling Interviews

Oh, the challenge of subtly scheduling job interviews while you’re working full-time hours.


While you can’t always have total control over what time your interview happens, it’s best if you can aim for the beginning of the day, the end of the day, or your lunch hour. During those times, you’ll be able to ask for permission to arrive late, leave a little early, or take a longer lunch break—without raising too many red flags. Running out of the office randomly at 2 p.m. to head to the “dentist” for the third time that month will cause some suspicion.


To Use References or Not

Looking for a new job behind your current company’s back is usually enough to stir up some uneasy feelings—it’s simple to convince yourself that your employer will find out about your perceived disloyalty at any moment. And these fears are only amplified when you see the question: “May we contact your past and current employers?” on an application.


Keep in mind, you can decline to allow prospective employers to contact your existing job. (And they usually understand why you want to keep your search discreet.) So, don’t feel like you have to say yes and then freeze in fear every time you hear your boss’s phone ring. You're totally justified in saying no.


Location. Location. Location.

Job boards can be a convenient way to find a job listings that are right up your alley. However, be hesitant to use any ones that require you to post your resume. Why? Because recruiters or hiring managers at your current company also use those same job boards to find candidates. And, if they see that you recently posted an updated resume...alarms will sound!


There are plenty of great sites, such as Jobs2Careers, that don’t require this—as well as other tools, such as direct emails and LinkedIn—where you can job hunt discreetly. Just remember to turn off your activity when updating your LinkedIn profile so your connections don’t get notified of your profile updates.



Balancing your job search with your full-time job can be a lot to manage. But no matter how packed your schedule, it’s important that you remember that you still have to be committed to your current job.


Even if you absolutely loathe every aspect of your position and constantly dream of the day you’re finally able to bust out of there, you owe it to your employer to put in your all when you’re on the clock. After all, that’s what they pay you for.


Searching for a new job is always challenging and can become extra complicated when you need to do so while working full-time. Implement these tips, and you’re sure to make it through in one piece!

Last Updated: March 14, 2017
About the author

    Alexandra Hoeflicker

    Alex is a Tucson-raised, Austin-based brunch aficionado. She enjoys a solid cup of coffee and browsing used record stores.