The unemployment rate in my state, as of 2018, is ridiculously low. People seem to think that means that everyone is happily employed, and companies are happy to have all the employees they need. Neither statement is true. What this really means is that companies are in a bad place because there aren't as many people available to hire as there is in a weaker economy.
What this means for people who are working is that there might be some excellent opportunities to change role and companies. In this article, I want to talk about things you'll need to consider when applying for a job when you already have one.
Use Caution at Your Current Job
The most important thing to remember is that the management at your current company might not be as excited as you are about new job opportunities. Because of that, it's best to be very careful about how you manage this job search. Assume that everything you do on your employer's time is monitored. This means you should be extremely careful and not use your work email for job search correspondence. Many companies monitor incoming and outgoing emails.
Also, don't surf job boards while at work and on your work computer, and if you need to make a job search-related call, make sure you do it in the privacy of your car, or somewhere that coworkers won't be able to hear the conversation.
Do not publicize on social channels (like LinkedIn or Facebook) that you are looking for a new job when you already have one. If you're at your current job and you know you're going to need a computer to do something for your new job search, go this route: bring your personal laptop to work, and at lunch, duck out to a restaurant or coffee shop, and do your new job search work there.
Be Mindful of Your Attire
I don't mean to sound paranoid but I'd even be careful to not wear interview attire to your current job if said attire is more dressed-up than normal. Showing up in dapper clothes when you normally dress down is a sign that something is up—that you're either coming from an interview for a new job, or have one lined up at lunchtime. Even if your employer has a liberal computer use policy (like, they let you watch Netflix at home after work), don't use it to do anything related to your job search, like write a resume or cover letter, or send out job search emails. Also, beware of applying to a job that doesn't mention a company, lest your cover letter and resume end up in your current boss's hands!
Note Your Need for Confidentiality
If you are applying for a job when you already have one it is totally appropriate to tell people you interact with that your job search is confidential. Every recruiter you talk to should understand and respect that. You should ask that everyone involved in the job opening not reach out to current employers, and be careful who they talk to because you are currently working and the search is confidential. Normally, requesting to not reach out to your employers would seem like a red flag, but most professionals should understand how sensitive this is.
I'm a big advocate of professional networking. You should do it when you are in transition, of course, but I hope that you take the time to take care of yourself even when you have a job. This comes in handy when you are applying for a job when you already have one. Your networking conversations don't have to change much. Of course, you aren't going to volunteer that you are looking for a job, or that you are interested in working at their company, especially if a coworker is with you. But you can certainly ask more pointed questions about their role, their company, or the industry.
You can start what almost sounds like an informational interview. If it were me, my objective would be to get to a point where I ask them to lunch or for an informational interview.
Final Thoughts on Applying for a Job When You Already Have One
Over the years I've managed quite a few employees, and I've lost some of them to other companies. While this is sometimes sad for me, I have always told these employees that they have to do what is best for their career and their family. Unfortunately, not every manager feels this way. Even if your manager doesn't truly value you, the thought of replacing a solid worker is a pain, especially in a good economy. Worse, sometimes a manager takes something like this personal. Doing a confidential job search is a tricky situation where you don't want to lose the income and position you have until you are sure you have the new job.
As long as you do your job search on your personal time with your personal tools (phone and computer), and don't take anything from your employer, you should be okay. Stress to the people you talk with at other companies that this job search is confidential, and use your position of employment to get you relevant networking opportunities. They say it's a lot easier to find a job when you have a job, so you have an advantage!