From The Archives: Job Searching For The Gainfully Employed

* Last week, we hosted a Virtual Career Fair for our subscribers. We heard from companies like General Assembly, Jopwell, Hustle, Chalk Schools, American Montessori Society, and Stash about their companies, the best parts about working there, and some of their open positions.

In honor of our Career Fair, we wanted to share one of our favorite posts from the archives about job hunting. This post, Job Searching For The Gainfully Employed, originally appeared on our site August, 2015.*

By: Melissa Iris Michael

Let’s face it, no one likes applying for jobs; it’s intimidating, labor-intensive, and tends to draw on our deepest insecurities-so obviously we only throw ourselves into the competitive fighting pits when we have to. But that’s also why the best time to look for jobs is when you don’t have to, while you're gainfully employed.

Of course people don’t always have that luxury. Unemployment can rear its ugly head at anytime and catch you off guard. Or you may find yourself in the other camp; you love your job so much, you couldn’t think about doing anything else. If you happen to be somewhere in the middle of this employment spectrum, then this post is for you.

Job searching is like peeing

When you have to pee you don’t usually wait until the last minute if you can help it. As soon as you have the urge, you start making your way to the bathroom, because once you wait until you really have to go, then you may wind up in a desperate situation.

In my professional life, I’ve applied for jobs under two general circumstances: 1) I was unemployed, or 2) I was incredibly unhappy with my job. This is the job equivalent of running to the bathroom when you really have to go. This time around I thought, why do a daunting task under dire circumstances? Why not start fishing now for when I’m hungry later?

Fishing for jobs is a win-win situation

I have a decent paying job in the public service. Over the past two years, I incrementally worked my way up the ladder to a respectable management position, but about six months ago decided to start looking to see what else was out there, just to scope it out.

I quickly discovered what we all pretty much know--you have to apply for a lot of jobs just to hear back from a handful, and those handfuls can take a really long time to follow up with you (even after you grand-slam your interview out of the park!) To my surprise my currently-employed-safety-net really helped take the edge off. I had some great interviews where it took weeks or months to hear back, but instead of obsessively checking my inbox and over-analyzing my interview answers, I was cool, calm and collected.

To date I have not yet accepted another position (I’ve had some close calls and some offers I declined), but throwing myself into the competitive fighting pit led me to believe this is a win-win situation no matter how it plays out:

At Worst

  • I’ve increased resiliency against petty office politics in my current job.
  • I’ve sharpened critical writing, communication and negotiation skills.
  • I’ve increased confidence knowing I am a competitive candidate.
  • I’ve expanded my professional network.

At Best

  • I will be offered a job that truly resonates with what I’m looking for.

Knowledge is power

Knowing what your professional possibilities are automatically puts in you a place of power. Let’s face it, no one likes applying for jobs, but why do a daunting task during a dire situation, if you can help it, do it during relatively blue skies, so you can stay on top of your game and remain in the drivers seat.