How do you do a job search while still employed with another company – without being unethical?

Conducting your job search while still employed has its advantages and drawbacks. If you are currently employed, you are not as pressured to find a new job at once because you still have a steady, continuous income.
In addition, companies like to get employees who are presently employed because it will be easier for them to conduct background checks. Recruiters are also convinced that the person they will be hiring knows the current trends in the industry. Especially when you are employed in a well-known company, recruiters tend to believe that you have the right skills and experiences suited for their available position.
However, if you are currently employed, the downside is that you do not have the luxury of time to do an intensive job hunt. It is certainly difficult to find a new job while still devoting your time to your current job. You are still being paid by your present employer, so it is deemed proper to still work to the best of your ability.
If you are currently employed and wish to look for a new job, make sure you do not do things that may just lead to your termination. Try as much as possible to maintain a good relationship with your boss and co-workers. Here are some tips for conducting your job search without being unethical:

  • Never use company computer to type your application form. Also, do not use company printer and paper to print your resume. It is also unethical to use your computer to do online job searches. Many companies monitor their employees’ internet and e-mail use; you will surely be found out. Some companies have rules on this matter, and you might be terminated if caught. 
  • Refrain from using company phone to follow up on your job application. This is so your co-workers and boss will not find out that you are applying for a job. As much as possible, be discreet.
  • Avoid applying for a company competitor. This is very risky. If found out, you might not only be terminated, but you might also be civilly or criminally charged. Almost all companies now have “non-compete” stipulations in their employment contracts. Usually too, your competitor company is not a good prospect, unless you really have a good trusting relationship with them. Some would just interview you to get classified information that may harm your present company. Others may fear that you are a “Trojan horse” sent by your firm. 
  • Never criticize your previous boss and co-workers. This will give the recruitment officer the impression that you will do the same thing to them, when you leave their company. Even if you are resentful, say positive things about your current company or, at least, keep quiet if you have nothing nice to say. 
  • Do not break company rules and regulations while applying for a new job. As much as possible, show that you are working hard. Avoid coming late, or frequent absences. You will need this to get a good reference from your boss. 
  • Never wear your company uniform during application (whether to submit your resume or requirements or to a job interview). This shows your lack of respect for your present employer. If you think this is of no import, you are sadly mistaken. People will conclude that you are too lazy to dress appropriately. Take the time to change your clothes to give a professional impression. 
  • Do not take too many days off. Try to schedule your interview early in the morning, or late in the afternoon so that you can still work productively for the day. 
  • Do not disregard termination policy. Your present company may have rules on resignation. Besides the company rules, the labor code mandates at least 30 days’ notice before the effectivity of your resignation. If you fail to serve your full notice, you might forfeit some or all your benefits.

Looking for greener pastures is a normal human urge. However, in our quest to improve our status we may forget the long-term consequences of our actions. Take your time to ponder not only if this is the right decision but also on the proper way to go about your hunt.
It is important to maintain your cordial relationship with your current boss and co-workers. You must never burn your bridges; you never know when you need your present contacts. Besides, if things did not work out too well, there is always the chance that you may want your old job back!
*Originally published by the Manila Bulletin. Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.
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