‘JT & Dale Talk Jobs’ is the largest nationally syndicated career advice column in the country and can be found at JTandDale.com.
Dear J.T. & Dale: I have been working for a small company since the fall. I know there is not a lot of growth in the company, so I want to start looking for other jobs. How can I do that when I have a full-time job? — Emily
J.T.: You start by making sure the time and energy you spend are quality-driven. Begin by getting as clear as possible on who you’d like to work for; ideally, you’ll create my favorite job-search tool: The Interview Bucket List. Identify at least 10 companies that do great things that impress you. Why do you need to be impressed? So you can sincerely explain why you are so interested in that company. Your next step is to find people who work at your target companies and reach out to them via a social-networking tool like LinkedIn or Twitter. Tell people about your list, and ask if you could interview them to learn more about how they succeeded in landing a job with the company. Stress to them you are NOT asking for a job, just information to help you prepare for the future. Be sure to schedule the calls outside normal office hours or on lunch breaks so you don’t have to worry about people hearing you.
Dale: But there’s the problem: trying to have normal conversations under abnormal circumstances. I remember being a young employee trying to have job-search conversations, hunching over with my head and shoulders practically under the desk, talking in a mumble-whisper. I realized later seeing someone in that posture ensures every other employee will work doubly hard to eavesdrop. So, Emily, here’s what I would suggest: Work at networking without openly looking for a job. Create a list of employers, but try to meet people from those companies at professional gatherings, or to get introductions via colleagues, and arrange coffee or lunch. None of this has to be seen as sneaking around — getting to know colleagues at other companies is a good way to get better at your current job.
J.T.: Still, you must make it clear to those new contacts you would love to work where they work. Do this consistently, and you will either (1) be recommended for a job, or (2) have enough information to apply for jobs in such a way it will increase your chances of being interviewed. As for your current management finding out…well, that might not be all bad — I’ve seen more than a few young professionals get sudden promotions when their companies learned they were looking elsewhere.
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm, JTODonnell.com, and of the career management blog, CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com.
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