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Is the Best Time to Find a Job Really When You Have One?

You may have heard the saying “the best time to find a job is when you have one.” Is it true?

Yes! Having an updated resume at the ready, being involved in professional groups, browsing job opportunities on LinkedIn – these are all activities career experts advise should be done even when you’re not actively seeking a job change.

Why? Because, sometimes the best opportunities come along when you’re not looking.

Your Market Worth

The only way to ensure you are maximizing your internal opportunities with your current employer is to understand your external value in the marketplace. And that means measuring what you do and how you are compensated against people outside your company.

Many people feel they are underemployed and under compensated, but how can that be validated? How can you approach your boss about a raise and promotion if you haven’t done your research?

By taking the time to calculate your market worth, it will help you make smart and educated career decisions both at your current job and in the job market. Although not 100% accurate due to differing experience levels and geographies, salary tools from Indeed, LinkedIn, Glassdoor or PayScale can help baseline yourself against the competition.

Being Prepared

You could be employed at a great organization in a job you love, but you never know when something could happen. The company could get acquired; there could be a management change; your drug or device could not get approved. Stuff happens.

The best time to find a job is when you don’t need to. This is the time when you should write your resume and update your network. The worst time for these career activities is when you are under pressure and need to do them quickly.

It’s like selling a house. You’ll never get the maximum value for your home if you are desperate to sell it. The key is to prepare for the worst and hope for the best, not the other way around.

Powerful Candidates are Passive Candidates

Fair or not, the most powerful and attractive candidate is a passive candidate. Candidates typically fall into two main categories:

The first is people who are actively looking because they don’t have a job, or they don’t like the job they have. This is an active candidate – someone who is actively looking for a new job. It doesn’t mean they are desperate or need to accept the first opportunity that comes along, but they are in active job search mode.

The second are people who have jobs but are open minded to hearing about new opportunities – the passive candidate. These folks understand that the next step in any career should be seriously considered. Companies want to hire the passive candidate, often because there is less competition for them. When a candidate is an active job seeker, they may have many irons in the fire and that can lead to multiple offers. No company likes to go through an extensive search, multiple rounds of interviews and negotiation to be turned down for a competing offer. But, as a function of truly being passive, your dream job could pass you by if you are not open to new opportunities.

Career Growth vs Career Loyalty

Job hopping, or moving from position to position every year or so, was once considered taboo to hiring managers, but can also signal a job seeker was in pursuit of growth, advancement or entrepreneurship.

Similarly, career loyalty to one organization can be attractive to potential employers, but it can also be viewed as complacency, being risk averse, or a signal that nobody wanted to recruit you.

So, think about how long you’ve been with a company and your job. Consider what you learned and how it may affect your marketability. Then contemplate the best time to find a job – before you miss your window and have stayed too long.

Money, Money, Money

As your learning curve flattens, so does your earning potential. If you have been at a company for a while, you are not that much more valuable today than you were yesterday – your perceived value flattens over time. But when you are new, your value is high, and you are more valuable every day. The opportunity to affect your income increases during this time.

Even if you love your company, your colleagues and your work – even if you feel you are being paid fairly – it’s important that you take the time to calculate your worth, keep your network fresh, update your resume, and even consider other roles. If you decide to stay at your current job, it will be because you’ve weighed all your options. And if you decide to leave, it will be on your terms and only for the best opportunity.

Photo credit: Keira Burton from Pexels