Creating a wish list can be a first step to exploring employment options while you still have a job.
Is your boss taking you for granted? Is business slowing around the office? You may not be ready to jump ship just yet, but you should start to explore other professional options. You need not engage in an all-out active job search. Rather, you can put out feelers in another way. Follow these five steps to start your passive job search:
Post Your Resume Online
The easiest way to begin exploring your professional possibilities is to post your resume. By doing so, you’re letting thousands of recruiters, human resources professionals and employment experts know what your unique qualifications are and that you’re interested in new opportunities.
Remember that your current employer might see your resume online, which may prompt your boss to give you a raise or a promotion if she’s worried you’re going to jump ship. But you can also post your resume confidentially.
Create an Employer Wish List
Even if you’re not ready to leave your current job yet, there are probably other employers in which you’re interested. Create a comprehensive list of these target employers. Research them and see if they show up on Fortune magazine’s popular “Best Companies to Work For” list. Then, find out if these companies employ people with your skill set.
Enlist Your Network
Now that you have a list of dream employers, make inquiries to people in your network. Lauren Milligan, owner of ResuMAYDAY, a career-management services firm, warns against being too casual when reaching out for assistance. “If you’re too casual, your network may not take your requests seriously,” she says.
Ask if they’ve ever worked for any of the companies, or if they know anyone who does. Request contacts (at any level) for each organization.
Harness the Power of Informational Interviews
Informational interviews are a powerful tool for the passive job seeker. Because you’re not formally in the market for a new job, employers may welcome the opportunity to speak with you, as there is less pressure on both parties.
Milligan says informational interviews are a great way for any job seeker to gauge how attractive a candidate he is. “Near the end of the interview, ask, ‘Do you mind looking at my resume?’ Ask your interviewer to tell you what it’s lacking so you can make yourself more marketable in your industry,” she says. Then, find a way to acquire those skills or experiences while you still have your current job, she says.
Whatever the immediate outcome of your search, continue to follow up with everyone in your network.
“Reach out and keep the people who’ve offered advice in the loop,” Milligan says. “If you’ve heeded it, drop them a note saying, ‘I’ve taken your advice and I just want you to know you’ve been a big part of my success.’ Or better yet, pick up the phone. Thanking someone ensures that they’ll be there for you the next time you need help.”
Conversely, if you know you want (and are now qualified for) a job at an informational interviewer’s company, Milligan says you should ask for one: “Contact the person and say, ‘I’ve done X, Y and Z. I would like to pursue a position at your company. Can I send you a resume?'” Don’t be afraid to be direct, she says. “You have to ask for the sale, so to speak,” she says. “People rely on other folks to reach out, but the person on the other end has her own agenda. It can be a real time-saver to just come out and ask for what you want.”