Ever heard anyone say, “It’s easier to find a job when you already have one?” Well, there’s definitely some truth to that.
But I bet you’ve also heard people say, “Looking for a job is a full-time job,” and unfortunately, it often feels that way. In addition to the time you’re going to need to spend networking, getting your application materials in order, and actually applying, you’re also going to need to make time during normal business hours to go on interviews.
Assuming that simply walking out the office door and resurfacing in a few hours isn’t an option for you, let’s dive into some ways you can make this process a whole lot easier on yourself.
1. Schedule Interviews Early, Late, or During Lunch
As along as you remain generally flexible, there’s nothing wrong with letting your scheduler know your preferences in terms of times in the day to interview. For most people, it’s easier to ask to arrive to the office late, leave early, or take a long lunch versus leaving at a random time during the day. (If you’re really lucky, maybe you’ll even be able to schedule your interview at a time outside of your typical workday altogether.)
When the scheduler or interviewer reaches out to get something on the books, try saying something along the lines of: “If possible, around lunchtime or late afternoons would be best for me. If not, I am happy to work around your schedule.”
I’ve scheduled plenty of interviews during my time in recruiting, and I always thought that was a great and respectful approach.
2. Use Your Vacation and Personal Days
Don’t be afraid to take a full day off for an interview using your vacation or personal days. That’s what they’re there for—personal situations!
If you’re going to take this approach, make sure to give your manager a few days notice (e.g., “I’d like to take a personal day next Monday to take care of a few things”). Unless you have a big project or deliverable (or a really tough manager!), your request will probably be approved without much questioning.
It’s also a good idea to let the company you’re interviewing with know that you’ll be available throughout the day in the case it makes sense to meet with more than one person. Keep in mind that first round interviews will usually only be scheduled with one person, but for second or final rounds, it’s pretty common to meet with a few people at once. If you’re going to use a personal or vacation day, I’d recommend doing it for one of the later rounds to get the most bang for your buck.
3. Don’t Overschedule Yourself
Leaving the office early once or twice within a couple of weeks doesn’t usually set off alarm bells, but each company you seriously engage with could have you out of the office a few times—and that adds up.
That’s why it’s so important to be selective about the interviews you decide to go on (and the jobs you choose to apply for). The job search process takes so much time, and instead of going for quantity of applications, go for quality. Your time is precious and should be spent on the opportunities that really have the potential to be “the one.”
4. Don’t Give Unnecessary Hints
There are a few things people tend to do that make it pretty obvious that they’re interviewing. Wearing a suit on a day you’re saying you have a doctors appointment, for example? A pretty dead giveaway.
Another is sharing the news with your co-workers. Even though most of us have colleagues that blur the professional-personal lines (in a good way), your external job search is the type of thing that is best kept to yourself until the moment you decide to leave.
Lastly, even if you’re beyond ready to walk out that door, don’t mentally check out. Leaving a job on good terms will serve you will later in your career. If you’re leaving work to interview and are dropping the ball on your current tasks, it’s bound to blow your cover—not to mention leave a bad impression.