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Advice / Job Search / Networking

How to Job Hunt When You Can't Leave Your Job Yet

You hate your job and can’t wait to be anywhere else—except twist, you have to stay for at least a little while longer. Maybe the hours allow you to care for a sick loved one, that promotion you’re in line for will set you up to qualify for different roles, or that quarter-end bonus is going to help you finally get out of credit card debt.

So, right now, your job search is a lot of hurry-up and wait. You want to be ready the very moment you can start applying, but right now, you have to bide your time.

Here’s how to be proactive—and patient—so you can strike when it’s time:

1. Revamp Your Resume

When’s the last time you updated your resume? When you applied for your current role? If so, it’s time for an update.

Many people wait to revise materials until they’re about to submit a job application, because they want to customize them for each role. While tailoring your resume is an important step, it’s actually the second one you should take. The first—and often overlooked—one is to create a resume you can send anywhere.

It helps you in two ways. One, you’ll have a strong, current jumping off point when you are ready to customize it. And two, if someone asks you to simply “send on your resume” the moment you share that you’re looking, you’ll have something to ready to go.

2. Polish Your Personal Brand

Need yet another reason to set up a personal website, start publishing on LinkedIn, or take on some other brand-boosting activity you’ve been putting off?

When it’s actually time to pound the pavement and send in numerous applications, odds are you’ll be too busy to also build a personal site or write a blog post, too. Additionally, hiring managers are more impressed by actions over time than the appearance that you became interested in being a thought leader the day before you sent in your materials for that new job.

So, start publishing now, it’ll pay off when you have weeks (or months) of work to your credit.

3. Warm Up Your Network

Sure, you can’t ask for a referral yet; but you don’t want “Can you get me a job?” to be the first thing you say to someone after you’ve fallen out of touch anyhow. If it’s been a while, make an initial effort to reconnect by sending on an interesting article or a note to see how the other person is doing. Bonus: The holidays are a great excuse to get back in touch!

Keep in mind, you don’t want to jump from ghost to stalker. It’ll seem insincere (and slightly bizarre) if you go from no contact in three years to suddenly messaging that person at your dream company each week like you’re BFFs.

Additionally, you don’t want to wholly bury why you’re reaching out—at the risk of seeming like you’re leading them on. So, while you may not be ready to announce that you’ll be looking for a new job, you can mention that you’re interested in learning more about the other person’s industry or role, and ask if you could send on a few questions. This positions you perfectly to ask further questions (like insider tips for getting a job!) when you are ready to start your search.

When you don’t like your job, it’s understandable that you’d want to spend your free time on hobbies, and wait to job search until you can actually make a move. However, taking these actions now will help you hit the ground running when you are ready to look—so you land a new role that much faster once the time is right. Not to mention, they’ll help you stay sane, too, because while you’re still stuck at your job by day, by night you’re already preparing for that role of your dreams.

Photo of person job searching courtesy of Portra/Getty Images.