Respect your current employer when job hunting

In this turbulent marketplace, it’s no surprise that many people are scouting for new opportunities before their job hits the chopping block. If you’re one of them, here are some tactics to make sure you don’t jeopardize your current job in the process. Because your staff may be thinking along the same lines, you might also want to leave this article where they’ll find it.

Respect your current employer. Avoid using huge chunks of your workday for your search. It’s unfair to your current employer, and “[your prospective employer is] going to think less of you for dissing your current employer,” said Laurel Touby, founder and CEO of Inc., a media industry job-search Web site. Touby also warns against using company supplies, or searching the Internet at the office.

Be selective about the interviews you schedule. Don’t rush off too quickly to interviews. You may find you’ve wasted your time. An initial phone conversation off-hours is a sensible first step.

Plan on being discovered. “Accept the fact that your employer may find out,” said John A. Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., a Chicago-based outplacement company. Rehearse what you’ll say if your employer asks you about your job-search.

Allow time for the search. “You have to commit to this process as if it were a second job,” Touby said. Give yourself plenty of time to find the right position and expect it to take at least three to six months. “Don’t do it out of desperation. Do it before you need to.”

Network like crazy. “Social, professional and charity groups are filled with working people. Talk to everyone,” Challenger said. Touby suggests you establish “weak ties,” friends or associates of your own friends or associates. Distant connections can seem more credible as references for a job, she said.

Whatever else you do, Touby said, “don’t emphasize your weaknesses or the company’s problems,” she said. When the inevitable question comes about what went wrong on past jobs, remember, the real question is: What did you learn from the experience?