When it’s time to look for other opportunities, there are definite rules of the road. You want to use all the resources you have to find just the right opportunity for you. At the same time, you don’t want to burn your bridges, because you never know who you will need in your network in the future!
Use Your Network
Now is the time to call in your networks – of all types. Reach out to trusted friends and colleagues at other companies, and ask them what they know about opportunities for someone in your position. These may be former coworkers, people from professional associations of which you are a member, or even people you socialize with at church or the gym.
Ask friends and family who and what they know. Remember that most jobs are found via word of mouth, so ask everyone.
Now is the time, also, to reach out to contacts you’ve made through social media, such as groups in LinkedIn. If there are folks with whom you exchange industry articles, or that regularly contribute to groups you’re also active in, you can ask them if they are open to having a phone conversation with you.
Utilize the Network of Your Network
Six degrees of separation is even more of a truism now than ever before. Make sure to ask your networks to check with people they know.
You want to be careful how you do this, however. You can only ask this of people with whom you’ve built up a great deal of good will. But, for those who are close friends and business associates, make sure to help them brainstorm who they know that might have leads for you.
You want to use your networks to their largest leverage.
Don’t forget that a new position might be waiting for you in the company within which you already work. Check job boards, and discreetly make inquiries about openings in other departments.
Join Job Lists
Good email lists, LinkedIn groups, and a multitude of other resources can be found online. Get recommendations and use them in your search.
Update Your Resume and LinkedIn Profile
Update your resume and LinkedIn profile, and get feedback from those around you how to showcase your abilities. You want at least (!) 3 people to give you input and offer advice as to how to make your profile stand out.
Give Yourself Time
To the extent possible, you don’t want to rush your job search. If you give yourself time, you are more likely to find the right fit, and land in the position that is most ideal for you.
Storm Out in a Rage
No matter how angry you get (and how cool it looks in the movies), it is rarely a good idea to leave your employment at the drop of a hat, EVEN IF you have a backup plan.
While it might feel good to do such a thing, you will be perceived by those at your workplace as unprofessional, at the least. And at the worst… Well, you don’t want those kinds of messages surrounding you in a professional setting.
Tell Your Coworkers Until You’re Ready for Everyone to Know
Be careful with whom you share about your search at work. To the extent you tell one person, you can assume the word will get out more broadly. YOU want to be the one to frame and deliver this message. So take care to share this news only when you’re ready for a broader audience to know.
Tell Your Supervisor or Coworkers in a Way that is Unprofessional
While there are ways to let your employer know about issues that need to be improved internally (an exit interview with HR being one of them), you want to be careful about the message you give your boss when letting them know you’re leaving.
Particularly if he or she has been a mentor to you, you can express your appreciation while explaining why you need another opportunity.
On the other hand, if your boss has been a nemesis, now is NOT the time to – in any way that is less than professional – let him or her know how you’ve been disappointed in his/her actions.
You very likely will need this person’s recommendation in the future, and damaging this relationship could hurt you in ways nearly impossible to foresee.
The above recommendations assume you already have a lot of these tools in place – networks (including those online), mentors, etc. If you don’t, make sure you start working on building these resources immediately – even if you’re not looking. You never know when you might need them.
What strategies have YOU used in finding a new position?
Aurelia Flores is Senior Counsel at a Fortune 500 company and former Fulbright Fellow who graduated from Stanford Law School. Her website, PowerfulLatinas.com, offers stories of success, along with resources and programs focused on Latino empowerment.