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Topic: Is It Better To Look For Work When Employed?

Question:
I currently have a stable full time position and am casting about for something better. I am told that there is a predilection (probably due to some popular book or seminar) for some potential
bosses to not even look at people who are currently employed. I am even told that some potential
employers will not even make an offer, even if they are interested, if you tell them that you are
currently employed or have other offers on the table.
First of all, is this actually true or are the three people who separately gave me this advice just
nuts? Is it actually advantageous for me to play down the fact that I am employed in my resume?
Should I make my reasons for seeking other employment (which are not nefarious or anti- my
current company at all) very clear in my cover letter and/or my resume?
There is more than one question here, but I believe they are related to the same topic. In
summary, does being employed make me less marketable, and how so? One would think it would
be the other way around.
Best Regards,
Angela L, Hamilton, ON
Dear Angela,
I'll withhold my judgment on your friend's sanity, but I will say this: some employers will hold it
against you for trying to find a job when unemployed, and some will be prejudiced against you if
you're currently working! In other words, there will always be at least one person out there who's
biased against you regardless of your circumstances.
Does this mean you ought to manipulate your cover letter or resume? And should you
misrepresent yourself if you do indeed snag an interview? Not at all. The idea is to strategically
target the types of employers you would prefer to work for, prepare your marketing materials and
approach as best you can, then contact as many employers as is necessary to secure relevant
interviews. The more opportunities you have, the better your odds of finding someone who will
hire you for the value you’ll add to their team – whether or not you have a job right now.
You might, in your cover letter, mention that you are seeking to find a position that is more
suitable for your skills and experience, or that is at level commensurate with your abilities. That
should take care of your initial reason for being in search mode without raising alarm bells. At the
interview you can be more specific, though I agree with you when you say that bad-mouthing your
current employer is the last thing you want to do. (Otherwise your future boss might think they’re
next!)
If you can rationally and plausibly explain why you want a new job, and if you are marketing
yourself properly, then employed or not you dramatically increase your chances of finding
something appropriate. Best of luck in doing so.