Careers

Why you should look for a new job while you're happy at your current one

Job seekers often approach career experts for advice in panic mode: "I hate my boss, I need to get out immediately!" Or, "I got passed over for a promotion and I seriously need to find a new job, now." Or, "I get a pit in my stomach every Sunday night and this job is making me miserable; I'm making my partner miserable and everyone around me. Help!"

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Yes, those are all definitely solid reasons to look for a new job (frankly, any reason is sufficient, like simply needing a change of scenery), but the job search process can take time and the last thing you want to do is accept a job offer that's potentially as toxic as the one you're in just because you need or want to jump ship as quickly as possible.

On the contrary, it's extremely rare for someone happy in their job, with a great boss, decent pay and wonderful co-workers, to say, "I love my job! I've been interviewing and looking for a new one."

Contradiction, right? Not so fast.

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Think of it this way: If you're always in a passive job seeker mode, you're coming from a position of power. Look at baseball as an example. When a batter is immersed in a hitting streak, things come easy to them, they're relaxed, their swing is fluid, they're in the zone. They're confident and confidence begets more confidence.

The same thing happens when your confidence is at an all-time high at work. You're not in an anxiety-inducing "gotta get a new job tomorrow" frenetic mode, you're not ignoring red flags during job interviews because you're idolizing a future employer without fully evaluating them (remember, you should be interviewing them just as much as they're interviewing you).

Instead, by keeping your eyes open and updating your resume, accepting coffee meetings, applying to jobs "just for fun" (yes, for fun), connecting with employers and saying yes to interviews, it's light. It's in motion. And it's powerful!

When you interview under these circumstances, you're just casually seeing what's out there. You're checking out what you're worth and what your options are. And, because it's casual and on your terms, you're not second-guessing those answers to challenging interview questions – you believe in yourself! Prospective employers can sense this and it puts you in more demand (very similar to dating, but that's a whole other blog …).

Keep this in mind: As much as you enjoy your job now, you never know what tomorrow will bring. Unfortunately, the situation can very well be temporary and that's how you should view it. Life is unpredictable and that can include this fantastic situation. That awesome boss? They may get transferred, move, resign, you never know. Your department may merge with another one. Good times will not last forever, so by going on interviews and keeping your skills sharp, you'll have an active, robust network to tap into (and you might even find a role you like). What's the worst that can happen in all of this? You decline a job offer? Spend some time sporadically out of the office?

Here's more food for thought: You're perfectly content in your job while keeping your eyes and ears open for what's out there. It would take a lot to get you to make a move – and that's the whole point. You can express to employers that you're not actively looking, but you're always interested in exploring opportunities. Therefore, to pique your interest there would need to be a significant pay increase and upgrade to your job title and responsibilities. That ups their game plan and ultimately yours. After all, you'll be OK if you accept it and OK if you don't.

Let's say you continue the interview process and land a job offer! Then, not only are you interviewing and negotiating from a position of power, you're leaving your current job to embark toward a better one. Instead of exiting a job out of necessity (which, to be clear, isn't a bad thing, just pointing out the difference here), you're leaving on excellent terms. You probably didn't have a toxic boss throw you under the bus, didn't get passed over for a promotion and didn't have ill will. In this case you're leaving a great situation for a new, better one.

It's often apparent to recruiters when a prospective job seeker isn't in a desperate mode but rather a "Hey, I'm just taking time out of my day to see what you have to say" situation. It's a simple conversation and maybe a free lunch. These candidates are often in command of the interview, they are clearly happy at their job, and emitting joyful energy during a job interview (instead of sad, upsetting energy) is contagious.

That's why you should keep your resume current, apply to jobs and interview at all times, especially when you're happy. Go for practice, see what's out there and be open to the results which may equate to open doors at an even greater situation than the one you're currently in!

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This article originally appeared on U.S. News.