Don’t Quit Your Day Job, Part 1

May 11, 2020 | Job Satisfaction, Job Search

Why Searching While Employed Often Gets Better Results 

“The trouble with unemployment is that the minute you wake up in the morning you’re on the job.” Slappy White

“All progress takes place outside the comfort zone.” Michael John Bobak

“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” Henry David Thoreau

“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” John D. Rockefeller

Pop Quiz:

Who does better in job search: employed or unemployed job seekers?

You might think the answer is obvious, however, when look closely at the myriad factors, it’s not a clear-cut answer. Nevertheless, over the years we have discerned patterns in behaviors, market responses and ultimate results.

In this two-part series of articles, we examine some of the important differences between what employed and unemployed job seekers face in their search endeavors, focusing this first article on some of psychological, behavioral and attitudinal differences. In the second article, we look at how market forces affect each group and influence outcomes. 

Let’s start with what we have the most control over– our behaviors. 

It seems reasonable to assume that those with the most time on their hands would naturally be the ones best able to leverage that time and focus their energies on job search, thus getting more done faster. 

Our experience across thousands of search campaigns suggests that some of our unemployed clients do indeed act out of a heightened sense of urgency, and do treat their search as a full-time job (often a full-time job PLUS significant overtime). The amount of time, effort and energy they expend does frequently result in bigger, better and faster outcomes. 

On the other hand, all that available time can function as a tender trap, luring those who are not employed during their search into inefficient, unproductive and wasteful behaviors that stifle them. The reasons for this are multitudinous and some of them are attitudinal or psychological in nature. 

A sense of urgency clearly impels some unemployed folks to run faster in their searches than others who might waste hours of available search time. It really comes down to personal style, finances, level of fear, etc. Among those who are employed when job hunting, there are those who realize their time for search activities is necessarily limited by the demands of their current position, and respond with efficiency and dedication of free time for the effort. 

Or those who are overwhelmed by trying to divide their time and never put in the necessary effort. Some of our clients are literally so burdened by the time demands of their current positions that nothing short of forgoing sleep would allow them enough time do their searches justice. But for most people this is not the case. Again, as with the unemployed, the two groups seem to be divided largely by personality make-up, attitude and sense of urgency.

Thus, the conclusion we often reach in comparing searches conducted by employed versus unemployed job seekers as to behaviors is that one’s personal disposition and habits can have a large impact on how effectively and efficiently they search. A sense of heightened urgency can serve to motivate some folks more than others. 

As many different personality types and traits as there are in the population generally, there are probably as many different job search styles and practices. 

For those who can translate a sense of urgency into enthusiasm, energy, creativity, persistence, curiosity, effort and other productive traits, the results often come faster. For those who either lack the sense of urgency or find themselves paralyzed by worry, anxiety, uncertainty, waning confidence and fear, the opposite can happen – results that are slow to come and often fall short of one’s potential. 

The good news is that both the employed and the unemployed do have some large measure of control over how they behave. It’s not easy to change and overcome bad habits; but when they’re holding us back, it is possible. 

The trick on the behavioral side is to do one’s utmost to adhere to best practices. That means having a strategy, as well as a plan, tools and resources to execute that strategy. And, importantly, to have the wisdom to be continually adjusting the strategy as needed. 

We believe the following are essential to achieving results that meet or exceed expectations for both employed and unemployed job seekers:

Focus: Regardless of how much time is available, are you single-minded and honing in on what you want or need and how to get it? Is your focus sharp or diffused? You can find a new job with poor focus, but it inevitably takes longer and your results might not match the vision.

Commitment: If you are unemployed, unless you are of relatively inexhaustible independent financial means, chances are that you have no choice but to be committed wholly to the quest. If you are currently employed, you have to ask yourself how important it is to get out of where you are to land somewhere that suits your needs better.

Dedication: You can be focused and committed, but you also need to dedicate time and energy to the quest. Not just physical time and energy, but also some mental and emotional horsepower. To get where you want to go, you need to be devoted and you need to persevere. 

Sacrifice: To achieve the results you desire, you might need to give up other things that are valuable to you at least in the short term. Perhaps you’ll have to sacrifice time for things that are important to you in exchange for reaching your objective. Consider that you might have to forgo a bit of sleep, leisure time activities, vacation, family time, etc. We do not mean that you need to completely drop all of these things, but you might need to cut back on them. You might need to endure some discomfort. 

Willingness to fail on the way to success: It is convenient to think that because we have done well in our careers up until now, because we have strong backgrounds with valuable experience and skills to sell, that the market will quickly recognize what wonderful candidates we are. Sometimes that happens, but the reality is that for many of us the path to that next great gig is long and winding. The search can be tedious, frustrating and even depressing, and we will be ignored or rejected more than once while venturing toward our goals. To succeed, it is crucial to accept these possibilities as potential obstacles and to bounce back when they happen. It is also important to learn from the experience. Bottling some of that refusal to give up, that indomitable spirit, grit, can spell the difference between getting where you want to go and settling for something far short of your goals. 

These are some, but not all, of the factors that are within our control that can influence the outcomes in our career search efforts. The same factors are at play for both those who are working while searching and for those who are not. How we each deal with these factors, can make an enormous difference in the results we attain.

One critical difference between employed and unemployed searches is so obvious that it is easily overlooked: necessity vs. need. 

If you are working, searching is almost a luxury. So long as you have not been told that you employer is closing its doors or that your job is being eliminated, you have a choice. If you don’t have a job, (unless you have trust fund or a rich and generous uncle to support you) searching is purely a necessity. 

Nevertheless, based on the experience of working with tens of thousands of job searchers and career changers, one thing that we are certain both groups share in common is:

The more diligently, consistently, effectively, aggressively, intelligently, persistently and creatively that you translate your desire for change into action: the greater your chances are for success.

In Part II of this article, we will be examining some of the factors that are outside of control, comparing the challenges of searches conducted by employed versus unemployed job seekers. We will look at some hard data from economists and other social scientists on how and why one group typically has an advantage over the other. 

A sneak preview for Part 2: 

As the title of this two-part series suggests, folks with jobs tend to do better in searching than those who don’t. 

So, try to hang on to the current job, if you have one, at least until we publish Part 2 next week. If you don’t have a job right now, don’t lose heart, as we have solutions for you as well that can found in some of our articles

Want to know more? Schedule an intro call with an ECP Regional Director today, and #GetHiredFaster!