Finding your next job is like taking on another full-time position.
So how are you supposed to land a new gig if you're already working? Job hunting at your current place of employment is a no-no since employers can review activity done on company-issued devices.
But here's the reality: People still do it. A lot.
The majority of job hunting occurs from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm during the week, according to ZipRecruiter's data. Activity peaks from 1:00 to 2:00 pm on the online jobs marketplace and Tuesdays are the most popular day to job hunt.
Job hunting can take over your life, so it helps to designate a specific time.
"Create blocks of time for the search so there is a start and end time, so it doesn't seem endless," said Vicki Salemi, a career expert at Monster. Some days you might use the time to apply for jobs, update your resume or schedule networking dates.
Make the search easier by setting up alerts at different job search websites that allow you to put in your criteria. That way you get relevant postings emailed directly to you, saving you time from having to scour the internet.
Schedule interviews strategically
Running out for an interview in the middle of the day can be disruptive, so make the interviews conducive to your schedule.
"Employers are starved for talent," said Ian Siegel, CEO of ZipRecruiter. "If they picked you out of an applicant pool, they will accommodate whatever time it is you want to talk."
Arranging an interview first thing in the morning or later in the afternoon or early evening makes it easier to stay focused at your current job and avoid having to come up with excuses on why you are leaving in the middle of the day.
Getting a glimpse at the office in the evening can also provide clues of a company's culture and work-life balance.
But sometimes a middle-of-the-day interview can't be avoided. Just try not to miss any meetings at work, advised Joanne Meehl, a career strategy coach.
And try to keep your excuses simple. "You don't have to give a specific reason," said Salemi. "Try something like, 'I have to take care of something, I should be in the office a little later. If anything urgent comes up, text me.'"
If you work from home a few days a week, try to coordinate the interview on those days.
If you know there are going to be many rounds of interviews, ask if they can all be scheduled for the same day and take the day off. "Sacrifice some PTO time so it's clean," said Siegel.
Do your current job even better
You might be in overdrive with the added stress of job hunting, but don't slack off at work.
"Do your job at your current employer better than you ever have," said Siegel. "The moment you walk in and tell them you are leaving, you want for them to feel an acute loss."
When you have a strong track record, that can also lead to a bidding war. "The only way to find out your maximum value is in an auction. Your best case scenario is your employer saying 'what do I need to do to keep you here?'" Siegel said.
Play it cool
It might seem like everyone knows you are looking for a new job, but how you react and handle the situation is important.
"People are more paranoid than they need to be," said Meehl. If someone asks why you keep running to the conference room to take a call, keep it simple.
"Treat it like it's no big deal," she said. Say it was a personal call or that the office was too loud.
And even if your boss asks whether you are job searching, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. This could be an opportunity to discuss a salary increase, taking on more responsibility or getting more training or resources.
"People have way too much anxiety about employers getting angry and taking some sort of punitive action," said Siegel. "If they find out you are unhappy, it is an opportunity for a conversation."
Mum's the word
While the process can be stressful, don't tell your colleagues that you are looking to move on.
"You don't understand how things are going to float around work," said Marc Cenedella, founder and CEO of Ladders. "You can't control the office grapevine."
Confiding in a co-worker can also cause problems if you are later promoted over that person.
"They could be resentful that you wanted to leave and then get promoted," said Salemi.