Here's the right way to search for a new job, regardless of your current employment status.

It’s critical that you pay attention to certain nuances depending upon your particular condition of employment during the time of your job search. While there are plenty of similarities, there are also a number of differences that can help you be more successful, no matter whether you already have a job or you’re looking to rejoin the workforce. Searching for a new job is never pleasant, or at least it’s never been pleasant for me, as there are so many little things that go into it, no matter what your status. Understanding the differences can help to eliminate some of the job-search frustration. Here are a few things to consider during your job search, for both the unemployed or employed.

Level of desperation.

No matter whether you’re without a job or gainfully employed, it doesn’t pay to be too desperate in your search. A desperate job seeker can often come across in a negative way to employers, and you risk taking a job that ends up paying too little or making you miserable.

Unemployed.

That said, when searching for a job while unemployed, it’s important to not take the first thing that comes along, but it’s also important not to be too picky. Make sure you’re getting a fair offer and that you’ll somewhat enjoy what you do. But, unless you’ve got a stockpile of money hidden somewhere, you need to think about your ability to pay your bills and provide for yourself and your family first. Plus, it’s much easier to get a job when you already have one, so your first priority should be to land a position, even if it’s not perfect.

Landing that first position is the key. Once you have that role, then you can make it your focus to land your dream job. It’s certainly not recommended that you land the first position and then bail out the next week. But, if you stick around in that position for a year or two, it’s ok to move on once you’ve found the job you’re really seeking.

Employed.

As long as you’re able to pay your bills and you’re living a comfortable life, it’s ok to hold out for the best offer when you’re employed. You’ve got leverage in this case. You already have a salary to compare and negotiate with when your next offer rolls in, and you can afford to take your time and make sure the position you accept is the right fit.

Information on your resume.

Another thing that differs when searching for a job while employed versus unemployed is what you include on your resume.  Either way, it’s important that you have something up-to-date that shows you’re not just sitting on your couch watching television.

Unemployed.

When you don’t have a job, that nine-month gap in employment on your resume can be a red flag for some employers. Whether ethical or not, studies have shown that many employers exhibit a bias against applicants who are unemployed. You know you’re a qualified candidate and your unemployment is by no fault of your own, but some employers panic and fear the worst.

That’s why it’s important that you get creative with your resume. During your period of unemployment, one thing you can do to show continued experience is to hook up with a non-profit and offer your skills for free. If you’re a graphic designer, for example, connect with a non-profit and create flyers and other graphics for them. Find creative ways like this to keep your experience current and then list that as recent experience on your resume.

Employed.

In this case, you simply need to be sure to keep your resume up-to-date with your most recent experience. Make sure your current employer is added, even if you don’t want anyone contacting them. If you don’t list them, employers will likely question the gap, just like they would if you were unemployed. Don’t worry about your employer being contacted. That won’t happen unless you explicitly offer permission.

Personal brand.

This is one area where being unemployed or employed isn’t a factor. Building your personal brand is a must either way. In fact, when you’re unemployed, your personal brand can help cover that employment gap by highlighting your expertise in your field and showcasing you as a thought leader.

Unemployed OR employed.

Your personal brand is a key component of your professional success. Without the development of a strong personal brand, you limit your chances of rising to the top of potential employers’ candidate lists. Give serious consideration to your personal brand, no matter from which angle you’re approaching the job search.

Think about things like your social media presence. Do you have a fully developed LinkedIn profile, or are there missing elements that make you look unprofessional? The last thing you need is to have a poorly crafted personal brand that adds additional doubt in employers’ minds.

One great way to showcase your expertise is blogging. Whether you have your own site or you plan on publishing on a platform like LinkedIn, blogging allows you the opportunity to write articles that really show you know your stuff.

If you don’t have the capability (or you just don’t have the time) to set up your own blog, you can consider starting out by writing posts on LinkedIn’s publishing tool. Write pieces offering insight and advice about topics related to your industry to prove your expertise. This type of activity shows employers you care and you’re active in your field, each of which is high on the list of desired qualities in a potential job candidate.

Stay focused.

No matter your situation, the important thing for you to understand is that you need to stay focused. Searching for jobs can be a tedious, drawn-out process, and staying focused on the end goal is critical to your professional success.

Whatever obstacles get in the way or how frustrated you become, it’s important to keep a positive mind and keep moving. Landing a job often boils down to a numbers game, so keep sending out resumes and filling out applications, and you’ll find that before you know it you’ll be filling out your tax info and other paperwork for your new employer.

Often times, job seekers give up when they become disheartened by the length of time the job search takes. They get down on themselves when in reality that right job is waiting and is just a few applications away. Just when you’re ready to give up, whether unemployed or employed, shake it off and keep going.

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