How To Make Time For Interviews When You Already Have A Full-Time Job
As if the stress of landing an interview weren't enough—now you must also figure out how to attend said interview without tipping off your current boss to your job search. There's no rest for the weary, right? Try these tips to manage your job search without endangering your current paycheck.
1. Plan for your job search from day one.
This tip won't help with your current job search, but it will help with your next. While making a fresh start at your new company, keep your requests for time off professional but brief. Don't go into the gory details. If you simply request time off for an appointment, not time off to visit your financial advisor/eye doctor/vet, then it won't seem odd to ask for time off for an "appointment" when you have an interview. Similarly, if everyone is used to your occasional need to come in early or work late to accommodate a schedule change, then it won't be a big deal for you to do so for an interview. The key, though, is consistency, and figuring out what works in your workplace culture. Start looking for cues from day one. Even in the unlikely case that you never need to look for another job, you'll enjoy the privacy professional brevity affords you.
2. Schedule strategically, and be upfront about your availability.
It's OK to request an early morning, late afternoon or lunchtime interview, especially in the early stages of the process. Most job-seekers are employed, and a decent potential employer will understand what that means. If they're not cooperative, consider it a red flag.
3. Mind your Ps and Qs at your current job.
This isn't the time to rock the boat, arrive to work late or eschew working late. Your commitment and enthusiasm will help diffuse suspicions your boss might have.
4. Accept that you will probably have to tell a little white lie.
It's part of the game, unfortunately. Just choose your lie carefully, and make sure it's not something a coworker can assist you with (like a flat tire) or something too serious (never, ever, say a family member has died). Keep your explanation simple; too many details will raise eyebrows. Once again, if you've set the stage properly, you'll be able to request a few hours off to take care of some personal business.
5. Save PTO for second and third interviews.
Make sure you have enough time banked to take a full day off for later rounds of interviews. You might need to meet with several team members or complete an employment assessment. Once again, if you can, it's best to request a day off for personal business. If that's not possible, it's time to come down with a 24-hour stomach bug or mild case of food poisoning—some malady that requires you to stay home but also resolves itself quickly.
6. Dress the part.
If you work in a business-casual environment, showing up in a suit the day you have a dental appointment will raise eyebrows. Consider how you can change à la Superman before your interview. You might pick up your suit from the dry cleaners en route to the interview or change at the gym. Maybe you can add a blazer to your work attire to make it interview-appropriate. Once again, consider what's appropriate for your industry.
And what if, despite following these tips to the letter, you get caught interviewing? Don't panic. Be honest, and be positive. Stay focused on the professional opportunity you're seeking, not the environment you're trying to leave. Who knows—the conversation might result in productive change and new opportunities with your current employer.