Job Hunting When You Have a Job [You Love]

Those of you that don’t know, I got engaged over winter break.  Exciting! Well, with that excitement comes change.

Reassessing finances, for one thing.  And when you both commute 45 minutes to your job; one south and one north…those finances actually begin to weigh heavily.  See, my fiance and I would like to settle – but the problem is, we already have jobs that we love.  And I mean, love.


So how do you handle the problem at hand? – the one that says you need to spend less, the one that says you should live closer, and the one that says you should start this process now (not three years from now like I’ve been telling myself).  Let me be real – we want a family; no, not tomorrow but sooner rather than later and we both agree that commuting to work will in no way or fashion help us successfully raise children.  It wouldn’t be impossible, people do it all the time – but for us, logistically, it would just be stressful.

So how to you job hunt when you have a job [that you love and I mean love]? Well, I’ve learned a few things on the way…some from doing and others, well, from not doing and learning the hard way…these tips can help you in that situation – some may apply to general first time job hunters, but not all.

Before the journey even starts:

AcceptAccept the things you cannot change.
If you accept the fact that your relationship or current situation would benefit from change – then do it. Holding onto what could be will only make it harder.  No, I don’t want to leave my district – I love my district.  My first full time job was the jackpot – I am happy and comfortable and successful.  I don’t want to leave but I also want my relationship to work and a family to grow.  In order to do that, I have to be prepared to take on a change I may not fully understand yet. What are your reasons for change?

Before the applications:

First make the agreement that both of every option is considered…everyone look for a job, all areas are assessed, etc.  If only one person is looking – the weight becomes unfair and starts to cause issues in your relationship. In my case, I am looking around his location.  In his case, he’s looked up near mine.  Agree on the terms – will you live in small town? Will you live only in larger towns?  Will you rent? Do you want to buy? Is this temporary?  What are your terms?

Become transparentNo one likes a liar.  Or a sneaky fox.  Be transparent with the people most important to the process.
– Obviously your spouse or significant other should be privy to your plans and feelings in any situation.  If a job opens in an area you know you will hate – let them know you don’t want it.  If they don’t know, they’ll spend their time supporting that opportunity and you’ll stress out because of your secret dislike for it.
– Talk to your supervisor(s) before you even begin applying to other jobs.  And don’t just say “Hey _____, can I use you as a reference? Will you write me a letter? I am looking to relocate even though I don’t want to.”  One might argue that simple is better than complicated but don’t be afraid to let them know that you spent time considering the change and why it came time to move forward.  If you are appreciated in your position, your supervisor will appreciate knowing that it wasn’t the easiest decision for you.

Don’t tell everyoneLetting the whole world know you are job hunting can hurt your chances but more importantly, your ego.
– Stick with the people most important – your references, your significant other, and close family.  If you have a best friend, call them for support but don’t go running to the lunch ladies with news of a job posting.  I know you want support, believe me – everyone needs an ego boost – but when everyone knows you’re looking, they will stop emphasizing your importance within the current position you hold..  Might not look like it – but they’re keeping their energy for when you are replaced…because you will be. If there is no chance they will get a call – then don’t worry about them yet.
– If you do add someone to your list – it should be someone that can help.  Either help by supporting you when you really need it or because they know someone close to the position you are seeking. Always communicate with people that have connections, anymore it’s about who you know.
– Be prepared for rejection: and because this inevitably happens, sticking with the important people will help soften the hurt – you will only have to tell a few the results rather than announce to the whole world, not to mention the backlash.
– Stay away from Facebook and Social Networking.  This should be it’s own category….so hold that thought.

During the applications, before the interviews…

Stay transparent. Keep communicating with the necessary people.
– When you apply for a job, let your supervisor know.  Especially if they are a reference.  Let them know because there is the slim chance they may get a phone call to help you out and if they are clueless, they won’t help very much.  Employers do not like calling to ask about someone, only to have the connection on the other line say, “Oh, I had no idea they applied to your _____.”  And your current employer will not be pleased to hear you’re keeping secrets. Possible interviews could easily turn into no interviews if that were the case.
– When you apply anywhere, tell anyone that has their name on your resume or application.  You never know who knows who and where – it’s a small world.  And it’s the same concept as with your supervisor.  If everyone involved knows what stage your at in the process, they know how to handle their roll in it.

Stay away from Social Networking. But, but I love social networking?
First of all, the internet is not a private place – your stuff is out there whether or not your like it.  Even if you have your privacy on full blast.  So be careful what you post and who you associate yourself with. Duh.
– Do not post that you are job hunting on your social networks.  The people who need to know and who you want to know already do – so why are you going out and spreading the word to everyone else?  If you put your job hunt online, they the entire public has the right to voice their opinions.  And the last thing you want to do is have your supervisor find out that you’ve applied to Peanut Butter Middle School before you’ve told them.  Prioritize – no matter how hard it is to reign it in.

So you got an interview…

Keep talkingTo your references and supervisors, that is.
Can I not stress that enough?  Because it will help.  Think of it this way – if they are unhappy that you may be leaving, that is a huge compliment.  That means you are doing your job and they don’t want to lose you to another district.  If they don’t care one way or the other, you might want to re-evaluate the impact you have made.  When you get an interview, tell your supervisors and references right away.  I have known people who don’t and when references are caught by surprise, the employer interested loses all interest simply because they see your lack of communication.  Don’t lose out on that opportunity for a stupid mistake.  Communicate!

Make a portfolio. Not everyone does this…be someone who does. See “Portfolio Basics” for my spin on the usual portfolio.
Of your ideas, lessons, articles, publications, management strategies, personal work (artwork in my case).  Make it memorable (don’t just use a template, make your own) – make it presentable and cater it to the position you are applying for (aka high school lessons for a high school position).  I have one and it’s jam packed.  What better way to consume the interested party’s time – they will love seeing your accomplishments.  Who knows if it will get you the job but it definitely won’t hurt your chances.

Be prepared. Have the necessary documents ready to go.
Every employer needs your credentials when your hired.  Certificates necessary for your job, licenses required by the state, background check forms ready to go.  Typically when you are offered a job, you have a window of time to get those things in.  After it passes – you start to look lazy and they’re regretting their decision. If you wanted the job then you should act like it. And you want to be prompt.  Why not save the form gathering trouble?  Have copies of your necessary licenses and certificates ready and even print off and fill out a background check form with your social security.  Hand it to them at the end of the interview; “I know you have a tough decision ahead of you but I thought I would leave some of my necessary credentials for you that can be included in my portfolio.” If they do decide to hire you, you’ve already saved them the trouble of gathering those papers.  All they have left are a few minor loose ends and a contract.

Be honestRemember – lying is a no-no.
Are you doing this alone? Is this because you are unhappy? Are you relocating?  Yes – of course, leave out the dirty details but if you are unhappy about a detail of your current job, don’t be afraid to turn that into a positive; ie. “I see that you have a very strong technology director in your district.  That is something that excites me because I want a chance to showcase my technology abilities…. Above all, don’t tell them you are going to move into the city the company is located in if you aren’t.  Let them know that you want to relocate and become active in the community but don’t flat out lie and make them think you are moving if you are 100% sure you won’t.  Just let them know you intend on relocated close to, if not within, the area.

After the rejection:

Rejoice. Yeah, I said it. Celebrate. Let’s face it, I say do this and I struggle with it…
I have to constantly remind myself of this one.  You had an interview – so celebrate.  They didn’t hire you?  You can frown and cry about it (a number of us will and I’m definitely not innocent) but you need to constantly remind yourself that out of multiple people who applied, you were still chosen for an interview and that is more than 75% of the applicants can say.  You have to remember that it has to be a good fit for you and the employer – not to mention, that you will never fully know who you were up against.  There is a reason for everything – you can blame it on God or you can embrace fate, but either way – one opportunity closed is another opportunity open.

Keep looking. You said you would so don’t give up.
I applied to a huge district this past winter.  I was pumped – it was a strong district.  I made it to round one and it’s been three months since I’ve heard anything.  Sufficient to say, the position has since been closed.  I was bummed I didn’t get the heads up.  I was more bummed that I had my hopes dangled high (my own fault) for a while only to be brought down.  While I think it’s unprofessional to not disclose the results to applicants either way (come on – just communicate!), it’s a fact of life.  More and more employers are only interested in the candidates that plan to hire.  So get off your sad stool and keep looking – something will eventually work out and while it may not be convenient to stick it out, remind yourself that you are still happy where your at – so you’re one step ahead of everyone else.

Communicate. Don’t forget your supervisors need the 411.
Your supervisors still want to know what’s going on.  If you didn’t get it and you’re still looking, it’s like starting over – but there will be no help your way if you become secretive. Stay positive and stay connected.

After the job offer, no contract or paperwork (yet):

Celebrate. Duh.
Do I have to explain this one? Congratulations.  Do this discreetly – with your spouse or close family, though, because there are some major professional steps you will want to complete before you blow up everyone’s news feeds.

Communicate. Again, only to the necessary people first.
This means – tell your supervisor(s).  Let them know you have accepted a new position and you are waiting on the paperwork to be filed and signed before you  move forward with this change.  Simple as that – no resignation letter yet.  Why? Because you haven’t signed.  A million things can happen between when you are offered a job and when you sign for a job.  Just keep the line of communication open so they know that there is an anticipated opening for your current position.

After signing a contract and paperwork:

Communicate. Seems to be a lot of that going on – good.
Prepare a letter of resignation and personally hand it to your supervisor(s).  Do this promptly; do not make them wait.  They still have to fill your position and they may only have a few weeks depending on your timing.  Be honest, and let them know you are ready to help fill your opening in any way they need it.  Some supervisors will block you out of the process; don’t be offended – they are just creating an unbiased playing field.   You are leaving, after all, so don’t be butt hurt because they are moving on too.  If you are asked to help with the hiring process, be respectful.  You can’t get bitter or offended if they start to get excited about new candidates – you are leaving.  You chose this.  So smile.

Celebrate. For real this time.
Once you hear that your resignation has been accepted (school districts go through a board), then it’s time to celebrate – because now the whole world can know.  Pat yourself on the back, the journey is nearly over.  Remember to be tactful because the relationships you’ve built in the time you’ve been around are precious and people will be sad you are leaving (if they aren’t – check your personality).

Contract failure:

What a let downIt’s as simple as that.
What you can’t prepare for is cuts and miscommunication.  If your position is no longer available after you interview but before you sign, this is a bummer.  It happens – not often, but it happens.  You have the right to be bummed out and I’m not going to stop you.  But pick yourself up quickly so you can get back into the game.  Talk to that employer before you sever ties to see if there is anything they can do for you since they backed you up by almost hiring you.  Don’t forget to let your supervisor know that things fell through – they’ll be bummed for you but probably excited there’s still a chance you’ll stick around.

It’s your last day:

Show some class. Don’t be an…
It’s your last day on the job and you should handle it professional…the most disappointing thing someone can see if when their soon to be ex-employee lets go before the end.  Things fall apart, they stop caring.  Well yeah, they can’t fire you and yeah, you have a new job already but come on – be an adult.  Leave your office, room, classroom, supplies, and management tools (owned by your employer, usually), in tact, organized and ready to go.  Don’t leave a mess for the next person to pick up.  They didn’t apply to the job because they hate you – you volunteered your leave so leave with pride.  Your references will continue to stay positive because of it.  And you won’t leave any sour feeling with your colleagues.

Basically…be an adult about things.  And I say this like it’s common sense but I have learned most of these tips from colleagues and doing things the hard way.  Interviewing and job hunting is a skill learned…it doesn’t happen gracefully for everyone and some never get the hang of it but if you try to keep these tips in mind (and yes, some of them involve a lot of work), then you will probably be successful…I should know…but more on that later. 😉


One response to “Job Hunting When You Have a Job [You Love]

  1. Pingback: New Beginnings | Art Class With LMJ·

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