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How to Look for a Job While You're Working

Just because you have a job doesn't mean you can't keep your options open and explore potential opportunities. Discretion is the key

My colleagues and I at the Handel Group will be answering your questions about job-search and career-related issues at the Coaches Corner at BusinessWeek. Please e-mail us so we can help you find solutions. (Read our previous Q&A on how to explain why you got laid off.

I am employed but not very happy in my current situation. I'd like some advice on how to look for a job while I'm working. I feel guilty taking time out of my workday to go to a job interview.

It's healthy to always be meeting people, networking, and thinking and talking about what else is possible for you in your career. Just because you are working for a company doesn't mean you are married forever to that position or your employer.

There's no need to feel guilty about keeping your professional options open and your career on track. Keeping yourself in the game sharpens your skill set, which ultimately makes you a better employee, even in your current job. Unlike in your personal life, the concept of looking around while you're already "spoken for" is perfectly fine. It's understood that you are always allowed to "date" prospective employers.

However, while every smart employer understands that this is the way the world works, I would recommend that you don't talk openly about it to people in the company because it would be considered "juicy" gossip that will make its way around the office quickly. Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking an hour or so away from the office for personal reasons every now and then, it's not a bad idea to try to schedule your job interviews early in the morning, during lunch, or right after work. That way you won't feel uncomfortable missing work. and you won't draw attention to yourself.

So my advice is to always be open for what else is possible for you in your career. Keeping your options open helps you maintain a level of excellence in your work, and feeling marketable helps you do a great job in your current position as well as your future endeavors.

Lauren Zander is the co-founder and chairman of the Handel Group, an executive coaching and personal life coaching company based in New York City. Lauren has developed and is currently in her third year teaching a popular and groundbreaking course at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology called Designing Your Life. The Education Division of Handel Group will soon be implementing similar courses at New York University and Rutgers University.

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