It’s a bit of a Catch-22. You’re looking for a new job, in part, due to the massive number of hours you’re putting in at your current position. But those hours keep you in the office, making it near impossible to go on interviews, network or even search online for something new.
What’s a person to do? Here a few tips that may help navigate through what is a difficult journey.
You need to break down the walls surrounding the traditional job search and leverage your daily interactions. One way to seemingly gain time to search for a new job is by combining personal activities with networking opportunities. “Use the gym, a drink, or a meal as an excuse to meet up with contacts,” said Roy Cohen, career coach and author of The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide.
Recruiters are a great asset if leveraged properly. Use your network, find one or two that you like and take the time after work to sit down with them and go through your priorities. Investing time upfront will save you from wasting precious hours of unnecessary phone calls and interviews.
Also, whittle down the list of recruiters you work with to make your interactions manageable. If you have a good background and work with two capable recruiters, you should have plenty of opportunities to have conversations with hiring managers. You’ll likely be overwhelmed with underwhelming options if you work with every recruiter under the sun.
If you’re active in your search, you’ll be sending out inquiries and thank you emails on a regular basis. You can save time by creating templates at the beginning of your search and applying them quickly to each situation, said Jane Cranston, president of New York’s Executive Career Coach. This way, you’ll be able to get back to people sooner – even while on the run – and will appear more engaged with the process.
Networking is proven to be the best way to find a new job. But done wrong, networking can take way too much time. “Precision is key especially on Wall Street where the people you meet have short attention span and an even shorter fuse when you are wasting their time,” said Cohen. Be straightforward about what you’re looking for and be clear on next steps. You don’t have time to BS.
“But most important, never use a networking meeting for career counseling,” he said. “When you have limited time to be out there, you will waste your time and someone else's on matters that you should have addressed on your own.”
If you’re rushed for time, start relying more on personal mobile devices that you can use in the office. Have your resume and cover letter options on your phone and ready to send at all times.
Also, embrace Twitter and other social networking sites that can be accessed through mobile devices. Big banks like Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan regularly post Twitter updates about careers and jobs. You can also follow company news in real-time and use that information during interviews, without having to formally “study” the company for two hours before sitting down with them.
As hard as banks make people work, they are adamant about employees taking their minimum two-week vacation time (at least in the U.S.). Lay the groundwork beforehand, then use that time to interview, said Cohen. “Not to ski in Vail, surf in Costa Rica, or backpack in Chile. Save that as a reward for getting a great new job,” he said.
If you are actively interviewing with multiple companies, you’re likely to run short of excuses fairly soon. “Saying you are going to the dentist sounds reasonable (within limits) and doesn't make people think you are ill,” said Cranston. Plus, dental issues typically require multiple visits, which can buy you more time.
But if possible, see if you can interview before or after-hours. “Keep in mind potential employers are suspicious of people who can be available ‘anytime,’” Cranston said. Ask them to be reasonable. You’ll likely look like a more attractive candidate. If you have to choose between morning or afternoon, pick the morning, Cranston said. “Better to come in late than leave early.”
Perhaps the most important thing you can do is to change your mindset. If you want a new job, that has to be your top goal. It takes time and involves risk, said Cohen. Know and accept that going in.
“If you minimize the risk to zero of being caught in the act, you have basically eliminated any and all job search activities, he said. “How much is up to you but the process takes a village.”