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posted on 26 June 2016

Lowest Unemployment Since 2007 Has More Employers Poaching Talent

from Challenger Gray and Christmas

As the economy and employment situation continue to improve, job seekers are finding better jobs and finding them more quickly. Now, after years of underemployment or being "stuck" in undesirable jobs, there is mounting evidence that, despite the risks and challenges, a growing number of Americans are seeking employment while employed.

The latest evidence of the employed job search comes from global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, which revealed that nearly 60 percent of callers to its annual job-search advice hotline were employed. That is up from 29 percent a year earlier and 32 percent in 2013.

This marks a tipping point in the employment market that denotes a shrinking labor pool that comes with an improving economy. The unemployment rate nationwide is at 4.7 percent, the lowest level since 2007. And, in many metropolitan areas the jobless rate is even lower. In fact, 110 metropolitan areas have an unemployment rate under 4.0 percent.

The falling unemployment rate means a shrinking labor pool from which employers can pluck new workers. So, these employers are compelled to seek out fresh candidates from among the employed.

They should have plenty to choose from, as millions of Americans are still in part-time jobs or in jobs for which they are overqualified. Thus, the increased desire to change jobs.

Even with conditions that are more conducive to job switching, looking for a new job while employed is no easy task. The primary challenge is that an effective job search is, in itself, a full-time job.

Activities such as updating the resume and looking online for opportunities can be done in the evening. However, the most critical steps involve meeting with people, either in interviews or in networking meetings. While some of these meetings can occur during non-business hours, most will take place during the work day.

This leaves the working job seeker limited options. He or she can use personal or sick leave to attend these meetings. However, if the job seeker is scheduling several meetings a week, which is the ideal scenario for a successful job search, PTO and/or sick leave could quickly run out.

Another option is to inform your manager that you are seeking another job.

John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas advised:

That approach, however, will most likely backfire. It would change the way your supervisor looks at you, causing him or her to question your loyalty and commitment. Management would pull away from you, keeping you out of discussions about the company and strategies. If your job search takes a long time or you decide the grass is not greener on the other side of the fence, it would be very challenging, if not impossible, to regain your former status.

In a worst-case scenario, there is the possibility that the company would force a resignation or terminate you, as a preemptive strike. While this would give the job seeker the time needed to conduct a more effective job search, it also forces the job seeker to explain a termination to prospective employers.

The best job-search-while-employed strategy is to keep it on the down low. But, again, this complicates matters, because it takes away social media as a networking and job-search tool. Face-to-face meetings become even more important, which can be conducted before or after business hours or through lunch meetings.

Be honest with the interviewer and let them know you are still employed and require confidentiality. If the company is interested they will most likely offer alternative methods for initial interviews, such as phone or Skype. Eventually, however, it likely will be necessary to use personal or vacation days for face-to-face interviews.

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