For many people, looking for a job can become a habit similar to browsing news pages, Facebook, etc. As they spend hours looking at job boards, they eventually may be tempted to apply for jobs that they don’t seriously intend to take, creating a new set of challenges for the job they have and some future prospects.
Although casual job searching can be useful in terms of learning about what jobs are out there and getting a sense of job requirements and compensation, applying for jobs that you won’t be taking is a different matter and can turn out to be risky for a number of reasons.
First, when you indiscriminately apply for jobs, you may end up getting calls for interviews and get tempted to go and explore further. With that, you may find yourself taking several steps toward taking a job that you actually never wanted. At this stage, whether you step back and withdraw your application or proceed with it, the result is that you don’t look or feel good. Second, applying for a job that you don’t want because it’s not the right fit can easily undermine a future application for a different position with the same employer. It’s therefore always better to wait and apply only for positions that provide actual opportunities of interest.
With that in mind, if you’re not looking for a job actively, you need to focus on doing your job-market research anonymously. Here are a few points to keep in mind.
If you’re not seriously looking for a new job, you probably want to keep your current one. Your indiscriminate search can be putting your job at risk, however. Applications don’t end up in a black hole. Even though most employers reassure job seekers that their applications are treated with confidentiality, you never know who may come across your emails, resume, cover letter etc. Many professional networks can be pretty tight and a word of mouth can go around faster than you think. What’s the risk? If your employer thinks that you’re not committed to your current job and looking to move on, your advancement opportunities may become too slim. In addition, in an unfortunate situation of layoffs, those who seem to be willing to leave are typically the first to go.
As mentioned, when you apply for a job that isn’t a good fit, your application is likely to be dropped. With that, you’re setting this employer’s mindset to reject your application or associate you with an undesired applicant. This can limit your chances if you apply for a different position that actually interests you. Even if you don’t get excluded right away because of the previous application, this employer may be wondering about how far you’re clear about your career path and what you want to do. If you’re lucky enough to make it to the interviewing stage, you will need to be prepared with an explanation should this question arise.
Searching for reasons
Although it is important to keep up with the opportunities that today’s evolving job market offers in your industry, it actually makes sense at a certain point to just disconnect and focus on your current job. If you’re not in a situation where a job change is possible, investing your focus and energy in your current job may be a better choice. Job browsing can be misleading and disheartening sometimes, if you don’t get the full picture. For example, a job that appears to be similar to you but pays one and half what you’re getting paid may have many caveats that you won’t know unless you go through the hiring process. The bottom line: Don’t get too involved in a job-search process unless you’ve set your mind on moving jobs. This should be the starting point.
If you still can’t stop yourself from applying for jobs that you’re fully sure you want, make sure that you mention clearly in your cover letter that you don’t allow any contact with your current except with your permission.
If things still go wrong with your employer knowing about your job search or a potential employer quizzing you about your previous applications, the best way to mitigate the damages is to just admit your careless approach to some job openings. Carelessness is never a good excuse, but if it is the truth you better make it clear to everyone involved.
Rania Oteify is a former Gulf News Business Features Editor is currently a Seattle-based editor.