By far, the best time to look for a job is when you already have a great job.
You don’t always need to be on an active job search, but taking calls from recruiters as well as occasionally networking and listening to what else is out there can be very beneficial.
NOTE: If you’re looking for the best time of year to find a job, I wrote a separate article on that subject. You can find it here.
Why the best time to look for jobs is when you already have one:
1. You’re not desperate.
You are in a better position to judge new opportunities if you already have a job. You’ll be more selective and less likely to accept the first new job you are offered. If you only look for jobs when you’re unemployed or unhappy, your judgement is going to be clouded and you’ll often take the first opportunity you come across in order to get out of your current situation. A passive job search will be calmer, more enjoyable, and will yield better results.
2. You’ll have more leverage to negotiate with.
You’ll find yourself in a much better position to negotiate and make requests if you’re currently employed and considered a passive job candidate. If you only consider and accept new jobs when you’re unemployed or actively searching, you’ll always be negotiating from a position of weak leverage. In short, you’re not going to make as much money or get as many perks as you could.
3. You will eliminate the issue of timing.
The best opportunities aren’t always available, and you’re not always actively looking for jobs. If you only consider a new job when you’re in need of one, it’s unlikely that the best opportunities will be available to you simply due to timing. Great opportunities don’t come around each month or even each year. If you want the best jobs and the fastest career growth, you absolutely need to explore a few different options even when you’re happily employed.
4. You’ll gain a new perspective on your current job.
At the very least, interviewing and exploring external opportunities will provide insight into some of the things that can be improved within your current company. It will also shed light on what you like and dislike about your current role. Hearing what else is out there can only be beneficial.
Because of the reasons above, the best time to look for a job is when you already have one. Don’t wait until you’re desperate, laid off, or unemployed to start job searching. You’ll find better opportunities and be able to take your time in selecting the right position if you job search while you’re already employed.