Is this the latest sign of a job market on the mend? According to a new survey by staffing firm Accountemps, nearly 3 in 10 workers say they are likely to hunt for new gigs while on the clock.
Some think it might be an indicator of increasing career confidence. “(There’s) more action in the marketplace,” Dawn Fay, district president for Robert Half International, told NBC News. More jobs are opening up and employees are feeling more comfortable about perusing new opportunities.
It could also be a generational thing. Turns out, there’s a noticeable age gap between those who are comfortable with job searching at work and those who say they would steer clear.
Nearly half of employees ages 18-34 said they were likely to search during their day jobs, while only 26% of those ages 35-44 and 21% of those ages 45-54 said they would do so. (And, in this instance, “searching” includes not just browsing online postings but also taking calls from recruiters and submitting applications—all while on the clock.)
Some warn that job hunting at work is a slippery slope and that courting other companies could burn bridges at your current gig.
“When it is time to move on, conducting the job hunt using company resources is not only unethical, it places the employee at a high risk of being caught in the act,” Max Messmer, Accountemps chairman, said in a statement.
Luckily, Accountemps offers advice to help on-the-job job hunters conduct their searches the right way.
Look Within—But Do It Quietly
If you’re getting antsy because you’ve outgrown your position, try looking for appropriate openings with your current employer before moving on. And if you are seeking out other places, don’t gab about your search over the water cooler. You may feel friendly with your co-workers, but you never know who could overhear or reveal your plan before you’ve officially turned in your letter of resignation.
Play It Safe
Tweeting about your search is a big no-no—a supervisor might happen upon it and be clued in to your plans. Updating your LinkedIn page at work or printing off resumes on the office machine are also risky moves.
Ask to schedule interviews before or after hours, or during your lunch break. Most hiring managers will understand that you’ll need to work around your office hours.
But if you have scheduled a daytime interview, you might want to consider bringing in a change of clothes. If your work environment is casual, waltzing in one morning in a suit could trigger your boss’s suspicions.
The bottom line: It’s O.K. to look, but keep up the hard work at your current gig and leave on the best of terms. “The world is very small and how you exit can close some doors for you,” Sharlyn Lauby, author of the blog HR Bartender, told NBC News.