This advice may seem counter-intuitive but hear me out. You should actively look for a new job when you are happy and everything is going well at work.
The commonly held belief is that an employee seeks out a new job when they are dissatisfied with their work, afraid of being downsized, worried over internal corporate changes that may adversely affect them, concerned about talk of relocation abroad, getting passed over for a promotion or suffering from dealing with a terrible boss.
It is assumed that you should start thinking about looking for a new job after you start noticing these types of issues. As these ominous signs become blatantly obvious that something is wrong, people will still suggest that you give it more time and maybe things will improve. More often than not, a bad situation usually worsens. You start going down a slippery slope. Your confidence erodes and your fear about the future escalates to an uncomfortable level.
Everyday it feels like you are walking through a landmine. Will your manager explode into a manic rage over an innocuous matter? I didn’t get the raise, promotion or bonus. How do I handle this? Will I be fired now? Was this meant as a warning? Is it me or does everyone seem tense and on edge? I can't believe that George was fired. He was one of the best people in my group. Who will be next? As the situation worsens, it becomes difficult to think clearly as you are overwhelmed and afraid of what will happen next.
The antidote to this scenario is to to seek out a new job when times are good and not wait until you're in dire straits. My contrarian strategy is simple. When you are happy at work, there are many advantages that will enable you to shine and succeed in the interview.
You will be more relaxed and confident when you interview, as you know that there is a great job awaiting you when you return to the office. If you do well in the interview, that is fantastic. If you don’t, it's no big deal.
People always seem to want what they can’t have. If you are well-regarded at your job, it enhances your attractiveness. The company that you are interviewing with would love to steal a top talent from their competitor.
You have greater bargaining power since you already have a safe and secure job and will feel more comfortable when it comes to negotiations.
Since you already have a solid position, you will have the confidence to ask for a much higher compensation, title or benefits.
Without the pressure of a job in jeopardy, you have the luxury of waiting as long as it takes to find an amazing position that you truly love.
Conversely, when you are dissatisfied or worried about the safety of your job, here is what happens.
Concerns about the safety of your current job will make you more nervous and anxious in the interview process. Interviewers will pick up on this and feel uncomfortable and question whether you have what it takes to succeed in their role.
You will be afraid to ask for more money out of fear of losing the opportunity.
Since your self-confidence is crushed, you may not even feel up to looking for a new job. Many people need months to mentally and emotionally recuperate from a being in a bad situation at work. The longer you wait to initiate a search, the more interviewers will wonder if you were the problem at your last job.
You will likely sacrifice money, title, benefits, a private office or seniority for safety.
It is easy to come across as too eager and desperate in your efforts to find a life raft from the sinking ship you’re on.
Your anxiety level is much higher, which will hinder your performance in the interview process.
People will smell the desperation on you and it will turn them off.
There is little chance to leverage the possibility of a counter offer to gain a better salary.
My advice is to pursue a counter-intuitive approach toward interviewing; start searching for a new job when you are happy, confident and self-assured in your current role. This will increase your attractiveness to potential employers, which result in a higher-level job with more money, increased responsibilities and stature within the new company.