Why Is It Easier to Get a Job While You’re Employed?

Job Search While EmployedThere’s old conventional wisdom that says it’s easier to get a new job while you’re in a job, than when you’re unemployed.

Why is that? Simply because employers are biased against the unemployed? Or is there something else going on?

While there are some employers that have biases against people that are unemployed, that’s generally not the a deciding factor in the vast majority of cases.

Some employers do believe that if someone was let go from a previous position, there must have been a reason for it. Companies generally don’t want to lose their best people, so some employers assume that if you were let go, you must not have been that good. Particularly in today’s job market, that view is very unfounded.

Unfortunately, when companies are looking to make drastic cuts to their budgets, they often chop with an axe instead of carve carefully with a scalpel to keep what they want. They often eliminate entire divisions, departments, or teams. Sometimes they make decisions purely based on seniority, or job functions. Sometimes they look for the biggest salaries to cut, or other arbitrary criteria that have nothing to do with an individual’s performance. A bias against unemployed / laid-off candidates is by far the exception rather than the rule since it is not a solid criteria for evaluating a prospective employee.

So what is going on?

More often than not… unemployed candidates are too eager! While employers want to find candidates that are enthusiastic, passionate, and have a desire to be at their organization, unemployed candidates often stand out as taking it a little too far.

Employed candidates, who don’t need a new job, generally spend their time evaluating the employer as much as the employer is evaluating them. They are more “hard to get”. Similar to dating… generally the one that’s a little harder to get is often perceived as more attractive than the one that’s too “easy”. To an employer, the hard to get candidate is perceived as more confident and professional.

How does “too eager” look in an interview?

  • They are overly agreeable. Regardless how a position or work environment is described, the over-eager candidate says it sounds great.
  • They sometimes stretch their abilities. In fear of sounding under-qualified, over-eager candidates sometimes exaggerate their experience and skills. Claiming to have solid experience where they may only have had exposure.
  • They ask superficial questions. Instead of digging into the culture, job duties, management style and other factors that would impact them directly as an employee, they ask generically about the company’s strategy, financial outlook, or other not directly applicable questions.

How have you looked to a potential employer? A little over-eager, or somewhat hard to get? You may find that a slight shift in your perspective can give you better results!


Harry Urschel has over 20 years experience as a technology recruiter in Minnesota. He currently operates as e-Executives, writes a blog for Job Seekers called The Wise Job Search, and can be found on Twitter as @eExecutives.

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