How Flexible Do I Need to Be When Job Searching?

By Joe Stein

Virtually all employers are trying to tap into the “passive” job seeker pool.  By “passive” job seekers, I am referencing those individuals that are currently employed and will consider changing companies for the right role.  In fact, WNYJOBS.com has a great online tool for “passive” job seekers (go to:  http://www.wnyjobs.com/Portal.aspx  )  that allows you to create a profile that employers can view and contact you if they are interested.  If you fit this category and have not explored this portion of the site, you should check it out.

This tool from WNYJOBS.com really takes quite a bit of the work out of searching for a new job.  This is huge for a “passive” job seeker because balancing your existing job with family and other obligations can leave little time for a job search.  There is, however, the need to make yourself available for phone and in-person interviewing, as well as any testing, such as a drug screen that is required.

If you are currently employed, a Hiring Manager should work with you in order to find a time that is mutually agreeable to meet.  The prospective employer should understand that your first priority is your current job and respect the dedication that you have, even if you are thinking of leaving.  If the Hiring Manager is giving you an inflexible schedule in which to meet with you, it probably is a sign regarding what the company will be like to work for if you join them.

There are some companies that will expect you to take time off in order to interview. In my opinion, this should be the exception rather than the rule, as in most occasions an appointment can be worked out without having to do this.  This usually means meeting early in the day (such as 7am EST) or later in the day (such as 5pm EST).  Most Hiring Managers will understand, especially if they are truly interested in hiring you.  Try to give the interviewer some options of early/late in the day, or days in the week to display some degree of flexibility.

There are still some companies, however, who insist on having you interview with several people at the same time in a series of interviews.  In those circumstances, it will be almost impossible not to take ½ or even a full day off from your current job in order to participate.  This is a large investment on your part, so make sure this appears to be a position that you are really interested in.  Don’t be afraid to ask the Recruiter or Hiring Manager some preliminary questions in order to gauge whether there will be a fit.  I would go even as far as exploring whether a high-level pay conversation should be held in order to make sure both parties are in the same general range.

So, if you are going to take some time off for interviews, there are a few things to keep in mind.  First, make sure you have the time.  Second, limit your time off that is not related to your search. And third, try to schedule these interviews on any days that you already had prescheduled off. 

If you are unemployed or working a part-time schedule, then a prospective employer is going to be less likely to be flexible.  You do not have the built-in restriction of your current position and a Hiring Manager is going to be less understanding.  It is going to be expected that you will be able to meet for an interview when requested.  If you provide some excuses or delay the process, the prospective employer will probably start to question how much you want the position or assume you will provide this same level of difficulty if hired. 

There is not much that can be done regarding taking your drug screen.  A laboratory has limited hours that are almost always within normal business hours.  There are also not a large number of centers that administer drug screens in Western New York, potentially leaving you with a drive.  Adding to the challenge is that virtually none of them take appointments, leaving you to show up like everyone else to provide your sample.  The bottom line is unless you luck out and a location is near your home or work, you will probably need to take ½ a day off in order to provide your sample.  The good news is that if you make it to this point, you have the job pending the results of the test. If you know you have not consumed drugs, then passing will not be an issue and “sneaking” around your current employer is no longer the concern it had been.

Of course, any job seeker should have some degree of flexibility with a prospective employer.  If you are a “passive” seeker, however, it is generally understood that you may have some restrictions on your schedule.  The key is to not be afraid to communicate to your prospective employer what you will need in order to be able to schedule.

As always, best of luck in your job search!