How to Job Search When You’re Super Busy

how to job search when you're super busyJob-hunting is challenging enough when you have a typical full-time career — but how do you handle looking for a new position when you work long hours in a job that makes it hard to get away for networking and interviews? We’ve talked a lot about interviewing, job-hunting, and networking over the years (and certainly finding time to date when you’re super busy, as well as how to make time for friends when you work a lot), but we haven’t specifically discussed this topic. So how do you job search when you’re super busy?

Recently, a reader asked a question (in the comments on a post) about how to deal with this issue. Here’s her situation:

How do you find time to job search when you are working crazy hours and can’t get away easily, like in ibanking/consulting/law? Any tips from people who have gone through this? When did you let people know anything about your job search? If you used your network did you ask people not to talk about the fact that you are job searching?

She got some great responses that we thought we’d round up for the benefit of others with the same question. Those of you with more advice and experience here, though, please weigh in — what are your best tips on how to job search when you’re super busy and it’s hard to leave the office?

  • One reader suggested blocking out time for “meetings” on your calendar for when you need to meet someone for networking. (This only works in certain office situations, of course, and if you’re able to do so without making your supervisor or coworkers suspicious).
  • Another reader said, “The answer is you just do it. Doctors appt., be late to work, mysteriously disappear at points. If you want to leave you have to sort of balance that against your work reputation.” (She added, “No one will talk about you job searching because at least in IBD everyone is always job searching on some level.”)
  • Another shared that she trusted a particular friend/colleague to cover for her when she had to travel to job interviews — and that she had to use “lots of unexplained closed doors” to do phone interviews.

In addition to these great tips on how to job search when you’re super busy, you also may want to check out our recent(ish) post on the best LinkedIn settings for job hunting — as well as steal some tips from our posts on how to handle frequent doctors’ appointments at the office or how to make time for therapy. (Particularly, you may want to try to leave one morning “unscheduled” with work meetings so you can easily schedule calls, interviews, and other networking during that reserved time — and your assistant or coworkers may just assume you have a standing appointment with a therapist or personal trainer.)

For those of you who’ve dealt with this problem, what advice do you have for this reader? What are your best methods to leave the office to network and interview? How do you use your network discreetly? 

Further reading:

  • How to Keep a Job Search Discreet [Harvard Business Review]
  • Why do companies make it so hard for employed candidates to interview? [Ask a Manager]
  • How do you get time off work to go to interviews without lying? [Ask a Manager]
  • ‘Help! I’m interviewing for jobs and don’t know how to leave work without lying’ [Business Insider]
  • Faking It While Job Hunting [Monster]

Pictured: Deposit Photos / © to job search when you're super busy and can't leave office for networking

What are the best tips on how to job search when you're super busy -- SO busy in fact that it's hard to leave the office? Our readers came up with some great ideas for the busy lawyers and investment bankers out there, and we added some of our own tips on how to keep your job search under wraps (but moving forward).


  1. Gift hunter :

    DH and I have an anniversary coming up, and while we typically don’t really do gifts I’d like to get him a little something. He has a job switch coming up which will essentially transition him from a “chained-to-the-office” guy to a WFH, weekend road warrior small business owner. We have two young kids, he has a hobby that I would not be able to buy for, and my go-to gifts of cool socks, ties, weird office toys don’t make sense anymore. Something fun for frequent business travel? Something that says “I’m proud of you?” I am stumped for ideas.

    • Senior Attorney :

      We like to take our Amazon Echo on the road for weather reports, music, alarm clock function, and all manner of fun things like playing Jeopardy every morning. Is that something he might like? You can get an Echo Dot for $49.99 if that counts as a little something…

    • Noise-cancelling headphones, if the business travel includes flying.

  2. Life Happens :

    Planning a trip to Bali. Anyone been? Any suggestions on where to stay? Going with the SO and was hoping for one of the amazing nature-friendly hotels that have the bungalows right on the water – or something in that ilk.

    Thoughts? Ideas? Thanks in advance!

    • Bali is awesome. We went last summer and it was beautiful. Different neighborhoods have very different vibes, so pick places to stay based on your interests…
      1. Seminyak feels like Honolulu with lovely beachfront bars and a pretty western vibe. If you are in this area, do try Ku Te Da and Potato Head.
      2. Ubud is the place to get pampered and to splurge on the holtels. Any of the several 5* places will be great.If you can, spring for a villa they come with small private plunge pools and evening cocktails included. I know of Maya Ubud and Kamandalu. We stayed at Kamandalu, and though they are a little pricey (for SE asia esp) the service and experience are amazing.
      3. Kuta area is overflowing with young kids getting wasted and is the “party hub”. This was the place we liked least but YMMV.
      4. Ulawatu/South Bali- We werent able to make it but friends that did make it loved it

      Other notes:
      If you are from the US, Zomato is your Bali equivalent of Yelp.
      Pack a lot of sunblock. A LOT.
      Rent a bike if you can. It is a lot of fun!
      Uber is active but hated by locals. (may have changed since we were there)

    • Stay at Seminyak or Nusa Dua. Jimbaran is lovely but fewer options, more pricey.

      We stayed at the Samaya in Seminyak and it was heaven! 5 mins walk from Ku De Ta.

      Kuta is all bars and noise.

  3. Anomnibus :

    The roommate saga continues

    I called the building management company to see how much time I had to find a new roommate. I was hoping to just confirm that I have until July, but actually, I have until June 1st to give them a name, that’s a hard deadline. Hard as in inflexible. If I don’t find someone by then, I’ll need to look for a new place.

    Now I’m really stressed out and kind of want to smack my roommate for giving me less than a month to find someone to take his half of the lease.

    • Anony-mouse :

      Haven’t been following the saga, but if you’re anywhere near any universities see if there are graduate student housing boards you can access. Grad students (or law or med students) are typically older and less of a pain to live with than undergrads, and this is the time of year that they’re all looking for housing.

    • Anonymous :

      Is that deadline written into your lease? If not, I would push back on that.

    • How about posting something on Craigslist and having an open house to see if you get any interested parties, just so you can feel more in control of the situation? That way, you’ve got some contacts drummed up in case your bf decides he’s not ready to move in. I had a similar situation a few years ago, where an existing roommate gave me very little notice. In my case, a friend was about to move to my city pending a job offer, and while I hoped her offer would come in time, just in case it didn’t, posting an ad and meeting some potential roommates helped me feel much more at ease and then I had a backup plan.

  4. Anonymous :

    I feel like you’re making this a bigger deal than it is.

  5. Anonymous :

    What do you do when you need to be out of the office for a full day?

  6. Shopaholic :

    For job searching/interviews, I’ve had a few meetings out of the office with recruiters and a couple interviews. I’ve tried to schedule them as close to lunch hour as possible so I’m just “going for lunch”. When it was cooler, I would just put my jacket on top of my suit and it didn’t look too obtrusive. Not sure what I’m doing to do now that it’s warmer out so it’ll be more obvious that I’m “going for lunch” in my nicest suit. I’ve also had “appointments”. Generally, I’m only out of the office for up to an hour so I’m not missing for that long.

  7. It’s even tougher when you work for a small company in a casual dress code, open office setting.

    People notice if you’re gone. You can’t dress up.

    It’s pretty much doctor’s appointments and feigning sickness.

  8. Former PA :

    Not an ‘in the moment’ strategy, but generally be polite to your group’s assistant. I didn’t cover for or hide anything for people who were rude or yelled at me a lot. I did favors for people who were nice to me.

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