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I've seen this posted a few times in comments and answers but it doesn't seem to be covered within a question yet.

Why is it considered easier to secure another job when you already have one?

10 Answers 10

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Because the research backs it up:

Unemployed people got just 16% of job offers, despite making 40% of the applications, and those offers came with lower pay and fewer hours and benefits than those extended to people already working.

Source


One reason it might be easier to find a job when you’re already employed is that you’re not too eager to get the new job. Eagerness is a dead giveaway when job-hunting, says Job-Hunt. And of course, if you already have a job, normally you’re not over-eager or desperate. You don’t absolutely HAVE to have a new job, like someone who’s wondering about how to pay the rent next month.

Source


According to a recent survey of job seekers and human resources professionals, employers find “passive job seekers”—those who are employed but open to new opportunities—significantly more attractive than “active job seekers” who are unemployed and searching for work.

Source


We have found that “on‑the‑job” search is common among employed workers, and that the job search process is more effective for currently employed workers than for the unemployed.

Image of job application success

Even though unemployed workers search about seven times as hard as the employed ... , they only generate about twice the number of offers.

Employed workers actively looking for work receive the greatest number of employer contacts and job offers.

Even those employed workers who are not looking for new work receive a substantial number of employer contacts and offers.

Image of contracts recieved

R. Jason Faberman, Andreas I. Mueller, Ayşegül Şahin, Rachel Schuh, and Giorgio Topa, “How Do People Find Jobs?” Federal Reserve Bank of New York Liberty Street Economics (blog), April 5, 2017,

Source


Generally it's been concluded that because people are in a stronger negotiation position, so tend to come across less over eager, they tend to get offers. Also already having a job can help boost confidence during the interview. But these conclusions aren't based on facts, they are opinions and so should be taken with a grain of salt.

The statistics mainly say that people who have a job already and have applied for a job are more successful at receiving an offer than those that are unemployed. Reasoning as to why could be many things, so far people in the comments have suggested:

And the articles tend to suggest it's because people are over eager to get a job when unemployed. Take your pick as to why you think unemployed people are less successful at getting a job.

Another thing to consider is that these articles mostly seem to come from a US based centric. I've not found any statistics from other countries as of yet.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Monica Cellio Mar 18 '18 at 2:27
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    I would like to add that as an employer, you will tend to think that a person already doing the job is more likely to be capable of doing the job than someone who does not have one. While there may still be issues, it is much less likely you'll end up with someone entirely unsuitable. – bytepusher Mar 19 '18 at 20:45
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I'm not sure if it is only about "attitude".

Very often, when hiring, one wonders whether or not the candidate truly wants the job. If you're willing to leave someplace that is currently paying you money and work with me, then I'm reasonably sure that you want to work with me, as opposed to need to.

That is, assuming I'm not overpaying you, the reason you are coming to me is that you want to come to me - that you're interested in something beyond the paycheck. Which means that you will probably last some years, letting me focus on the core business, instead of focusing on trying to find someone to help me focus on the core business.

If you're unemployed, I don't have that guarantee. I do know you want a job, but is it any job? Will you likely jump again in a few months? Do you even want to work in my industry, let alone work with me? Or are you applying because you need work.

All other things (about the candidate) being equal then, it's less of a risk to hire the person with the job. You would have to make a case to hire the unemployed person, and if they did end up bailing, then you (the hiring person) would have your opinion somewhat tarnished.

Nobody wants that, and it's easier to hire the safe bet - so people with jobs tend to be hired over the unemployed.

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    Will you likely jump again in a few months? And why is that not a concern with those who are employed but looking for a change? If I do not like working at your place, I'll jump again. Whether I'm employed and looking for job or unemployed doesn't make a difference. – asprin Mar 16 '18 at 10:39
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    @asprin This is why employers scrutinize CVs for signs of "job hopping", expect you to put in a few years before applying for other roles, and want a solid reason for why you're leaving/want the new job. – jpatokal Mar 16 '18 at 12:03
  • @asprin It's a matter of probability. Sure, some people are flaky and will jump ship regardless of whether they were employed at the time you hired them. But people who are unemployed are statistically more likely to apply for jobs they aren't excited about and that they will "trade in" for something better as soon as they can. That factor is simply absent with employed candidates. – Lilienthal Mar 16 '18 at 15:16
  • "The reason is you want to come to me". This is not always the case. It happens that people seek jobs to boost their salary. If they can get more at another place they have something to show their boss. "Hey someone thinks I'm worth this much". Or is your definition of overpaying someone paying any more than you would absolutely need to? – mathreadler Mar 16 '18 at 20:30
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Employed is a data point.

If you are unemployed then several options:

  • fired

  • laid off

  • quit

Fired makes you less hireable. Even with laid off typically the lowest performers are targeted first. Even quit is not great. Did you quit without a job because you are not tolerant.

Everything else equal an employed person has the edge.

A reasonable person would not conclude statistics of 86% of offers went to employed versus 14% means you have a 6:1 better chance if you are employed. No rational employer would give that much weight to employed. If an unemployed person is clearly the most qualified they would get the job offer. For a 6:1 difference need to conclude the pool of employed people is more qualified pool in general. Have a job helps to support your qualifications but it does not give you qualifications you don't have.

Also from the answer from bharal you are more likely taking the job for the right reasons and stay longer if you are employed. Employed is not likely to blast applications to jobs they are not really qualified for. If 80% of the population is employed and yet only 40% of the applicants then clearly the employed population is more selective about the jobs they apply to. You are not accepting a job for a paycheck while you look for the job you really want.

There was a comment on wait time for employed to put in notice. If they need someone to start right now then unemployed is an advantage. If it is a long hiring process then employed would probably be favored as they are more likely to still be available when the offer is made.

Let me give another false statistic. Yale graduates get offers 30% higher compared to state schools. Does not prove causality. If you can get into Yale you will like get a job offer higher than average even if you go to a state school. The name Yale did not cause the 30% - it is a strong pool of students. Yes the name Yale be a bump but it is only a small piece of that 30%. I don't know if Yale really get 30% more - it is just an example.

Another false statistic. Adults are more likely to face arrest when caught shop lifting. Which is true. But adults are also more likely to steal expensive items. With cost factored in there is no age bias.

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    Do employers not consider the fact that they will have to wait for their new employee + a potential loyalty issue? Good answer though some very good points – Twyxz Mar 16 '18 at 12:17
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    Yup, this is the main reason from the employer's perspective in my experience, +1. The most common of the three possibilities you mention is laid off. Sometimes whole plants are closed, but still, why did you hang on to the end instead of jumping off the ship when there was still a ship to jump from? If a 10% layoff, then why weren't you part of the 90% they decided to keep? Most laid off candidates I've interviewed were low quality, with a more prevalent attitude that the world owed them something because they got laid off. No, it doesn't work that way. – Olin Lathrop Mar 16 '18 at 12:32
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    Even with laid off typically the lowest performers are targeted first. Very often, highly effective people are let go because of the expense. Less effective employees are assigned tasks of the highly effective to not only save money, but also as a test to see if the employee will sink or swim. In other words, you do well, you may not get laid off. This is a high risky move, however, sometimes the company is looking at the bottom line far more than completion of tasks. I have seen the decision to possibly fail a customer and make excuses far superior than paying higher salaries. – closetnoc Mar 16 '18 at 15:30
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    I mean no insult of course. Mostly this depends upon the industry and the situation. Laying off expensive employees is common within the telecommunications industry for example where churn and burn is common. Part of this is that there are so many young and inexperienced new comers available to take on any task they should not in the hopes of accelerating their career. For the employer, they do not care if the young employee succeeds or not when there is a long line of people willing to take on the task ready to go at a moment's notice. It is more common than people think. Sad really. Cheers!! – closetnoc Mar 16 '18 at 16:07
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    Under normal economic conditions many companies have layoffs just to get rid of the under-performers. Thus, in normal times, the odds tend to lean towards the laid-off under-performer stereotype. However, in bad economic times, like from the 2009 through 2016 time-frame, many companies had multiple layoffs. The first 1 or 2 might have hit mainly the under-performers but after that the cuts hit bone. There was a large degree of luck as to who got cut. If you just finished a project at the time cuts are being made or someone else's manager has more clout than yours then bye-bye. – Dunk Mar 21 '18 at 18:34
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Why is it considered easier to secure another job when you already have one?

Because it shows that at least one other company thinks you are worth hiring and worth keeping. It's an "honest reference".


Honest references are hard to get (especially in some European countries like mine, where everything except unrealistic, exaggerated praise is forbidden by law). Thus, you only have the cover letter, the CV and the school grades available to decide whether a potential candidate is worth the "cost" of interviewing.

So you dig through the application and look for red and green flags. Being unemployed for a long period of time is a red flag, because it (often) means that a lot of other companies looked at you and none of them thought it a good idea to hire you. Obviously, it can be really hard to get out of this situation. Still having a job while job hunting prevents you from getting into this situation in the first place.

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Some great information already, but a few other points to consider. The longer you are unemployed, the harder it is to get a job. Some companies even automatically throw out any resume if the person has been unemployed over six months. The assumption (whether valid or not is irrelevant) is that if no one else wanted you in that amount of time then you must not be very good. This also means that when you have been unemployed a long time, you will likely have to take a less appealing job just to get employed and you will have to stay in it for sometime to erase the stigma of the long unemployment. This means that voluntary unemployment is fairly risky if you don't get a job immediately.

Another reason to avoid voluntary unemployment is that it tends to make potential employers think you don't have the ability to stick to a task when things aren't perfect or going your way. Since no one has jobs that are perfect and without stress, this is a huge black mark. Persistence, or stick-to-itive-ness, is a really critical skill in all jobs. People hire less technically qualified people who have this quality over highly technically qualified people who do not. You never want to give the impression that you will be out of here at the first sign of a problem. It makes you appear as if you are unrealistic in your assumptions about the workplace, it make you appear as if you can't get along well with others (especially if you bail out without another job more than once) and it makes it appear as if you are someone who expects the company to only make choices that are the things you want. None of those things are pluses to an employer.

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All these answers are correct, however if the question is "is it easier to find a job while employed or unemployed?", we need to consider a different twist.

While it is easier to get a positive answer to a job application while employed, it is actually more difficult to apply for jobs. Job applications require time, require going through interviews, etc., and it is much easier to go to interviews when unemployed than employed.

The ratio effort/result is better for the employed job applicant, but you may be in the condition to spend more "effort" on your job search while unemployed.

I could not find the link to the research article I had read, but when comparing employed people looking for jobs (for whatever reason they needed to change jobs because they knew they may be let go in the future, or they found their current job no longer attractive) and unemployed people looking for jobs, the unemployed people landed a new job faster, due to having a greater ability to look for one.

So, it depends on the definition of "easier".

That said, I would never recommend anyone to quit their job to look for a new one.

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I think it really depends on the country. For instance in France if you passed your probation period and you have a permanent contract called Contrat à Durée Indéterminée (CDI) sometimes it's harder to secure another job. In fact some startups and companies prefer a new graduate over. The government will help them with the taxes and so on because they will be hiring a person with his first contract. It's better to leave during the probation period than wait till you get your permanent contract.

You also have to leave on good terms with your company, you'll need a good reference letter. You'll be asked tons of questions on why do you want to leave your previous job.

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It shows that you are being active.

People get sacked, or more often lose their job because of company restructuring or downsizing. Quite often this doesn’t happen overnight and there are signs that will lead up to this. So looking early for a new job shows an active attitude, it also shows you know how to cope with challenges and changes.

I have experience downsizing and being unprepared to look for a new permanent job. On the other hand I have also been contracting, and knowing that there is an end to the engagement that makes you more proactive.

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There is a type of job search (wide net, senior position) where it is likely easier to find a new job if you don't have one. Because of your track record your motivation and professionalism are not in doubt and you can be trusted to spend your time productively (expanding your skills, spending time with family).

This type of search consists of having on the average two coffees with people per day all the while updating your databases and keeping yourself fresh and energized. Every meeting either nets you new contacts or new opportunities in your search. This kind of trawl is very hard to do if you are working a full-time job.

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Yes, I think so. This is because when you are working already, you get experience from that job and so it becomes easier to find a new job!

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    This answer could use some fleshing out, such as an explanation as to why job experience makes job hunting easier. – GOATNine Aug 15 '18 at 12:33

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