While I agree that sometimes the “best time to look for a job is when one has a job,” unemployed people actually have several advantages in the job search arena, and in-house recruiters appreciate these advantages much more than recruiters for hire. If you are working mostly with recruiters for hire, then you have probably heard this “best time to look for a job is when one has a job” adage frequently because one of the selling points that recruiters for hire have traditionally offered their clients is the ability to identify passive (ie employed) candidates. So for decades recruiters for hire have been telling their clients (employers) that currently employed candidates are “better” candidates. Some recruiters for hire reinforce this concept by telling employers if someone is unemployed, there must be something wrong with them. This has created an unjustified bias against unemployed candidates.
When I recruit, here are the advantages I see for unemployed candidates. First, the unemployed come without a fee. Second, they are available for a phone screen on my schedule and my hiring manager’s schedule – this can save a week or more of scheduling time. Third, they are available on my schedule and the hiring manager’s schedule for initial interviews and follow-up interviews – this can literally save 2-3 weeks in the hiring process. Fourth, they are an easier sell, and they are much less likely to slow down the process with negotiation of salary, vacation, job titles, gym and country club memberships, relo, and car leases, which can save another week in the hiring process. Fifth, they don’t need to give notice, and they aren’t subject to counter-offers, which can save at least 2 weeks, and in some cases, prevents the restart of the whole process when you realize your offer was just leverage to get their current employer to give an additional week of vacation. Sixth, and this can be the most important, people who have been unemployed, appreciate the job, and have a better attitude.