There are a number of reasons why you’d actively look for a job. For example, you may hate what you do, get fired or laid off, or move to a new city. In these circumstances, you spend much of your free time filling out applications and reaching out to your contacts.
But there are a host of other scenarios too, such as starting a new position, enjoying what you do, or feeling like your current role is the key to broader career goals. In these instances, you might take a break from looking around, leave your resume untouched and maybe even let your network grow cold.
Certainly, I’m not suggesting you spend every day scouring job sites regardless of whether you’re actually interested in pursuing new opportunities. However, it’s unwise to see job hunting as an all-or-nothing activity (i.e., that when you want new employment it’s all you can do, and the rest of the time it’s the furthest thing from your mind). Why? Here’s just one example: Your contacts will see right through you reaching out only when you want job leads or a reference.
So, instead of thinking on terms of absolutes, think in terms of degree. This way, you won’t feel like you’re always job hunting or like you never get to take a rest from being a candidate. Instead, you’ll be pursuing a few career-boosting activities (that could also prepare you for an opportunity you don’t even know you want yet).