Waiting until you need a job is the worst time to look for one. Even if you like the job you have, looking for the next opportunity is a smart career move.
If you’re looking for a job while you’re still gainfully employed doing something you like, your job search is really about making a step up—whether that’s an increase in your position on increasing your scope and responsibilities. If you wait until you need a job, your next job may end up being lateral or even a step backwards. Looking for a job before you actually need one is more of a career move than a job hunt.
If you’re not in a hurry for new job, that’s even better. You can foster a network within your industry (which you should be doing anyway) and lay the groundwork by asking people in your network about the job market. You can even plant the seed that, while you are happy where you are, you would like to hear about new opportunities. Something might come up next month or next year, but at least you will hear about it. Be sure to share the job market knowledge you pick up with others in your network. In other words, be sure to give, not just take.
You should also connect with headhunters who deal in the industry and type of position you are interested in. Let them know what you’re looking for so if a job comes up that fits your requirements, they will check to see if you’re interested. There’s nothing wrong with being approached about a new job. If you want, you can pursue it. If not, just say no thanks—this time. And if you can, help them out and pass it along to someone else in your network who may be interested.