Recruiting, retained or contingency, involves (or should, anyway) directly approaching individuals who, based on their title or position, might well have the experience to handle the job description and position for which the client is seeking someone. The individuals who are approached, of course, are usually currently employed at one of the client's competitors.
If that individual is you, what would you do? What would you do when a recruiter calls and briefly outlines an opportunity with an unnamed company? Obviously if you're unhappy where you are and the opportunity sounds interesting, you're going to bite.
But I'm not talking about that scenario. I'm talking about the response when you ARE happy where you are. Because there's a smart way to respond and a not-so-smart way to respond. And either choice impacts your career far more than you'd think it does!
So there you are, sitting at your desk working on an important project, when the phone rings. And you pick it up. It's a recruiter, who introduces himself, his firm, and asks if you have a minute. What do you say? "Thanks for calling, but I'm happy where I am." And hang up the phone? WRONG ANSWER!!!!
Why? Because you just cut yourself off from knowing what's moving and shaking in your industry, which means you just cut yourself off from hearing about unadvertised opportunities that could potentially leverage your career.
You've just made the decision to limit your options. And if you don't have access to information, you can't make an informed decision, can you?
What should you do instead? No matter how happy you are with your current company, listen to what the recruiter has to say. You have a far better chance of leveraging your career when a recruiter calls you rather than when (and if) you contact a recruiter.
There are people who are truly happy with their current position and not interested in currently making a change, regardless of the opportunity presented to them at that moment. But you listen anyway, not to change, but to develop a relationship and keep yourself informed and in control for you when you do need to change.
If you aren't in control of your career, then your company is. Corporate restructuring, layoffs and downsizing are taking place with alarming frequency as companies tighten their belts and look hard at who is contributing and who isn't.
Sometimes it isn't even a matter of contribution. In those plushy carpeted, window offices, the top executives and board members comfortably decide whose heads will roll and for what reason. Sometimes it's simply eliminating an entire department - and it has nothing to do with YOU, individually, at all. For instance, it's not uncommon for a new manager or president to come in and bring his own people with him.
But it can happen that quickly, and it can happen to you.
Will you have a network to fall back on if it does? Will you have relationships developed with recruiters that you can tap into on a moment's notice? Develop it before you need it. The time to take control of your career is exactly when you think it isn't necessary: when you are happy and successful where you are.