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Should You Talk to a Recruiter When You Already Have a Job?

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Why are recruiters important?

Recruiters can play an important role in helping you look for jobs and test the market, even if you’re already happy where you are.

You never know: There could be a job out there that pays more and better aligns with what you want out of work.

We spoke with Director of Recruiting Operations Anthony Oliver who has over 20 years of recruiting experience. He explained the value in responding to a recruiter even when you are content with your current job.

The takeaway? Stay curious and keep the lines of communication open.

When should I talk to a recruiter?

When you’re not actively looking for a job, you’re probably not expecting a recruiter to approach you. But if they do, don’t push them away. There’s nothing wrong with talking to a recruiter when you’re employed. They can shed some light on whether it’s a good time to put yourself out there.

Can recruiters be trusted?

Specialized recruiters can be trusted because they know things about your career path you don’t. They spend their days studying job requirements, consulting directly with hiring managers and connecting job seekers to careers.

Oliver explains, “When you find a great recruiter, they’ll be able to do everything you can do and quite a bit more. They will have direct access to not only more jobs, but also access to the company’s decision makers. This equips you with the information needed to determine if you have found THE job not just A job.” 

The best questions to ask a recruiter:

  • What’s the demand for my skillset?
  • How does my pay compare to the local market?
  • What’s the career path for someone in a role like mine?
  • How often should I be communicating with you regarding open positions?
  • What sort of things will potentially prevent me from securing a great position through you?
  • What sort of things can I do to make myself more marketable to employers?

By the way, it’s a recruiter’s job to keep these conversations confidential. So, your boss doesn’t ever have to find out.

What will a recruiter ask me?

A helpful recruiter will ask what you enjoy about your job and what you’d change. It may take some time to dig in and reflect but knowing how to answer those questions is crucial.

“When you’ve highlighted your preferences, recruiters will be better equipped with what types of jobs they should be presenting you with. A recruiter’s job is not to just send you 100 open positions, any candidate can use several different tools at their disposal to do that. A recruiter’s job is to match great jobs with great people. The more they understand exactly what a candidate is looking for, the higher rate for success,” says Oliver.

Questions a recruiter will ask you:

  • What’s your total compensation?
  • What does your benefits package offer?
  • Does your company offer other benefits, like a flexible schedule?
  • Is there a clear opportunity for advancement?
  • Why would you ever consider leaving your current employer?
  • What is your dream job/dream company?
  • How do you know you are valued at your current employer?

Having this information on hand will allow you to compare your job to other opportunities and help define your baseline requirements. A good recruiter’s goal will be to understand the ideal job and let you know if they see it now or in the future.

And if you get the chance to interview, considering taking it even if you’re not sure. The interview might show you a job you could really enjoy — one that could position you for even better roles down the road.

What are the qualities of a recruiter?

A quality recruiter is someone you can trust. They won’t treat you like another checkbox on their to-do list. Instead, they’ll try to connect with you as a person, ask what you're looking to get out of your career and offer their services to you at no cost.

Take it from Anthony: “A few signs that your recruiter is genuinely interested in you would be them calling you often and promptly. They ask lots of questions not just about a job opening they may be trying to fill, but also about the candidate themselves and their goals related to the job search. They take an interest in the person beyond just their skill set.”

Is it a candidate-driven market?

It’s a candidate-driven market, where you can request more flexibility and better pay than ever before.

“If you're happy in your current job, it's going to take an even better situation for you to commit to something new. Consider what you truly want and need and ask for it. With employers more flexible than ever, now is the time to get what you want,” says Rousse.

There’s no harm in seeing what other opportunities are out there.

Use a recruiter’s knowledge to your advantage. Consider every option, and if you find a role you want, ask yourself: What would it take for me to make this happen?