Nobody with any sense of ego, drive, determination or adventure wants to find themselves lamenting missed opportunities to do more, see more, or accomplish more. As recruiters, we find ourselves presenting qualified candidates with professional opportunities which would very likely fulfill their desire to advance their careers,
almost on a daily basis.
For some, the choice is intriguing. The opportunity may be with a larger company with an increase in responsibilities and compensation, or even a once-in-a-lifetime chance to live near in-laws. For others, the choice is rather simple. The new position offers a chance to get back on their feet, feel good about themselves and begin to rebuild the savings and 401k accounts exhausted due to a lengthy bout with the unemployment virus.
Occasionally, we speak with candidates who stumble upon a real but enviable quandary: Will this opportunity lead them to something better than what they already have?
Uncovering this requires actually demonstrating an interest in the candidate's career. One of the very first questions I ask, after I've explained the position, client, location, compensation, advantages, long-term outlook, etc., is "Why would you be interested in this position?" (Note: If this question isn't asked of you at some point very early in the process, it's best to simply hang up. The recruiter is only interested in the fee, not your career. I've run across a recruiter like this myself.)
To be frank, most candidates aren't expecting this question up front in the process. However, it's perhaps one of the most important. It can lead to all sorts of important information about the candidate's current situation. Sometimes, this simple discussion helps them realize what they've achieved, where they are in their career, what real prospects may (or may not) exist, and what their priorities may need to be.
These are my favorite discussions.
To be honest, candidates aren't used to hearing they're already on the greener side of the fence. If a candidate has been with the same company for many years (despite several rounds of cost-cutting), has been either promoted or moved laterally several times, earns a competitive compensation, has a nice family with kids in a stable
school, lives near relatives, enjoys the employer, likes going to work every day, has some money in a 401k, can speak honestly with the company's owner or senior management, feels quite secure in their position, is asked to train others, participates in company committees or study groups, etc. (you get the picture), the truth is, they are in a very enviable position. 99.999% of today's unemployed, and underemployed (even many employed) would love to trade places.
I tell them that. I tell them to spend more time continuously improving their skills and industry knowledge – making them even more valuable to their employer. I tell them to get their MBA's – if they actually find themselves looking for work, having an MBA plus many years with the same employer is a GREAT thing to have on a resume. I tell them to worry less about endlessly striving for what others appear to have (career-wise) and more on increasing their own value. I tell them many years at one company is much more than the assumption of a long career with a new employer.
Sometimes people need to hear this. We're so pre-conditioned into thinking our careers must always be aggressively moving to the next level in order to be considered successful. Stable and expanding is also successful. It may not sound glamourous, but it is still successful.