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

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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 Taylor Rousse, an Aerotek account recruiting manager, about the value in responding to a recruiter even when you’re content with your current job.

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

Get curious about the job market

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.

Why trust what a recruiter has to say? Because a specialized recruiter 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.

Rousse explains, “I help candidates understand their skillset’s current demand. There’s often more opportunity out there than they realize. I help them find it.”

Questions you should 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?

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

Gather all your facts ahead of time

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.

“For instance, I may find out that someone is working with older technologies, which might be something they don’t enjoy about their role. I’ll ask, ‘What technologies would you prefer to use?’ I want to know what I can bring to the table to bridge those gaps for candidates, even if they're not actively searching for a job,” says Rousse.

Questions a recruiter may 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?

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.

Find a recruiter who shows personal interest in you

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 Rousse: “I like to get on a personal level if someone's open. I want to learn about you and whether your job is conducive to your personal life. You might not be looking for a new job now, but if something that works for your situation opens up down the line, I'll be able to get in touch with you quickly.”

If you tell the recruiter no, they’ll listen to that too. If you’re somewhat interested, try this alternative: “Touch base with me in six months.”

Strike while the job market is hot

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?