By Marcelle Yeager
Just when you think you could stay at your job for years, you're assigned a new boss who you don't respect. Or your team is restructured, and your job function changes. Or you're laid off. Any of these things or a myriad of others could happen at any time without warning. Be ready for unexpected changes at work by keeping your career momentum going, even if you're satisfied with your current job.
If you aren't thrilled when you hear from a headhunter, don't dismiss the opportunity offhand. While recruiters and headhunters can be hit or miss, it's worth it to talk to them, even for a brief phone conversation. Ask a lot of questions to figure out if it's an opportunity you should take into serious consideration. If a former co-worker refers you at her new company, and you get a call for an interview, say "yes!" Although you're happy at work now, things could change at any time. You don't want to regret your decision in the future. What's the harm in taking an interview? There are many benefits:
1. No pressure. It's easy to say "no thanks" when you feel positive about your job or if you just landed a new one. After all, you don't feel the need to go out and find a new job. But that also means when you get a call for an interview from another employer, there is no pressure. You can go to the interview and not be concerned that you absolutely must get the job.
2. Practice. Since you don't have the burden of needing to secure a new job, you can view this as a learning experience. It is not easy to promote yourself, and it takes a lot of practice to do it right without coming off as exceedingly arrogant. The more interviews you do, the more comfortable you become, because you know more about what to expect. It can only help prepare you for the next time you're ready to go out and find a new job.
3. Network. Forget about recruiters, headhunters and employers for a moment. Any time you have a chance to meet a new person in a professional setting is an opportunity for a connection down the road. All new people you meet have their own networks, and once you become connected to someone new, you've significantly increased your prospective professional circle. Don't limit your network. Instead, expand it whenever you have the chance.
4. Future prospects. If things go well when you meet your new contact, you've set yourself up for future communication. Perhaps you'll find one day you need to reach out to the person to ask a question for your own work. Or perhaps you'll want to know about job opportunities. On the flip side, maybe she will call you if a position that is a better fit for you opens up.
5. You just never know. This could be a real opportunity staring you in the face. While you might think it's not a good time to interview or meet a headhunter, when is the right time? As soon as you figure out the answer to that, it may be too late. By that time, an opportunity may have passed you by. It's easy to come up with excuses beyond that your work satisfaction. You may be very busy or going on vacation soon. Do your best to make time for it, because you really never know what could come out of it – a new business contact, friend or job, if the circumstances are right.
The best part about being in this situation is you've expended minimal to no effort on your part. You've been sought out. That's something to be excited about and proud of, because it doesn't happen often. So give it a chance. The worse that could happen is that you feel you wasted an hour, but what if it turns into something completely and pleasantly unexpected? If you don't say "yes," you will never know. You don't want to live with that regret.
Marcelle Yeager is the president of Career Valet, which delivers personalized career navigation services. Her goal is to enable people to recognize skills and job possibilities they didn't know they had to make a career change or progress in their current career. She worked for more than 10 years as a strategic communications consultant, including four years overseas. Marcelle holds an MBA from the University of Maryland.
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