Not job hunting? 6 reasons you should still talk to a recruiter

International development professionals network at the Devex Nairobi Career Fair. If your qualifications are a good fit, recruiters may contact you even if you're not actively applying for a job, and here are 6 reasons to go ahead and talk with that recruiter even if you think you aren't interested. Photo by: Jonathan Kalan

Recruiters are always on the hunt for “passive” candidates — potential hires who may be perfect for an open position but who aren’t reading the job boards and actively applying to jobs.

In global development, where very specific skill sets and high levels of expertise are required, recruiters often have to search for passive candidates when qualified candidates are not applying on their own.

Passive candidates also have a certain allure to them. The thinking is that this person is presumably happy in their current job, and likely the kind of high-performer an employer would do their best to keep. So the fact that someone is not actively seeking a new job is a good indication of his or her ability. This certainly isn’t always the case — and recruiters know that — but it won’t stop them from reaching out to you if they think you might be that perfect candidate for their organization.

So what to do when a recruiter contacts you about a position and you have no interest in changing jobs? Should you ignore that email or phone call? Or hear them out, even if it means risking your employer catching wind of it?

Here are six reasons to go ahead and talk with that recruiter even if you think you aren’t interested.

1. You may actually be interested

Just because you are happy in your current job doesn’t mean you couldn’t  be even happier in a different job. If you have been focused on your work and less on what other opportunities are out there, it is possible you aren’t even aware of jobs that would be just as — if not more — interesting, rewarding or challenging as your current position.

You do not need to be miserable to make a job change. In fact, recruiters would prefer you not be. Sometimes the best opportunities appear when you least expect them.

2. Foster relationships with recruiters that may help later

Even if the job turns out to not be of interest to you, it can be an opportunity to build a relationship with a recruiter that may be helpful later on in your career. Once they get to know you and your career goals better, they can keep you updated on other, more suitable opportunities or be someone to call when you are ready to make a job change.

3. Better understand your market value

One of the best ways to gauge your market value is to test the market. Talking with a recruiter will give you an idea about how in-demand people with your skills are and what kind of compensation they command at other employers. If you feel or find out that your current employer undervalues you, you will have information and data to back this up.

4. Practice your interview skills for when it does count

Interviewing is a skill that takes practice. The more you do it, the better you will be. Interviewing when the stakes are low is a great way to test your interviewing skills with minimal risk. You will also find that interviewing is a lot less nerve-racking when you aren’t desperate for the job. You can use this experience to improve your interviewing skills so you will feel more confident when interviewing in the future.

5. Learn how other organizations do their work

Talking with other organizations can be a great excuse to learn more about how they approach the same work you do. Think of it as an intelligence gathering exercise. You can get insight into how your competitor operates, learn about new systems or technologies you may want to adopt, or get exposed to different ways of thinking you could incorporate into your current job.

6. Help you better understand your career goals

As busy professionals, we do not often have time to reflect on our careers, including talking about our strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures or thinking about where we want to be in five years. The kinds of questions that come up in interviews and conversations with recruiters can be a good exercise in self-discovery and force you to take a step back and examine where you are in your career. Even if you decide you are happy and don’t want to make a move, you may learn that there are new skills you want to develop or projects you want to take on that will help you grow in your current position. But watch out, the recruiters might start hounding you even more.

If you have a questions about managing your career in global development, please tweet me @DevexCareers.

About the author

  • Warren kate 1

    Kate Warren

    Kate Warren is Executive Vice President and resident talent and careers guru at Devex. With 15 years of global development recruitment experience advising international NGOs, consulting firms, and donor agencies, she has a finger on the pulse of hiring trends across the industry and insider knowledge on what it takes to break in.