A Guide For Passive Job Seekers

So you’re not looking for a job right now? You're in IT, and you have great experience in your field.  The last thing you want to do is talk to a recruiter, right?  Before you answer this question, let me ask you another question.  How many times have you changed companies in the past 5 years? 10 years?

In IT the average length of employment is around 3-5 years (source: America's Dynamic workforce: 2006; U.S. Department of Labor).  That is just long enough for individuals that you knew outside of your company to move on into new positions or become merely acquaintances.  Or perhaps you are looking to relocate to a location where your network doesn’t exist.

“Do not burn bridges…,” a simple mantra that most people can respect.  I know it may seem like a nuisance, but a call from a recruiter or a hiring manager should not be ignored, even if you have a career you love.  You don't need to go through their process, or even listen to all the opportunities that they have open.  Just simply be cordial and let them know that you are currently not looking for new opportunities.  Now you have put the ball in their court.  If they are rude, stubborn, or frustrated with your answer, then by all means get off the phone as quickly and as nicely as possible.

Following this mantra will add tremendous value to your career over time.  First of all, the more people out there that enjoy working with you, the more career opportunities you will see come your way.  Much like in sales, people work with people that they trust, can add value, and with whom they have built rapport.  I have often seen individuals that are not as strong as their competition in the interview process get the job because they are more likable.  Even if you’re a DBA that is stuck in the corner, working on a 9G to 11G upgrade, personality and likability counts.

Even if you don't enjoy talking on the phone, or don't have the time, send a quick email. Anything that you can do to maintain good contact with the great recruiters and hiring managers out there will help you 10-fold when you do decide to move into that next great opportunity.  More often than not the best individuals get the best opportunities without even putting their resume on the market.  They do this by maintaining relationships with key individuals, networking, and always keeping an open mind to new options in their career.  Sometimes you never know the perfect career until you hear about it in a voicemail or see it in an email.

Don’t burn bridges, instead create as many as possible.  The benefits will last your entire career.