I’m often amazed at how shortsighted some candidates can be when it comes to keeping an open mind about “new opportunities”. In this day and age it is very rare for someone to spend 20-30 years with one company. There are the occasional candidates that spend their whole career with one company, but it is definitely not the norm, nor should it be. Obviously, companies do not want “job hoppers” but staying with one company too long is usually viewed as a disadvantage versus a positive. Hiring managers and HR usually feel that candidates lack flexibility and can only do the one thing they’ve done their whole career, for example, sell food to Wal-Mart etc. Loyalty is not a two-way street in today’s competitive business environment and when companies face hard times the people that get let go are usually the ones who have been there the longest. Also, if you stay with one company too long they will regularly underpay you compared to market average for candidates that have made a few strategic moves. It happens all of the time and usually candidates don’t realize until they give notice and a counter-offer comes back from your company with the amount they should have paid you in the first place. Don’t take this offer (read this if you are thinking it’s a good idea) Counteroffers
People are often very confused about the role of a headhunter. In layman’s terms, I don’t get paid to find people jobs, I’m paid to fill my client’s needs. Headhunters usually call you unexpectedly and offer an opportunity that should parallel your background closely. Some recruiters are a bit aggressive or overzealous at times, but they typically are new to the business or just not good. Usually if it’s a reputable recruiter you will hear from them numerous times during your career and they should learn about what types of roles/companies will motivate you to take a look outside of your company. Take this time to provide an ideal profile/role that you would like to hear about next time. It can be years between calls but rest assured that they have you in mind for the “right” role to present and they shouldn’t waste your time with non-relevant searches. The hardest thing for candidates to understand that is when you finally need to reach out for a headhunter because you’ve been downsized it’s often too late. Companies don’t pay recruiter fees to hire candidates they can find on their own (meaning the people that are actively responding to ads etc). Most companies have positions advertised and just aren’t seeing the level of talent they need to fill the role. It’s true that many HR departments are horribly inefficient and can overlook your resume, but more times than not they’ve seen your resume and just aren’t interested for any number of reasons.
The most successful candidates are always open to entertaining new opportunities (even when they are perfectly happy) and strategically manage their careers. If you learn how to work with recruiters it can be extremely beneficial to your career and if nothing else they can offer some alternative points of view or career advice to make sure you are on the right track.