Forward to Your Recruits: Why a Passive Candidate Should Take a Recruiter’s Call

The candidate is happy. They get a call from a recruiter. Why should they be open minded enough to have a conversation? Well, there are many advantages to discussing an opportunity even when they’re content where they are. Hopefully, this article gives you some insight on why it makes good career sense for the prospective candidate to be a little more open-minded when they get a recruiting call.

Yes, it’s information you already know. I wrote it so you can forward it to the prospect! 

First of all, there is no better time for someone to evaluate an opportunity and company with a clear mind without any negative, outside influences or external pressures. The worst time to go to the grocery store is when you’re hungry. You’re more likely to buy food that you know is not in your best long-term interests.

It’s no different when it comes to only talking to recruiters when they’re actively looking for a new job. Opportunities will appear to be more appealing than they really are when you’re currently unsatisfied in your position or company. When an individual looks into an opportunity when they’re happy, they can vividly see how the opportunity would positively or negatively impact their career since they’re not trying to fill a void. An employee is more likely to settle for a lesser position when they’re unhappy than they would have if they were content.

Life is better as recruited candidate opposed to a job applicant. Why? Because they have the leverage when they’re being recruited and referred by a recruiter. When someone “applies” for a position, the company is screening and qualifying them since they’re the one looking for a job. When that same person is “recruited,” they are investigating and qualifying the company and opportunity to determine whether or not it will help them grow professionally. The tables are turned. Since they’re happy where they are, if the opportunity doesn’t provide career growth, they have the leverage of staying where they are. When they’re unhappy or looking, they’re running away from their current situation and more desperate to make a change so the company they are applying to has the leverage.

Even if the opportunity doesn’t entice them enough to move forward, in today’s corporate world, the only job security they have is the security they give themselves. If they don’t look out for their own career, no one else is going to do it for them. Dig the well before you’re thirsty. Having a connection with a recruiter who knows them, their background, and career aspirations is one way to do that.

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If they’re happy, then they’re probably performing well in their role and hopefully their company is taking good care of them. There is no other time in their career when they’re more marketable. This is the best time in their career to take their successes and accomplishments to test what they’re worth to another organization, whether that means a more challenging role, a faster-growing company, or exposure to a new industry.

The best time for professionals to keep their options open is when they’re satisfied in their current role and company. They don’t have to consider the recruiter’s opportunity unless it meets the criteria that they set, not the other way around. There is no other way to learn as much about an opportunity without officially interviewing with a company itself other than learning about it from a recruiter on an exploratory and confidential basis. Actively looking for a job can be a full-time job itself. It can also be also be very stressful. People who get ahead don’t wait until there is something that they don’t like in their current role to have an open mind.  They are proactive and keep their options open.

photo from Bigstock

Jerry Land, CPC, owns an organization that is hired by a selective group companies who want to grow and prosper by having a sales force made up of highly motivated and career driven professionals. These companies only hire overachievers who separate themselves from their peers due to their performance. They are the type of people who have obtained President's Club status, putting them in the top 15% of their company. He only works with quota-reliable sales reps, managers, & VPs. He is the headhunter who connects these game changers to companies who are not willing to hire second best. He can be emailed at


21 Comments on “Forward to Your Recruits: Why a Passive Candidate Should Take a Recruiter’s Call

  1. Excellent article with solid logic.

    To those of you who do not take the headhunters call, smarten up.

    Close your door, listen and open your mind to the future because unless you are a lifer at you job, you need to entertain the possibilities the universe opens to you.

    Too many headhunters call you? Try not to worry that you are in demand. Leave the worrying to when the calls stop coming as that is a far larger problem.

  2. Fantastic article! Well-said. As the owner of a boutique career management and recruiting firm, I often tell clients that they should focus on BUILDING bridges rather than avoiding burning them. Every conversation a candidate has with a recruiter is an opportunity for professional career development. Not only do candidates have their finger on the pulse of the market, but he or she can learn about opportunities for growth and upward movement they would often know nothing about. I have had many clients tell me in the past that it feels “disloyal” to listen to other career opportunities when they should be nothing but “grateful” for having a solid job in this economy. I try to remind them, however, that managing their own career path isn’t a sign of disloyalty, it is professionally responsible. Even if they do not leave their present position, they are now that much more aware of why it is they are content where they are and sometimes gain a bit more leverage in the salary/benefits department when they are made aware of how in- demand they are. Also, if they were top pursue another option and choose to leave, they are now providing a job for someone else.

    Any amount of career development in beneficial!
    Ken Schmitt

  3. Great article. When I was experiencing the headhunter calls, I was often frustrated because it was so transactional and without tact. At the end of the day, I appreciated the calls more when someone explained why they thought calling me was relevant to me – because its clear why it was relevant to them.

  4. No. No. Absolutely no! In this market people have to be extremely careful NOT to trust headhunters and recruiters. Many headhunters cannot afford to be fair and honest and there is never a guarantee that the position they are contacting you about even exists or that they are not actually just fishing for details on your very job! Check your network (ie linkedin connections) first b4 speaking to anyone. Your job just might depend on it and the recruiter may already have an open dialogue with your boss. I didn’t make these rules up – headhunters did. I have over 20 years experience dealing with them so be forewarned.

  5. Good article. Recruiting passive candidates is like fishing the deep waters. It is conversion of jobs into career. It requires extensive networking along with open minded people on the receiving end, giving Not-Currently-Available-In-The-Job-Market candidates a chance to evaluate themselves.

  6. Good article. Recruiting passive candidates is like fishing the deep waters. It is conversion of jobs into career. It requires extensive networking along with open minded people on the receiving end, giving Not-Currently-Available-In-The-Job-Market candidates a chance to evaluate themselves.

    Preethi @ Buxton.

  7. OK. I will say it. Do not trust recruiters from consulting firms. Yes; listen to them and hear them out IF you trust how they found you. It may have been through a friend or family member or valid connection. The reality is (listen up executive’s recruiters) you have long lost the trust of your candidates. It’s not that we don’t pick up the phone for anyone else. We just don’t often want to pick up the phone for you. We memorize your numbers, we avoid your self serving calls, and we still loathe the fact the you ever had to be a part of the process. There is a trend and I’ll admit I see the best of you being snatched up by the same firms you once called ‘accounts’. It’s easy to make a simile of you all as consultants yourselves. Now you’re being forced to convert-to-perm. Yes, I have decades of experience with you. Some of you are my friends. I know you, many who are good but so many (especially new recruiters) of you are terrible. The world has changed. We’ve adopted social and a byproduct of that thankfully means that we do not need you to kick the same doors we know kick open ourselves. You prided yourselves in being the best at finding the best candidates. Thank you for that but don’t be surprised when people don’t take your calls anymore. They don’t trust you. The trust the client. You earned that reputation. Now go work in the places and companies where we need you. Go be good in a real companies where you can FINALLY be honest.

  8. Article was very well written. A couple of the comments have made me laugh out loud at the tone; methinks the lady doth protest too much. Failed candidate perhaps.

  9. I am a hiring manager (recruiters resist your piranha like urge). Having consulted and having been perm now for over a decade I can tell your pitch about saving firms money is antiquated. I also don’t know a single recruiter making more than I do that doesn’t run her own very large shop. Let me give you my own flawed statistics to complete y
    The picture. Working for a recruitment firm isn’t a career path, it’s an oxymoron. The benefits are terrible and the work environment is a funnel for every psych major or ivy drop out who lost their way in life. Some of you make a career of it. Good for you. Most of the more successful ones I know did it at the expense of others, often those who escaped to working internally. You must recruit for the fashion industry. The rest of us still hack and slash on Wall St. If you’re making money it won’t be through me; good for you, for now.

  10. Oh and give me a medal. I only use linkedin to for my new hire line ups now. It’s a nice, fat network of 55000+ on our profiles alone here. Hire web savvy recruiters internally, cut out the middle man, help candidates get he calls they really want – from the hiring managers.

  11. Gosh some of you are a little bit scary on here 🙁

    I will be the first person to admit that recruitment consultants and their service have changed a lot over the last few years. I joined the recruitment industry in 2005 and have seen so much change in others attitude.

    I chose to become a recuiter because I had worked in retail for 16 years having worked myself up to a dual role of Multi Site Support Manager and a Regional Recruiter for 50 stores – I loved the recruitment side of my role.

    I worked for companies for many years and I now work for myself. When I was employed the only company I was truely happy at was an Independent, the National companies were alll about how many sales calls per week and targets. Although the last job I had still had this in place there was more effort placed on making sure that the candidate was happy and the client was happy – we wanted to build long term relatinships not make a quick buck!

    I had a break for 2 years when I moved from the UK and moved to Turkey. I worked for a British Tour Operator as a Hotel Rep. And guess what??? It was all about hitting your sales target!!!

    Yes there are many recruiters out there that are out to make a quick buck and there are also many out there who are forced by their companies to make 50 connect sales calls a week (thats quite often 150 times picking up the phone) They can even hit all of their sales targets and still get it in the neck for not making their sales calls quota that week!

    I now work for myself. I treat my candidates like my friends. I go out of my way to help every individual by giving them a FREE resume review and giving them advice on how to improve their resume and their LinkedIn account. I make sure gain as much information from my candidates as possible to ensure that I can represent them to my best ability to the client and to also ensure that I am matching correctly so as to not waste anyones time.

    I 100% agree with this article because I spend so much time career coaching and building broken confidences of those who have been treated badly in their last/current role or who have just lost the way. A person who is happy and confident in their current role sees their future differently to those who are sinking in to despair.

    For those of you giving recruiters a hard time. Please remember that we are not all like that. Some of us do actually care and realise that every single candidate has personal responsibilities, a family, possibly a mortgage as well as their hopes and dreams. And every client also has all of the above, however, needs a good team around them to achieve their goals.

  12. I am no win the final stages of making a career change (post-resignation two week period) that has lasted 3+ months. I am making the change because I wanted to, not because I had to.

    It started with an email from a recruiter that promised me a 15-20k raise. I was skeptical, but intrigued, because how can someone promise you that much if they know nothing about you? After talking to him and giving him my resume, he sent me an email with potential opportunity. I interviewed with this company and eventually was made an offer that in total was in the range that he promised. But, through no fault of his, the offer relied heavily on potential overtime, bonuses and profit sharing and in the end would have required me to take a 20k base pay cut. I turned the offer down and never heard from the recruiter again.

    At the same time, I also started looking at opportunities on my own and came across an opportunity that although it required relocation (from Baltimore to Dallas) I ended up accepting. In the end the offer resulted in a 30% raise when adjusted for cost of living.

    The moral of the story is that I feel that I had more leverage by myself than through a recruiter. That is mostly because the company that I am going to did not have to pay a 25-30k commission to get me and was able to use that savings to make me a very good offer.

    BTW, it was an extensive courtship with this company where I had 4 phone interviews and a face-to-face interview in Boston. Then they flew me (and my wife) to Dallas for a weekend to talk to some people and see the city.

    Basically, buyer beware when it comes to recruiters.

  13. I have been working in the I/T industry for over 20 years. My advice to the regular employees is that stay in your job don’t be tempted by the greener-grass-possible scenario.

    Here are the basics that will keep you happy in your current job: (1) Great co-workers (2) Good manager that values you and your talents (3) A good salary where you can support you family and able save a bit of money (4) Decent medical insurance coverage (5) Decent commute to work (6) Stable employer with a good financials/earnings and future potential. If you as an employee if you have the above, don’t switch because a recruiter called-you.

  14. I would be more willing to listen to recruiters in general if they did not spam me with jobs that are completely inappropriate for me. I’m not a developer, I’m not a QA person, and my resume doesn’t indicate that, so please don’t approach me with jobs in that area.

    So many recruiters take this sloppy, blast approach that it creates little confidence in general with any of them.

    I’ve never had a recruiter approach me having been knowledgeable about *my* experience and asking *me* what I’m interested in. They’re always just trying to slot me into something they currently have open, no matter the fit. If they took a longer term approach they’d almost certainly line me up as a future placement.

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