Why and How the “I’m Not Actively Looking” Mindset Can Hurt You

Enjoying career success is about more than just skills and experience. Sure, those things can take you far, and they’re things about which employers are very much interested.

However, your mindset is just as important as what you know or how much experience you possess.

As usual, most everything I write about, whether it’s a newsletter article or a blog post, is based upon my experience as a search consultant. I’ve been an Animal Health recruiter and Veterinary recruiter for more than 20 years, and I’ve both seen and heard just about everything you can within the profession and the employment marketplace. So the things I say are not theory or conjecture. I’m not guessing. These are iron-clad beliefs backed up by specific instances and case studies.

The result of countless case studies

What I’m presenting in this blog post is not the result of a single case study, but the accumulation of many of them. That’s because what I’m about to describe has happened countless times down through the years. It’s not a long, drawn-out scenario. It’s rather short, actually. However, it’s a very important one. It goes something like this . . .

I reach out to someone about a career opportunity. I present the opportunity to them, and they say the following: “I’m not actively looking.”

There are quite a few problems with this response. In fact, this response is indicative of a mindset that can ultimately hurt your career. I don’t say this because I want to force somebody into a new Animal Health Job or Veterinary Job. That’s as far from the truth as possible. I have no problem with professionals who decide that an employment opportunity is not the right move for them. Just as long as they actually consider the opportunity and make an informed decision. Knee-jerk reactions are not conducive to career growth.

With all of this in mind, I’m going to address this typical response point-by-point, with an emphasis on illustrating why it’s not the optimum response for those professionals who are looking to grow their careers.

#1—I already know that you’re not actively looking.

The fact that you’re not looking is the reason that I’m reaching out to you in the first place. That’s why we need to talk. There’s an employment opportunity about which you do not know because you’re not actively seeking out a new opportunity. I am NOT an advocate for people changing Animal Health jobs and Veterinary jobs for absolutely no reason or just “for the heck of it.” I look for professionals who want to strategically advance their career when the timing is right.

#2—More than likely, the position I’m presenting is better than the job you have right now.

I know that top passive candidates will not make a move for a position that is not clearly better than the one they have right now. So if I reach out to you about an opportunity, there’s an excellent chance the opportunity is better than the job you currently have. If it isn’t, I would not waste your time or my time placing a telephone call to you. So if the opportunity is better than what you have, then you should at least hear about it before you dismiss it immediately. Why dismiss something if you don’t even know what that something is?

#3—More options = better decisions = career growth

The key to career growth is more options. That’s because when you have more options, you can make better decisions. The best time to look for a better opportunity is when you have a good job now, since you can afford to only give consideration to those options and opportunities that are better than what you have. But when you’re unemployed? Then any option is better than what you have now, and you may feel forced to take a position that does not represent a step forward in your career.

#4—Considering an opportunity does NOT mean that you’re obligated to do anything.

People sometimes make the mistake of thinking that even talking about another opportunity somehow means that they’re obligated to do something. That is absolutely false. Just because you ask questions about the opportunity or speak with me does not mean you have to do anything. At the end of the conversation, all you have to say is, “Thank you for making me aware of this, but I don’t think it’s the best move for me right now in my career.” There is no harm in that.

#5—You can identify the opportunity for which you would make a move.

If the opportunity is not one that interests you, then you can let me know which opportunity would interest you. That way, I can keep my eyes and ears open for it. I can’t tell you how many times the perfect opportunity has come across my desk and I’ve known exactly who to call about it. That’s because the professional involved let me know what they want in a new opportunity and the situation in which they would make a move. That is the best use of everybody’s time!

#6—At the very least, you will have more information about the employment marketplace.

By listening to what the opportunity entails, you will have information that you did not have before. You’ll know what kind of opportunities exist in the employment marketplace, even if you don’t want to pursue them. When it comes to advancing your career, it’s always better to have more information than not enough information. Just like more options, more information leads to better decisions.

Reaching your full potential

If you truly want to grow your career, then remove “I’m not actively looking” from your lexicon. Instead, say, “Tell me more about the opportunity.” As an Animal Health recruiter, I’ve found that the professionals who approach the situation in that fashion are ultimately more successful and they enjoy more satisfaction in their career in the Animal Health industry.

I’ve had hundreds of people listen to an opportunity that I presented to them and then say, “No, thank you.” I completely understand that, and I certainly do not have a problem with it. That’s because they were at least open to hearing about the opportunity. It’s when you reject the opportunity without even hearing what it’s about that can harm your career. It’s akin to a blind allegiance to the status quo, with a corresponding fear of change and/or the unknown.

More opportunities mean more options. More options mean better decisions. Better decisions mean reaching your potential within the Animal Health industry or Veterinary profession.

We help support careers in one of two ways: 1. By helping Animal Health and Veterinary professionals to find the right opportunity when the time is right, and 2. By helping to recruit top talent for the critical needs of Animal Health and Veterinary organizations. If this is something that you would like to explore further, please send an email to stacy@thevetrecruiter.com.