Episode #69 – Why “I’m Not Looking Right Now” is the Wrong Thing to Say

Sharita: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, Animal Health and Veterinary Executive Search Consultant and recruiter, Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both employers and job seekers in the Animal Health Industry and Veterinary Profession. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary employers acquire top talent, while helping animal health and veterinary professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast, we’ll be talking about why Animal Health and Veterinary Professionals should not say “I’m not looking for a job right now” when they’re approached about a new employment opportunity. Stacy, thank you for joining us.

Stacy: Hello, It’s great to see you Sharita and I’m glad to be here.

Sharita: Stacy, as an executive recruiter in the Animal Health Industry and Veterinary Profession, you’ve spoken with thousands upon thousands of professionals, including job seekers and candidates. When speaking with them, you often present a possible employment opportunity to them, is that correct?

Stacy: Yes, that’s right.

Sharita: What’s one of the things that Animal Health and Veterinary Professionals say when you approach them about a new job opportunity, especially someone who hasn’t been out looking for a new job?

Stacy: I would have to say that one of the things that they say to me is “I’m not actively looking” or “I’m not looking for a new job right now” or a variation of that.

Sharita: Why is that the wrong thing to say? I know we’re early in the podcast, but I thought we would dive right in.

Stacy: That’s okay! I certainly have an answer to your question. Before we discuss that answer, though, I want to say a few words. I have never, nor would I ever, try to force someone into a new Animal Health Job or Veterinary Job. That is definitely NOT the way I operate. I have no problem with professionals who decide that an employment opportunity is not the right move for them at this time in their career.

However, I also believe that professionals should actually consider the opportunity and make an informed decision. If they don’t believe that the opportunity is worth pursuing, they can say so, and they should say so. But there’s no reason to not at least hear about an opportunity. It doesn’t cost you anything but a couple minutes of your time.

Since that’s out of the way, I have a number of reasons why “I’m not looking right now” is the wrong thing to say. In fact, I have six reasons, and I’d like to address them one at a time.

Sharita: Absolutely, Stacy. Let’s start with the first one.

Stacy: The first reason is that if I contact you about an employment opportunity, rather than you contacting me, then I already know there’s a good chance that you’re not looking for a new job. The fact that I am the one contacting you and not the other way around tells me that. So if you’re attempting to use that as a way to end the conversation, it’s not a very good way. You’re basically giving me information I already have . . . and I’m reaching out to you, anyway.

Sharita: And we’ve talked about this before, but shouldn’t Animal Health or Veterinary Professionals be flattered if a recruiter reaches out to them?

Stacy: Absolutely, they should! It means that they’re considered one of the top candidates in the employment marketplace. I always say that professionals should be more worried if recruiters are NOT contacting them.

Sharita: Stacy, what’s next?

Stacy: The second reason, which is more than likely, is that the position I’m presenting may be better than the job you have right now. Just like I know that you’re probably not actively looking for a new job, I also know that the employment opportunity I’m presenting may be better than the one you have right now. That’s why I’m making the phone call in the first place. I know that I have something you may be interested in. Once again, that’s why it makes no sense to not even want to hear about it before you dismiss it.

Sharita: So you’re saying that if you contact an Animal Health or Veterinary Professional about a job, that individual should assume that what you’re contacting them about what could be an opportunity that is better than what they have?

Stacy: That’s right. I would not contact somebody about an opportunity unless I believed it was better than their current job. Both my time and their time is too valuable for me to waste people’s time.

Sharita: That makes sense. What’s next?

Stacy: What’s next is the importance of having options in your career. When you have more options, you can make better informed decisions. Once again, you have more leverage. I’m a big believer in leverage. That’s why I talk about it and write about it so much. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the best time to look for a better job 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.

Sharita: But when a person is unemployed, they have no leverage and a lot fewer options, isn’t that right?

Stacy: That’s absolutely right. Unfortunately, some people do not view it that way. They wait until they’re without a job before they start looking for one. As anyone who has been unemployed will tell you, that is a stressful situation. It’s always better to have more options and more leverage.

Sharita: Stacy, what’s next on our list?

Stacy: If you’re an Animal Health or Veterinary Professional and I reach out to you about an employment opportunity and you decide to discuss it with me, it does NOT mean that you’re obligated to do anything. Just because you ask questions about the opportunity or speak with me does not mean you have to do anything. I’m not asking you to make a decision right then and there that you are going to resign from your current employer. I’m asking you to keep an open mind and being willing to listen to an opportunity. Then make a decision. At the end of the conversation, all you have to say is, “Thank you for making me aware of this job opportunity, but I don’t think it’s the best move for me right now in my career.” There is no harm in that.

Sharita: Do people think they are obligated if they talk with you?

Stacy: People are sometimes leery of discussing the specifics of a job with a recruiter because they somehow believe they’re making a commitment of some kind. That’s not the case. They also somehow believe that they’re being disloyal to their current employer just because they’re talking about another job with a recruiter. That is also not the case. Professionals in the Animal Health Industry and Veterinary Profession must understand that these are myths.

Sharita: What’s the fifth item on our list?

Stacy: When you don’t say, “I’m not actively looking” or “I’m not looking right now,” you can better identify the opportunity that you would make a move for.

Sharita: What does that mean, exactly?

Stacy: If I present an opportunity to you and it does not interest you, then you can let me know that. And you can also let me know what kind of career 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 career 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 wanted in a new career opportunity and the situation in which they would make a move. This is a very strategic use of everybody’s time!

Sharita: Stacy, we have one more item on our list, and we should be able to sneak it in before the end of our podcast today. What might that be?

Stacy: If you don’t say “I’m not actively looking,” then at the very least, you’ll have more information about the employment marketplace. You’ll know what kind of opportunities do exist and that you have access to.

Sharita: That’s because the recruiter, or you now, has that information.

Stacy: That’s right, and that’s where many Animal Health or Veterinary Professionals miss out when it comes to partnering with an executive recruiter or search consultant. A good recruiter has a tremendous amount of information, and in many cases, they are willing to share that information with professionals. This is free information! All you have to do is be willing to speak with a recruiter and ask questions. That sounds rather simple, but you might be surprised by how many people do not take advantage of such an opportunity. Good recruiters have valuable information about the job market and what is going on in the industry. They likely talk with hundreds of professionals in the industry a month and they have their ear to the ground.

When it comes to advancing your Animal Health Career or Veterinary Career, it’s always better to have more information than not enough information. Just like more options, more information leads to better decisions.

Sharita: Or as we’ve been talking about, more information leads to more options, which leads to more leverage.

Stacy: That’s absolutely right! And those are all things that professionals in the Animal Health Industry and Veterinary Profession should aspire to have.

Sharita: So when you contact an Animal Health or Veterinary Professional about a new employment opportunity, what should they say instead of “I’m not actively looking for a new job”?

Stacy: They should say “Tell me more about the opportunity.” As an Animal Health and Veterinary 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.

Sharita: But if a professional listens to you explain the opportunity and they say they’re not interested, that’s a-okay?

Stacy: It is. 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. That’s choosing the perceived comfort of the status quo over exploring what could be a great new career opportunity and you never know unless you have an open mind. One of the big reasons that people do this—choose the status quo over opportunity—is because they fear change or they fear the unknown. In my more than 20 years as an executive recruiter and search consultant, I can say that basing decisions solely on fear is rarely a good idea and I would definitely advise against it.

Sharita: Stacy, thank you so much for all of this great information today.

Stacy: Thank you, Sharita. I look forward to our next podcast!