The recruiters at Palladian are seeing a consistent pattern with job seekers. Individuals are worried about the economy and are unwilling to consider changing jobs. They don't want to talk about new positions and are not interested in speaking with a recruiter. Then, a few weeks or months later, the job seekers call back and explain that they have just been laid off.
In a strong economy, this pattern is rare. Today, it's becoming common. As the economy continues to slow, this will become more prevalent.
Managing your career is not a part-time activity, and yet, most people treat it this way. They job hunt when they need a job and avoid all job search activities when they don't. This is a mistake. You never know when your career situation is going to change. We're seeing companies go from stable to bankrupt in weeks. There is little warning and no one knows who is going to be next.
The only solution to this is to develop a “plan B.” You should update your resume, work on your interview skills and network in your industry. Be ready to start a job search if needed. Hopefully, you won't get surprised with a layoff. If you do, you will be ready when your peers will be scrambling.
When you talk with a recruiter, don't just hang up. A recruiter is a person that works full time to identify opportunities and match them to job seekers. A recruiter can be a great resource for you. The key is to build a relationship. You might talk with a recruiter for years before they find the right job for you. The key is that they are always looking.
If you wait to speak with recruiters until you're out of work, you will have much less success. This is due to several factors. The first is that the recruiter doesn't know you and it will take time for them to learn what you want and what your potential is. Building a relationship in advance can eliminate this learning curve when you decide to make a change.
Second, if you wait until you need a job, the recruiter is going to know that you are very active. The recruiter will assume that you are talking with a lot of other recruiters and that you have posted your resume on the job boards. This makes the job seeker much less attractive. A good recruiter finds candidates that a hiring manager can't find. If the job seeker is broadcasting their resume everywhere, there is no need for the hiring manager to rely on the recruiter to find the job seeker.
Third, by waiting until you need help, you do not build trust with the recruiter. Picture a recruiter getting a call from their best client. They need to hire someone with a background similar to yours right now. The recruiter probably has a number of candidates that could fit the position and will want to submit the top three. Although your skills, experience and education will be important, the recruiter is more likely to present a candidate they know well than one they don't, if the two candidates have a similar background. This isn't a result of favoritism – it's a result of the trust that has been built.
A recruiter wants to make a good impression on their client each time they submit candidates. Knowing a candidate – how they communicate and what their values are – can help a job seeker get exposure to a recruiter's clients.
To capitalize on this, you need to start working with recruiters (and network with other professionals) long before you decide to make a change. Update your resume periodically and keep your interview skills fresh. If you do these things, you will be in much better shape if you career takes an unexpected turn.