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How to Tell a Recruiter You’re “Just Looking”

If you’re considering looking for a new career opportunity or just seeing what’s “out there,” it’s important to be clear on your objectives before engaging with a recruiter. Recruiters can help you tap into the hidden job market, and launch you to be where you want to be within your career.

Likewise, when thinking about a career change, it’s fine to “window shop” by looking at job postings or having a conversation with a recruiter. They love to hear from potential candidates, regardless of whether or not you are actively seeking a new career.

That said, before you pick up the phone and call a recruiter, make sure you know your motives, so when you connect with the recruiter, they have a better understanding of your situation. Remember, the other parties involved are serious about finding the right people and building an organization; it will also make them a better resource for you.

The first interview can help set the stage for this conversation and give both you and the recruiter insight into what each person is looking for. If after that you decide to take the next step, you need to be prepared to go all-in for everyone’s sake, including yourself.

There is a lot of time and effort invested in the hiring process, and to enter into it without a clear objective and desire can be a waste of your time and theirs.

A good way to know if you should make the next step is to evaluate your feelings after the first interview. If you go on that first interview and come away without the warm fuzzies or a burning desire to get the job, then pull yourself out of the process.

Here are the three main reasons not to continue the process after the first interview if you’re not excited:

  1. Unless you really want the position, it will be hard to win the employer over and get an offer if the passion is not there in the interview. Many employers state that they hire people with passion.
  2. The potential collateral damage can be irreparable in your relationship with the recruiter. Their reputation is on the line with their client – and a poor impression by you, is a poor impression on them.
  3. If you don’t get the warm fuzzies, then it probably was never meant to be, and there is a better opportunity out there.

The worst thing that can happen is to go the distance, get the offer, and not accept it because it did not meet your expectations. It would be like going through a courtship, accepting a proposal, and then changing your mind at the altar. In this case, everyone gets hurt.

If you’re considering talking to a recruiter and testing the waters, that’s fine, and they will appreciate it and it will serve you well. That said, once you start the interview process, after the first interview, if you start to wade in to the water make sure you are ready to swim.