You may be extremely happy in your current position. Perhaps you cannot foresee that ever changing. You may be earning enough or at least see the potential to earn enough with your company. You may think you have a good shot at a promotion at some point. You may see lots of room for growth. All is looking bright on the horizon. Life is good.

What happens when your company decides to downsize? What happens when another similar company in the same industry buys your company and duplicate positions are eliminated? What happens when someone at the top decides to diversify or to go in an entirely different direction? Will your job be secure? Will you want to be there?

None of these things may ever happen to you. But there is a very good chance that sometime in your career, you will require and benefit from the services of a Search Professional. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a relationship or two established with recruiters?

While you are still happily employed, a recruiter may contact you.

If the recruiter you hear from is part of a retained executive search firm, you may be on a preliminary list of 20 or fewer prospects based on the recruiter’s initial research and networking.

You have a choice about how you respond to the call.

You can be unresponsive — either not return the call or be disinterested and inattentive to the recruiter. If so, the call won’t last long and chances are that he/she won’t call again.

Or you can listen, evaluate, and tell the recruiter honestly and professionally that you don’t think this is the way you want to go. Or — who knows? It might be an opportunity that you do have an interest in. Remember that some of the best opportunities come to you when you’re not looking.

If the recruiter determines either lack of fit or lack of interest he/she will ask you whom you know that he/she could further network with. If you know someone who you feel might have some potential for the position, let the recruiter know.

The recruiter will contact them, present the position to them, answer their questions and the person can decide if this is something that would interest them. You never know who may be interested in making a move. Even if the person is not interested himself or herself, they may know someone who is.

Remember that a recruiter should always ask you if it is all right for him/her to mention your name to the sources you have provided. It’s a definite plus for the recruiter if you say “yes” since a referral is a great door opener. But if you say “no” to that question, an ethical Search Professional will always respect your wishes.

Your responsiveness has just helped the recruiter. Now you might want to see how he/she can help you. You might want to spend a few minutes talking about what kind of position you’d be interested in.

The recruiter will probably ask you to send him/her a resume. Remember that a retained Search Professional will not forward your resume to any client without your permission, so you can rest assured that if you send a resume, it will be kept confidential.

You can also let the recruiter know that you would be happy to help with networking leads in the future. Recruiters are very appreciative of that and will put you on a list of people who have offered assistance. At some point, he’ll/she’ll probably take you up on your offer, thus continuing the relationship that has begun.

The point of all this is to begin a relationship with this recruiter, even though you may not need him/her now. Because you just never know when your circumstances might change.

You can see that the relationship continues. Keep the recruiter informed. Keep in touch. If you’re in geographic proximity to one another, perhaps you can meet for lunch once or twice a year. If you see an article in a business publication that you think he/she would be interested in, clip it out and send it to him/her with a short, handwritten note. It has taken five minutes, cost you nothing, but it maintains the relationship.

Remember that retained recruiters work for clients, not for candidates. But when an opportunity comes across his/her desk that is right for you, you’ll get a call.

Establishing and maintaining these kinds of relationships with a recruiter or two who you feel comfortable with can only help your prospects — if and when you do find yourself in the job market.

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