I was just contacted by a recruiter. Why should I listen?

by Brent Anthony
Learning & Development Leader at Charles Aris Inc.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever experienced something like this before:

Today has been a busy day for you at the office. It is 11 a.m., and you’ve finally caught up with the work you had scheduled to have completed by 9. You’re working to meet tomorrow’s deadline on Report ABC and, while working feverishly, your smartphone calendar reminds you that you have a meeting in 15 minutes with your direct report, who needs help on an urgent deadline. It is at that moment that your phone rings, with a caller ID you don’t recognize. Upon answering the phone, you quickly realize it’s a recruiter on the other end of the line, asking for a few minutes of your time to discuss a job opportunity.

I would say that most everyone who reads this article would have their hand in the air by now, having experienced a similar situation in their professional past. If your hand went up, think back for a moment – what did you do when you got the call?

Did you listen intently, waiting to hear all about the job of your dreams? Did you immediately and quickly say “No thanks,” looking nervously from side to side to make sure that no one overheard the taboo conversation you just had? Or did you immediately hang up, annoyed that someone would call you in the middle of the workday about another job elsewhere?

I’ve already had all three happen to me this week alone!

Recruiters, headhunters, search professionals – however you want to refer to us, working in the executive recruiting industry, we recognize that everyone is busy and a recruiting call cannot always be at the top of the priority list for the people whom we contact. Ultimately, though, the only person who can decide whether it is worth your time to take a recruiting call is you.

So why should you?

I wish that I could tell you that there is a magic-bullet answer to this question and that I could provide you with a schematic diagram to help make your next decision. However, there are some compelling reasons why it is in your professional interest to take a moment and pick up the receiver the next time your phone rings:

Imminent need

Perhaps you are facing a downsizing with your company; or a forced relocation that you just cannot accommodate; or you are simply looking for a new position. One way or the other, you have a strong sense of urgency to find your next role. Taking calls from recruiters in these scenarios, as well as actively reaching out to search firms directly, could be the gateway in your next career.

Team building

Not all recruiting calls are necessarily going to be about your career. Recruiters may be calling you in regard to a candidate with whom they are actively working who could be the missing piece in your own team. Taking a marketing call from a recruiter could be the difference between finding the “A-player” talent you have been looking for and a drawn-out search for that same talent.


Recruiters are some of the best connected individuals in the marketplace. It could be that the call you are receiving is from a recruiter wanting to network with you regarding a role that she is working on herself. These types of conversations can be highly beneficial to you as well. Networking with recruiters via phone, LinkedIn, social media, etc. can give you access to the vast professional network that they have developed over time – and could pay dividends for you professionally.

Forward thinking

Speaking with a recruiter when things are going well professionally may seem counterproductive, but staying on a recruiter’s radar provides significant value to you. As the old Benjamin Franklin saying goes, nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes. Just because things are going great in your career at this moment does not mean that your situation could not change in the blink of an eye.

Sickness, change in company ownership or leadership, a shift in strategic direction, etc. happen every day – and, in a great number of circumstances, are unforeseen when they occur. Having a dialogue with and developing a relationship with a recruiter is a good way to have a friend in your corner if your career faces challenges. Taking that initial phone call from a recruiter can be the first step toward that valuable connection.


Regardless of your motivations, taking the few moments to take or reschedule a recruiting call can lead to significant short- and long-term benefits for yourself and/or your company. There is no guarantee that the role that the recruiter wants discuss with you is going to meet your aspirations for compensation, career growth or professional development, among other considerations. Similarly, there is no guarantee that the individual the recruiter may be calling you about is going to meet a need that you currently have on your team.

The only way to know for sure is to connect with them and to listen. It may the most valuable 15 minutes you’ve spent in a long time!