No matter how happy you are in your current job, you should have an up-to-date resume in the hands of a recruiter.
"You shouldn't have it out everywhere, but you should have an agent looking out for what you do, because if something attractive comes along at a good shop you want to be notified," says Joseph Sullivan, president of International Market Recruiters.
The notion of "the best time to get a job is when you already have one" is both a cliché and a widely ignored truism, adds Alan Geller, managing director at AG Barrington in New York. "A lot of people are asleep at the wheel and they wait until it's too late, and then they call me. Often it's their last day on the job," he says, adding that it's more difficult to market a person effectively in such situations.
On top of that, Geller says, approaching recruiters when you aren't necessarily seeking a new job allows you and the recruiter time to work together and develop a real relationship.
Often, changing firms is the only way to get ahead. "If you are in the same job for four years, the question is why?" notes Sullivan. "If you're in a hot area like credit derivatives or prime brokerage, businesses that are growing, and you are being left behind, sometimes you have to leave for the sake of leaving."
The biggest reason people want to change jobs is money, recruiters say. For example, Geller cites some of his recent cases: A salesman joined a firm on a verbal agreement and then discovered his commissions didn't match what was promised. In other instances, non-sales executives changed commission plans because their sales staffs were earning too much.
Staffers often seek a way out from companies who've lost their competitive edge by halting investment in new products and innovations, or because of a poor manager. And, of course, change at the top often creates turmoil and uncertainty - and causes employees to begin considering a move toward the door. "You don't owe it to your existing company to ride out the changes," Sullivan believes. "Even if you have only been there a year, you should get into a company that you like."
"Change is good," he says. "People will adapt to a new job, get better and grow their careers."
I really enjoyed your article on the best time to look for a job is when you already have one. I also like the idea of working with an agent who knows the field that you work in. The biggest question I have is where does one go to find a good agent and somebody who is just looking to close their next commission on a deal?
The editor replies:
See our related article: How To Develop A Relationship With A Recruiter for some tips. And feel free to e-mail us with questions and we'll see if we can track down some answers in a future story.