Prime Minister or Not, Is That 'Fantastic Opportunity' the Right One?

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Prime Minister or Not, Is That 'Fantastic Opportunity' the Right One?

Alan Shave

Regardless of who you are and in which industry/sector you work, there is one thing that I know about you for sure (and at this stage I’d like to point out that I’m not psychic or following you down the street!).

If you have a LinkedIn account, then at one stage or another you’ve had a message from a Recruiter about a job opportunity that you’ve never shown any direct interest in.  I’d even go as far as to say that it’s obvious based on the message that they’ve never even looked at your profile to work out who you are, what kind of experience you have, how your career has developed and whether this ‘opportunity’ is even close to something that might fit your profile.

I really wish that I’d counted the number of times that construction & engineering professionals have approached me to ask about the mechanics of LinkedIn, including why they receive these types of approaches & how they should reply.

So here’s the good news – you’re not alone. We all get similar approaches and we all experience the same frustrations.  I receive them weekly, and as potentially flattering as it is, it’s obvious that 90% of these approaches aren’t actually relevant to me, nor are they from people who can genuinely offer me a full overview of the specific market in which I work.

As an example (and an extremely topical one at that!), here's a test profile that I created several months ago to deliver some advanced training on LinkedIn:

Now for those of you who have taken more than 3 seconds to review this image, you’ll note that the profile picture is our current UK Prime Minister, his name is David Cameron and the location happens to be Westminster…!  As I say, this profile was created purely to help train people to get the most out of LinkedIn and the profile is now deactivated (I mention this before any of my contacts at LinkedIn come chasing me!), but I couldn’t help but cringe as a number of impersonal messages arrived from construction ‘Recruiters’ around the UK – and that goes for both agency Consultants and internal Recruiters at major international employers.  The worst one has to be the ‘Senior Consultant’ who decided to declare that he’d ‘been told that I was good at my job’ and ‘he had been recommended to contact me about a fantastic opportunity’…

To save everyone any specific embarrassment, I’ve used my well-honed picture editing skills to block out their photo/company names!

Anyway, I guess my point is that it’s all too easy to have your head turned by an approach out of the blue that appears to offer you the move of a lifetime, or maybe even just a salary increase, but it’s at those times that you have to take a step back and truly review whether it’s the right move for your career & your future aspirations.

I’m not always saying that these approaches can’t be valuable or constructive, as occasionally they can be, but more often than not they won’t be bespoke to you and the author won't have any longer term interest in you as an individual.  In the end, you need to determine that whoever you are talking to has the right knowledge of the industry, which has been built up over a number of years, and that they have relationships which span that market, not only one or two roles/clients.  Again, those people also get in touch through InMails and other one-off communication, but you need to assess them as much as they will you.

One of the best pieces of advice that I can offer is to look to build a long-term partnership with a Recruiter/Consultancy who specialise in your sector and can provide you with ongoing career guidance as and when you need it, without any pressure being applied to take a ‘fantastic opportunity’.  With the rapidly improving economy & jobs market there are any number of career moves out there for you whenever the right moment arrives and as a minimum you need to be talking to someone who can work with you to evaluate the whole market in the context of your experience & objectives, not just accepting the first speculative approach that happens to come ‘at the right time’.  Believe it or not, sometimes the answer is to not change jobs at all.

Then again, if it weren’t for such approaches then I wouldn’t have been able to have as much fun in my reply…

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