Employment opportunity and the road not taken

Smartphone with incoming call, employment opportunity

This week I want you to think about a deceptively simple question:  Why are people reluctant to talk to a recruiter about an employment opportunity?  It’s a straightforward question, but the answer can be quite complex.  I am very fortunate to be recognized as an expert in the field of Public Finance.  As a result, calls frequently come into my office, so I do very little outbound cold calling.  Despite this, I’ll often have someone reach out to me, but the caller is still reluctant to talk openly with me about an employment opportunity.  They’ve reached out to me to discuss their future, but they still hold back.  I shudder to think what it would be like for me to initiate the call with just a name on a list, (like most recruiters do) and experience such reluctance to discuss something as important as their future.

An Example…

Consider this scenario; you’re at your desk, and the phone rings.  At the other end of the call is a recruiter excited to have a conversation with you about a new employment opportunity.  Why might you be reluctant to chat? The answer can be complex; though it’s usually connected to a need to tell ourselves that things in our company are better than they really are.  It can be hard to be truthful when something we’ve poured so much of our heart, energy and time into isn’t what we want it to be.  We want to believe everything is fine, because that is often easier than facing the necessity of change.  We can feel embarrassed and that can make us hesitant to have an honest conversation with this stranger on the other end of the line.

So, what to do? You might respond with that knee-jerk reaction: “I’m happy here”.  You might not even allow yourself to question if you should have the call and learn about a new employment opportunity.  Now don’t get me wrong – if you are truly happy, then that’s great.  But the truth is that most people are not as happy as they say they are.

An Emerging Trend

This is brought into focus as I watch all the announcements on social media about people at noticeably young ages announcing their retirement. If they were truly happy with what they have been doing over the years, would they be looking to retire as soon as they become eligible?  Probably not. So why not have a conversation with the recruiter who’s reaching out to you about a new employment opportunity?  The most common reason is that fear kicks in and people think their name will be circulated throughout the industry, and that will tip off the wrong person that they’re looking for a new position.  The second most common reason I see is that candidates struggle to admit they are unhappy and may have been in the wrong place for all these years.

The Lens of Retirement

As people start approaching their retirement, they really start to reflect. This seems to be when public finance professionals are reaching out to me, wondering if there is a better employment opportunity out there. But why has it taken so long for them to realize they should be asking this question? It could be that they may be unhappy but are reluctant to admit it.  The good news is that I am seeing firms positioning themselves very differently than they did in the past. They are hiring more senior individuals closer to that magic retirement age because they’ve come to recognize that the good ones don’t want to retire, and still have many more years to dedicate to their craft. The firms have also become much more employee-centric than employer-centric and are trying very hard to bring the right people over – recognizing their career and wealth of experience by putting them in the right seats. I just recently brought an individual out from retirement to take a very senior position with a firm.

Honesty is the Best Policy for Your Future

Going back to our example, you would have missed out if you didn’t chat with a recruiter when they call; you wouldn’t have the chance to hear about a great employment opportunity for you and your future if you are not open to an honest discussion.  I propose that you let your guard down for a moment and ask yourself why you might be resistant to hearing about the great new opportunity from a recruiter.  Only then can you make a conscious and intentional decision if you want to move forward in the process.  If you respond with the knee-jerk response, “I’m happy here” you may never know what you are missing.  As the old adage goes, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”


You don’t need a resume to chat with us! If you would like to discuss your options, please reach out for a confidential conversation at 760-477-1284 or email at [email protected]. He can also be reached on LinkedIn. Harlan publishes a blog every Thursday here. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter here, which is a compilation of our weekly blogs, so you never miss one. We have also been mentioned in Forbes, click HERE to read for yourself. 

About Harlan Friedman, JD & Founding Member, H. Friedman Search LLC. Harlan is a thirty-year veteran Public Finance Banker turned recruiter who specializes in the placement of all levels Public Finance Bankers, Healthcare Bankers, Municipal Advisors, Compliance Officers, Issuers, and Bond Counsels.