How To Avoid Career Complacency

Step out of complacency and into career advancement. Here's how you know it's time.

What Is Holding You Back?

It is a relatively simple question.  The question should not take much thought process on your part, but it is really such a simple question.  These four words can convey so much about yourself.  Everybody has a reason to show some resistance to change in their life.  This week, we will look at the number one reason most people will be reluctant to accept that phone call from a recruiter: Complacency.

The Reasons For Comfortability

Last week I discussed the team moves and that we are seeing a new trend towards staying put unless you can associate yourself with a team move.  This team could be people you currently working with or creating a new viable team of like-minded individuals to make a move with.  If you are asked to join such a team, are you willing to?  Or conversely, the recruiter calls and suggests a great opportunity, are you willing to have that first conversation?  Lately, the answer would probably tend towards no.  The reason is that you are comfortable in your current situation.  Or you may have a deal that you are waiting for that is going to close in 2024, and you do not want to potentially lose that deal; thus providing another reason in your mind why staying makes sense.  Maybe there’s a carrot of a firm’s senior member leaving and delivering a book of business for you.  There are many reasons to stay and not take the call. Is comfortability the same as complacency?

A Single Question

Every one of those reasons is a knee-jerk reaction to the intended content of the phone call from the recruiter.  Each person or circumstance is a reason you could place as an obstacle.  However, the real reason, most likely, is that you are complacent.  You are comfortable with your current situation, which has landed you in the seat of career complacency.  I had an interesting scenario when I was having a conversation the other day with a prospect. For context, the first question I always ask on a follow-up call is, “Has anything changed from our last call?  A very open-ended question.  I never suggest the area I am asking about change – if anything has changed.  By asking this question, I never know what will be revealed.  Specifically, yesterday, this open-ended question revealed so much that the candidate said, “Maybe it is time for me to make that move.”  A simple question that caused him to avoid his own knee-jerk reaction of, “No, I am not willing to have a conversation,” to, “Yes, I am.”

There Is Adventure And Opportunity Out There!

That simple question got him to defer complacency – for the time being.  He could start to see himself in an unfamiliar scenario, that of talking to a firm he’d never thought of.  He could see himself not knowing where the restroom was on his first day as he got more and more excited about having a robust platform for him to be able to continue to grow.  Specifically, we see lifers on the bond counsel side of the business, which is excellent.  You may be thinking, “I have been at this firm for so many year.” However, you have to ask yourself the critical question: Is there anything better out there, or am I just staying put and settling because I am comfortable where I am?  As a recruiter, we are constantly evaluating the changes firms are making.  Many of these changes are initiative-taking that will enable a bond counsel or a public finance banker to increase their business because the firm collaborates with the professional.  There are extremely vigorous platforms and opportunities out there.  With all that said, take the recruiter’s call.  Beat your complacency, and move forward.  You will be amazed by what is on the other side of the fence.  In this case, the grass can be much greener.  

Let us help you overcome your or your team’s complacency and explore opportunities that may set your entire future up for you.


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. You can find our listing in the “supplier and services” section of the Red Book under the title of “executive recruiting.”

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.