“Why are you looking for a job?” and “What are you looking for?” are two of the most basic questions a recruiter can ask, yet often they can be the most enlightening. 

As recruiters, we speak with many job seekers during the course of the day, and you’d be surprised at how quickly these two simple questions can leave candidates stumped.

When an already-employed candidate applies for a job, it is important for us to know the reason they are looking to leave their current employment. The same goes for candidates who we have headhunted; frequently we’ll get the response “I’m not looking, but I’m always open to hearing about new opportunities.” 

Believe it or not, this isn’t the response we want to hear. 

If you’re currently employed, you should have a clear reason for why you’re seeking something different. If you’re always open to new opportunities, it’s concerning.  Is there nothing an employer can do to keep you loyal? 

Quality candidates will have clear, valid reasons for why they are looking for new employment. 

Usually, they’ll have already spoken with their current employer about potential changes to their current role, possible career advancement within the company, and other issues that have left them considering greener pastures. When we ask them the question “why are you looking for a job?”, they’re able to quickly list a number of valid reasons that show they are serious in their job search and haven’t made the decision lightly.

Compared with candidates who can’t give a reason other than that “they’re curious” or “always open to new opportunities” or “want more vacation days”, it isn’t difficult to identify which candidate is worth our time. We’re interested in speaking with candidates who have carefully considered their current situation and have really thought about what their next career step should look like. 

Which leads into the next question: “What are you looking for?”

It’s always a great pleasure to speak with candidates who know exactly what they’re looking for, or at least, can provide us with a clear picture of what they would consider to be a real step-up from their current employment. 

Not surprisingly, candidates who struggled with answering “why are you looking?”, also struggle with “what are you looking for?” and typically, what they’re looking for is not related to the job and role itself, but rather the compensation package.

Candidates who are looking for “anything” also leave us less than inspired.

As a recruiter, our job is most rewarding when we can place candidates in roles that meet their career aspirations, that provide them with real opportunities for advancement, with interesting challenges and exciting projects that we know they’ll excel at. 

We’re not in the business of finding candidates a  $5,000 raise. Certainly not when there’s a good chance that, 3 months later, they leave that opportunity for another.

Looking for a job? We look forward to helping you find that next opportunity – but help us help you by knowing what that opportunity should look like.

Share this post: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone