Some of us love our jobs. We’re devoted to our employer. We don’t want to leave. We don’t for even a second consider looking for a new role. We’re happy. But along comes the competition and they dangle a lucrative carrot in your face. Suddenly you begin to imagine yourself in another working environment, tackling bigger projects, earning more money. A week ago it wasn’t even a thought in your mind!…Can you be swayed to jump ship?

Being approached out of the blue by a competitor, recruiter or industry contact with a new job offer can be quite flattering. After all, they think you’re pretty great at what you do. But your head is in a spin at having been caught off guard. And while the romance of being specifically sought out for what sounds like an irresistible job offer has your ego purring, it is best to remain calm and professional and request another time to discuss the opportunity presented. You want to approach the situation with a level head and not be misled into a bad career decision by your inflated sense of self.

Pausing before allowing yourself to be poached has great merit. You want to view the offer objectively. Is this the type of role you want, or do you want your next role to be something different, maybe even more senior to your current position? Can you even legally consider the role? Your employment contract may contain a non-compete clause. You may be restricted from working with a competing organisation for a year, or more, after you resign. Are you prepared to take on the legalities of breaching your contract? Hmm, much to think about.

Before seriously entertaining penning your notice, you need to have a full understanding of the job role on offer. Ask questions, but refrain from selling yourself. They’ve come to you remember, they already believe you’re capable of performing well in the role. And in undertaking some further research, consider how you were approached. Were you tracked through your LinkedIn profile? Recruiters are always seeking to streamline the recruitment process by targeting individuals rather than wading through masses of employment applications. Your investigations may reveal that you are not the only candidate being pursued, therefore the recruitment process, should you find you are very interested in the role, will certainly involve an interview where you will have to sell yourself. If this is the case, your position of power and negotiating terms may not be as strong as initially thought.

You will also need to consider the whole employment package being presented. Just because the company approaching you thinks that you are exactly what they need, they may not be a great fit for you. For example, are they a smaller company that does not have the personnel and resources to continue developing your career? If this is the situation, you may want to consider the long term affects to your career over the short term salary increase. And probably more importantly, consider the relationship between the company head hunting you and your currently employer. How many bridges are you going to burn if you accept the job offer? What will be long term effects on your career, industry networks and client base? There are many risks you need to consider and contemplate before making a decision to leave. And definitely make it clear that if you do accept their job offer, you will not be divulging confidential or proprietary information from your previous job.

Being solicited for your services does have a positive. It will assist you to clarify your worth. And this could be a great bargaining chip to take to your current employer. Some employers will panic and make serious efforts to retain your services. Others may encourage you to accept the opportunity as they want to see you grow and succeed. They understand that the role on offer will place you outside of your comfort zone and challenge you. And perhaps in a few years they may poach you back!

In today’s workforce, loyalty is questionable. And employee poaching is quite common. So don’t feel like you cannot consider a job offer that you never went looking for. Take into account the pros and cons, for even if you decline the role you may clarify, if only to yourself, what your true career values are. At the very least, you can build a relationship for the future when you actually do want move on from your current role. But if the signs are good, then congratulations, you have successfully negotiated yourself a positive step forward in your career.

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