How do you reach out to somebody you want to work for in a confidential manner?
While there are no right or wrong answers, there are some important practicalities to consider before hitting send on that email, making that call or sending that text.
We all know the best time to start looking for a job is when you are in one. And if you find yourself toying with this question, chances are you want to leave your current role to explore pastures new. However, the vast majority of us, for obvious reasons, don’t advertise ‘itchy’ career feet. But then, how do you negotiate a confidential reach out to a potential employer without jeopardizing your current role? The stakes are higher still if you happen to work in a small, tight-knit industry.
Explore the ‘Why’ first
Most people jump straight into ‘how’ to reach out. This is both a bad and a dangerous idea. Before thinking about ‘How’ to reach out, you need to understand ‘Why’ you want to reach out. This means some soul searching so start with.
Ask yourself soul-searching questions
- Do you intend to leave your current role? If so why?
- Who do you want to reach out to & why?
- What do you hope to achieve by reaching out?
- What’s the ideal outcome for you?
- What’s the best that could happen?
- What’s the worst that could happen?
- Do you know enough about this person to trust them to be discreet?
- What do you stand to loose if there is a breach of confidentiality? Are you comfortable with this loss?
- Have you considered alternative ways to achieve the same outcome?
- Are you prepared for whatever might happen if you decide to reach out now?
- Are you in the strongest professional position possible before you reach out? For example, is your CV, cover letter and LinkedIn profile up to date? If not, cover these basics off before any action.
- Do you have a skills lacuna that you should fill before reaching out?
- Have you explored all professional opportunities within your current company that could add to your skill set? If not, why not?
- Are there any projects in the pipeline at your work that are a value-add to your professional profile? If so what are the pro’s/cons of reaching out before/after completion of those projects? (Pay careful attention to these questions and answer them both honestly and carefully).
There is no doubt that responding to them will feel uncomfortable but it is crucial that you do not brush over any issue and swiftly move onto the next. Better to deal with these matters now than after the event. Use each question as an opportunity to self-evaluate and to prepare you for all eventualities.
Take time to plan your strategy
You need to approach this brave career move the same way you would a work project. Dedicate a specific amount of time on a particular day for the next three weeks to build a strategy around this career move. For example, set your alarm for 8.45am – 9.00am daily or every Tuesday from 8 pm – 9 pm as a reminder that this is your allocated time to develop a practical, clear and concise plan. By doing so, you proactively ensure that your next career move is a well-executed one.
Explore internally first
In your current position, do you feel challenged and appreciated, have the opportunity to progress and the platform to grow your career? Do you want to reach out as you need more flexible work arrangements or do you need a change in how you engage with your role? If so the answer to your ‘itchy’ career feet may lie internally and maybe it worth testing the waters of change in your current role first. No doubt beginning a new internal conversation about what you need is a brave step, yet often hugely rewarding. Companies are increasingly opening their doors, and minds, to new more flexible work arrangements that are better suited to the needs of the 21st-century workforce. Set out what you want and start the conversation with your current employer, you might be pleasantly surprised. After all, what’s the worst that could happen?
Next week, Part Two deals with ‘risk-free’ reach out
By Sinead Brady