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As an Executive Search Professional, I talk with individuals daily about the prospects of a new opportunity, and when it makes sense to put yourself out there and actually go on an interview. At least twice I day I hear the ever-indecisive remark, “I’m not sure if it’s the right time to interview.” Well, I’m here to provide some insight, and answer that proverbial $64,000 question:

When is the timing right?

One train of thought is to always be open to hearing about a new situations.

Another is to be so loyal and conservative that it Never makes sense.

Both of these mindsets have major pitfalls. I have never met a serious client that is interested in a true “tire kicker”, someone who is always “open”. What does that even mean? Resigning from your current position and moving on to a new company with a whole new cast of characters is difficult, even under the best of circumstances. I don’t know too many that are genuinely “Open” to that.

Then there’s the other extreme. So conservative and focused that genuinely great opportunities just pass on by. Effective career management requires thoughtful and effective action and the willingness to take measured risk.

Perhaps it’s somewhere in the middle. That’s where the Risk/Reward equation comes in.

Potential upside ; growth, promotion, acknowledgement, compensation > the risk of exposure, time out of office, mental and emotional ups and downs and overall effort.

Growth. Will this potential position advance my skill set, offer me new professional challenges and give me exposure to new technologies or markets?

Promotion. Will this potential position accelerate my moving up the organizational ranks? What are the realities of my getting promoted in the very near term in my current situation? Do I feel I need to Quit to get noticed?

Acknowledgement. Will this potential position provide me with the professional and personal acknowledgement that I am not currently receiving?

Compensation. Is the new company willing to offer me a reasonably better compensation package than I’m currently receiving based on the perceived value I will be bringing to them? Do the answers to the previous 3 categories warrant an interview even if my compensation were to remain the same?

Before you say YES or NO to an interview, be clear on the why’s or the why not’s. Don’t wait until you are “Running away from a bad situation” when you can be so much more objective by “Being attracted too” a new situation.

Giving the appropriate attention to these and other questions can help you make the right decision as to if and when to take that “I wasn’t really looking” interview. It will allow you to go into the meeting with the appropriate level of sincerity required to have any company want to bring you on board in that perfect new position.

Does the reward outweigh the risk? More times than not, the answer is yes.

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