Even if you are happily employed, I see no harm in “keeping your eyes open” for good opportunities that could possibly advance your career.
That’s just smart career management.
It is also wise to maintain relationships with recruiters in your field who might be aware of opportunities that would be suitable for you.
Like any business relationship, you need to manage this relationship professionally. Here are a few tips to building and maintaining a relationship with a recruiter:
Treat every interaction with a recruiter as you would an interview. Even though the recruiter does not have the final hiring authority, if you do not get past them, you will never get to meet the employer.
Always be helpful to the recruiter. If one calls about an opportunity that you decide to decline, try to recommend someone else who might be a better fit.
Be selective in the firms you contact. Do research to determine which firms regularly place candidates in your field. If a firm never has a search for the type of job you are looking for, you will only be wasting your time and theirs by contacting them.
Do not give any firm the exclusive right to work on your behalf and steer clear of any firm that wants a fee from you to “find” you a job.
Be specific about the type of job you are seeking and what your expected salary expectations are. This will save everyone a lot of time. If you are interested in an opportunity presented to you by a recruiter but later change your mind, let the recruiter know as quickly as possible. If you delay and withdraw at the last minute, it will be embarrassing to the recruiter and will likely be the last time they present an opportunity to you.
Do not expect the recruiter to prepare your resume for you. If you need outside help, ask someone else to do it. However, the recruiter might have ideas on how to improve your resume and you should heed the advice.
Seek a face-to-face meeting with the recruiter but understand they will probably only want to meet with you if there is a good probability of a job vacancy in your area of expertise soon. Otherwise, you will be asked to submit your resume online or by email.
Stay in touch periodically with the recruiter so that you maintain that top-of-mind awareness. Never call and ask, “Have you found anything for me yet?” Instead, you should refer possible leads about upcoming job vacancies to them; comment on any online posts they make; and every so often send an email saying you are still pursuing good job opportunities.