Even in today’s (2024) market with candidate supply significantly outstripping the jobs that are currently available, people are still being headhunted. Companies will always struggle to meet their resourcing needs when it comes to some specific skill sets. This is particularly relevant when it comes to emerging technology.

So what should you do if you get a phone call or a message from someone asking if you are interested in a new job?

While being approached for a new job is understandably exciting, it’s important that you handle the situation calmly and be discerning when trying to figure out if you should pursue the opportunity or not. We’ve put together some top tips on how you might navigate being scouted for a role.

Being Professional is key

When being headhunted for a job there’s a very good chance you’ll be contacted during office hours or certainly close to them. If you are at work when a call or message comes through, we suggest you leave it to review until you are at home or on a break. There is no harm in letting the recruiter know that you will get back to them, it is important for your own process and reputation that you prioritise the company you currently work for. This is not an unreasonable request by any measure and they should respect your professionalism and desire to be discreet. If you receive pushback/insistence from the person who made the approach, we would suggest you be more wary. In this scenario, it’s less likely the person has your best interests at heart (over their own).

Similarly, it’s not a great look to go ahead and tell your existing colleagues or employer that someone has approached you for another job. Of course, if you have flippantly dismissed it as there is no way you would even consider a move, it does make for fun water-cooler chat!

Research Thoroughly

First things first, you’re going to need to set some time aside to sit down with the recruiter and make sure that you can concentrate 100% on the conversation. Be sure to ask questions about the role including responsibilities, benefits, remuneration, career advancement, company culture, and anything else that is important to you. Once you have evaluated this information and are happy to proceed, this could be done on the fly, be sure to clearly articulate your interest in the position. Ask the recruiter what the next steps are and make sure they outline the recruitment process in a way that you understand. Conversely, if you are not able to make a decision quickly be sure to say so. There is no point in confirming either way if you are unclear on the opportunity.

As with anything in life, if you are interested in it you should do your own research. Look into the company looking to recruit the role to understand if there is a fit with you. This could be done by looking online, primarily at social media and the company website. This is a quick and easy way to get an understanding of the culture and what they see is valuable to them. If you know anybody who works for them or can find someone with an opinion of them, this may also help you in your decision to progress. It’s important to seek balance in this research phase so make sure you look for the positives and the negatives.

Questions to ask yourself

Here are some example questions you might want to consider when looking to assess your fit for a new role.

  • How does it compare to your current job in terms of the position description and what you are responsible for?
  • What are the benefits on offer: Are they similar to what you have? Be sure to consider the entire package and not just the financial side.
  • Is there a path for your career growth with them – do they offer professional development or external training for example?
  • Is the location or working arrangements suitable for your needs
  • As above, what is the company culture and reputation like? There are plenty of websites such as Indeed or GlassDoor that might be able to give you insight into this.

Take Your Time and Weigh Up if It’s Right for You

One of the things that goes hand in hand with being headhunted is a shortened time frame. You may feel a little pressure from the recruiter or even a little self-inflicted pressure to respond quickly. You must take the time you need to make the right decision. Consider all of the aspects that are important to you, some of which we have noted above. Everybody is different in no one should tell you what is important to you.

There may be value in taking this opportunity to a family member, mentor, or close friend for a second opinion. Ask them how they think this will impact your long-term career goals, your financial position, or your working arrangements. Maybe you need flexibility in your work day, for example. Once you have some balanced perspectives you can then weigh up the pros and cons of the job offer and compare them to your current situation. It’s important to be pragmatic, and if it works for you, make sure you write it down. A pros and cons list is an old-fashioned but reliable tool to solve your inner dissonance.

Handle Your Response Carefully

You have to have a response that is either positive or negative and it’s important that you respond to the recruiter in a courteous manner, within time frames that you agreed.

If you go ahead, be sure to have a signed contract in hand before you give notice to your current employer. It’s important that you complete your existing contractual obligations both from a professional and personal perspective, and make sure you end the professional relationship on a positive note

If you decide to decline the offer, still keep it positive. It would be nice for the recruiter if you could briefly explain the reasons why the role isn’t for you. For example, it might just be too far away from where you live or it might be more complex, perhaps you don’t feel there is a cultural alignment based on the research you’ve done. Again keep it professional and don’t write/say things that you wouldn’t say in person.

Manners still go a long way and if you are interested in being approached in the future simply thank them and offer the opportunity to stay in touch. A polite and professional response will make it much more likely that you will be kept in mind for things in the future.


Knowing how to handle being headhunted can be tricky, but by following the above advice, you can ensure you make the right career move at the right time – without burning any professional bridges.

Are you looking for your next opportunity? At Sourced, we are a Technology & Digital recruitment agency specialising in permanent and contract roles throughout Auckland and Christchurch. Contact our experienced team today to learn more.

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