The phone rings, and it’s a recruiter calling.  

He has a new opportunity to tell you about; it’s with a hot new company and it pays well.  When he describes it to you, you’re flattered that he thought of you, and get some stars in your eyes thinking about the shiny new opportunity that’s in front of you and how you get to finally escape the hell-hole that involves your crazy boss.

Truth be told, though, your lifestyle doesn’t really lend itself to taking an all-hours-of-the-week startup job right now.  Although it would be good for your resume, and maybe eventually good for your pocketbook if those options pay off, your family would see you less than they’re seeing you now.  The CEO is known for working her team really hard, and the job itself isn’t exactly in your interest area.

You tell the recruiter that you’re intrigued and you need to think about it, and you hang up the phone.  And here’s where most people go off track:

You get scared that and think you need to grasp onto this because OMG WHAT IF NOTHING ELSE COMES ALONG?

Freeze frame for a second.

Scenario 1:  You write him back, and send your resume, and make up excuses at work for why you *cough cough* need to go to the dentist AGAIN, and you spin your cycles interviewing for a role that’s not right for you.  Sure, you might get a new connection or two out of it, but it takes time away from your larger plan of finding the right fit.  And it might annoy the recruiter if he finds out that you were actually not that interested in it, after all.  Worse, you use up some of those excuses and your company starts to smell a defector in its midst.

Scenario 2.  You take a deep breath.  You look at your job search target plan (you do have one written somewhere, right?) and you remind yourself why this is not a fit.  You go to LinkedIn and you think through 3-5 people that would be a better fit for this job, and you reach out to them to see if they’re interested in getting connected to the recruiter.  You do the recruiter a solid and pass him the names of some highly qualified, interested people.  He then remembers how helpful you are, and you go up in his estimation as a good person to keep top of mind.

I’m pretty sure all of us have played out Scenario 1 at some point in our lives.  Why?  Well, part because we don’t have a game plan and we’re reacting instead of being proactive.  Or we want to please the recruiter, or we get temporarily blinded by how nice it is to be pursued.  Or our family’s pressuring us to get a new job because they see how unhappy we are.  And, in fact, it’s sometimes easier to go-along-to-get-along than to say “no, thanks.”

But that’s not usually the real reason.  If we dig deep and think about it, the real reason is


Scarcity is when we get afraid that we won’t get another chance; that there isn’t enough to go around; that we’re in a tight race for a small resource pool. Scarcity makes us feel like we’re in competition with each other and that we need to jump RIGHT NOW without really considering what we’re jumping into. Scarcity makes us clench our fists and hold on so tightly to a resource because we’re afraid that we’re going to miss out.

Sometimes, it’s better to miss out than to miss the mark.

Next time, choose abundance.  Choose to share opportunities with others, even if it means it closes the door for you.  Choose your battles and only fight the ones you want to win.

SHARING vs SCARCITY.  Sharing wins, every time!  The lift you get from helping someone else will do wonders for your confidence, and it will deposit some “social capital” with both your friends and the recruiter, who’ll respect you for knowing your mind.

Trust me.  There are PLENTY of jobs out there (including ones that don’t yet exist but will, soon).  If you’re not seeing them, you might need to revisit your marketing strategy, or create a systematic approach that you follow to create new job leads on a regular basis.

There’s just not plenty of time to waste on things that don’t bring you joy.