How is Your Career Libido? Yes I said “Career Libido”!

I am always pleasantly surprised when I get someone who is ostensibly happy in their job to look at a position I’m recruiting for. Headhunters often target people who are contentedly employed because those are often the best and most reliable workers. We poach the gainfully employed, hence our nickname. Invariably though, when I begin talking with these employees and they tell me they are happy I have to needle and convince them to take interviews. For those of you getting calls about job opportunities who are unsure whether the interviews are worth your time, this is what I tell those people I’m trying to hire. The calculus is simple.

I always tell people, the best time to interview for jobs is when you do not have to interview for jobs. If you’re lucky enough to be sought after, these opportunities can be golden even if you don’t cash them in. Interviewing without the pressure of unemployment allows you to hear about the position with an open mind. It also allows you to compare your offer to your current job and figure out how much you would be worth on the open market. With all that said, there is no use in wasting your time with unserious suitors. Think of yourself like the popular girl in high school who everyone wants to date—if you’re going to dump Brad, you better be sure that Devin will offer you more. If someone is calling you out of the blue and they want to talk about a position for you, don’t just say yes immediately. Here is your script: “Thank you for the call. I am very flattered. I am very happy where I am working now and not looking to change jobs. My current base is $XXX and my W2, for 2017 will be XXX. In order for me to even consider this position I would need a 20% increase on my base salary and a guarantee of an overall increase of 10% to 15% on my total annual income. Can you offer that? What is the base salary alone for this position? There is your Viscusi Career Coaching, free of charge this time.

That really is the bottom line. If you’re happy with your job and the company can’t promise a 20% increase on your base salary, don’t waste your time. And please do not be enticed with tricks about increasing your “total compensation.” This ploy is like being promised a beautiful chicken dinner and then being taken to KFC and only getting fries. They want you. You have the leverage. No 20% base salary increase, no interview! Got it? If they can’t tell you immediately how much money they have for the position, either they’re lying or they’re disorganized. Either way, stay put! The beauty of liking your job is that to get you to change jobs these companies need to throw a whole lot your way. Make sure they know it. If you read that script, headhunters will know you are serious and that you won’t be led to an interview like a sheep to slaughter.

If they start talking numbers that you like hearing, by all means, keep them talking. The next recession is just around the corner, so any position that would increase your base salary is definitely worth paying attention to. You may still decide to stay put, and that’s fine, but if your question is when should you interview, the answer is when they tell you they’ll bump your base higher than Willie Nelson on a summer afternoon. The onus is on you to ask about the salary increase, though, not on the headhunter or company offering you the position. They want to get you in the door and win you over; you don’t want to make that so easy for them. Why does Devin want to date the popular girl? That’s right, because she plays hard to get. Ask about the salary first or do not go on the interview.

In the end, the goal is to only spend time in interviewing for the positions that you might actually consider. Don’t worry about your “career libido” or anything like that—you don’t have to switch jobs every year to prove that you’re driven. Often an interview is a waste of your valuable time. There is no need to sit with these people just to say you did. Spend your time worrying about other libido issue you might have.

Please “like” this or comment; and share it. Stephen Viscusi is the CEO of The Viscusi Group, a global executive search practice specializing in the interior furnishings industry located in New York City. Viscusi is the author of the HarperCollins book "Bulletproof Your Job". You can visit his website at or follow him on twitter at @Stephenviscusi, Instagram at Stephenviscusi and Facebook  Write him at