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Top talent is quietly looking at their next opportunity: a rising trend and what you can do about it

As the Vice President of Direct Placement here at M3 Placement and Partnership, I love to share the trends I am seeing in the industry. One of those I am currently seeing is the prevalence of top talent quietly looking for their next opportunity. Within Direct Placement and Executive Searches, we are actively sourcing talent, looking for candidates who fit a specific talent profile that falls in line with our client’s expectations. Actively sourcing talent means we are reaching out via LinkedIn and email to see if the person is interested in learning more about a potential opportunity. According to LinkedIn, InMail has an 18-25% response rate. In the last quarter, 42.7% of individuals have responded to our inquiries on open positions in executive search.  

It’s not that these individuals are searching job boards looking for their next opportunity, nor are they even looking to apply to a new role. Instead, they are open to having conversations with third-party recruiters on what they’re looking for in their next roles, what they are open to, what might be lacking in their current roles, and what would entice them to leave their current organization for another. Our most common response back is, “I’m not actively looking for a new role, but this position interested me and I’m open to having a discussion”. 

What are we finding that is enticing individuals to have these conversations and quietly look at potential opportunities?  

  • They are ready for their next challenge.  
    We are seeing many candidates who have been in their current role for 5-10 years and are now looking for a new challenge. They have usually refined all of the processes in their current role and optimized their work for highest performance and delivery. Many will consider lateral moves if they see opportunities for them to apply their skills to a new set of problems or areas to improve efficiencies. Many people are very interested in seeing what else they can do with their career.  
  • A new company could align better with their personal values, have a mission that excites them, or be a better culture fit.  
    One of the most common reasons top talent entertains a conversation about a new role is that they feel the new role offers them more alignment with their personal values- whether that be alignment with the company’s mission statement or the company’s culture. These candidates are not usually unhappy in their current role- instead they are enticed by a clearly articulated culture and the mission-driven work behind it. These candidates usually have the highest expectations for a great fit at a new company as they want the new culture to be a better fit for them than the one they are currently a part of.  
  • Speaking with a third-party recruiter is confidential.  
    The first conversation with a recruiter opens the door to learn more about a new role with low stakes, inviting them to hear the story of the company, the role, and why the position is open. Additionally, conversations with third-party recruiters are confidential, allowing them to explore the role without fear of someone in their small business community finding out that they are open to a new role. Individuals fearing their current employer might hear about them entertaining conversations about new roles often scare top talent away from learning more about a potential new role but with third-party recruiters this fear is removed.  

So, what can employers do about this rising trend? Here at M3 our number one recommendation is to execute stay interviews. These interviews promote retention by helping management to find out what is keeping employees at their jobs while also finding influential factors that could entice the employee to leave to take another job. You can learn more about stay interviews at: The Stay Interview: A Primer for Executives – M3 Placement & Partnership.  

Stay interviews can be done internally or you can work with a partner like us here at M3 to execute them. Sometimes working with a third party encourages employees to candidly share their thoughts and experiences in ways that they wouldn’t have with an internal team member. Contact our team today at to learn more about our retention packages.