“Open to Work”. That secret little filter on LinkedIn that poses the moral dilemma of to tick or not to tick. It’s an easy choice when you’re actively looking for a new role of course. The crisis of conscience kicks in when you’re ‘happy’ in your current position. Or think you are. Then you might think, but what if? Surely a sneak peek at what’s out there wouldn’t hurt? Shortly before no doubt thinking: will my boss definitely not be able to see this?!

With “quiet quitting” setting our hashtags on fire at the moment, the “open to work” button gives us “silent scouting”. But exactly what are we quietly quitting and silently scouting for? While both are soft strategies, the driving force and outcome are not quite the same. While the quiet quitters peacefully protest, the silent scouts passively pursue.

Quiet quitting does not mean quietly quitting a job. It means quietly quitting doing any more for the job than is essentially required. Though “above and beyond” and “the extra mile” are great buzzwords in interviews, the reality of voluntarily contributing more than you are compensated for can soon take the buzz out of the words.  Silent scouting, on the other hand, might equally not mean quitting, but it’s certainly a small step towards it. When a decision is made to be “open to work”, a decision is also made to be “open” to walking away. That’s not exactly the case if you’re a member of team QQ. Quiet quitters are not necessarily “open” to walking away, as much as “closed” to working harder than they need to without reward or recognition. Even for members of team SS, it’s not always about being “open” to resignation as much as being “open” to opportunity and progression. Quiet quitting is a quest for quality while silent scouting is a search for success.

Yet there are those who resolutely refuse to tick that box. Those that truly are ‘happy’ in their roles. Not even the idea of more money, a bigger title, an exciting new challenge, or a better work/life balance can entice them to be “open” to any other opportunity. They’re perfectly content being entirely oblivious to a dream job that could come with a private island and an Italian sportscar for all they know. It would be interesting to understand exactly what leads to that level of job and career satisfaction. Recruitment consultants like us have direct access to this information. Or at least a glimpse of it. In the current candidate-driven market, prospects are not shy to share their wish list. In our experience, the most common ‘dream job’ characteristics usually boil down to one or more, if not all, of the following: Salary, progression potential, recognition, work/life balance, and fulfilment.

We’ve all heard the saying “everyone has their price” but unlike the chart-topping pop song, in our experience, it’s not all about the money, money, money. Some seemingly attribute far more value to flexible working hours and are willing to compromise on salary in favour of freedom for example. As recruiters, we naturally ask candidates what their salary requirements are as standard. It can be surprising how often the answer is a variation on “’x’ amount, but there is flexibility there for the right role”. Hybrid or remote opportunities often see candidates willing to compromise on the figure, or in certain cases, even take a cut. Salary is still important, however, and will always be one of the main motivators whether you’re quietly quitting or silently scouting. Money talks, as we know, and we all hope to be paid our worth at the very least. For many, the golden carrot is still and will always be the best bait and the most coveted reward. For others, reward could take a different form – whether it’s a promotion, study potential, an exciting new project, or an impromptu day off. Everyone does indeed have their price, but that price isn’t always in pounds or dollars.

Quiet quitters and silent scouts might have their differences, but the common denominator is a desire for a change. As is no doubt also the case with loud leavers, discreet deserters, noisy naggers, or secret seekers – each with their own strategy to be “happy” at work.