How to Respond to a Recruiter About a Job You’re Not Interested In

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Picture this: You get a LinkedIn InMail, email, text, or a phone call from a recruiter about a job opportunity. You take a look, but it’s not something you’re interested in. Maybe you’re really happy where you are and you wouldn’t consider leaving your current role for anything. Maybe the job itself doesn’t spark your interest. Maybe it’s just not the right time to make a move. Whatever the case, you’re not interested… so how should you respond to the recruiter?

As recruiters ourselves, we handle rejection day in and day out. First of all, YES, you should respond – even if you have no intention of pursuing the job! Recruiters are good people to have in your network, and you never know how things might change down the road. Relationships with recruiters can be created even with minimal interaction, and if you make a good impression, you’ll be sure to stand out if and when you find yourself job hunting in the future.

So how should you respond when a recruiter reaches out to you about a job you don’t plan to apply for? It depends on your unique situation, but as a rule of thumb, provide as much context and information as possible. If something about the company, type of job, or anything else seems interesting, offer to connect for an introductory call. Just keep in mind that the recruiter may not have the time to chat with inactive candidates – don’t take it personally, you’re well on your way to making a great impression!

 

If you’re happy where you are

Maybe you’re already working in your dream job, and there is absolutely nothing in the world that could turn your head. Lucky you! Thank the recruiter for reaching out and let them know that you’re very happy in your current role, but that you’ll keep them in mind if anything changes down the road – yes, even if you can’t imagine a scenario in which that would be the case. As the last few years have shown us, you never know what the future will hold!

If the job just doesn’t sound interesting

If you’re open to a new job, but the particular opportunity being offered doesn’t pique your interest, let the recruiter know why! Is the job a good fit for your skill set, but in an industry that doesn’t appeal to you? Is it a company you’ve heard negative feedback about? Is it the wrong level? The more information you provide, the better. This will prevent the recruiter from reaching out about similar opportunities in the future – and when something that sounds like a great fit for you does come up, you’ll be top of mind.

If the timing isn’t right

This is a scenario we run into all the time – we reach out to candidates who are locked into contracts, about to go on maternity leave, waiting for promotions, and so on. If this is the case, it’s super helpful for us to have a time frame, even a vague one! Recruiters often specialize in particular roles or industries, so if you can’t make a move for six months but know you’ll be looking for a job early next year, let the recruiter know that and express an interest in reconnecting at that time if any right-fit roles are available. This is another situation in which it’s a good idea to set up an introductory call if your schedule permits.

If it’s something else

There are myriad reasons why a particular job might not be a fit for you, far more than what we’ve outlined above. If you’re targeting a higher compensation range, only open to remote or hybrid work, not willing to relocate (should the role require it), seeking a specific title, looking to change industries, or anything else, recruiters always appreciate as much context as you’re willing to share. While we can never guarantee that we’ll have an opening that’s right up your alley the next time you kick off a job search, we’ll be much better equipped to help you out if we do!

 

When all’s said and done, you have nothing to lose by responding to a recruiter and explaining your situation. You don’t have to type out a novel – a few sentences or a short paragraph explaining why this particular role isn’t of interest to you and what you’d be looking for in your next move is great. If you happen to know of anyone who might be a good fit for the opportunity in question, referrals are always appreciated… and there is no better way to make a positive impression on a recruiter than to send a right-fit referral! Stay connected with the recruiter on LinkedIn or add their email address to your contacts list. By responding to recruiter outreach – even if you don’t want the job – you’re not just helping the recruiter; you’re helping yourself!