How to turn down a recruiter

  • Posted by: Alexander Daniels
  • 31 January 2018

If you’re lucky, you’ve had recruiters reach out to you via LinkedIn or email.

If you are looking for a new position, the response is obvious: when can we talk more?

But if you’re not currently looking for anything new, how do you respond to the recruiters message without burning bridges? Because let’s face it; these days, people are likely to change their jobs every 3-5 years. So maybe one day, you will need this recruiter. And then it is important that you haven’t burned that bridge.

Being recruitment specialists, we know this situation very well, and we want to help you sort it out!

1. Give them a straight answer

It’s professional courtesy to not waste the recruiters’ time, because they are not trying to waste yours either. Giving a clear reason to why together with showing gratitude, is also very important to maintain a good relationship.

Example: I’m flattered you reached out and considered me as a potential candidate. Unfortunately, I am very happy in my current role and not interested in making a change right now


I’m flattered you reached out and considered me as a potential candidate. Unfortunately, I am currently looking for something different and more within my field of expertise. I am currently looking for a job as a XX where I would be able to develop my skills within XX

2. Keep the conversation open

You can’t predict the future. But you can prepare for it. You may not need help now, but may need it in the future. So it is important to keep the conversation open. The fact that the recruiter finds your profile appealing now means they might later, as well.

Ask to connect on LinkedIn to stay in touch and hope that one day you may be able to help each other out

Other benefits of connecting with recruiters on LinkedIn are

They have great networks
They are good to have when you find yourself looking for a job

3. Offer to help

Finally, offer them help if you can

Knowing that they are interested in people like you to fill a certain position, it is likely that you know others in the industry who could be a good fit as well.

It’s a win win: you may be able to help out a friend or colleague and the recruiter may feel like they owe you one – this one will get you to their “Hall of fame of candidates”

When the time comes, and you are looking for a new position, you have a strong relationship to leverage.

4. Turn the conversation into a positive.

Find out why the recruiter has contacted you. Were you recommended by a colleague? Has your resume or LinkedIn profile stood out? Understanding why you stood out can be helpful for future job searches.

5. Recruiters understand the current job market

You have gotten connected to a person that has a pulse on the current job market within your specific industry; use this to your benefit!

Ask about hiring trends, future opportunities and expected outlook for your industry. Is there a certain skill most in demand? What companies are growing? Where are most of the jobs located?

This information can be crucial to your future job search!