How to Say No to a Recruiter (5 Examples)

How to say no to a recruiter

If you’re wondering how to say no to a recruiter, this article has you covered.

After working for five years as a recruiter, I’m going to give you examples of how to tell a recruiter you’re not interested.

These will work if you’re trying to stop an overly-aggressive recruiter from messaging you.

Or, if a friendly recruiter reaches out and it’s just the wrong time or wrong position, I’ll show you how to say no while keeping the door open for future opportunities.

How to Say No to a Recruiter: Sample Messages

If a recruiter contacts you about a job opening and you’re not interested, you should respond clearly and decisively by saying no.

It’s best to keep your message short but indicate to the recruiter that you did read and consider their message so that they’ll be less likely to continue trying to persuade you.

Saying No to a Recruiter Because You Aren’t Interested in Opportunities

Hello [Recruiter’s Name],

Thanks for writing. I’m completely satisfied with my work at [current company name] and have just begun some large projects that require my full attention. I won’t be able to consider future opportunities this year or next.

Best regards,
Your name

That should be enough to politely decline and get the typical agency recruiter to move on.

They may ask if you know other candidates who may be qualified for this role. If you genuinely know someone who would be a good fit for this opportunity, then consider referring them to help your colleague out.

Otherwise, you can simply tell them that you don’t know anyone qualified for the role but will keep them in mind moving forward.

Next, let’s look at an example of how to respond if a recruiter reaches out about a job that just isn’t a good fit for you, but you’d be open to future possibilities moving forward.

Saying No to a Recruiter Because the Job Isn’t a Fit

Hello [Recruiter’s Name],

Thanks for reaching out to me. This position isn’t a fit, as I’m more focused on [area of expertise 1] and [area of expertise 2].

If you find any positions more closely focused on those activities, I’m open to seeing a job description. Let’s keep in touch!

Best regards,
Your name

Saying No to a Recruiter but Keeping Communication Open for a Later Date

Hello [Recruiter’s Name],

Thanks for writing. I’m not available on the job market at the moment but may begin looking for new job opportunities around [month or specific date]. Feel free to reconnect with me around that time if you have any relevant open jobs.

My main focus is in [area of expertise 1] and [area of expertise 2]. So I’ll likely be looking for a career move in that space.

Best regards,
Your name

Saying No to a Job that Requires Relocation

Hello [Recruiter’s Name],

Thanks for reaching out about this role.

I am not open to relocating due to family reasons.

However, if you come across a similar position here in the [city/region] area, I’m open to hearing about it and sending over my resume.

Best regards,
Your name

How to Say No to a Recruiter After Attending a Job Interview

Sometimes you’ll attend an initial interview to explore a new job opportunity, but then decide you’re not interested.

I actually recommend this approach. It costs you nothing to get on the phone and hear about a new job for 30 minutes.

As long as the job title sounds like it could be career-advancing, then there’s no harm in listening and deciding whether to pursue it further after one interview.

If you find yourself in this situation and then decide your current job is better, or you’re not interested for another reason, then you can say the following:

Hello [Recruiter’s Name],

Thanks for the opportunity to learn more about the [job title] position.

The interview went well, but it’s not quite the position that fits my career goals.

I’m looking for a job involving more [area you want to focus on] and less of an emphasis on [area that this job offered].

Even though I’m not the right person for this role, and I’m no longer interested, I would love to hear about other opportunities in the future.

Best regards,
Your name

Note: You don’t have to end every email with “Best regards.” You can certainly mix it up and be a bit more creative. This article has 21 email closing examples.

Saying No to a Recruiter: Mistakes to Avoid

If you’re too vague and general in your response, you’ll invite more follow-ups from the recruiter.

For example, I don’t recommend saying, “I’m happy in my current position.”

The recruiter will simply say, “Well, don’t you think it’s possible that you could be even happier in another role?”

So unless you want a lot of back-and-forth messaging, this is the wrong way to say no to a recruiter.

That’s why the first script I gave you above is a bit more detailed and decisive: “I’m completely satisfied with my work and have just begun some large projects that require my full attention.”

You don’t want to provide excuses/details beyond this, but adding a mention of your current work/projects shows that you’re committed to your current role.

This shows a recruiter that you’re serious when you say no, and will quickly prompt them to move on to the next potential candidate.

One more mistake to avoid: not showing professional courtesy.

It can be overwhelming to receive multiple messages each day from recruiters. If you’re in a high-demand field like software engineering, you may have experienced this.

Most recruiters are genuinely trying to do good work, though. They are simply looking for potential candidates to introduce to good opportunities.

So try to respond courteously when you receive phone calls and emails from recruiters.

I know some recruiters cross the line, are too aggressive, or even dishonest. I’m simply suggesting you give recruiters the benefit of the doubt until they prove otherwise.

There are good recruiters out there who know their industry well (I recommend only working with recruiters who specialize in your industry or type of work).

And these recruiters can help you find a new position in the future and reach your career goals faster, even if you’re not the right candidate at this moment.

So if you do think someone may potentially be a good recruiter to know in the future, then it’s worth responding politely and even mentioning that maybe you can connect about a future opportunity.

Don’t Overlook a Job Opportunity Simply Because You’re Not Actively Searching

When I worked as a recruiter, I ran into a lot of candidates who would immediately say no to a new job opportunity because they had a job already.

Yet the best time to make a career move is when you’re employed and doing well in your current role.

This makes other companies in your industry want you more.

And it allows you to interview with much more confidence. Being employed while job searching allows you to be picky and selective, too. You can afford to wait for that dream job to come along.

So I’m simply suggesting that it’s worth keeping your mind open to listening to the occasional opportunity that comes along, hearing what the job requires, asking about the salary of the position, etc.

Don’t consider every opportunity that comes along or spend your free time interviewing for random jobs each week.

However, it may be worth listening to a recruiter or reading their email and thinking about whether the opportunity could be a major step up in position title and pay.

It costs you nothing to take one interview and start an interview process. You may even stay connected with that hiring manager, even if you decide not to leave your current employer right now.

A lot of good things can happen from taking that initial interview. Hiring managers understand that you’re a “passive candidate” who is not actively looking to leave their current employer and would only consider a dream job opportunity.

They want the opportunity to speak with you. That’s why they pay recruiters.

You don’t have to go through to the point of getting a job offer if you aren’t going to accept it, but having one quick phone conversation to hear about a role is often beneficial.

If you do decide to explore your options and take the occasional interview, here’s how to respond to an interview request.

Conclusion: How to Say No to a Recruiter

Recruiters can be an asset in your job search. Using a recruiter to find a job can help you gain insight into the overall job market, expected salaries, and details about the particular company you’re considering.

But if they contact you at the wrong time, or for the wrong opportunity, you can say no by explaining that you’re occupied by your current projects and/or uninterested.

If you are interested in future opportunities, you can indicate the type of role that will interest you and/or the time frame in which you’ll begin looking for a new position.

This is optional though, and you should never feel bad about telling a recruiter no. It’s a normal part of their everyday job.

 

About the Author Biron Clark

Biron Clark is a former executive recruiter who has worked individually with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.

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