By Clay Wyatt
Posted on 02/18/2016

You’ve been at your job for five years and everything is going smoothly. Out of the blue, a recruiter contacts you and asks if you’re interested in a new opportunity. How should you respond?

Whether you’re desperate for a new job or haven’t even considered leaving your current position, you’ll want to tactfully deal with recruiters who contact you. Doing so may help you secure employment now or in the future. With this in mind, here’s what to do if a recruiter contacts you.

Be Eager

“That sounds alright, I guess.”

Imagine hearing this from a recruiter after explaining your background to her. Would you think she was interested in moving forward with you? You probably wouldn’t. And if that’s how you respond to a recruiter after she describes an opportunity to you, that will likely be the last call or email you receive from her.

If you’re interested in a new job, be sure that the recruiter knows this. Sound eager to get the job.

Tactfully Decline the Request

If you’re not interested in the job and have been invited to interview or the recruiter has otherwise expressed interest in you as a candidate, be sure to tactfully decline the request. Doing so should pay off if you wish to work with this recruiter in the future. While it may be best to do this via a phone call, here are some tips for doing so regardless of the method you choose:

  • Be prompt
  • Express gratitude
  • Discuss your reason if you feel it is appropriate to do so
  • Craft a script if you believe you’ll be nervous when rejecting the opportunity

Recommend Someone Else

That job as a widget maker might not interest you. But if you have a former coworker who is qualified for and would enthusiastically take it, consider recommending her for the job. In addition to potentially helping your former coworker land a new job, you’ll also help the recruiter find a suitable candidate. And if you do that, you may also help yourself land a job you actually want in the future.

For example, suppose the recruiter calls and asks if you’re interested in the job. You say “No” and quickly end the call. That’s probably the last time you’ll hear from her.

However, if you say “No, but here’s a qualified candidate who might be interested in the job,” the recruiter will likely be left with a positive impression. She’ll also probably be more interested in working with you in the future if and when you seek a new opportunity.

Express Future Availability

If you decide not to pursue an opportunity presented by a recruiter, be sure to let her know that you’re open to future opportunities, if applicable. For example, if the job she’s currently recruiting for isn’t in line with your career ambitions, this doesn’t necessarily mean that she won’t have one available in the future that more closely matches what you’re looking for. Consider leaving the bridge intact by mentioning that you may be interested in other opportunities as doing so may help convince her to keep you on her candidate list next time she’s recruiting for a position that you’d be interested in. It should help you end the current matter on a positive note.