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Job Seeker

How to Reject a Recruiter Nicely

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George Gabriel - 10 Feb, 2022

Marketing & Communications Specialist

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Tips for Temps, Recruiter Relations,

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What do you do when you don't want the job?

As a job seeker, you may dread the moment when a recruiter contacts you about an interview for an organisation or role that you're not interested in. Turning a recruiter down can indeed be awkward. Still, you shouldn't let that keep you from taking advantage of an opportunity to learn more about the job market and network with others in your field. There are many reasons why it might not be a good fit for you, but there's always something you can learn from an interview --- even if that one job isn't right for you right now. As long as you're polite, respectful, and honest with recruiters who reach out to you, they'll be more likely to remember you and call you again in the future!

Ask questions, even if you're not interested.

Asking questions is often overlooked as a way to learn from an interview, so don't miss out on this opportunity. Even if you aren't interested in the position, it can still be useful for your career development if you take time to reflect on the interviewer's response and think about how that would fit into your future plans.

But what are some good questions to ask recruiters? Here are some ideas:

  • What is the typical day like in this position?
  • What is the company culture?
  • What do most people learn from their first year on the job here?
  • Have you heard any interesting stories from other employees you've placed in that company?
  • Why do you think I would be a good fit?

If you really don't want the job, be honest and give a few reasons why.

Remember that the recruiter is just doing his or her job. They want to make sure that you're not rejecting them for no reason, and if you give them a vague answer --- or worse, simply ignore their email --- they'll have no choice but to assume they weren't right for your needs.

The best way to reject recruiters is by being honest and respectful at the same time: acknowledge that it's not your dream job, and give a few reasons why it's not. Make sure these reasons are relevant and don't sound like excuses. For example: "I'm so sorry, I'm not really interested in this position. My ideal role is one  with more flexibility around my schedule. I'd also like to work for an organisation that's aligned with my personal mission."

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Don't burn bridges with recruiters; your paths may cross again!

Jobs may not always fit your needs, but having a recruiter on your side is always a great advantage. That's why it's important to deal with them respectfully and politely. You want to maintain a good relationship with recruiters because you never know when you'll be in need of work next. Therefore:

  • Don't say anything negative about the company or the recruiter: The job market is competitive enough without alienating people who may be able to help you in the future. Try to be diplomatic when you talk about recruiters.
  • Don't be rude: Be gracious at all times. It's still a plus that they reached out to you instead of another candidate, so focus on that and be grateful. You're not obligated to meet with them or take the call, but it's always better to decline politely.
  • Don't be too busy to respond: Even if you're not interested in a job, it's only proper to reply promptly to a message, even if it's just to acknowledge it. No one likes waiting forever for a response. How would you feel if the recruiter made you wait in the dark for a job you were interested in?
  • Don't burn bridges: In the end, recruiters are people too and you never know when your paths will cross again. You don't need to be best buddies, but being in their good graces surely won't hurt.


When it comes to rejecting a recruiter, you want to be polite but firm. It's better to be upfront about the fact that you aren't interested in the position than to string them along with false hope. Acknowledge that it's not your dream job and give a few reasons why it's not. And remember, you're actually rejecting the job, not the recruiter. You may not want this particular job right now, but you still want to keep working with the recruiter in the hopes that the right offer will come along someday. So don't burn bridges!

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