How To Turn Down A Recruiter: 5 Ways To Say ‘No’ & Profit


By Bruce Powell, Toronto Recruiter & Founder

You get an email or call from a recruiter asking if you are interested in discussing a great opportunity, but the timing isn’t ideal or the role doesn’t coincide with your career goals. What do you do? There are many ways to go about saying “no” to a headhunter, but here are the 5 correct ways to gain from the situation by saying “no” the right way.

Think Long Term – This Recruiter May Help You In The Future

1. Be Courteous And Honest With Your Recruiter

Be courteous and professional. Reply to the call or email in a timely manner. If you are not interested, be frank and decline. You will not offend the recruiter by being honest; on the contrary, your straightforwardness will be appreciated. Being courteous and honest with your recruiter will make them much more willing to work with you in the future.

2. Provide Your Recruiter With Useful Information 

Provide the recruiter with information that will help them help you in the future. Here are a few things to let them know:

  • Your short term and long term career goals
  • Companies/positions you would be interested in hearing about (or not)
  • Your motivations (career growth, money, work-life balance, etc.)
  • Your ideal job and work environment
  • Salary expectations


3. Keep In Touch With Your Recruiter

Keep in touch. You never know what life may throw your way. Managerial changes, restructuring and downsizing cannot always be predicted, and having a good relationship with a recruiter can really pay off.

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Turn The Conversation Into A Positive Learning Experience

4. Learn Why You Were Selected By The Recruiter

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

5. Recruiters Understand The Current Job Market

You are speaking with a person that has a pulse on the current job market; use it to your advantage. Discuss hiring trends, future opportunities and expected outlook for your industry. Is the recruiter busy? Is there demand for your particular skill set? What companies are growing? Recruiters can provide valuable insight into the current state of your industry.

In short, saying “no, thanks” to a recruiter is always okay. Be courteous, chat about the industry, discuss your career plan, and keep in touch. Even if you plan on saying “no” today, building a strong relationship with a recruiter can help you move forward in your career once the time is right.

For more tips about gaining the most from your headhunter, check out our other Dealing With A Headhunter blog posts where common questions are answered by our Toronto headhunters. Also check out Bruce Powell’s other blog posts and connect with him on LinkedIn.

IQ PARTNERS is an Executive Search & Recruitment firm with offices in Toronto and Vancouver. We help companies hire better, hire less & retain more. We have specialist teams of recruiters in Financial Services & Insurance, Marketing Communications & Media, Emerging Tech & Telecom, Consumer Goods & Retail, B2B & Industrial, Technology, Accounting & Finance, HR & Operations and Mining & Engineering. IQ PARTNERS has its head office in Toronto and operates internationally via Aravati Global Search Network. Click here to view current job openings and to register with us.