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How to Decline Recruiter Outreach (Politely)

Posted by Mitch Corlett on November 20, 2014

When a recruiter contacts you, it's to discover whether you would entertain a conversation about a specific position. No recruiter expects that every person they reach out to will be a great fit. But something they learned about you -- whether it be your resume, LinkedIn profile, portfolio, website bio, etc. -- was enough to trigger a conversation. (If you received a message from us, this short video explains why we contacted you.) 

We get it. If you're receiving a constant barrage of outreach emails from recruiters, responding nicely to them might be the last thing on your mind. But you also don't want to miss a future opportunity because of rudeness. (If you're wondering how to best manage your career during an economic downturn, check out our latest career advice.)

So here are a few ways to politely decline recruiter outreach that won't hurt your future chances. Your responses don't need to be long (most recruiters prefer short and sweet):

Not interested in Travel:

  • Thank you for the email for the [position] at [company]. While the position looks very interesting, and the responsibilities are a good fit with my background, I’m not that interested in the amount of travel required. I do quite a bit of business travel now, however to be honest, I’m not interested in increasing it.
  • Thanks for reaching out about this opportunity. I did read this a few times and looked at the full description on their website. Parts of it are very appealing to me but after some thought I don't think I'm up to as much travel as it looks like this position will need.

Career Path Discrepancies:

  • My forte is in the world of information technology.  It looks like an exciting position, but not in my area of expertise.
  • Thanks for thinking of me, but not a great fit.

Happy Where I Am 

  • I’m flattered, but I am very happy where I am. Thank you!
  • Thank you for reaching out. At this time, I am not interested in the position personally. However, if you would like I can certainly forward the position to any colleagues I think may be interested. At this time, I do not have anyone in mind specifically.
  • Thanks for the info. Not interested in this position but please keep me in mind for others that might come your way.
  • Thank you for reaching out regarding the opportunity at [company]. I am currently happy with my employment at [company], but thank you again for considering me.
  • Thank you for reaching out to me, I appreciate the inquiry. I would normally be very interested in exploring this particular opportunity further. However, I recently accepted a senior leadership role with [company].

Not Interested in Making a Move

  • Thanks for reaching out, but this position is not of interest to me. 
  • Thanks for reaching out to me. I am currently not in the market, but feel free to send me anything you think may be of interest. If I know someone who would be a good fit, I'll happily send them along to you.
  • Thanks for the email. I appreciate the thought. I am very happy where I am, and I’ll see if I know anyone who might be a fit for the role.
  • I am not interested in making a move at this time.
  • Thank you for thinking of me for this interesting position -- I truly appreciate it. However, I am very happy in my current job and do not have any plans to leave or relocate. I will gladly keep eyes and ears open for a candidate that might satisfy the requirements and skill set outlined in the position description.

While you're here, take a look at our current openings. Perhaps you might find them more appealing:

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And finally, when you are ready to consider new opportunities, you might find this free guide helpful.

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Topics: Working with Recruiters as a Candidate