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Friday Forum – Can I Say “NO” To A Recruiter?

Are you looking for a position because of a bad boss?

Welcome to the Friday Forum!

Every Friday, we take a question submitted by one of our readers and have our professionals field it and provide advice.  We then encourage members of the Need a New Gig community to comment below and give their take!

Here is This Week’s Question:

Jonathan asks:

“Recently I started looking for a new job and I have been working with an executive recruiter.  I was referred to this firm by a good friend as they placed him in his current role.  This recruiter recently pitched me on a position that he says is “perfect” for my background.  After reviewing the company and description, I don’t agree.  I feel that the commute is too far and I have heard some negative things about the organization. I told him that I am going to pass and he has become very pushy, insisting that I at least interview.  Am I allowed to tell him no?  If so, any advice on what to say so he still keeps me in mind for future opportunities?”

Working with a recruiter can be a great idea if you are looking for a new position.  Most recruiting firms tend to have the “in” that you are looking for, as they are working directly with the Hiring Manager or Human Resource department.  Many times this will give you a much better shot at landing an interview, as opposed to submitting your resume online with hundreds of other applicants.  It also provides you with additional credibility, since the recruiter is recommending you for a particular role.  With that being said, not all recruiting firms will have your best interest atop their priority list.

Never Feel Obligated

The first thing to remember when it comes to using a recruiter is that you should never feel obligated to do anything.  Sure, they may be assisting you with your search, but that shouldn’t mean that you need to interview or take a job just because they say you should.  Most third party recruiters focus on keeping their clients happy.  Of course they want to find you a good position, but typically their priority is to deliver a good candidate to fill the client’s opening and get paid.  It is important to remember that they are finding candidates for jobs as opposed to jobs for candidates.

Good recruiters will have your best interest in mind.  They will want to find you an opportunity that puts you in a better place, and solves your current issues.  Trust me, a good recruiter would much rather call you in 6 months and hear you singing positivity as opposed to having you hate your job!  Good recruiters focus on relationships and hope to stay in touch throughout the years, in case you may need assistance again in the future.

Provide Necessary Details

In order to have a successful relationship with a recruiter, it is vital to provide the necessary details of what you are looking for.  This will definitely assist if they pitch you on an opportunity that doesn’t fit your background.  Here are some important things that you should discuss with a recruiter:

  • Job Title/Responsibilities
  • Salary
  • Location
  • Travel
  • Culture
  • Specific Companies
  • Specific Industries
  • Flexibility
  • Specific Benefits
  • Etc.

Don’t Be Afraid To Say “No”

Even if you provide detailed information on what you are looking for, there are still times when a recruiter may reach out with something that isn’t the perfect fit.  I recommend at least listening, because there is always a chance that it could spark your interest.  If you do review the opportunity and you do not want to move forward, don’t be afraid to say no.

The key here is to be direct and to the point.  Use the information that you provided the recruiter to your advantage.  Let them know that you are not interested, and why it isn’t the right fit.

For example:


Thanks so much for passing along the Sr. Accounting position with NANG Corp.  While it sounds like a great opportunity, I am really focusing my search on more analysis-based positions.  NANG Corp. is also roughly 45 minutes from my house, and I would like to keep my commute around 30 minutes max.  Please be sure to keep me in mind for any analysis roles that might be a better fit.  Thanks for all of your help.


You shouldn’t have to stress about saying no.  If you are working with a good recruiter, they should be understanding.  If they try to pressure you into something that you do not want, it may be time to cut ties and find someone new.

What are Your Thoughts? Comment Below!

Dan Metz is the Director of Executive Search and Employee Development at the Resilience Group, LLC, and Co-Founder and Contributing Author for Need a New Gig.  Follow his blog for more great tips like this!

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