If you aren’t actively looking for a job, you may be surprised to get a call or an email from a recruiter. And if you’re happy in your current position, you could be tempted to ignore them completely. Even if you are pounding the pavement (or the keyboard) trying to find a job, it’s easy to dismiss a lead that doesn’t immediately capture your interest.
Regardless of how you initially feel about a particular position, a relationship with a recruiter can be a valuable thing, especially in accounting and finance.
A good recruiter can not only do some of the job search legwork for you, they can also help you with complicated situations like salary negotiations. Recruiters can teach you about the industry and be your secret weapon if you happen to be living in the Bay Area — one of the most competitive job markets in the country.
It’s hard to know how to tell a recruiter you’re not interested in a position. But with some guidance, you can find a gracious way to say no without wasting the opportunity to work with them in the future.
Don’t Immediately Assume They Want You for a Job
The first time a recruiter reaches out to you, they’re hoping to start a dialogue. Getting to know each other and building trust is an important part of the placement process.
When both sides have taken the time to do this, the recruiter can develop a sense of what you’re looking for in terms of job title, advancement, geographical location, and corporate culture. The more information you give, the better they can tailor positions they bring to you. Like most professional contacts, the true value of a connection may not appear right away.
However, even years into the relationship, your recruiter may hear of an opening and remember something you previously expressed an interest in.
“Regardless of how you initially feel about a particular position, a relationship with a recruiter can be a valuable thing, especially in accounting and finance.”
Recently, BVOH Search & Consulting placed a candidate we first met five years ago. We spent that time building a relationship and reached out when a position was available that sounded like a good fit. And according to the candidate, it turned out beautifully. Sometimes, it pays to play the long game.
How to Say No to a Position Without Wasting the Opportunity
When You’re Happy at Your Job
If your recruiter reaches out about a position while you’re happy in your job, it’s perfectly acceptable to tell them that you’re not pursuing a search at the moment.
However, you should make an appointment with them in the future to discuss possible options. This is particularly true if you’re working on a specific project, and you know when it’ll end. Even if you enjoy that project, if it’s a contract position, you need to think about what’s next.
When You’re Overqualified
If your recruiter brings up a position that you think you’re overqualified for, talk about it. Explain why you think that’s the case and what you’re looking for. The recruiter may counter with reasons you may not actually be overqualified for the position and why it could be a good fit. It might actually end up being your next role.
Give this some thought, as they probably know more about the job market than you do. Or, they may agree with you, and they’ll have a better idea of what you want from future jobs.
When You’re Changing Your Career Path
Thinking of taking your career in a different direction? That’s also something you’ll want to explore with your recruiter. They can give you advice about next steps for your move, and suggest companies aligned with your interests that are hiring.
When You Change Your Mind
If you first say no to a position but then change your mind, don’t be shy about calling back! Get in touch to let the recruiter know you are interested and give them a few reasons you’ve reconsidered.
One more point: If you are actively working with a recruiter who reaches out to you about a position, it’s best to respond within the same business day, or at least within 24 hours if that isn’t feasible. Common courtesy is always an asset.
A Different Perspective on Recruiters
Candidates may see us as salespeople, but that isn’t accurate. We aren’t trying to meet a quota. The only way a recruiter wins is if you win.
“If your recruiter reaches out about a position while you’re happy in your job, it’s perfectly acceptable to tell them that you’re not pursuing a search at the moment. “
You’re almost guaranteed to learn from a recruiter, even if they don’t place you in a job.
Whether they give you résumé feedback, share marketplace research, or guide you in the job market, recruiters know a great deal about your field and can be a beneficial connection long before they place you in a job.
Relationships with recruiters can be long-lasting and evolve throughout the years, like a public accounting person that BVOH placed over 10 years ago. After several promotions and joining a second employer, he is now a CFO. Now, years later, we’re helping him hire people. At this point in BVOH’s history, we’re proud of our ability to nurture long-term relationships like this one.
In short, recruiters are full of knowledge, and we are here to give it to you. The better we get to know you, the better our chances of finding a position that leads to your dream job.