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How to Respond to a Recruiter

Blog, Candidate Advice, Hiring Advice, Industry Commentary

So you’ve received an email from a recruiter, now what do you do? It’s a great question! Especially during a time when spam mail and unwanted pop-up ads seem to be waiting around every page click, making it hard to decide whether it’s even worth it to respond. It’s also something most people aren’t prepared for. So how do you best respond?

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t a one-size-fits-all method of response. It will depend on where you are now and where you want to be. Let’s consider the most common situations when being approached by a recruiter, and the most professional way to respond.

Current Status: Job Hunter

You’ve been contacted by a recruiter and you’re excited! It’s the perfect time and there is a chance that they can help get you into a great company.

So how does the job hunter respond? First, make sure you reply promptly and make a great impression. Thank them for reaching out to you and with no more than 1-3 paragraphs, communicate your interest and value. You should let them know what you are looking for in your next career move so they have a better idea of what you need.

There have been many times as a recruiter that someone I reached out to isn’t a match for the job I emailed them about, but because they made such a great impression on me, they stood out and I later contacted them for another position which was a better fit. Just remember that we are here to help you and it’s always beneficial to develop a relationship with a recruiter.

Current Status: Employed and Not Looking (but open to hearing about other positions)

You’ve been contacted by a recruiter and at first you’re surprised and then maybe a bit curious about this email. First off, you need to know this message is a positive thing. Somewhere along the line, your education, past experience, or roles held, has attracted someone to you. Bravo on great personal branding! You have been noticed.


So how does someone in your situation respond? In this case, you will want to be very honest about what situation you are in. Of course, reply and thank them for reaching out to you, but also explain your current position; where you are, what you’re doing and what would potentially attract you to a new adventure. Maybe right now isn’t the best time but what about in a year? Keep recruiters close to you. Recruiters understand every situation imaginable but they respond best to a great personality and honesty. Plus the honesty thing can help them to help you. Win/Win.

Current Status: Employed and Not Looking

You’ve been contacted by a recruiter and you’re pretty close to just ignoring their email, but don’t. And for anyone in this situation, here’s why:

Maybe you’re at the best job right now. You love your work and the people there are great, how could you ever leave? We get it and while you may not be in the market right now, that could change in the future. You could decide to make a new career move or end up getting laid off, which is why you should go back and respond to the recruiter’s email almost immediately. We never know what the future holds but these situations come up and this way you’ll you have someone to call right away to get some help.

So how do you respond? Let the recruiter know that you’re thankful that they have reached out and that while you aren’t currently in the market for a new job, you may be some time in the future, and would love to be able to call them. A good recruiter will appreciate your honesty and wait to hear from you. This is also a great time to recommend any professionals you know who might be a great fit the position.

At the end of the day it’s best to understand that recruiters can be beneficial to work with, so always treat them with respect. You never know when you’ll need to contact a recruiter. Try building strong relationships with them for your own career benefit.

Pati Kelly

Pati Kelly is a contingent and retained recruiter exclusive to the electrical industry with a specialty in Wire and Cable. To learn more about how she can help your company identify and attract talent, check out her LinkedIn profile or send her an email at