One of my buddies (name removed…) just shot me this question:

What’s the best way of saying “thanks, but no thanks” to a recruiter who contacts you about a gig?

Here’s my answer:

Depends – if you think they’re an ass, just be polite and say “thanks, but I’m happy” (you ass) šŸ™‚

If you like them: Let them know that either A: you’re really happy right now, and want to focus on what you’re doing, but would like to stay in touch with them every 6 months since you never know; or B: you may be open to hearing about roles, but the one they called on isn’t of interest – then, let them know what would interest you.

Choose A if you’re happy. B if you’re not.

If they seem like they’re a good recruiter (i.e., not a used car-salesperson), help them out – it can pay dividends. Offer to be a source for candidates. Ask them not to call you constantly for referrals, since your time is tight. Let them know the types of people you tend to be aware of. If they have a search that fits those parameters, ask them to shoot you a quick email and you’ll get back to them if you have anybody.

If you liked how they approached you, assume they’ll approach other candidates the same way, which is a good thing if they’re on your side. See if they want to do some work on our company’s behalf if you’re using agencies – they’ll _love_ you for that, and that will also prevent them from poaching out of your company. If they’re a corporate recruiter, let them know that you liked their approach, and turn the tables (in a nice way) – ask them if they’d ever be open to hearing about recruiting opportunities with your company if any come up. They’ll be flattered, and you may have a way to make some quick employee referral money down the road.

If you’re somebody who’s earned some favors by providing them referrals, they’re going to work extra-hard on your behalf if/ when you’re looking for your next gig. You’ll be on their radar for extra-juicy assignments.

Bottom-line: be nice to recruiters when they call. You’re going to be looking for a job again, and having a few career agents working on your behalf at the right time can make all the difference.