Job Doc

Making the most of a recruiter’s contact

Q. I’ve been approached by a recruiter for a new job. I wasn’t looking and I’m not sure I’m interested enough to follow up. How do I play this?

A. Most people are excited to be contacted by recruiters. You can better your chances of being contacted again by taking several steps to present yourself in the most professional light.

Return recruiters’ calls to thank them. You may ask how they identified your skills. Was it LinkedIn? A referral from a colleague? The more information you gather, the better you will understand where and how you can be found by recruiters.


If you have absolutely no interest in the job, express that: “This role is not for me. I’m more interested in . . . ” Outline your ideal opportunity, but also offer to refer others you believe might be interested and you believe are qualified for the job you’ve turned down. These actions position you for a relationship with a recruiter who may have opportunities in the future.

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If you are interested in exploring this opportunity, ask the recruiter for the job description, information on the company, why it is adding the position, and insights on the company culture. Get details about the hiring process.

If you want to explore, conduct research and prepare thoroughly for interviews. You need to convince the hiring team of your interest, even if you are still unsure. As you go through the process, you may find that you really do want the job.

At any point, if you choose not to go forward, explain why to the recruiter and offer to refer other candidates. Express your appreciation to people you meet and assure them of your high regard for the company. This company may have other opportunities in the future.

If you move ahead, remember the recruiter works for the company and needs to be sold on the strength of your candidacy just as much as the hiring team.

Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.