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I've been working at my current company for almost exactly a year and a half. Recently, I had a recruiter contact me (he's been emailing me for the past year) and I said I would be open to talking with companies, and since then I've been put in touch with a half dozen.

The reason I started looking for a new job is that I've been getting increasingly frustrated at work, often getting into heated arguments with superiors and dealing with incompetent leadership. In addition, I haven't been able to do the projects I've wanted and have been bored for a while now. To top it off, my manager - who I was close with - recently left and my new boss is one of said leaders who I've been arguing with.

I had been pushed to the verge, but now things have cooled down a bit. My boss has gotten more "chill" and receptive to feedback, I've been given a bit more say in things, and overall getting into less arguments. I'm still bored, but I figure that's not a huge deal. I think I'd like to stay at my current company a little longer, and the stress of a job search is already wearing on me.

But I don't know how to tell this to the recruiter and the various companies he's put me in contact with. Is it ok to just say "I changed my mind"? I feel like that would mean these companies would never consider hiring me again, when I resumed my job search.

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It depends on the company, and on how far down the process you are. Some companies may keep a blacklist of previous applicants they found unfavourable, but most don't bother. If you apply again in a couple of years time, chances are you'll be dealing with different people anyway.

It is always better to bow out of the process as early as possible as soon as you know that you don't want a job - regardless of the reason - otherwise you're wasting everyone's time (including your own).

As for explaining to the recruiter and the companies they've contacted on your behalf, keep it simple:

my circumstances have changed and no longer wish to pursue this opportunity at this time

That should be enough. In fact, this would work even if you did take an offer somewhere else, since there are bound to be other companies that interviewed you and you did not end up working with. It might take the recruiter a couple of goes before they catch on and stop presenting opportunities - after all, that's how they make their money - but only a bad recruiter would harbour bad feelings.

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    I've actually used pretty much this exact line, and then contacted the same recruiter half a year later when I was open to new opportunities again and they just put me back in the process without even mentioning it. They're used to this; it just how things go. – Erik Oct 12 '17 at 9:37
  • I've used this line too, I think it implies that it's slightly outside of your control. don't forget to thank them for their consideration and wish them the very best of luck in finding a suitable candidate! – JeffUK Oct 13 '17 at 12:03
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In such a situation, as per usual, honesty is best. Call the recruiter and tell them that your circumstances have changed and you're no longer looking for a new job.

While it may not be completely honest, to make the news go over better I would also tell them that 'you liked working with them and should you once again be in the market for a new job, you'll let them know' even if you don't actually intend to. This reinforces the message that you're not just looking to get rid of them but are truly suspending your search for a new job.

I'd also ask the recruiter if they mind breaking the news to the companies they had arranged interviews with. If they seem reluctant, mention that you thought that might be the best approach for the recruiter since it would allow them to propose an alternative candidate at the same time.

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I would be open with the other jobs your were possibly going to interview/ attempt to get. I would do as mentioned above and simply write :

" Thank you for taking the time to review my application/interview me/etcetera. I would like to proceed forward with you, but some things have changed in my career situation, and I will be unable to do so. Thank you again for taking the time to proceed forward with me, I appreciate it. If our paths don't cross again, I wish you the best of luck finding a candidate to fill the position. "

This may be a bit lengthly, but I find that it is polite, and leaves you and your prospective employer on a good note.

Best of luck with maintaining a peaceful, productive work environment.

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