My question is somewhat opposite than most people would expect. So here it is...

Last year, I was thinking to make a career transition into some very specific management kind of roles from an Engineering background. During the same time, some recruiters from top-notch tech companies contacted me for some great engineering career opportunities (same kind of role/track that I am doing currently). I respectfully turned them down saying that it does not match my future career goals although the position is very lucrative in terms of recognition and financially. Note that I turned it down right at the onset i.e. without doing any telephone or in-person interviews which kind of made sense since I did not want to waste anyone's time.

Now after researching a bit more, I found that I need more experience to be in the kind of roles that I have been targeting and after doing some information interviews the general idea was to continue doing similar type of work (engineering) for few more years and then try again.

So my question(s): Is it OK to contact those specific recruiters again. I understand that those position might not be available anymore but I want to make myself available if any such future opportunities arise. Also, what and more importantly how should I say tactfully that why I am interested again? What are the chances that they may take me seriously? I would really appreciate if anyone has been in a similar situation and have been successful at it.

EDIT: Most of the recruiters that I talked about are recruiters working for the company and they are not necessarily 3rd party contract recruiters.

4 Answers 4


There's absolutely NO harm - telling the truth rarely goes wrong and it definitely won't in this case. You were interested in a different job, you have changed your mind. They may have current opportunities that interest you. From their perspective - a resource for making good job matches has become available. If they are smart, they will also realize you're an added bonus - you have shown by your actions that you won't waste their time on opportunities that are uninteresting to you.

Write a quick, short mail to any recruiters who had interesting opportunities. Summarize:

  • what you are looking for
  • any critieria that matter (location, minimum salary, etc.)
  • your interest in future or current opportunities

Don't spend time trying to dig up the past - figure that if the opportunity is more than 2 weeks old, it's over. The goal is to make contact for the next opportunity. Some will write you back, some will blow you off.

Also - in the process, make sure any and all public information about you points to the shift in focus back to engineering. Recruiters do use that to look for good prospects. Also, when you land an interview, you don't want to have to explain to the interviewer why your linked in/monster/dice/etc profile says you want to be a manager, but you applied for an engineering role.


I think you are overthinking this. Recruiting companies get their business value by getting as many good candidates as possible on file. The more people they know, the better they can help their customers, the more they can charge. A bit simplified, of course.

So I think the recruiter will be thrilled if you let them know you are intrested now. I doubt they will care at all as to why you changed your mind. Of course, there is a risk that the specific position is no longer available.


respectfully turned them down ... did not want to waste anyone's time

If you did it that way, what would be the harm in politely telling them you are again available for the reasons you state? They'll come back to you with more positions.

And if after a year or two you feel you are ready for the career jump, they'll be happy to try and place you again. Remember, recruiters see good candidates as an opportunity to get a handsome commission.


Here is a slightly different take: you can certainly contact these recruiters but it's not necessarily the smartest thing to do, at least not to get things started. A good approach is

  1. Make a list of the companies you might be interested in
  2. Research them thoroughly, plow through their job openings and identify potential fits
  3. Fire up your network, update your linkedin, connect to people inside these companies, ask your friends for recommendation and help you to make connections
  4. Now try to leverage these connections to get direct contacts to a company recruiter or a hiring manager. Any path that doesn't go through HR first is a real benefit.
  5. If any of your previous recruiter contacts was directly from the company, now is a good time to ping them: "Hey we talked last year and things have changed for me. I would appreciated to talk to you again about this opportunity but also about some others that I have found at your company"
  6. Only if all of that fails, I would ping a 3-party recruiter again

The recruiter can actually backfire:

  1. A company recruiter typically works only for one department. Your resume may never make it to the other side of the building, even if there is a perfectly good fit. For example, when working with an Apple IPhone recruiter, you may never get to the Mac opportunities
  2. Contractual relations between head hunters and companies change all the time, so you have no idea whether the head hunter still has the connections
  3. Some more shady head hunters may construe your inquiry as an implicit contract to shop you around exclusively and they may create trouble in case you land something on your own. They don't have much to go on but just the threat of legal action can scare an employer off, especially if they have other viable candidates in the wings.
  4. Some unethical head hunters (and they do exist) will forward your resume to a lot of companies that have no-head-hunter policies. This will often automatically disqualify you from getting any job at that company. This narrows your options and increase the head hunter's chance of placing you where he/she actually gets paid. Nasty, but I've seen it happen.
  • Unfortunately it seems that the "shady recruiter" job title is quite popular. Some will contact you for a position, and then use any information you provide to shop you around to other positions they haven't mentioned, some will edit your CV without your knowledge to make you look more appealing to whatever job they are shopping you too, etc. Do your research on the recruiting company first!
    – jmac
    Commented Mar 7, 2013 at 2:18

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