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A friend of mine recently did me the favor of spreading the word that I'm looking for a job in an online community of CTOs. I've received a few feeler emails from a few companies thanks to his recommendation. I'm interested in some and I'm uninterested in others. None of them are for specific positions. The reasons I'm not interested range from the particular company's reputation to my own personal disinterest in their particular industry.

Should I respond to the feelers I'm not interested in? Or should I just ghost/ignore them? If I should respond, how can I say I'm not interested without burning a bridge or coming off like a jerk?

  • You are not interested in them now, but can you be 100% certain that you won't be interested in them in the future? Also, CTOS are busy people; if they take the time to write to you, wouldn't it be polite to respond? – Mawg says reinstate Monica Nov 11 '19 at 6:58
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Should I respond to the feelers I'm not interested in? Or should I just ghost/ignore them? If I should respond, how can I say I'm not interested without burning a bridge or coming off like a jerk?

You never know who can help you some time down the road.

Assuming the feelers were online, it's simple and quick to respond in a friendly, non-jerk way. No need for any specific rejection reason; just keep it general.

Something like "Thanks for the contact. I'm working on other opportunities at the moment, but I appreciate the interest." should work.

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Should I respond to the feelers I'm not interested in?

Yes. Think of them as people.

If they took the effort to send you an email, so that they could help you, an answer (with a thank you note) is the minimum you can do.

If I should respond, how can I say I'm not interested without burning a bridge or coming off like a jerk?

What makes you reject/not consider their offer?

  • If it's the company's reputation/personal disinterest in their industry, the email may be enough.
  • If it's the conditions they are offering, talk with them about it.

Consider suggesting a video call, so that you can meet each other and look at each others eyes.

Remember to be friendly and truthful.

Who knows if one of them will be able to meet the requirements you are looking for?

If even after that you don't want to work with them, connect with them on LinkedIn (or other professional networks) as we don't know the future (and your relationship can be mutual beneficial).

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Should I respond to the feelers I'm not interested in? Or should I just ghost/ignore them?

If these were "out of the blue" messages (essentially recruiter spam), then I'd just advise ignoring them. Life's too short to give random recruiters the time of day that start spamming me on LinkedIn.

But in this situation specifically, this isn't recruiter spam - you're the one who reached out initially through your friend, and the companies are messaging you based on that interaction. So yes, in this case, you should absolutely reply to avoid burning bridges.

This works both ways too - I've had some recruitment messages (on Stackoverflow and other sites) I've followed up with to ask a few questions, and never heard anything back. As a result, I'd more than likely not bother applying to those companies in the future unless they offered something exceptionally compelling.

how can I say I'm not interested without burning a bridge or coming off like a jerk?

You come across as much more of a jerk by not replying. Just be short, friendly and to the point:

Hi X,

Thanks very much for reaching out, I appreciate it. I'm afraid this role doesn't sound like it'd be a great fit at the moment, but I'll keep it in mind if my situation changes at all.

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I’m always willing to talk assuming the job is something I might plausibly be interested in (from their perspective). At worst, I get to keep my interview skills fresh.

I ignore the spammers who send me help desk jobs or Geek Squad type repair things. Whatever makes something think I want to trade a software engineering job for $11 an hour repairing printers is probably something I will find irritating about them.

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