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Background:

I'm starting to have some seniority in my career, and I'm fortunate enough to have a fair amount of savings. As I've progressed in the industry, I've started to realize what I do and don't want in a job and which companies I have no interest in. The reasons may be something that a company couldn't change (industry, too big size, etc.), or very unlikely to change (entrenched C Suite I don't want to work for, and long-standing policies I don't want to be under).

From time to time, I'll get nonbot cold emails from recruiters for companies I know I do not want to work for. Like all cold emails I receive when I'm not job searching, I ignore them. For one of the companies, they've reached out several times through different recruiters.

My understanding is that if I were to tell someone at a company to go pound sand or some other suitably rude comment, I'd be put on a blacklist as a 'do not hire' and would never hear from them again. I'd love to not hear from a few of these companies anymore, but it's not worth being mean to some innocent recruiter.

Question:

How do I politely get a company to put me on a 'do not hire' type blacklist, as I know I never want to work for them?

Clarifications: I don't feel the need to tell them why I don't want to work for them (unless it'll achieve the goal that they leave me alone), and I'm not worried about the risk that at some future date I change my mind and would be willing to work for them.

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    Do you really need to do anything? Why not just continue to ignore them? I get email every day from recruiters for jobs and companies I have no interest in. I simply ignore them and delete the email along with all of the other email I have no interest in.
    – joeqwerty
    Mar 18 at 0:10
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    Did you hear about spam folder ? :D Honestly, nobody expects that you respond to every unsolicited email you get, not even those recruiters. But don't close doors because no one knows what tomorrow would bring. If you fill generous, you could even configure your email client to send generic "Thank you but no thank you" response.
    – rs.29
    Mar 18 at 0:34
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    The professional thing is to ask to be put on their "do not call" list. Now, will that work? Probably not. I really doubt that most recruiters would check such a list before they call you, but that's the only thing you should do. Mar 18 at 1:35
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    Most clod emails I get are from third party recruiters that won't have access to the company's "blacklist" - so you'll have the worst of both: the pestering will continue but you won't have a chance to get hired in the end.
    – piet.t
    Mar 18 at 7:16
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    Recruiters don't read, your request will be ignored.
    – prieber
    Mar 18 at 17:51

10 Answers 10

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Asking to be on a blacklist, while not the nadir of unprofessionalism, is certainly within striking distance of it.

A blacklist is usually reserved for very bad people, and you don't want to be on one. You'll be on a list with thieves, former employees who assaulted people (including sexual assault) and abhorrently poor performers. The reason won't be listed, but the worst will be assumed.

You may think, Oh, I just don't want to hear from XYZ company I hate them. Well, XYZ company could change and become just the place you want to work for, or, they could be bought out by EFG company, and now the blacklist is in the hands of EFG company where you wouldn't mind working, but now can't, because they have your name on a do not hire list.

Worse, you might want to work for DREAMCORP , but someone from XYZ company who was familiar with the list (As those lists tend to be very very few people), and sees your name. Now, you will not be able to get in the front door of DREAMCORP, because someone remembers your name, and maybe puts it on THEIR blacklist, and they are not going to care what the reason was, as it's used to screen out very bad people.

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    Also, even unrelated companies might share these blacklists between them. They will probably not admit to it though. I'm high enough in the hierarchy of a large company to know that even if similar companies are competitors, some info is shared in an informal way between them. You know.. RH people, Managers, etc. know each others across companies, meet at some events, studied together, go have a drink together etc... And even worse: recruiters might be unrelated to the company, they might add you to their black list and next time they are recruiting for the company you want to work for.
    – Legisey
    Mar 18 at 16:18
  • @Legisey Is that legal? That would seem to violate GDPR or related laws in other locales.
    – gerrit
    Mar 18 at 22:21
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    Legal or not, what matters is that it happens. Mar 19 at 20:54
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    @gerrit yeah, they're not supposed to be able to fire you because of your disabilities either Mar 19 at 21:30
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Like all cold emails I receive when I'm not job searching, I ignore them.

That's all you need to (and should) do. The companies that pay attention will eventually stop and the disorganized ones will keep pinging you no matter what you do.

It's a bit unclear what problem you are trying to solve. Having to hit the delete button every once in while doesn't seem such an undue burden.

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    And if deleting is too much of a burden, write a filter/junk mail rule
    – Chris H
    Mar 18 at 15:35
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How do I politely get a company to put me on a 'do not hire' type blacklist, as I know I never want to work for them?

The polite solution is to professionally reject each and every offer you receive that you don't want.

I don't suggest you do something to be blacklisted, as that (1) would not be professional (2) it could backfire on you (3) this company could share your blacklisted status with other companies (perhaps some that you would like) and kill your chances there.

You don't need to give them any reason why you don't want to work there, just politely thank them for the offer/chance but say that you are not currently looking for jobs, or that you are not interested in offers right now.

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    And, the same people tend to go from company to company in an industry. The world tends to be very small. Mar 18 at 0:07
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From time to time, I'll get nonbot cold emails from recruiters for companies I know I do not want to work for.

From the tenor of the other answers I suspect I'm in the distinct minority here, but personally, I don't see anything actually unprofessional about responding with

"Thank you, but I'm not interested in working at XYZ Corp. Please don't contact me about it again."

If you say this, will they put your name on a do-not-contact list? They might or they might not. Will other recruiters working at XYZ Corp use that same do-not-contact list? They might or might not. Will that do-not-contact list be the same as the "blacklist" on which they put rude people and criminals? It might or might not be. In either case, will they note why you were even put on that list? They might or might not. Will this bite you in some foreseeable or unforeseeable way in some related or unrelated event in your professional life in the future? It might or might not. The world is not a totally rational, predictable place.

All the same, it's not beyond your rights to ask someone to leave you alone. So I don't personally consider it unprofessional behaviour.

Whether you want to take the risk of doing it, versus taking on the minimal burden of ignoring or declining each contact request, is up to you, of course.

However, in the other case:

For one of the companies, they've reached out several times through different recruiters.

I think it's far more likely that it's the recruiters who are reaching out to you, not the company. (If the company was interested in you specifically, why would they bother to pay a third-party recruiter to contact you?) So there's really very little you can do about this, since there's no way you could inform every recruiter that you aren't interested in working at XYZ Corp.

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    I think it's the phrase "get added to their black list" when what OP really wants is to "get added to their do not contact list"
    – stannius
    Mar 18 at 17:36
  • When I moved across the country I had to do this a couple of times, it wasn't hard and the recruiters were understanding. Mar 19 at 19:01
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Keep in mind that most of the recruiters that you deal with aren't employees of the hiring company. They work for recruiting firms, who receive job postings from the company and get paid if/when they fill the position. They represent many different clients, so the last thing you want to do is to have them blacklist you. They don't share notes with competing recruiting firms so even if they do blacklist you, you'll still end up getting calls from some other firm. The hiring company doesn't share blacklist-type information with recruiters, they filter out those candidates later. I know a guy that still gets recruiting calls for the company he retired from, even though the terms of his early retirement package forbid him from being re-hired since he's drawing a pension. All that is to say, I don't think it's practical to do what you're asking and even if it was, it wouldn't be a good idea.

I get calls from recruiters occasionally regarding jobs at a local company that I have zero interest in working for. They usually won't say the company's name but I'll explicitly ask "is this position with Company X?" and they'll usually respond. I politely tell them that I'm not at all interested in working for company X (or in certain geographical locations, or whatever your requirements are), but I'd be happy to discuss any other positions they might be hiring for. It's beneficial to have good recruiters on your side. Don't give them any reason to ignore you. They'll appreciate you not wasting their time and letting them know early on that you don't want to work for that company. It might also steer the conversation to another job opening that you are interested in.

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  • Yes! This! I'd suspect most of those unsolicited offers are from actually diferent recruiting companies that found the listing somewhere and found OP on LinkedIn or similar and wrote to him. It's the scattershot approach where they scour all of the broadly possible candidates and write them about the offer. If 15 different companies do that, you get 15 offers. Asking to be added to the blacklist is futile because the source is different every time.
    – mishan
    Mar 19 at 8:22
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Do you feel compelled to always reply?

If so then make a boilerplate email:

I appreciate you reaching out to me with this opportunity but it is not one I am interested in at this time.

Sincerely, Stacksmashing

There is zero reason to be snooty, rude, or prejudiced.

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Email filter.

Burning bridges is not good.

Neither seniority nor savings, nor a company ownership, leadership and policies are absolute things.

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For some companies, you can't. I am in a particularly interesting situation, where in my past I've worked for one of the FAANG companies, and I was terminated under extremely questionable circumstances (so much so that they tripled my severance pay upon termination as thinly-veiled hush money to not sue them; I most definitely had grounds and I also had evidence, but I took the hush money because I was too lazy to actually go through with it). Despite that, every once in a while I get recruiting messages on LinkedIn (not emails, per se) from recruiters for that company. I began by telling them politely "I'm not interested", and slowly, over the course of years, ratcheted it up to using vocabulary that would probably get me banned from this site if I was to repeat it here. I have asked to be put on a recruiting blacklist, and even gone so far as to threaten a lawsuit against the company for harassment if they do not blacklist me, and yet to no avail; they continue to contact me anyway.

Some companies just won't stop being annoying.

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  • Are you sure you're not getting offers from different recruiting companies that just got/found the listing and scoured online/shared sources for possible candidates, and thus you're not getting harassed by the original company but by a scattershot approach of different recruitment companies?
    – mishan
    Mar 19 at 8:27
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    No, they all identify themselves as in-house company recruiters. This company does not use 3rd party recruiters as far as I'm aware.
    – Ertai87
    Mar 19 at 14:47
  • Fair enough. :)
    – mishan
    Mar 19 at 14:55
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For one of the companies, they've reached out several times through different recruiters.

I think you're misunderstanding how a lot of recruiters work. They match clients (folk like you and me) to roles at companies. My understanding of how this works is that a recruiter will be aware of a role, approach the client with the details to see if they're interested, and then, if they are, forward those details on to the company.

Even if you were on a company's "do not contact" list, this wouldn't stop independent recruiters* contacting you about a position.

You're much better off either working with a small set of recruiters who you know and trust (which is what I do, I only work with about 3 recruiters when I or anyone I know is changing jobs) and letting them know what you are and are not interested in, and just ignoring everyone else.

(*independent means not part of the company HR department. I'm sure some recruiters do enquire about things like this from the company first, but my experience would suggest most do not.)

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    Yup. Some just find the listing on a job site, scour linkedin or similar and then contact everyone broadly fitting the profile and only then approach the original company with offers representing those that answered.
    – mishan
    Mar 19 at 8:29
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    @mishan Which is why I keep getting contacted about completely unsuitable roles because I mentioned one particular keyword once on my LinkedIn profile
    – Dark Hippo
    Mar 19 at 8:33
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It's too late for you, but in the interest of a comprehensive answer that may help other people in the future:

Create a separate e-mail address that you use for job hunting (resume sending, job websites, giving to recruiters, etc.). Never, ever, ever let a recruiter have your main/every day e-mail address. Trying to convince recruiters to stop e-mailing is like trying to degnome a garden: even if you convince some of them to stop more will just show up.

Spam filters are OK, but then when you actually do want to look for a new job you have to re-train them or risk missed e-mails (or you have false negatives where it fails to catch some mail you didn't want to see).

With a separate e-mail address you can look at it when you want and ignore it the rest of the time. Getting recruiting e-mail from companies that you will never join while you're actively job hunting is much less annoying than getting them when you're not even looking for a new job.

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  • Is that actually a thing? Do you give your e-mail to recruiters? If so it's only a small amount of recruiters, so how will more "just show up"?
    – M. Stern
    Mar 19 at 8:20
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    @M.Stern Yes, it is a thing, the OP is specifically asking about that. I edited to clarify that it's not just personally delivering your e-mail address to them, but all of the ways that they get it. Recruiters function like any other spam mail: You have to give someone your address for legitimate reasons--like so you can apply for a job--but then they all share contact lists with each other and your information gets spread far and wide. And they're sending mass/robot e-mails, so they can send a LOT of e-mail. My own apply-for-jobs inbox confirms this. Mar 19 at 12:18
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    @chux-ReinstateMonica Thanks, added that in. Mar 22 at 20:04

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