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So I recently declined an offer from a recruiter, it got to the final stage where offer was on the table but I said no. The company was big, salary was fantastic but I didn't want to work with the technology they were using as it was very niche. I communicated my reasons for declining the offer to the recruiter various times now. He has emailed and called me several times and I've been ignoring it. He even went as far as get his senior to contact me to see if they can change my mind. It has reached a point that it's starting to feel like harassment and I'm not sure what I should do.

How can I get him to stop trying to convince me? I don't want to burn any bridges as the recruiter could be useful for finding a job in the future.

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    Honestly, if a recruiter doesn't accept the words "I don't feel like it's a good match for my skillset", or something to that effect, then they're probably just in it for the commission and aren't a very good recruiter. – Omegacron Mar 28 '17 at 23:30
  • Will 5x or 10x salary make you accept the offer? Ask for it. – okutane Mar 29 '17 at 22:44

11 Answers 11

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If not burning bridges with this contact really is important to you, then just put up with it. It won't last forever.

Tell the recruiter one last time, very firmly but calmly "I appreciate your help, but I have made up my mind and I won't be taking this job." Don't repeat your reasons again, as this opens an avenue for debate.

Then just ignore any further emails and calls about the matter. They are annoying, but this position won't be on the table for very long, so this is a temporary thing.

If this really reaches the point of harrassment, where they are contacting you many times per day, or making threats, then I would rethink my worries about burning bridges. But simply contacting you several times, and being a bit pushy, doesn't reach that level in my opinion.

Keep in mind that they are losing out on a large sum of money by you not taking the job. This doesn't justify them being unprofessional or annoying. Nor does it mean that you should feel at all guilty about deciding not to take it. That's your decision. But it is understandable that they would want to make sure you are really sure about this.

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    Good advice here. Might be an idea to give the recruiter some idea of a timescale that you're out of the recruitment loop (my current contract ends on xyz, feel free to contact me then), or be more specific about your requirements for roles. – user44108 Mar 27 '17 at 10:13
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    "Don't repeat your reasons again, as this opens an avenue for debate." +1 just for this part. – Radu Murzea Mar 27 '17 at 12:50
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    ...contacting you many times per day, or making threats... I've been there! I guess I should be flattered. Its weird, when you apply for a job and get a "no" it's tough, move on; but when you say "no" they go mental. – Grimm The Opiner Mar 27 '17 at 15:16
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    ... contacting you many times per day ... if it got to that point I'd be calling his senior, or if you can find one a person above him, and saying "if this stops now then there is a chance that I'll deal with your company in future and won't recommend against you in my circles, if it doesn't stop immediately then...". ...or making threats... at that point they would get a letter from a solicitor asking them to cease & desist lest further legal action be taken, perhaps along with an invoice to recompense me for the cost of that solicitor's time. – David Spillett Mar 27 '17 at 16:31
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    @jdmdevdotnet No direct suggestions of physical harm, just hinting at "we're the biggest agency and without us you'll never find work", but yeah. – Grimm The Opiner Mar 28 '17 at 7:51
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I communicated my reasons for declining the offer to the recruiter various times now.

Well, there's your mistake. Mentioning why you decide not to go through with something almost always prompts unreasonable people to start arguing with you. If you mention salary they might want to tell you about their benefits or bonus system. If you bring up the commute they'll expound on the benefits of public transport or the ability to work from home.

The problem you're facing here is that you really are dealing with an unreasonable recruiter. Declining an offer is not something people typically do lightly and unless the candidate is giving mixed signals or mentions something to the effect of "I would accept if you could do [X]" any normal recruiter will respect the rejection. Now it could be that you indeed sent mixed signals and weren't as clear, direct or final in your rejection of the offer as you should have been, but that ultimately doesn't change the situation you're faced with now.

Whats really going on here is that you and the recruiter aren't on the same page. He's still in negotiation mode while you aren't. Since you mention explaining your reasons multiple times, that likely still came across to him as "I can't accept this offer but you might be able to persuade me". When he next calls you or contacts you, you need to firmly and clearly state that you will not be accepting their offer and that you withdraw your candidacy for the job. Don't give any reasons and don't start discussing or debating the merits of the job. Just thank them for their time and ask them to respect your decision.

That should be the end of it. If they persist in contacting you, you can either ignore them fully or answer with a simple "I've told you that I'm no longer a candidate for [position]. Please stop contacting me as my decision is final." and then hang up.

  • I tend to agree with not communicating the reason for rejecting an offer in principle, but doing so also prompts arguing. They'll try to figure out what you rejected, and failing that, will try to change the parameters they can change hoping to find the right one: they'll randomly mention salary, remote work, benefits, shares, career,... Standing firm is hard, but probably the shortest path for everyone involved. – njzk2 Mar 27 '17 at 14:52
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    I disagree. If I am the recruiter and you tell me that you are rejecting the offer b/c salary, then I can try to negotiate a higher salary. If that is the reason you are rejecting the position and I can negotiate an acceptable increase, then isn't that a win-win? – emory Mar 27 '17 at 15:56
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    @emory the point is, the OP rejects the offer because of the technology, which is fixed. Lilienthal only suggests that they weren't as clear, and made the recruiter thought that some other thing can compensate that. – Ooker Mar 27 '17 at 16:50
  • @Ooker nothing is truly fixed. If the recruiter really wants the candidate, the technology can be changed. If you reject b/c technology and they offer to change technology and you believe they are insincere then that is another thing. Of if they come back and don't address technology that is also another thing. – emory Mar 27 '17 at 16:54
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    @emory et al: keep in mind that I'm talking about situations where the candiate has already come to a decision. If salary if the problem then you shouldn't be declining the offer, you should be negotiating. The same goes for concerns over working hours or remote work for instance. But when a candidate has decided that there is no reasonable way that the offer can be turned into something he'd accept or if he decided it's not a good fit, then that decision is final. Good recruiters should accept and respect that. Others, like the one the OP encountered, don't and still try to negotiate. – Lilienthal Mar 27 '17 at 18:13
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It has reached a point that it's starting to feel like harassment and I'm not sure what I should do.

How can I get him to stop trying to convince me?

You are worried about burning bridges with a recruiter who is harassing you?

Don't be worried. Just stop answering his calls and emails. Eventually he'll get the point.

When I consider working with a recruiter, I stop as soon as I conclude that it is no longer in my best interest. Listening to me and understanding what I want (or not bothering to try to understand) are important factors in my decision.

  • This seems like fighting unprofessionalism with more unprofessionalism. Cutting communication should be a last resort, undertaken only after trying the suggestions in Lilenthal's answer. – RJFalconer Mar 27 '17 at 12:07
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    @RJFalconer I don't see anything unprofessional about failing to answer calls and emails that are just pestering you about a question you have already clearly answered. The unprofessionalism is all on one side of this exchange. – user45590 Mar 27 '17 at 12:13
  • @JoeStrazzere fair enough. Personally I see both sides of that "either" as quite different; refusing to take a call vs answering with a firm negation. – RJFalconer Mar 27 '17 at 12:45
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    @RJFalconer I don't see it unprofessional to ignore someone who is ignoring your professional needs and requests. There comes a point where you shouldn't have to spend any of your time dealing with a recruiter. I think it's fairly reasonable to expect that point to be when you have firmly declined the offer. At that point they are wasting your time while you could be looking for new opportunities or currently working another job. Priorities aren't unprofessional. – JMac Mar 27 '17 at 15:07
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    @RJFalconer but at what point do you stop? I get your point and you are right, not answering vs answering no is very different. If I already said no six times to the recruiter... is it STILL unprofessional to stop answering? there is a point where if the message doesn't pass, then you have to just drop it and stop answering. I will not waste a half hour of every day to repeat the same thing to the same recruiter... – Patrice Mar 28 '17 at 16:20
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Even went as far as get his senior to contact me to see if they can change my mind.

Do you still have his senior's contact details? If so, you could take it up with them and hint that if they can't get their junior to stop hassling you then you will go up to the next level and ask their client's HR to ask them to stop hassling you. Candidates giving negative feedback about the recruiter to the hiring company is something they should go a long way to avoid.

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Why don't you just block his calls and e-mails? There's no requirement that you accept either. This approach doesn't require any confrontation or continued aggravation. At some point, he'll get the message - but make it easy on yourself.

If he contacts you via a cell phone, there are loads of free apps by which to block calls and text messages.

  • My (android) phone has this capability built in. – Wayne Werner Mar 27 '17 at 21:23
  • He addressed that already, with "I don't want to burn any bridges as the recruiter could be useful for finding a job in the future." – bye Mar 29 '17 at 13:30
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Granted that I'm not the recruiter, but:

I'm not sure I understand why you declined the offer.

And:

If I were the recruiter and I didn't understand this, I would keep calling you.

Are you sure you have made your reasons clear? Are you sure they are clear to the recruiter?

Granted you probably wrote/said more to the recruiter than you did in your post here, more text doesn't always make things clearer.


The company was big, salary was fantastic but I didn't want to work with the technology they were using as it was very niche.

Does this mean concern about future career possibilities? Is this the only reason you declined?

Did the recruiter respond to this at all? Did he acknowledge? Did he try to defend the technology they're using and negate your opinion?

Or did he understand what you said, and clarify that there are actually other, less "niche" technologies that you will be working with?

I communicated my reasons for declining the offer to the recruiter various times now.

Reasons, plural? You only mentioned one in your post....

From a standpoint of persuading or "selling" someone, when I hear there are "many various reasons," it is often a sign of someone who hasn't really made up their mind.

If I were the recruiter or the hiring manager, all I would be convinced of by this post is that I still need to have a good conversation with you.


To get the recruiter off your back, explain your reasons. If they are really truly valid reasons to decline, they won't go away just because you talk about them. Don't leave a mystery: "Why did this guy decline? Baffling!" See if you can make the reasoning make sense to the recruiter.

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    A "valid" reason to decline is any reason at all. It's the candidate's prerogative. While I agree it is good to share your reasons with the recruiter, they are not entitled to an explanation to their satisfaction. In some cases the reason may even be personal and inappropriate to share. Once they get a clear message that the candidate is not taking the job, they should stop pestering them about it. The recruiter's prerogative is to not work with the candidate again if they fear they will turn down jobs for arbitrary reasons. – user45590 Mar 28 '17 at 5:27
  • @dan1111, sure, it's your prerogative not to explain your reasons. BUT if you DO explain your reasons, and the recruiter doesn't understand what you're even referring to, then failing to clarify would just be bad communication on the recruiter's part. This is a totally different scenario from, "I'm not accepting this offer," full stop. – Wildcard Mar 28 '17 at 6:00
  • For example, if you got a tour of a truly cutting-edge company and all you said was, "The salary is fantastic, the environment is fantastic, but the technology is too 'niche,' so I'm going to decline," I would consider it very odd indeed if the recruiter didn't try to get some further explanation. Anyway, the question wasn't, "Should a recruiter do this?" it was "How to deal with a recruiter doing this." My answer is, you should understand why they are doing it, which makes it much easier to deal with. – Wildcard Mar 28 '17 at 6:03
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    You say the reason given is unclear, but is it actually hard to understand "the technology is too niche"? Seems clear to me. What you really seem to mean is that the reason given was insufficient in your opinion. It is this second-guessing of the OP i am objecting to, especially the statement "if they really truly are valid reasons to decline". – user45590 Mar 28 '17 at 7:11
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I wonder if this is a "we'll get back to you" misunderstanding? Sometimes people are reluctant to say "no" directly, and use a polite circumlocution which makes it seem as if the door is being left open. You may need to be more direct.

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Your only need at this point is to close the conversation politely/ positively without burning potential bridges.

Stating you're happy to consider them in future should be effective in closing the conversation for now, and leave them on a positive note.

Example to close discussion from a non-pressured situation:

"Thanks for clarifying the [role]. I have good [reason to stay] in my current role & plan to stay a while. Happy to consider [their company] in future & thanks for reaching out. Best, regards [your name]."

If they have already been pestering you, make the response shorter and more decisive without explanation.

Possible template:

"Thanks. I have decided to stay in my current role for now. Happy to consider [their company] in future. Best, regards [your name]."

After that, ignore any further communications and do not respond. You would have already brought the conversation to an end-point they recognize & accept, so it is unlikely there would be any.

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Well to be fair you should have checked out what the company does before you went for the interviews to save time for everybody. :)

That aside: recruiters are pushy because that usually works, but they also need to economize their time so I would just ignore them for a while since when he sees chances of you changing your mind are very small he will find better use for his time.

Additionally if you know his phone number and he will not stop calling you smartphones can block certain callers. :)

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    The OP did not necessarily know the specifics of their role before the interview. Or they might have known but not been sure whether other factors would outweigh that. – user45590 Mar 28 '17 at 5:21
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Having been in a similar position, the only solution was a blunt "I'm not interested" backed up with telling them (truthfully) that I'd accepted a job in another sector, and finishing with "Thank you, but it didn't work out".

In this case the skill set match was good, but it came out in the interview that role didn't fit with my rather vague career plan.

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I would say if you live in an area with lots of tech jobs and lots of recruiters, just stop answering your phone when this guy calls. The odds are when you do need a job again, he will still be plenty glad to talk to you. Or he won't be doing this anymore. But either way unless he's the only recruiter in the area don't worry about burning bridges. In my experience the only thing that would piss off a recruiter bad enough to not work with you is if they placed you in a position and you never show up so they never get their commission (thinking commission-based recruiters here, not flat-fee ones).

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