How transparent can I be with this recruiter?
October 31, 2019 4:42 PM   Subscribe

Recruiter recently sent me a job that is perfect but I need to turn down because in the new position I'd report to a former coworker that I didn't get along with. I'm afraid to be honest to the recruiter about the reasoning because I don't want to look bad, or like I'm not a team player. Otherwise, this position is pretty awesome and is everything I'm looking for - so I don't want to use the excuse that it doesn't fit my criteria for other reasons. What can I tell the recruiter?

I'm mid job hunt while employed and working with a great recruiter who seems to be on top of things and could really help me find a good job. She recently sent a new job description to me. I immediately recognized the company name and the role because one of my former coworkers works there now. In the new role, I'd be reporting directly into her. Issue is that she was not a great team player, pretty annoying to work with, and I'm really not interested in working with her again. I also got the feeling that she wasn't the biggest fan of me.

I also don't trust her, and if I applied to this role and interviewed with her I could see her letting one of the higher-ups at my current company know that I'm looking.

I need to turn down this job, but I'm afraid to be honest to the recruiter about the reasoning because I don't want to look bad, or like I'm not a team player. Otherwise, this position is pretty awesome and is everything I'm looking for - so I don't want to use the excuse that it doesn't fit my criteria for other reasons. What can I tell the recruiter to get enough information across but still save face?
posted by koolaidnovel to Work & Money (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Can you say something like "everything else about this job is perfect, but I've worked with the hiring manager in the past and I'm going to pass on this one."

If they press for more detail, you can say something like "I don't think we'd make a good team." I've also heard "like oil and water" used to describe relationships with people who clash.

You aren't the first person who has coworkers from the past that you'd prefer not to encounter again. The recruiter *wants* to place you, because that's how they get paid. As long as you don't go to town trashing her, it'll probably be fine. Personally, however, I'd have the conversation over the phone.
posted by bunderful at 4:56 PM on October 31, 2019 [34 favorites]


If I'm understanding you, you never indicated interest in the company, the company never phone screened you, and the company never interviewed you.

If so, then you are not "turn[ing] down this job" - you've never been offered a job in the first place.

Just tell the recruiter "this is pretty close to what I'm looking for, but I would like to work for a different employer." The recruiter will know what you're asking and move on. There are many, many, other opportunities that the recruiter can present you with - that's literally their job. After you move on, I strongly suspect the recruiter will not even remember your rejection.
posted by saeculorum at 5:00 PM on October 31, 2019 [16 favorites]


Yeah, I don't think you'll look bad if you say, in a professional manner, "this listing looks great! I've worked with Jane before, though, and our styles don't mesh very well. I think I'll have to pass on this one, but this is just the kind of thing I'm looking for."

That's not unprofessional, it's VERY professional to recognize this and state it in a non-blaming way. If you already worked together and were trying to get out of a project, that might be unprofessional, but this is a moment of choices for you, and you get to make them for any reason. It's how you express it that goes for or against your professionalism.
posted by gideonfrog at 5:20 PM on October 31, 2019 [42 favorites]


Recruiters get paid if you take the job and stay long enough to fulfill whatever contact they have with the company. If you're not interested for whatever reason in working for a specific company, they don't want to waste their time trying to place you there. If you turn down a lot of places, they're going to drop you, but saying that you've worked with someone there and don't think it's a good fit shouldn't be a red flag. And if they treat it as one, you probably don't want to be working with them anyway.
posted by Candleman at 6:25 PM on October 31, 2019


I am a recruiter. If you gave me greenfrog's suggested response, I would think, "OK. Understood." and move on to the next opportunity.

The bottom-feeders in my profession will endlessly twist your arm. The good ones will respect your judgment.
posted by John Borrowman at 8:37 AM on November 1, 2019 [3 favorites]


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