A Recruiter Messaged You on LinkedIn - Now What?

If you have a LinkedIn account, chances are that a recruiter has messaged you about a job opening. In this era of spam emails, pop up ads, and unwanted solicitations, you may wonder if the message is worth reading or responding to at all. By understanding how the recruiter discovered your profile and what they are hoping to accomplish through their message, you will be prepared to know the best way to proceed if you are interested (or uninterested) in the job opportunity.

How the Recruiter Found You

When you receive a LinkedIn message regarding an open position, you may wonder how this person found you. Many people don’t know that recruiters have a special version of LinkedIn that they use to find candidates for positions they are looking to fill. Recruiters will search specific keywords, job titles, and locations to find candidates that fit the necessary criteria for their open position. To ensure you are appearing on recruiter’s searches, be sure that your LinkedIn profile is up to date and has keywords that are relevant to your field.

Why the Recruiter Contacted You

The person contacting you is either an in-house recruiter who works for the company, or a recruiter from a search firm that has been contracted by the company to find candidates on their behalf. The recruiter’s goal is to find great candidates, screen them, and send a qualified selection to the hiring manager or client.

The initial message is a way to present their open position as an attractive opportunity and solicit your interest. From there, the recruiter is hoping to have a phone conversation with you to see if your career goals are in line with the position, and that you are a good fit in terms of personality, skills and other qualifications. The recruiter’s ultimate objective is for the client to hire you, or another one of the candidates they have submitted.

How to Respond if You are Interested in the Job

If you are interested in the job, respond as soon as possible. That way, the recruiter can give you more information about the position and get the process started with a phone screening. If the recruiter thinks that you are a strong candidate and you decide to move forward in the hiring process, the recruiter will submit your resume and information to the employer.

How to Respond if You are Not Interested in the Job

If you are not interested in the job, it is still recommended that you respond back with a polite message. A simple note along the lines of “Thank you for reaching out, but I am not interested in changing jobs at this time. Let’s connect and keep in touch” is straightforward, but also leaves the door open for future correspondence. You may also provide your current resume for the recruiter to keep in their database for future positions that may be worth considering. It would also be appropriate to add the recruiter as a LinkedIn connection and provide your contact information.

Replying to a recruiter goes a long way. Whether you want to hear about that particular job or not, it’s always good to build connections with recruiters because you never know when they may be hiring for a position that you could want down the line.

If you are not sure whether you are interested in the job, it’s worth asking some questions to find out more information. Schedule a phone call with the recruiter so you can learn more about the position. There may be aspects of the job that were not mentioned in the initial message that would appeal to you. Once all your initial questions are answered, you can decide if you would like to be considered as a candidate.

Though it may seem out of the blue, you never know when a recruiter may contact you with an amazing employment opportunity. It is in your benefit to develop relationships with recruiters in your industry. If you keep an open mind, your next LinkedIn InMail message may lead to a great new career.

This article has been updated from an original Bristol Associates post from 2016.


Bristol Associates, Inc. is an executive search firm with over 50 years of excellence in recruiting nationwide. Bristol specializes in recruiting for companies in the casino gaming, food manufacturing, hospital & healthcare, hotels & resorts, travel, tourism & attractions, facilities & concessions, nonprofit, and restaurant businesses.

If you’re interested in working with Bristol Associates, click here if you’re an employer or here if you’re a job seeker.

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