Strategy There's a smarter way to answer a recruiter's email when you don't want the job — and most people don't do it

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When a recruiter or hiring manager reaches out via LinkedIn with a job or opportunity you don't want, there's a right way and a wrong way to respond.

Thanks, but no thanks? play

Thanks, but no thanks?

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If you're lucky, you've had recruiters reach out via email or LinkedIn.

If you happen to be looking for, or open to, a new job or opportunity, the response is obvious: When can we get on the phone?

But if you're happy in your current position and not looking, what do you do? In a LinkedIn post, Monika Arora, an HR assistant manager at Rhiti Sports Management in New Delhi, India, highlighted a story that might give you some idea.

After Arora reached out to a potential candidate about a role she's trying to fill, she got the following response:

"Hey Monika, thanks for reaching out, but I am not looking for a new position at the moment. However willing to hear nonetheless and see whether I could recommend good folks for the position. Let me know whether you still want to chat!"

Arora wrote:

"We now have a call booked in to speak about the job, discuss the market, find out if there are people in her network that she may be able to recommend and to talk about her own career motivations for potential future opportunities. I think everyone should be open to a bit of good old fashioned networking like this! Build bridges, don't burn them!"

Scott Wintrip, author of "High Velocity Hiring: How to Hire Top Talent in an Instant" and founder of Wintrip Consulting Group, says the best way to respond to a recruiter or hiring manager's inquiry for a position that doesn't interest you is gratitude and honesty, followed by a question.

"First, thank the recruiter for their interest by saying something like, 'I appreciate that you've identified me as a potential candidate. I'm honored,'" he told Business Insider. "Then, give an honest and simple response about your interest — 'I'm not looking to make a change right now,' or 'I'm looking for something different.' Lastly, ask who may make a good referral and how those individuals can reach the recruiter or manager."

Wintrip said recruiters and HR managers are often ignored, which means the people who don't ignore them could stick in their minds. "They will remember the extremes — those who are exceptionally rude or helpful," he said. "Being helpful is like money in the bank, earning interest and eventually paying dividends in the future."

And whatever you do, don't be rude. "You never know who they know or what they may be able to offer in the future," Wintrip said. "You can always say what you mean without saying it mean. An honest and kind approach helps you build a community that will be there when you need it."

If you're looking to spruce up your LinkedIn and make it more appealing to recruiters, we have some tips.