The job search process is always a challenge! Many of us aren’t sure what to expect unless we’re in the middle of job searching: scrolling through job postings, debating how to network effectively, and puzzling over how to respond to recruiter emails.
Recruiters can actually help to cut down the time you spend job searching by quite a lot - if you know how to communicate with them in the right way. Recruiters regularly find and source candidates on LinkedIn. You’re likely to get a few messages about job opportunities, if you have a LinkedIn profile that’s up to date and optimized.
In general, recruiters only have one goal: to find the best candidates for the positions they’re trying to fill. As a result, the messages you get from recruiters tend to fall into some common categories. Knowing this, you can properly prepare for those contacts and provide a prompt, confident response to any message or email you receive.
Here are several possible requests and the recommended way for you to respond to a recruiter email.
How to respond to a recruiter email
There are six broad reasons a recruiter will reach out. We’ve categorized them by the basic question each message seeks to answer.
1. Are you available for a phone interview?
This question might not seem like it would throw you for a loop, but you’d be surprised at how many people get caught up wondering how to respond to a recruiter email for a phone interview. If someone wants to talk to you on a scheduled call, chances are that you’re in the running for a job. Keep your response simple and to the point.
“Hi [Name], Thank you for reaching out. I’d love to speak with you and I appreciate your consideration for opportunities that may be a great fit. Please let me know if there’s more information that I can provide between now and then. Thanks again, [Your Name]”
If the email asks for times that you’ll be available, just include a quick line that provides those details. Yes, it’s simple - but that’s really all that you need!
2. When would you be available for another interview?
Don’t be alarmed if you’re asked for a second interview. This is a requirement for some companies that use tiered interviewing processes, not a sign that your first interview wasn’t good enough.
Here’s how to respond to a recruiter interview email:
“Hi [Name], I look forward to the opportunity to meet again with your team. I’m available (insert the best days and times). Please let me know which time works best for you. If there’s anything else that you need from me between now and then, don’t hesitate to ask. Regards [Your Name]”
These days, many recruiters use tools to schedule interviews. If you schedule a time through a link they provide, it’s still polite to send an email noting the time you’ve selected.
3. Do you have time for a chat?
This question is usually not the prelude to a formal interview on the phone and could be indicative of just about anything. That uncertainty could make you anxious, but take a deep breath.
The fact is that the company might want another interview, could have questions about your resume, or may simply want to hand down its decision on your application. You won’t know until you make time to chat with the recruiter.
Regardless of the reason for the message, your response should be simple:
“Hi [Name], I appreciate you following up on our earlier contact. Would it be possible for us to talk at (insert the best time and date)? Otherwise, I’m open to other times to meet your scheduling needs - just let me know what works for you. Looking forward to speaking. Best, [Your Name]“
This response shows that you’re flexible, open, and accommodating - not anxious or desperate!
4. Can you send your resume again?
This seems confusing at first – how should you respond to a recruiter email asking for something that they should already have? Do you need to send a different version of your resume? What’s going on?
There could be any number of reasons why your resume might get lost or damaged. Digital systems can be unreliable and even traditional filing systems are fallible!
Your electronic resume may have been accidentally deleted, lost, or damaged. Paper copies may have been misplaced.
Whatever the reason, just resend it with a short message:
“Hi [Name], Thank you for reaching out to me again. I’ve attached my resume to this email. Please contact me if you need anything else. Regards, [Your Name]”
This message is a polite response, indicates that you’ve complied with the request, and invites further conversation. However, like all of the response templates on this list, it’s short. Recruiters tend to deal with huge volumes of applicants, so it’s important to communicate clearly and succinctly.
5. You didn’t get the job. What next?
Finally, a recruiter may send you a message with tough news: you didn’t get the job. Even if there isn’t a question included in the message, you can still reply with a polite message and request feedback to support your future job search.
Here’s how to respond to a rejection email from a recruiter:
“Hi [Name], Thank you for letting me know. Is there anything about my application or interview that I can work on? I’ve enjoyed talking with you throughout the process and would love to be a more competitive candidate should anything change in the future. Best, [Your Name]”
If you can learn something, that’s great. Either way, be polite and brief. Keep the lines of communication open in case a similar job needs to be filled - your friend the recruiter might just think about you and your good manners!
6. Are you interested in a new position?
Sometimes a recruiter you’ve interacted with previously will message you again about a new opportunity, often similar to a job you were close to getting before. However, be wary of unprompted, out-of-the-blue messages that say you’d be a “perfect match” for a certain role. These job scams are trying to get personal information out of you. However, if the offer looks legitimate you have two options.
If you’re not interested, here’s a good response:
“Hi [Name], Thank you for your message. I’m happy in my current role so I’m not looking for a new position at this time. Best, [Your Name]”
On the other hand, here’s how to respond to a recruiter email if you’re interested in their role:
“Hi [Name], Thank you for your message. I would be interested in finding out more about the position and wonder if you would be free for a call to discuss it over the next few days? I am free [insert suitable times and dates]. Regards, [Your Name]”
What else do you need to know about how to respond to a recruiter email?
Before you become paralyzed with anxiety about how to respond to a recruiter email, keep one thing in mind: every single one of these contacts represents an opportunity to reinforce that positive first impression you’ve made with the company’s hiring personnel.
Most of these messages provide an opportunity to start or continue your conversation with the company’s representatives. With that in mind, try to maintain your optimistic outlook and simply respond in the most straightforward manner possible. Above all else, respond promptly and professionally. Don’t worry that an immediate response might be seen as a sign of desperation - it’s much more likely to be perceived as a sign of interest.
Respond with the requested details, thank the recruiter for the contact, and then wait for the next reply. Once you learn how to communicate with a recruiter in a clear and simple way, you’ll wonder why these types of contact ever made you nervous in the past!
Bonus: working with a recruiter can get your resume directly into the hands of an employer. Zipjob’s team of professional resume writers knows how to highlight your experience and skills to impress employers.
Responding to recruiters will soon come naturally!
This aspect of job hunting doesn’t need to be scary! Recruiters are just people–albeit people who can open doors for you. Once you’ve identified why a recruiter is contacting you, the email templates on this page explain how to respond to a recruiter email with clarity and professionalism.
Not getting the emails from recruiters that you were hoping for? Why not send your resume for a free resume review to make sure that you’re truly putting your best foot forward?
Good luck with your job search!
Jen David, Editor & Content Writer, Jen David, Editor & Content Writer
Jen David has been writing CVs since 2010 and is the founder of CV Shed. She has worked with clients in numerous industries and at all stages of their careers, from students through to senior executives of global businesses. She loves producing polished, focused CVs that appeal to both human recruiters and applicant tracking systems, enabling her clients to take the next step in their careers. Jen has written and edited numerous articles for publication on industry-leading job boards.