How to Respectfully “Break Up” with a Recruiter

In any relationship, ghosting someone when you want to “break up” is considered rude and cowardly.  Relationships with recruiters are no exception. If you’ve decided the recruiter you’ve been working with, or the job they are advocating for, is not a good fit, you need to come clean. Here are some tips for ending your relationship with a recruiter in a respectful manner.

break up with recruiter

Do the right thing

Being straightforward and honest isn’t always easy, but it’s definitely the right thing to do. If the recruiter is professional, as she should be, she’ll accept your exit with grace. She’ll definitely appreciate not having to waste time and energy trying to track you down to find out what happened. Remember the golden rule, and treat your recruiter like you would want to be treated if you were in her position.

Choose your words carefully

If the reason you want to end things with your recruiter is because you feel like he’s done a terrible job, you may be tempted to let him know how disappointed you are in his performance. However, a bad “break up” isn’t good for anyone. There’s nothing wrong with giving an honest explanation as to why you don’t want to continue the relationship. But the wording you choose can make all the difference between a friendly dissolution and a hostile one. 

For example, instead of saying “you act like you don’t care about my career goals” say, “I realize you’re very busy, and I feel like I need to work with someone who has more time to focus on me specifically.”  You’ve still made your point, but not in a way that seems like an attack. If let yourself slip into attack mode, it’s only natural that your recruiter will feel defensive. But if you present your concerns in a constructive way, you might actually help the recruiter improve.

Select the right medium

Breaking up via text or email is a definite no-no in romantic relationships. And even though your relationship with your recruiter is less intense, there is still something to be said for the common courtesy of bowing out in person, or at the very least, over the phone. If your correspondence has been entirely through email, cutting ties via email is acceptable. However, if you’ve been meeting with the recruiter in person, or spending a lot of time on the phone together, that’s a different story. Chances are, your recruiter has spent a good amount of time trying to get you employed. The least you can do is make the effort to end the relationship politely. Thinking about what you would want if you were in the recruiter’s shoes is a good way to gauge your actions. 

Stay positive

Moving on from your recruiter does not have to be a negative experience for either one of you. There’s no reason you can’t leave the door open for a future connection if things don’t work out as planned. If you’re moving on because you found your dream job without your recruiter’s help, staying positive should be easy. A professional recruiter will be happy for you and wish you the best. If the new position doesn’t work out, you can always return, as long as the communication about your decision was positive and courteous. 

Even if you’re leaving because the recruiter did not do a good job for you, staying confident and optimistic is still important. The recruiter may have let you down this time, but who’s to say when the perfect job comes across her desk, you won’t be the first candidate that pops into her mind. If you stormed out of her office spewing insults, she’s not going to call you to set up an interview. But if the relationship ended amicably, and she thinks you’re the perfect candidate, she won’t hesitate to see if you’re interested. The power of staying positive cannot be underestimated.

No one likes to be in awkward situations.  Sometimes it’s easier to hide from discomfort in the short term. But in the long term, failing to face the music will leave you wishing you’d done things differently.  Ending a relationship is never easy, but breaking up with your recruiter respectfully is the right choice all around.

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