is it a mistake to turn down an interview because you’re not enthusiastic about the job?

A reader writes:

Is it a mistake to turn down an interview because you’re not passionate about the job?

I’m a 28-year-old woman and at a stable, pretty well-earning point in my life after growing up poor. I allowed my LinkedIn to be open to opportunities, because I am. But I also like my job. Not enough that I’d never leave, but enough that to leave I would need a really great offer. Since then, recruiters have been sliding into my DMs. I turned one down earlier today as, despite it being a good offer, it didn’t make me feel excited to work with them. The chances of me accepting were slim, and wasting my time on prep and their time setting up seemed cruel. The part of me that grew up poor is having a bit of a panic, though. Should you always interview? Or is it okay to get picky?

When you can be picky, it makes sense to be picky.

“Can be picky” means you have a stable, reasonably secure job that you’re happy in, or you have in-demand skills and are confident you could get a new job if/when you needed one, or you have enough of a financial safety net that you can prioritize things other than an immediate need to earn money.

When you’re in a situation with options, there’s no point in spending time interviewing for jobs that you can already tell won’t interest you (or won’t pay what you want, or so forth).

In that situation, it can also make sense to address some of your deal-breakers right up-front with recruiters. For example, it’s fine to say, “I want to be up-front with you that I’m happy at my current job and wouldn’t leave for less than $X. Does it make sense to keep talking?” or “I’m happy at my current job, but I’m very interested in (area X) and might consider moving for a role with a big focus there. What’s your sense of how much this position would work on X?”

There of course are times when job seekers can’t afford to be picky, like when they’re unemployed and in need of an income, or when their skills/experience aren’t in-demand and they have fewer options to choose from. In those cases, you do what’s practical, which can mean compromising on things that otherwise might be important in your search. For example, I was recently talking to someone who was annoyed by the number of steps in a company’s hiring process and was thinking about dropping out just on principle … even though everything else seemed fine and he badly wanted to leave his current job and didn’t have many other options. That’s a situation where the person needed to be less picky. Even then, there are still limits; you don’t want to jump straight from one bad job into another! But the realities of money dictate how picky you can or can’t be.

That doesn’t sound like your situation. It could be different if you were seeing signs of instability at your company, or if jobs in your field rarely opened up, or if you were really wanted to leave and hadn’t gotten many bites. But assuming none of that is the case and you’re just feeling obligated to interview because it feels dangerous not to keep all your options open at all times, even if you don’t like those options as well as your current situation … let yourself enjoy some of your security. You don’t need to spend time talking about jobs you’re not interested in and that you don’t feel moved to pursue, when you’ve (a) already created a situation for yourself that you like and (b) have assessed it as reasonably secure and (c) you know you’ve got options out there if at some point you do want them.

{ 69 comments… read them below }

  1. ThatGirl*

    I am a bit over a year into my current job, and it ticks basically all of my boxes: good pay, good coworkers, good manager, hybrid work schedule, flexible, very close to home, interesting work.

    I get a lot of emails and messages from recruiters too, but my standards are now very high for what I even want to learn more about. It would have to meet basically all of those criteria and then some. If circumstances changed – if I no longer felt like my job was a good one for me for whatever reason – I would be less picky. But right now? I can afford to be very selective, and I think that’s a good thing, I don’t want to waste anyone’s time on interviews that are unlikely to go anywhere.

    1. OP*

      Yeah, agreed. It sounds a bit up myself, but the likelihood they would offer me it if I interviewed is high – I’d say in the 80%s. Wasting their time interviewing, letting them think they have a serious candidate, knowing all along that unless they can offer a, b, c, d, c, y, AND z, and knowing even if they did I’d ve hesitant… that’s cruel and toying with them.

      1. Chriama*

        It’s a bit mean to frame it that way, but remember that most recruiters aren’t contacting you to offer a job because they think it’s best for *you*. The company is the one paying them, which means the company’s needs are their priority. There might be some overlap with incentive structures designed that only pay out if the hired candidate stays for a certain amount of time, but those are not universal. So don’t feel obligated to respond to every recruiter who contacts you. Even the good ones are doing it for their benefit over yours. It’s ok to put your needs first.

      2. GlitsyGus*

        I wouldn’t say cruel, this isn’t a personal thing. Cruelty implies an intention to hurt that really just isn’t there.

        I do think, though, that if I can avoid wasting time, both mine and theirs, that’s always a considerate thing to do. I think that’s why Allison’s advice is good. If there is something that would make you truly consider, just ask about that right off the bat. If it isn’t a good match, you’ll know pretty quick and everyone can move on happily.

  2. Michelle Smith*

    Not only did you keep from wasting the recruiter and hiring manger’s time, but you made it more likely that one of the people that does apply and does really want to work there gets an offer.

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with interviewing if you genuinely might be interested but want more information. But interviewing just for practice or just because someone reached out to you doesn’t seem right, IMO.

  3. Antilles*

    I think one key point here is that it seems to be recruiters “cold-calling” (or LinkedIn equivalent). Once you’ve been around the block a few times, you start getting these sorts of asks regularly; the “shotgun approach” seems to be very common, so you shouldn’t feel any concern about declining if you think it’s a bad fit.

    1. Lyudie*

      This is where I fall. I get so, so many of these messages, and many of them have no relation to what I do (I changed careers and still get lot of messages for my old role, and for roles I am not remotely qualified for) and/or nowhere near my actual location (even pre-Covid). I don’t even bother to reply to those. If they aren’t even looking at my profile (or are so delusional that they think I might leave a permanent position for a 3-month contract on the other side of the country) I’m not going to take them seriously.

      1. The Original K.*

        Just got a LinkedIn message today from a recruiter for a six-month contract for a role with a lower title than the full-time job I have. No thank you!

        1. Nerfmobile*

          Oh yeah, this happens a lot. “We have an exciting 6-month contact for a junior Camel Hoof Cleaner in Kansas City” … when I’m a Senior Manager of Camel Grooming Services on the East Coast and have never lived in a state that doesn’t touch the ocean. Thanks but no thanks.

      2. Project Management Princess*

        Urgh, this all the way!
        I get cold messages with some variation of:
        Have a position. If interested send email and CV.
        Hardly any information about the company, the role, compensation and benefits, let alone a canned greeting… Nah, I’m not willing to put in the effort if they don’t even do a copy-paste of a generic speech with useful information.

        I get that recruiters have so much in their plate but not putting in the bare minimum tells heaps about a work place, most of it not positive.

        1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

          if you want a response from me, PUT THE RATE IN THE MESSAGE. Seriously, most of these people are shopping lower-paying contract roles and there’s a reason they’re having trouble finding candidates.

          1. Christina*

            I responded to one with “I’m not interested but I have a friend who might be a good fit and is looking, can you give me a salary range.” Nope, they couldn’t do that. So I’m not wasting any more of my time, and I’m certainly not going to forward such a thing to a friend.

          2. Cringing 24/7*

            THIS! If *you’re* coming to *me*, then come with all of the relevant information for the position – especially the pay range.

          3. OP*

            yes, this! where they have sent the rate in their opening messages, I’ve made a point to praise them for it, and mention it to those who don’t. The market for hiring my position is so insanely competitive for companies that it might, just miiiiight be feedback they’ll take.

    2. anonymous73*

      Yup. I get a ton of emails from recruiters, many of which are clear that they are just sending me the info to fill a quota and haven’t bothered looking at my resume. I started marking those as spam.

    3. A Penguin!*

      My “favorites” are the ones who cannot even get my name right – not just a misspelling, but a completely different name (and gender), when they’re contacting me via my LinkedIn profile, which has no identifier except my name. I mean, I feel like you have to work at being that wrong.

    4. Christina*

      Yep, frequently they are the recruiter equivalent of a telemarketer and need the same courtesy as someone calling about your car’s extended warranty. You can ignore most of them. Far too often if I’ve responded I’ve discovered someone who hasn’t looked at my resume, contacting me about a job that is far too low level for my experience, in a part of the country I don’t live in.

      1. Raine*

        I had one who was calling from the East Coast for DC-based position and didn’t bother to look at a map to see where Seattle was. I mean, I get not everyone will know an area’s suburbs well, but to miss that a major city is not anywhere in the DC commute area is a big wow.

    5. OP*

      Oh yeah, these are definitely highly targeted – my field is in high demand at the moment and I have extra skills that make me even more desirable than the average person. They are genuinely hunting for someone like me rather than shotgunning it! I hate to sound arrogant, but I’m pretty sure they have alerts set up to my kind of skills and pounced en masse when I seemed more open to jobs. In theory they are good fits but… eh. I feel bad for them as a good [job role] is hard to find, but the offer really just didn’t thrill me. It’s definitely hard to get past the mentality of never being secure and needing to grab any opportunity that comes to not be ungrateful to the universe. I appreciate your input!

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        You don’t sound arrogant! You earned your skills and you’re in demand now, that’s fabulous.

    6. Smithy*

      Absolutely to this.

      One thing I have found helpful is if the job description is “close but no cigar” then I have sometimes found it useful to take a first interview with the recruiter. Particularly if its with a recruiting agency that regularly fills roles in my industry. Particularly in situations when the role is too senior or based in a city where I’m not open to relocating, then I’ve found it helpful to introduce myself, say what would be of interest and then mention that if I know of anyone better suited I’ll direct them.

      It’s helped put me on more refined/less cold call recruiter lists and while not perfect, I haven’t found it harmful. With recruiters, I think the biggest way to avoid rubbing them the wrong way is taking interviews with jobs that you don’t really want. This isn’t to say that anyone should ever feel pressured to take a job that ultimately isn’t the right fit for them, but if its a job you know you don’t want – then it’s often better to avoid interviews with the employer – or further interviews with an employer once you realize that.

    7. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      OP, look out out for you.
      Talked to my niece at a family wedding. A recruiter told her BIG COMPANY A was interested. She is currently at little company b. She told recruiter she made $X at her little company b, but if COMPANY A had a specific number, specific BETTER perks, (she has remote work, that’s not a goal, that’s a base requirement) she’d interview. Phone call. They did.
      Interview, the salary went down 25%.
      Recruiter is currently on full press, “you said you wanted remote work!”
      Not for that money.
      “you said you wanted X benefit.”
      Not for that money.
      “you said you wanted to work for BIG COMPANY A”
      Not for that money.
      I said, so the recruiter wants you to trade in your top of the line, full package Subaru WRX for a base model no frills Mercedes, because “Mercedes”?

      1. Raine*

        Some people will. I knew someone who was so thrilled to be working for IBM that they took a massive pay cut, and didn’t look at anything else. They wound up being a data monkey and hating their job.

    8. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yes, aside from the fact that it is 100% okay to be “picky” if you are happy in your current job, you *definitely* don’t need to respond to every recruiter that reaches out to you on linked-in! Some of them may be targeted and truly interested in you specifically but quite a lot of people there I think just cast a really wide net.

    9. TrixM*

      Yep, I ignore all those DMs and connection invites. Mainly because they’re all negatively self-selecting by ignoring the very prominent statement on my profile that I am not eligible for federal govt jobs because I am not a citizen and do not have the required security clearances for the majority of IT jobs in this govt town.

      I’ve had literally one approach out of probably over a hundred by now that demonstrated they read my profile’s first line (or maybe not, perhaps it was simply the first non-fed job in my city that someone needed to spam).

      Even if the dialogue went a bit further with a job that was actually relevant enough to inquire into, I’d still have no problems saying it wasn’t suitable to pursue further if it wasn’t. Unless you’re willfully rude, I’d doubt the vast majority of LinkedIn recruiters remember from one day to the next who they’ve spammed.

  4. Cobol*

    One additional piece of advice I would give, is think about whether it’s a company you would like to work with in the future. That doesn’t change Alison’s script at all.

    I’ve had great conversations with people who I didn’t think were going to accept or offer. Frankly, I would barely call what we did an interview. When one reached out a couple of years later, we ended up designing our next job description to almost perfectly match what they wanted to do.

  5. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

    One of the things i love about AAM (and Alison) is that the question was looking for validation, they not only got that, they got a full of background on how things work and an action plan that can basically be turned into a decision tree (with a detailed systems thinking explanation of how it all works).

    1. TK*

      That’s the whole point of an advice column. Just answering the question wouldn’t be enough– the advice has to be transferable or there’s no reason to give it publicly.

      1. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

        My point is that Alison is extremely good at what she does.
        There are a fair number of just ok or lower tier advice columnists out there (i won’t name names).

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          My point is that Alison is extremely good at what she does.

          At the risk of sycophancy, I agree.

          I also agree with the advice here. There’s little point in interviewing for a job you don’t think you’d accept.

  6. WindmillArms*

    When I started freelancing, I replied to every message because of a similar panic that if I didn’t, the opportunities would dry up and I would be broke. Now that I’ve got some solid, established clients and I don’t want anymore, the messages keep coming. I had to get comfortable ignoring them (or at least getting to dealbreakers faster). Recognizing that you don’t need to jump at every offer is very powerful!

    1. OP*

      I’m so glad you’re at such a succesful, comfortable point in your life! It really is a difficult position to be in, but leaning in the warm shoulders of those who have been here is very easing to the struggle.

  7. anonymous73*

    It’s definitely okay to decline an interview if there’s nothing about a job that would make you want to leave your current one. Having a job that you like allows you to have more deal breakers when approached. I was out of work for 9 months between end of 2020-summer of 2021. I don’t love my job but my manager is very supportive, and I feel like it -could- turn into something better. That being said, I get a ton of recruiters emailing/messaging me about opportunities and I have yet to respond to any of them because they’ve all been contracted positions of 12 months or less. And I’m not going to leave a full time position, to work temporarily and be out of work again.

  8. Beast ala Mode*

    I just turned down an interview at a company. They are a tech company that has pitched my current company in an over aggressive manner, and I just don’t like their sales people. So, yeah, I refused to even talk to them.

  9. Bubo Bubo*

    I feel that way sometimes too – when I started my current position, my plan was to stay at least 5 years to accrue experience and complete projects. I’m almost there now, and after keeping my eye on job boards for a while I have come to the conclusion that… well, I like it here, and I don’t want to leave yet. The salary’s good, the benefits are good, I like my colleagues and there are still opportunities to do new things. It’s also a very very secure job.

    It’s weird, somehow I think I’ve integrated some ideas that people should always be striving for more: more prestige, more money, etc., and I almost feel I’m doing something wrong not trying to move on right now. I like Alison’s take – that we’re allowed to enjoy what we have, basically.

    My own plan for now is to stick around until I start to run out of projects, and then see if I can find a truly exciting opportunity.

    1. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      Yeah, there’s that.
      But I think if you did grow up poor, blue collar, or struggled with layoffs or unstable work, you always have this mentality that you need to constantly be looking. Even if you’re relatively happy.

    2. OP*

      Yes, for sure. There’s a large pressure to always be looking for the next big thing, for more money, more prestige but… what if that £5k isn’t worth commuting 10 hours a week? What if my time is more valuable to me now? What if this money is *enough* money and more is just bonus, not necessity? It’s hard to go against that culture of more = better, but we deserve it.

  10. generic_username*

    I recently made the choice to drop out of the process for a job that I wasn’t excited about. I was being recruited by a former coworker and had been under the impression that the position paid significantly more than the one I currently had when I agreed to apply. After finding out the salary range at my phone screen (slightly higher than my current job), I decided to drop out of the running. The role was a fantastic opportunity, but it would have been a lateral move and I need more than a lateral move to leave a job I mostly enjoy. This is totally valid! Any reason you have for pursuing or not pursuing an opportunity is valid

  11. irene adler*

    For five years I took every interview.

    Learned a lot about the ‘workings’ of many of the biotech companies in my city. Some good things and some, well, unfortunate things. As in [Company] with stellar, world-wide reputation is not a place where I wish to work. While they throw lots of money at employees, they also treat them abusively (example: unlimited vacation time- but no one ever gets to take any because everything is a three-alarm fire that cannot wait. For a 3 day seminar at the local university, I sat next to a woman who worked there. She arrived each day ~40 minutes late. Wore the same outfit every day. Work was so pressing she didn’t have time to go home, change clothes. Don’t know if she slept- I like to think she did.).

    Now I’m very choosy about the ‘cold calls’ I get. Because I know more about these places than they think.

  12. Purple Cat*

    Of course, anybody can turn down any potential interview for whatever reason they want.
    I would caution against the message that one has to be “passionate” about a job to move forward. As they say, passion doesn’t pay the bills. And *most* at least *many* people aren’t in love with their jobs. But a good stable job in a healthy environment that pays the bills is nothing to scoff at.
    It’s perfectly okay for the next job to be “just a little bit” better or different and doesn’t have to be this incredible change to switch.
    Now it sounds like OP is perfectly content in their role and has no real desire to switch jobs, so of course decline, but I think people absorb the message that they must be miserable before they switch jobs, or the next job must be amazing and that’s definitely not the case.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Agreed – the headline’s use of “enthusiastic” and the LW’s use of “passionate” feel very different.

      I mean, if you’re truly passionate about your current job, and that works for you and you’re not getting burned out on your passion, then that’s great and by all means hold onto that. But for someone in LW’s position, where she’s just reasonably happy, expecting a posting to incite passion is probably too high a bar.

      1. OP*

        I was weary of flooding Alison with detail, but I’d say the bar is pretty much where it belongs! I work under 40 hours a week at an above market rate, with flexible hours of my own making where I can take a long lunch to go to the gym when the urge strikes me. My bosses and peers highly respect my skills to the point of a hefty raise in the last review period and a promotion started on track before I even asked for it. The vast majority of the time I get to take ownership of projects as and when I find them interesting, and have at times had my manager ring-fence my time to follow up on a passion project where I could see improvement. Nothing is perfect, but the level of autonomy I enjoy, the respect my peers give me, the opportunity to grow my skills in adjacent fields I find interesting despite how tangentially related to the role they are, and the higher end of the market average are all very good circumstances.

        However, never leaving money on the table – even if it would be a job limiting my freedoms and enjoyment – has been drilled in by poverty to such an extent it was difficult to even fathom it without the words of those who’ve been here. That, sometimes, just money isn’t everything and when you’re in a good place, you can follow passion.

        1. Raine*

          Oh yeah. More money isn’t worth it if you’re stressed out and on the verge of a physical/mental/emotional breakdown. I could make more money at a bigger firm, but I love the company I work for too much to give up the intangibles.
          That said – don’t be afraid to ask for more as you grow in your role where you are!

        2. ecnaseener*

          I certainly am not advising you to give up a good situation just for more money! But I stand by saying that if a job posting sparks enthusiasm in you, but not passion yet, I recommend taking the interview.

  13. RJ*

    OP, do not feel guilty for turning down any interview if the company/job/recruiter does not appeal to you. There’s a lot of opportunities out there presently and if you’re in a stable point in your career, you can sit back and pick what and who you want to respond to.

  14. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP — I hope the commentariat has convinced you that not accepting interviews for jobs you’d never take anyway is just fine.

    You said in your earlier comment that your skills are currently in demand. Maybe it’s time to think about what you want the next stage of your career to look like, what kind of position you really would be interested in, and what you’d need to do to get it? Since you say you like your current job pretty well, you’re in a good position to do some thinking and planning for how to go forward, whether at another firm or within your current company.

    Anyway, good luck!

    1. OP*

      Thank you! Yes, it’s been a nice counter-point to the shame the voice of generations of family has in my mind. I’m probably the first in my family to be in such a stable position as far back as memory goes. There were some development opportunities but they’ve been postponed a year – right now my focus is on trying to buy a house so my primary energy is in that, but afterwards there’s always been a field I’ve been interested in (an ex-partner was also a very competent person in this role) that uses many elements of my current role. I would probably start learning more on that, getting a few certifications, then set my manager to work getting me shadowing/part time working in that area of the business. He’s a good dude who’s very committed to helping people do anything anywhere they want.

  15. KN*

    I work in a field that gets a lot of this kind of outreach too, and I’ve heard the advice to “always take the call.” But that means taking the call with the recruiter to get information about the job–not to go to the next step of preparing a resume, researching the company in depth, going through an interview, etc.

    Even then, it may not always practical to talk to every person who reaches out, depending on how much outreach you’re getting. But if you do think you might someday be interested in similar outreach, you can sometimes get valuable information with a 10-minute call–for example, salary range for the role, title, name of the company (if they don’t say in the initial message). Plus, using Alison’s script, you can let the recruiter know what types of things you might be more interested in the future.

    I couldn’t tell from your letter if you’re already getting this info (either with a call or with back-and-forth on LinkedIn), or if you’re saying no at an earlier stage. And if it’s the latter, I definitely wouldn’t say it’s something you *have* to do, or even necessarily should do! But it’s possible you could carry the conversation a little further than you have been without going as far as an interview. I agree that an interview seems like too much trouble on both sides if you’re 90%+ sure that you wouldn’t accept an offer.

    1. Caro*

      ‘Take the call’ is pretty much my philosophy too, assuming the basics of the role in the first message actually align to my career path. I have the problem that the same keywords that you’d use to find my skill set also find a few other similar-but-not-the-same jobs that I’m not qualified for.

      I also work in an industry where a lot of peer-to-peer recruiting happens. If a former colleague invites me for coffee I will always try to find a time to make that work. Since they actually know me they get the benefit of the doubt that I’d fit the role and be interested. If they’re wrong, then I’ve still had that networking moment with them and kept that connection. Plus a free coffee.

  16. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

    I’m in a similar state currently. I like my job, but I’m always looking for greener pastures if the grass is right. Lol! I get a fair bit of recruiter outreach, but nothing I’m tempted over. It’s perfectly fine to reply with a “Thanks so much for thinking of me for the X Role, but it’s not something I’d be interested in at present.”

    1. OP*

      Yes! When you’re in a decent meadow, the greener grass needs to be pretty damn good. Here’s hoping we find some actual, really cool opportunities!

  17. Lp2*

    I’ve just accepted a new job offer but I also applied to a few ‘wildcard’ companies too that just sounded intesting. I got invited to a 30 minute chat on zoom where they proceeded to grill me like I was unemployed in 2009 and spoke in slightly disparaging terms about my experience….then invited me to a full day selection event before even discussing money. I emailed 20 minutes later to withdraw…. Much to their surprise. If you’re in a strong position you can be picky and its respectful to not waste peoples time.

    1. OP*

      Oof, that’s so shitty of them! Internally I’m definitely cheering at your self-respect to not be treated that way and withdraw, I hope your new role is excellent!

      1. Lp2*

        Thanks! I got the one I really wanted so finger crossed. And hopefully the other company has remembered that interviews work both ways!!!

  18. Karia*

    I’m actively job hunting and I ended up turning off ‘open to work’ on LinkedIn, because the opportunities I was getting were… not great. I would recommend instead setting up some tailored job alerts.

  19. Rick*

    I’m employed at a job I like. Sometimes I’m on the lookout for something better. I avoid recruiters and temp agencies so I don’t get those kind of offers. If you’re looking for someone different, apply directly through the employer so you don’t have to deal with what the others have said.

  20. learnedthehardway*

    Don’t let yourself be pressured into interviewing for a job if you aren’t interested, but do be open to learning about opportunities. It makes sense to build your network with good recruiters. Perhaps you’ll learn about a role that would be perfect for you, that you’d never have otherwise heard of. Perhaps you’ll hear about a role that would be perfect for someone in your network, and you’ll be able to provide value to your connections (that’s part of networking).

    One thing that might help with your anxiety about turning down even opportunities that don’t interest you – make a list of what you value in a job/career. For example, you might say work/life balance, compensation, interesting work, opportunities for growth, good manager relationships, location, prestige / anonymity, industry / company stability, etc. etc. Whatever matters to you, basically. What matters to you will be different from what matters to other people, so make sure you are being honest with yourself. Then, you can evaluate your current job and potential opportunities on the same criteria. If you find both your current job and an opportunity check all your boxes, you can take it further by assigning an importance score to each criteria and even further by evaluating how well each option works for each criteria. (Use a spreadsheet – it helps). As long as your current job outperforms other options in meeting your requirements, then you know that it makes sense to stay where you’re at (barring a major external factor like a merger or your company downsizing).

    I did something very like this analysis when starting my business. I repeat the exercise occasionally – every couple years – in case what I value has changed.

    1. OP*

      We’re actually mid-way through a merger, haha! But it looks like I’m coming out on top out of it, despite being part of the absorbed company – if not I’d have been running. I do love a good spreadsheet (and have been roundly mocked for having a spreadsheet of the expiry dates of my cheeses), so this does sound like an objective and useful classification!

  21. Raw Cookie Dough*

    I know this is unsolicited advice, but if you’re a professional adult, please don’t refer to recruiters reaching out to you as them sliding into your DMs. They aren’t trying to hook up with you.

    1. Voluptuousfire*

      I work in recruiting, am a professional adult, and I refer to unsolicited messages from recruiters on LinkedIn as recruiters sliding into my DMs. They are!

      1. Raw Cookie Dough*

        Not everyone has adopted the hook-up slang as mainstream. Mrs. Doubtfire kookiness surely will follow.

    2. TrixM*

      If someone is trying to contact me when I have not expressed a wish for them to do so, especially after their patently not reading my profile (all but one on LinkedIn to date obviously hasn’t, out of several dozens), I think the analogy is pretty apt, really.

      Then again, we commonly refer to recruiters as p*mps in informal contexts where I am (and did so well before dating apps existed). Cultural norms, and especially informal cultural norms, really are not the same everywhere.

      Would I address a recruiter as such to their face or in a professional context? Of course not, but I am a professional adult. And this is an advice blog, not the office.

      “Sliding into DMs” has a broader connotation, though. Sure, it implies “getting friendly”, but I mostly see it now in places like Twitter in obviously innocuous contexts. Would I use it during a presentation in a professional context, such as discussing a marketing campaign? Maybe, if the place were obstensibly uber hip and casual. Not so much otherwise, just like any other slangy “of the moment” term.

      I truly don’t think it has such a seedy tone as you seem to infer, but either way, I think most of us professional adults can gauge the appropriate contexts where we might use it, or not.

  22. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

    I get a lot of recruiting requests from LinkedIn. I just kind of expect it. My stock response is “Thanks for reaching out. I’m happy with my current position, and not really looking for a new one at this time, but please keep me in mind for any future openings.”

  23. Sometimes supervisor*

    I think it’s also natural just to become fussier as you progress in your career and life gets more complicated. It’s a bit simplistic but to illustrate – when I was just starting out, I wanted any job working with tea sets for any money and I’d work any hours. Then it became a job focused on teapots for more than I was currently earning (which wasn’t that hard to beat) but 70 hour weeks were fine by me. Then it became something focused on teapots and more than I was currently earning (which was a bit harder to beat) and I wanted 40 hour weeks max most weeks because I now had kids. Then it became something which would allow me to predominately focus on chocolate teapots for more than I was currently earning (which, frankly, now priced out a lot) and 40 hours max most weeks…. you get the picture.

    I appreciate the feeling of leaving money on the table though. We were lucky we grew up more fortunate than a lot of people but also it would be a stretch to call us well-off. My dad, however, grew up very poor and sometimes I think his head might explode when I explain I’ve turned down work because it required me to work on Sundays and I didn’t want to give up my weekends with the children for any less than X amount. Or because something would have required me to focus on ceramic teapots and, since my interests lie in chocolate teapots right now, again that would require a very big price tag to make the jump. (That being said, I KNOW he’s turned down pay increases himself because the job involved working in a sector he was no longer interested in or a commute longer than he wanted so it’s also very much a do as I say, not as I do situation!!)

  24. Chocolate Teapot*

    I recently had a recruiter contact me with a position which paid below my current salary. I used Alison’s wording about whether it was worth proceeding and the company has suddenly found more money.

    My concern would be that there would be no pay rises in the future.

  25. Skippy*

    Great advice, but I would also add that even if you’re not in a great situation and you’re not in high demand, as the OP is, it’s still okay to be selective in where you apply and where you interview. Obviously the calculus is different if you can’t pay your bills or you’re in a highly toxic job that’s damaging your mental health, but if your time is at a premium, I can’t really blame someone for not wanting to jump through all sorts of hoops for a job they’re not all that interested in.

  26. Orange You Glad*

    I can relate OP! I have a very general degree and specialized but still somewhat generic-sounding title. I specialize in a very niche subject area of a broader field. About 90% of the recruiter messages I get are for jobs that have nothing in common with my specialty but still contain that generic name in their titles. Explaining this to a recruiter goes nowhere.

    I’m also in a position to be picky. I am picky over subject area and location. There are hundreds of jobs in 2 suburban regions near my city (about an hour each way with no traffic). Some are willing to make the commute, I am not. I have a great environment at work and I can walk to the office in 20 mins when I need to go in. I have yet to meet a recruiter that accepts my terms for considering a new position.

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