Level One is our series for new recruiters and sourcers focused on bringing some of the knowledge from experienced TA professionals to you! To check out our most recent installment of the Level One series, click here.

You found what you think is the perfect candidate. You craft an opening message that no one would ignore. They get in touch and you get them on the phone. Then you check back in and they say, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Now what are you supposed to do?

Let’s look at the four main things that you should do.


First things first, BREATHE. This is a frustrating situation, but keeping calm and trying to keep a level head is a necessity. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, inhale for a count of four, hold for a count of two, and exhale for a count of four. Repeat as often as you need until you’re feeling good again.

Second things second, reply. It’s tempting to just write the person off, ignore them, and go to happy hour, but you’re not going to get anything worthwhile out of that. Try to keep the conversation open in order to find out the reason for the “no.”

Unsure of what to say? Start with thanking them for their time and always end with wishing them luck in the future. It doesn’t cost you anything to be kind. Ask them if they’re able to share what prompted the decline if they didn’t already share. There’s always a chance they’re declining based on a miscommunication and you can help to straighten things out! Thank them for any constructive criticism they’ve provided that can make your processes better in the future.

There’s always the chance you won’t get any particularly useful critique from them and in that case, thank them for their time and move on to the next candidate.

Third things third, stay positive. It’s easy to get knocked down when you’re faced with the loss of a candidate. Keep a folder on your computer’s desktop filled with some work successes that you can look back on when you’re working through the tough days.

Fourth things fourth, learn something. It’s never fun to get dealt a setback, but more often than not, there are things that we can learn from those setbacks. If you can, take a moment and consider what you can take away from the situation. From learning how to handle rejection to learning what messaging style works and what doesn’t, there’s plenty to learn!


How do you handle it when a candidate turns you down? Let us know on Twitter!