You’re working through another challenging day, and sometime between meetings and the next crisis, it happens – an email from a recruiter about what sounds like a great job. You check it out, think about it, then realize that there’s no way you could move right now or you’re waiting on that promotion they keep promising you. So, you reply with some version of “thanks but no thanks” and jump back into your day.

Completely normal, happens every single day to all candidates and to all recruiters. But here’s the problem: We’ve totally missed the absolute best way to handle that situation, and someone’s life has been impacted in a potentially negative way by our decision and action after receiving that email!

pay it forward

An awesome philosophy emerged not too long ago: Pay it Forward. Basically, this means to take something good that happened to us and pass it along to another person. Good deed, a kind word, that $100 you found in the couch cushion, whatever it is – it happened to you and improved your day, so find a way to pass it on to someone else and help them out, too. Hey, good things are happening.

One thing that I sometimes do is simple, quick and not too pricey: When paying for my order in the drive-thru (yes, you go there too!), I ask the cost of the order for the car behind me, and if it’s reasonable, I pay for their order along with mine when I can afford it. The person in the next car is surprised, appreciative, and hopefully their entire outlook on the day and the good in humanity encourages them to perform an act of kindness for someone else. That’s paying it forward.

Now back to that email you received. It’s an open door, a chance to take the next step forward, a way to get into a more exciting role in a new company, earn more money, have a bigger impact at work, any number of good things are on the other end of that email. It’s not for you (we covered that), but think of it as an invitation to a party that you can’t attend, free concert tickets, whatever. Pay It Forward!

How many people do you know with a professional background similar to yours? How many of them may be unhappy in their jobs, need a new start for personal or professional reasons, can’t seem to get that promotion and truly want a better job or need to earn more?

Pay It Forward! Send the email to some friends who need a new start. Think of colleagues who may be a great fit for the job and let the recruiter know to reach out to Sally or Fred, they’d be great at this!

It takes a few minutes, but what a difference it can make in someone’s life! The wrong job for you can be just right for your friend – and everyone’s better off because of your thoughtfulness. Your friend has a chance at an awesome new job, you’re feeling good that you’ve done a good deed, the company who hires her is better off because they now have a great new employee. Pay It Forward!

Does it work? Absolutely it works. Just this week, I reached out to an awesome candidate for a senior HR position, but he has spent his career with a Fortune 50 company and is in line for a great promotion, so it’s not the right time for him. It only took him 5 seconds to tell me someone who would be great at the job. She has a solid background and lives in the same general area. Too early to know if it works out, but these kinds of things happen every day and everyone’s better off because of his kindness.

So, the next time you receive an email or call from a recruiter about a position that’s not right for you, take a minute and pay it forward! What’s in it for you? If you need something more tangible, consider this: The next person paying it forward may connect you with an opportunity that changes your life!