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I posted my resume on popular job sites, and got many emails, and even some scams. I applied directly to a company and had a phone interview shortly after, possibly face to face next week.

I then received a call from a recruiter and was really caught off guard, I had no idea who he was or why he called me (he was from recruiting firm I saw nothing about but bad reviews). He said he had a job opportunity for me and we talked about it, then he asked me about any current interviews I'm having. I told him about the one I had and he asked me the managers name... uh ok I gave it to him. That's that.

Well he called me again (2nd time while at work) and he asked me how the interview went... I said I think I did great, he is very friendly, then he asks me where is the job located so I tell him and says great I'll keep you updated on my job search for you.

He calls me AGAIN, and asks if I can give him the number to the manager/recruiter (I wouldn't tell him because I was suspect, I said I don't know who it was) and I immediately said no why do you need this information? He said he wants to contact him and discuss business.

So this guy calls me several times, only once to offer a job, and more times to probe me about the potential company that wants to hire me. I feel like I screwed myself over and he will somehow contact the manager and give him a long list of better employees, did I do wrong? if he calls me again I'm going to tell him straight up don't call me unless it's about a job offer

I feel pretty taken advantage of, and I am scared to reply to ANY recruiter now, I feel they don't want to help me but steal job leads. I already posted my resume on all those sites...

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Tell this recruiter to do his own job by himself. –  tehnyit Aug 19 '12 at 6:31
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If a recruiter is asking you about anything not applicable to finding you a job, then that recruiter is trying to generate business for him/herself. Blow such people off, at least as far as the invasive questions. They have no reason to know how your interview with X went, unless they set it up. Note that if you want to work with them, they WILL need to know where you've applied on your own, so that they don't look stupid putting you in for a job you've already put in for. –  Michael Kohne Aug 20 '12 at 14:06
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How can you tell a recruiter is trying to generate business for themselves? Their lips are moving. –  DJClayworth Aug 21 '12 at 3:25
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This is the reason I don't talk to recruiting firms. I have discovered they are not worth taking even the time to talk to. I am not talking about an internal company recruiter, I am talking about a firm that all they do, is recruit people for other companies. –  Ramhound Aug 21 '12 at 12:37
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And if possible, please go and put a review about such jerks and parasites on glassdoor.com. Let the world know that they are to be avoided. –  david blaine Apr 15 '13 at 3:00

6 Answers 6

Recruiters are always looking for a way into companies to pitch themselves. They want names of hiring managers so that they can side step the HR department which probably already has a preferred recruiter. Most companies are aware of this and have strict instructions that their hiring managers aren't to talk to any other recruiter.

If the recruiter did ring and try to pitch other candidates he should have been rebuffed.

If you are really worried about this you could call the manager where you interviewed and explain what happened. If they are a half decent person/manager they'll understand that you didn't go to the recruiter and that this was one of their tricks to get a name out of you. However, as these calls happen on a regular basis he probably won't connect them to you.

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In general, with an external recruiter such as you describe - you're well within your rights to keep it about you and your relationship with them. They aren't in it for you - they are in it to place a candidate in a position. My recommendation for the future is to keep focused on the opportunities that the recruiter has for you, and stay away from any other opportunities. Stay vague when it comes to job opportunities that you have drummed up in other ways.

Things to avoid:

These days information is the value. Where and how far along you are with interviews should be considered as privileged information and to be distributed on a need to know basis. The particulars - names of companies, names of individual contacts - is not to be shared.

I've had interviewers ask me for all that you describe. The usual drill is that the recruiter doesn't want to embarrass himself by submitting someone who's already applied. I usually go the route of saying "show me a job description and tell me the company and I'll tell you if I've applied" rather than listing off all the places. If they ask to "just get a sense of the type of places you're looking at" - I give generics - size of company, type of work, travel and salary max/min, expected benefits, nature of role.

I've learned that 75% or more of external recruiters won't call back, so I have a standard litany. If on the first call they go outside my litany probing for info, I shut them down and get off the phone as quickly as possible.

Recovery

No, you probably shouldn't have given this guy all the information gave him. Between company name and hiring manager's name, he's not going to have a problem finding the manager and making a pitch. There's no real way to roll that back. Best case scenario, the manager is going to get an annoying phone call from a recruiter (what else is new? for some positions this is a weekly annoyance), worst case - the recruiter will successfully make a pitch to the guy.

Fortunately - you didn't give him too many personal details. There are other ways of digging up hiring managers in companies - so you don't have to feel too awful on that one... it happens.

Also - company recruitment people are pretty good at detecting sleazes. Better, in fact, than candidates, because companies see the collection of information that recruiters provide - and can spot patterns more quickly.

In terms of your position at the company you found yourself - on your next contact with them, I'd advise clarifying with them that you are all clear that you found them without the aid of a recruiter, there should be no reason for the hiring company to pay a recruitment fee for you. If possible, I'd side step the whole issue of having told a recruiter the name of your contact and about their open positions. It's not awful, but it is a sword that cuts both ways - you opened them up for more annoying solicitation, and didn't use the best judgement here.

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There are three kinds of recruiters out there.

  1. Internal - Generally speaking the second best person to talk to when you're actual potential boss/co-workers aren't doing the hiring. They actually work for the company so if they earn a commission it's not likely to take a piece out of a given department's hiring budget. Beware though. Some agencies with preferred status will be allowed to present themselves as actually working internally. These not-quite-internal-types might still be good to talk to but you should consider whether the issue of their commission is going to make an aggressive salary negotiation strategy unlikely to succeed. If the company is mad-rich, I wouldn't worry about it.

  2. External, but more matching service/headhunter-oriented - Once you're dealing with external recruiters at the non-Jr/entry-levels you have to start worrying about what kind of a cut they're going to take and particularly the details of temp-to-perm scenarios (I once found out that I lost out on a to-perm-from-temp opportunity because the buyout would have been 25% of my annual salary). They will ask who you're talking to because yes, they want to know who's looking but they won't start asking for names and phone-numbers because they know that's highly inappropriate. They are generally reasonable to work with for getting contract gigs and temp to perms but make sure you check the details of those contracts and ask questions. But generally they're looking to build up contact bases, don't see "leads" as this inexhaustible resource, and don't want to alienate people. I tend to share information with these types because they'll keep coming back to you and I don't mind helping somebody as long as they don't appear to be acting against your interests. I used folks like this up to mid-level and I'll still talk to them and refer people to them who I know are looking if I'm aware of anybody but I'm at a point where it's unlikely I'll use them again if I can avoid it.

  3. External, Hard sales background ex-car-salesman types/boneheads/douchebags - These are the idiots that are thinking 100% in terms of "getting leads" any which way they can. They are the ones who data-mine the internet for acronyms and mass-call/spam-e-mail without even bothering to check your resume to see what level of PHP experience you're talking about or if you were actually saying "I'd prefer to avoid anything that involves Java" not "expert-level Java." They are the morons who somehow get their hands on new employee roster listings at large buildings and call you on your work phone # before you even know what it is to ask if you're looking for a better job. If you are bare-bones entry-level and having a hard time finding work, use them if you must, but not until you've exhausted other options. They might get you your first gig but you're just a name on a list to them. And don't hesitate to tell them to !@#$ off when they ask you for hiring manager's phone numbers.

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In contrast to Erik's answer: there are two sorts of recruiter out there. Good ones and bad ones.


Good ones build a network of contacts openly and honestly through people they've placed before or hired for before, who trust and respect them. They are meticulous about who knows what in relation to your recruitment or job seeking, and won't drop you in it by talking to a colleague about the interview you're doing at such and such a company.

Good recruiters take the time to get to know candidates and vacancies well, by talking to candidates and hiring managers. They will often be able to go to a briefing with a number of anonymised resumes of candidates they already know, and whom they suspect would be a good match for the vacancy on which they're being briefed from the short description they already have. They'll use this to come up with a better shortlist quickly.

They work to the benefit of both candidates and hiring managers and, by doing their job well, do well for themselves as well.


Bad ones spam you with emails when you've never heard of them, cold call you with vacancies that don't exist just to get your resume on file (often via a work switchboard), and will attempt to inveigle as much information out of you as they can, in dribs and drabs if necessary.

Bad recruiters do database searches for keywords and then email everyone on their database whose resume matches, however old the information is, possibly with some catch all disclaimer like "if this isn't relevant for you, please accept my apologies for troubling you, but if you know of anyone for whom it might be relevant, please send me their details".

They work purely to the benefit of their own pocket; they don't care about candidates or vacancies, just commission. They use a scatter gun approach of just trying to get as many CVs as possible in front of a hiring manager as quickly as they can. If they don't succeed they move on and spam someone else.


FWIW, I've had contact with plenty of both sorts on both sides of the hiring equation.

The moral? Try to establish what sort of recruiter you're dealing with. If you're hunting for jobs, are there ex-colleagues you trust who could recommend recruiters to you? Are there local professional networking groups in your area where you could talk to others in the same industry about good recruiters?

Good recruiters too may ask about other things you're being recruited for, but this is to see whether the role they're trying to fill is in line with the other things you're looking at, and whether they're likely to be putting a candidate forward who's about to pull out of the process because of a job offer elsewhere. Give them what they need to answer these questions but no more.

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When a recruiter asks me if I'm talking to other companies, my standard answer is: "I am talking to a couple of other companies, at various stages of interviews, but there is nothing concrete yet in hand. But looking at the job description you have given me of your current client, I think I'd prefer working for your client. So if you can please speed up the process, it'd be helpful."

I give this answer even if I got a job offer half an hour before the call from the recruiter.

When I know that a recruiter is the unscrupulous/wolfish/car salesman kind, I tell them to also refer me to other clients concurrently (even when their current client is interviewing me). Keeps the options open.

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There are good recruiters and bad recruiters out there. How can you tell the difference? Experience. Once a recruiter gives me bad vibes I put them on my "reply politely but non-commitally if they contact me but avoid them otherwise" list.

When you are applying to jobs, keep track of every position that you have been submitted to. This is essential.

If a recruiter which you have a positive relationship with (they have gotten you interviews, at the very least) you may want to let them know what places you have applied to, but no more than that. They need that information in order to avoid double submittal (very bad faux pas in recruiting).

If the recruiter is unknown to you or has said or done something to put you on your guard, if they ask you where you have applied to, tell them "if you would like to tell me what job you are considering submitting me for, I can tell you if I have already been submitted". Period. Be firm in your stand. If they get insistent, just get repetitive. "I'm sorry, I'm not comfortable sharing that information". If they ask why, it's just a way to get you talking and talk their way around you. Just keep repeating. Preface everything with"I'm sorry" and refuse to give them what they want. I've had to hang up on recruiters before.

You have to set your limits before you talk to the recruiters, otherwise they can make the unreasonable seem reasonable and afterwards you are kicking yourself and fretting about it, the way you seem to be now. Don't let those guys stress you out. Just make yourself a list of questions and situations that may come up, and decide what you will do. Experience will give you self confidence, and confidence gives peace of mind.

Another trick you need to be aware of is the old "can you change your resume in this way before we submit you..?" I've had several firms try that with me. The first time it happened, I was contacted by a man with a heavy Indian accent, about a position with Nike. He asked me to make some "improvements" to my resume to "showcase" my SQL optimization and normalization skills. I tried to explain that I really didn't have any to speak of. At first I thought it was a language barrier problem and he just wasn't understanding what I was trying to explain. I finally just gave up and said I would do what he wanted so I could get off the phone without being rude. The next day he called again, and again I tried to explain but he kept insisting that I just needed to highlight those skills. I finally figured out he was trying to get me to lie on my resume. I told him I wasn't interested. The next day another guy from the same agency, same thick accent, called me and asked for the same thing in a different way. I didn't waste a lot of time on that guy.

I have had a number of similar experiences that have left me deeply suspicious of overseas agencies or agencies with the word "Mind" in their name, and recruiters with heavy accents. There are enough reliable locals that I don't need to deal with overseas would-be outsourcers.

Still, for me, recruiters are essential to getting a job. There are many companies who just don't want to deal with the hassle of vetting and shuffling through reams of resumes. Also, knowing that people will often lie on or at least pad their resume, they want someone to be accountable. If they hire someone and that person turns out to be not as advertised, they can go back to the agency and complain. Reliable agencies have a vested interest in presenting a candidate honestly and companies want that.

Ask around to find out which agencies have good reputations. Do you have friends who are in the same profession? Ask them, especially if they are contractors. We end up working with a lot of different types. Try job forums...ask for recommendations on the recruiters and agencies that contact you. Join linkedin and build yourself a group of contacts. If an agency is recommended, find a linkedin contact who works for that agency and ask to network with them.

Ten years ago, job boards were the way to go when looking for a job, but nowdays they are just a place for recruiters (both good and bad) to find potential recruits. Seek the former and avoid the latter.

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