I get regular spam from recruiters telling me about exciting new opportunities with this-or-that-company.

I've not approached the recruiters - they've just found me on LinkedIn and cold-emailed me.

I'm not interested in moving jobs at the moment, but supposing I were and I received one of these that appealed ... is anything stopping me from just ignoring the recruiter and contacting the company directly?

Does the recruiter add anything? AFAICT based on every recruiter-based question on here, they are an annoyance who get in the way and presumably take a cut of money somewhere in the process.

OTOH, if there's no reason not to circumvent them, why doesn't everyone do so? (And thus why do they exist as an industry?)

EDIT: Out-of-curiousity, does the answer become different if I have reached out to the recruiter to some degree?

EDIT Not a duplicate, because this is specifically about the scenario where the recruiter has cold-contacted me. Other question does not specify this.

  • 3
    I would just add that you might want to consider that recruiters talk too. If you cut them out of an opportunity they informed you about, there could be ramifications down the road in terms of them sharing opportunities with you.
    – Neo
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 11:32
  • In my experience, many companies do their hiring (for certain positions, at least) through recruiters and the position may not be publicly advertised. Going directly to the company may reflect poorly on you as someone not willing to play the game by the rules.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 12:28
  • Personally, I ignore the "cold call" emails as they're usually vaguely appropriate to me anyway. I do respond to the messages from the recruiters I've worked with in the past because I've already got at least a base-level relationship with them and I feel they're actually interested in me (yes, I know they're looking out for themselves as well).
    – FreeMan
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 12:29
  • "Does the recruiter add anything? AFAICT based on every recruiter-based question on here, they are an annoyance who get in the way and presumably take a cut of money somewhere in the process." - recruiters are mostly there to get you at the lowest price possible. That's why they will keep asking for your current salary, using any trick or lie to get it.
    – Rob Grant
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 13:25

3 Answers 3


If you've got enough details about the company and role to contact them directly (and you haven't engaged with the recruiter at all) then you aren't doing anything wrong by contacting them directly. They may still choose to have you go through the recruiter but that will depend on what agreement the compnay has with the recruiter and possibly how they prefer to go about the hiring process.

If you have engaged with the recruiter at all then it gets murkier - many will ask you to agree to exclusivitiy when they start the process meaning you could encounter difficulties when going around them. Also at the very least it can look underhanded. So once you've started talking to a recruiter about a vacancy going around them isn't a good idea unless you are encountering significant incompetence from them - and ideally in such a way that you can substantiate with the company to prove you aren't just dropping them now you have what you need.

As to why recruiters exist there are various reasons depending on which side you are looking at:


Finding candidates and the initial filtering steps is time consuming if you aren't already geared up for it. Recruiters and agencies have databases they keep of CVs and contact details that would be inefficent for an employer to build and maintain unless they were recruiting all the time and hunting down candidates like this would be time spent by their existing employees on tasks other than their day job so there's an indirect cost to them there.

Which of course is why they aren't just "saving" money on recruitment which they could pass directly on to your wage and since many recruiters work on the basis of a cut of your first year's wages they are only paying that cost once - an increased wage to the candidate has to be paid on an ongoing basis. To use your figures if the cost of the recruiter is $1.5k then giving the candidate even an extra $500 a year in higher wages will work out more expensive then the recruiter in just four years.


Similarly hunting down openings and the right contacts etc is time consuming for a candidate, and if they are already employed they likely have a limited amount of time to spare on the job search, and that's even assuming they are actively looking! A good candidate who is employed and not looking might be tempted away by an attractive-sounding position dropping in to their inbox but they aren't going to even know about it were it not for the recruiter putting it out there.

Similarly when it comes to negotiating wages the recruiter is motivated to get you the best possible wage when their fee is a percentage (obviously some work on fixed fee so this won't apply in that case) so it is in their best interests to fight as hard as they can to a) get you the job and b) get you the most money. Yes you might be able to do better, negotiating skill varies from person to person and you might well be awesome at it and you are certainly just as motivated as they are to get it right. But realistically the recruiter is doing this day-in, day-out so they are getting more practice, are more likely to be on top of the market conditions and the rates a given role or skill set should get etc. So the majority of the time they are probably going to be in a better position to maximize the wage then the average Joe Candidate who goes through this process once every couple of years.

  • I'd like to add that here in Germany, some recruiters are at the same time "Personnel-Service"-Agencies "lending" Personnel to Companies for a certain amount of time. And some of them also will "optimize" your CV and give you training for interviews.
    – Fildor
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 11:21
  • 2 small remarks: using a recruiter can result in a higher salary (since often recruiters get paid based upon the salary of the candidate, e.g. 1 month salary) but can also result in a lower salary (a recruiter earns more by not spending time negotiating but rather placing 5 candidates for 2000 than 3 candidates for 2500 - the companies are often more willing to work with him too). Second, you're right asking for a higher salary will be more expensive for the company fast, but asking for a one time signing bonus can help here.
    – Konerak
    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 7:57

If the recruiter has been foolish enough to give you details of opportunities like this, then there's no reason why you can't approach directly and cut out the middle man.

The same goes for whether you reached out.

Normally (in my experience), the recruiter details the role/responsibilities/salary/rough location and engages you before you learn the identity of the company.

I guess any fall-out depends on how the recruiter is getting their commission. They might just be happy enough to get a referral fee for their part in filling that headcount.

  • 1
    On the other hand, if I directly contact the company after hearing from you about it and they ask me how I heard about the position, telling them that Snark Shark the Recruiter told me about it, may not reflect well on me - I'm now someone looking to short-cut the system for my own benefit. i.e. Snark the Recruiter won't get a referral fee if I'm covering myself and don't tell the company about you.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 12:25

Some companies exclusively hire through recruitment agencies, so if they find out you bypassed the recruiter to contact them directly, they may not be pleased about that. I would check first to see if the company advertises on their own via third-party job sites, or through their own. If it is, there should be no harm done in going straight to the company. There's nothing stopping you.

Recruiters are usually there to help you negotiate interview times and higher salaries, get more details on a job, something they can do easier than most candidates because it's what they're trained to do, and they are likely to have a better working relationship with the company than you. Plus they can job hunt while we muddle on with our current ones. These are the reasons why people still use recruitment agencies, though they can indeed be an annoyance if you're put on a mailing list without your knowledge. If that happens, simply demand to be taken off it.

As for recruiters 'taking a cut', this is - in every instance I've known of - been out of the company's pocket, not the candidate's. Recruitment agents usually get their fee either upon you being hired or after you complete a probation period.

  • Re: "taking a cut". This is my impression too. But surely when you're negotiating the salary the company is taking that into account? When you propose $83k, they think "Hmm, shall I agree to the $84.5k cost after accounting for the Recruiter". Now maybe I wouldn't be able to get ALL of the extra, but surely I'd be able to get higher without the extra cost?
    – Brondahl
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 9:54
  • You could get higher without the extra cost, if it is still in line with industry standards based on your role, experience etc. If you've done your homework and can argue your case, you can definitely still go for the 84.5k.
    – user34587
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 10:31
  • 1
    @Brondahl As mentioned in motosubatsu's answer the fee to the recruiter (in the US, at least) is a one-time payment, whereas a higher starting salary increases the base cost of the employee every year that he's employed. The hiring company isn't too worried about a few bucks (relatively speaking) up front when compared to the ongoing cost.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 12:23

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .