I found a job description in a jobs website. The job post was done by a recruiting company. I felt it was interesting and sent my CV to the recruiting company to apply for that position.

After exchanging a couple of emails with the recruiter about my profile, they sent me per email the full description of the job from their customer, i.e. the company where I would potentially work. In the job description, they did not hide the name and website of the company, i.e. the recruiter even asked me to have a look at their website to check if it interests me.

When I checked the website, indeed I saw they have the opening directly in their website and it is possible to apply directly through the website of the company.

My question is: Why would I still go through the recruiter and not apply directly in the website of the company?

I do believe I will get better communication and faster answers by applying directly to the company. Also maybe they would be willing to give a bit higher salary because there would be no fee for the recruiting company.

What would be a good way to proceed?

  • 8
    @VarunAgw do not post answers in the comments, please. Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 16:06
  • Alright guys. So I sent the application directly to the company. Now I do not know what to do... should I also inform the recruiter ?! or Now just go directly with the company.
    – BuzzingBee
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 3:19
  • 1
    @BuzzingBee, that's probably a topic for a different question.
    – Akavall
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 3:53
  • @LightnessRacesinOrbit Or maybe bookmark the page for later ;)
    – user47813
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 9:16
  • @VarunAgw: Yeah or that :) Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 10:25

7 Answers 7


Personally, I don't think it's ethical to apply directly if a recruiter pointed you to the job. This is the recruiter's livelihood, and he or she did you a service by finding you the job, so it's more honest to use the recruiter.

Ethics aside, there are practical reasons to use the recruiter:

  • Some companies basically use recruiters as a front-end for HR and rarely hire people except through trusted recruiters. It's possible that you'll be more likely to have success using the recruiter.
  • If the recruiter has a good relationship with the company and finds out you ditched him or her to apply directly, it's possible the company decides they'd rather not upset the recruiter and pass on you in order to maintain that relationship.

I do believe I will get better communication and faster answers if apply directly to the company. Also maybe they are willing to give a bit more of salary because no fee for the recruiting company.

Two responses to this: first, every company I've been with will hire the person they see as the best fit for a position and pay the recruiting fee if they have to. Good companies understand that bad hiring decisions are one of the biggest challenges for executing on a business plan. The reason the fees exist in the first place is because it's worth it to get good people.

Second, the better communication / faster answers concern is only valid if the recruiter is a bad recruiter that doesn't really know what they're doing. Good recruiters have relationships with companies that fast-track the people they refer. Bad recruiters often do waste your time. (In my experience, bad recruiters are usually fairly easy to recognize because they don't read your resume thoroughly and refer you to jobs that you aren't qualified for and or wouldn't want.)

Personally, I would continue to use the recruiter. Practically, you could really hurt your chances of getting the job by ditching the recruiter, but perhaps could gain a small advantage if this recruiter is actually incompetent.

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    @BuzzingBee so... what was the point of this question then? I guess in that case you just need to see what happens.
    – eis
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 7:19
  • 3
    @BuzzingBee either risk it or go apologize to the recruiter and hope they'll sort it out. They'll consider you up until someone figures out you are taking peoples commissions away for your personal gain, if someone finds out. It's unethical and most companies don't hire people behaving unethical. Mistakes however might be forgiven if reported.
    – DonQuiKong
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 7:49
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    "Should I do this?" "No, you shouldn't" "Well, I already did, what should I do now...?"
    – xDaizu
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 7:50
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    @BuzzingBee Maybe you could come clean, talk to the recruiter and excuse yourself saying you weren't really sure how recruiters worked and you thought you were supposed to apply but now you've realized you've made a mistake. If they apply Hanlon's razor maybe your unethical behaviour will be overlooked. (Hanlon's as in "incompetence at knowing how recruiters work", not actual stupidity, I mean no personal offense to you)
    – xDaizu
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 7:55
  • 5
    I'd also mention that a good recruiter can give you insight into the company, and may answer questions that you'd feel awkward asking to said companies (because they are trivial, but important to you, for example). And of course they may also prep you for the interviews, giving you hints of how it goes, what to expect and not to expect, faux pas to avoid, etc... A good recruiter is a quite the ally. Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 10:31

Many agencies have good relationships with their clients. My boss has a close working relationship with one recruiter, so much so that when the recruiter went to a different company, my boss used him and that company instead.

If you do this, and that recruiter has a similar relationship, you will not only ruin your reputation with the recruiter, but also with the prospective hiring manager. If you did that with my boss, or with me when I was a hiring manager, you would have zero chance for that job, and your name would be flagged as unhirable.

Going behind someone's back to give yourself an advantage is a big red flag to most people. Personally, I wouldn't want to work with someone like that as I would be unable to trust them.


1) It is unprofessional/impolite

The recruiter gave you that information in good faith. Going directly to the company will burn your bridges with the recruiter.

2) It can cost you the opportunity

It's possible that the company has a contract with the recruiter in which case they might face fines for hiring you directly after the recruiter has had contact with you for this posting. Even if it's not an outright legal issue, you still run the risk that your recruiter has a good relationship with your prospective employer. Your Circumventing the recruiter might get out during your application process and put a bad light on you.

3) You might be breaking an agreement

It is possible that you have entered an agreement with the recruiter by contacting them for an opening they've posted. In that case you might face fines for circumventing them after learning the company name behind the posting.

Bite the bullet and continue with the recruiter.

While I've dealt with recruiters who didn't really added any value for me as a candidate there are presumably others who do. You will only figure out which class they fall in by giving it a shot

In the future. If you're so set against working with recruiters you can try and search the internet with the text you find on their sites to try and figure out the company.

  • "will burn your bridges with the recruiter." - yes, this may not be the only time you'll require the services of this recruiting company (now or in the furture). If you are specifically looking for a new job then the recruiter may seek out several positions that might be suitable. There may also have been T&Cs you would have agreed to when signing up with the recruiter that have now been breached.
    – MrWhite
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 10:28
  • 1
    There are loads of recruitment companies. You don't "sign up" with recruiters; at least, I've never signed or even verbally agreed anything with any of them. What contract the recruiter and the company have is of no interest to me. It's worth it - you'll be able to negotiate a higher salary. Recruitment companies are dodgy; they call you at work when you've said not to; they'll call the company you're leaving to ask if they need anyone for the roll you'll be vacating; they send you on totally unsuitable interviews etc. Use them for all you can.
    – bye
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 23:23
  • @DrEval punishing them all for the transgressions of some is going to make things worse: if everybody treats even the good recruiters as dirt, they have to become aggressive and act like bottom-feeders. If they provided you with value, reward that - at least with a positive review and explicit mention at the (prospective) employer. (Don't hesitate to give negative feedback about recruiters used at your employers either, when appropriate!)
    – sehe
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 7:58

As far as I know, (in Germany) the recruiter normaly has a contract with the company. In this contract is defined, as soon as the recruiter is in contact with you and gives information about the specific company on your request, you are "bound" to the recruiter. So if you apply directly anyway, the recruiter has the right to get the fee even if he was not involved in the application beside giving you the contact. If this happens, the recruiter will be upset on you and maybe on the company. In the end you could quickly lose the job this way.


Going behind the recruiter's back could very well lead to you losing out on the position.

By the time a recruiter gives you the name of the company, they will have enough evidence of your connection to them to be able to claim the agency fees. If the company hires you and doesn't pay the fee up front, it could lead to a dispute with the recruiter and even law suits. Nobody wants that, and you would be very directly to blame if it happened, so expect lose the job and have trouble finding the next one.

I do believe I will get better communication and faster answers if apply directly to the company.

Untrue. If the recruiter is any good, you'll get the answers almost immediately.

Additionally, the recruiter has the experience to know what kinds of questions to ask in order to get useful feedback from the company after an interview. If the company calls you and says "Sorry, you didn't get the job", you may just say "Never mind, thanks anyway" and end the call. A recruiter will press for feedback to understand why it happened, and how to improve your chances in the future. This is what they do, and they know how to ask those awkward questions. (plus the questions aren't quite so awkward to ask and to answer when they're asked by a third party)

Also maybe they are willing to give a bit more of salary because no fee for the recruiting company.

Also untrue.

In fact, unless you're a really skilled negotiator, the opposite is true -- it is in the recruiter's interest for you to get the best possible package (their commission is percentage based), and they are in a position to negotiate the package on your behalf. They are experienced at doing so; you are probably not, so let them do this work for you.

Your thought about the company not having to pay a fee for the recruiter is also unlikely to play a role. The cost of hiring someone is not just the recruiter fee. There's a bunch of other costs as well. In fact, having a recruiter involved can help to mitigate some of those costs, so the recruiter's fee is even less of an issue. Don't expect the absence of a recruiter to have any bearing on their salary offer, and don't expect to be able to use it as leverage for increasing their offer.

  • I believe recruiters can only claim fees if the applicant signs a contract with the recruiter, no?
    – Goose
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 13:35
  • 2
    @Goose: The contractual arrangement is between the recruiter and the employer, not with the candidates. As a job hunter, I have never ever been asked to sign anything by any recruiter. (My experience is limited to the UK, so possibly you may be correct in other countries, but I can't comment on that).
    – Simba
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 14:02
  • 1
    @Simba Actually not quite true on the negotiation. A recruiter has more of a financial interest in making sure you take the job than that you get the best deal, for two reasons. 1- he makes nothing if the company walks. 2- he makes more money by closing more deals, which gives him incentive to place quickly more than place for a maximum. Studies on real estate show a similar result- realtors who sell many houses as quickly as possible make more money than those who hold out for the best deal. Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 18:50
  • @GabeSechan: you may have a point, but only if the job hunter has good negotiation skills of their own. Otherwise I still think you're better off letting the recruiter do it.
    – Simba
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 10:28
  • @Simba I don't think things are anywhere near as aligned as you do, especially having seen many recruiters take the first offer. They want a placement, max dollars is not their priority Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 13:34

At least in the US, the company hiring the recruiter is usually legally obligated to notify the recruiter and pay the recruiter anyway if the recruiter has proof the applicant contacted them first. This happens, and if you bring this up with both parties immediately, you'll be OK. If you know the hiring manager already and all parties know what's going on, it might even save everyone some time. The hiring manager will still have to pay, but time is money.

If you try to be sneaky about it, all bets are off. Personally if I were the hiring manager I'd disqualify you if you were sneaky.

Nothing prevents you from seeing through a public recruiter listing and deducing yourself where the position is and applying directly, though.


Rather than just lay out an answer based on what I would choose, I'll try to walk through the steps of arriving at an answer that's consistent with what you believe. I'll also give an example answer to show how this might be applied.

From the top down:

Essentially, the ethical practices that you carry out are laid on a foundation of core beliefs about what is right, or morals.

Those morals are in turn built on your understanding of why those morals are right. That is, what is the underlying ideology or set of doctrines that you hold, either expressly or subconsciously?

Now, let's start at the base and work our way back up.

First, at the ideology/doctrinal level, what constrains your moral beliefs? It could be that you base your beliefs on something changeable/subjective, like the current values held in the society where you live, or your internal sense of what's right. Depending on the culture you're in, what's accepted? Or it could be that your beliefs are based on something fixed/objective, like an eternal God who has established an intrinsic, unchangeable value of human beings.

Second, then, is what morality could be derived from an underlying ideology? If the underlying ideology is dynamic, then it's plausible to base a rule on the current social climate, either directly or on a desire to "present well," that is, whether it matters if people think you're adhering to the current social norm. It also doesn't dictate any intrinsic value to persons, but pragmatically, if others aren't happy with your actions, that could have a negative impact on yourself that you'd like to avoid. If, on the other hand, the underlying ideology in question has a static position of intrinsic worth of persons, then any resulting morality would be constrained to respect that worth, and appearance of compliance has no value.

Thirdly and finally, what ethical practice spawns from the underlying morals? For the dynamic approach, it's a matter of examining cultural norms to choose an approach, then decide whether to adhere to it, or at least, give that appearance. For the objective approach, you'd look to that fixed standard to choose practices consistent with the foundation.

Now, let's apply this to your particular case. Interestingly, walking up the dynamic side or the static side of the tree can arrive at the same conclusion, though it's often not the case. For the sake of discussion, let's say you've considered the first level, or have some long-standing beliefs in that regard, so you quickly decide to consider what's best for those impacted. In this case, that would be the recruiter and the client company, and possibly others. What's best for the client company? That might be really hard to decipher. There are many factors we might not even know of. And what's best for the recruiter? That's probably easier to understand. They make their living by connecting clients with workers, so anything that enables the process would be beneficial, and anything that undermines it would harm the effort. It's common for recruiters to withhold the client name in order to protect their ability to complete the sale, as it were. They might give out a name as a result of naiveté, or because they trust you.

So, you might decide not to bypass the recruiter for a couple reasons. One, the recruiter who's trying to help you, and in exchange gets paid when they do that successfully, is now negatively impacted, and you choose not to do that. Or, you see that you've been trusted with information, and may want to work with that recruiter again, so choose not to sever that future relationship, because it's not in your long-term interest. Or, you decide that the recruiter has more leverage to negotiate your salary or provides other practical advantages, and you decide you want to benefit from that.

All in all, it could be a straightforward question, but it's complicated by various issues, both ethical and pragmatic.

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