So I’m in the middle of a bit of a recruiting mess-up:
I was briefly in contact with company A about two years ago. Their HR person contacted me for a possible opportunity with them. I declined as I was not actively looking at that point. I since forgot about the conversation.
Recruiter #1 approached me about ten days ago through LinkedIn. We had a Skype call. He seemed nice overall, however I noticed a strong interest to know about companies I applied to already (allegedly so he could better tailor the companies he offers to put me in contact with). I politely declined to disclose details about my other application processes. He then suggested company A (see above) and company B. I found both interesting, so I agreed he forward my CV to them.
About a week later, Recruiter #2 contacted me. He suggested company A, C and D to me. I declined company A, citing I was already in touch with them (or so I thought) through another recruiter and agreed he forward my details to company C and D. Keep in mind that I had still not remembered that I had been in touch with company A two years ago.
Yesterday, I received emails from company A’s HR person and Recruiter #2, almost in the same minute:
The HR person just politely reminded me that we had been messaging briefly in 2016 and asked whether my situation had since changed and whether I was interested in a job with them now. I replied, asking whether they received my CV/profile from Recruiter #1. No response thus far.
Recruiter #2 wrote that they inquired at company A about me being in contact through another recruiter. He further claimed that his agency is contracted by company A exclusively to recruit for them and that Recruiter #1 had not even forwarded my CV to company A.
Also, I asked Recruiter #1 whether there has been any news from company A or B. He replied that there were no news, but asked whether he should forward my profile „to a lot of customers that we have“. I declined and said that I would be in touch shortly.
Then, I also emailed company B whether they had received my profile from recruiter #1. Also, no response there.
So it’s obvious that at least one of the recruiters is acting shady. It’s either Recruiter #1 basically soliciting to companies that he wrongfully described to me as his „customers“ or Recruiter #2 isn’t entirely truthful about being the exclusive recruiting partner of company A and tries to smear Recruiter #1. Out of my gut feeling, I tend to believe Recruiter #2, but I don’t have any evidence/word from the companies who is telling the truth here.
So finally my questions: How do I find out which recruiter is telling the truth? I’d like to only continue working with those who are honest. Of course, calling company A and/or B’s HR department might clear things up, but I hesitate to inquire any further as I’m afraid this might impair the application process. Is it a common policy with companies to not respond when a candidate that has been introduced by a recruiter contacts them directly?
Also, I obviously should have asked more questions on how the recruiters work and what their relationship with the companies are. Any killer question that I could have asked in order to find out about the recruiters intentions?
I don’t know whether this is of any significance: The whole story is taking place in a European city. I’m a software engineer.
Edit (8 days later): So meanwhile I've had a phone interview with company A's HR manager. He confirmed they hadn't received anything from recruiter #1. I then confronted recruiter #1 asking for clarification. He came up with some BS that they've not contacted HR, but instead hiring managers directly, bypassing HR. As this sounded even more fishy to me (and I was right in my assumption that they were soliciting my profile), I asked recruiter #1 to delete my details from their database.