We receive multiple calls each week from recruitment agencies with which we've had no prior dealing, looking to "introduce themselves" and offer candidates. This would be understandable if they were responding to a specific posting on our company website, but this has never (to date) been the case. Most of the time we are not recruiting and these calls interrupt other work, which never gives a good impression of the agency.

Our company website (as most companies) lists a postal address, a general e-mail and a "Contact us" webform. Using one of these would not only provide something we could examine when it was convenient, but we would also have a piece of paper or electronic record so, even if we were not recruiting at that moment, we could contact them when we were.

The unsolicited telephone calls approach seems to give the worst possible outcome for agency, manager and candidates. Can any members with experience in recruitment agencies (or any without) let me know what explanation I might be missing?

[I've tagged this "United Kingdom", but I'm sure it's not unique.]

  • 1
    A phone call is more personal (and harder to ignore)? But how would knowing the reason they're doing it help your situation? Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 11:06
  • @Dukeling - It's harder to ignore, but I'd be less inclined to ignore written communication - if I have something else going on (which is always the case), I'm looking for a way to ignore it rather than a way to get round to it later. And if there's a good reason I've missed, I'd be more inclined to sympathy than frustration. Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 11:14
  • 7
    Why does your organization even allow these calls to be routed to managers? Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 17:28
  • My current manager suffers from this too (UK also). His response is to ask for their details by mail so he has written detail of them. He then responds with a GDPR 'forget me and never contact me again' email which seems to get rid of most of them.
    – houninym
    Commented Jan 29, 2020 at 11:45

4 Answers 4


I have never been on the recruiting side, but I have dealt with various recruiters and spoken to some about their practices.

Basically it boils down to a recruiter needs to have a large enough pool of candidates and companies in order to generate enough revenue to make a living by connecting the two.

If you have been recruiting for a long time then you have built up both pools. However if you are a newer recruiter then you have to build those pools up anyway you can, and cold calling is one way of doing it. Given calling enough companies it becomes purely a matter of statistics.

As an example of this I previously dealt with one national staffing company in the US. The senior recruiters had their pool of talent and companies and wouldn't annoy me with any unnecessary calls.

However the junior recruiters (without their own large pool) had to rely on some company supplied software that crawled job boards and tried to match up with online resumes and generated a nightly report that these juniors consumed. As a result when something that potentially matched my capabilities popped up (by keyword only) I would have multiple junior recruiters trying to contact me in order to "capture" me into their pool of talent. In one particular case I had 2 recruiters from the same physical office, with adjacent desks contact me on the same day.


A lot of recruitment agents have to do a bit of cold calling using publicly available information; it's a competitive field and for smaller agencies, this is usually the only way they get exposure. Even if your company does not have a telephone number on your web site, there are still ways they can find this information (do you have your own contact details visible on sites like LinkedIn for instance?).

In response to 'why call?', it's unfortunately the same older-than-dirt sales approach that has persisted for years. As you mentioned, if you are talking directly to them, you are less likely to ignore them. I live in the UK and over the years, cold calls in general are becoming far less tolerated. From the perspective of the agents, their goal is to reach as many people as possible. If they cast a broad net and only scoop up a few fish, that's better than none!

If you are hoping to dissuade them; you can exercise your rights that they delete the information they have on you or simply have their numbers blocked. If you might be looking to use a recruitment agency in the future, you could ask them to send you an email and politely insist that you will come to them if the need arises.

  • The right to delete information does not apply to company information though. Commented Jun 9, 2018 at 7:22

Recruitment agencies are essentially a numbers game - individual "successful" placements each generate a significant amount of revenue for the time spent on them and this sort of business model lends itself to the mass/cold marketing techniques such as the calls you are getting - if they ring a 100 companies in a day (and I'm lowballing here, they could easily make three or four times that number of calls) then if even they only encounter say 5 companies that are recruiting then that's 5 valuable "leads" for them to attempt to place candidates with.

Even if they only manage to convert one of those leads into a placement the cost of having someone ring those 100 companies will be easily covered in the commission of that one placement.

  • +1 Business practices are Darwinian. Common ones exist because they work.
    – Ben Mz
    Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 18:36
  • 400 companies in a day? Are there even enough companies out there to last a month?
    – user541686
    Commented Jun 9, 2018 at 7:15

The answer is: Doing something unproductive is better than doing nothing.

My experience is US based, as (1) a contractor who dealt with a lot of recruiters while consulting for a number of years, and (2) as a team lead who was cold-called because I put that fact on my public profile.

There are two sides to recruiting; both require connections.

The more senior people are on the "dealing with the hiring company" side of things. They may do cold calling, but they're more likely to call people in their network and buy them lunch/coffee to get new leads.

The more junior people have people that they are trying to place... anywhere. Or they don't have their own people to place and they're trying to place someone else's person for a split commission.

A person cold-calling you has run out of useful leads.
If they knew of a place that was hiring for a position (which they had a person for) they would be calling them instead of you.

They have nothing better to do than cold call... and cold calling is better for them than sitting on their hands. At worst they 'look busy' to their boss.

Hope that helps.

P.S. My advice is to keep their name, company and contact info.
One day you may want someone - and it is best to keep all of them so you can find a good one. The washout rate in that business seems staggering to me - anyone with more than 18 months experience is probably good enough to talk to.

They get off the phone quicker if you say, "Okay, I have your name. As I told person last Thursday we aren't looking. S/he works with you at company name, right?"
Give them a sentence or two to close, but if they push much after that I become less polite.

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