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I'm currently looking for work, and have been contacted by two recruiters about the same position. The first one asked me to confirm that I'm not in contact with anyone else regarding the same company, so when it became clear that the second one was about the same position I politely informed them that I could not work with them because I'm already in contact with someone else. I did not use any names.

Then the second recruiter requested that I tell them who the first one is, as they claim that some are not really working with the companies they claim to be working with and only intend to create a fake rejection in order to promote other companies that they're working with.

The way I see it, either or both of the above might be scamming me. If I decide to work with the first and the second is correct I could be passing on an opportunity. If I decide to work with the second one as well, I'd be going against what I said to the first. Although I don't believe it was legally binding, as no contract or anything was signed, it could make them less likely to want to work with me.

How should I handle this situation?

Edited to add additional question:
Would it be acceptable to contact the company directly, not to apply, but to ask if the recruiters are sincere?

Edited to add:
It has been suggested that this is a duplicate of How to deal with a potential turf war between three recruiters for the same job?. However that question seems to be focused on genuine recruiters acting unprofessionally. I believe this one is different because it deals with a possibly fake recruiter.


The answers given seem to agree with my gut, which is that the second recruiter is at the very least unprofessional and perhaps a scammer themselves. This opinion has been strengthened by their response when I formally requested that they remove my data from their records, which I will not quote but sounded like trying to intimidate me.

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"The first one asked me to confirm that I'm not in contact with anyone else regarding the same company"

I've heard this before, it seems a little forward to ask, it is just them scoping out the competition but there is a good way of answering, I would answer this like "I haven't applied nor have been in contact with this company about the role" so you're not indicating you're using multiple recruiters (if you are) while answering the question providing the information that is most relevant. Good call not to name names.

"Then the second recruiter requested that I tell them who the first one is, as they claim that some are not really working with the companies they claim to be working with and only intend to create a fake rejection in order to promote other companies that they're working with."

This is incredibly forward and unprofessional. There is no certain way that they know that is what the other is doing. They could be doing the exact thing they are accusing the competition of. Not to mention they are openly slating the competition rather than just trying to compete with them, dirty tactics and very unprofessional. Big red flag.

You have the right not to tell them who your other recruiter is, people use multiple recruiters at a time. Its normal. I've used 3-4 at once to get roles before.

The one openly trying to slate the competition is the one least likely I would go with. They come across as really unprofessional and presumptuous. Personally I would go with the first one as it seems you have some form of agreement and understanding and they seem the more professional of the two. Inform the second one that you have already been working with the first one and as its already in motion you don't want to disrupt it.

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Do your research on the two companies. One is certainly unreliable, and I'm inclined to think it's the second.

It is typical for recruiting companies to ask that you don't speak to other companies about the one you're dealing with as it causes all kinds of troubles as fees are involved.

In the very least, it's poaching their fee, at the worst, if you are double submitted to a company, the company will not even look at you. The reason being is that the hiring company could get itself into a legal entanglement if both companies demand a fee, or if one does and one does not.

THE BEST WAY TO HANDLE THIS

Proceed with the first company and avoid the second. Even if everything the second company said is true (which I doubt) they are being very unprofessional about bad-mouthing a competitor. So, if a company has the lack of ethics to bad-mouth a competitor, why would they suddenly have the ethics to speak truthfully about that competitor.

The second company sounds shady to me. Go with the first.

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I had recruiters chasing the same job when I was out of work in 2016.

Normally the call (from the recruiter) would be along the lines of:

Recruiter: Hi, I'm calling about an opening we're trying to place at XYZ co. From your Indeed profile (or Monster or...) you could be a good fit.

Me: I was presented to them last week.

R: Ok, XYZ Co. will only accept an application every six months. I'm also working with...

A professional recruiter should respect that you've already been presented as a candidate to the hiring company. A simple

"I can't share who submitted my application to XYZ Co. I find your asking to be unprofessional'"

Any recruiter that would trash talk another recruiter would be off my list of who I will work with.

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"The first one asked me to confirm that I'm not in contact with anyone else regarding the same company"

This can very well be. Some companies have strict policies on how to handle candidates, for example requiring that the same person has no more than one open application. By knowing if you are already being proposed to a company, you make them save everyone's time.

"Then the second recruiter requested that I tell them who the first one is, as they claim that some are not really working with the companies they claim to be working with and only intend to create a fake rejection in order to promote other companies that they're working with."

Trash talking the competition is a bad way of doing advertising, and that hints on what the work ethic of these people is. But, ethics concern aside, you can use this to your advantage, by asking both what they have to offer. Their competition can turn into your advantage. I was once in your same situation, and the second recruiter made clear that if went via them, they would have offered an higher salary than I was being offered by the first recruiter.

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