I don't mind a recruiter working on behalf of a company, but if a recruiter contacts you* with a position which is clearly being advertised publicly anyway, how should one respond? Or is ignoring them the best option?

* - with a document attached containing the job specification simply copied & pasted from the company's website/linkedin/etc, with the original contact details and dates replaced with Xs.

  • 2
    I in my experience simply ignore recruiters and apply directly to companies. I have found recruiters never get back with me.
    – Donald
    May 8, 2012 at 11:14
  • What are you wanting to achieve? This question seems like it could be a rant as a question as phrased. Is there some specific problem you are having in dealing with them? May 8, 2012 at 14:45
  • I hate to be that guy - I rarely am - but this definitely seems more like a gripe than a question. There's nothing wrong with a recruiter actively working on a job that the company is also listing publicly. Tell 'em you already saw the first-party listing and move on. If anything, they'll appreciate the heads up if they didn't know there was a listing. May 11, 2012 at 6:18
  • @Erik This is why I asked. What would I say? I don't want to be rude but I don't want to leave them any opportunity to keep pursuing it. What's to stop them pushing for it even after I mention the job listing? Do I have to explicitly state that I know they're just being opportunistic and I'd prefer not to have an unnecessary middle-man?
    – Adam Lynch
    May 11, 2012 at 12:44
  • Also, the recruiter will probably get a share of the pay given by the employer if they hire you as their client. Meaning, if you apply directly, the company won't have to pay the recruiter and it could mean a higher compensation for you.
    – Chris C
    May 11, 2012 at 19:40

6 Answers 6


DHH from 37signals posts clueless recruiter posts publicly. He also hassles them over twitter when they email him asking if he wants to relocate for a entry-level Ruby position.

Personally, I just send a canned sales pitch right back at them "Sorry Jim, I'm not looking for a job right now, but my company is full of really talented developers, the same caliber as the ones you are looking for to fill your position, and we could definitely help you out.... etc... etc..."

Then I offer to re-write their recruitment management software for them so they can do a better job matching candidates.

As things stand right now, though, I would never recommend the use of recruiters to anyone for a technical position. You’re much more likely to be associated with the incompetence of the recruiter than you are to find highly skilled technical talent. -DHH

  • Companies in my area most often use recruiters. The newspaper doesn't list jobs anymore. Monster, Dice, and CareerBuilder all have jobs mostly advertised by recruiters. The only way around this is to continually follow company websites but I've applied that way before and never hear anything back even after I do followup calls. Going through a recruiter, in my experience, has made my career search more successful.
    – Brian
    Jul 31, 2012 at 15:30

It's better to apply directly to the companies in this case. The recruiter here is being opportunistic and is unlikely to help you in the recruitment process, so why to add a middleman in between you and the company.


If you can sleuth your way to the original job listing, skip the middleman and contact the company directly!

Now, not all technical recruiters are terrible- from my experience the bad ones tend to be the ones that scour through so many resumes and jobs. I applied to a newsletter for one that gave weekly job listings, but getting a response from any I was interested in was futile.

I had a better, more personal experience with smaller agencies. They tend to have less candidates coming their way and you won't get so lost in the shuffle.


If you're pretty confident that they are being shady, I would ignore them and use it as an opportunity to winnow down the list of recruiters with whom you may work in the future.

Additionally, depending on your level of confidence, it may be worth reporting to either the employer or a higher up in the recruiting organization. But this doesn't sound egregious enough for that.


As annoying as you might find recruiters when you are not "on the market", you'll miss them even more the day you are hunting for a new job. I say don't burn bridges if you don't have to. Have a polite copy/paste answer prepared to just send back. Something like "Thank you for sharing this interesting prospect with me. Unfortunately, I'm currently not looking to change positions but I'm looking forward to working with you in the future, should that change".

Also, "publicly available" != "universally known". Just because you saw the ad on the companies website doesn't mean everybody have.


I think this is a matter of "it depends". In one case, a recruiter contacted like this, and couldn't think of an answer when I asked him what his value added would be. In another case, the recruiter pitched me for a position that was published as well, but had the personal connections within the company to get my CV onto the relevant desk very fast.

You must log in to answer this question.

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