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Recruiter A called me a informed of an available role and mentioned that the role would not be live for a few days until they get sign off. They also mention they have exclusivity on the role and so I replied to an email saying I'm happy for recruiter A to represent me going for this role.

Recruiter B calls and tells me about exactly the same role; I explain that I've already been put forward and that I cannot proceed with another recruiter. Recruiter B then states that they have exclusivity on the role and that my previous application wouldn't go anywhere.

The fact that recruiter A said the role wouldn't be live for a few days and that no one else knows about the role implies that they are lying over exclusivity and that I don't have a chance of getting the job.

If this is true, I've given my legal consent to be represented by recruiter A whom is unable to represent me - something I cannot prove.

Has anyone dealt with this scenario? Should I forget about this role at this point? It's a shame the recruitment industy is in such a state.

  • "I've given my legal consent to be represented by recruiter A whom is unable to represent me" - IANAL, but if the recruiter misrepresented the facts of the situation, then you consented to a situation that does not exist, so in my mind your "legal" consent is voided. – David K May 9 at 17:59
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    Is it possible that it's two similar roles at the same employer? Even two roles with the same title, in different departments or locations? – dwizum May 9 at 18:04
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    You can only really guess as to what's going on here. Maybe there was a miscommunication somewhere (between them and the employer or between you and them), maybe the employer lied to them, maybe it's not exclusive and they're just lying, maybe they just copied the job posting from somewhere and aren't in contact with the employer at all, maybe recruiter A was exclusive, but recruiter B is now or maybe there were two similar roles. You can guess which of these is most likely (to inform what you should do) based on your opinion of the recruiters, employer and job. – Dukeling May 9 at 19:29
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Has anyone dealt with this scenario? Should I forget about this role at this point?

I suggest that you consider pursuing other job options, as this situation here seems a bit fishy for me (or at least seems like two recruiters fighting over a candidate).

Don't discard this opportunity yet; see how this situation evolves and if you eventually have a chance to land an offer. It could be that the job ends up looking promising, and it's just the recruiters that are acting unprofessionally.

However, don't rely solely on this chance, and keep job-hunting for alternatives in case this negotiation falls down.

  • How do you suggest the OP proceed, in terms of which recruiter to work with for this job? – David K May 9 at 18:00
  • That's particularly good advice in this case, but the general "don't stop looking" advice is pretty much always in effect until you have offer in hand. – Ben Barden May 9 at 18:01
  • @DavidK I suggest OP lets things rest/evolve a bit... perhaps there was an internal misunderstanding or something needs to settle down so things are clearer. If any OP should check with recruiter A and ask for clarification. After that OP should go with the one that they feel more comfortable with – DarkCygnus May 9 at 18:28
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Talk to recruiter A. You only have recruiter B's word for it that he has exclusivity. Ask recruiter A what's going on, and if he insists that he still has exclusivity, tell him how many days you're willing to wait before you drop him. He did say it wouldn't be live for "a few days". Presumably those few days will run out relatively quickly. If you've waited enough days that it should have gone live and the recruiter should have been able to make something happen, you can assert a reasonable belief that the agreement was entered into under false pretenses, and switch to recruiter B. Possibly make sure that recruiter B can give you some clear assurance of their own legitimacy before you tell A to take a hike, though. It's possible that both are lying to you.

Regardless, the standard advice of "don't stop looking until you have offer in hand" most definitely applies in this case.

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IANAL

I would not weed yourself out of the role because HR and recruiters don't have their stories straight. That may say very little about the overall company or division you'd work in. Do keep that in mind when interviewing.

The safest option would be to reach out to the company's HR and explain the situation. This comes with a few benefits:

  1. You have an actual reason to talk to them, not just circumventing their hiring process. It's a small shot at making an impression other candidates don't get.
  2. You will show yourself to be upstanding. Expressing a desire to do the right thing by a prospective employer is unlikely to do you any harm.
  3. The issue can be cleared up.

I've heard of companies tossing out candidates submitted by two different recruiters just to avoid any legal battle over it. In that light, I'd very much talk with their HR before telling a second company to submit you.

I have been told by a recruiter they had an "exclusive" after another had already contacted me on the same role. Some of these recruiters are unscrupulous. Sometimes, they can guess who the hiring company is and try to get someone in ahead of the competition. Often there's probably just a miscommunication.

  • Ages ago, before the internet was really going, I sent my CV to six agencies. Three of them sent me to the same client. Client company asked "who contacted you first". I answered truthfully: "I got three letters in the morning, and the first one I opened was from recruitement agency X". Client company said "Ok, they will get the money then". – gnasher729 May 11 at 13:23
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Often, the recruiter has:

  1. a maximum of candidate that he is allowed to present set by his customer, like 1 or 2
  2. a deadline

Depending of the negotiation between his agency and his customer, they may have a exclusivity period like 24H or 48H where the customer must accept or decline the candidates, after the deadline, other recruiting agencies may send candidature.

So multiple scenarios can happen ...

Here one:

The recruiter sign you up, but another candidate look better, because the limit is 1, he present the other candidate and even if this candidate is declined, you are no more allowed to apply with another agency even if you were not presented.

Here another one:

The recruiter customer is a large known company. They have multiple departments and because they promote self management team, each department use the recruiting agency that fulfill their needs. You got a call from recruiter1 for a position in department1, later, you get a call from recruiter2 for department2 with the same generic position title at the same company but it is not the same position even if the job description match.

Conclusion

Scenario1 show there is a lot of trust with recruiters. You never know if they represent you or not and if everything they say is true: how they present their customer, the position, salary/rate expectation. I recommend to deal with the only one that you trust.

Scenario2 show there is a lot of job in the market, when you accept a recruiter represent you, I suggest to ask him to write down the ID of the position given by his customer in your contract/mail. This will allow you to be presented by two agencies for two different positions at the same customer.

At this point, I would I will forget about this role, getting represented by recruiter B may lead to legal dispute and if this happen, you need to be a super star or having rare skills in your field to not let be dropped by the customer.

You may ask some clarification from both recruiters to get a feel from them for the next opportunity. At first glance, I would not believe both recruiters because A seems to have lie while B seems to badmouth A and seems to gamble by pushing you to get represented twice at the same company which may get you in some troubles.

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