Asking for a friend who is an IT-professional based in Germany, who just finished his vocational training/apprenticeship 6 months ago.

My friend has been receiving job offerings via XING and LinkedIn for over a year, however during his apprenticeship he was not interested in switching to a new company. Now he is looking for “new opportunities” and took a deeper look into the latest companies that contacted him. Many of the offerings were pretty vague and seemed to be just copy-pasted-messages the companies seemed to send out to a broad spectrum of possible candidates. Most of them also included the URL leading to their company website. However in many cases the websites where just as vague, as the messages, describing the offered services in a very broad manner, using mainly what felt like catchphrases and buzzwords.

My friend was primarily interested in two things:

  • Where is the jobsite located
  • What kind technologies are used

None of this could be found on the company websites and there where also no open positions listed on them.

He often got back to the companies via e-mail, said he was interested in their company, but was unable to find any helpful information regarding the mentioned position and asked where the position would be based and what kind of technologies would be relevant. In pretty much all cases, he received a standard e-mail back, not containing any new information, instead asking him to schedule an interview or at least a phone call.

What is the best way to judge the reliability of these offerings? Is it worth following through with a phone interview? I initially would have advised him to just stay away from those kinds of companies, since the lack of relevant information already would raise a big red flag in my book. However, I am pretty old-school when it comes to business and have been working in a very old school field (petrol) for over a decade.

  • 3
    Giving an approximate area of job location and a job title/description costs nothing to the recruiter. If these details are not provided, the person reaching out may be a shady recruiter hunting for names and phone numbers, or not a recruiter at all but a scam artist.
    – IDDQD
    Commented Sep 17, 2019 at 12:35
  • 4
    Is your friend being contacted by companies or recruiters (on behalf of companies)? It's not quite the same thing.
    – Time4Tea
    Commented Sep 17, 2019 at 13:03
  • 2
    I fell for these guys too when I started my job search about a year ago (also software sector in Germany). Usually, once you give them a number, they never contact you again; just now they do have your number in case they want to sell it to a company claiming they have the "perfect candidate" (yes, these bad recruiters also spam companies just like they do people). I started ignoring these or, if I felt bored, tried to see how far I could get without giving any info about myself. As long as your friend isn't totally desperate, I would suggest against Xing in general.
    – Dirk
    Commented Sep 17, 2019 at 14:07
  • @Time4Tea It is a mix of recruiters claiming to be in charge of several IT positions and HR-personal working at said companies. However the issue of not sharing relevant information seems to be polular with both parties.
    – MrTony
    Commented Sep 17, 2019 at 14:23

4 Answers 4


Generally, I would ask recruiters that contact me in this manner for a job description. They should be able to provide that, without giving away specific details like the name of the company.

Failing that, they should, at the very least, be able to provide some basic information about the position that would allow you to determine if it obviously a non-starter (i.e. location, general type of work, level of seniority). If they can't do that, then I personally wouldn't waste much more time with them. I certainly wouldn't go to an interview if I had literally no idea where or what the job was, as it could easily be a complete waste of my time.


Having dealt with exactly the same issue but UK based, here's how I tackled it:

  • Ask directly for a job specification (spec) or description. That document will generally be what the recruiter is summising in their emails and messages. Asking for that document is not rude.

  • "Sorry there's no spec available". Then there's no job. Would you want to work for a place that can't summarise or list the reasons they're hiring you? Or perhaps be represented by a recruiter who lies about not having a spec, or whatever reason?

  • "Sure, if you pass me your phone number we can discuss the role". No thanks, pass the document over and if I'm intersted I'll happily have a phone call with you about it (Reason being they'll bombard you with calls/texts).

The important part is about saying no and meaning it. Recruiters are in sales, so they want to close your friend's job application as fast as possible. Your friend wants to find the right job, not necessarily find a job right now. You, the applicant, have to manage that expectation and set the pace of the exchange.


It could be a number of reasons, not all of which are red flags. I've encountered three distinct groups of situations.

The best case is that the website and contact email could be handled by a third party, who defers all questions to the actual company. The person you emailed doesn't know the answer, but they instead schedule time with you to discuss everything you need with someone at the company.

Mediocre case is that he is being contacted by lazy recruiters who are going for volume, and not answering his questions because they either don't know or can't be bothered. These are the most annoying to deal with.

The worst case is that they're trying to gather your information for other purposes, and there is no actual job offer.

To specifically answer your question: the only way to know which one it is is for your friend to follow through with an interview.

  1. Ask for more detailed job specs in writing before you waste your time with an interview. If they won't commit in writing, I assume they are not serious.
  2. If you don't get more detailed job specs in writing, that could also mean the recruiter (even if he is a valid recruiter with an actual job opening) may not know what he's doing, and the importance of fitting applicants with detailed job responsibilities, and I'm not interested.

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