I have recently been working with a technology recruiter (pretty aggressive personality) to help me find a job. He got on the phone telling me about this 'real contract-to-hire opportunity' he doesn't know much about yet. He asked if he can gather some information from me first before giving more information... The one question relating to this post that he insisted on knowing is what is my asking salary for me to accept an offer today, we eventually agreed on $X/hr.

Later on he did follow through with this position, as promised, he set up a phone interview, which lasted 45minutes plus.

This phone interview with the actual company finally filled in a lot of gaps and gave me a better understanding of the amount of responsibility expected of me, the position does not come with any benefits, and carries more responsibility than what I expected, which led me to believe, this position may be worth ($X +$5)/hr.

When the recruiter followed up me after the phone interview, he asked how it went and if I want to get an offer from them. I said yes. He reconfirmed, by asking what offer would I like to receive? I said ($X+$5)/hr, because knowing what I know now, it seems more fair.

This made the recruiter extremely upset, he said "this is very unfair that you are holding me hostage for an extra $5 an hour, it makes me look unprofessional if I go back and ask for more money", "we agreed on $X amount".

To conclude, he asked me to e-mail him, in writing, that if an offer is made by company Y I will accept the offer of $X. in order from him to move forward...

However this makes me extremely nervous, because I don't want him to catch me in my words and hold it against me, also if I get a better offer elsewhere, I will turn this offer down. On the other hand, if I was able negotiate this offer a bit, I would probably accept it, although this does not seem like an option, given this recruiter.

I appreciate any advice on whether it is a good idea to work with this recruiter and confirm asking price in an e-mail.

Many thanks in advance!

  • Yes, I agree not very smart, on my part. It just sounded compelling at the time. He insisted on knowing the number that would make me happy before proceeding with giving me more information about the company. However, once the resposibilities were clear, the asking rate seemed a bit low. Sep 24, 2013 at 17:14
  • You cannot be forced to work for a company so you can accept and offer and simply change your mind how professional this is a whole another story. Of course You do need to make a decision if you want to accept an offer or not in order to be professional. If you are really interested in the job at a certain rate I would start thinking about bypassing the recruiter.
    – Donald
    Sep 24, 2013 at 17:18
  • Ramhound, what do you mean? You mean I can throw a number out to the recruiter and then change my mind later. Also, I can e-mail the recruiter something like if I got offer $X from company Y, I would accept it and then change my mind when an offer is actually given, with no risk? Sep 24, 2013 at 17:19
  • 1
    The recruiter reminds me of the car salesman I met a few months ago. Sep 24, 2013 at 18:29
  • Watch your use of the word "fair". Use of it in the context you mentioned implies that their offer is unfair and triggers, as you've discovered, quite a defensive reaction. Simply stop at "I believe this position is worth $z."
    – mkingsbu
    Jun 20, 2017 at 16:42

2 Answers 2


he said "this is very unfair that you are holding me hostage for an extra $5 an hour, it makes me look unprofessional if I go back and ask for more money"

That is a sales tactic nothing more. You explain to him you were expecting this type of position which has these advantages. For that I am willing to work for X. When you want me to do Y it has these extra obligations for which I want to be compensated. Maybe this position is not right for me. The people in these roles are generally non technical people and are aware that many times they can bully the IT Types into taking a lower salary.

The bottom line is if you are willing to walk away from an offer over the +5 if they are willing to pay that +5 they will make the offer. If not there will be other opportunities. If this opportunity fell through I would make the recruiter tell me about the position how much the job pays before I was willing to work with them again.

  • +1, Thanks for the advice. What about the e-mailing agreement? Is there any risk in e-mailing him something like, If I decide to work for company Y, I will accept $X. (as he requested) Sep 24, 2013 at 16:16
  • Keep in mind, I don't have any offer in writing from the company and I don't know the contract duration. Sep 24, 2013 at 16:23
  • I would insist that they provide the number first Sep 24, 2013 at 16:56
  • @AnchovyLegend - You cannot be forced to work for somebody. Until you sign the contract you can decide the contract simply will not work out. An email saying you will work for the rate you want is an agreement to get the contract written up. In either event I agree on getting the number they are willing to pay before you accept in writting.
    – Donald
    Sep 24, 2013 at 17:22
  • @Ramhound, I know the pay rate is going to be $x which is certainly reasonable, and I now know the duration of the contract, which is also reasonable. What you are saying is if I find any problems with the contract, I am free to renegotiate the pay rate? Even though I sent something like If I decide to work for company Y, I will accept $X. in writing? Sep 24, 2013 at 17:29

I appreciate any advice on whether it is a good idea to work with this recruiter and confirm asking price in an e-mail.

Clearly it is not a good idea to work with this recruiter and confirm a price that you aren't actually willing to accept.

When anyone wants you to commit to a price before you know the details, that's a huge red flag. I've got a car, would you be willing to give me $1000 for it? If you say "Yes", I'll later explain that it has no motor or wheels, and you'll have to dig it out of the rust heap in the field where it is currently buried.

The same is true with you and the recruiter. You told him that you would accept $X/hr before you had any data on which to base that decision. This is what some people call "a teachable moment".

The fact that the recruiter pressured you into coming up with a number so early in the process is a bad sign on his part. The part that you did promise him an acceptance and now are withdrawing that is a bad sign on your part.

If it were me, I'd immediately part ways with this recruiter, never to return. And I'd never give another recruiter such a promise in the future.

Instead, consider telling a recruiter that you will tell him that you are or are not willing to accept a contract only when you know the details of the contract. You can give a better guess the more details you know, but the decision must ultimately be yours. If that causes the recruiter to work more or to "look unprofessional", that's just too bad for him/her. If the recruiter isn't willing to accept those terms, then this may not be the kind of recruiter you want to work with.

Learn from this and move on. Don't commit to something you'll have to renege on later.

  • Thanks for the advice. Well to be honest, the offer is pretty good, and he did follow through on all his promises. However, knowing more about the position, I realize a bit better salary would be better. I didn't really commit, I just gave him a 'ball park' figure as he requested, too early, which was still a bad move on my part, I agree. Sep 24, 2013 at 17:28

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