I have a really poor view of recruiters who reach out on LinkedIn and just want to get a sense if they are actually scams or not.

  • A decent part have international numbers. Seems like an easy scam to me. Mention an exciting opportunity but really just be billing your phone provider. This is probably true 30% of the time.
  • No shows. I would say 30% of the time they don't call you if you do set a time with them.
  • I've only had 1 real conversation with someone who had an opportunity that may have been a match.

I get the feeling they are either trying to scam you "phone bills" or source information from you (get your e-mail, phone number, resume, etc...) but actually don't have a job lined up. I usually don't respond to them, but have been getting a few in the past week. Not sure if it's worth responding or just a waste of time. I think if I was going to scam someone, this would be the easiest way for me to obtain data or charge a few $ on the phone bill and not get caught - as I can always say the candidate was not qualified. There really would be no way for the other person to know that it's a scam. And you can get some really personal data via resumes that I'm sure plenty would love to have. And it'll probably be pretty lucrative given all this Covid 19 stuff.

I am in the market but was planning to just go the traditional way in my job search.

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    How exactly could they bill your phone provider? Bill them for what? How?
    – joeqwerty
    Jun 11, 2020 at 11:37
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    I think this can be a million $ business. Automatically send out inmails and ask for them to send back resume and contact for info. Then just have a NLP algo to read the responses and store the data. Then sell address, phone number, and personal email to black market. You can get some cherry on top by doing the phone scam.
    – confused
    Jun 11, 2020 at 11:54
  • Shouldn't be hard to guess someones school and work emails after too.
    – confused
    Jun 11, 2020 at 12:00
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    I'm not sure I understand, do you think the phone companies are posing as recruiters? They are the ones who would be getting the money for the international call.
    – cdkMoose
    Jun 11, 2020 at 12:53

7 Answers 7


"Scam" has a very particular meaning, and while I personally don't like headhunters, they are not scammers. Of course, I cannot guarantee that there are zero scammers on LinkedIn, but your arguments are against that of headhunters, not scammers.

Headhunters simply get paid by employer for recruiting an employee for them. So their incentive strategy is simple: get as many people to sign contracts with employers as possible.

To get as many people to sign contracts, it makes sense that you don't limit yourself to country borders. If you do your business online, then whether you recruit someone from your country or another really doesn't matter.

This also leads to many headhunters using automated mailing lists to contact their potential recruits. Just because you got an automated email (and responded to it), sadly doesn't always mean that there's a person able to respond to you. Headhunters are still people and have limited amount of time they can/want to dedicate. Comparatively, automated mailing lists are not limited in the same manner.

A decent part have international numbers. Seems like an easy scam to me. Mention an exciting opportunity but really just be billing your phone provider. This is probably true 30% of the time.

Being charged when being called by an international number is not a given - not where I'm from at least. Even if it is in your location, the headhunter is not making money off of it. It's not a scam if it doesn't net the alleged scammer anything.

And you can get some really personal data via resumes that I'm sure plenty would love to have.

There really shouldn't be any personal data on there, other than your contact details and your name. All of this is commonly available public information.

Additionally, you're always able to get a second phone number or email address if you want to separate your professional communication from your personal one - the onus to do so is on you.

And it'll probably be pretty lucrative given all this Covid 19 stuff.

I don't see how it would be lucrative to know someone's phone number. Again, the information is already reasonably public if you're putting it on resumés that you're sending out.

  • You'd be getting personal email addresses and likely school and work ones as well. This is much more valuable than random email addresses you use to sign up for random websites. Then you can couple it with phishing scams or other scams. Maybe a fake background check that requires social security. With high unemployment I'm sure someone will bite. It can all be automated on your side.
    – confused
    Jun 11, 2020 at 12:13
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    @confused: You decide what contact details you put on your resumé. If you don't feel comfortable publicizing certain contact details of yours, don't put them on your resumé.
    – Flater
    Jun 11, 2020 at 12:16
  • Right, but who's gonna to not disclose the typical information to decrease their own chances of getting a job. Ex This guy didn't list his contact information, ok that resume is in the trash. Don't have time for that.
    – confused
    Jun 11, 2020 at 12:20
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    @confused If you want to separate your professional communication from your personal communication, the onus to do so is on you. You're relying on a very weird assumption that interviewers are to be trusted with your information - but this data is still going to be accessed by people who are strangers to you and who you did not in any way vet for handling your privacy appropriately. The confusing part isn't in that you worry about potential scammers having your contact details, it's that you seem to not worry about anyone else having the same details.
    – Flater
    Jun 11, 2020 at 14:24
  • @confused, linkedIn has its own messaging system that candidates and recruiters can use to communicate with each other. You don't have to give up your direct contact info until you feel ready to do so. It's trivial for most people to assess garbage from authentic messages with a short exchange of text.
    – teego1967
    Jul 5, 2020 at 12:05

While I wouldn't go as far as calling them scammers (they are actually trying to provide a service for said money, even if they do a poor job), I would go as far as saying they're generally not worth your time unless:

  • You approached them first and not the other way around.
  • They're part of an internal recruitment team rather than some recruitment agency.
  • They demonstrate a clear understanding of what your role (or the role you are looking for) is and what your needs are.

I personally have had many, many misfires with these recruiters that don't match any of the criteria above and found good job opportunities with the ones that match at least one of the above.


Other answers on this question (and multiple others on Workplace SE) have covered why the majority of LI recruiters are not scammers. My experience on LI broadly matches what is described in the other answers.

I'd like to add one very specific scam that I did detect about a year ago, but it seems to have stopped now - or LI have got better at detecting the patterns and banning the accounts before they can get too far.

I was approached by several accounts over a period of several months that followed the same pattern;

  • Pretty girl profile pic
  • Profile claimed to be based either in Europe or South America
  • Claimed to be working for such a big international recruitment agency that verifying their authenticity with the parent would be next to impossible
  • Approached with the same approach: 'we have multiple exciting opportunities in [your city] and would like to talk about it. Can you please give me your phone number'. Literally, one of them included the text '[your city]' in the message. They were working from a pre-defined script
  • When responded to, would reply with more scripted responses.
  • Could not produce a job spec or even a skills list when asked. Did not know if the 'multiple exciting opportunities' were back-end, front-end or anything. There were obviously no jobs
  • Kept pushing for my phone number, while offering no contact info for themselves

These accounts were phone number harvesters, nothing more. They wanted my number so they could sell on to number list marketing agencies (aka: scum).

In all these accounts have made up a tiny percentage of the approaches I have had, and they were easy to spot due to the approach being so different from an actual recruiter. My simple takeaway is that the recruiter should at least be able to provide you with a job spec or technology list needed in the first or second message reply and should have no problem doing so.

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    Yeah, I have one matching exactly that description. Refuses offers of a Skype or Teams call: "I prefer to talk on the phone". Super vague job across a wide list of countries. Very pushy for a recruiter. I wonder if they're bot rather than a real person? But I'm surprised it's not easier to find details of the scam online -- not many other people talking about it.
    – SpaceDog
    Oct 13, 2020 at 5:58

I am in the market but was planning to just go the traditional way in my job search.

If you are truly in the market, then you need to be actively seeking opportunities (traditional way) rather than sitting back hoping that the "right" person will reach out to you with an opportunity. You are less likely to be scammed when you are actively researching job listings as well as the associated companies.

If all you are doing is waiting for someone to contact you, you may eventually receive a legitimate communication, but you will still have to filter out all of the scammers and automated messages, or inept/desperate recruiters. Being in control of your own job search helps to avoid these issues, and helps you find the right fit for you.


Seems like you're desperately trying to make what recruiters do seem illegal.

Have you considered what you would do without the recruiter to land a job?

  • Spending time talking to people (possibly more people as nobody is directing you to people that might be hiring)
  • Sending your resume to complete strangers (possibly those strangers would sell your information too)
  • Transporting yourself locally for face-to-face interviews (costing money in one form or another)
  • Placing phone calls for interviews where no one has enough confidence to arrange a face-to-face yet.

It's only cheating you if you were promised something, and the something wasn't delivered. These jobs aren't promised, you have to win them.

Some recruiters are better than others. Some people are better at landing jobs than others. I suggest you polish your job hunting skills, to reduce the effort needed to get the job.

Some of these skills include:

  • Stop looking for "a job" and start looking for "the job" you want. That way, time isn't wasted on jobs that you probably will not like, and even if you win them, you'd probably leave them in a few years.
  • Start doing more work on individual job opportunities. This improves your chances of winning the job in opportunities you get.
  • Start learning what a company wants from you. It's funny, but there are plenty of people who think a company only wants to give them money, or listen to their plans to alter the entire company. Most companies are established, with specific needs. If you don't want to provide their needs, find one that is a better fit for you.
  • Start looking at yourself more carefully. You have needs too, and you must satisfy them to get a good fit with a company.
  • When using outside (not you) help, look for the kind of help you need, and get the best help you can. This includes making your recruiter know you better, so they will present you first for the right fit.
    One recruiter that is your champion is better than twenty recruiters that have your resume.

Remember, landing a job is a gamble; because, you pay for the chance to get something when there are things outside of your control that might block you from getting it. Like gambling, becoming better at the game can improve your chances, but not guarantee a win.

Good luck, but struggling to win a job doesn't make the people involved cheaters or crooks. Most recruiters don't get paid unless a person is hired, and the kind of personal information you put on a resume is probably worth less than the price of a coffee.


While most of recruiters are sincerely trying hard to find the best ever people for they clients, the problem is that these clients are also not so lazy.

That the clients do they order recruiter and then post the same job announcement themselves. People who are looking for a job apply both to the client and recruiter, because the description obviously matches. Then any interview with recruiter is just a waste of time for you but for recruiter also. Sad.

I would suggest to set the current strategy: I am applying directly this month/I am co-operative with recruiters this month. When applying directly, avoid recruiters. After you change the strategy, avoid applying directly, especially to big companies that are likely to use recruiters.


I doubt it has to do with scamming. I view it more as a cattle herder, with us being the cattle.

I'm a programmer and know a few programming languages. In my experience most of the recruiters just do "hey, Company is looking for someone with XYZ, this person says he can do XYZ" and then press 'send'.

What they're doing is just send it to as many people as they can. They dont need to know what they talk about to get a match They don't have a high success rate, but they dont need to. Spamming is very cheap, takes little time and if say 1 in 1000 respond, that'll be enough to pay the bills.

They don't really need to match very well as it costs them a very minimal amount of effort to say "hey, here is a resume" and "OK great, let me push this button to send both parties an e-mail with a date/time". Basically a "throw it against the wall and see what sticks" way of working.

I know that the commission they get for a good programmer is around 10k-25k for most, so missing a few candidates, or having to send 5 candidates doesn't even come close to risking losses.

All they have to do is a "Hey, can I add your CV to the list?" and then do it despite your answer (because if you say 'no', but a percentage takes up an offer after they said 'no', that more money!).

I feel obligated to add that there are also capable recruitement agencies. But those dont have to scream so loud for your attention as they get word-of-mouth recommendations and referals.

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