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Several weeks ago a recruiter reached out to me with 3 potential job descriptions. I spoke with this recruiter and told her 2 seemed interesting. She followed up via email with 3 more after we spoke and I said that 2 of these 3 also seemed interesting. (So essentially I said 4/6 were interesting).

She responds acknowledging what I said but she never stated which positions she would submit me for or if she ever submitted me for any at all.

A few weeks go by and I decided to apply for one of the jobs directly on their company website. About a week after that, I get an email from someone else at the recruitment agency asking if I've heard anything from any of these companies (I have not responded to this email). The next day I get an email from the company I applied directly to requesting an interview.

I feel the recruiter should have told me exactly what positions were applied for when she did but I'm unsure how I should handle this now? Thanks

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  • Have you asked the recruiter to tell you what positions they applied for on your behalf? – sf02 May 14 at 16:07
  • @sf02 I have not, but based on their email asking if I've heard anything, I'm pretty sure they did apply – mkde May 14 at 16:13
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    The recruiter was just spamming you, and then they dropped the ball. Just ignore the recruiter and go ahead and interview. – Fattie May 14 at 20:48
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I'm unsure how I should handle this now?

Well I'll tell you what you shouldn't do; nothing.

Hi Recruiter,

Thank you for following up with me but I was unaware that you submitted my information to any companies.

Could you tell me which companies you applied me for?

Is one of your clients interested in me?

Thank you

The fact that you received an interview request is not information that this recruiter needs to know at the moment.

It's possible that the previous recruiter was supposed to have you officially apply for a position before the company extended an interview and you happened to guess the company correctly weeks later.

Generally, a recruiter should be working with you from start to finish because they wish to ensure their commission. If a company was interested in you based on the recruiter's efforts then the recruiter would have already known. The company should not be reaching out to you directly.

Based on the sequence of events I would say you can proceed with the interview and don't let the recruiter know. When you schedule the interview you can ask them whether you were referred by a recruiting company. If they say "We never received your info from a recruiter" then you have done this all on your own accord and the company would prefer not paying the recruiter any fees.


As for:

I get an email from someone else at the recruitment agency asking if I've heard anything from any of these companies

This is what's known as probing. They are trying to convince you that they've helped even though they likely dropped the ball a long time ago.

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  • One danger: If they're probing in order to convince you that they did something that they did not (entirely possible) then it's also possible that when you ask them which ones they've submitted you for they'll lie about it. If they hadn't, then what benefit would it be to them to admit it? – Ben Barden May 14 at 18:58
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    My addition/change to this would be in the email to the recruiter to indicate that I'd heard nothing from their firm regarding any of the companies. I would also indicate that we had not agreed on any particular submissions and ask what actions they had taken to this point. – Joel Etherton May 14 at 19:15
  • @BenBarden I edited my answer to hopefully help OP avoid pitfalls. – MonkeyZeus May 14 at 19:34
  • @JoelEtherton I edited my answer to hopefully help OP avoid pitfalls. Being oddly specific about "I haven't heard from your company" could give them more leverage for further prodding. OP is the only that should be prodding at this point. – MonkeyZeus May 14 at 19:36
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    The thing is, just mentioning that Company A has opening is a form of "helping", this is one of the reasons recruiters spam potential clients with "leads" and such. If they can show the OP contacted Company A after being told they had positions, it's very likely the recruiter could swoop in and demand their commission. – Julie in Austin May 14 at 20:14
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This is a tricky situation. A recruiter's contract is with the employer, not with the prospective employee. (Assuming the recruiter was actually engaged by the employer and didn't just contact them on spec.) Unless you've signed a contract or similar agreement with the recruitment consultant, which would be very unusual, you don't owe anything to them. If the recruitment consultant got you an interview, they would inform you of the interview, so if you were invited directly by the company this suggests the consultant did not set it up.

It's possible the company is deliberately trying to go round the recruitment consultant, but that's unlikely. What's far more likely is they received a contact from the recruitment consultant but ignored it, put it away to read later, or deleted it. That puts the company in a bad position. Recruiters are masters of the hard sell, and very able to get aggressive or threaten legal action. Indeed it often seems their skills are more aligned around bullying than technical knowledge (with a small number of noble exceptions).

I've been involved in a situation where I'd applied directly to a company and a recruiter submitted my details on spec (without being engaged by the company). In this case the company opted to engage the recruiter rather than face a battle with them, even though this would cost them a significant fee, and even though the recruiter provided no obvious service.

You certainly could inform the company about the approach, saying something like "Can I ask if you got my details from recruiter X? I'm not sure if he passed them on to you." However, by doing so you may be putting the company in a more complex position, and possibly even affecting your hiring (e.g. if they have a budget and have to split it between you and the recruiter), so you should be aware of that. If the company has a policy of never engaging with recruiters, they may be able to use that as a defense, but they could find themselves in a legal grey area. You have no obligation to tell them, but if you do so you may be doing them a favor - or may be seriously inconveniencing them. Also, obviously, don't tell the recruiter anything.

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