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I went through 2 rounds of interviews. I was offered the job, contracts was signed, onboarding forms completed and the start date was set.

2 days before the start date I get a message that the start date will be postponed by a couple of days.

I tried to set up a call with recruiter. They were unprofessional not showing up for calls etc. Finally when I got a hold of them they said that the start date will likely be January and they will call the next week to confirm. At this stage I was still patient. I never received an update. I tried to message, email and call but radio silence.

After over 3 months of no response I realised I was ghosted. I emailed the director of company I was supposed to work for and said as much as I wanted the job I can’t fulfil the terms of the contract due to breakdown in communication with regards to start date.

He responds and says he was waiting for sign off on projects.

A couple of weeks later the recruiter suddenly text me and say they have a meeting set up with the client. The is after being ghosted for over 4 months. When I called them out they blame the client, however they could communicate even just to say the client is not answering their calls.

I know it is common to get ghosted during interview process. In this case the contract was signed. It was never terminated as per the termination clauses.

I wrote to the director and said I’m still interested in the job but I can’t engage with the recruiter. They are unprofessional and will only cause problems in future if they can’t communicate.

What recourse do I have against the recruiter? According to the contract they could have given me 14 days notice and terminated the contract however they never terminated. They wasted my time and took me off the market. I didn’t pursue other opportunities while I was led to believe I was supposed to start any day.

Will the company be liable to pay them an introduction fee even though they messed up the opportunity for all parties?

Is it common these days to get ghosted after a contract have been signed? I found this experience very unsettling.

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    1) What jurisdiction are you in? 2) Was this an in-house recruiter or a third party? 3) What's your actual goal here? Commented Feb 18 at 20:38
  • Was this a "contingent" offer?
    – mcknz
    Commented Feb 19 at 21:38
  • If you have a contract, then you must be there in work on your first workday. If they ghost you, you must be still there and be ready for work. That is important - later, as you sue them, court will likely decide that you are entitled for your salary at least for a notice period, plus damage compensation, plus court costs. But not that will happen because also they know that, instead you will be given work and from that point, you are an employee.
    – Gray Sheep
    Commented Feb 29 at 10:05
  • Another important thing: if you have a contract from 2023-11-01, then they can not say that work started with 2023-11-03. More clearly they can do if the days 11-01 and 11-02 are paid leave for you. So you are there at 11-01 and report for work. They have no work, okay, your first paid workday is still 11-01 as it is in your contract.
    – Gray Sheep
    Commented Feb 29 at 10:08
  • Depending on the jurisdiction, there is some chance that you can enforce them to pay your salary for this whole 4 months, or at least part of it. Plus legal costs, plus damage. That is only if you have your signed contract in your hands. You are clearly a very uneducated beginner in the job market, and they are a very intrustable, lazy, disorganized company, this situation what happened to you is simply surreal and the law defends clearly you. It is also very well visible that your lack of experience was utterly misused.
    – Gray Sheep
    Commented Feb 29 at 10:09

3 Answers 3

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Your mistake was not to bypass the recruiter earlier.

I am assuming that the recruiter was third party and the "client company" was who you would be employed by.

In that case you should have bypassed the recruiter as soon as you had problems. The very first time they didn't get back to you after a change of start date was mentioned, you should have gone straight to the company. The recruiter has finished their job once the contract is signed and will get their money. They have very little incentive to do anything to help you. The company, on the other hand, wants you to work for them and will put some effort into making things work.

So you should have gone to the company very early in the process, before your actual start date. If they say "it's going to be a few more days" that's fine, but you also need an explanation, to be sure they are not just stringing you along. If they can't give you a definite date, or don't give an explanation, or say it's going to be a long delay,then start looking for other jobs as if this one had fallen through. If you find one you like, take it. A long delay here indicates a company that is very disorganized or going through a major and unexpected reorganization.

Continuing to talk through the recruiter only made a bad situation worse. The recruiter probably didn't want to be involved. You absolutely certainly should not have waited three months before taking action, even if this is your dream job.

It's very uncommon for start dates to be canceled or delayed long after they are agreed. Lots of firms take a long time to get to a confirmed offer with a start date, but even to most bureaucratic companies generally stick to them once they are made.

In your case...

The recruiter blaming the client is just them trying to get out of responsibility. Even if the client didn't respond to the recruiter, the recruiter should have got back to you and said "the client isn't responding". If they didn't that's just their incompetence.

You have no recourse against the recruiter, except to tell your friends and write bad reviews online. It's likely the recruiter would not be paid if you don't actually start the job, but it depends on the recruiter's contract, and you shouldn't really care.

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    While this is all true it lacks any usable advice for the OPs current situation, as they do not mention owning a time machine.
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Feb 18 at 22:35
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    @mxyzplk Very true. But one day in the future somebody will read this who is not the OP. Or the OP may be in a similar situation again. This may help in that case. Commented Feb 18 at 22:45
  • My own harder version of the first sentence would be this: Your mistake was not to block the recruiter on the first contact and report it as spammer/cheater.
    – Gray Sheep
    Commented Mar 14 at 19:23
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You could ask the client company point blank:

Did you ghost the recruiter? Can you send me a copy of the last email you had with the recruiter concerning the delay? If you did ghost the recruiter, then I'm sorry, but I don't want to work with you anymore.

On the other hand, if the only person who ghosted me was the recruiter, then I'm willing to work with you, but I'm not willing to work with that recruiter anymore. Now I understand you may still owe them a commission, and I get that, but even if you pay them that commission, I would like to proceed without them being involved anymore. Would that be possible?

If you're not willing to say that, and personally, I wouldn't be unless I had another potential job offer lined up, then I would recommend you let this go. Because in my mind, they're both equally responsible. And if anything, the client company is even more responsible, assuming the client company is the one that signed that contract with you.

Also, I understand you being upset. But I'm not sure you can blame all of the three months of your unemployment on them. After all, if someone ghosts you, or if the original start date gets delayed, most reasonable job-hunters would know to restart their job search then just in case.

So perhaps, if you never start with them, you may be able to send the company an invoice and sue for 14 days + x days (since the contract requires 14 days of notice for termination), but that's it.

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  • Not sure if the company ghosted the recruiter. The recruiter could respond to say he’s not answering calls if that was true. I told the director of the company directly I can’t work with this recruiter, to contact me directly if the opportunity was still there. He responded the same day saying he was waiting for sign off on projects. It takes longer to get answers during Xmas break. The contract was with the recruiter. I wrote to them and asked for specific performance within 7 days. I might go after them for 14 days notice. And write bad reviews. They give recruiters a bad name. Commented Feb 19 at 21:17
  • @AneskaLotter, The contract was with the recruiter? Do you mean to say that the recruiter is acting like an intermediary and you would be effectively working for the recruiter (like you would be working for a temp agency)? If that's the case, I don't see how you would be able to cut out the recruiter. Commented Feb 20 at 0:17
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What recourse do I have against the recruiter?

Most likely, none at all. You didn't employ the recruiter, the company did.

The recruiter's job is to introduce applicants to companies. Every time somebody gets a job through them, they get paid a commission. The chances are that this recruiter hasn't been paid yet, and is just as fed up as you are.

It's not unknown for companies to delay start dates as they wait for their customer to sign a big contract. But someone made a big mistake by getting you to sign the contract before they were ready.

I'm with DJClayworth. Once you had a signed contract, you should have bypassed the recruiter and gone straight to the company - the HR department if they are large enough to have one. Otherwise the boss.

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