I'm curious about the reasoning behind this kind of habit. I've been contacted first by two recruiters, who seemed very interested and it appears they have a position that matches well. But then after a few calls and talks/additional details, they send a message that unfortunately the position is __ (insert a reason why they stop the process).

My CV and LinkedIn profiles are perfectly detailed and honest, so I don't think a misunderstanding about skills would be the reason?

Now, by my logic, if they contact me first, shouldn't they already have a match in mind? How can it change in the middle of the process? Or are these simply some sort of dataminers and not real recruiters?

So the question is: What is this all about? It gives off a very bad impression to me about them and the companies they represent. Surely that is not their goal?

  • I'd suspect that their impression of your personality (not your personality itself) could be causing them to turn you down early on in the recruiting process. It may just be the way you come off in "get-to-know-you" screens, but that's just conjecture. For instance, you might be brilliant, friendly, and an awesome co-worker, but you might have an accent that the recruiter doesn't like, or you might stammer. This is total conjecture.
    – 2rs2ts
    Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 12:39
  • While this might not seem helpful, don't forget that when they're interviewing you, you're also interviewing them. You must pay special attention to how they react to things and try your hardest to know what their train of thought is. If they turn you down after a few phone calls, they probably dropped clues (unknowingly) about it during some of the more recent ones. You need to pick up on those clues and proactively change their course toward hire if you want to successfully interview.
    – corsiKa
    Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 18:58

8 Answers 8


Now, by my logic, if they contact me first, shouldn't they already have a match in mind?

Yes. They most likely have several positions they are trying to fill, and your online presence matched the right keywords in their search.

How can it change in the middle of the process?

It's possible they were jumping the gun and looking for potential candidates while a complete picture of the job requirements was still being developed. But most likely the positions didn't change.

One thing that did change is that they learned more about you "after a few calls and talks/additional details". At that point, they may simply have concluded that you weren't actually the best match for the positions.

Your online resume/CV/LinkedIn represents you to anyone who wishes to do a quick search. So it's very cheap and easy for recruiters to use that as an initial screen. Yet while it may be perfectly detailed and honest, your resume is not you. At best it can only show a small part of you.

If you match the initial search, sometimes recruiters will dig a little deeper by reaching out and determining more details, such as

  • Are you actively looking for a new job or have you just parked your resume "just in case"
  • Do you really want a new position similar to the ones they are trying to fill
  • Do you really meet the full list of their criteria
  • Does your personality match the culture of the company
  • Are you in the target salary range
  • Anything else that isn't present on your resume/CV/LinkedIn that is relevant for the positions they are trying to fill

Perhaps you just didn't happen to meet the full criteria at this time.

Or are these simply some sort of dataminers and not real recruiters?

It's possible, although there's not a lot of value in this sort of "datamining".

What is this all about? It gives off a very bad impression to me about them and the companies they represent. Surely that is not their goal?

Clearly their goal is not to give you a bad impression.

Almost certainly their goal is to find the right candidates for the companies they represent as quickly as they can.

The fact that they made the first contact with you, rather you contacting them, may be new to you and causing you to feel uneasy about it. But this method of finding candidates is somewhat common these days.

Just as attending an interview but not landing the position doesn't mean the interviewer had bad intentions, contacting you but then concluding you aren't a match doesn't mean the recruiter did anything wrong. That's just the way these things go sometimes.

  • 6
    And sometimes they may tell you this if they showed your resume to the company and they said, "Not interested in interviewing."
    – HLGEM
    Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 13:11
  • 1
    Your point about this method being common is spot on. My name is been in various "systems" for over 5 years now, and I can't begin to tell you how many emails I get a week from recruiters all over the country thinking I'd be a good match for a gig they're looking to fill. My dad was laid off after nearly 35 years with his employer, and he was baffled that it took until now, over a year later, for calls to really start coming in. You have to be "in the system" for a while anymore. My advice is to find a handful of recruiters you like and trust and stick with them.
    – MattD
    Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 13:31
  • 1
    It's possible, although there's not a lot of value in this sort of "datamining". - There is a market for the information, and there are "recruiting" companies where that is their business model, get the information, sell the leads to other companies and marketers. Though I suspect that is not what is happening in this case. Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 13:51
  • In my experience, recruiters blast these emails to hundreds of candidates, create a profile, and then start to filter down. They may be looking to interview 10 of the best 100, so dont take it personally. They are just filtering based on the info they have
    – Jameo
    Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 20:13
  • 1
    Since good recruiters have a relationship with the hiring manager, they'll often talk to the hiring manager about prospective candidates and the hiring manager might give them guidance on why a particular candidate is (or is not) a good fit for the position.
    – Johnny
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 3:53

There are a couple of common reasons:

  • They don't have time to read all the CVs available online, so there is an element of self selection here: they can send blanket contact emails knowing very few will respond.
  • Through sites like LinkedIn they gain access to a wider pool of candidates
  • Your CV may match a future vacancy so it is still a win for them

I agree it is a bad business practice, and both as an employer and employee I blacklist agencies that don't do their research, eg any agency that contacts me regarding audit roles obviously has only seen that I worked for EY, not bothered to read that I am not an auditor. As that is a basic requirement, that agency then fails my needs and they lose all my future business.


A lot of times, the first step of the recruiting process is done by automation. A computer accepts or finds thousands of resumes or accounts and looks for keywords. Keep in mind that the average resume (and position description too) are padded with unrealistic accomplishments/requirements. They can assume that, if you say that you have 10 years of sales experience, then you have at least made one sales call in your lifetime. Even if your details are accurate, most people's are not.

Next, someone might do a little research on you but usually its faster just to call and talk to you. At this point, its in their best interest to keep you interest as long as possible. You may be their next big recruitment that actually does have 10 years of sales experience.

Now, they learn as much as they can about you. They also want to making you feel like your dream job is just a step away. At this point, they may show your description to a hiring company, or they may keep you in a pool of 20 other applicants and wait to see if one of the the five other choice applicants will be accepted first.

They will not tell you that you did not get the job until the are sure that another applicant has secured it. At this point, their "Your almost there" becomes, "Sorry, your just not quite what they are looking for."


I've known recruiters to "cold call" with a position that I'm obviously not a match for, in the hope of getting me talking to them so they could line me up with something else and collect their fee. I've more or less stopped accepting calls from recruiters as a result of that sort of abuse. If and when I'm looking, I'll say so; until then GO AWAY.

(I've shocked recruiters by insisting that they substantiate claims like "a friend suggested we call you", and by insisting that they explain why they think I'm a candidate for the specific position they claim to be trying to fill. Sorry, folks; I don't like being lied to, and I don't like having my time wasted, ESPECIALLY when you call me at my current place of work; if you can't answer those questions I don't want to do business with you.)


When this has happened to me in the past it's generally for one of these reasons:

  • Since speaking to me they've found one or more 'better' candidates for the role. So whilst I was initially one of their best matches, this is no longer the case.
    • Their client has given feedback on my CV and bluntly said no without giving a proper reason, but the recruiter is trying to soften the blow or keep me on side for the future.
    • Through speaking to me they've decided that I'm not actually a good fit for the role even if I meet the criteria on paper.
    • I was never actually a good match, but they pretended I was so that they could speak to me and find out if I was.

Recruitment is a competitive industry, with multiple agencies often racing to fill the same role. One of the (many) downsides of this approach is that candidates are often let down by trigger-happy recruiters who promise more than they can deliver.


Doesn't happen that often but some recruiters actually do try to mine some information. Usually it's:

  1. Names of companies you currently applying to - so they can try to sell their own services to them.
  2. Your current salary - helps with poaching your colleagues.
  • 1
    Hi Tadas, welcome to The Workplace. While your answer may be correct, without further backing somebody else could post an answer that disagrees with yours and render your answer completely meaning. In order to preserve your answer for future readers, would you mind expanding a bit to give your statements more substance?
    – CMW
    Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 18:14
  • I have to support Tadas here. I've gotten my share of calls which were attempts to get information about my employer. I haven't yet gotten one in the form of a recruiter pitch, but that may be because most recruiters cause me to hang up before they can ask me anything.
    – keshlam
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 2:00

I was an IT Recruitment Consultant for nearly 5 years. For about two hours every morning I would focus on business development and getting new roles to work on.

A strategy encouraged through widely accepted industry training was to pull several new CV's of candidates within your sector from online databases such as Monster, then call the candidates to determine:

  1. Where they've sent their CV to in the past short while.
  2. Which companies are they interviewing with.
  3. Which companies would they like to work for.
  4. Who else do they know that might be interested in hearing about opportunities.

This yields not only a new candidate that you have now spoken with, but a list of companies that are currently hiring, as well as companies you can approach with a 'stellar new candidate that has expressed excitement and a strong interest in working them'. Not to mention the other candidate names you also might have now that might not be on any database and hence more exclusive.


The long and short of it that everyone in the in-house recruiter -> in-house HR -> Department has a mind of its own i.e. each link of the chain can cut you off for its own reasons independent of what the upstream links are doing. The fact that a recruiter tells you that you are a good fit doesn't mean a thing. The recruiter does not speak for HR, which might not like what it finds about you in Google or the Facebook page, and neither the recruiter nor HR speaks for the Department which actually does the hiring i.e. the Department might pre-assess that your experience in a key area is not as extensive as they want. Every link in the chain can say "no" but only the last link can say "yes" That's why it pays for you to play the numbers and have several pokers in the fire instead of just one. What I said about in-house recruiters applies just as well to external recruiters, who need to cast a wide net when they go fishing, because they only they get paid when they actually bring back a fish and the fish ends up in the cooking pot :)

  • I think this confirms the reason why it's best to contact the hiring manager directly, if you know who it is, and bypass the whole HR/recruitment crew altogether :) Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 13:13

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