I am currently about a year from completing my Bachelor's in Software Engineering. I was recently contacted via email by a recruiter for a third party. They said that they found me via LinkedIn, and included the job description. I have been contacted previously by startups, but this is the first time I have been contacted by a recruiter. So, I am a little confused regarding the appropriate next steps.

For one, its not even clear whether the offer is an internship or a job and the duration, but the company (from Google searches) seems to be a fairly fast growing company.

So, what is the process now? If I am not interested, should I reply with a short email stating I am not interested? On the other hand, if I were interested, what would be the next steps here?

Moreover, given that the company has the job listing available on their company page, what's the purpose of the recruiter? I mean, I could just as well go to the company page and directly contact them, from here on.

My main interest here, is to know the process, rather than what to do in this specific instance.

3 Answers 3


I've had a LinkedIn profile for several years and get cold contacts from recruiters anywhere from every few days to every few weeks. Now that you've started to appear on their radar, you'll probably see more of this.

When deciding whether to respond (if not interested) I ask myself: do I think this recruiter actually put some thought into this (the position is actually reasonable given my profile), or is it so much of a mismatch that I think he's just sending this message to anybody he comes across? If the former, I usually reply with something along the lines of "no thanks for this one, but please keep me in mind for the future (optional: particularly for positions involving X, Y, or Z)". If the latter, I don't reply; if the recruiter couldn't be bothered to read my profile he probably won't read my email (if I'm not saying "yes") either.

If you are interested in the position, then you have to decide whether you want to apply directly (if you know who it is) or go through the recruiter. This is somewhat an ethical question that you have to decide for yourself, but here are two practical considerations:

  • If the recruiter is affiliated with the company (an in-house recruiter, in other words), going through the recruiter will probably expedite your application.

  • Some companies reject applications from third-party recruiters. Check the company's jobs page; if it says "principals only" or "no recruiters" or the like, going through the recruiter dooms your application. (A dilligent recruiter will have checked that first, but...)

  • 2
    If the recruiter informed the OP of the position, then unless they'd already applied through the website, prior to the recruiter's approach, going direct would be both unethical and in some cases, likely to get them rejected - I've known some organisations where all the applications go through a partner recruitment agency for initial filtering.
    – Gwyn Evans
    Commented Apr 20, 2014 at 10:05
  • @GwynEvans I agree there's an ethical issue there (and mentioned that in the answer). Good point about the cases where the company has hired a third-party recruiter (though, would those companies list their jobs openly on their web site without saying something like "we only accept candidates through these recruiters"?). You have to decide if you think the recruiter is working with the company or is just a scraper trying to connect any LinkedIn profile to any job he knows about. Commented Apr 20, 2014 at 14:58
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    I have no problem skipping a recruitor. I don't see it as an ethical issue to be honest. Been burned way to many times by recruitors dragging me along when there wasn't even a job.
    – Donald
    Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 11:59
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    @GwynEvans I would only consider it unethical to bypass the recruiter if there had already been some correspondance ("This job would be a good fit for you. Would you like more information?" "Yes, I would." "Great. It's a position at company X") It sounds like in this case the recruiter sent an initial email with the company info included, so I do not think the OP is obligated to go through them.
    – David K
    Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 13:54
  • @DavidK: It's a rare day that a recruiter sends the name of the hiring company in an initial email UNLESS they are exclusively representing that company. The more likely situation here is that the company engaged this firm to find people and the OP will possibly screw it up if he attempts to go around the recruiter.
    – NotMe
    Commented Aug 9, 2014 at 2:57

The first thing you need to do is see if the recruiter is flaky. I get recruiting invites from groups in Texas (where I live) that closely match what I do. I get recruiting invites from California, Georgia, or Pennsylvania that are 'Flying *%^#s at a rolling donut'.

If you're interested, spend some time (at least on the phone) with the recruiter. It won't take long to figure out whether this will be a constructive relationship. Try to figure out what they know about the industry. If this turns out to be someone you wouldn't trust to walk your dog, send them a polite 'sorry I'm not interested'.

If a company has an ad out, and it's trying to fill multiple positions for that role, they're likely to work with recruiters if the recruiters are finding appropriate candidates. However, some recruiters want to get your resume and put it in front of the company to fish a fee out of a job you might get anyway. If the recruiter told you who the company was, it's probably because that company will work with the recruiter to qualify you as a candidate.


A professional and well-informed recruiter can really help you get a good job by briefing you about what hiring process and questions to expect, de-briefing you after interviews and so on. One good recruiter once did that for me. However, many recruiters are not professional and they know little about the company and job. Both types of recruiters request a big fee from the hiring company, which decreases your chances of getting hired and of negotiating the salary upwards. Therefore you should distinguish which kind of recruiter you are facing and decline working with them if they are of the bad type.

Which kind of recruiter is one who behaves like yours? From your words I interpret that the recruiter did not tell you the company's name upfront (they normally don't do that so as to protect their business), but you googled the job description provided by them and found the job ad on the company's website. That is indication that the recruiter is not very smart (they copy&pasted from the company's website) and that they have no very good contact with the company (unless the company's website says they hire only through this recruiter, but your question would be different if it were so, right?).

If you really are in this situation, then you really owe nothing to the recruiter, as you had not agreed to use their services before they gave you some information in their unsolicited email. So imho a person in this situation is ethically free, and has a practical interest, in writing the recruiter "Dear Recruiter, thanks but I am already aware of this opportunity at company XYZ and I am not interested in working with you at this time." and then apply with company XYZ directly.

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