I was browsing a job listing site and found an anonymous posting for a job I was perfectly qualified for. I applied for the job through the job posting site. Immediately afterwards I googled some of the copy in the job posting, and found a very similar listing on the company's actual website, which further reinforced my belief that I was perfect for the job.

Apparently a headhunter organization was running the posting, because I was contacted by an outside "recruiter" a few days later. We talked for about 10 minutes on the phone where he asked general questions about why I had applied, why i was leaving my last job, and then he asked me to explain my work experience. This didn't go well because the guy was completely clueless of what I actually did. Somehow he'd never even heard of C or C++ (which I have 13 years experience coding in)! The recruiter told me that he'd discuss with his coworkers "how best" to put me forward for the job. I got off the phone and felt that there was maybe a 50% chance the company would actually see my resume.

I had no idea what the best way to handle this situation was. I was tempted to apply directly, but I'd heard that was a guaranteed "no" if they also got the resume from the recruiter. All I had from the recruiter was a phone # (I never caught the guy's name or company), and honestly, I was getting a ton of random phone calls from recruiters and I didn't even know which was his.

This really seemed like my dream job, so I decided I'd give the company 7 days to contact me (they were reasonably sized so I figured it might take a little bit of time), and then I'd apply directly through their website. On day seven I pulled up the company's website and saw that the job posting had been pulled down that morning. I'd checked it the previous day and it had still been up.

How should I have handled this to maximize my chances of getting the job?

4 Answers 4


There's quite a few issues in this question.

  1. If your recruiter genuinely didn't know what C++ is, that's a sign that they are not a 'high-tech' specialist recruiter. As a high tech worker, you don't want someone not familiar with high-tech work handling your applications. It's possible that this is a general recruiter filling in for specialists in the same company, who will handle your application properly, but it's also possibly not.
  2. You absolutely should have got the name and company of the recruiter who talked to you. Call them back now and ask, and make sure you never omit this again.
  3. The recruiter should have told you the name of the company you'll be applying to before you let them put your name forward. Don't let anyone do this without telling you the company in the future. If they haven't formally told you, call them back and ask them.
  4. Seven days is not a long time for an employer to acknowledge your application. Many companies will take much longer than this. However it is more than enough time for the recruiter to decide if they are going to put you forward. Call them back and ask if they have done so. At the same time ask when they would expect to hear from the employer.

If they didn't put your name forward, or if it turns out that the employer they put you forward to isn't the one you thought, immediately email the employer and apply for the job you want. Describe what happened and ask if the job is still available. Companies tend to leave their job postings up longer than the job is available, rather than take them down early, so I wouldn't be too optimistic. If this is a big company, other openings will come along.

  • 1
    Full disclosure, this incident happened several months in the past and I've since accepted a similar position at another company and am very happy there. Very thorough answer though, and if I'm in the market in the future, I'll definitely be following this advice.
    – Mordred
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 18:32
  • Regarding point 3, in the UK it's common for a recruiter not to tell you who the company is until (and if) you get an interview. Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 11:50
  • 1
    @GrimmTheOpiner I've never had this experience, every recruiter I've spoken to has been very reluctant to disclose this, but when I tell them it's either they tell me the name or I have no interest in pursuing it any further they have always told me the company name.
    – James T
    Commented Nov 14, 2019 at 14:12
  • @Trotski94 ....it actually sounds like you're describing exactly "this experience", except you tend to push back hard and demand the company name despite their reluctance. : ) Commented Nov 15, 2019 at 8:06
  • @GrimmTheOpiner I don't think I've ever had to ask for the company name from a recruiter if they're working with me to find a job. They've always given the company name without prompting, even giving me space to go check the company out before committing to my CV being sent. Perhaps it's just a difference in which industry I work in (software), but I'd not say it's common to have trouble getting the company name :/
    – scaryclam
    Commented Sep 5, 2020 at 13:37

Why didn't you follow-up with the recruiter as well as make sure you know which jobs recruiters are applying you since there can be multiple firms all submitting you for the same opening that could cause a problem.

My suggestion would be to have a spreadsheet of who is applying you, where and when so that you can have sufficient records to know whether or not you were applied where I think you may or may not have been.

Something else to remember is that recruiters are likely not technical people and so while you may be shocked that they never heard of these languages, it could well be that a good chunk of the general population don't know those languages either. So what? You need to recognize what are your key values, what do you want and how well you can communicate that in all the firms you work so that you don't wind up getting scratched off of a lot of interview lists for being applied multiple times.

  • I would have followed up with the recruiter if I'd gotten his name and been a little more on the ball. Honestly, I didn't realize until the next day or two that he probably hadn't forwarded my resume on, and that's when I began to wonder what I should do. I assumed the recruiter would have some knowledge of the domain he's recruiting for, but I guess that's not a requirement. I think he didn't see the languages he was looking for and binned my resume thinking I didn't have the proper experience.
    – Mordred
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 0:29

You can always tell a recruiter not to submit you for a position. Unless they are a specifically retained recruiter instead of contingency, getting resumes from them isn't all that much more impressive than getting them from a candidate from the company's POV. If you ever talk to a recruiter and get a bad feeling, just say "I would prefer you not submit me to that position." You don't have to explain why, but if you want to say "I don't feel like you understand my background enough to represent me effectively" it's not the end of the world.

  • That would have been the smart move I think. I had a bad feeling throughout the call, but then he acted like they'd submit me although he wanted to discuss how with his colleagues. At that point I should have realized I was getting the brush off and told him no.
    – Mordred
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 14:54

I would always tell every recruiter to email me the details about a job before I allow them to submit me. That way you have some written record of (A) who the recruiter is and (B) what the position is.

That said, if the recruiter never definitively told you that you were submitted, then it's safe to assume you were not. Just like you, the recruiter does not want to "double-submit" your resume and if they have a shred of competence, will double-check with you that you have not already applied or been submitted to said company in the past.

If this happens again, I would suggest to get something in writing (email) before doing anything else so you could go back and make sure the recruiter has not and will not submit you, and then you'd apply on your own.

At this point it might not be too late to reach out to the hiring manager, let them know you're interested, it's a perfect fit and you'd like the opportunity to meet with them about it. Worst case they'd have your contact information in case the current hire doesn't work out.

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