I'm a recent graduate in CS living in Germany and now I'm getting calls from recruiters. Today, I got a call from a recruiter from the UK and I was really pissed of. The guy was completely impolite and arrogant. After saying hi he started with "your CV is basic" then was sarcastic. Through the call he was all the time underestimating my skills and never letting me talk! However I know that I have an excellent CV with excellent skills. I'm one of the best students in our batch, and my German Uni is among the top-ranked German universities. When I told him that I have interviewed with one of the best software companies in Germany (and expecting an offer) he was like "how did you get into that?" - then I told him how. Maybe I shouldn't have told him how I got into it, but I wanted to kill his arrogance and prove myself.

At the end of the call he asked me to make another CV in Word format. Actually, I was kinda of surprised by his way of speech to me, I really never thought I would speak or be treated from ANYONE like that! I call my world-wide famous professor by his plain first name!!! Unbelieving what was happening, I couldn't actually stand up to him so I said ok ok I will do the CV and send it to you. So I really eventually ended up doing that and I sent it to him.

I was basically calm throughout the entire call, because if I got angry I would really hurt him.

My questions to you:

1- Suppose I stood up to him in the next call, and a little fight happens, would that hurt me somehow? Or damage my reputation?

2- How to stood up to him in the call professionally?

3- How to teach him or the recruitment agency itself a hard lesson professionally?

4- Is this situation that I went through common? And how to avoid it and deal with it in the future?

  • 9
    Both this and your other question suggest an (understandable) unfamiliarity with conversational style and recruitment practice in the UK. This will come with experience, but in the mean time you should probably be assuming that a) the questions you get asked are the normal questions that get asked and b) the way you're spoken to is the normal way that recruiters speak. No one's out to get you - they don't know you!
    – AakashM
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 7:53
  • 8
    Why is it so important to you to teach this recruiter a lesson? (Never mind who was right or wrong, I am not even getting into that.) What exactly do you gain if he learns a "lesson"?
    – Masked Man
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 8:23
  • 3
    I suggest to just say "Thank you for your call, but I am not interested. Good bye." and hang up. Since you have already accepted a job offer, you have nothing to lose with this recruiter.
    – tehnyit
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 9:09
  • 28
    To be honest, I think you sound kind of arrogant yourself here, maybe you want to take a look at yourself? You're straight from uni, having an 'excellent' CV is not impossible but unlikely. Being with the best at 'one of' the best universities is okay, but does not say all that much (e.g. how are your extracurricular skills), ... . I'm just saying, maybe the recruiter came over condescending, but he could have had a point.
    – KillianDS
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 10:52
  • 15
    You sound like you could personally need some humility.
    – Ludwik
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 12:33

7 Answers 7


You do come across some really difficult recruiters - from the other side, the occasional one will lie, harrass and manipulate to get his candidates in front of a potential employer, and often with an unfair advantage over others. If he's treating you like this, the chances are very strongly that he treats employers with the same level of disrespect. Simply stop dealing with him. You are very unlikely to miss the job of your dreams as a result, and the time and energy spent dealing with him could be much more productively channelled elsewhere. I totally understand the affront to your professional pride, but if you expect an apology from this sort of individual you are heading for disappointment.

Having an argument with him won't damage your reputation but it likewise will gain nothing. He will learn nothing, he'll probably just bin your CV and move on to more compliant candidates.

  • Although I'm just a recent graduate and don't have practical experience with the industry yet, but I believe if a company is willing to work with a shitty recruiter then the company is shitty anyway and not worth to work for.
    – Jack Twain
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 10:00
  • 7
    It's not that easy - the recruiter may not be formally acting for the company they claim to (and you won't know), they may be harvesting CVs for unsolicited approaches, they may have been good to work with up to the point where the company signs an exclusivity deal. Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 10:06

Calm down. There's no need to bomb the recruitment agency. You encountered a bad recruiter, just don't field their calls.

Having said that, as a recent graduate your CV probably does suck and you would do well to respond to critics in an adult manner (not like this).

Incidently, the reason they want .doc CVs is so they can edit it. I would stick with pdfs.

  • 6
    And they mostly want to edit it, to remove any way to contact you, so that the companies they send the CV to can't skip out on paying them. If you stick to pdf, remove your email & phone number, or they definitely won't accept it.
    – Benubird
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 7:11
  • 29
    I know you've already used your downvote on this, so I'll proceed. You need to check your ego and stop acting like a child. I don't need to be reminded how smart you are, I don't really care, It is irreverent to the point that you need to learn how to deal with others like an adult.
    – Nathan
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 10:51
  • 8
    This isn't necessarily the most professional response to your question @Jack but it's really worth paying attention to. It's entirely possible that the recruiter is rude and/or doesn't know what he's talking about. BUT, his job is to make CVs look good - he may very well be wrong but he's still worth paying attention to, especially as he's operating in a market different to what you're used to. My typical response to being told that my CV could be improved is to ask how and use their experience to try to make it better - it's in my best interests after all.
    – Ben
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 11:37
  • 4
    -1. It is hardly adult to write that his CV sucks and tell him to behave like an adult.
    – Thorst
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 12:22
  • 7
    @Soccerman In all likelihood his CV does suck. The things he could put on his CV are probably great, if he's actually as smart and talented as he's claiming. But when someone tells you that your "cv is basic"(OP's quote in the question), what they're saying is "You may have great skills and talent, but your CV isn't showing that." Unless Jack has taken his CV through a review process where professionals have critiqued it, then it's almost with 100% certainty I say it can be improved. Recent college grads with a stellar CV are few and far between.
    – Shaz
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 13:16

Don't take this personally, but while he may have been rude, he was also right. You may have graduated from a prestigious institution but all that means is that you're potentially slightly better than Joe Average who graduated from someplace else. Unless you've been working while in school or running your own company on the side you have no real world experience. This means that your CV is basic. If you want to have a strong CV as a graduate, you would need a year or two of experience working and/or regularly contributing to an open source project. School knowledge leaves you horribly underprepared for the real world. Some schools are making efforts to change this fact, but basically even a single year of actual real-world working experience will completely overshadow the prestige of the school you went to.

Having said this, if you feel that someone is being rude to you, the professional way to deal with this is not to try and take them down a peg, but simply to politely notify them. In the case of a recruiter, I would say something like:

I'm sorry, but I am not interested in working with you. Have a nice day.

Telling him he's being rude will do nothing, unless he's new to his job most recruiters have their 'style' which they feel has worked for them, so even if you tell him you didn't appreciate it he will still keep doing it. Simply stop working with this recruiter and keep looking. If the person being rude to you needs you, politely decline working with them and move on. If on the other hand it's you who needs them (i.e. an interviewer who is being rude to you) it may be in your interest to simply take it in stride and not let it bother you. Some people are naturally rude, others may simply be having a bad day, but none of this will prevent people from being promoted to positions where they could be above you in the corporate food chain. Developing a thick skin early on in your career will be a valuable asset.

As a side-note, it is common for recruiters to ask candidates for a CV in Word format since most candidates, especially in your situation, are completely inexperienced at sculpting their CV to suit a specific position. They also want to be able to remove details such as your contacting information or anything they feel might hurt your chances. If you feel strongly about not giving them a modifiable copy of your CV try something like:

I'm not comfortable giving you a modifiable copy of my CV, but if you want me to make changes to suit a specific opportunity please let me know and I will send you an updated copy.

  • I've had my resume modified before, and it was embarrassing - and confusing, but led to a great moment with a future employer in the end... Either way, I see so many recruiters that losing one doesn't bother me too much when I feel like they won't really work in my best interest anyway. An adult reply like I'm sorry, but I am not interested in working with you. Have a nice day. is completely fair and something I've done personally before. Said recruiter happily accepted a PDF.
    – user18462
    Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 16:58

Do you feel a need to get back at every single individual who acted like a jerk with you? You are being unprofessional in at least two ways:

  1. You have an overwhelming desire to get back at him. Don't you have better things to do with your time, like going on a date? Going to a computer meetup? Do you confront every panhandler who calls you an s.o.b. because you didn't give him any petty cash? I don't. I have only enough time and energy and they don't deserve any of it from me.

  2. If someone calls me out of nowhere to tell me that my work experience, education and skills set are crap, then why is he talking to me in the first place? He is entitled to his own opinion, he is NOT entitled to time out of my life. Instead of hanging up/slamming the phone on him, you meekly complied with what he wanted you to do - spending a few hours out of your life to rewrite your resume and sending it to him without so much as a whimper. Why did you do this, given that your current resume is good enough to get you a job? You have no one but yourself to blame for failing to cut him off, preferably in mid sentence.

One of my former bosses was a partner of the firm with 15 years of experience as an engineer. He also had a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia. Somebody sued our firm, and the lawyer who cross-examined him stuck a finger into his face and yelled that his credentials weren't worth crap and that he was nothing but a charlatan. Guess what, none of us cared about what the lawyer said, starting with my boss. Insults have impact on you only if you allow them to have impact on you.

Why did you keep up your relationship with the recruiter when he had been grossly, ignorantly insulting? Is this the kind of person you want to do business with? If so, your choice say more about you than about him. Nobody in his right mind insults the customers - this recruiter insulted you as a customer. Why are you still doing business with him? Are you a sucker for punishment or something?

Cut it out- stop interacting with that recruiter. Cut that recruiter loose and don't ever take another call from him. Real profesionals don't take insults personally. It doesn't mean that they won't react to the insults, however.

  • Great answer. Especially the part about the lawsuit.
    – Luceos
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 17:22
  • That was really helpful actually, but I can't accept two answers.
    – Jack Twain
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 18:40

I have had many dealings with recruiters going back thirty years. They range from being totally professional to being totally rude with many variations in between. They are people trying to earn a living matching people with jobs and it can be a fast-paced and frustrating thing to do.

Regardless of how they (or hiring managers you will soon meet) may act, you should always be a mixture of pleasant, polite and professional with equal parts of humility and confidence.

If you were surprised at the behavior of the recruiter, just wait until you meet a hiring manager who is fitting you in between the meeting he must attend and the crisis he can't avoid.

Welcome to the game and good luck!


This has to be one of the easiest questions in the world. You hang up the phone on them if they are rude. Right away. This recruiter only makes money on working with you and finding you a job.

Given your "excellent" CV you could pick from the finest recruiters in the world. If I were in your shoes, with your CV and experience, I would hang up the phone if the recruiter made one harsh remark about my CV. I would hang up the phone if I thought his voice inflection denoted sarcasm. Even if I heard static on the line, hang up (can't be bothered with recruiters who can't pay for a good phone company and phone).

You are the cream of the crop. Hang up that phone on anyone who tell you different.

  • +1 to cancel out the -1 The OP claims his resume is "excellent" and we have no rationale to doubt his claim. He is not competing against me, he is competing aganst other students. He does not have to beat me, all he has to do is beat them. Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 15:34
  • I'm sorry, I downvoted because hanging up is not a good attitude nor professional. I personally would hate to be this hostile with anyone even if they were like that toward me.
    – Jack Twain
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 18:48
  • 3
    That's what you do in life with people you have no relationship with trying to form one and it doesn't turn out good. You hanging up on this guy is way way more professional than arguing with him. A recruiter is one step above a telemarketer. Yes you can hang up on them. If you do they will never remember. However if you argue with them they might remember and more importantly you are wasting your time and stressing out over nothing.
    – blankip
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 20:33
  • I hope I'm picking up the sarcasm in this answer correctly ;)?
    – dreamer
    Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 12:20

Recruiters don't get paid to lower anyone's qualifications. He gets paid by filling positions with his candidates. He may have felt like you thought you were too good for the positions he has available. That would be a logical reason to take you down a peg or two.

A recruiter may know nothing about software development or developers, but the do know what their clients want. Even the worse recruiter has an advantage over you because of their client knowledge. Filling a job with one of their clients is all they care about. The next priority is develop/maintain their reputation by placing a candidate that is successful, so the client will use their services the next time a spot is available. And if you're successful, they can place you in another job and make even more money (It's called churning.).

You're not going to teach this person any professional lessons, but you can learn from it. What are you going to do when your boss disagrees with you and doesn't use your recommendations? It sounds like you would try to make it your mission to prove you're right. That would be wrong because you'll end up taking it too far. Pick your battles. Learn some tact. It's not all about you.


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