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A recruiting company calls me to discuss a few jobs. On the call, they tell me a little about the company and the position, and then ask to submit my name. Typically, it's a company I've never heard of.

My usual response is to ask for a written job description, because I want to make sure that the description and the title make sense, I'd like to see what I'm getting into, and I want to look up the company online.

While other recruiting firms typically send me a job description either right before or immediately after a phone call, I get the sense that this particular recruiting firm does not like to send out job descriptions, or they work with companies that don't have them or have poorly written job descriptions. [For instance, they once asked me to come interview with a hiring manager, without ever sending me a job description. When I said I would not meet him without one, they suddenly "found" one. Upon reading it, it did not seem like it was written for my skill-set at all so I didn't meet with him anyway.]

Maybe I'm being overly cautious, but I think it's fair for me to ask for a written job description first. Is asking for a job description unreasonable? Should I just trust the recruiting firm, in submitting for a job? I don't think there's any reason I should trust that they have my best interest in mind, but maybe I'm being overly cynical.

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If they see employees as an investment instead of an expense, they'll probably take the extra mile to define their needs, and write a job description accordingly.

IMHO, if they don't do that, and you feel they should, maybe the company's values are not in line with yours. Job hunting is a serious activity, if they're not serious about it, you should not take their offers seriously.

Asking for a job description is reasonable (dude, what have I got myself into??), and if you smell something fishy, there is probably something fishy.

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I think it's fair for me to ask for a written job description first. Is asking for a job description unreasonable?

It's perfectly fair to ask for anything you need to let you feel comfortable that you aren't wasting your time, that the proposed position is a good fit for you, and that you have a reasonable chance of landing it.

You can ask for anything you choose ("I insist on printed documentation - no emails or attachments to emails"), and the recruiter and/or company can decide to satisfy your requests or not.

One point: most employers do a poor job of writing job descriptions. You never really know the full extent of what you are getting into until you interview. And even then jobs rapidly evolve into something that fits both you and the company's needs at any point in time. So don't base everything on a written job description anyway - just use it as an initial filter.

Should I just trust the recruiting firm, in submitting for a job? I don't think there's any reason I should trust that they have my best interest in mind, but maybe I'm being overly cynical.

Recruiting firms don't have your best interest in mind. And they don't have the hiring company's best interest in mind. They have their own best interest in mind, but perhaps care that you and the company become satisfied as well (since that's in their best interest).

I only trust people and firms that have earned my trust over the years. If this recruiting firm can't consistently meet your needs, then I wouldn't trust them.

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