If my information is sent over by the recruiter, but his client turns me down, how long is considered “ok” before I can ethically go after the client direct or use a different recruiter from another agency, who may have a better relationship with the same client? I don’t mind giving recruiters a shot, but if they fail to get me in do they own the client indefinitely?
This seems disingenuous when you ask
do they own the client indefinitely
and yet from comments
The terms with the recruiter is that I can't go after the client direct until a year after departure.
By agreeing to the recruiters terms you agreed not to go for employment from that client for at least a year whether or not they fail to seal the deal.
You broke those terms. While legal ramifications are unlikely they are justifiably upset with you.
Based on comments I think the crux of the question here is: I broke terms with the recruiter but I think those terms were stupid and the recruiter didn't do a good job. Who is the jerk here? If I'm reading that right, the answer is that you are the jerk. Send a sincere apology or accept that you did wrong by a business partner and move on.
Obviously, the legality of the question is off-topic. IANAL, however from what I have seen, these non-compete clauses are unenforceable.
As for the ethics, that is a matter of opinion. Personally, I dont see an issue with it. Your recruiter represented you to the the client and the client declined. At that point, your obligation to the recruiter is over. Its been 10 months and you got a job. It might not even be the same job requisition that the first recruiter had.