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?

  • 1
    I think the recruiter owns that job, not that client. Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 15:12
  • 3
    Did you sign anything or receive terms and conditions from the recruiter?
    – Myles
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 15:12
  • 3
    You seem to be blaming the recruiter because the employer didn't want you. Maybe, just maybe, the employer didn't think you were a good fit for the position.
    – PeteCon
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 15:13
  • 1
    The terms with the recruiter is that I can't go after the client direct until a year after departure. In my scenario, a recruiter represented me to his client, did not get an interview, moved on. 10 months later a different recruiter represented me to the same client and got the job. I informed the first recruiter that represented me, as expected he was not pleased, but it didn't matter because I never worked there and this client is no longer his.
    – John
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 15:21
  • In many cases I think the answer to this has to do with the relationship between the recruiter and the client but for most that I have worked with, once you are submitted by a recruiter they own your placement at the client for at least 6 months.
    – JasonJ
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 15:22

2 Answers 2


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.

  • 1
    "Send a sincere apology" Do not put anything in writing that admits to wrong doing. If the terms were broken, the best thing you can do is keep your mouth shut about it. The worst thing you can do is to lower the cost/hassle of suing for breach. Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 16:37
  • @Dean MacGregor, The recruiter had his chance and didn't win the placement, plus the recruiter no longer has a contract with the client. 10 months seems plenty to give the same client another go with either a different recruiter or direct.
    – John
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 16:48
  • @DeanMacGregor A very American answer. Even in the states with admission of breach this is unlikely to be worth suing over. Apologizing would reduce the likelihood of being sued and really this is about the OP not wanting to feel like a jerk over doing something he agreed not to do.
    – Myles
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 16:50
  • @John I'm just talking about the terms of the agreement you signed not that it is inherently "wrong". Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 16:50
  • @Myles I suppose, in theory, there is some possibility that a letter of apology would actually convince someone to refrain from suing. However, apologies are about emotions and it is unlikely that a professional recruiting company is going to let their emotions dictate what they do. I agree there is a low probability that they sue regardless. However, if they've decided they do indeed want to sue, adding that apology will only increase their likelihood of success. Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 16:57

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.

  • But, "recruiters talk to one another ... a lot." Someday, you might be looking for another job and once again be working with a recruiter. Don't be the name that they recognize as "the SOB who ignored our contract and tried to end-run us!" Try to stay on their good side. Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 14:49
  • @MikeRobinson Not likely. I have told several recruiters to go f them selves, yet they always call me back. They care more about money than anything else.
    – Keltari
    Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 15:38

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .