I have never worked with a 3rd party recruiter before for job search. So I am unsure whether I am dealing with a normal process.

I talked to him on the phone after he contacted me on LinkedIn. We chatted a little about my credential, he then asked what my expected salary would be. I first refused as I would like to understand the position more. He pushed very hard, so I eventually gave him a range from 80k to 110k. He then proposed "how about 100k plus benefit, can you accept that?".

I got clarification from him that the position he was offering was a permanent staff position under their client's payroll. I then received a few documents which I would need to sign before going into the interview. These included a pre-interview agreement with clauses such as:

If CANDIDATE is selected for the position, the CANDIDATE agrees to the following terms:

  • Annually rate agreed upon for this position is $100K/Annum. + Benefits all-inclusive.

  • Once an offer is accepted by CANDIDATE, the CANDIDATE shall be available for work on behalf of XXX(redacted the recruiting company name) no later than__10____business days after the offer is accepted. CANDIDATE acknowledges that the actual start date will be determined by Client.

It appears to me that if I sign I would be (a) agreeing on the salary for a job I have not yet interviewed for, and (b) working for the XXX recruiting company 10 days after the offer is accepted until the actual start date???

Appreciate any feedback on whether this is legit, and if not, what a "normal" process would be.

Thanks a lot.

  • 7
    The recruiter says it's "a permanent staff position under their client's payroll", but the contract says that you will be "work on behalf of XXX." IANAL, but this seems sketchy to me. The only thing I would consider signing with a recruiter before an interview is an exclusive representation contract, and even that I would not do without careful thought.
    – David K
    Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 19:15
  • I haven't studied MA's rule, but it is my understanding it bars employers from asking about previous salaries, but does not bar them from asking what salary you are seeking. Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 21:42

6 Answers 6


I would have pretty serious reservations about this situation.

First, salary is only a piece of a compensation package. If a position offered me $100k/year and minimal benefits vs $100k, 10% 401k match, free healthcare, 5 weeks vacation, lots of stock options - they are clearly different.

But by signing that agreement you effectively give up any opportunity to value these differently.

Additionally, it is important to know what role you are interviewing for and the associated responsibilities prior to salary. Job titles are often random. Often the only way to know a job responsibilities are conversations with the manager.

The language on the second part is really sketchy. It's a permanent fulltime position, but you work for the contracting company? And you have to start within 10 business days?

What I would do depends on how interested you are in this job. This whole situation sounds really weird to me, overall.

If you are only somewhat interested, you could ask the recruiter to clarify more information before signing anything:

  • Hey, I'm really not sure I'm comfortable signing this. I don't know the benefits package nor job responsibilities and expectations and it doesn't seem appropriate to sign something like this before I even know what job I'm doing.

    You previously mentioned this was a permanent position, but the wording of the document suggests I will be working for your company and not the client.

    Last, can you give me more information why I need to sign this prior to the interview?

The recruiter should have a really good reason for requiring either of those clauses. If they don't, I'd consider the recruiter's words with a huge dose of skepticism.

  • The last sentence in your penultimate paragraph is cut off.
    – Rob W
    Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 20:57
  • @RobW woops. thanks for the catch, I don't even have a good explanation for how that happened. :P
    – enderland
    Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 20:58

Having an agreement in place with the recruitment agent before they present you to the company with the vacancy is kind of essential for the recruitment agent to protect their business interests.

It should basically say that you give them sole representation rights for that specific role at that company, and that they are presenting your CV, with salary expectations of X.

Things that you must NEVER agree to include:

  1. Not being able to negotiate a different salary.
  2. Not being able to use a different agent for another role at the same client company.
  3. Requirement to use this agency for other roles.
  4. You making any payment to the agency.

When they offer you a job, the offer should include salary, work location, start date and any benefits.


I think you're misinterpreting your state's rule. See here and here. It precludes an employer from asking what you made on the previous job as a basis for the salary on the job being offered. It is not effective for almost two years from now (July 2018)!

This recruiter is trying to speed up the process by basically taking away your right to negotiate. I hope you haven't been lied to. RUN, as this seems highly abnormal.


In general, I would recommend that you don't trust recruiters if you haven't worked with them in the past. I've worked with them for over 10 years and can tell you at least 3 times I was outright lied to.

Regarding salary, my response is always, "First let's see if we like each other, then we can talk about salary. I'm sure that if things get to that point, then it's unlikely that salary will stop us."

My recommendation would be to just walk away from this situation. I'd never sign anything in advance.

Just tell them you won't sign anything or agree to salary unless you are offered a position first. If they say that won't work, then walk away. If you are a candidate that's likely to actually get placed, they'll work with you to get you to stay. If they don't work with you, it's unlikely they were going to place you anyway.

In the end, this recruiter is not on your side. They are out only to maximize how much they make -- by charging as much as they can for you, while giving you as little as possible.

  • 4
    'In general, I would recommend that you don't trust recruiters' should be triple underlined. Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 22:01
  • 1
    Before you can be hired as a recruiter, you must first take the "Used car sales minimum ethics" exam. If you fail to pass it, you are qualified. Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 15:29

Massachusetts is an employment at will state. Ergo they cannot force you to work, even on day one.

However they don't have to pay you either.

If it were me I'd probably sign this. Granted there's no way they could hold me for damages beyond any pay collected but not owed.

If it makes you feel more comfortable though, discuss with an attorney.


I have worked with 3rd Party recruiters and that is a "Right to Represent" contract - on one token it means they have "rights" to you for that specific position in that specific company, ergo you can't be submitted by Joe Schmoe's Tech Recruiters as Sweet Tech Bro LLC already submitted you.

What that salary means is yes you will received 100K+whatever...but you cannot negotiate what that is, typically the recruiting company is making money for placing you there, and gets a bigger cut behind the scenes, starting at 10% for the 1st month and ending at 25% on the 6th month, at least that is how it worked in TN.

Typically you can't duck out of those if you are going in with a third party, it does suck and I am on the receiving end of that suck right now, recruiters don't care about you they care about using you to maximize their payout. If you are not getting a warm and fuzzy, and want some more room for negotiations or clarification just go through the Client's HR department to avoid getting black-bagged

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