I received a message from a recruiter about a position at another company. I am highly qualified for the role and it intrigues me. However, the recruiting company recruits for positions within my company as well as the other company. They did not want to poach me from one of their clients. I was not looking for a job but my resume and profile on LinkedIn prompted the recruiter to reach out for me. Since the company recruits for both my company and the hiring company they did not want to submit me forward to the hiring company without approval from my supervision/management for me to look for a new role. Is this normal practice? It seems odd to me. It says a lot about the recruiting company but it is odd. I will not risk my role at my current employer by saying that I am looking at a position I was recruited to apply.
The recruiter works for the company not you. Don't engage your management to keep the recruiter happy. They will almost certainly have an agreement where they will not put you forward unless you approached them directly. In this case that does not apply so it's highly unlikely you'll be able to use that recruiter without management approval. That would be seriously weird. The risk to you may or may not be great but it's real. Simply approach the company directly, via LinkedIn, or call up & find another recruiter that they deal with and approach them. Having a few preferred suppliers is pretty standard. I doubt this guy is your only way in.
It looks to me like the recruiter is trying to protect their interests over your own. I don't mean that in a negative way, but think about the recuiters position here. They are tasked with finding a match for an opening - that's how they get paid. Here, they believe you are a potential fit (good for you!). However, they also don't want to risk losing their relationship with your current employer by ticking them off.
The solution for the recruiter here is, ask for permission rather than forgiveness.
However, what do you do? You have a few options:
The first is, approach your manager and have a discussion - the risk here is that, yes, it signals you are interested in another opportunity. However, this also depends on your relationship with your manager.
For example: My manager and I have a very good relationship, if I was listening to other offers, he likes to know, and I trust I can ask him for career advice in the best interest of myself AND the company. His perspective is, if I'm unhappy, then he can fix it. If not, then I deserve to go where I could be happy. Also keep in mind, there isn't anything wrong with going on an interview. It's like being married, but going out for a casual drink with someone after work ;) Interviews are non-committal, and are also great experience.
The second is, tell the recruiter you can't\won't expose yourself to that risk. Again, perhaps you request an interview only, just to see if the opportunity is worthwhile to you. If the recruiter will only submit your name with consent from your employer, and you can't follow through, then you probably have to pass
The third is, perhaps approach someone in HR and explain the situation. Inform them that you don't want to raise any alarms, but at the same time you want to inspect if the opportunity is worthwhile.
Some final advice (bonus!): Remember, dont ever run FROM something, run TO something. Take opportunities that will advance your career. Good luck!