A year ago, I was in contact with a recruiter, he gave me some opportunities, I confirmed with him that I agreed to let him be my representative.

Among one of this opportunities, I recognized the name, and I knew someone who was working there, so I asked for more details from my point of contact at this organization; and yes it appears they were looking for someone. After the company directly contacted me for a job interview, it went well and I had the job.

It appears the company never paid the recruiter. I raised this issue a couple of times with my team lead, HR and CTO, and they told me they will take care of everything.

I'm actually looking for a new job, and I was just approached by the same recruiter company. Do I risk anything? I am starting to worry about that, do I have any responsibility if the company didn't pay the recruiter?

  • 42
    "it appears the company never paid client-server" How would you know? Why do you even care if the recruiting company still appears happy to work with you? Are you just concerned about being asked to foot the bill somehow?
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 11:21

6 Answers 6


It's not your problem, it's between the recruiting company and the hiring company. The recruiting company may hold bad vibes against you, but it doesn't look like it as they've approached you again to help you find a job.

In the end, the recruiting company needs to make sure it receives the money from the hiring company, it's not your job to enforce that. You went above your requirements to help maintain a relationship, but nothing came of it. So, unless the recruiting company says anything, don't mention it.

  • More directly, they usually abide by contracts, so this is strictly a legal issue between recruiting company and OP's company, and should have zero impact on the employee.
    – phyrfox
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 4:42
  • 7
    Not strictly true if the employee took the information provided to him/her by the recruiter in confidence and then approached the company directly which seems to be the case here. I'm amazed the recruiter is still talking to you if they know that's what you did...
    – mcottle
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 8:26
  • 1
    Maybe not his problem because he isn't the one who is missing money, but certainly some culpability for creating the problem when he went around the recruiter after getting the opportunity.
    – cdkMoose
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 12:43

do I have any responsibility if the company didn't pay the recruiter?

First off, as others have pointed out, whether the recruiter got paid or not at the end of the day is not your problem. It was their business deal, not yours. In the eyes of the recruiter, you're their consultant they aim to place in a job so they can win revenue, in this case a finder's fee. In contract and contract-to-hire, the recruiter would get residual revenue and commissions for your placement in their client's organization. In your favor, showing such concern will highlight to the recruiter your underlying good principle and character.

I was just approached by the same recruiter company.

One thing you must remember is recruiters are sales people. Whether now or in the future, if they feel you can fit an opening for their client, they will want to work with you. It's the recruiter's commission motivation and their company's profit motive to work with you. Recruiters within one organization often step all over each others toes because they are trying to make numbers for their directors they report to. Speaking from personal experience, I've been contacted by six recruiters out of the same firm in the last two weeks because they are all aiming to "close a deal". Keep that in mind as you work with recruiters. There are many great recruiters who are genuine in helping people like you regardless of their monetary incentive and then there are those whose sole motive is to make the numbers. At the end of the day, they will still work with you because it's beneficial to their profit motive here and now if you possess the skills they need for a position to close the deal.


I don't think you have any financial responsibility here, but you may have something at risk because of how you handled the first interaction.

When you are working through a recruiter and they connect you with a company, you should not initiate your own communications with that company, even if it turns out you know an employee (as is your case). Most recruiters agreements state that if the company hires anyone brought to them by the recuiter, they owe the recruiter some payment. By initiating your own communication, you created an opening where the company could hire you and try to avoid paying the recruiter (cheating the recuiter out of his/her fee).

While the agreement is between the two companies and not you, you are still part of the equation. If/when the recruiting company realizes they have worked with you before and how it turned out, they may refuse to work with you. You may still be able to work with other recruiters, but certainly you have risked being able to work with this recruiter.

  • 1
    Yep. I've heard that many companies will avoid hiring you at all if there if there is any hint of confusion here, because of the risk of a lawsuit from the recruiter. So it's surprising to hear that they might have actually not paid...
    – employee-X
    Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 21:47
  • 1
    I agree with @cdkMoose. You undercut the recruiter. You and recruiter agree he represents you, you see his opportunities, contact one of them and get hired directly. Could you have called your friend who works there without the recruiter? Sure! Would you have though to do so without the recruiter first showing you the list of vacancies? Most likely not. Of course you had no financial agreement with the recruiter, the company you ended up working for did... This is a bit of a "lighter shade of black" area. You handled in good faith, but looking back I think you'll agree it was a bit unethical.
    – Jeroen
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 4:33
  • 1
    This is the correct answer IMO and needs more upvotes. Fabien and the company behaved unethically by cutting the recruiter out. The recruiter may be choosing to overlook it but they won't forget.
    – mcottle
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 8:30
  • 1
    I am not sure whether talking with the friend was inherently a problem, but the response to the interview invitation should have been to point to the recruiter. Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 13:12
  • @PatriciaShanahan, I think you're right that reaching out to the friend was not a problem and actually good research to prep for possible interviews. Going any further with the company without the recruiter was wrong
    – cdkMoose
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 13:22

To my understanding your situation is:

  1. You were looking for a job, and were working with the recruiter to find one.
  2. The recruiter provided some opportunities, from which you recognised the company you are currently with.
  3. You asked the person you knew in the company about the job, and you received more information.
  4. You were contacted directly by the company, and subsequently were recruited.

In this scenario, it was the company that undercut the recruiter, not yourself.

There would have been an agreement when the position was opened with the recruiter which detailed payment. It may have been an upfront fee for them to find and suggest well fitting candidates for the position, it could instead have been a payment for successfully recruiting one of their sourced candidates, and there may have even been a flat rate commission to be paid if the company successfully appointed someone to the position other than candidates suggested by the recruiter as a protection for the recruiter's work.

We can only guess at what the agreement was, because as mentioned by the other answers, this issue is between your company and the recruiter. It may seem like the recruiter didn't get paid, but that is simply because there is no reason for your company or the recruiter to inform you that the payment was made.

Recruiters compete to find candidates for positions, and to find the right candidate they need as many people to pick from as they can. It would go against their business to blacklist candidates who did not stick with them, and so I wouldn't worry about them thinking negatively about you. They have contacted you again, and so they appear to have interest in you as a candidate to generate them business.


It sounds like the recruiter did not have a signed contract with the company. Possibly the company did not even want him looking for candidates. Recruiters sometimes see job ads and then try to find candidates and present them on spec.

In those cases, the company has no liability to the recruiter. And you certainly don't.

  • At my last job (literally last, I'm now retired) I was connected to the company by a legit recruiter, but then exchanged some emails directly with the company to get interviewed. The recruiter very bluntly let me know that going straight to the company was a no-no, I needed to go through the recruiter. It all worked out but using the recruiter for initial contact and then bypassing them is problematic.
    – DaveG
    Commented Feb 13 at 1:42
  • The recruiter will tell you anything to try to keep their commission but in fact there is no law against it. Recruiters are salesmen. Enjoy your retirement.
    – The Walrus
    Commented Feb 29 at 1:33
  • I had zero desire to go around the recruiter, and was quite happy to make sure she got her commission. Given that the company was still talking to the recruiter seemed like a bad idea to piss her off.
    – DaveG
    Commented Mar 3 at 15:24

If the agreement to pay the recruiter was between the company and the recruiter, it is the company's onus, not yours, to fulfill that payment.

You should have nothing to fear from this recruiter. If the topic of payment does come up, you have a reasonable response to their questions.

"I asked them several times if they had taken care of payment for the recruiter, and they said they paid you. I was always under the impression that they had."

Do not bring this up unless they do first, because it will leave a bad impression on them of you and your relationship with your previous employer (it will give the impression you did not trust them in the first place). Assume that what the employer said is true, unless proven otherwise.

  • Why would it matter if they get a bad impression of the OP's previous employer? If the company didn't pay, then the recruiter certainly already has a bad impression of them! (There's no reason to guard them from being held accountable (by the recruiter) for their own actions, is there?)
    – employee-X
    Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 21:45
  • @jpaugh Sorry, I had trouble with the phrasing. What I meant was that it would leave them an impression that you are being disloyal to the employer.
    – Zibbobz
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 12:51

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