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I received a job offer that I needed to reject because I feel it would not be the right fit. However, the (3rd party) recruiter seems to not want to take no for an answer and is accusing me of being dishonorable. I did verbally accept, but called later to retract and did not sign anything. I also spoke to the company HR and hiring manager directly about my intent to not go forward, and we seem to have parted on good terms.

Can the recruiter do anything to me? He seems to suggest he'll damage my reputation in the industry, naming people that I've worked for before that I know and respect.

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    I would be amazed if a recruiter had a way to damage your reputation (given that they are considered a necessary evil at best). Tell him to stop harassing you or you take legal measures (and follow through if he does not stop). I had a vaguely similar situation once, and after I told them it was actually the HR department of the company in question that took legal action because they felt being in any way associated with a scoundrel would damage their reputation. – Eike Pierstorff Oct 30 '16 at 20:15
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    @JoeStrazzere Calling people who do not want to be called and threating them is harassment and actually not legal (at least in Germany where I live, this might of course be different in other legislations). – Eike Pierstorff Oct 30 '16 at 21:25
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    I think you have minimized the harmful effect of your retraction by speaking to the company HR and hiring manager directly. Otherwise they could easily suspect that the recruiter had committed you to the job without your permission. - You might point that out to the recruiter if you can slide a word in edgewise. – A. I. Breveleri Oct 30 '16 at 22:06
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    Keep in mind that intentionally ruining someone's reputation might be considered "defamation" and be illegal (depending on where you live). Just in case they actually try to go through with it. – Erik Oct 31 '16 at 8:42
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    @JoeStrazzere This is pure speculation. Only OP knows what the recruiter said. So both our interpretations are valid. – HopefullyHelpful Oct 31 '16 at 10:36
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The recruiter is acting unprofessionally, and it's unlikely that someone with that character has the reputation to damage yours. He's likely just upset that he lost a commission, or is under pressure to meet a quota, and is acting out. I suspect he won't be a recruiter much longer.

If the tables were reversed, that verbal commitment would be worthless, and you would still be looking for a job.

In the future, you will want to tread carefully when making commitments. People act on your words, and your credibility--and therefore your character--will be judged on whether your word is reliable. Credibility is hard to earn and easy to lose, so don't squander it. Although the recruiter can't do much, you've done some damage yourself.

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    +1 He is being unprofessional and the OP should take this as a learning experience on to avoid this kind of thing in the future – Preet Sangha Oct 30 '16 at 20:58
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    I always find it amazing when recruiters expect you to honor verbal commitments but their own paperwork usually states, only what is in writing is binding. I mean sure, one should always aim and intend to be good to their word, but the hypocrisy is high when recruiters act out this way. – Brad Thomas Nov 1 '16 at 13:28
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I did verbally accept, but called later to retract

It's understandable that he is upset.

Going back on your word is not a nice thing to do. Your verbal acceptance almost certainly set the wheels in motion for this recruiter, and your retraction likely caused him a lot of extra work.

But threatening to damage someone's reputation is far worse.

Can the recruiter do anything to me? He seems to suggest he'll damage my reputation in the industry, naming people that I've worked for before that I know and respect.

While he could tell others what you did, I strongly suspect he won't. This is almost certainly an idle threat. If he carried things through he could damage his reputation as much or more than he could damage yours.

Just stop taking calls from him, ignore his emails, and he'll go away eventually.

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    Yes, don't engage in dialogue with him – Kilisi Oct 30 '16 at 21:14
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    He is upset because I am sure he already had plans for that commission he would get for finding the OP and getting him placed. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Oct 31 '16 at 16:36
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    haltabuse.org and cyberangels.org recommend this exact advice. Do not engage, wait for them to move on. – Richard U Oct 31 '16 at 18:16
  • 'Going back on his word' is a bit strong. The only firm commitment to accepting a job is signing a contract. Providing the OP verbally accepted in good faith, then he has done nothing wrong. He's entitled to change him mind without consequence - just as the company could. – CJM Nov 2 '16 at 13:10
  • Verbally accepting is not giving his word. "Yes I do accept the job" is not the same as "Yes, I give you my word that I will sign the contract and will not change my mind in the meantime". He accepted the job and changed his mind. Breaking your word would be dishonourable, but accepting in good faith and then changing his mind is in no way dishonourable. – CJM Nov 2 '16 at 15:22

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