The company I work for was recently acquired which has caused some uncertainty regarding my continued employment. To cover my bases I started looking at potential opportunities. This included switching my LinkedIn job search to looking for opportunities.

About a week later I received a call to my work phone, which I confirmed was direct to my extension. My extension is not publicly listed, not on my profile, and not in a directory on the phones. The recruiter was from a well established service in the area, and noted that he knew he was "catching me at work". This is unprofessional at the least, and unsettling as well due to the private nature of my extension.

This began to worry me, thinking that the new acquiring company has seen my job search status on LinkedIn and is using a recruiter to get an idea of what I'm doing. Since the new company is not my old company it is quite possible they were shown my status if they were looking for applicants in that field.

TL;DR: Do companies use recruiting services to spy on employees, and if so how should I proceed?

Edit: Never been listed in the extension directory, never had a business card. The Amazon Business thing sounds like a likely culprit.

closed as off-topic by Masked Man, Mister Positive, gnat, Chris E, JasonJ May 8 '17 at 21:19

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  • 4
    I don't get your point. If you have listed your job search status on LinkedIn in a way that your company can see it, why would they need to take a roundabout path through a middleman to figure out what you are up to? – Masked Man May 8 '17 at 16:51
  • Good point. I guess they could be using it to confirm if the status is not something new, or how actively I'm looking. I do freelance work on the side as well, so sometimes I'll leave it on when I have availability for new projects. – Webhead May 8 '17 at 16:53
  • Recruiters (and others making cold calls) will often call extension after extension in a company just fishing for leads. – DLS3141 May 8 '17 at 18:10
  • "This began to worry me..." - did you ask the recruiter, "How did you get my work number?" Then, politely say that you prefer another number if appropriate. – Brandin May 9 '17 at 10:19
  • 2
    Don't worry about it too much, getting calls from recruiters on a work extension is very common and won't raise eyebrows. If you don't want to talk to them, just say so. They just called the main number and whoever answered the phone was nice and took the time to find your extension. – teego1967 May 9 '17 at 10:20
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Companies have to pay to utilize recruiters like you are saying. "Could they", well sure, but I seriously doubt a company is going to pay a third party to spy on their own employees in order to make sure they aren't looking for another job.

I have had an employer spy out monster/career builder/etc... to see if any of their employees had a profile and then got prompted to remove it immediately or I would be fired. That was a very bad place to work though and everyone knew it and the executive had nothing better to do than peruse possible leavers on job sites in his spare time.

Recruiters sometimes call work when they are trying to get ahold of someone. My status on linked in stays in looking for opportunities even though I'm not actively and I will get people looking me up at work an calling the directory to talk to me. White pages as well and get house calls sometimes.

I doubt it's your company doing it as much as a very ambitious recruiter trying to find people to fill spots even by calling their current work number.

  • 2
    Any company that makes it a disciplinary offence to want to leave is a company that you should want to leave. – Jonathon Cowley-Thom May 9 '17 at 14:25
  • @JonathonCowley-Thom I know right... – mutt May 9 '17 at 15:37

Recruiters can get very creative in finding phone numbers. Also, there are aggregators who collect business phone number lists and sell them to recruiters. Aggregators can get your number by a range of different methods. For example, if you have given a business card to someone, they can scan it in using specialized business card scanners (sales people have them). Then they can sell that info to an aggregator. If you have EVER provided your work number to ANY vendor to buy something, including eBay, Amazon, a credit card company or to ANY other vendor, that information can ultimately find its way to an aggregator.

Also, a very simple technique recruiters use is to first find out who works at a company by LinkedIn or other methods. Then they call the switchboard and say, "Hello, I am trying to reach Tom Smith, and by the way can you give me his direct line?"

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