I'm struggling to understand the recruitment world and would appreciate some advice to help me stress a bit less about it all.

Basically I've just finished a degree and am looking for a first job in a related industry. I was put in touch with a recruiter, had a general interview with them where they mentioned a company they were recruiting for and said it could be a match but they'd need to check with the manager first if this company would consider an inexperienced candidate.

Separately, I met someone who worked at that company through a mutual friend and they offered to send my CV around, so I said yes. But then figured I should let the recruiter know I was going to have this person send my CV around for a range of positions and so thus, my CV may end up at the manager for the position they were enquring about anyway. The recruiter replied by 'clarifying' that they'd actually already sent my CV through as part of checking whether they'd take a recent grad. Whereas my understanding had been that they were asking the manager whether they'd consider relaxing the 2+ years experience requirement.

I mentioned that the recruiter had actually sent my CV through to this contact when I sent through my CV and said it might be something the people he sends it to want to know.

Anyway, heard nothing from anyone for a few weeks, then got a call from the companies HR person saying the mutual friend had given them my details, could I come interview for the position. I mentioned the recruiter saying they'd sent it through and the companies HR person said it hadn't been given to them.

So now I am unsure whether I tell the recruiter I am actually interviewing with the company, as best I can tell they haven't heard anything about the position from the company either way. I don't want to mention it and have them pursue the company for commission, and thus not get the job, especially when it was really just the work of a friend of a friend that got me the interview in the first place. But I also don't want to sour a relationship with a recruiter so early on, especially if they really may talk to one another about it.

As for the company, what approach do more experienced people think I should take? Currently, I intend to go for the interview, and when I get a chance to ask questions, make sure among them I bring up that "I checked my e-mail and this recruiter says they sent my CV to the line manager for a similar sounding position, does this have any bearing on this position?" and see what they say or whether they require me to take some kind of action.

Feel free to let me know if I've actually just gotten myself in a real pickle and should just give up now on both working with that recruiter or at that company.

  • 11
    Understand this; recruiters work for you. you do not owe them anything. You get a foot in the door another way, you keep that foot in the door. There is no need to tell the recruiter.
    – John
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 7:42
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    It is my understanding that some companies actively ignore any inquiries from recruiting agencies, so I wouldn't worry too much about it.
    – DCON
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 8:16
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    You are 10000% ok. Go ahead and see the company. Recruiters are like McDonalds. You owe them nothing. If, incredibly (this is absolutely unlikely) the recruiter has some sort of agreement with the company, then, later on the recruiter will invoice the company and be paid - that has absolutely nothing to do with you. You have no obligations, whatsoever, to a recruiter - go ahead and proceed!
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 13:22

5 Answers 5


Unless you've given the recruiter any promises of exclusivity then there's nothing wrong with what you've done - the HR contact has told you that they haven't seen your CV from the recruiter so you got in first and that's the recruiter's loss. As far as I can see you're well within your rights to forget about the recruiter and continue to pursue the avenue you have.

Good luck with the application!


If HR hasn't seen your CV through the recruiter, you are totally in the clear.

Even if they had, you are perfectly within your rights to go on your own. In that situation, I would probably let the recruiter know that I had found another entry point independently of their efforts. The key is not 100% knowingly wasting other peoples' time.

In addition, if you haven't heard anything from the recruiter in weeks, it's OK to assume their supposed lead has come to nothing.

At times, it seems people act as if the recruiter is working 100% on their 'case', when in fact they are working multiple leads at multiple clients and probably devoting the most time to the newest and most promising leads. My guess is that the recruiter has forgotten all about you and moved on long ago.

As a freelancer, I have regular contact with recruiters and generally there is no feedback unless an interview is scheduled. So - no news means the lead is dead.

  • Thanks for that. It was all quiet from the recruiter for weeks, but just to throw a spanner in the works, today they called up with another position they had and said they were hoping to hear back from this first one in a week or 2. The interview is tomorrow but I didn't tell the recruiter this because I want to wait and see what the actual employer says/ I don't want the recruiter to come barging in claiming they represent me and cost me any chance of the position before the interview. Right approach in your mind? As far as I can tell the recruiter is waiting on the company anyway.
    – George
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 8:55
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    @George If the company sees your resume through multiple sources, they will scrap it. Recruiters get fees, if they submitted the resume to the employer and you back door it, they WILL seek their fee. Companies know this, so to avoid legal problems, they will disqualify you as a candidate. Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 12:26
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    @George this is why recruiters ask you where you've applied. This isn't as bad as the company getting your resume from two recruiters, in which case, you're done, but it could still be a sticky situation. Proceed with caution. Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 13:14
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    @Fattie Typically, there's an account manager who actually handles the client relationship and the recruiter is separate. I will say that where the recruiter is doing both sides, I've never had it work out well.
    – Chris E
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 13:31
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    And I will concur with @RichardU that not only have I seen it happen, I've had recruiters tell me flat out, "If you or anyone else has sent a resume to ___ in the last 6 months, we can't submit you."
    – Chris E
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 13:36

A double-submit is generally a big no-no.

In your case, it's not as bad because you may have one out there with a recruiter AND your friend.

You should check with your friend and see if your resume was ever submitted by the recruiter, if not. Tell the recruiter to cancel immediately. If you haven't signed anything saying that you grant them exclusive rights to submit you to that company, you're safe.

IF they already have your resume from the recruiter, work with your contacts in the company to try to smooth things over with the recruiter. They may be willing to do this, but the chances aren't great and largely depends on the working relationship with the on site account manager.

Going forward, be VERY VERY CAREFUL when dealing with recruiters.

Some will ask you to sign exclusivity agreements for a company while others will say that they have exclusive rights to submit you for job xyz. If that's the case, then you can safely submit for job ABC, as the exclusivity agreement extends only to that particular position.

These are all things you should talk about to the recruiter BEFORE submitting your resume anywhere.

When I taught classes on job hunting, one of the first things we would caution people about is the double-submit. Recruiters have finders fees and agreements with companies. If you get submit a resume and a recruiter also submits you, the company is on the hook for the fee regardless. If TWO recruiters submit you for a job, and the company hires you, they are in for a legal mess. To avoid that messs, they will just disqualify you and move on to the next candidate.

No matter how much a company likes you, they are not going to ruin an existing business relationship with an existing recruiting agency, as those agencies save tons of paperwork, time and effort from HR, as well as being more targeted to the job field and thus better able to find qualified candidates and shorten the hiring process.


The important aspect here is your employment.

If you do not get this role you may want to go back to the recruiter to see if they can land you another role. So avoid upsetting the recruiter. From the situation described it does not sound as if the recruiter has tried to place you for this role so there is no conflict, but being polite is never a bad idea.

Tell the recruiter that you've landed an interview & that you'll give them the details once it's panned out - but don't complicate the matter by discussing a conflict. Take the interviews as far as possible & if you land the job then that's great. At that point tell the recruiter the details.

Unless the recruiter had a contract to provide an employee for that hiring manager or has a general agreement with the organization then there is no fee for the recruiter - but these details are not your concern. If the recruiter says that they deserve a fee then that is for them to take up with the company - please don't feel that you need to facilitate anything. In fact if the recruiter needs any details from you about the hiring manager then that is a general admission that they didn't introduce you to the role & are not likely to be recompensed.

Recruiters generally work on the basis that they have a budget for each role or person they want to place & if the placement is too hard they go quiet when the budget is exhausted.

Recruiters have a role in this process but will only help you while they believe there is a financial benefit - you should approach the problem from the same basis. You wouldn't anticipate payment for not doing a task - neither should the recruiter. You can give the recruiter some value by explaining the hiring situation at your new company, which may help their revenue at a later date. But beyond that focus on your career.


WHATEVER has transpired, don't worry about it!

If the recruiter submitted first, the company's on the hook for a finder's fee whether the recruiter stays involved in the hiring process or not.

If your resume reaches HR first, the recruiter's out of the deal. All will be okay unless you've done so intentionally and the recruiter knows that. Things happen, and good recruiters are smart enough to know not to burn a bridge with a candidate because you may be back on the market someday.

Others have written about the dangers of a double-submission, but my experience is that it only really applies when it's two agencies submitting the same candidate to one company. So as it is, just keep moving forward. And until you're actually interviewing, don't put too much energy into this one opportunity as it's best to keep a few irons in the fire.

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