Rogue recruiter
By Chris Bongard
9th April 2015

Your opinion of the recruitment industry will most likely be shaped by your personal experiences of it. Just one instance of running into a rogue recruiter that cuts corners and leaves you in the dark is unpleasant enough to make you want to avoid recruiters at all costs. But when competing for the best jobs in your industry, you may feel that closing any doors could cause you to miss out on great opportunities.

The key is to get to know your recruiter, understand the reasons behind their methods and only shut the door when it’s necessary. There are some less than impressive practices used by rogue recruiters so it is important to understand the warning signs and how to recognise if your recruiter truly has your best interests at heart.

Did they tell you that you had been submitted for a job, then you never heard back?

You may have been submitted, you weren't successful and the recruiter couldn't be bothered to tell you or they never submitted you in the first place. Here you have either a lazy recruiter or a dishonest one. One tactic of the latter can be to say they’ll submit you but instead hold onto your CV as backup and wait to see if their other current candidates fall short.

Unfortunately it can be difficult to uncover this rogue recruiter method at such as early stage in the process, but asking direct questions can help you to understand the recruiter’s true intentions. Ask questions about the time-scales of the process. If they evade these questions, this should put your certainly guard up.

Was the interview feedback vague or non-existent?

Honest feedback is vital as it helps you to understand why the client didn't proceed with your application and what you can do to be successful in the future. Telling you “they went in another direction” or other excuses can be as unhelpful as not providing feedback at all. It is particularly poor form if you have invested your time and energy in going to an interview but then don’t hear anything.

The situation could arise where the client has not provided proper feedback to the recruiter. To know if this is truly the case, it can help to understand your recruiter’s true intentions. A recruiter that takes you seriously as a candidate would be motivated to get you some feedback. This recruiter will be chasing the client and still keep you up-to-date, even if there are no big developments.

Have they been misrepresenting you to clients?

This can be a difficult one to uncover as misunderstandings and mistakes do happen, but if you find that once you are speaking directly with the client and things don’t match up, it’s time to ask questions. Has the recruiter misunderstood what you do or have they purposely bent the truth to persuade the client to hire you? Requesting confirmation in writing eliminates the excuse of ‘misunderstandings’ and hopefully allows you to be confident that your recruiter is taking your interests seriously.

Are they advertising non-existent jobs to get your CV?

Unfortunately some recruiters use this method just to get their hands on your CV and grow their database. Asking direct questions about the role should allow you to grasp whether the job exists with a real company or if it’s just a list of skills and requirements put together by a rogue recruiter.

One warning sign is if the recruiter says that they will submit you for a job but never actually discloses who the client is. Once the recruiter has your CV, has discussed your requirements and decided that you would be a good match, there’s surely no reason not to tell you who the client is. After all how can you decide if you really want the job if you don’t know who it’s with?

Are they competing for a client at your expense?

Some rogue recruiters may be trying to obtain CV’s for a job they haven’t been authorised to work on. These recruiters tell candidates they are being submitted to a job, and then send their CV through speculatively to the client. Most clients won’t review these CV’s as they stick to their preferred suppliers and so the recruiters actions usually leave the candidate uninformed and confused as to why they never heard back.

Do you feel as if you are speaking to a recruiter that is genuinely interested in you or are they rushing their conversations and refusing to discuss the role fully with you? If it’s the latter, then shut that door!

What to expect from a good recruiter

A good recruiter will get to know their candidates thoroughly in order to understand which roles will fit you best. It’s not just about skills and experience; personalities need to suit the company cultures and vice-versa in order to make a suitable match.

Good quality recruitment involves carefully choosing candidates for a role instead of just throwing as many CVs at it as possible. This means your recruiter should have the time to speak to you and ensure you are happy throughout each step of the process. It’s important to use a recruiter that is always happy to take a phone call and encourages open communication so you can easily turn to them if you have any concerns or questions.

A job hunt can be demanding enough without putting up with “rogue recruiters” so keep your eye out for these warning signs and hopefully the process will be painless and in the end, it will help you get that dream job! 

Have you run into any rogue recruiters? How did you uncover their tactics? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the recruitment industry.


"Yes I have experienced all the above , it seems very widescale in the contract market. The one you missed is the extremely good rate , but when you apply is suddenly drops or you have to pay them to continue your application" - Peter Vullo

"Hi Claire,
I like your article and I have the feeling after 15 years of recruiting that all you said is what is happening in the market. As you explained recruiting does not end with putting somebody in a company. The communication to the applicant and company should continue all the way till the end of the project. As the applicant cannot act directly with the end client it is the responsibilty of the recruiter to do that effectively. As you put it the recrutier or recruiter company should take an active role in the communication with the applicant and end client.
Just to add a few points to your list of bad tactics of recruiters:
1. Recruiters use the applicant´s CV for finding new clients and business generation. They often come back asking for the names of the manager responsible or who could be the right manager to approach in the company, prefereably also his name.
2. Many times I get a role in the market from different recruiters. I get contacted from these recruiters asking whether I want the role. If I decide to take the role by one recruiter, the other recruter would like to know the price I offered to secure the role, most probably to undermine this price through other applicants or maybe doing some other monkey business.

Because of lack of time I have to leave it at that. I wish you all the best. Maybe you and me can educate the recruiters how to behave in this market if they want to survive." - Cesar

"Sadly, I have come across all 5 in my job search over the last few months.
I even had one agent who constantly pretends he’s not himself when you speak to him, then hands the phone over to a colleague who pretends to be him." - A Jo


Recruiters get their money from hiring companies, not from candidates. They play any game they want with candidates - especially the "can I show your lousy resume to this job your are obviously not going to get so my client can review three resumes before hiring the preferred, preselected candidate." And there are the pigeon-holers - "no, I did some administrative work as well, and also worked in projected development as well as programming." -- SO, you're sort of a jack-of-all-trades" says the 20-something who took scores of generalized classes in college four years ago but has never done anything but get hired for a PR firm.
Posted on Thursday, August 16, 2018 00:06 by Joy

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