I’m a third party recruiter and I refuse to bend over and appease any HR department that insists on a jealous stranglehold over hiring decisions. As proven by their public website, this company’s HR department has made itself the one and only gateway through which employment is granted. Such policies about recruiters are how internal HR politics often eliminate A-player candidates.

Attention Staffing Agencies/Recruiters:
Please do not correspond with, or in any way solicit, any individual [Company name redacted] employee, including hiring managers, regarding our current open positions or staffing needs. All communication should be directed to [HR e-mail]. Any and all resumes submitted by Search Firms or Employment Agencies to any employee at [Company] via-email, the internet, or in any form and/or method will be deemed the sole property of [Company], unless such business(es) were engaged by [Company] for this position, and a valid written agreement has been executed with [Company] and is in place. In the event a candidate who was submitted outside of [Company]’s agency engagement process is hired, no restitution of a fee or payment of any kind will be exchanged.

I think this is very bad news for headhunters and job seekers alike. What a disaster.

This is why more and more “recruiters” use the random “resume flood” method of candidate submission. Much of the industry has fallen victim to worshipping throwing darts at the board all due to HR’s failed policies.

Nick’s Reply

recruitersBefore I address your ire, I want to explain why this problem is relevant to all job seekers: Know how frustrated and upset you get when a recruiter gets you on the hook about a “perfect” job — then the “opportunity” goes nowhere? Some of the time, it’s because the recruiter has no contract with the employer, and thus no authorization, to submit candidates like you. The employer simply refuses to interview you. And the recruiter is simply using the job as bait to gather more information about you so they can submit you for other jobs that aren’t so perfect and waste more of your time.

Recruiters without contracts: bad business

Employers routinely require a contractual agreement with a search firm or agency (aka, recruiter, headhunter) before they will pay a fee for candidate referrals. That’s a common policy and I think it’s actually a good thing for headhunters that want to deal with this company. I don’t see how it’s a disaster. A contract avoids friction between headhunters and employers — friction that can hurt the naive, unsuspecting job seeker. Unfortunately, even some of the most sophisticated job seekers don’t understand this problem.

The notice you shared above clearly says the company works with headhunters and outside employment agencies, but requires a contract to be in place. What this policy does is exactly what you bemoan. It blocks recruiters that use “the random resume flood method of candidate submission” that wastes everyone’s time. It sounds like you don’t have a contract with this company — or why would you be complaining about it?

The policy is also good for job seekers. By locking out unapproved recruiters, a job seeker interested in working at this company faces less competition. (See A headhunter locked me out of jobs for 6 months.)

As a headhunter, I’m not a fan of conducting business through the HR office. This means I prefer to work with companies where HR serves in a primarily administrative role in recruiting. I deal directly with the hiring manager, and I still have a written contract with the company. That’s just good business. Why would I chance delivering my valuable services without assurance I’ll be paid?

Headhunting is not a free-for-all

Headhunters that submit resumes to employers without a contract in place put everyone involved in jeopardy.

It’s actually good for a headhunter when a company requires engagement contracts. It prevents headhunting (or recruiting, if you prefer) from turning into a free-for-all. It makes it easier to work with the company (whether it’s with HR or a hiring manager) because you’re not competing with unapproved recruiters spamming the company with “resumes” they found online.

That policy statement seems directed at recruiters the company doesn’t do business with. It doesn’t mean approved headhunters are forbidden to call and talk with hiring managers. Of course, if this is a case where HR still tries to keep the headhunter and the hiring manager apart, then it’s time for the authorized headhunter to fire the client. Most of the time the only problem is unauthorized headhunters insisting on submitting candidates to an employer.

I don’t like HR roadblocks, but the reality is, a company can use any rules it wants to, and the headhunter is free to take great candidates to the company’s competitors instead.

Job seekers, pay attention!

There is an important lesson here for job seekers. You know as well as I do that recruiters often waste your time after they ply you with solicitations to consider a certain job. One reason is that the employer in question has no contract with that third-party recruiter. An unauthorized submission of your resume could waste your time with unauthorized interviews that go nowhere, and even kill any chance you have for a job at that company.

This contract problem also reveals itself at the job offer stage. The employer may decide to set aside the recruiter’s lack of a contract because the hiring manager really wants to hire you anyway. Your problem is that the recruiter has no pull with the employer to negotiate the best deal for you. As a drive-by opportunist, this non-contracted panderer just wants a quick fee, not the best deal for both sides.

Vet recruiters

My advice: Vet all recruiters. Ask a headhunter that solicits you for proof that they are authorized to recruit for the employer in question. You could even check yourself, by contacting the company’s HR department before you agree to do anything else. (If the headhunter is indeed approved, don’t then try to apply for the job directly. That’s slimy and will probably get you into trouble.)

As you can see, this kind of friction between third-party recruiters and employers can hurt you. No one really talks about this, and that’s why I took some time to cover it here. Be careful. Don’t step into a mess. (See Recruiters: Raise your standards or get out. For thorough coverage, check out How to Work With Headhunters and how to make headhunters work for you.)

Job postings and resumes are essentially free for the taking online. There’s nothing to stop anyone from trying to earn a placement fee by contacting you about a job they saw online (without the employer’s approval) or from “submitting” your resume — which they found online — without your approval. This practice doesn’t make anyone a headhunter. Just a fast-buck artist.

Has an unsavory “headhunter” ever put you in a bad spot with an employer? If you’re a headhunter, what’s your position on having a contract with your clients? And I’d love to hear from HR folks. How do you handle unsolicited applicant submissions from headhunters that have no contract with you?

: :

  1. Sometimes, I get contacted by recruiters who want to submit me for jobs that are publicly advertised – so what would be the benefit of going through the recruiter, not just applying? May be, the recruiter could convince a good candidate who would otherwise not consider changing jobs.

    Other times, I see ads for the same temporary position through several different recruiter or consultancy agencies at the same time – so how do I know if they are all throwing candidate spam, or the company in question has agreements with them boths? Since the company can usually be identified through the combination of location and requirements, why not pply directly? Why would a company have two agencies post the same ad in the same place, rather than doing it themselves? Because the more recruiters, the more good candidates are dug up?

    Recruiters can be useful to dig up and sumbit gold that would otherwise not be found, i.e. apply. Or they can just be a friction cost. And the zone between them is grey. But a starting point is that both company and recruiter should be able to explain what the recruiter’s role is and which value they add.

    And always ask the recruiter to show the contract with the company, to avoid becoming resume spam. Been there, done that, and then learned my lesson.

    • “Sometimes, I get contacted by recruiters who want to submit me for jobs that are publicly advertised – so what would be the benefit of going through the recruiter, not just applying?”

      Because by doing that, you leave everything to Chance:

      That the iRobot HR computer determines you lack enough key words and your resume is automatically filed; HR, coming in the next morning, never even sees it;

      That the first line ‘recruiter’, too often a recent college grad who is generally unfamiliar with the ins and outs of job descriptions doesn’t see that you are qualified and should be referred forward;

      That if you are borderline, that same newbie screener won’t take a chance of being chewed out for presenting someone not qualified (Karsten, you are probably eminently ‘qualified’ but Sin Loi for those who are borderline and given some leeway, could easily be a best choice hire);

      ….and a more senior internal recruiter will determine s/he/they have received ‘enough’ resumes and can stop the process, turn off the tap and hire from the stack accumulated to date, ignoring any additional incoming resumes.

      Simply, an effective search consultant will contact the HA directly and will, if they are competent, encourage that HA to speak with you that day/the next or, second best, will generate an agreement that the HA agrees to receive your resume and the process continues from there.

      I generally endeavor (in a contingency situation) to overcome that “I need a resume, first” by agreeing to this and then simply go right back to suggesting a phone call that day/the next while also assuring them at the same time I will ‘get that resume to you’ before the call. Some of you in the peanut gallery would consider this style of overcoming an objection as being [somewhat] slimy but if it works -and it often does- then it can no longer be characterized as slimy and besides, what do you [as the candidate] care? I got you the interview.

      The theme behind this is that we are presenting Best Choice Hires; we are doing the employer a favor by doing so.

      • Paul Forel- This is a common practice where I live, and like Karsten, that I’ve experienced firsthand.
        Recruiter: “My client has this once in a lifetime opportunity! It’s manna from heaven (then/he she goes into a description that they’re evidently reading off a job board ad)!
        Me: “Yeah, I’ve already seen that position on, and I’ve already applied for it. Why do I want to deal with you? Btw, how did you even get my name and info? I didn’t publicly post it. My policy is no recruiters”! Then it’s click or deleted! (Nothing personal, Paul).
        While I can see you clearly don’t roll with this chump behavior, I think you’re more of an exception with your business model and ethics than the norm in your industry.

        • Hey, Anthony, how goes…

          In the past, here, I’ve said that it is important to not overlook the possibility a newbie/slimey/what-ever ‘recruiter’ might have a real job that could fit but I am going to contradict myself and say that if I was contacted by someone who talked about ‘perfect’ jobs and manna, I, too would be inclined to hang up.

          Nick might agree with me when I repeat what has been said before: there is a low barrier to entry to this business.

          • @Paul: I do agree. Back in “the day” in Silicon Valley, we used to say all it cost to be in this biz is a pocket full of dimes and a pencil. You could operate out of a phone booth and write your notes on the wall! It was no exaggeration.

            • Yes, based on my formal training, especially compared to newbie ‘recruiters’ who would be lost without their LI or ZoomInfo, I’ve said a few times that I can be on Mars and all I need to find anyone is a roll of quarters and a phone booth.

      • @Paul:

        “I generally endeavor (in a contingency situation) to overcome that “I need a resume, first” by agreeing to this and then simply go right back to suggesting a phone call that day/the next while also assuring them at the same time I will ‘get that resume to you’ before the call.”

        Nothing “slimy” about that! I think every effective person seeks to influence an outcome like that!

        • Hey, Nick…

          I would not normally ‘apologize’ but I’m thinking when I post here that even though I describe success, there may be some here who don’t approve of HH’s.

  2. With my current job, I had previously been contacted by a headhunter – but they were also contracted with my current company. I have, after one year, received an “Exceeds expectations” rating on my performance review. We have a highly professional HR department.

    I do think that companies need to increase salaries to both attract and keep good talent. While I don’t expect a high raise each year, my company was quite stingy on raises this year – my “exceeds expectations” rating got me a 2.5% raise (which is about as high as they went this year).

    My current company offered a 15% salary increase over what I was making in my previous job. While I would consider a significant raise at another company, I am making as much money as I can as an individual contributor – I have hit the glass ceiling. It’s a good job, but my company is headquartered in an area of the US where very frugal companies like to locate. This isn’t bad to be frugal, but I am afraid that this could be penny wise and pound foolish to limit raises and lose talent.

    Finally, there is another reason why people walk and they didn’t when my father (now 81) was working – in those days when people had pensions, they would lose their retirement if they left their jobs. Pensions were not portable. Today, that has changed and there is no incentive to stay with a bad employer.

    • And there’s no reason to stay in California either.

      • My father grew up in Colorado. I was raised in Ohio. Every state has their ups and downs. California (where I live) is a popular state – which is why it’s expensive.

        • A screwed up cluster describes California! Stay if you will. It’s on you.

          • Yes, my wife reminds me that I am a nut – she prefers the east coast. In California I love the weather and the scenery, and also I live in a small town with a lot of high tech industry. I happen to love it. We have a very large country. Some people prefer other regions.

            • East coast is even more nefarious! I stick to the Midwest, and would consider rural parts of the south.

      • How does your dislike of California have anything to do with the subject of this Q & A?

        • How is it your problem?

          • I live in Western Mass. In late 2014 I took Amtrak to SF and then by way of Monterey and Carmel to LA. It completely answered my question about why people like California so much. Unfortunately, very expensive and running out of water.

  3. This site has extolled the virtues of networking, with posters claiming 70-90% success rates (no way!).
    In my years in the trenches, I’d say I’ve seen maybe a 30-40% success rate with headhunters for STEM folks (no offense to Paul Forel). By and large, I think these folks are full of crap.
    While, I have little credence for HR, there’s a reason why job ads say “no 3rd parties”.

  4. Mostly, what has happened with me, is that the employer allows everyone and their cousin to submit candidates so you have Agency A competing with Agency B competing with Internal HR. So, by the time I get submitted to the employer, I’ve gotten the whole “we decided to go with someone else.”

    It seems like the most common “agreement” is contingency recruiting with leads to the throwing sh*t against the wall and see what sticks, which is probably why the company referenced has the text on their web site.

    This could be avoided if the recruiter was on retainer, but it would require the recruiter to up their game a bit.

  5. “I refuse to bend over and appease any HR department…”

    If that is true, and you are ignoring these Notices and are contacting the relevant department HA directly, then you are doing your job.

    Yes, I was put off the first time or two I saw these notices but then discovered that the department heads are not the ones who invented this screening device and are generally and often fuming because HR intercepts resumes they often would have preferred to have seen themselves.

    All this propaganda about how you “..won’t be paid…” is not in fact, true. If the HA agrees to receive a resume and hires your candidate, YOU WILL BE PAID.

    There is lots of talk about why these notices are or are not a ‘good’ thing but the bottom line, as a Search Consultant (please ditch that TPR jargon, it is demeaning to our profession) it is your job to Improvise, Overcome and Adapt to any obstacles that may present itself as you present Best Choice Hires to your target companies.

    • @Paul: Glad you said it. Because my focus is on how all this affects the job seeker, I didn’t want to get into the fine points of how the search biz works.

      If an employer accepts a referral from a headhunter that lacks a contract and then hires the person, barring some unusual circumstance the headhunter will get paid. But I’ve seen situations where the hiring manager accepts the referral, does an interview or two and decides to make an offer, then HR sends the headhunter and candidate packing. HR might be obligated to pay a fee if the person is hired, but can reject the candidate without incurring a fee.

      The problem, of course, is that HR has too much power and the manager doesn’t take that power.

      For these reasons, my practice (and I’m guessing yours) has been to work through the HA to get a ball rolling, present great candidates the HA can’t resist, and then let the HA work it out and get you a contract with HR. If the manager can’t do that, then the company is probably not worth working with.

      • Yes, everything you say is true and yes, HR can and does throw a wrench into the works, usually not because they have a ‘better’ candidate but to assert their ‘authority’.

        I’ve had HR insert themselves to my detriment and I also had a VP tell off a global HR VP to get out of the way and get me added to their list so he could then interview and subsequently hire my candidate.

        For those in the gallery, since this is again causing you to wonder if you should have a HH submit you or not vs applying on your own, I have been known to clear the way for a candidate to apply on their own, giving them the name, phone number and email address of the HA to facilitate their doing so.

        I have only done this when the recruit had their heart set on working for that particular company.

        Interesting, their are certain industry niches where the recruitable population will actually stand up for the HH, letting the HA know that if they turn away the recruiter, they will walk away, too.

      • Ever since the Internet, I have been using the platform to educate candidates/recruits on the HH process so they are better informed for mutual benefit.

      • As you know, there are very good companies with quirky/faulty HR practices. I don’t generalize since for me, every encounter is unique, even repeat business. This mentality keeps me on my toes and subsequently I don’t assume anything which could lead to a misstep.

        Transparency in my comms with recruits and candidates helps to assure mutual respect and Trust. Top quality professionals are leery of HH’s so I go out of my way to keep my C’s and R’s informed which enables me to take the lead in guiding C’s and R’s to completion of the hiring process.

        Keeping C’s and R’s in the dark leads to mistrust and could result in their zigging when I need them to zag.

  6. It is true that occasionally you will encounter a company that absolutely will not work with you since you are not a preferred vendor and you will mistakenly believe it can’t be done…..

    Imagine, in my case, when I was first in the business (back when Man first invented fire and discovered the wheel) my surprise when a few months later I discovered a competitor got a candidate hired at the same company….and did not have a vendor contract in advance.

    Assume Nothing.

    So you can’t get in, no matter what?

    That’s a good thing! They are now a Source because, as the saying goes, we can’t recruit from our clients so whenever a company closes the door in your face, they become a source for your paying clients. (I hope it wasn’t HR that closed that door and if it was, you should have your hands slapped. AVOID HR unless absolutely necessary to include them and if so, do not patronize them (they are insecure enough as it is) but continue to deal directly with the HA.

    As for that candidate you had thought you were going to be presenting, well, you are supposed to be presenting that same candidate to three (3) potential employers, yes?

    So all is not lost- fall back on what your manager told you, “Make Another Call” and find a third employer.

    • @Paul: That’s the fun part of this biz. The way I’ve heard that rejoinder to the employer that refuses to issue a “preferred vendor status” is this:

      “I look forward to working with your company, as I do with all companies in this industry: either as a client or a source of candidates!”

      • I’m not so sure…

        I was trained by old school headhunters who never left a nickel on the table, knew all the tricks of the trade, including some under-handed stuff to facilitate a close but also taught us to never make smart aleck remarks, just be polite, go away quietly and then recruit from them.

        No point in showing our hand…

  7. One more thing, a stray thought as I struggle to multi-task…

    With regard to engaging directly with HA’s ….

    If you are relatively new in Recruitment and have no previous sales experience, it is likely you may be coming off/sound like a Newbie.

    At which point the HA you [finally!] got through to may determine that once they have your candidate’s resume, they no longer need you standing around and talking newbie into their ear and will sideline you, endeavoring to continue the interview/assessment/hire process without you and in partnership with their Internal Recruiter.

    You are now on the outside, looking in and won’t be there when the hiring company decides to hire a candidate from a competitor or from the incoming application process.

    So know in advance that when dealing with HA’s, you need to be as proficient as possible so you have that HA’s confidence in you.

    At the best, that same HA may give you additional search assignments and/or refer you to another department HA and at the worst, you will be perceived as a One Trick Pony and you will be discarded once your candidate is hired.

  8. Hello everyone. I am not sure if my experience falls into this week’s topic but I thought I’d ask for opinions . .

    From 2018 – 2019, a period of 13 months, I worked on a contract through an agency. The project was completed so I was unemployed. Five months later the same agency said the position was available again, and because I had an exemplary record at this employer, they asked if I’d like to be submitted for another contract position. I said yes, I’d love to go back, and I was excited about the possibility of getting back to work.

    Unfortunately, this company has an out-sourced HR vendor (in addition to a “regular” HR department) which takes resumes without regard for a manager’s preference or preview of resumes. In fact, the recruiters are not supposed to talk to the hiring managers, and, as one recruiter confessed to me, he did indeed have a professional relationship with the hiring manager.

    So, after five days of waiting for a positive response from this outsourced HR company thinking I should be a top candidate, if not the best, the recruiter said they had no feedback yet. Well, perhaps to cut my nose off to spite my face, I withdrew my candidacy, thinking who are these “gatekeepers” waiting for? A candidate that would be better than me? Why can’t my previous boss simply see that I had been submitted and request my return?? Upon my departure, she (my boss) offered to be a reference for me, albeit this is frowned upon, as she told me “I’m not supposed to do this (be a reference).”

    What was the holdup?? This vendor decides whose resume gets forwarded to a manager which seems completely backwards. What I’m told is that they don’t want some kind of preferential treatment given either to an agency, recruiter, or candidate — who cares if the candidate is the best of all those submitted??

    So, if anyone knows anything about this type of “HR” outsourcing I’d like to know. At this point, although I’ve been contacted at least three times for the same position, I refuse to go back because of this HR vendor’s practices that make no sense whatsoever, IMO.

    • The ‘practices’ and getting hired are two different entities. Too many companies HR practices/process is mishegas which is why smart HH’s go around HR. You should, too, maybe.

      When you saw things were not moving along, instead of withdrawing (how does that help anything?) I would have called the boss for whom you had been working and asked that she cut the HR Gordion Knot and get you back into the system pronto.

      She likes you, she most likely would have taken your call.

      Sounds like you are being temperamental instead of focused on doing what needs doing. Yes, I remember the ‘wait and see days’ but times have changed and there are occasions when it is necessary to take charge if the job is important enough to you.

      • Hello again.

        In response to your inquiry, I didn’t reach out to my former manager because her hands were tied. I guess I wasn’t clear when I said that she wasn’t ALLOWED to be a reference. The managers there get no prior say in a candidate, even one that they know. That is the crux of the situation — managers are completely passive in this process because this vendor usurps their “authority.”

        Until the vendor and only the vendor gets a first go-around at resume perusal. She and the recruiter told me as much, that’s why I said that the recruiter himself was not supposed to discuss candidates or make known any kind of contact with the hiring manager. Other people in the company would have been zero use if the actual hiring manager’s hands were tied. Isn’t this what we talk about a lot here, the HR people directing the flow of candidates when actually, the hiring managers/actual department heads under whose direction a candidate will work, should be the final decision makers in terms of who they interview? “C’mon man” – this is ridiculous – that’s why I posted about it! As candidate, with many years of experience, I no longer settle for vendor/recruiter/hiring games – especially not for another contract position.

        BTW, this is the same vendor that while I was still on contract, they FORBADE the managers to tell the contractors when the contract was ending — I mean truly they could not let on at all that things were winding down. This again was confirmed by my manager who apologized when I turned in my laptop. Only when our agency recruiters finally pressed them for a date of the contract ending was the final date shared – this was five days before the last day.

        There was no respect shown to the contractors for their time or to get another gig lined up. This was especially strange given that we literally had no work left to do but still had to show up to the office and sit in a cube all day (meanwhile job-hunting on our own devices).

        I see this as a vendor that totally gets in the way of the hiring process, “builds its own hurdles,” and because of the way I was treated, I’m not interested in jumping through their hoops again. Perhaps this is one of those situations where “you have to be there” to understand. BTW, the second contract opportunity was only 6 months which is not at all attractive to me. Also, I am not in any way a C-lister or working in a high-level role – perhaps feedback to my original post would be different seen in this light.

    • I’m curious. If you worked there I assume you have names, numbers and emails of co-workers, why not use them to get your candidacy in front of the right person? You mentioned someone there offered to give you a reference, why are you not using them? I’m sure being a former employee HR would even have have a chat with you about the position. Your story assumes HR would rather waste manhours looking for anyone to fill that position but you. The idea of a candidate, experienced in that exact job which would require no training is a huge turn off to HR. C’mon man (to quote Biden) I dont buy this story for 1 minute. I know it’s in fashion here to see HR as the republican guard of any company but to suggest an HR dept builds it’s own hurdles to fill jobs is ridiculous. I think you just need to get more creative in how you get your desire to take that position in front of HR or other internal folks at said company.

      • @Adrian: When a company uses a staffing firm to hire (actually, to RENT) workers, there’s often a policy that managers are not permitted to bring workers on EXCEPT through the staffing firm.

        The biz model is more than I want to get into here, but as you and others correctly intuit, something is very wrong with the model. I think the problem starts with HR, because that’s where the money starts.

      • “But to suggest an HR department builds its own hurdles to fill jobs is ridiculous “. Really?
        The triggered Karens, Soyboys, and I.T. neck beards who post here will agree with you, but the gritty realists (be they few) would beg to differ.
        Anyone in the real world, or anyone who has spent any time in the real world, can affirm that most HR is there to disqualify candidates, and yes, build its own hurdles, and push its own agenda. I’ve sat across the table from plenty of HR ditzes in my day, and me being more than qualified for the prospective job, and have been shown the exit because they claimed I didn’t give them the tingles. The fact this guy has had a belly full of jumping through hoops for a clown show employer, and getting pimped to boot, shows he has some cojones, and some cognitive reasoning abilities.

    • @Face: I read both your original post and your reply to Paul. This is a perfect example of what’s fatally wrong with our employment system. Consider what’s going on:

      1. An employer (the place where you actually go to work) wants to fill a position.
      2. Its HR department, which is incapable of accomplishing what should be the company’s competitive edge — finding and hiring the best workers — contracts this task to a third-party “staffing firm.”
      3. The staffing firm’s HR team, which is no better than the employer’s, contracts the task to yet another — fourth party — “HR” firm.

      See where this is going? It’s called “sucking value out of the economy.” The chain of “businesses” getting a cut of wages and salaries are paid more than the worker.

      Exactly how does that “create value?” It’s one thing for an employer to turn to a specialist to fill difficult positions. It’s entirely something else for an employer to avoid having employees and for the staffing firm to avoid having recruiters — and for the job seeker to be passed from one to the next like an undigested piece of meat.

      There is a technical term for this: clusterf*ck.

      There are some very good staffing firms out there. Find them before the cruddy ones find you.

      More here:

  9. I appreciate the useful insight and advice in this column and have benefited both as a hiring manager and an employee seeking opportunity. I have also recommended it to several of my coworkers and hiring managers at multiple companies.

    As a hiring manager, I only accept resumes through an employee referral or contracted recruiter. I prefer referrals by respected employees (A-player rule) but utilize recommended recruiters for hard-to-find candidates. (Most recently, a director of optical engineering with strong technical background and experience with space systems.) A competent recruiter that can find and engage excellent candidates is worth every penny.

    As an employee seeking opportunities, I vet all recruiters before providing a resume or pursuing interviews. I do this by asking the recruiter directly. I have never tried to go around the recruiter, if they brought the opportunity they deserve to get paid. If they are unwilling to specify the company and their relationship, I do not engage further.

    One final comment on direct resume submission by candidates; I have recently focused more effort on direct submission, primarily for junior engineering roles. I had a candidate walk in to deliver his resume and job application to the front desk. This level of initiative was enough to get him an interview and we hired him. He worked out great but recently left the company to pursue his Ph.D. No regrets and wish him the best! :)


    • @John: Thanks for a manager’s view. I admire how much responsibility you take for hiring, rather than leaving it to HR.

      I’m curious: Have you ever encountered a headhunter who had no contract with your company, but who demonstrated to you a clear ability to produce excellent candidates, whom you then recommended to HR for approval?

  10. Yikes! This guy is recruiter and doesn’t know about establishing a contract FIRST between agency and company? I’m sure this greenhorn was just trying to jump on the anti HR bandwagon around here but he/she did just gloss over many agency/company formalities.

    • So you know, these ‘preferred vendor’ contracts are only reviewed once each year and usually, HR sticks to the current HH firm/agency. So if a HH has a one time candidate they are marketing, it doesn’t make sense to try to get on their list when all we have to do is do what we’re supposed to do- approach the relevant HA.

      • Paul Forel- Off topic, I’ve been discreetly searching for a new job while still being employed. I’ve been getting hits on my resume, and both phone and face-face sit downs, all by old school paper resumes.
        10 years ago, when I was out of work during the Great Recession, when I landed a rare interview (and at 50% less wages than I’d been accustomed to), most employers I interviewed with were total cretins and rogues.
        What a contrast today! More “hat in hand” and humble pie. Granted, the so called worker shortage may be causing some of this. What’s you analysis here?

        • Antonio,

          Frankly, Nick is better at this stuff than I am.

          There are times when I can accurately characterize a situation and there are times when I prefer to take each specific situation one at a time, especially when there are variables on top of variables.

          My specialty is reading people and situations which means I take every possibility into account.

          So my answer to you would be a list of possible explanations; the obvious and the not so obvious since I overlook nothing. This kind of response is not what you’re looking for.

          On the other hand, Nick can step up and provide a concise explanation that will suffice.

          I have to supply you with an encyclopedia of possibilities whereas Nick can give you a response you can work with.


  11. The biggest problem with HR Departments is that on their best day they can screen and interview an HR intern. Maybe an entry-level HR person.

    That is it.

    Not a person for your department, not a person of your skills and experience, none of that.

    • True.

      And don’t forget, some STILL use “key word” software as a first touch screening tool.

      For the most part, HR exists only as a go-between when employment legal issues pop-up – most of which are of their own making due to their stranglehold over the hiring process.

      I’d rather deal with a B-level “recruiter” than HR – any day of the week.

  12. In the July 12, 2016 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, Nick declared “…a reader refuses to waste time interviewing with HR.”

    Smart reader!

    The craftily titled article (Tell HR you don’t talk to the hand) went on to say this:

    “HR’s behavior will not change as long as job seekers keep agreeing to silly demands. Why would you want to get screened by HR, when HR isn’t expert in the work you do? Would you let the gardener tell you not to knock on the homeowner’s door? (See Should I accept HR’s rejection letter?) You don’t have to talk to the hand.”

    So, there ya go…it’s been crystal clear for a LONG time – control freak HR departments are the #1 enemy of qualified A-player candidates. As for anyone else that wastes their time playing HR’s games it’s obvious you enjoy being treated like starving peasants begging for attention – a truly pathetic position to be in. It’s like letting the “gardener” control access to all the homes they work at. LOL!

    As the character “George” desperately screamed in that famous Seinfeld episode – “But I’ve got hand!”

    Have fun playing in that dead-end sandbox.

  13. To me that much of what HR does is because of company attorneys and the legal or public relation social media climate these days. Legal is trying to prevent any questions regarding hiring practices.