recruiters won’t give me any specifics about the jobs I’ve applied for

A reader writes:

I’ve been doing a casual job search for about five months now. I’m employed full time with a decent job, but I just don’t like it. Generally I apply directly to the company, but I’ve seen a few jobs I’m interested in posted through a recruiter/direct-hire staffing agency. When I do apply to these, I almost always get responses that are “We’d like to bring you in to discuss what you’re looking for” or “We’d like to meet with you about some opportunities” — no mention of the specific job I applied to, or even any *specifics* about *any* job. I have no clue if the “opportunities” they want to discuss with me are ones I even want, and I don’t want to take time off my current job for something like that!

I know you’ve advocated being straight-up with recruiters about what you want, but I think of that as once you’re actually working with them on an active job search. Is there a way to respond to their initial invitation to come in with something that tells them I am only interested in that specific job or ones very similar to it, and I’d like confirmation that’s the case before I come in?

If they won’t give you any specifics about the job, it’s because there isn’t one. These are staffing agencies, not true recruiters, and they’re collecting candidates for their database in case a job comes up that matches you later.  You’ll go in to meet with them and they’ll take all your information and still not tell you about a specific job.

There’s nothing wrong with candidate collecting, but there is something wrong with being deceptive about it and wasting the time of people who wouldn’t be interested if they knew the truth. And it’s revealing that they don’t think being honest with people would stir up sufficient interest in whatever it is that they’re peddling.

By the way, these swindlers do the same thing to employers too. Here’s an account of a recruiter who approached me with a supposedly perfect candidate for a job I was hiring for, but it quickly turned out that they didn’t have a candidate in mind at all and were just trying to get in the door to launch a broader search.

Fortunately, if you want to avoid these agencies, you can just stand firm about wanting to know details about the job before you agree to talk with them. A legitimate recruiter with a real job to fill will talk to you about it (possibly not giving you the name of the company, but certainly talking to you about the job itself), and most won’t make you meet with them in person; you’d interview with the employer directly.

{ 72 comments… read them below }

  1. Work It*

    I’m trying to keep an open mind about recruiters and staffing agencies, but I’ve had terrible experiences with both. I applied to a job a couple of months ago not knowing it was through a recruiter/staffing agency, and every two or three months a different person will call me to talk about the “opportunity.” Funnily enough, if I “play hard to get” by not calling them back right away, they keep calling and act interested. If I call right back and respond promptly, they disappear. Super annoying.

  2. OP*

    Thanks for the quick response! I was going through the “external recruiters” tag last night and actually laughed because the one you link is exactly what I’ve been going through, except on the employers’ side! I’ve been ignoring these responses from them because I figure they don’t actually have anything*, but as my job search goes on, I wanted to make sure this wasn’t a mistake and missing out.

    (*Oh man, while we’re talking about these agencies, there’s one local one that irritates me SO MUCH because they re-post the same jobs over and over with a disclaimer that “jobs we post represent actual jobs or are typical of the jobs we have” so I get excited at the description, see it’s from them, and realize it’s probably not even an actual job they have.)

    So it would be appropriate to respond to a “We want you to come in to dicuss some opportunities” email with something along the lines of “I would love to discuss this with you, but could you please give me some details on the opportunities first so I can ensure there’s mutual interest”? (Although I wonder if it’s even worth it, since every time I can remember a recruiter/agency *actually* having a job for me, they gave details in the very first email/call.)

    1. nyxalinth*

      I have this issue with Apple One. They have a strong reputations for these shenanigans in my area, and I know exactly one person who ever actually got a job out of them.

      An agency I applied with about two years ago ticked me off permanently because they tried to get me to refer friends to them for a customer service position, and when I said I didn’t know anyone who was in that field looking for work but I would be interested in hearing more, they ignored me. Prior to this, there were other issues, and then when they contacted me a few months later to “discuss my career goals” they refused to tell me if they actually had anything available. All this added up to resume farming for me.

  3. Surlyhrgirl*

    “So it would be appropriate to respond to a “We want you to come in to dicuss some opportunities” email with something along the lines of “I would love to discuss this with you, but could you please give me some details on the opportunities first so I can ensure there’s mutual interest”?”

    That wouldn’t bother me at all, and in fact when I call you, I’m going to reference the position that you applied for.

    I know there’s iffy staffing agencies out there, but please don’t think we’re all bad. Some of us truly care about our candidates and finding the right job for the right folks!

    1. Jamie*

      When I temped I worked with an excellent staffing agency, and the job I initially called about was real.

      There are good ones out there – but you need to be able to smell the bs from the bad ones and walk away.

      I had one point of contact at my agency, I thought of her as my agent as it was her job to call me with opportunities. Kind of like a performer but with 100% less acting and 100% more software required.

      There are good ones – and they don’t lie to you. That’s how you separate the two.

      1. Jamie*

        I temped, until I found the direct position I wanted – but the agency did both temping and direct placement. Just to clarify.

    2. mh_76*

      Some of us truly care about our candidates and finding the right job for the right folks!

      Please tell me you’re in MA… If not, that’s OK and keep on “finding the right job for the right folks!”

  4. Josh S*

    AAM has nailed it. In past job hunts, I’ve looked to staffing firms for help in the job hunt, thinking they were recruiting companies. Took a day, went in for their slew of “do you know how to type” tests, filled out their applications, and … Nothing. Ever. Happened. They are a complete waste of time.

    In my current job hunt, I contacted one legitimate recruiting firm (that was recommended to me by a friend in the same industry who had previously used them successfully). Talked with them over the phone and … Nothing. Ever. Happened. They never got back to me regarding my questions about what sorts of jobs they thought I’d be a good fit for, or any of the other basic information. I’ve seen jobs posted to their website that seem interesting, and I email my ‘recruiter’ for details or to let her know I’d like to apply, and … Nothing. Ever. Happened.

    So…when I saw a job posting at a different recruiter’s site, I thought “here we go again.” I sent in my resume and a good cover letter and … got a call about 2 minutes after hitting [Send]. Two phone interviews with the company that is hiring that same week. And the recruiter called me to follow up, coach me with info about what the company is looking for, etc etc etc. The most vastly different experience compared to what I was expecting.

    Good recruiting firms and recruiters ARE out there. But it’s hard to figure out the legitimate ones from the resume mills.

    (PS. If you’re job hunting in Chicago in Financial, Pharma, Marketing/Analytics/Resesarch, or IT, I have a recommendation for a good recruiting firm!)

    1. Jamie*

      And I have a Chicago area recommendation for those of you looking in the more general admin/accounting area.

      Perhaps Josh and I should open our own recruiting firm here in town – cut out the middle man? :) (kidding – of course)

    2. Surlyhrgirl*

      So they aren’t all a complete waste of time, as one firm actually did a good job for you :) It’s separating the wheat from the chaff that can be difficult, unfortunately.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        To be clear, anyone who will give you details about a specific job is not a waste of time. Anyone who won’t give you details is. The OP was writing about the latter.

      2. Josh S*

        Ah, I misspoke. When I said “They are a complete waste of time” I meant “Staffing firms of the sort who want to add your name to their hiring pool without a specific job in mind in hopes that you eventually match up to some job description they receive…are a complete waste of time.”

        And in my experience, most firms have fallen into that category. To date, one has not. (Good for them!)

        I do not mean to disparage your work, Surlyhrgirl. If you’re one of the good ones, more power to ya! But you’re fighting a popular perception similar to a used car salesman. :/

    3. OP*

      Yeah, I’ve had a couple decent experiences, so I know they’re out there, but it’s unfortunately not what I expect to get.

      (And thanks for the offer, but I’m in Boston. :) Looking for administrative, past experience in legal but definitely open to other areas.)

      1. Josh S*

        The company is Smith Hanley. The recruiter I’ve worked with is Nancy, but they have a bunch of different recruiters.

        (Sorry, Alison, if I’m plugging something where you don’t want me to. I included the link so you’d have a chance to moderate if you want.)

      1. Jeb-Ray Gumpeater*

        A related question: How do people share on this forum? I mean, we don’t have each other’s info, do we? If I wanted Josh’s recommendation, and he wanted to share it with me, would we use Alison as a middle-man?

        1. Josh S*

          Not really a good way to do it here, especially if you like to keep your email address off teh intarwebz out of a sense of paranoia. You can always connect over on the LinkedIn group, which is pretty solid.

      2. Josh S*

        The company is Smith Hanley. The recruiter I’ve worked with is Nancy, but they have a bunch of different recruiters.

        (Sorry, Alison, if I’m plugging something where you don’t want me to. I included the link so you’d have a chance to moderate if you want.)

  5. K.*

    Yeah, I’ve met with a bunch of recruiters and staffing agencies, and of all of the ones I’ve dealt with, only two actually bore fruit. (There’s a lot of turnover in staffing; my old recruiter at one of the good ones left to be a recruiter for a specific company, so I have a contact there now.) There are good ones, but I’ve been around the block to know the bad ones when I see them – the ones where you put on the suit and go in for the stupid “discussion of opportunities” meeting and know that you will never hear from them again.

  6. Jamie*

    Out of curiosity I googled my old agency and there are tons of complaints, so similar to what people are talking about here. Non-existent jobs, bogus ads, no responses/disappearing recruiters, etc.

    The branch I used is now closed, so I don’t know if the others are run them poorly, or if it’s a small segment who takes the time to review – and generally those are the people who are unhappy.

    It saddens me a little, because there are very few things in life that I would recommend unequivocally and that agency was one of them. My experience with them was professional and really great. I would hope that would extend to the whole company – but you never know.

    I temped for almost two years with them before my accepting a ‘permanent’ position with one of the places at which I temped. I had turned down 6 prior offers to go perm (this was before the economy tanked) and not only was my agent not pissy about my finickiness costing her commission, but she kept me working. With the exception of weekends there were only 3 days in that entire period which I wasn’t on assignment.

    When I resigned from the permanent position, the first thing I did was call the agency. They took me back immediately. I quit on a Wednesday and I was working the next Monday. Things had slowed down a bit, so there was a one week period in those four months where they didn’t have anything for me, and a couple of weeks where I wasn’t working all 5 days. That was the beginning of the economy nosedive and overall though, I thought they were awesome.

    1. Joey*

      Here’s a secret. Good staffing firms/recruiters are only good when they have jobs to fill. When they’re not busy filling jobs they’re typically measured by how many candidates they contact and add to the database. That is unless they also are responsible for drumming up business. But most have someone else doing selling and recruiters only fill and prepare to fill.

      Sounds like you caught yours when they were busy.

  7. Jonathan*

    I have worked with both good recruiters and bad recruiters. If a recruiter cannot provide me the details of the job, there are 3 possible reasons:

    1. The job does not exists.
    2. The recruiter has no clue about the job requirements.
    3. The recruiter is deliberately withholding information because he/she has a hidden agenda.

  8. Hari*

    I think not getting the details right away is okay. The recruiting agency I worked with in the past wanted me to come in so they could interview me first thing. It was an easy conversation about my experience and filling out a few forms indicating what types of jobs I would be looking for. After that they began sending me lots of emails and even a few calls about jobs and I went on a few interviews through them. Not for the original posting I applied for, so I guess that is a bit deceptive but they had other similar jobs. Working with them allowed you to bypass the initial phone interview straight to in-person. Also they personally checked your references, not the company who would be hiring you.

    So I wouldn’t be to worried if they wanted to screen you first as they do this on behalf of the companies working with them, only if after that you didn’t get any information on jobs you applied to.

    1. OP*

      Eh, if I was unemployed, I don’t think that would be a problem. But I’m not and I don’t have time for that. In the past, I have replied to specific jobs with agencies, had them ask me to come in to “discuss some opportunities” and then nothing they ever sent me was close to what I wanted. I’m not going to time off my current, stable job for that, hence wanting at least *some* information proving that what they have for me (if they do actually have anything) is something I’m interested in.

      1. Hari*

        That’s understandable. In my situation the recruiting agency was specifically focused on advertising/marketing jobs, so everything they focused on was within my industry. Another reason, which is actually probably the main reason now that I think about it, they want you to come in is to sign a contract saying you wont go around them. They don’t release that info because if you have yet to sign anything what is from keeping you from going directly to the company. Even when I got emails from them (after I signed) it would always describe the company and the job description without giving away the name. That way you actually had to express interest in it through them only. I wouldn’t find out the company until the recruiter called me back about it saying they wanted to schedule an interview. I agree though that it is probably best if you currently have a job not to jump through recruiter hoops (especially since most of their jobs are only temp-to-hire).

      2. mh_76*

        I am in-between again (which is why you’re hearing more from me) and I’m not going to send in a resume to an agency that can’t or won’t provide a job description in advance. I don’t mind wasting their time but have wasted enough of mine on this BS, even though I have lots of time right now.

        [2004 world-series ceremonial-something on TV… Sox need to fire Valentine. ’nuff said.]

  9. starts & ends with A*

    Often if I see a post by a recruiter, I hop on google and see if I can find the same listing elsewhere. Of course, that’s not always the case, especially with vague descriptions, but I’ve never talked to a recruiter who wont give me either the name of the company or enough details to figure out who the company was.

  10. Rana*

    One of these days I’m going to post a newbie-level question or two about the whole recruitment thing, because I find it both fascinating and mystifying.

    1. mh_76*

      I get tons of emails from these people….badly written emails about jobs in StateThree from so-called recruiters in StateTwo. It’s obvious that they haven’t even read my summary (I took the full resume down a long time ago) or clicked over to my LinkedIn profile. On both profiles, I have my preference for local recruiters/agencies worded very clearly, even mentioning area codes. I live in a large city so there’s no reason why an out-of-state or even out-of-area r/a should contact me, there are plenty of r/a here! Of those, some stink, some are decent, 3 have found work for me though the jobs weren’t always back-to-back and usually paid crap (I’m not being more up-front about my minimum $ph) and will only work cheaply for one recruiter.

      1. mh_76*

        Fake sample #1 – non-local Fake Agency re: local job that may have been “harvested” from a job-board or State website.

        I’m posting a couple of these as a partial guide for how to recognize a potential scam. Some already know but this is for those who don’t.

        Click here to unsubscribe.



        This is [Fake f-name] from [Fake Agench] (company founded in 1997); we are a IT consulting and staff augmentation firm working hands on hands with government (federal, state, county) and lot of fortune 500 clients directly. Our success is result of our philosophy of sharing most of bill rate with consultants so that people who make it happen get most of it. We have a job position and have really liked your resume for this position and feel that you will be a great match and an asset if hired. Please review below the full job and let us know if interested I will love to call you as per your convenience and would discuss this position in detail so that we can go ahead and submit your resume.

        Please send your updated resume with rate expected for this position ASAP.

        Ø If you would like to unsubscribe please click on this link UNSUBSCRIBE
        Ø Just in case this is not working send an email to unsubscribe@t****.com
        Ø Send an email to resumes@****.com with subject matter REMOVE

        Position Title: Project Manager
        Client: [State], Department of ****
        Duration: 1 year+
        Work Location: [This job is actually local, may have been harvested from a job-board]

        Primary Responsibilities

        * Develop and support a Change Management office and methodology
        * Develop and support high performance teams; coach and mentor team members in use of project management tools and processes.

        · Direct the development and integration of project plans as assigned and in conjunction with the RMVM Systems Integration (SI) Vendor.

        * Develop and maintain policies and guidelines aligned to existing ***DOT and ITD project management principles and standards.
        * Coordinate collection and presentation of project level metrics such as staffing, financial, and schedule data to executive level audiences; effectively use data and metrics to drive decision making.
        * Follow established governance practices including preparation of weekly status reports and dashboards.
        * Identify and forecast resource needs.
        * Meet regularly with the key business and technology stakeholders to monitor risks and issues and develop mitigation strategies.
        * Facilitate decision-making process as required across the business and IT teams.
        * Identify and resolve issues, ensure consistency and breadth of communication across projects and work streams.
        * Direct teams’ efforts to communicate results and recommendations to senior management and others.
        * Maintain current knowledge of the business processes and technologies deployed by the program.
        * Identify training needs of team members and plan solutions.

        Education, Skills and Competencies

        * BA/BS degree in business or related discipline.
        * Superior understanding of program and project management principles. Minimum of 10+ years formal project management experience including familiarity and experience with full range of SDLC.
        * Ability to manage the vendor interface for a large complex IT project.
        * Strong computer skill set, to include Microsoft Word, Excel, Power Point, Visio, and proficiency with change management tools such as TrackIt and project planning tools such as MS Project, or other MS Office tools.
        * Experience with design and use of Sharepoint for program management activities including archiving project related material.
        * Excellent analytical and organizational skills.
        * Well-developed professional maturity, judgment and diplomacy.

        Thanks & Regards
        [Fake Recruiter anglo-based Name]
        Technical Recruiter

        If you would like to unsubscribe please click on this link: UNSUBSCRIBE 22nd Century Technologies


        Click here to unsubscribe from our mailing list.
        [Fake Agency Name], Inc., 1 Executive Drive, Suite 285, [Fake C/S/Z]
        Phone: info@[*****].com Fax: [fake #]

      2. mh_76*

        Fake Sample #2 – “Recruiter” in StateTwo re: position in StateThree that I could do well but am probably borderline-qual’d for. Not enough info. in the description. Marked this one as spam.

        Let me know your interest/Thanks…

        Title: Bus Systems Analyst III
        Company: [Major Bank with branches all over]
        Pay Rate: $52/hr W2
        Location: [StateTwo]

        This individual will be supporting a major initiative that will involve a migration from Novell to Windows servers for all locations in the US. This candidate will be creating migration projects to prepare to migrate data from one platform to another. They will be using Quest NDS software tool to migrate the data. They will need to setup the migration projects in this tool which will involve a lot of data entry, a strong understanding of Windows XP and heavy usage of spreadsheets. This individual will also be responsible for data mapping, testing activities, and working with other technology teams.

        We are ideally looking for a strong technical candidate with good BA and QA skills.

        Must Have Skills:
        Strong MS Office – Excel (database experience)
        Comfortable learning new applications and can get up to speed quickly.
        Windows XP
        Detail oriented
        Strong QA experience

        Nice to Have Skills:
        Financial/Banking would be preferred, but not required.

        Location: [StateTwo…one to the North but…still not local] – will need this candidate to be on site 100% of the time. They cannot work remote.

        Duration: There is a possibility of an extension depending on the future phases of the project.

        Non Solicitation : Consultant agrees not to compete either directly or indirectly with Company for any subcontract, contract/consulting, or temporary employment position with our clients and/or Company(s) or consulting partner organizations where Company has submitted the consultant for a period of 12 months from date of submittal
        /*I would never agree to this paragraph because recruiters/agencies don’t “own” me with respect to their clients until I’ve actually worked a paying gig at that client. Having said that, I do make absolutely sure that I’m not double-submitted to any specific jobs*/

        [Fake], Recruiter
        ****, Inc.
        1551 S W****2 A, [C/S/Z, also not local]
        Phone: (****) ***-****
        www.****.com | mailto:FakeRecruiter@****.com

        Ranked 31st on Deloitte 2008 [ThreeOtherStates] Technology Fast 50
        A 2007 Inc 500 winner for 2004-2006
        A 2007 [StateThree] Finest winner for 2004-2006
        Ranked 4th on Deloitte 2007 Technology Fast 50 for 2002-2006
        Ranked 31st on Deloitte 2007 North America Fast 500 for 2002-2006
        Ranked 3rd on Deloitte 2006 Technology Fast 50 for 2001-2005
        Ranked 25th on Deloitte 2006 North America Fast 500 for 2001-2005
        /*I’m not sure that these even exist! I’ve been dealing w/ recruiters off & on, as a job-seeker, for many years, and I’ve seen more Fake Agency names in the past couple of years than in all others combined. I mark these emails as spam and, if they leave messages on my Google Voice, I set that to tell them that the # is no longer valid (even though it still is)*/

        If you would like to unsubscribe, please click here.

        1. mh_76*

          (hope these are remotely helpful to even one person)

          Both subject lines started with “need” … um, there are plenty of high-caliber professionals seeking work… no need to use the word “need” in the subject!

          As you can probably tell, this is one of the big “bees in my bonnet”.

  11. Mary*

    I’ve had this experience here. In a serious job search. After all the time of mine I’ve wasted with the 1 here I am sorry I will have to”paint all of [you] with the same brush”.

    1. Surlyhrgirl*

      That’s cool, you’re entitled to your opinion, but you’re possibly missing out on a great job because you’re stereotyping /shrug

  12. Elizabeth West*

    I have been running into this in my job search and it is very annoying. It’s sometimes hard to tell whether a posting is from one of these agencies, but usually they are quite obvious:

    –Lots of misspelled words (why don’t you hire me to write your postings? Sheesh!)

    –A pay rate that is too good to be true (no receptionist job in my area pays $35 an hour).

    –Most of the Apply links don’t even have a staffing agency name or website attached to them.
    Every time I’ve done this, I’ve received a sloppy email that is clearly scammy.

    –Blind ads that have fax numbers and are from a company as opposed to one of these places are easy to suss out. Just google the fax. I have an interview tomorrow with a law firm that did this on Craigslist and I found them easily. If there is nothing but a coded or strange email, I generally won’t bother.

    I hate wasting time on these things, and I hate that the two colleges I’m signed up with don’t screen them out of their exclusive listings.

  13. Elizabeth West*

    It’s hard right now to find anything even through a legitimate staffing agency, since most companies now are hiring temps or contractors. I don’t want to temp–I want my own real job, d@mmit!

    1. OP*

      OMG, seriously. I’d had agencies/recruiters cold-call me about temp positions. Yes, I am *totally* going to leave my full-time, permanent position for a temp one.

      1. Kelly O*

        I had one fairly recently that could not seem to understand that I’m not “updating my availability” on your website because I’m not available. It’s clear from all my online profiles and resume that I am currently employed.

        I think that’s part or what has gotten me so jaded on staffing agencies, no offense to Surly, but it’s like you cannot get anyone to actually read what you write, and then when you go in an interview all they care about is getting your paperwork filled out and finding out how much you made at each job (which you’ve already provided in the application – and don’t get me started on providing your social security card and drivers’ license before you can even talk to someone.)

        And I know there are good staffing agencies out there, it’s just finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. I know it’s “not fair” that the ones who are not great give the rest a bad reputation. There are lots of things in life that are “not fair.”

  14. Mike*

    I work for a pretty good staffing agency in town who got me a job with a great company. I don’t particually love working for an agency; raises are pretty much unspoken of, benefits are hard to come by, they might check in on you every month or so, and asking for time off is a pain in the butt. Despite all that, I could be working for worse.

    There was another staffing agency I “interviewed” for. They get so selective and picky when picking out resumes. They make you fill out endless paperwork. And then they sit you down and say, “Well what do you want to do?” And when you tell them what you really want to do, they just tell you that all they have is data entry. Well, duh. I can’t get a job doing what I want to do so now I’m at a staffing agency getting temp work doing data entry. You are the recruiter anyway, so why don’t you review my qualifcations and reccomend a position rather than asking me what position I want out of a list of positions I don’t know if you have or not.

    I swear the kids who “interview” me at the staffing agencies barely made it out of college.

    Totally with you OP: I want my own real job. I want to work for one organization, commit myself, and grow. Evidently that’s not enough to be entry level, you have to have a degree in filing or phone receiption, it seems.

    Bitter? Yes. Trying to keep it contained? Trying.

    One more thing: I’ve been working at my temp job and I interviewed for a permanent position (entry level) there that I didn’t get. They sat down and gave me feedback and said they saw me working in a different capacity there, so they were nice enough to connect me with some good people to talk to. Well those people said that in order to get where I want to get, I have to have an entry level job and work my way up . . . which would bring me back to the job I just applied for and didn’t get.


    I’m already working overtime and a second job. Then they want me to volunteer my time elsewhere in the company and get some “good experience.” What about the experience I already have? What about the fact that I do my job well every day? Why is being good at your job not good enough? Why do I have to sacrifice having a life and a relationship and friends and nights out, and dinner and parties, and movie nights and all the other great things in my life just to show someone who I give most of my time to (over 40 hours a week) that I care. I do care. That’s why I show up and work over 40 hours a week.

    Breathing. Thank you.

  15. Job Seeker*

    I just got a call for a job interview for a medical surgery office. At that time I was away at a doctor’s appointment for my mother. My son took the message and I returned the call. The office manager that called me had left for the day, but the other girl that answered the phone said they wanted to interview me. She asked if I wanted to come in tomorrow or Thursday, they have 3 interviews tomorrow. I told her Thursday would be perfect. I said this because I am trying to handle so many things right now and I figured saying Thursday would give me time to plan tomorrow for an interview. This is a part-time job that I am very pleasantly surprised they are interested in my resume. The girl put me on hold, then said she couldn’t find where my resume was and could the office manager call me back at this number in the morning. I was wondering if it would be a bad idea if I called the office manager back in the morning instead of waiting for her to return my call. I am not the most confident person right now and hope I did not do anything to make them not want to give me an interview. I am having such a hard time dealing with my mother living with me and my family. She is hard to understand and I feel stressed. Since they called me for a interview would calling them again early in the morning be a bad idea?

    1. Jamie*

      Congrats on the interview, that’s great!

      I wouldn’t call before they have a chance to call you. If I said I was going to call someone in the morning and before I was ready or settled they were calling me…I would be wondering why they didn’t let me call them like I said I would.

      If the don’t call by early afternoon there is nothing wrong with calling them, but I wouldn’t do it in the morning – if it were me.

  16. Angelo*

    I am the owner of the blog mentioned here. Does people still waste time with staffing agencies? I worked for one in the past. They were getting half of my gross pay, no benefits, no nothing, sometimes they even forgot to pay me. Just to clarify; if they paid me, let say $30/hour, they billed their client $45 . I understand that they are in business to make money, but why a totally unskilled middle man makes 50% of the employee without doing basically anything? Why don’t companies hire directly, paying maybe half way, like 37.50 as per my example? Their HR people are not any better (or worse) than a staffing agency, so what’s the point? I am glad I went through that experience; now I am a consultant and making 10 times as much and deciding IF and WHEN I want to work.

    1. Mike*

      We bother with staffing agencies becuase unless you have a business or marketing degree or you are an engineer of some sort, no one wants you. We we all have “such great potential.”

    2. Joey*

      Ton of reasons they can be a benefit:

      1. They don’t yet know if the position will be permanent and don’t want to incur the costs of unemployment.
      2. They have high workers comp insurance and want to make sure folks prove they can work safely before they decide to hire.
      3. It’s a high turnover job and they don’t want to incur the cost of benefits, etc until someone has proven they will stay.
      4. They don’t have the staff to commit to recruiting.
      5. They only need someone for a finite period of time.
      6. They need someone quickly.
      7. They’re doing mass hiring and don’t have the staff capacity.
      8. Their new hire expenses are high so they don’t want to incur them until the employee is proven.

      What you’re failing to take into account is all of the employer expenses associated with hiring someone. It’s not as simple as comparing wages to the bill rate.

      1. Jamie*


        Also some industries have fluctuating labor needs. If we need 200 people in July but 100 in October staffing agencies are a way to manage labor efficiently.

  17. Recruiter*

    I have to say, I disagree with this your answer. Oftentimes, when I respond in a similar fashion to candidates’ questions- that I would like to bring them in to speak with them in detail. The reason is because I work at one of the largest recruiting companies in in the world. I actively work dozens of positions at the same time, but we also have thousands of jobs on the database that I can work passively, and at any time, dozens could match a profile. I don’t have time to list all the specific positions that I have to a candidate, and frankly, when interviewing them, oftentimes I will learn things that disqualify them for the position I originally called them in for, but that they are a great fit for another. Furthermore, sometimes I cannot reveal specific information because my client specifically asks the search to be conducted privately. I am definitely a recruiter, not just a staffing agency.

    1. Anonymous*

      I’d still like to hear a prospective job description from a recruiter before I get into a long conversation. Because I have an MD and have worked in clinical development in pharma, my LinkedIn profile tended to attract recruiters looking to fill marketing/life-cycle positions, even though I had no experience in those and did not list marketing as an interest at all. A prospective job description is a good screen for how much attention the recruiter has paid to my resume.

    2. Angelo*

      And I disagree with you. Recruiters most of the time don’t even tell you what kind of job they are fishing for. They want to know everything about me and they don’t disclose even what kind of job? Come on!!! I am not asking for the name of the company, but at least what they expect from me; that is not a National Security secret. Usually they do not disclose the town of that particular job. How am I supposed to know if I am interested or not? We are not meat, we are professionals and human beings, so we deserve some decency and respect here!!!!!!!
      This kind of recruiters aren’t any better than used cars salesmen.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Recruiter: The problem is that your strongest candidates often aren’t going to be willing to spend time in the conversation until they’ve determined they have a chance of being interested, so you’re probably shooting yourself in the foot by not being more transparent with people.

      1. Jamie*

        Exactly. Would I be willing to go in for a meeting based on nothing but a shot in the dark? Depends how long I’ve been unemployed and how desperate I was.

        As an employed person I wouldn’t take time off work to meet with anyone unless I was super interested in something specific.

        So Recruiter is really narrowing the candidate pool.

        1. OP*

          It seems like Recruiter is one of those people who probably wants to hire someone already employed (like most do) but still expects us to have endless time to throw around, ha! :/

          And seriously, can they not give even a single piece of information? In what I was writing about, “some opportunities” is literally ALL I got, and this is from agencies with a wide variety of types of jobs. No way I’m coming in for that. On the other hand, for example, today I got another message from a recruiter asking if I was still looking for “legal administrative” work and if we could chat on the phone. At least she gave me *some* indication that the jobs she has in mind will line up with what I want, and also didn’t expect me to take time off work to come in to talk about generalities.

    4. Joey*

      Why do you have to bring them in to do that? Isn’t it better on both ends to talk generalities on the phone, email or whatever and only bring them in when you’ve got something firm?

    5. Kelly O*

      Okay, since I have the opportunity to ask this and hopefully get an answer – can I sincerely ask why I have to fill out all the normal employment paperwork before I can even talk to a recruiter at a staffing agency?

      I understand there are pre-employment screenings and all that, but I don’t necessarily want my social floating around at every staffing agency in town because I can’t even talk to you without that paperwork. (And the one time I pushed back on this, well let’s say I haven’t pushed back since because I was mortified at the treatment I received.)

      1. Joey*

        Because they believe you may need to report to a job so quickly there won’t be time to do it later. And because their recruiters never have the balls to question it.

  18. Anon in the UK*

    Recruitment agencies are the usual way of finding a job in my industry., and all the jobs I’ve had other than as a new graduate were found that way.
    That said, I’ve met completely rubbish recruiters. Particularly the two who contacted me via LinkedIn about how suited I would be for a job which I did in 2005-08. I am not sure why they would think I would want a demotion and a paycut.

  19. Ryan Jenkins*

    No sorry, recruiters are doing my head in. They completely ignore my CV . It states I have been a manager for a number of years and continue to plague me with lower level jobs.

    I have now started asking about jobs before we have a chat and 99% fail to give a clear view on the job. There is no job!

    I have stopped answering calls from UNKNOW NUMBERS, 99% of these calls are coming from recruiters with BAD reputations and none of these calls have lead to a interview.

    I have sued a recruiter before and pulled them into a employment trilateral where they failed to declare how they justified salaries when the CEO of the company bench marked our salaries and we were made redundant. They are out of business now.

    The new norm now seems to be sending you to companies who are putting out FAKE jobs. 2 interviews turned out to be fake. Since I am a senior manager some employers seem to put out fake jobs to get direction or information from you (Free consultancy). My solicitor has requested freedom of information act on the recruiters in question for all emails and job details. If they are found to be gaining money for fake consultancy work we will sue them out of business.

    YOUR DAYS ARE NUMBERED!!!! We will get you and your dirty tricks what harm people will not go unpunished.

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