is this recruiter way too intense, or is it just me?

A reader writes:

About once or twice a month, I get an email from a random recruiter with a job. If I am interested I respond, but often never hear from them again.

A few weeks ago, a recruiter reached out to me via Linkedin and email. I responded and wow! he responded back. On the surface, this position seemed like a good fit and we emailed back and forth. I am currently actively looking so I was actively engaged in the process. It was never more than a few hours before I responded to questions or requests for information.

At the same time, I am also still working another job. I also don’t like to take calls when I am driving (despite Bluetooth, I find it distracting) or during dinner.

When the recruiter decides he needs to communicate with me, there is nothing stopping him. He has called me eight times in a row from two different phone numbers. He did not leave a voicemail. When I was able to check my phone later, he had also texted me, emailed, and LinkedIn messaged me. I did call him back, but the topic was not urgent and since no one was dead, I don’t think calling eight times in a row was necessary.

A screening interview was scheduled with the hiring manager and it went well. A face-to-face interview was scheduled (also involving phone calls from multiple numbers and three different types of electronic messaging).

As I look through my phone, he has called me as early as 7:30 a.m. and as late as 10:30 p.m. Quite frankly, he is giving me anxiety. If this were a romantic relationship, I would have dumped him, blocked him, and looked into a restraining order.

I did email him at one point and told him I appreciated his attention to detail but he only needed to call once and leave a voicemail and I would get back to him as soon as I was able. He eased off but then was back on it again.

After reviewing other factors, I decided to not pursue the position further and reached out to cancel the face-to-face interview. While his doggedness is not the only reason, I admit it is a factor.

Early in the process he asked me to write him a Linkedin recommendation and I told him I would take notes during the process. At this point, I cannot possibly write a recommendation. Should I let him and the hiring company know how off-putting his behavior was? Or am I overreacting to this?

You aren’t overreacting! This is legitimately obnoxious. It’s way too pushy and aggressive, and it’s disrespectful of your time. It says, “I am the most important thing you should have going on, and I require your attention on the spot as soon as I decide I want it, regardless of the time of day. If I can’t reach you, I will harass you until I get you.”

That’s just plain rude.

I’m assuming he’s an external recruiter and the company with the job opening is his client (as opposed to him being in-house with the company that’s hiring). I assume that because internal recruiters rarely behave this way; they’re not on commission and don’t face the same sales pressure that external ones work under. If anything, in-house recruiters are more likely to be hard to get ahold of — they’re not typically hassling candidates with in-your-face pressure like this.

I doubt this guy’s recruiting company would care — they probably generate much of the pressure that causes him to behave like this. But the hiring manager he was working for would likely care. As with last week’s letter about the high-pressure recruiter who used a candidate’s dad’s death to try to get her to accept an offer, it’s worth letting the hiring manager know what your experience was. Frame it as, “I doubt you were aware of Bob’s behavior and wouldn’t want him representing your company that way.”

And what is up with recruiters behaving like this? We’ve had so many letters on this theme over the years that for some of them it seems almost like an operating norm in the profession.

{ 174 comments… read them below }

  1. Amanda*

    It does seem like there are a lot of letters about being on the job hunter end of a recruiting relationship; are there recruiters who read this blog? Have you ever heard from any? I’d love to hear their takes on these types of questions, it would be fascinating to get some insight from that side.

    1. Jean*

      All recruiters should be REQUIRED to read this blog, based on the letters I’ve read about the crap they pull.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          Honestly I think they come up with plenty of bad ideas on their own. It’s not like AAM has published a letter with “pushy recruiters keep trying to friend my family on facebook” and that’s something that apparently multiple recruiters have come up with all on their own.

      1. Leela*

        I am a former recruiter and what’s so frustrating is that “the crap they pull” is almost certainly “the crap their managers force them to do, when they might not have any safe way to leave and keep their housing”

    2. Daniel*

      I’d love to see a letter from the perspective of a hiring manager working with an external recruiter.

      1. juliebulie*

        I sit next to a former hiring manager who had to deal with a recruiter. Having heard only the exasperated manager’s side of the phone calls, I can say it was lucky for the recruiter that they were out of state so as not to get strangled.

        1. juliebulie*

          …I should mention, I very well know that not all recruiters suck. However, the hiring manager actually had to deal with a succession of recruiters. Whatever outfit they work for doesn’t keep its recruiters around for very long (or their recruiters choose not to stay for very long). They regularly ignore what we ask for, and send us resumes for terrible candidates I guess thinking that it’s better than saying “we haven’t found anyone yet.” We need a new agency but we don’t get to pick…

          1. AnnonRecruiter*

            A lot of this comes down to how seasoned the recruiter is – are they familiar enough with the market to tell you if your expectations (compared with salary and timeframe) are realistic? It’s the Good/Fast/Cheap conundrum – you cant have it all.

          2. Quill*

            That seems to be fairly common, a lot of recruiting for my industry is done out of what sounds like large call centers. At least when recruiters fire off email job descriptions to 200 people I can just delete ones that want me to move cross country for a 3 month contract, when I get my voicemail filled with those I get angry.

            I suspect some of these people are getting paid based on how many they contact and how many people they speak to on the phone… yet I cannot count on multiple people’s fingers the number of times that they can’t even give me basic information about the job (pay rate, location, the job ID number for unemployment records purposes) and still want me to commit to it over the phone.

            1. Nerfmobile*

              Oh yeah, those 3-month contract cross-country “opportunities” drive me crazy – I have a well-paid managerial job with a stable, industry sector-leading company: why would I want to uproot my life for a short-term low-level individual contributor position with some random no-name company? Use some thought, people!

              1. Quill*

                Also why the F are you hiring for a three month position?

                These are also the ones that when you talk to them they say “fly out here for an interview with no previous phone screening, we reimburse!”

                No sir, my kidneys and I are staying right where we are.

          3. Working Mom*

            Yes there ARE good external recruiters out there! I had one contact me via LinkedIn a while back – and because I was actively looking I responded and a normal professional relationship ensued. The recruiter gave me helpful, credible information to prepare for interviews with this company’s leadership, and acted as a go-between until I had developed rapport with the hiring manager directly and communicated with her directly from that point going forward. I complimented the recruiter to my new boss (after I accepted the job!) and thanked the recruiter as well.

            There ARE good ones out there!

            1. Ama*

              I had a coworker a while back whose husband was a recruiter and I can remember a point where they were both very concerned because husband’s firm (which was a small operation that prided itself on replicating an in house recruiter experience for clients who didn’t need a full time in house recruiter) was bought by a much larger recruiting agency that was notorious within the industry for skirting the edges of unprofessional behavior. Every time we get a recruiter letter I wonder if it was from that larger firm.

              (I don’t actually know whether husband ended up leaving for another job or not as my coworker took a new job before all that sorted itself out.)

            2. Random IT person*

              I seem to attract only bad ones then.
              Some offering a job for 6 months, further away from me than my current job. Paying between 5 to 15% less than current salary.
              And they pitch this as a ‘great opportunity’ .. When I then ask “for whom” (their bonus or me) – they get either offended or just vanish.
              Others contact me about some opportunities in the same area, for ‘people with my experience’ – but then when I ask about contract type, salary range (i do not need the exact penny amount – but ‘between 1500 and 1750 a month isn`t a state secret, is it?) they stop responding.

              the last one doing this i sent (via linkedin) a message ‘are you even serious’ … as i`m so tired of these recruiters and their mindgames. At this point, if people say there are really good ones out there, I ask where, and then why aren`t they fighting against the crappy ones then ??

              Is there a list / registry of ‘pushy companies’ or ‘ghosting recruiters’??

              1. JM in England*

                If there isn’t, then there should be one!

                Wish there was one in the UK. Have had very similar experiences to yourself…..

              2. Salty Caramel*

                I’ve send replies to recruiters that say nothing but, “Don’t be silly” because some of the emails are just so laughable. Jobs I haven’t done for more than I decade. Six-month contracts a thousand miles away. A salary I couldn’t live on in 2003.

                I once thought of starting a website to rate recruiters, but I wasn’t sure who would advertise on it to pay for it.

              3. lnelson in Tysons*

                I will have to use your answer “for whom” when a recruiter is trying to push “a great opportunity” on me and not taking the hint

            3. Batty Twerp*

              There ARE good ones out there!
              I’m prepared to bet it’s a similar thing to how the world seems such a dreadful place because only bad news gets reported in the media. We only get to hear about the truly dreadful events/people/circumstances and, since it’s not in proportion to the total number of events/people/circumstances, we assume that it’s the majority that’s crap, when it’s not (because let’s face it, who writes to a popular advice blog to say “everything is awesome!”).

            4. Lucky*

              I agree, I have worked with one great recruiter…amid many bad ones…but I still remember how helpful she was. She identified a job that was exactly what I was looking for to pivot from education to public health, gave me a lot of helpful information about what the organization was looking for, made sure I was a good fit for them (they had some non-negotiable requirements based on the nature of the organization), and called me enough but not too much before and after my interviews to prep me and give updates. She worked for one of those large staffing firms in a major city, so I think I just totally lucked out. I legit wish her well, she really helped me make a huge move towards a career I now love!

        2. Veronica Mars*

          We have to use external recruiters for screening interviews, even for internal hires, and its always way more hassle and time than if we just did the work ourselves. ugh ugh ugh.

          Memorable throwback to the time I was applying to move internally from a “level 2” to “level 3” role and had to spend an hour on the phone with a recruiter detailing my English language and word processing skills and going through numerous relocation-related and eligibility-to-work-in-country questions when I literally wouldn’t even need to change desks.
          She also asked questions about my proficiency with various software packages but then didn’t understand what I was saying. Think “how good are you at excel?” “well, I regularly use macros and pivot tables…” “Can you explain what a macro is?”
          Oh, and she wouldn’t tell me who I’d be working for. I had to show up to an assigned cubicle at an assigned time for my interview but could not know the hiring managers name.

      2. Mama Bear*

        My old office manager ended up taking over recruiting because the recruiter was getting information wrong, choosing people with the wrong experience, scheduling people for the wrong days/time (bad for business across time zones), and generally turning people off from wanting to interview. I agree that the hiring manager ought to know, if you know how to contact them.

      3. hbc*

        I’ve had a couple of really good ones, who don’t call unless there’s information to share, and who aren’t afraid to say, “Look, I’ve got some resumes, and you can take a look, but I don’t think we’re hitting the nail on the head yet.”

        Then I’ve got the guy who would show up unannounced thinking donuts would buy him 15 minutes to talk about the job openings I didn’t have, and we had to call his agency to tell them we would no longer work with him. He was dealing with the next company I went to, and he apparently learned nothing by being booted. His reaction to being told that he was calling too much was to agree to scale back, then call the next day to explain why he should still be calling so much. Dude, I know you have a quota to meet, but that’s not my problem.

      4. Hiring Mgr*

        I’ve worked with plenty of recruiters, both internal and external….Like most things, 99% of them are perfectly normal and wouldn’t do what the OP is talking about – there are always the exceptions of course..

      5. HM MM*

        I’ve worked with external recruiters both as a candidate and on the hiring side (90%, at least, of hiring in my industry goes through external recruiters). Its similar to being on the candidate end – the not great ones are a pain to deal with, the experienced/professional ones can make the process way more efficient and provide valuable advice.

        I think of them like car salesmen or real estate agents. Some are unethical and dishonest and are just looking to collect the maximum amount of commission by any means necessary. The good ones are more focused on providing quality services, making appropriate recommendations and building repeat clients (or referrals).

        The best recruiters to work with (particularly from the hiring side, but it seems to hold true for both) are ones who focus on a specific field/industry/type of work. Some entire agencies are devoted to specific industries, other ones will have different depts. If the recruiter does not seem to have an obvious focus I consider that a bad sign. The best of the best recruiters I’ve worked with have actual industry experience and then moved into recruiting (eg: someone who worked in accounting, worked their way up for 15-20+ yrs, managed teams, but then moved into recruiting focusing on financial roles).

        1. Mockingjay*

          @HM MM: I was hired at Current Job by the latter type of recruiter you described; the agency focused on professional roles in a specific tech industry.

          It was a lovely experience. He understood a great deal about the industry and its qualifications, knew the company well (its history and recruiting focus); and listened carefully when I had questions and called me back with the information. He followed up during the hire/onboarding process to ensure that went smoothly, and then contacted me one last time after I had been working a few weeks to ask how I found the role and was I happy.

          It was a smaller agency which I also think helped; staff were more about making good fits on both sides, rather than filling sales quotas.

      6. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        I had a temp/admin job (hired directly by the company) and a chunk of my job included making sure that all resumes sent along got logged by who sent them in first.

        Because there were a bunch of shoddy recruiters scraping resumes off LinkedIn and similar sites, and submitting them to every available job opening that was relevant, so that when the candidate decided to apply to a job on their own, the recruiter would have “squatter’s rights” on the resume and thus collect the placement fee.

        I believe company policy was that unaffiliated recruiters would not receive a fee, but we logged them anyway in case they disputed: I have no idea if there were ever situations where someone applied for the job unaware that their resume was submitted, and got passed over for the job because they were attached to a sketchy recruiter. I’m sure it did.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Is that even legal? They are seriously harming the employment chances of the people whose resumes they steal, because a lot of employers will drop their candidacy once they hear about the fee thing. If the fee is even legally enforceable and not just a scammy shakedown.

    3. AnnonRecruiter*

      Hi! Yes, I read this blog and have been a recruiter for about 12 years. There are some super crappy recruiters, which is sometimes led by unrealistic goals from the company and terrible management. There are also just recruiters who are terrible at their job with little outside influence.

      The profession gets a bad reputation by terrible people behaving like this.

      1. Viette*

        What do you think is up with that? I’d always figured it was one of those professions that are relatively easy to start practicing from a credentialing standpoint, and so people think, “I’m great with people, I’ll be a recruiter” and then are very bad.

        1. T. Boone Pickens*

          You’ve hit the nail on the head. Like real estate, there’s a pretty low barrier to entry for recruiting so people can kinda shoot their shot so to speak. As a recruiter who does almost all retained work this letter makes me both cringe as I share the same occupation as them but also secretly laugh a bit because this person will never be a threat to my business.

        2. AnnonRecruiter*

          Very low barrier to entry – it’s like used car sales in that respect unfortunately.

          It also pays very, very little at first which can account for turnover. That, and managers who are 23 with one year of experience who think they know everything.

        3. hbc*

          It seems to attract a lot of people with the personality of puppies–tons of excitement, energy, extroversion, and zero ability to read when someone has had enough. I imagine them being the kids who sat next to someone on the first day of school and declared, “You are my best friend!”

        4. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          I always see job ads for trainee recruiters whenever I search for jobs on boards like Indeed or CV Library in the UK. The pay and requirements are pretty low, so I presume it’s more or less the fast food of office jobs, in that it’s relatively easy to get into, has high pressure to meet targets, and very little reward or incentive for staying long-term.

    4. Crissy from HR*

      Former agency recruiter turned in house HR/talent manager here. The amount of pressure agencies put on recruiters to fill/call/make metrics drives a lot of this behavior imo.

      Also, it’s a fairly easy job to get in my metro area. I’ve worked with a lot of recruiters who were former sales/marketing and drew on that experience a ton. The other half were fresh college grads that didn’t have a lot of experience, in talent or otherwise, to gain the professional courtesy part of being in an office and interacting with job seekers.

      I couldn’t hack it, quite honestly. Pay is great, but I couldn’t stomach (What I felt like) was harassing job seekers for a living. I’m much happier and more consistently paid in house, supporting employees and teams I have relationships with and vested interest in

      1. Wendy Darling*

        I added a bunch of recruiters on linkedin because they contacted me last time I was job searching, and most of them are super young (early to mid 20s) and based on their linkedin activity they change jobs every 6-12 months. And most of them didn’t even manage to get me an interview, much less a job.

        I live in a big tech city so there are approximately nine billion small staffing companies that do nothing but put people in short-term jobs at large technology companies. As far as I can tell they’ll hire anyone with a pulse and the ability to call someone 14 times in a row.

    5. Former Agency Recruiter*

      A lot of people seem to be commenting that they don’t understand why agency recruiters behave this way, so I thought I would provide some insight from my time in agency recruitment for a major international recruitment firm. Caveat that this was how my particular firm (a major player in the UK, Australia, and Canada) operated, so it may be difference in other companies.

      1. We had two different lines of business (for lack of a better term). The best kind was where we had exclusivity, meaning that the client had hired us exclusively to recruit a role for them and were not engaging with other recruiters (sometimes they also did not post the job themselves, if they didn’t have the resources for their own resume screening). We didn’t have to be as pushy on these jobs because we weren’t competing against anyone to make a sale. The second kind was where we would either have an agreement with the company that we could submit resumes to them for the role while they considered candidates through other avenues, or where we didn’t have an agreement with the company and would blindly send resumes to the hiring manager/hr team in hopes our candidate would be picked. Once your resume was submitted by us we “owned” your candidacy and the company could not consider you without going through the recruiter who submitted you.

      2. Agency recruitment is a sales job, not an HR one. It’s all about the numbers and our job is to lock down the sale (or recruitment fee) as quickly as possible. The agency I worked for had written in our agreements that it was our responsibility to replace a candidate for no additional cost if they didn’t work out within a certain period of time (length dependent on the seniority of the role) so we did have some incentive to ensure the person we were placing would be a good fit (or that if they weren’t a good fit, they could at least pass the replacement period).

      3. Along with the point above, this is a sales job. Our “numbers” were posted in the office so everyone could see if you were meeting your targets that week, and you would get called out in front of the whole office if you were behind. Targets could include job placements, but also the number of calls to candidates and employers that you had logged. (Which is part of why recruiters call constantly, I had to make a minimum of 50 calls to candidates each week). I often worked evenings and weekends to hit my targets and you were only as good as your most recent numbers – a fact that also made it nearly impossible to take vacation or sick time because your targets would remain the same regardless of the time you were off. At my agency, if you did not meet targets 2 months in a row you would automatically be fired.

      4. Continuing the theme of THIS IS A SALES JOB, most of the people starting out in recruitment (at least in my experience) were recent graduates, or returning to work after a long hiatus. Your pay is primarily commission-based and the sales expectations are very high. Most of the people doing this kind of job have never worked in a traditional workplace and don’t understand their environment and the tactics used are not normal. The one perk for candidates out of this was that our “fee” was a percentage of the salary the person we placed would receive, so it was in our best interest to negotiate you into the highest salary the company would pay.

      5. And again…SALES JOB. My client was the company I was recruiting for. The candidate was only useful to me if they were a candidate that companies would want to pay a recruitment fee for (this is harsh, but it’s the truth). We weren’t running a charity to help people find jobs, the company was my client and candidates were a means to an end. Sadly, there were many companies who used our services to get around discrimination laws (for example, the “health focused” construction company who sat down in our consultation and said they did not want to receive any resumes for candidates who smoked, were overweight, or were conventionally unattractive. As we did a pre-screening interview in person with all candidates before they met the client, we were expected to screen these people out)

      I personally think the whole agency recruitment sector needs an overall. It was a job that I hated and found to be largely unethical with a lot of internal back-stabbing. I did it because I was straight out of school and majority of internal recruiter jobs in my area required at least a year of agency experience. I did my time, moved to an internal role, and avoid using agencies whenever possible.

      It’s worth noting that agency recruitment is VERY different from headhunting. Headhunters only work on jobs where they have been directly hired by the company, almost like a contractor, and it is their job to collect a number of highly qualified candidates. I worked with a headhunter for my current position and she was lovely, helpful, and not at all pushy.

      While this information isn’t the most cheery, I hope it fills in some blanks for folks about what agency recruitment is all about!

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        This is perfectly stated and is very, very close to what it’s like as an agency recruiter in the US.

      2. Random IT person*

        If you read this – why would anyone looking for a job even consider using a (large) agency – if that more or less guarantees calls and calls and calls (your #3 on the list).

        Seriously – i`ve been working since i was 16 (so, 31 years now) and have NEVER had success with a temp agency, nor a recruiter – even though they promised the most interesting jobs.

        The furthest I got was an in-person interview – but there (through no fault of the recruiter) it turned out the job was misrepresented (they said they needed German speaking candidates for customer support, but when in the interview it turned out they wanted a cold caller for banking products – Dutch exclusively but with the occasional translation assistance to other departments (about 0.01% of the actual job).
        I think it`s not surprising i noped out of that one.

      3. Pretzelgirl*

        I worked in a recruiting firm for 2 weeks. I was hired a few weeks before college graduation. It was horrendous. I was given no training. Literally a computer and a list of people to call. My 2nd day, there was no one in the office but me and the receptionist. I think I cried bc I had no idea what to do. My 2nd week they hired someone else who experienced the same thing as me. On his 3rd day (my 6th or 7th day) our “manager” literally stormed into the office screaming at us for something. I can’t remember now, but the guy and I just sat their and blinked at one another. I was told I needed to wear a suit when the men in the office wore polo’s and khakis. I think this is the one thing I stood my ground on. I said, if the men can polo’s I will not be wearing a suit TYVM. Finally I asked to leave 10 min (yes 10 min ) early for a doc appt. I was brought into an office and fired on the spot. It was the worst 2 weeks of my working career and that was 12 years ago.

      4. Not That Karen*

        As a former agency recruiter turned internal Talent Manager.. I can say this is 100% accurate to my experience also.

      5. Tidewater 4-1009*

        I always assumed the job is sales-based because they behave like pushy salesmen. I’m lucky to be so ordinary I haven’t had much trouble with them.

      6. Sacred Ground*

        Thanks for laying it out like this. I’d just like to point out that this part isn’t necessarily true: “The one perk for candidates out of this was that our “fee” was a percentage of the salary the person we placed would receive, so it was in our best interest to negotiate you into the highest salary the company would pay.”

        In a high pressure sales context with the sort of quotas you describe, it often makes sense (for the salesperson) to close MORE deals for less money than to hold out for the highest salary on each. If it takes, say, 10 days to close one deal for an above market salary when in the same time you can close 3 at below market, then it makes a lot more sense to close as QUICKLY as possible and NOT for the highest salary.

        Real estate agents representing buyers face the same conflict of interest.

    6. Detective Right-All-The-Time*

      I no longer recruit, but I work in HR. We have in-house recruiters, and we also work with agencies for temp placements. Agency recruiters are a completely different breed – it’s a sales position more than actual talent acquisition. It’s also the type of job that agencies will hire anyone (with SALES experience) for – so you get high turnover, low levels of experience, and people pushing for their commissions.

      Alison’s advice to inform the hiring manager (or HR rep, if you know them) is good, because we absolutely do take that feedback to the agency and tell them to cut it out. Candidate experience is important (to good employers) and we don’t want an agency mucking up our reputation.

    7. HRtripp*

      I was an external recruiter but now I do HR for a recruiting company. I have to disagree with Alison a bit here… if this was one of our recruiters, management would DEFINITELY want to know about it. In fact, the CEO would want to know about it.

      Recruiters can get a bad rep and there are definitely some shady recruiting companies out there but there are a lot of good ones as well. I’ve worked with them all (seriously)… when I stopped recruiting, I went onto the vendor management side and managed the agencies our company used for their contingent hiring. If you’re looking for a good one, try a smaller or local company. Often times the larger more well known companies won’t care about this kind of stuff because their volume of clients and roles are so high.

      Looking for a new job is stressful, I think people get tunnel vision so details can be overlooked and it can be hard to see the bigger picture at times… The recruiter may ask you to update this or change that on your resume, it’s not because you have a poorly written resume but because they are working to get you past that first screening. More often than not they know the 1st screener will reject your resume because of some minute detail that may not seem relevant at all.

      As a recruiter, I want to find you a role that you will love so that you accept the offer and work there for the duration of the assignment, it’s how I’ll make more money in the long term. It’s a waste of my time trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Sometimes you need to get creative tho because the qualifications the HM wants just either don’t exist or don’t exist in his price range.

      The best thing to remember is that for every bad recruiter, there is a bad candidate, maybe two! There is the candidate that calls 7x in a row and leaves no voicemail. There is the candidate who can’t be bothered to respond to anything, then gets frustrated that the process isn’t moving fast enough. There is the candidate that can’t follow the instructions on the application and the candidate that tells you an hour before their interview that they have no money for gas to get to the interview. There is the candidate who accepts the offer, completes the paperwork/background but doesn’t show up to their first day or work (happens more often then you’d think)

      Then you get into the real weird ones like the candidate who thinks you’re paying her with drug money because your website doesn’t have a photo of the CEO on it (true story).

      In the end there will always be bad recruiters just like there will always be bad candidates and bad hiring manager and bad HR folks…

      1. Editor*

        In the 1990s, a recruiter contacted my IT professional husband about a job he hoped to fill. My husband was willing to talk, but not particularly interested. When a follow-up call came to the house (as my husband had requested), but my husband was still at work, the recruiter tried to sell me on the job. I explained that I was looking for a job several states away, closer to family.

        The recruiter was kind of surprised, but within ten days had come through with a possible IT job in one of the regions I had targeted. My husband got the job, his new employer paid for our move, and I landed a job with another branch of the company where I had worked (my company would never have paid for a move). It worked out well for us.

        There had been other recruiters that my husband had found offensive. These days, I’m not sure I would approve of a recruiter chatting up a spouse, but on the other hand, it’s unlikely my husband would ever have told the recruiter that I was pushing for a move elsewhere.

    8. Emily K*

      I work in marketing and it sounds like recruiting is like other types of sales jobs in this regard. There is a way to do sales & marketing that relies on generating genuine demand, seeking and attracting qualified leads, and making a sale by connecting a person in need with the thing they need. If you go to professional events for salespeople and marketers they’ll usually promote this kind of approach, which is considered customer-centric (oriented around what the customer needs).

      But for every 1 person doing it that way, there are 5 or 6 using a tactical shrapnel approach, sending out a high volume of cold contacts, using high pressure, company-centric tactics that are just numbers games, throw it at the wall and see what sticks approach. There are endless whitepapers and guides these type buy that keep them aware of what the currently most effective thing is, which is usually most effective because it’s the most awful, and it only remains effective until a critical mass of people are all doing it, and then they have to move on to something new and awful.

    9. Top llama trainer in the world*

      My silly recruiter experience: I work as llama trainer but in the pharmaceutical industry (unusual). I had a recruiter call and tell me that I have “a reputation” as being a highly respected, top worker in my industry. Hmm. “Which industry?” I asked, wondering if he meant training llamas or pharmaceuticals. He said, “Your industry.” Right. I pressed for an answer and he said pharmaceuticals. OK, huge international industry, in which I have zero reputation and and am just a normal worker. I then asked where he had learned about my stellar reputation and he said a specific coworker of mine had recommended me to him. I knew 100% this was false (for reasons). I said, “What an honor! Who is that person, so I may thank them?” He would not say. I told him I would be much more likely to continue talking to him if I knew a trusted coworker was recommending him, otherwise he’s just a random stranger. He would not say. It just felt like silly games all around.

  2. Jean*

    Why is this weird inappropriate behavior such a thing with recruiters? You people are absolutely torpedoing the reputation of your entire industry. STAHP.

  3. Daniel*

    My mind immediately went to sales pressure. And yes, it is obnoxious.

    If you do reach out to the hiring manager, make sure to have specific examples of how he was behaving. Be sure to point out that we breezed right past doggedness to overbearing.

    1. Jean*

      Sales pressure is totally a thing, and I get that, but I can’t help but think it’s a terrible excuse. I work in sales, and I can’t imagine what would happen if I were to call a customer 8 times in a row from 2 different numbers without leaving a message, or call them at 10:30 PM. “Fired into the sun” is the phrase that comes to my mind.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        I don’t think it is being offered as an excuse, but as an explanation. They are not at all the same thing.

          1. Jean*

            I apologize for my rudeness. I forget sometimes that this blog enforces a softer touch than some other places I comment.

            Incidentally, isn’t there also a rule against nitpicking language?

            1. EventPlannerGal*

              I don’t think he was nitpicking, I think he was just using language correctly.

        1. Jean*

          I’m interested in understanding why you feel this distinction is necessary to point out. From my perspective, the recruiter would probably offer sales pressure as an excuse.

          1. ThatGirl*

            I think it would be more accurate to rephrase Richard’s comment to say that it IS an explanation, but it’s not a (good) excuse — an explanation, well, explains why something happens; an excuse means it excuses/forgives the behavior. While that may seem like nitpicking, it matters in this case – something that explains behavior doesn’t necessarily forgive (excuse) it.

          2. Richard Hershberger*

            Because an excuse and an explanation answer to different purposes. They answer different questions. An excuse answers the question “Why was this behavior justified?” And explanation answers the question “Why did this behavior occur?” If, in the present case, we want to understand why recruiters sometimes behave this way, then we aren’t looking for an excuse, which is good as there likely isn’t one. Rather, we are looking for an explanation.

            We see this in the distinction made between an excused and an unexcused absence. If the question is “Why were you absent?” and the answer is “Because I decided to spend the day playing video games.” we have an explanation, but we do not have an excuse. If the answer is “Because I was home with the flu.” then we have both.

            In other words, excuses are a subset of explanations. Whether or not this matters depends on what you are looking for.

            1. JanetM*

              Richard Hershberger wrote, “An excuse answers the question ‘Why was this behavior justified?’ And explanation answers the question ‘Why did this behavior occur?'”

              This is a really marvelous way to put it. Thank you!

            2. Jean*

              That still doesn’t clarify why you felt it was necessary to distinguish them in the context of my comment, but OK.

  4. AdAgencyChick*

    Whyyyyyy are external recruiters like this?! You would think that most of them would know by now what a turnoff it is (and how hard it is for a candidate to get to a private place to have conversations) that they’d realize they lose more than they gain by being so aggressive.

    I would think, anyway.

    1. Leela*

      I was an external recruiter and we were constantly begging our managers to not make us behave like this. They don’t care. In their minds it’s just fill the role as fast as possible so we can get paid before some other external recruiter fills the role. They don’t care if the tactics they’re doing work because the tactics that work take time and they’re racing every other agency in the area to get a role filled

  5. I Love Llamas*

    I smell desperation from the recruiter, who is working on commission. I would tell the hiring manager. I would tell him/her the volume and timing of the calls. That recruiter wants a recommendation on LI? I would write a very sarcastic one, if you have the time or inclination. “Bob is tenacious. If you want your prospective employees contacted incessantly any time day or night, Bob is your man. “

    1. Chronic Overthinker*

      I was thinking the same thing! A commission based job encourages almost borderline harassment to ensure a solid lead. I feel bad for the recruiter, but that is way too much contact and has a huge potential to backfire.

      1. Fikly*

        Unless the recruiter is intelligent enough to realize their tactics are driving their commisions down. Sadly, most people are not that intelligent. You see it in all kinds of industries and areas of thinking.

        1. Quill*

          It’s not usually a lack of intelligence, it’s usually a lack of being secure enough in the short term (because of being paid on commission) to think about long term consequences.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            Yeah, it’s incredibly hard to think sensibly when you’re at risk of not being able to afford food for the week.

        2. Nanani*

          If there is a lack of intelligence, it isn’t in the recruiter rationally responding to terrible, short-term-focused incentives. It’s above them.

    2. Drew*

      “You never have to worry about failing to get enough information from Bob. He is definitely in your corner. In fact, he would LITERALLY be in your corner if stalking weren’t illegal. Be ready to hear about every detail of the job, whether you’re interested or not. Bob doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘quit,’ and maybe he should learn.”

  6. Wednesday*

    I’ve been a freelancer for twenty years, and the recruiter I worked with for my most recent contract assignment is literally the only one ever that I would gladly deal with again. He’s friendly, reasonable, communicates clearly, and accommodates my schedule.

    Twenty years of recruiters, a single good one to show for it. Not a great ratio!

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I’m thinking that it’s a problem with the recruiting model in general, if they’re all like that. But then, I’m biased against commission-based jobs in general. The pressure can make some people act like thundering loons.

      1. Sally*

        Elizabeth West: I think you’re right. The recruiting process for my current job was a DREAM (internal recruiters)! But to be fair, I also had a great experience with one external recruiter when I was job hunting 18 months ago.

        Almost all of my other iteractions, in the distant past, were like the ones that people have described on AAM. The worst one was a recruiter who was extremely surprised when I wouldn’t tell him my current salary. He was really pushy about it, and finally – when he had not gotten the information out of me – he basically said I was un-hireable because I wouldn’t disclose this information. Turned out not to be the case! :-)

      2. Leela*

        Correct, and this is the right way to look at it.

        People really want to thrash recruiters because they’re the people you can see but it’s really no different from thrashing a cashier because they won’t take your refund, or yelling at a gas station clerk because of the price of gas. It doesn’t get at the problem, it’s just to ease your own frustration by taking it out on someone and accomplishes nothing, it’s extremely frustrating reading a lot of the comments in here because it’s clearly coming from that line of thinking: just blame the person you dealt with because obviously it’s their fault, and look no further at root causes that would actually solve the problem.

        The recruiting model is currently that companies are moving to contract as much as possible to save on costs, meaning that roles need to be filled over and over and over again instead of just having someone in them, so they cast the job descriptions out to a bunch of external agencies and have them all race each other and beg for a spot at the table. This causes agencies to press down really, REALLY hard on their recruiters because if they don’t get someone in RIGHT NOW another agency might and there goes your revenue. This means a lot of stupid tactics that don’t get quality people engaged but help you weed out who will quickly fit the bill and be easiest to jam through the system fastest.

  7. Threeve*

    “If this were a romantic relationship, I would have dumped him, blocked him, and looked into a restraining order.”

    This situation would be especially anxiety-inducing for anyone who has been in that kind of unhealthy relationship.

    I wouldn’t worry that the recruiter was going to show up at my house or anything, but that angry/freaked out “I want you to leave me alone” feeling always hits me hard in the gut.

    1. Quill*

      I have an anxiety disorder and you’ve nailed why I’m on edge with recruiters all the damn time.

  8. Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves*

    I posted my resume on an industry site and now I get recruiters contacting me left and right. I just delete their unsolicited emails, but one went as far as to ask why I don’t respond and said he needed more information for him to find me a job! It was a really rude email from someone I had never engaged with. I don’t know why they can’t just wait for me to see something interesting. Of course they don’t include any business names and I don’t send my resume out blindly due to some really bad experiences.

    1. Bernice Clifton*

      Yeah, I never post my resume on job searching sites, because the last time I did, the only contact that I got was from recruiters working on communion or MLMs.

      1. Quill*

        Had those, but unfortunately you gotta chuck your resume into the cesspit to get jobs in my industry/area. Especially when you’re still under the 5 years experience bar.

        And even the legitimate recruiters… you say yes to be recruited for a contract job, and you only learn AFTER you get the job that “oh, we don’t carry health insurance” or “We said you had health insurance but it sucks” or “by the way your location of work shuts down the week of christmas to new years every year and you not only will be taking all that time off unpaid, but won’t see the check for the first two weeks of december until early January.”

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Yep. Or they only let you know after you signed the offer letter that the salary is 75% of what the ad claimed. Happened to me.

    2. AnnonRecruiter*

      Don’t take this the wrong way, but why did you post your resume if you did not want to be considered?

      1. lemon*

        Some sites out there force you to upload a resume before they’ll let you even browse the listings. So, it’s coerced consent basically if you’re just curious and want to check things out.

    3. Hrtripp*

      Their emails aren’t unsolicited, you gave them the information by posting your resume. If you don’t want them to reach out to you, take your resume down. OR just communicate with them and respond to their email letting them know that you don’t want to be reached out to.

      1. Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves*

        I didn’t post my resume to be spammed by recruiters. It’s specifically a way for the mostly small businesses in my industry to find employees and is not something like Indeed or Monster. I also mentioned exactly what I was looking for which is not what 99% of recruiters are looking for in my field. It was great getting harassed about applying for jobs as Llama Rocket Test Pilots when I’m a llama groomer.

        1. Pretzelgirl*

          I used to work in AP/AR. I no longer do, and have zero desire to return to the accounting field. I had to delete my linkedin bc I got so many recruiters contacting me for AP/AR and even accounting jobs in general. Its awful and annoying. I also deleted profiles on job searching sites bc of the same thing. Recruiters see accounting anything and pounce on you.

          1. Oranges*

            Happens in code world too. Apparently I can do all the coding jobs/languages. Database coding is exactly the same as front end!

  9. EH*

    Ugh, I get cold-called/emailed/texted by recruiters pretty regularly. The ONE time I picked up, the guy strongarmed me so aggressively that I hung up on him and now don’t pick up for any number I don’t recognize (and any cold-calling recruiter who leaves voicemail gets saved to my “cold calling recruiters” contact, which goes straight to voicemail). I’ve replied to some recruiters via email, and almost all of them have been really sketchy. At this point, I only work with recruiters from companies I know are legit (e.g. Randstad). Otherwise I apply directly to the company.

    1. KRM*

      I had a recruiting firm calling me for LITERAL YEARS. Call #1 would be the recruiter (different every time the cycle reset) telling me that they had been “referred to me by a colleague” (lie: I was not ever looking for a job when these people called). Then all the follow up calls would be them saying “Oh, I’m so sorry I missed you, call me anytime here is my cell number”, etc etc. No mention of what the job might be. No details. All buddy buddy, we’re all friends here, just give me a call BS. And they would do this to almost EVERYONE on my floor (just working their way through the extensions). Funnily enough, one of the women upstairs told me they had the same kind of thing, but from a different firm! It was crazy. And nobody ever called them back–so the amount of effort that at least 15 different people put in to calling all of us, for nothing, was insane. It must have been a truly horrible place to work.
      I also had one (where I WAS looking for a job, after a layoff) call and try to talk me into a temp to perm position. Where they just got “so much money” (me: why the temp to perm then?). And then he told me that he could get me $40/hour because my minimum salary per year was $100K. That was when I had to cut the conversation off.

      1. Electron Whisperer*

        We used to get that guy, then someone introduced a new game at the office.
        When one of those recruiters called, you listen to the spiel for a minute or two then say something along the lines of “That does not sound like a good fit for me at the moment, but I think Mike is looking, hold on while I transfer you”. , one point for every time you managed to transfer the call.

        The other variant was to give one recruiter the mobile number of another one as a possible lead, I figure that phone call could have run 20 minutes or so before either one figured out what was going on!

        The reality from BOTH Candidate and Company side is that external recruiters are far more usually problematic then they are useful, there are good ones out there, but with a random one that is not the way to bet. If you must use them, go with a specialist in your industry, still not the way to bet, but much more likely to yield sane options.

    2. Gazebo Slayer*

      Randstad is actually pretty shady. In my state, at least, they have a policy of always contesting unemployment claims no matter what. Fortunately, the folks at the unemployment office seem to be wise to this; one told me the UI office now automatically denies their attempts to contest. Serves them right.

      1. Random IT person*

        Randstad (dutch for suburb – lit. edge of the city) is ‘clean’ in The Netherlands.
        Ineffective for temp jobs, but no bad reputation.

        Strange that they use the same name, but seen totally different companies elsewhere.

  10. Lola*

    A similar situation is why I don’t work with recruiters. They got me an interview with HR at a non-profit. Turns out the company hadn’t even decided yet if they were splitting the job into two parts time positions, which I was not interested in, or keeping it one. So the hiring manager didn’t even know HR was meeting with anyone. She ended up asking me completely unrelated questions based on my expertise for her own knowledge.

    I went back to work and the recruiters started calling and emailing me nonstop at my job that afternoon. It was harassment. I told them pointedly it was not the job they had represented to me and to stop calling.

  11. juliebulie*

    This is an interesting turn of events. I remember a few years back when recruiters wouldn’t return calls. I guess the shoe is on the other foot?

    I can’t help thinking that a really good recruiter doesn’t have to blow people off nor stalk them, no matter what the job market is like.

    1. Stephanie*

      Yeah, I’d guess improving economy. When I was long-term unemployed, I could barely get a recruiter to return my call.

    2. Kat in VA*

      Two years ago, I couldn’t pay a recruiter – internal OR external – to contact me or most times, even respond after the initial inquiry on their side.

      Yet just today, I got an unsolicited InMail on Linkedin (where my profile does NOT say I am looking) from a recruitment agency wanting me for a contract position in the same town where I currently work.

      I just used the “No thanks” button rather than asking, “Why did you pick me? I’m in a well-paid job that I clearly love – as evidenced by my replies on my company’s posts. I have great insurance, 401k, PTO, and other perks. What on earth made you think I was looking?”

      I get that it’s a numbers game, but I’ll admit to being more than mildly chuffed that they’re chasing me, when two years ago it was decidedly the reverse.

  12. Quill*

    You really can’t win this game with recruiters: when they have a job they get paid for finding candidates for, they’ll blow up all avenues of communication, when you have questions about whether you got the job or not, they’re nowhere to be found.

    OP, if you find a way to prevent the sites you’re using for looking for jobs from having your phone number on file, please let us know, because I’m constantly dealing with recruiter text and voicemail spam (especially for jobs that don’t fit a single one of my criteria) and changing my resume for one with only my email listed hasn’t stemmed that tide.

    1. Fikly*

      Except that if they didn’t drive candidates away with their behavior, they would actually make more money. Because generally, recruiters get paid for successful placement of a candidate, not just finding candidates.

      1. Quill*

        I think a lot of them are more interested in the short term commissions at lowest effort / greatest volume because the nature of commission jobs is that they keep you unstable enough to deincentivize long term planning.

        1. Fikly*

          Is it lowest effort though? One voicemail is a lot less effort than 8 calls, plus however many texts/messages on other platforms.

          1. AnnonRecruiter*

            Correct, but if their boss is keeping track of number of calls then 8 looks better than 1. More annoying, yes. Less likely to lose their job, also yes.

            1. Quill*

              So many of them sound like they’re calling from call centers that I assume their on call metrics are tracked and measured the same way telemarketers are.

              1. AnnonRecruiter*

                Typically it’s number of calls, not length or another metric to demonstrate quality, unfortunately. It’s purely a numbers game. Make 100 calls or get fired.

  13. O'Malley*

    I had a terrible/intense recruiter. She wasn’t so bad as this one, because she did leave voicemails, but she left them all the time, looooong ones, and then followed them up with emails containing all the same information. (Plus once I called her back, she’d reiterate it all over again.) If she had three different things to say to me, it was three separate voicemails + emails, every time. She actually connected me with a job I really liked, but I was VERY surprised to learn that apparently our contact wasn’t over after I got placed? She just kept calling and texting me to “check in” about my new placement, and it gave me so much anxiety! I thought I was doing well in my new role but she was so insistent about examining the situation to find potential problems that I started really questioning myself. Then she informed me that our check-ins would “only” last another couple of months! I had to go to my new boss to make sure there was no actual reason for ANY of this, and he assured me there was not, which emboldened me to tell her I was no longer available for her check-ins. That was my first time working with a recruiter, and as grateful as I was to get that job out of it, the process itself was just awful.

    1. T. Boone Pickens*

      The check in portion was most likely due to the recruiting company having a guarantee period on your placement. If you would’ve left within 6 months (or whatever time frame was negotiated) they would’ve had to replace with you another candidate at no charge. The check-ins were most likely just seeing if you were happy in your new role to ensure you weren’t a flight risk.

      1. O'Malley*

        Haha–I actually tried to convince her I was happy, and she wasn’t buying it! I literally said, “It’s going well and I like it a lot,” and she shot back, “What do you like about it?” She just couldn’t accept that it was going OK, I guess. She just kept looking for ways to insert herself, quizzing me on office norms and offering to call my boss to “get clarification” for me about things like what time I should arrive in the office. I had never worked with a recruiter before so I knew this was all weird but I didn’t recognize just how weird until… well, reading this website, honestly.

        1. T. Boone Pickens*

          Oh geez that would be ex-haus-ting! I would’ve been tickled to hear you were happy in your new role and would’ve been excited that you are one less person I need to connect with!

    2. Hrtripp*

      Feels like recruiters can’t win… It sounds like you had a great recruiter who took the time to communicate with you which is what others are complaining recruiters don’t do. Not only did she find you a job that you liked but she stayed in touch afterwards to ensure things were going well.

      Yes, she could be following up because most places have a guarantee period but she could be checking in to learn more about the role, the company or that hiring manager. The more she knows the better chance she’ll be able to place another candidate there.

      1. Random IT person*

        But, it seems it`s not the fact THAT she followed up.
        It`s HOW she followed up that was the issue.

        If it`s a mail every month ‘hey, recruiter here, wondering if you`re still happy’ and leave it at that.. fine.
        But calls – and calls, and calls – they are both disruptive and instrusive – and some of us do not like being taken out of our focus.

      2. O'Malley*

        Yeah, she was objectively not a great recruiter. She was brand new to the industry, directly out of college, and lasted less than 6 months. I have a lot more sympathy for her actions after reading some of these comments about the way these agencies are run, but she still did a poor job by trying to position herself as a pseudo-manager to me, demanding rundowns of my day, and looking for ways that she could intervene on my behalf. She wasn’t asking for information about my job or my manager, she was trying to find problems so that she could fix them. And without experience or understanding of office norms, she didn’t see why a) this was seriously annoying and b) any intervention by her would have been super inappropriate! Imagine you’re my new boss, and you get a cold call from a third party asking what time I should arrive at the office in the morning, all while I’m sitting across the hall from you! Would you be impressed with your new hire?

        Ultimately I ended up looping in my boss to ensure that he wasn’t aware of/supportive of her attempted interventions, and then I cc’d him when I emailed her shutting them down. That’s a shame, because she got a big win by securing one of her first candidate placements, and then had to be told to back off. I’m glad for her that she’s out of that job, and I hope she’s found a better fit.

  14. Veronica Mars*

    I once had an external recruiter who would call me multiple times in a row like this and it sent me into a full blown panic every time because I had relatives who might be calling me from the hospital.
    But, the recruiter worked for an agency that is specific to my industry and who I didn’t want to blow up my relationship with.

    I found a VP of the recruiting firm on LinkedIn and messaged her outlining what was happening and why it was categorically unacceptable. She called, genuinely apologetic, they assigned me a new recruiter, and I was never called multiple times in a row again. She also said she was going to bring this to her team to put in place more stringent recruiting guidelines.
    I suspect this guy was achieving some kind of result with his tactics, and it hadn’t really occurred to the firm to ask what he was doing differently or if it was harming them.

    Of course, I know many firms don’t care at all. For them, I recommend leaving a bad GlassDoor review on the recruiting firm’s page. Many people filter by stars a company has when looking for jobs, so getting negative reviews has really serious negative consequences for them.

  15. ForsythCounty*

    I’ve never been in a position to work with a recruiter but I’d there some reason you can tell them to knock it off? I mean they clearly need you as much as you need them, or possibly more in this case. Tell them to call once and leave a message and/or one email. That many calls is ridiculous and that you aren’t inclined to write a good reference for that kind of activity.
    I mean, yes they should know better but it’s also obviously seriously aggravating to the OP so why not push back?

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        I get the impression that this would fall on deaf ears. OP already told him to call once and leave a voicemail, but he is still doing the multiple contact thing.

  16. OP*

    Original Poster here. After I canceled the face to face interview, a few days later the recruiter’s boss did reach out to me and asked what happened. I told him the excessive amount of communication was a lot to bear and part of my cancelling the interview – there were other factors as well, for example, day of the interview we had BAD (tornado producing) storms. He asked if I would reconsider a face to face and I did. Had what I thought was a great interview last week and have heard nothing. I reached out for a follow up and I got a “we are waiting to hear from the hiring manager” but since then…. crickets. This experience basically sums up my dealings with external recruiters – it is feast or famine in regards to communication.

    1. AnnonRecruiter*

      Not defending her, but I have one management group that will literally not get me feedback for 1-2 MONTHS. It’s absurd, their leadership is aware and DGAF. I try to be extremely transparent with the candidates that it will take literal weeks if not longer to get feedback and I apologize, but to reach out if they want to touch base in the interim.

      Believe me, I’ve done everything up to and including sitting outside the manager’s office door until they had a break in schedule to go through feedback one by one, but even that was pulling teeth.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Ah, the old “I have too much work to spend time hiring someone to do some of it.” I see this surprisingly frequently. It is one thing if there is a specific deadline crunch to get past, but often it is more systemic than that.

    2. Ms. Green Jeans*

      It sounds like you have some closure on the incident by having the thorough conversation with the recruiter’s supervisor. I wonder if that person could be your new recruiter or he could assign a different person to work with you (if you still want a recruiter).

      I think this is a good lesson for all of us- when dealing with aggressive/eager recruiters, to remind them throughout the process that you hope to be able to leave a positive review at the end.

    3. Lizy*

      Recruiters or not, sometimes it takes FOREVER for hiring managers to get back with anyone. They are, after all, doing their own job, PLUS whatever other job they’re hiring for in the first place! Don’t be discouraged by that part, at least, and good luck!

    4. Hrtripp*

      Really happy to hear that you had a great in person interview!! Don’t get discouraged with the lack of feedback just yet, it’s only been a week.

      Also, don’t take the lack of feedback as a sign of a bad recruiter or bad agency. I’ve worked on the recruiting side, the msp side and the HR side. Getting feedback from the HM can be one of the hardest things!

      Usually there is more things to consider like, they have additional candidates to review or interviews to complete, they are trying to discuss with their team first before making a decision… their kid got sick and they missed two days of work and are trying to catch up on their other responsibilities…

  17. AnnonRecruiter*

    A good question to ask is why don’t companies hire in-house recruiters (and offer non-commission based pay, benefits, etc.) vs. outsourcing it to firms that treat their employees in a way that incentivizes this type of behavior?

    1. juliebulie*

      I wish I knew. It sounds as though the experience is miserable for everyone involved.

      My guess is that companies don’t do enough hiring on a regular basis to justify an in-house recruiter. It’s different if the recruiter is an HR person and wearing multiple hats, maybe, but that doesn’t seem to be a thing any more. I do know know that my employer has frequent “hiring freezes” during which time a recruiter would theoretically have not much to do, and the company can’t bear the thought of that.

      The company also has a habit of letting managers open reqs and then, just as the interviews are proceeding, shuts those reqs down. An in-house recruiter would hate it here.

    2. Quill*

      Same reason they have all these short term contract jobs in STEM that they’re just cycling through contractors for via these recruiters. They just want it outsourced.

  18. anonymous slug*

    Where I work, we have internal recruiters who are contractors – so they are working on commission, but only for us. So I slightly disagree about giving feedback since he could potentially be working internally and be just as tenacious since he’s trying to close out roles. If I had found that out about one of our recruiters I would have been livid. The hiring managers who were working with one of our contract recruiters were asked to provide feedback about her to her manager – the feedback wasn’t super positive (she was not remotely detail-oriented, etc) and she was let go.

  19. Phony Genius*

    When I worked in I.T. (decades ago), we called all recruiters headhunters. We used the pejorative term on purpose. Some even used the term to describe themselves. There was a lot of bait-and-switch in that industry at the time, so we were advised not to listen to them. Those who did take jobs from them usually ended up unhappy.

  20. Jamie*

    I have a friend who works for a staffing company. She works on commission and it is like a sweat shop. They are required to make upwards of 100 calls per day. If they miss their quota 2 months in a row, they are released. She is under and enormous amount of pressure to produce results and customer service isn’t even something her superiors care about in the least. It is really sad, but that can be the reality with outside recruiting firms. I can’t imagine that they are all this intense, but some of them really are. I think that the whole industry needs to read this blog and make a change with how they operate.

    1. AnnonRecruiter*

      Plus quotas on hires PER WEEK that are system generated. This led to people at a precious employer of mine to coerce candidates or flat out force them to make a decision by COB Friday so they could hit their goal and not risk getting fired. Managers didn’t care if they would have accepted after the weekend – it was all goal goal goal! Or else!

      1. Jamie*

        Yeah, it is really a bad model. Sure it makes the owners money, but how many candidates and clients do they lose from their pushy practices? I’m in HR (non-recruiting role) and if I had a new hire tell me that an external recruiter treated them poorly, I would certainly not want to use them again. We always get tons of positive feedback on our internal recruiting team, but they are not overstressed with unreasonable quotas and pressure to make hires at any cost.

    2. CW*

      Yikes. This sounds like how Wells Fargo treated its employees four years ago – which explains the fake accounts opened to millions of customers just to meet a credit card or bank account quota. That kind of intense pressure does nobody good.

  21. Lizy*

    I had a similar experience, and a huge reason why I withdrew my application was because of the recruiter. I regret not telling the company, but at this point it’s been almost a year and IMO water under the bridge. But yeah – the recruiter wanted to talk EVERY DAY and wanted to do a phone prep for the interview (which I totally get for someone just out of college, but I’ve been in the professional world for a decade now), TRIMMED DOWN my resume because “the company wants just 1 page” (fine, but it’s not your resume, ass-hat), wanted to talk after EACH TIME I talked to the company, tried to coerce me into sending my SSN card by email (for I-9 verification, which I said could be done the first day. They REALLY didn’t like that), then once I turned it down wanted to talk about why I wanted to turn it down. I didn’t take the call, and after them trying to contact me (thankfully just by email) a few times about “an exciting job opportunity” I responded something along the lines of “yeah, right. Never working for your company – take me off your list.”

    1. KoiFeeder*

      “tried to coerce me into sending my SSN card by email”

      Actual screaming right now.

    2. T. Boone Pickens*

      You’d be amazed but it’s usually the people who have been in the work force for 10+ years who often need the most prep.

    3. Hrtripp*

      Just because you’ve been in the professional realm for a decade doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit from an interview prep! Why not do it to see what they have to say? Most likely they had tips that were specific to that interview, not just interviewing in general… they could have had other candidates that interviewed previously or they worked with that HM in the past and knew some of the questions he liked to ask.

      1. Lizy*

        I did, for that reason, but it was VERY BASIC interview prep. “Be sure to be on time, dress professionally” and the like, nothing related to the actual job or even the company. This was maybe mid-way through the whole process, and I was already kind of annoyed at the guy, and finally said something like “I’ve been in the workforce for a while – I know how to dress.” (He had scaled down my resume by more than half, with no input from me. If the company wants a 1-page, fine, but he didn’t even give me a chance. He chose what should be on there and ended up cutting basically everything from my most-recent position – where I worked for almost 6 years – and kept stuff from 7-8 years ago.)

  22. Chronic Overthinker*

    I may be dating myself but I’m getting serious Glengarry Glen Ross vibes off this. ABC, Always Be Closing. Yikes!

      1. Chronic Overthinker*

        F*&% you!– that’s my name! You wanna know why, mister? Because you drove a Hyundai to get here tonight, I drove an $80,000 BMW. That’s my name.

  23. learnedthehardway*

    That is an excessive amount of communication, and I’m glad you were able to talk to the person’s manager about it.

    If you interviewed last week, it’s entirely possible that the hiring manager hasn’t made a decision or connected with the recruiting firm, and the agency doesn’t know what to tell you. A number of things are possible:
    – the hiring manager is out of the office or working on other projects
    – the hiring manager is still interviewing and hasn’t made a decision yet
    – the hiring manager has made a decision but has not communicated with the agency
    – the hiring manager has communicated to the agency that you’re not the #1 candidate but that you’re still in the running, so don’t turn you off

    If you were rejected, the agency would probably have told you so when you called.

  24. Admin Asst*

    Don’t do it. Recruiter is not going to bother you again. Why complain? Recruiter has your name, address, phone number. Like a bad boyfriend who finally stops, leave it be.

  25. Aimless*

    I’ve been an agency recruiter for 20 years and, while this behavior is obnoxious and excessive, I can sort of understand it. When I first started out, there were a lot fewer ways to reach candidates. Cell phones weren’t common, smart phones didn’t exist, and email was often something you checked once or twice a day. It was just expected that it might take a day or so to reach someone to schedule an interview or do a pre-screening.

    These days, the expectation from hiring managers is that we will be able to reach people in a matter of hours if not minutes. If I get an interview request today, even if it is for next week, the hiring manager usually expects an answer by the end of the day. And typically that does happen. If a candidate is interested and engaged in the process, they’ll figure out a way to respond to me – if they can’t answer my call or email, they can usually shoot a quick text with their interview availability at some point in the workday.

    I do sometimes feel like a stalker, reaching out to someone on multiple platforms, but there is so much pressure both internally and externally to make sure you have covered all your bases in trying to submit a candidate, book an interview, etc. If I haven’t been able to reach a candidate to confirm an interview, and I reveal that I only left a voice mail (but no email or text) I am remiss in the eyes of my manager and the hiring manager.

    I want to stress that I would NOT call someone repeatedly 8 times in a row! But I do understand the stress and pressure behind it. When you can’t reach a candidate, you just don’t know if they are busy, are blowing you off while they interview elsewhere, or are just plain ghosting you – and all the while, your sales manager and the hiring manager are both hounding you for an answer. It can be tricky to walk the line between “I have used all my available avenues to reach this candidate – at this point, we can assume they’ve gotten the message” and “I drove a candidate crazy by reaching out to them by email, phone, text message and LinkedIn Inmail.”

  26. CW*

    Two years ago I was met with a similar situation like this one. I was unemployed at the time and decided to give a certain opportunity a try. This one job was for a contract position paying $29/hr but it was only a part-time position working 2 days a week. I eventually declined it and sent a polite email to the recruiter that I wasn’t interested because I wanted to work a standard 40-hour 5-day-a-week job. But she wouldn’t take no for an answer. She emailed me asking to speak to her about the situation, but I didn’t do so because it would have been awkward. Then she called me 3 times in 10 minutes; I didn’t bother to answer. Then she texted me asking to call her. The email reply, phone calls, and texts all happened within 15 minutes of each other. I felt my anxiety starting to kick in. She texted me again and tried to convince me to take the job and continue searching for a full time opportunity – I finally had to put my foot down because I was just getting very annoyed and anxious at that point. I finally texted her back, saying that I wasn’t interested and for her to please stop contacting me regarding the matter. I usually don’t respond like that in any professional situation but I had no choice at that point.

  27. Salty Caramel*

    Three out of my last four jobs came from good external recruiters. They were responsive, yet respectful of my time. They also kept in touch when there were delays during the interview process. On the other paw, I can’t count the number of bad recruiters I’ve ended up blocking from my email and phone. If they would listen, I’d have some stern advice for them when it comes to first contact.

    Don’t cold call me. Especially in the middle of a weekday unless it is absolutely clear from my resume I don’t have a job at the moment. Most people work in cube farms and have no privacy. An email asking to schedule a call to chat is going to go over a lot better.

    Don’t text me. Texting is for people who know me and have my permission. This may be just a Caramel thing, but it really pisses me off.

    1. Lyudie*

      Not just you, I hate when people I don’t know text me. And not everyone has unlimited text plans (I didn’t for a while, and that was not that long ago).

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        “Hello, this is Fergus from the Michael Bloomberg campaign!”


        1. Anonymity for this*

          Hah! Funnily enough I got contacted by the Bloomberg campaign for a temp to perm gig. Just a goofy aside. I turned it down since I have a job and well, Bloomberg.

        2. Lyudie*

          Hahahah!! I didn’t get any like that, but my husband got a couple, I think also from Bloomberg. Sorry cold texting me is not a good way to get money from me, kthxbye.

    2. Aimless*

      That’s interesting because – largely in an effort to avoid being like the recruiter from OP’s letter – I always ask candidates the best way to reach them if I need a fairly quick response from them during the workday. Almost always, they choose texting. I wouldn’t do it as my first reach out to a candidate, but I can see where it is the easiest way for them to respond when they are in an open office and can’t take a phone call or risk someone reading an email over their shoulder.

      1. Seven If You Count Bad John*

        But you’re obtaining permission from the textee prior. Caramel is talking about people texting them out of the blue as a first contact.

        I do prefer text to nearly every other form of communication, but getting cold-texts is still very weird to me.

        1. Salty Caramel*

          Bingo. If we’ve been in contact and I say it’s okay, that’s a completely different animal.

          And thank you, Aimless, for asking candidates what they prefer.

    3. Oranges*

      I never check email and hate talking on the phone so I actually tell recruiters I’m working with* to text me. Only one has actually ignored me. I ended up blocking her (after the company passed on me) since I hate conflict and all.

      *Working with = they have a job that I’m actually interested in.

  28. The Academic*

    I had the SAME thing happen except it wasn’t a recruiter it was HR. I had applied for a job and they called me back to set up a phone screen and by ‘called me’ I mean they called 6 or 7 times in the course of an hour (I was at a movie). Ummm…. Ok, like I know I’m good but I’m not THAT good and they couldn’t have been afraid of losing me to another job, I’d literally applied like 2 days earlier…. Called back, made the appointment, didn’t mention the weirdness, (maybe it was multiple people and they didn’t realize they’d each called me more times than my over-protective Grandma, maybe they have severe short term memory loss). EVERY TIME they needed to speak with me they’d call repeatedly every 5 or 10 minutes until I called back plus they’d send emails as well. And thanks to the time difference, some of those calls were some what later than reasonable business hours. So every couple of days I’d have to deal with this barrage of calls and emails and it seriously started to get my anxiety up. They ended up not offering me the job because they wanted me to apply for a higher level position they had opening up the next month (I was over qualified so I wasn’t surprised). To my shame, I considered it (desperation makes you do dumb things) but in the end I was like yeah, no thanks.

    Like I know part of it was ‘academia is Weird’ but it was also this is just overly aggressive and/or desperate.

  29. YeahRok*

    I once applied for a job with a recruiter with whom I’d never met before – he told the client on the phone that he had “known me for years” – with me in the room. I did go on the interview as a courtesy, but was absolutely mortified. I got my last job through an agency, and they were reasonably professional – EXCEPT when I came time for me to convert, then they ghosted me. I had to tackle the salary negotiations on my own. It was beyond uncomfortable. I’d been a temp for 90+ days so he got his bucks and ran.

  30. LGC*

    If this were a romantic relationship, I would have dumped him, blocked him, and looked into a restraining order.

    Honestly, LW, you’d be totally justified if you DID do all that with this guy. Including the restraining order.

    No actual feedback, but yeah – we NEED to hear from a recruiter! Like, I need to hear exactly what it’s like to be one – I assume there’s something else that makes a person blow up someone’s phone over a job or try to guilt trip someone who’s dad just died other than “they’re just a sociopath.”

  31. Leela*

    OP I’m a former recruiter who was forced to act like this recruiter in order to keep a job, it gave me so much anxiety and is why I left the industry entirely.

    I was indeed forced to call people multiple times right in a row because “they’ll think it’s really important and then you’ll reach them!”

    I was forced to come in early and call people waaaaaay before business hours, like try people at 6 AM, sometimes when they weren’t even job searching I just got a hold of their number somehow because “then you’ll be the first one to talk to them and they’ll be most likely to go with us!”

    I was forced to stay late and call people during dinner because “then we’ll catch them since they’ll be at dinner and more free to talk with us!”

    I assume you can see where this is going. All this accomplished is that I got screamed at for annoying people who then refused to work with our company, and blamed by my manager for these tactics not working. It was horrible. Alison is correct, the recruiter is almost certainly being pressured to act like this.

  32. Recruiting Companies Listen*

    Jumping in here because this is the second time in a couple days that I’ve read that recruiting companies don’t care if they receive negative recruiter feedback. As someone who spent several years as HR for a specialized recruiting company I really need to challenge that mindset. Maybe its true of larger, or more multi-discipline recruiters, but for us, the candidate experience was exceptionally important. Our industry was small and if word got out that we had bad recruiters, we didn’t get job recs! I was part of multiple conversations correcting bad recruiter behavior. OP please don’t assume your feedback will fall on deaf ears, please let the company know so they at least have a chance to correct this behavior and make a good recruiter out of an eager recruiter

  33. Probably Taking This Too Seriously*

    I have had two amazing external recruiter experiences and fortunately never anything like what I’ve seen here! I also have a friend who runs her own recruiting business and she is insightful about the market and has no need to be aggressive like this. Just feel like I need to speak up that they aren’t all bad!

  34. Bubbles McPherson*

    I applied for a job with a small tech company once through a recruiter. It was one of those blind ads, though so poorly written that I was able to figure out the company in about 10 minutes. I did the interview and apparently they liked me because the recruiter then called and said they wanted to offer me the job, so I needed to tell him my salary requirements so he could negotiate on my behalf – and that I’d be required to take it if they met my minimum. Keep in mind this was before any discussion about benefits, vacation, sick leave, etc. I told the guy that only I negotiated for myself, and that I was withdrawing from consideration because this was a ridiculous process and that’s not how hiring works in my world. I was a mid-career professional and had never been treated so rudely or told that I couldn’t negotiate my own salary before.

    I got a email directly from the hiring manager wondering why I pulled out. I took great pleasure in telling him exactly why. They offered to drop the recruiter as an intermediary and discuss the offer with me directly, and I declined. If that’s the way your company does business, there is no way I want to work for you. It says volumes about your judgment that you’d hire a recruiter to represent you like that.

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      Required to take it? REQUIRED to take it? WTF. How exactly did this guy think he was going to hold you to that?

    2. Quill*

      Got myself knocked off the calling list for one recruiting company by letting them know that agreeing to let them represent me exclusively for one job was NOT agreeing to let them represent me exclusively for all jobs at that company.

  35. TrainerGirl*

    I understand that when recruiters feel they’ve found someone who is a good fit for a position, they will pursue you, but this is insane. When I was looking for a job two years ago, a friend referred a recruiter to me, and when they saw my experience, they asked me to call immediately, as I had industry experience and I think they knew I would be a top choice for the position. But once we’d established contact and an interview was set up, they eased off a bit. They do seem to have a bit of “when I need info from you the candidate, I call, email, text, etc. until I get it. I guess they’re anxious to get the hire completed. But as I was being laid off, I didn’t mind it so much at that time. If I was employed and there wasn’t a time crunch, I’d find this a lot more annoying.

  36. Kiley*

    I worked for a recruiting agency (I was not a recruiter, just supported them doing admin work).

    And honestly, this behavior was what the CEO liked. And that was why I quit. There’s a sales portion of recruiting to get clients to use the service and then the recruiters work on the other part which is getting people to fill these positions as fast as possible so they have money coming. The recruiters got bonuses for all the people they had working and that was the business.

    The CEO would push and push and push the recruiters so in order to keep going they would have to be pursuing people relentlessly to get them to cave and take the job.

    I hated that job because the recruiters would black list people for being difficult when someone would be honest and say it wasn’t the right fit or they didn’t feel it was best for their life. And to the agency, that was operating normal, get as many people into jobs and make as much money as possible and that’s all that really matters. What killed me most was hiding behind a mission statement that made it look like they really wanted to make a difference for people when that was a secondary and not regular occurrence. It was all a sales pitch.

    So, I think when I see that you are getting tons of people dealing with pushy and rude EXTERNAL recruiters and stuff, what you’re seeing is that recruiting is really just a pushy sales tactic.

    1. Kiley*

      I also forgot to mention that one of the companies the CEO was targeting business from told him explicitly to NOT stop by (after he went there multiple times and kept visiting all the time and sending emails and stuff) and that they were discussing an opportunity internally before agreeing to using them. He was over the moon at being told that because he felt his sales tactics were successful and they remembered him and gave him business.

      It’s all sales. If you can make them money as a job candidate they will wear you down until you commit. Honestly, the only success I saw was in people ghosting them because they wouldn’t take no for an answer. You just might end up on a blacklist for ghosting and if a company has agreed to a contract with a place you cant apply to them if you know who they are outside of the agency because of the agreement.

      Just an FYI, the way most people think an agency work isn’t how it works really at all. You are honestly better off finding community services or community education (or AAM tips ) on resumes and getting noticed and seeking a job out yourself because they are pulling in a lot of people and might only have like 20 jobs and they’ll pick the person that is always overqualified and happy to take a lower hourly rate unless it’s an executive job search agency that specializes in higher income positions.

  37. Rebecca*

    As I read this letter and the comments I realize that I’ve had mostly negative experiences with recruiters, whether independent/external or internal. These experiences include but aren’t limited to: being contacted about a job and setting up a time for a phone screen only to be ghosted 2x and subsequent emails ignored; excessive contact like the LW describes, though not that intense; challenging/bullying me when I gave notice at a temporary contract job that wasn’t working out; etc etc etc. I’ve of course had positive experiences as well, but on the main they’ve been pretty poor. What’s up with recruiters!

  38. Courageous cat*

    It seems like you’re under-reacting? Stop second guessing yourself – stand up for yourself instead! Tell him this is inappropriate, tell his company, whatever. The eight calls alone is insane. Don’t let him make you feel like you’re the crazy one here.

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