How to break off with a recruiter?
July 27, 2012 1:57 AM   Subscribe

How do I break off a relationship with a recruiter who's lied to me?

This recruiter first made contact with me via LinkedIn. Followed up with a phone call, and sent my resume as per phone call. Long story short, he told me he'd submitted my resume for a job, then inadvertently admitted he'd lied when he sent back a second email asking if I could please send him a Word copy of my resume so he could put the agency watermark on it. I was furious and did not respond. Now he's sent a third email asking if I'm interested in some work and has left messages on my phone.

Because we've only talked once before, is it reasonable to break up via email? And what should I say? Should I tell the truth, that I don't appreciate being lied to (there's no documented evidence of his statement that he'd sent my resume so he could always double back and say well, there's no proof I said that) or should I lie and say I've found work elsewhere? Then, do I unLink him?

posted by glache to Work & Money (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Why on earth do you think you have to explain yourself to a recruiter? As far as they're concerned, you're just a vehicle for them to make money, it's not as if you have any kind of long term mutually profitable relationship here is it?

Just unlink them on LinkedIn† & set your email client to send all their subsequent emails into the bitbucket.. If you feel the need to be at all polite, send them an email telling them not to contact you again. You are under no obligation to explain yourself in this context.

You shouldn't link to recruiters on LinkedIn at all: they only want your "link" so that they can go through your LinkedIn contacts looking for prospects without paying LinkedIn for the privilege.
posted by pharm at 2:06 AM on July 27, 2012 [29 favorites]

Yikes! The crazy complexities that modern social media entails.

Beside that, a few basic things:

1) Don't burn bridges. This advice pretty much holds with everything business related. It doesn't sound like you really know this guy. Maybe he made a mistake. Maybe he's scum. Maybe he's a typical conflicted human being trying to get by in a crummy economy. Don't "call" him anything (i.e. a liar).

2) UnLinking seems kind of silly, sort of like a fifth grader announcing, "You're not my friend anymore!" If he's such a pox on your peace of mind, can't you... like... ignore him or something? All the eccentricities of various social media sites rather befuddle me, but I seem to have gotten it so I never see most people's Facebook or Google+ BS. Hopefully LinkedIn provides similar functionality. (I think I get an email from them about once every couple weeks or so with my network updates, which I usually ignore, and that's it.).

3) Are you still looking for a job? If he has legitimate leads, why not follow them? Unless, of course, you're not really too worried about a job... in which case, fuck'im. Or, actually, just send him a police message letting him know you're not in the market for a job anymore... and would he please take you off his list, thank-you-very-much-for-your-help.

Or you can you just following the KISS, everything else notwithstanding:

"Dear sir, thank you for your assistance, but I'm no longer in need of your services. I wish you the best as you continue to help others find gainful employment. Best, xxx."
posted by GnomeChompsky at 2:07 AM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Tell the truth (1), via email (2). LinkedIn: tricky (3).

(1) Why the truth? He may be new at recruiting or just generally bad at recruiting. Telling him the truth will make him realise what he is able to do, and what he is not.

(2) Why via email? It's quicker, easier, and will prevent him from trying to persuade you to give him a second chance (because you shouldn't at this stage).

Just say "Hi X. I didn't appreciate you telling me that my CV had been submitted for job Y when in fact it hadn't. Getting a job can be a time-sensitive situation, so I need a recruiter who will be open about the progress of my applications, etc. Please don't contact me again and remove me from your company's database. Hopefully we can work together again in the future, but I'll get in contact with you. Regards, glache."

(3) By staying connected on LinkedIn you expand your network and may see opportunities you wouldn't otherwise. Furthermore, if you do want to reuse this same recruiter in the future, you've got an easy 'in'.

However, if a prospective future employer sees that you're connected to said recruiter and he knows that the recruiter is poor, this might send a bad signal (although this is unlikely). Also, as pharm said, he may harvest your contacts… this would be a bad thing.

Alternatively you can just ignore him entirely and put his email address on a blacklist. He'll get the hint soon enough and you don't owe him anything.
posted by fakelvis at 2:20 AM on July 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

I like what fakelvis suggested. Maybe instead of "I didn't appreciate you telling me" I would start with "I was under the impression." No need to communicate hurt feelings. Most people don't know how to respond maturely to that, they look at it as an attack; you are inviting a personal retort.
posted by phaedon at 2:53 AM on July 27, 2012 [5 favorites]

From an employer:

You are overestimating the value of this "recruiter" and your LinkedIn network to your job hunt.

(It's amazing how much bullshit people will tolerate when there is a high unemployment rate and desperation.)

Employers are more likely to hire people whom...

1. ... they have met in person, so do the legwork to get in front of people who matter. Social networking is grossly overrated. It makes people think they can cover more ground without the effort. Not true. Remember, everybody else is using social networks too. I am inundated on a daily basis with e-mails and friend requests from people I have never met. I don't have time for it.

2. ... they respect. And they respect people who respect themselves first. This recruiter's racket is a mirage. He's trying to fill his database and wasting your time, and your time is very limited.

3. ... they know have done something useful with their time. The resume is one thing, but what will really impress is your portfolio. See how many tangibles you can come up with that you can show a prospective employer.

4. ... they know associate with quality people.

That's what gets my attention when I'm hiring. The rest is just noise.

Politely decline further contact with this person, delete him from your contact list, then leave LinkedIn alone and get to work doing the real work -- creating things and meeting people in the flesh -- you need to do to find a job.
posted by rhombus at 2:56 AM on July 27, 2012 [11 favorites]

I think you may be framing this incorrectly - this is not a "relationship" where the two parties care about each other; it is simply a loose business transaction which has the potential to be profitable. Be professional about it. If I was doing business with somebody and they lied to me, I wouldn't stop doing business with them unless it started to become unprofitable - I'd simply watch them like a hawk, and make sure any paperwork we signed had absolutely no loopholes. This recruiter may be sketchy, but as long as the interviews he sets up are on the level, you're still benefitting from the transaction.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 4:18 AM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

The trouble is wolfdreams, using a recruiter that an employer has had a bad experience with can prevent you getting access to jobs with that employer. A sketchy recruiter can easily be a net negative & there's no shortage of them out there, so why hold on to one that's already proven themselves to be untrustworthy?
posted by pharm at 4:48 AM on July 27, 2012

If you are really 100% over it, I would respond and say "things have changed and I am no longer interested in submitting for the job we spoke about, or any other jobs. Thanks for your time."

Then ignore everything else. It's not really your recruiter's business why; you don't owe this person anything or have any reason to help them get better at their job.

I have worked with some really bad recruiters. Some REALLY bad recruiters. I've spoken to recruiters who have recommended that I use my gender as an "excuse" if tough questions were leveled at me - made me wonder what he was saying to my prospective new employer! I had a recruiter not inform a company that I had tentatively accepted an offer from that I would not be starting because I had accepted a counter-offer from my current company (they assumed I would be starting on my start date, and called me all WTF?!?! on that day completely furious).

A bad recruiter can definitely hinder your job search. Just cut this one loose!
posted by pazazygeek at 4:51 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

To add some perspective for you, there are somewhere between 380,000 and 1.1 million recruiters on LinkedIn.

Unless you are in a very narrow field with very specialized recruiting needs the stakes here are very very low. Drop the link, tell him you are no longer interested, and move along. It isn't worth two seconds of stressing over.

For future reference you should know that (U.S.) recruiters tend to work almost exclusively on commission and generally receive 20% of your base yearly salary as the fee. You are a hot product and unscrupulous recruiters have every reason to tie up your time and make you feel like you are bound to them in some way. Don't fall for it.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:46 AM on July 27, 2012

I once got cold called by a recruiter. She had managed to get a phone list and just called everyone on it asking if they were interested in a job. I was, we worked together and I got the job. This was before LinkedIn, so this recruiter contacting you was pretty near the same thing.

I wouldn't get all huffy about your experience. If you don't want to work with this person, a simple email saying, "thanks but no thanks" should suffice.

I think you're blowing your experience out of proportion. The guy made a mistake. Now, it was pretty bad, and his CYA attitude doesn't speak well of him, but he didn't LIE to you, he's just not very good at what he does.

Even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes. No sense in pissing him off, he may, one day, find you Job Charming.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:49 AM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

I would ditch this yahoo. The thing is, if you guys are connected on LinkedIn, he can see (and contact) all of your contacts.

If you have recruiters connecting you directly, then I would not be worried at all about burning this one bridge.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:06 AM on July 27, 2012

Stop dealing with 3rd party recruiters -- particularly those from staffing firms. The turnover rate at those places is astronomical, and their recruiters are basically telemarketers, with quotas and daily contact goals. They are not acting in anything other than their own self interest.

As for this dude, remove him from your LI contacts immediately -- you do not need to contact him further for any reason.
posted by gsh at 6:21 AM on July 27, 2012

Is this the same recruiter from all of your previous questions? He sounds shady. Just ignore him.
posted by discopolo at 6:29 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think you are totally over-reacting. So what, if he said he sent your resume but then actually didn't. People in business lie about deadlines and when things are and are not done all the time. Its totally expected.

A recruiter is a possible conduit to an employer. And that is all. Treat it as such.

I would send the Word version and say yeah sure. see where it goes. If he gets you an interview then cool. If not.. well who cares.

Why exactly are you "Furious" about the watermark / header or that he hadn't sent it yet?
posted by mary8nne at 6:33 AM on July 27, 2012

I'm reading this as the recruiter thought he'd sent your resume, but realized he hadn't because he needed it in a word doc. He contacted you to correct his mistake. He could have just as easily never sent your resume and avoided admitting his error. You'd have never known the difference.

There are plenty of recruiters around. It's okay if you don't want to work with this one. If you really want to sever ties with him a polite email is certainly fine.
posted by 26.2 at 6:44 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Disclaimer: I am not a recruiter, but I work in recruiting.

Since you don't seem to want to work with him anymore, you have a couple options: if this is the same guy from your other questions, just unlink and move on. It If this is a new recruiter, unlink and send him an email that you don't wish to work with him any more and why. There is no need to lie.

Also, you can hide your LinkedIn connections. I don't know why more people don't do this.

My recruiting firm doesn't work like this and my experience as a candidate with other recruiting firms doesn't reflect all the pitch-forky statements here and in your other questions, but if your mileage is varying you are not obligated to retain the recruiter as a LinkedIn connection or associate in any form. You seem deeply suspicious of recruiting and perhaps that's justified, but I don't understand why you would continue a process that makes you so uncomfortable.

Lastly, I don't actually know that he lied to you. My firm also uses a watermarked document to formally present candidates to clients, but they often will pass along your submitted resume to Hiring Managers or HR to see if they have interest before doing so. But like I said, you have too many doubts about either recruiting or this particular recruiter for me to feel that you should continue the process.

Best of luck with your continuing search.
posted by sm1tten at 6:51 AM on July 27, 2012 [6 favorites]

Nthing - unlink the guy if you are getting the feeling that he's shady. But I'd wait and see how this job plays out, if you want the job.

sm1tten just beat me to it, but the exchange about the Word doc seems a bit of a jump to conclusions without more context (and to be honest, no, I don't really want the rest of the story, just making a point, which you can take or leave, because it doesn't affect my advice).

Finally, I think you're overestimating your "relationship" with the recruiter, as has also been said already, but I wanted to make this point: most recruiters work to orders, not to candidates per se, most of the time. The shadier ones do a great job of making you feel like you're the center of the universe, and once they think you're a great fit for the job they've been working on, they may actually start giving you a lot of attention to make sure you're getting lined up for it. Because at that point you're worth several thousand to them. Hell, they'll drive you to the airport at THAT point. But until you and a job they're actively working on collide, you are just one resume in a very large pile of data. There may be exceptions where a recruiter finds a rockstar and spends effort finding him or her a position, but usually it's the other way around.
posted by randomkeystrike at 7:20 AM on July 27, 2012

"Thank you but for your future reference, I am uninterested in any opportunities brokered through your firm. Please remove me from your prospect list."
posted by DarlingBri at 8:45 AM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

It's not that serious. You don't have to explain yourself. Ya'll didn't establish a thing, so it's all good if you ignore or choose to say "I'm ok, don't need your services anymore. Thanks! Best, glache"
posted by InterestedInKnowing at 8:46 AM on July 27, 2012

Pretty much what everyone else said.

Going forward, don't submit resumes to third party recruiters in Word format. They will eff it up 95% of the time. Send a PDF. If they must have an imprint, ask them for it and offer to submit one you create with it embedded.
posted by tilde at 10:14 AM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

If I were in your position I would simply stop responding to that recruiter in any way whatsoever.
posted by flabdablet at 9:47 PM on July 27, 2012

Thanks for the responses. Yes it's the one from my previous question, if anyone had a look at the last one, I tried to continue that topic but no-one responded. Ok I wouldn't say I was furious, but I was pretty angry that he lied to me that he'd submitted my resume when he hadn't. I don't know how you can't not know you're lying about that one. You either submitted my resume or you didn't. Yes I submitted mine in PDF, that was the only thing that saved me.

I shall politely break it off--by email. Thanks everyone.
posted by glache at 1:32 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

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