T Nation

Dealing with Flaky Headhunters


A head hunter contacted me 4 months ago and turned me onto job XYZ. I was greatly interested in job XYZ, she said the client had great interest in me as well. And then the head hunter never contacted me about the position, despite my numerous attempts to make contact with her for closure.

Fast forward two months from then (two months ago), I meet with her in person and she shows me job ABC. Same story, no follow through on her end with job ABC despite my efforts. She even went as far to tell me the hiring manager was interested in me (again).

Anyways, last week I apply to a job at company ABC independently from her and today she emails me. I'm assuming she wants a cut of the pie since they're one of her clients. I'd like to stop by her office today and tell her to "F-off" but I have more common sense than that now.

Honestly, I find it quite rude this head hunter has contacted me twice and wasted my time twice. What should I do about my application at company ABC and her possible say in my chances of getting job there?


She works for the company, not you, so whether or not she gets "a cut of the pie" has nothing to do with you.

Take her call and be pleasant and professional.

There's nothing you can do about her influence on whether you get the position or not, except ruin any chances of ever getting the job by telling her to fuck off.

Headhunters make used car salesmen and PI lawyers look like angels. I've been stood up for Skype interviews moments before the interview was to take place. It sucks, but it goes with the territory.

The good news is, you can choose to work with them or not. If she calls again and you don't want to work with her, don't take the call.


Doc P. is right to a point. I have been one of those flaky headhunter, as well as been victim to a few. A lot of time their clients are the actual flakes. They call and say I want someone with XYZ skills, the headhunter delivers, but the client already changed their mind. Sometimes when the fee gets real some exec gets cold feet, and sometime they just don't really know what they want.

That being said, there no excuse to stand someone up, even for a Skype.


Thanks for advice.

I'm just angry she has stood me up twice.

I will be politely declining her email request for a phone call today.

Your advice makes sense.


Well, since you're applying for a job at ABC and she represents ABC, it might behoove you to take the call. If she questions why you applied for the job, you might want to go over what you're going to say to extricate yourself from the phone call.

Beyond that, you could decide whether or not you want to work with her going forward.

Edit: In a nutshell, don't let her lack of professionalism prevent you from getting a job you want.


On top of this, it really depend on the timing of everything. Most agency recruiters have "rights" to a candidate within 6 months of presenting them in their agreements with clients. It's really an issue between the agency and client, but sometimes candidates get caught in the middle.

I'd have a discussion, or better email so its in writing, with the recruiter and tell her you didn't hear back so you applied on your own to another posting.


I'm confused. I thought she was just a 3rd party headhunter. Does she actually work for ABC (A recruiter specifically for them)?


She is a third party and doesn't work for company ABC.


I admittedly don't know much about how headhunter's operate, but I can't imagine she's going to try to get you not hired at ABC as a 3rd party.


Headhunter used to post here.


I'd take the call and act enthusiastic and excited about the position and ask her lots of questions. If she asks, say you applied because she had said they were interested and you thought they might be put off if they didn't see an application in time. Make it all about you and the job and how she can help you. Make no effort to allude to her unprofessional behavior, as it will only give her a reason not to help you. You don't need to "win" against her. If you want the job, make that the win.


As a long time and thank God Ex-Headhunter, take her call. Yes, she's an unprofessional hack, but most agreements between companies and agencies stipulate that if a resume has been sent over from the agency within the last 6-12 months, the agency gets the referral. She can influence the hiring process.

When I started, it was a noble profession, what has happened is the hiring model has changed. Twenty years ago, you could pay a draw to a headhunter that was respectable enough to earn a living. As salaries have gone up, draw haven't. So what you get are fresh grads, (who have no credibility) and the Ne'er do wells of sales. You know 9 jobs in 7 year types.

Yes there are flaky companies too, but it doesn't take more than 3 minutes to text or send an email saying no news. I used to tell candidates, call me, I don't want to forget about your candidacy.

Unfortunately, the real lousy ones ruin it for the ones who do a great job.


A head hunter acting flaky? Are you surprised? :slight_smile:


Funny. I usually don't respond to their calls or emails in the first place.


I get at least 2-3 a week. I just delete them.


I recruited for a small boutique firm for 5 years, it was hard at first but once I got a good reputation with my clients I started making serious money.

I loved stories like this when I was a headhunter, just made it easier to stand out. I am still in contact with some of my clients who I placed...it was pretty rewarding.


A buddy who I lift with has a brother who is a headhunter. After he grabbed a $600 tab for all of us on my buddy's Bday one night, I asked him what his brother did and how much he made. He said "800k. He's a headhunter. Basically, he has no morals."

So there's that.


Gotta break some eggs to make an omelette.


I don't think many headhunters out there are making $800k. Maybe long time partners in large recruiting agencies. Maybe. But even then, the market is unbelievably saturated with headhunters and 800k is a lot of money.



My best year was around a 100K