Working with Recruiters: Signing a non-compete or exclusive agreement?

I found an interesting post on RecruitingBlogs by Paul Gumbinner, a recruiter. I love to hear what recruiters think about the job search process and job seekers. Their perspective can really help us refine our message and usually self-made systems.

Paul’s post is titled A New One On Me, and talks about his experience with a shady competitor that was doing something that was likely unethical.  Apparently, it is abundant in the recruiter space. It’s an interesting story – read it here.

What really got me, though, was the comment from Sandra McCartt – Sandra comments a lot on these posts and always has really good, fair input.  Check out this snippet from her comment:

I tell candidates that when any recruiter asks them to sign any kind of contract or any agreement other than a permission to check references they should limit it to that specific job if they are dumb enough to sign anything at all.

and later….

I agree he was foolish to sign it.

So what do you sign, with a recruiter?  I’d love to get Nick Corcodilos to weigh in on this one… but here is my take-away for today: Don’t Sign Anything!!

4 thoughts on “Working with Recruiters: Signing a non-compete or exclusive agreement?”

  1. There is no reason for a person to sign an agreement with a headhunter. Do you sign agreements with your grocery store so you it can sell you food? A headhunter has a contract with the person who’s paying him (or her) for services. And the headhunter is trying to sell you on a job with his or her client. Nuff said.

    My guess is that the “headhunter” in question is trying to avoid fee fights with other headhunters who might submit the same candidates he’s working on to the same employer. And he’s trying to put it on the candidate. My guess (I’m not a lawyer) is that such an agreement is not legal because there’s no “consideration” (money) changing hands between the hh and the candidate.

    In the end, this is all about integrity. If candidates or headhunters or employers intend to screw one another out of what was promised, then their reputations soon go south… and no one follows. But word gets out.

  2. If jobseekers only knew how weak most agency recruiters were at recruiting then they might actually take the time to learn how to make the contact themselves…

    In reality, I suspect the real reason this recruiter wants to go the “Lock ‘Em In” route is to “prevent” a fee loss should the candidate do an end run and go directly to the company (the way most agency recruiters package the job description it is EASY to identify the hiring company). Nick’s reasoning I equally valid.

    Agency recruiters like to use the word “exclusive” because it offers the appearance that a special relationship exists between the company and the recruiter – yet most of the time it’s jibe talkin’ (the ONLY exclusive is a retained search where no candidate ever has to sign an agreement).

    In the end, working with a recruiter is like working with any service provider: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Caveat emptor…

  3. In this case Paul had submitted the candidates resume to the employer 10months previous to the other recruiter insisting that the candidate sign an exclusive representation contract. The most disturbing part of the situation was that the recruiter demanding the contract did not have the job listing.

    I believe the recruiter was trying to use the exclusive representation of the candidate to try to get the job listing. Flakey move at best.

    There is no valid reason for a candidate to sign anything with a recruiter other than a permission to verify education, background and references.

    On the flip side be fair to a recruiter who gives you the details of a listing along with the company nme. Don’t do an end run around them. If you sent your resume previously, say so. The company won’t pay you more if you try to cut out the recruiter and the recruiter can’t help you if you sent your resume last month. Companies react as negatively to candidates who play sneaky games as they do to recruiters with no integrity. As Nick says, the word does get out and a good partnership with a recruiter is not a one way street..either direction.

  4. As a 30 Year Engineering Recruiter(Contingent & Retained) I add my comments and support to the “Never sign anything with a recruiter except Permission to Check References, Past Employment & Education or any other legal information the client needs”

    As an important side issue to candidates– do not let your recruiter submit your resume unrestricted without your permission. Also request a record of which clients that your resume has been submitted. It is very frustrating with recruiters that blanket email & submit a candidate’s resume to 100’s of companies without the client companies request for such resume or without the candidate’s knowledge and permission.

    The reference to weak recruiters is a fair assessment of these types of recruiters in both cases. These weak recruiters do more damage to the service these candidates so desperately need especially in this market place.

    Recruiters often spend valuable time with their clients developing a possible position within the company for the candidate only to find out someone submitted the candidate’s resume unsolicited Five, Six -Nine months back and now the client wants to hire the candidate but the the company is refusing to move forward because of a possible conflict.
    Often in the best interest of the candidate we have backed out of the situation so the client can hire the candidate.

    Yes some splits have resulted but we did all the work. I know that the ‘but for our efforts” rule of thumb.But as we know your client really makes the rules.

    Weak recruiters that jump into this profession thinking that this is a fast & easy way to make a fast dollar often leave mountains of problems and only damage to our industry. Hopefully that will change as we attract more professionals and hire those that can give the industry the reputation that it deserves.

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