Dealing with rogue recruiters – do you know where your CV’s heading?

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Let’s be clear from the outset – when a recruiter sends your CV to their client without your permission, they are breaking the law. Not a just a professional code or a contract, but the law.

It is illegal.

No jobseeker wants (or expects) to be used as a pawn in the recruitment game. Your CV is not a recruiter’s meal-ticket – it’s your career, which you have worked hard to develop. It’s your livelihood.

Most recruiters genuinely want to help you progress. However, when the select (unethical) few begin circulating your CV without obtaining permission, they can destroy your career overnight. This sort of interference will almost always have a detrimental effect on your professional standing.


What if your CV landed on your current manager’s desk?

Consider for a minute how embarrassing and damaging it would be if your CV landed on your own manager’s desk. Or, perhaps, the manager of another division. Or a sister company, or other associated company. Think how awkward it could be if it landed on a previous manager’s desk.

It happens!

Many recruiters, especially the generalists, won’t know your industry anywhere near as well as you. When companies go through name changes, or acquisitions, recruiters don’t always know about it. So, they blindly throw your details at the company – unaware of your existing ties.

The result? An absolute car-crash. And this is why the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003 and the Data Protection Act 1988 outlaws recruiters sending your CV to their clients without your express permission.


What if your CV went to a company you weren’t keen on?

Consider, also, the situation where a recruiter sends your CV to a company that you have no interest in working for. Of course, you fit the bill – and they call you for interview. Not only is this a complete waste of everyone’s time, but you find yourself battling with the recruiter to decline the interview (as they now have the whiff of a placement fee).

Worse, the hiring manager’s perception of you is tainted as a result. In their eyes, you’re little more than a time-waster.


What if a recruiter ruined your chances?

How about the scenario where a recruiter presents you to a company that actually might be of interest?

(Not that you’re aware, of course…)

If the recruiter is not an approved supplier to the company – or, worse still, is blacklisted (perhaps due to a reputation for sending unsolicited CVs – who knows?) then, in this instance, your application may well be discounted too.

Effectively, you are being labelled as ‘guilty by association’ – not that you have any idea! The point here is that when a sneaky recruiter gets a bad name for themselves, any candidate on their books (consensual or not) could be subject to the same reputation. Mud sticks.


What if all your control was taken away?

Giving a recruiter the green light to pass your details to a company is your prerogative. In fact, it’s sensible. The recruiter should work on your behalf, getting your CV in front of the right people, briefing the client, providing interview notes etc. If the recruiter is reputable, this is absolutely the way to go.


If other agents have submitted your details without your say-so, the likelihood of a double (triple, quadruple…) submission is pretty high – and if the client has your CV being thrown at them from every angle, it makes you – the candidate – look desperate.

At this point, the hiring manager may question whether they should proceed. Any uncertainties at this stage, especially for a busy, time-constrained manager (with a long list of other potentials) may result in your application simply being discarded. Yes, this is unfair – but from the hiring manger’s perspective, it the simplest way of avoiding risk. After all, no employer wants to be billed twice for the same introduction – and, this way, they bypass any related contractual battles.

All in all, a rogue recruiter making sneaky submissions can seriously impact your job search – both now and in the future. Once your details have been forwarded to a company, you’re in the mix. This may well mean you’ll be unable to reapply, because you’ve already applied (technically). Simultaneously, you can’t continue with the process, because it’s been sullied by bad practice.

The result? Control has been taken clean out of your hands, without you even knowing about it.


So – what can YOU do?

Well, quite a lot, actually.


  • Tell all agents that they are not to send your CV out without your express, written permission – for each and every vacancy.


  • Then, just in case they didn’t hear you the first time, write the exact same thing on your CV. Make it crystal clear.


  • Do not, repeat, do not, give multiple agents permission to represent you for the same vacancy. This will not increase your chances, or get you a second bite at the apple – quite the contrary. It simply shows that you’ve lost control, are dishonest, or just desperate.


  • If you get ignored, take it higher. The Information Commissioner’s Office would be very interested to learn of your situation.


  • And finally, if you can prove that you’ve endured damages from unwitting circulation of your CV, you’ll most likely be entitled to compensation.


When it comes to your career, the executive decision making is down to you, and you alone, so ensure you retain control throughout. Any recruiter who wants to take control of the process away from you is not worth the time of day. You should instead seek out a recruiter who will work with you, openly, ethically and legally, to secure the role and company that you’re looking for.

Not all recruiters are the same – just keep an eye out!