“Any ideas on how to deal with a recruiter who seems to be sabotaging my job search?”

Question: I recently had a VERY bad experience with an unscrupulous and dishonest recruiter who shared an old resume of mine without my authorization with another recruiter who then proceeded to go to every company he knew I was interviewing with.

He seemed intent on slandering me and misleading hiring managers about me. I’m considering a lawsuit.

Does anyone have any experience with this?

         City and State Withheld

Answer: Mason, by this blog post I am asking all of our readers who may have had experiences like yours, or ideas they might have to share with you about dealing with the problem, to write in. From my experiences with my clients, I know you are not the only person who has been hurt like this by recruiters.

I’d even like our recruiter-readers to chime in on how they see such conduct from their own point of view.

My view is that, as our economy has “tightened,” and there are less jobs around, recruiters have suffered financially. Unfortunately, this seems to have led to a bit more unscrupulous recruiter behavior, including (a) unauthorized use of resumes, (b) unauthorized altering of resumes, (c) misrepresentations regarding job requirements and rewards, and (d) interfering with the hiring of candidates they do not represent, so as to increase the chances that their own candidates are hired, which seems to be what happened to you.

While every case is different, these are the four (4) primary paths we’ve taken to dealing with such recruiter misconduct:

A. “Cease and Desist” Letters: These are just what they sound like: demands that the Recruiter “cease and desist” from engaging in this wrongful behavior, or face a lawsuit. This is the most common way to put someone on warning that further conduct will not be tolerated, and the most common way to end such conduct. These are typically written by attorneys.  

B. Respectful “Appeal Letters” to Specified Corporate Hiring Managers: In some cases, we have written directly to those Hiring Managers whose views of our client we believe the recruiter in question has “poisoned.” We respectfully explain the situation, and that the recruiter in question (i) had no authority to represent our client, (ii) does not know our client or our client’s abilities, (iii) was, instead, seemingly acting to hurt our client’s chances of being hired, and the Hiring Manager’s chances of getting the best candidate for the job.

C. What We Call “Warning Letters” to a Wide Range of Hiring Managers: If the recruiter specializes in a certain industry, or employment area (such as Information Technology), or we know has certain retainer clients, we do not hesitate to contact each of the companies he or she usually deals with, and in a very carefully-worded letter, let these companies know that unscrupulous recruiter behavior has taken place. This is an attempt to change behavior by appealing to the recruiter’s most important interests: his or her client relations. Too, it gives the errant recruiter a taste of his or her own “medicine.”

D. Initiation of Lawsuits for Defamation and/or “Tortious Interference”: In certain instances, we have had to go further, and file lawsuits for defamation – which is the dissemination of false factual statements that harm a person’s reputation – or tortious interference with prospective business relations – which is intentional harm to another’s economic relations without proper justification. Like surgery in medical matters, we view litigation as only to be considered when it seems absolutely necessary, and only after all other means of redress have been tried.

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You only have one reputation, and career interests are among the most important interests a person has. Reputations and career interests must always be protected from those who – whether negligently or intentionally – pose a threat of harm to them.

Mason, I hope this has given you both ideas and inspiration to take steps to defend your reputation and career. Watch for the ideas and experiences of others in this regard on our Comments and in these Q & A’s.

If this has been helpful, would you please consider recommending us to one or more of your friends on Facebook, LinkedIn, or other social media.

           Best, Al Sklover

© 2010 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

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