I was contacted by a headhunter who wants to match me with a company which I'm very interested in and wanted to apply there anyway. I have some colleagues there and could get recommended by them. Should I liaise with the headhunter or back up and apply directly?

Best regards


engineering_mgr's picture

Seems like you have an obligation to use the headhunter since since he or she put the opportunity in front of you, however your colleagues' recommendation will make your application stand out. Definitely contact them and ask them to talk to the group that you will be hired into.

cynaus's picture
Training Badge

Is the company advertising a vacancy or opportunity?

Consider contacting your colleagues and asking them. Or send an unsolicited resume with cover letter - directly to the organisation.

Once the headhunter has their hands on you, they will charge the company a big fat fee and the company can no longer hire you without paying the fee. Which then makes you an unattractive candidate. Even if you contacted them directly AFTER the headhunter recommended you, the headhunter will still argue for their 'finders fee'. It's a nasty world out there.

I think there's a cast on this too.... about relationships with recruiters. Personally I would never allow a recruiter to forward or recommend me without them asking me first. If I felt I could get in without their help, I would apply direct.

As a HR manager myself, we may sometimes have to turn away good candidates if it means paying an additional 14% (or more) on the advertised salary and because of that, when recruiters phone me after seeing my ad telling me they have a good candidate, I let them know I'm not interested. We recruit internally to save that fee. And we work hard on recruitment strategy and doing it right the first time (sometimes there are some misses and sometimes some hits! And the results are no different with recruiters I've used in the past).

Something to think about ;)

Good luck!


krzysztof's picture

 Thanks for both replies.

I don't think I have any obligation towards the recruiter yet - so far she has just requested a call to discuss the opportunity and we will do it next week. I can still say I'm not interested and apply on my own.

That particular opportunity is not advertised - the target company is growing and they are looking for people all the time. Whenever they find someone who meets their standards they hire him/ her. BTW, it is an elite professional services company.

I listened to few podcastst related to recruiters before posting my question and I have not found an answer. That opportunity is just between retained and contingency recruiters. On the one hand I'm aware the recruiter's fee will not help, but on the other I don't think it is a big issue for that target company. 

What I need to figure out is:

1) confirm the recruiter's fee is such a minor factor I can ignore that;

2) figure out how to best present the value I would bring to the target company - will recruiter's recommendation help anyhow? 

My hypothesis so far - apply via recruiter and let her know to talk to my colleagues already working for the target company to get their recommendations as well.

I would appreciate very much any contadictory or supportive comments.


acao162's picture

We have a recruiter working for us right now to fill a key position.  If you don't go through the recruiter, you won't get looked at, period.

So, I would recommend making sure an unsolicited resume is acceptable by calling your contacts.  Also, let them know you are interested in the job so they look for your resume.

FWIW, this is a totally new approach for my org, but as the position is a key leadership role, we're willing to take some risks for the pay-off of the "right" hire.  We'll still do the interviewing & final selection, just getting some help on finding those (probably already employed) hidden gems.

mfculbert's picture

If you take the recruiter call, I do not believe it is ethical to then tell them you aren't interested if you are going to apply by another route. There are no secrets. You can make a career limiting mistake if you are not careful. Either do not talk to the recruiter at all or go all in with the recruiter.