Career Advice Tuesday – “Double Agent Dilemma”

May 8, 2012

Dear Infosecleaders:

I have a question that should be right up your alley and I believe you can provide me with the best advice.

About a week ago, I was contacted by an executive recruiter about a position that interested me.  Although I have never worked with the recruiter before, (or new of their firm) they told a good story about their client and the role, how they found me (via LinkedIn) and they seemed professional.   During our conversation, they claimed that they were retained and exclusive on the opportunity.  

Even though I had not worked with them in the past, I consented to my interest and sent them my resume.   I did not do so without hesitation, but I figured since they were “retained” and “exclusive” this would be my only avenue for introduction. 

Two weeks went by nothing has happened.  I never received an interview.  My phone calls were not returned, and I have had nothing but “dead air” and I thought the opportunity was dead.

Last week, I received a call from an information security recruiter whom I have worked with in the past (Taking your advice, I do work with folks outside of LJ Kushner) and whose opinion I have grown to respect.   He called me to introduce the same opportunity that I had been previously introduced to. 

He shared with me that the client did not retain him that the role had been open for more than 90 days and they had not seen any candidates that were interesting to them

I shared with them my experience and that I had been exposed to the opportunity by another firm.   Since I trust this recruiter,and I believe that they have some solid access into the client/opportunity, I asked if they could represent me.

They told me that they would be able to. 

Is this accurate?  Can I have two recruiters working for me for the same opportunity?  Can I be hurting myself in anyway?  What should I say to the first recruitment firm?


Maxwell Smart


Dear  Maxwell:

I will say that I believe you find yourself in a bad situation and I am not sure if you are getting real good advice or guidance from either of your recruitment firms.

First of all, if the initial client were exclusive to the opportunity there would not be any way that another firm would have access to the position.   When a company grants an executive search firm exclusivity they are doing because of expertise and simplicity.  Having a single point of contact on a senior position is a benefit so that messages can be kept consistent, timelines can be managed, and for simple efficiency.

Based on this, I think you were tricked into sending and consenting to send your resume to the unfamiliar firm who found you on LinkedIn.

Secondly, once you are submitted to an opportunity by a one recruitment firm, you should not consent to be submitted by another recruitment firm.  The fact that your other recruiter advised you that this would not be a problem on a contingency assignment is incorrect.  This is the case for the following reasons:

1)   Almost all of the time companies will honor (and pay) the first firm that submits a candidate’s resume to them.  No matter what the relationship, in the end they want to only pay one recruitment fee, and honoring a second submission would place them in a bind.  This would be the kind of thing that would cause a corporate recruiter to potentially lose their job.

2)   If your resume comes to a company from two sources it is a poor reflection on you and your ability to communicate.   By allowing two firms to submit you to the same opportunity it makes it appear that you are disorganized, non selective, and that your interest in not necessarily sincere.  These are not qualities that many companies look for in their information security leaders.

What you can do is the following; keep calling the first firm until they answer.  When you get them on the phone, confirm that they are exclusive (and what their definition of this term is) and then explain to them that you are asking because another firm about the same role contacted you and that you wanted to make them aware.   Their reaction should be telling.

To the second firm, simply state that you have already been presented the opportunity and that you do not wish to complicate matters.   You can simply share with them that you appreciate them contacting you, and hope that they will do so again in the future about a similar or better role.

In closing, be leery of people reaching out to you who you do not know or do not have trusted relationships with.   Before submitting your resume, you can always do two things – validate the track record of the firm that the person is contacting you from, or run the opportunity by a recruiter you have worked with in the past, and trust, and see if they are working on the role.  If indeed they are, you may ask for them first why they did not contact you on the opportunity, and if you remain interested, ask them if they would be open to representing you.

Please make sure that you control distribution of your resume and manage your job search process.  These are key first impressions and reflections on you.

Hope this helps,

Lee Kushner


Posted by lee | Filed Under Advice, Behavior, Branding, Career Advice Tuesday, Interviewing, Position Selection, Recruiting, Social Media 


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