Headhunter Etiquette: Can I Contact The Company Directly?

Carly-Anne Fairlie Toronto PR & Marketing Recruiter

By Carly-Anne Fairlie, Toronto Marketing Recruiter

I’m often asked by job seekers and new candidates, “How does the recruiting process work?” and “Can’t I just contact the company directly?”. For those who have never worked with a headhunter, or even those who have, the proper etiquette can be unclear. You may find yourself wondering what role your headhunter should play and what the proper etiquette is during different stages of the hiring process. Here are 3 recruiting stages where you may be tempted to contact the company directly and 2 reasons you should consider keeping your recruiter involved.

3 Recruiting Stages Where You May Be Tempted To Contact The Company Directly

1. Initial Contact

So you got a call from a recruiter and spoke about an opportunity. They even gave you the name of the company who is hiring for the role. You know a few people in said company so you decide to give them a call instead of going through the recruiter.

2. Following Up 

You’ve gone through an interview with the recruiter and have just interviewed with the client. You have a few questions about the role/company, and the hiring manager gave you their business card, so you decide to call them up instead of going through the recruiter.

3. Negotiations

You’ve made it through to the final round of interviews and have been given an offer.  You would like to negotiate the salary/vacation/title and you know you have superior negotiation skills (you’re a sales person after all!) so you decide to call up the client and negotiate your own offer, instead of going through the recruiter.

These may all sound perfectly acceptable (why not cut out the middle man?), but I must implore you to go to your recruiter first before taking matters into your own hands. A good rule of thumb is: Once a recruiter has contacted you about an opportunity, run everything by them first.

Partner With your Toronto Headhunters

Two Reasons To Consider Keeping Your Recruiter Involved

We are hired by the company to manage the process on their behalf for any number of reasons; it could be time constraints, issues of confidentiality, or it may simply be too challenging a role to fill. We take on everything from screening applicants to asking/answering questions, giving feedback to candidates/clients, and even the nitty gritty of negotiating an offer. Clients rely on our research, knowledge, and expertise to help them find the best person for their job, and the process works best when you, the candidate, do the same.

Think of your recruiter as a partner in your job search; we are here to help you put your best foot forward throughout the entire process and guide both parties toward a mutually beneficial agreement.  We have had the difficult conversations with both the client and you, the candidate, so we know what the bottoms lines are, we know how much wiggle room a client has, and we know what it will take to close the deal (and lose the deal).

With the exception of a ‘thank you’ or follow-up note, run everything past your recruiter; they’re professionals who have been hired to manage the process, and they’re looking out for your best interests.

For more tips about dealing with recruitment agencies, check out our other Dealing with a Headhunter blog posts where common questions are answered by our Toronto headhunters.


IQ PARTNERS is a Recruitment Agency with offices in Toronto, Montreal & Vancouver, We help companies hire better, hire less & retain more. Our recruiters specialize in Marketing, Communications, Consumer Goods & Services, Retail, Sales, Technology, Finance & Accounting, Financial Services, Life Sciences, HR & Operations, and Construction, Property & Real Estate. IQ PARTNERS has its head office in Toronto and operates internationally via Aravati Global Search Network. Click here to view current job openings and to register with us.