September 27, 2023

What Is Resume Spamming and How to Avoid an Unethical Recruiter

Not all recruiters do it right. Many take a high-volume approach, capitalizing on unsure job markets, an urgent need for employment or workers, or unknowing talent.  

Our legal recruiters have seen a rise in what they call “resume spamming:” A recruiter will find a resume and then hand it out to as many law firms as possible without notifying or asking permission from their candidates. Rather than take time to get to know their clients’ and candidates’ needs and goals, their objective is to move as many resumes around as possible to increase their chances of “earning” a fee. 

This method almost always operates at the expense of the candidates whose resumes are distributed without their knowledge, which jeopardizes the resume-holder’s relationship with their current employer. As Legal Recruiter Jen White put it, “Charlotte and Raleigh might be big cities, but the legal communities are small. You never know if someone in your firm is friends or a co-counsel with someone in a competing firm, and people talk.” A lack of control over who has your resume can quickly lead to awkward conversations and ruin the possibility of a job search remaining confidential. 

Not only do candidates lose confidentiality when high-volume, low-quality recruiters operate this way, but clients also get a bad deal. An organization who has hired a low-quality recruiter could waste money on fees as the recruiter continues to present candidates who are no longer job searching, have no interest in working for that organization, and have no idea that they are even a candidate. 

If this experience sounds familiar, or you are a job seeker or organization considering working with a recruiter, be reassured. Situations like these can be avoided by working with recruiters who take a boutique, high-touch approach to their jobs. But how do you sort the high-quality recruiters from the high-volume recruiters? Our legal recruiters provide some guidelines: 

Jobseekers: how to avoid a high-volume, low-quality recruiter: 

1. Talk to your recruiter on the phone. 

Only give your resume to a recruiter after having a conversation with them. Many high-volume recruiters spend their day sending LinkedIn InMail and email messages to people, “farming” for their resumes. Try to get a recruiter on the phone to understand their attentiveness, response rate, and how many clients or candidates they work with. Will you be just a number? 

Also, a good recruiter will probably call you first. They may send an email or InMail, but it will likely be followed or preceded by a phone call or an invitation to call them. 

Once you have a recruiter on the phone, ask them about their process. Will they be prepping you for interviews, debriefing you after discussions, and updating you on their search? Do they plan to keep in touch while you orient yourself at your new job? Will they help you resign from your current position? A good recruiter will answer “yes” to all of these questions. 

2.  Be clear about your expectations for your resume from the beginning. 

Even if you feel confident that you have found a high-quality recruiter, setting clear and firm expectations about how they treat your resume never hurts. Set the expectation with your recruiter that they submit your resume to an organization with your express knowledge and consent. You can even require that they call you before submitting your resume anywhere. Be clear that this means you want to have the opportunity to approve or deny that they offer your resume to an organization every time they. In our experience, some recruiters will ask their candidates once if they can submit their resume to an organization, then submit the resume multiple times to the same firm months apart.  

Law firms: how to avoid a high-volume, low-quality recruiter: 

1. Require that recruiters follow a specific code of ethics, and put that code in your fee agreement.

Our Legal Practice adheres to the Code of Ethics created by the National Association of Legal Search Professionals, which can be found online and is a thorough code to have any recruiter adhere to, no matter their niche. 

2.  Require recruiters to present a signed consent form from every candidate whose resume is submitted to you.

This confirmation ensures that the recruiter is keeping their candidate informed as to where their resume is. It also makes the search process more efficient, ensuring that the candidate you are evaluating is a viable option with interest in the role. 

3. Choose a recruiter who is focused on high-touch, tailored searches.

Ask recruiters about their process. Do they plan to be a partner throughout the entire search, or merely put resumes on your desk? 


Jessie Miller

Jessie Miller

Jessie Miller is the Marketing & Media Specialist at ThinkingAhead. She supports the recruiting team in a variety of ways including managing social media, generating...

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