in Careers Advice, Job Applications

Trying to avoid the Recruitment Agency – tips on how not to do it

I have just taken the most bizarre telephone call I think I have ever received as a recruitment consultant. It went like this:

Caller: Hello, is that Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment?

Me: Yes it is.

Caller: I’ve seen an advert for a vacancy online – its for a paralegal position in Derby.

Me: Oh right. Do you have a reference number for it?

Caller: No. I’ve seen it on another website.

Me: OK, send us a CV through and we can process this for you.

Caller: Is it with Price Waterhouse Coopers?

Me: Goodness, no it isn’t. I wouldn’t be able to tell you who it is however unless we have a CV for you.

Caller: Well the thing is, I don’t want to go through a recruitment agency.

Me: OK, so why have you called us then?

Caller: Because I want to know who the firm is.

Me: But why would I tell you who the firm is if you don’t want to go through a recruitment agency?

Caller: Because I can get in touch myself.

Me: Excellent – goodbye!

Call terminated.

I have come across lots of candidates getting in touch and trying to find out who firms are in order to make direct applications, or other recruitment agencies phoning up pretending to be candidates. I have never come across anyone so daft as to actually tell me what they were trying to do when calling up!!

This is how to circumvent recruitment agencies:

1. Call the recruitment agency and pretend to be John Smith’s auntie.

2. Ask the recruitment consultant about the vacancy in Norwich and say that your nephew is very interested, but he works for Eversheds in Norwich and as a result doesn’t want to apply if it is them.

3. Ask the recruitment consultant if the post is with Eversheds.

4. When the recruitment consultant says no, say that your nephew has a nemesis who he really couldn’t work with, and he works for Fosters. Is the post with Fosters?

5. When the recruitment consultant says no, say that your nephew has a fear of offices more than 3 stories high and you know that Ward Gethin work in very tall offices. Is it with Ward Gethin?

6. When the recruitment consultant says no, say that your nephew doesn’t want to work on High Street in Norwich because he has a pathological fear of buses. Is it on the High Street?

7. Eventually you can probably get down to a few, apply to each of these, circumvent the agency, and bobs your uncle!

8. Alternatively you could simply make an application via the recruitment agency, enjoy the service, go for an interview and get the job.

I think what particularly annoyed me with this application is the fact that the vacancy this candidate had seen is with one of our member firms and we do not profit from the introduction. If you are reading this and were the candidate above, visit and you can whittle it down to 2 or 3 firms!

Jonathan Fagan is a solicitor, qualified recruitment consultant and Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. His LinkedIn profile can be viewed here –

Jonathan Fagan

Jonathan Fagan LLM FIRP is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. He has been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 20 years and handles roles from junior fee earners through to partners and law firm sales/purchases. A non-practising solicitor on the Roll since 2000, he is also the author of a number of legal career books, which are available at You can contact Jonathan at