You probably expect that an author of such an article on a subject like this with close links to the recruitment industry would give an answer to say ‘yes of course you should’, but it does really depend on the circumstances.
There are of course a lot of honourable and decent people in the world and the contact may be perfectly innocent. You may have been for a job interview with a firm and they might have a question they want to ask you quickly after the interview and not want to be bothered going through the recruitment consultant to get your answer. It is so easy these days just to click on to LinkedIn and contact people, that it can be quicker and easier simply to make direct contact using this route than to bother the recruitment consultant. As recruitment consultants ourselves, Ten Percent Legal Recruitment and Interim Lawyers would be quite happy if a client were to contact one of our candidates in this way, provided somebody just dropped us a quick note at some point in the proceedings just so we were aware. It certainly would have no negative connotations at all if an employer got in touch with you and simply asked a question about your qualifications after interview.
However – and where you need to be very careful – is the circumstance where an employer gets in touch with you after an interview and effectively attempts to circumvent the recruitment agency that introduced you to them. This has very dangerous overtones in that such a firm may well not only get themselves into trouble, but also you if you are involved in any subterfuge. We operate in the legal profession and I suppose a question would be whether by attempting to effectively deceive a recruitment agency out of obtaining their fee, are these the actions of a solicitor? Would the SRA think that these were the actions of a solicitor or potential solicitor if they were indeed notified?
You will be relieved to know, if you have been down this route and avoided telling a recruitment agent after you have been offered work by a firm, that in our experience regulators such as the Solicitors Regulation Authority (the SRA), really don’t give two hoots whether a firm or candidate are dishonest and fail to tell a recruitment consultant, as on a number of occasions we have reported issues like this to them and not once in 20 years has anybody ever been reprimanded in such circumstances. Naturally we are very disappointed by this, but it does not mean that at some point in the future the SRA may actually start doing a better job and looking into things like this in more detail, and, through a firm’s deception, you end up in trouble. After all, you are very unlikely to get any economic benefit from not telling the recruitment agency because the firm will be paying you the same salary regardless.
So think very carefully before you agree not to tell a recruitment agent about a potential job offer as it could come back to haunt you at a later stage.