• Heywood

HH Views – Unsolicited, Speculative CVs


We’ve all been there: a heavily anonymised CV has landed in your inbox from a recruiter/agency you have never spoken to. Great.


Used as a common business development tactic, speculative CVs help recruiters target hiring managers with potentially relevant candidates. With the agency claiming ownership, you could be liable to pay their standard rate of commission, should you decide to interview and subsequently employ the candidate.

A numbers game


This kind of business development tactic is easy to accomplish, but a bit of a lottery for any consultant.

It’s not something we do, or agree with, and there is limited information online that would help give an indication of the typical conversion rate of unsolicited CVs, but we can use the average conversion rate for recruitment and staffing emails to get an idea of the numbers.

For every 100 marketing emails sent, a recruiter can, on average, expect two people to get back to them.

More out of touch than ever


The competition for talent in some UK industries is higher than ever and more and more employers are realising the importance of driving a strong culture, offering competitive rewards packages and tailored working conditions to attract talented individuals in their area.

"78% of professionals identify personality as the single-most desirable quality in a worker"

Today, in a world where culture and fit are so important to so many, it’s even more of a stretch that you’ll unearth a hidden gem in a random email CV from someone with a wholly underdeveloped idea of what you’re looking for in a candidate.

Consent (or the lack of it)


Another important consideration is if the agency has in fact been instructed by a candidate and; furthermore, whether the explicit consent necessary to share the candidate's information has been collected as well as a satisfactory privacy policy being in place and having been shared with the candidate.

More often than not, recruiters will partially anonymise CVs before sending them out to multiple potential candidates, more to prevent you contacting them directly rather than as a data protection measure; however, GDPR applies to all personally identifiable information and a CV isn’t much without a history of work and qualifications.

Ruling out opportunities


Good recruiters have had ample opportunity and plenty of time to refine their people skills and are therefore able to build rapport and trust quickly with people at all levels of seniority. Unfortunately, for some candidates, this means they engage the wrong agency, who subsequently share their CV on an unsolicited basis with employers they have no prior relationship with.

What’s important is that some candidates miss out on great opportunities

What’s the problem? Well, some businesses opt not to employ the services of recruitment agencies or only agencies that they have an exclusive or previous relationship with.


Regardless of the why, what’s important is that some candidates miss out on great opportunities because:

  1. They have been represented by the wrong people, in the wrong way

  2. Employers fear being liable to pay the standard fees of an agency if they then employ the floated candidate following an introduction by an instructed agency or a direct application from the candidate

This claim to candidates also impacts well-meaning recruitment agencies who work in the right way, with unsolicited agencies claiming ownership over candidates they may have floated months before.

Using a recruitment disclaimer

It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that a candidate is floated by an uninstructed agency and subsequently decides to apply directly or is engaged by an instructed agency. If that happens, don’t be surprised if the uninstructed agency attempts to claim commission.


A disclaimer type policy might help guard your business against these claims. We have included a template below*:


[Company name] request that recruitment agencies do not speculatively submit CVs to any employee or associate of our company unless explicitly asked to do so by our [hiring manager's role, i.e. HR Director/HR Manager].


Any CVs sent to any member of our team on a speculative basis will not be recognised and we will not accept liability for any fee or commission should we subsequently employ a candidate who applied to us directly or was introduced by an instructed agency that may also have been submitted speculatively by an uninstructed agency.


In the event that an agency's correspondence includes a disclaimer indicating otherwise, our policy will prevail.


Some businesses take a harder line, treating all unsolicited CVs as gifts, leaving them liable for no fees whatsoever if they choose to contact the candidate directly and subsequently engage their services.


* Disclaimer for our disclaimer: we are not lawyers and take absolutely no responsibility for your use of this recruitment disclaimer or any future recruitment or legal costs incurred. For clarity, please seek expert legal advice.