A general question, Mark and Wendii, I'd especially like your take on this - is there anyway to determine if a contingency recruiter is broadcasting your resume without you knowing it (and in spite of you telling them not to)?  

In the past 3 months I've had zero interest in interviews.  Yes, its a tough time and I'm in a rather tough part of the country for IT - but I'm getting absolutely nothing.  I'm working through the troubleshooting steps - network, resume, cover letters.  Whether I'm being broadcast is a step that I don't know how to figure out.

Open to any suggestions


basking2's picture

Hi Brian,

While I'm not near the executive level, I've often toyed with matintianing two or three sets of contact information as a method of "water marking" where my resume goes. It gets easier with those pay-as-you-go GoPhones and loads of free email accounts available. It is even easier with your own domain.

Being in IT myself, I've thought about a more true-to-form water mark, but I'm not sure it would survive the data-munding that so many places do to put my resume into their system's format.

If you have some contacts in hiring circles, you might also ask them to keep an eye out for your name as a sort of honey pot.

Now that I think of this more, this would be a wonderful value-add to some online identity management company. Any VCs looking to throw money at me, please PM. ;)

Looking forward to the comments of others on this!


DPWade's picture

Basking -

Excuse me but, I didnt understand a word you wrote and dont see how that answers the OP's question, which is a valid one for me as well.  For me, I dont know:

What is Watermarking exactly?

What does pay as you go phones have to do with tracking or discovering resume' broadcasting?

What is data munding?

Please dumb your take down for me so I can see the relevance here.



"the guy who loves Horstmans spoon feeding communication style".

stephenbooth_uk's picture

'Watermarking' in this context would be varying a key item between versions of your resume to make it obvious, to you, where someone has gotten it from if contacted by someone you didn't supply it to directly.

For example, I have the domain registered.  Suppose I'm supplying my resume to 3 different agencies but I think they it might get spread around.  for simplicity we'll call these agencies A, B and C.  I might send them all the same resume but in the resume to Agency A give my email address as [email protected], to B [email protected] and [email protected] for Agency C.  If company D later sends me an email to [email protected] I will know that they got my resume from agency B.

I've never done this on my CV/resume but have done something similar when filling in registration cards for products or subscriptions.  I vary the job title so if I suddenly start getting junk mail from a company I can tell where they got my address from.

If you wanted to carry many mobiles you could also vary the phone number you give out so you could track based on which phone rings where they got your resume from.  As Pay-As-You-Go phones have no monthly fee they would be a cheaper way of doing this.  Personally, I think that unless you're only registered with a couple of agencies, that's overkill.  I have to carry three mobiles and it's hassle enough just making sure all of them are charged up &c.

'Data Munding' is, I believe from the context, the way agencies tend to edit/reformat your resume into their own prefered form.  Usually they will remove your contact details so that the only way the recruiting manager can contact you is through them.  This is to prevent unscrupulous recruiting managers getting resumes from the agency then contacting the candidates direct so stiffing the agency of their fee.


basking2's picture


My apologies. Stephe re-worded me very well. If it's of further help here is a quick example:

Say you have two resumes that have identical content except one has your house phone number and one has your cell phone number. If you only give the resume with the house phone number out to close, personal recruiters (ones you may trust, know, or get extremely high recomendations about) then you should only get expected, quality calls about your resume on that line, right? On your cell phone you'll get "all the other stuff." 

Should you ever get an unsolicited or unexpected contact on the house phone, chances are someone in your "trusted" group leaked out your resume.

As Stephen points out, there are very cheap, no commitment, pay-as-you-go cell phones that you could use instead of a phone number you plan to keep. And, as he also points out, it's a bit of work to track and maintain things on your side.

I hope this clears up my previous post. This may be far more work than you were hoping to put in. The recruites in the IT space all have no-double-submits and non-complete clauses with their clients and with me which makes them very careful and particular about sending my resume out. It also means I have to remember who has submitted me where, even if it's for a permenant position. Gotta love the paperwork. :)


jhack's picture

The question, "how can I know if someone is circulating my resume?" remains unanswered.

Watermarking etc all assume that Brian will see the resume. 

Brian's concern is that he is seeing NOTHING.  No call backs, no interviews.   And Brian is wondering if there is some way that he can sleuth out whether his resume is circulating without his knowledge. 

And Brian, I wish I could help you but I don't know.  This is a very tough climate right now, and it may be as simple as that. 

Anyone with experience in recruiting out there who could shed some light? 


Mark's picture
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No, there's really no way to know.

And just to be clear, if you're assuming they ARE, and it's the resume that is not creating interest, that's a false assumption.  It's far more likely that they're NOT, depending upon the size and scope of the firm.  Recruiting firms are paid by the client, and so they focus on jobs they have open with a cient. So, they tend to target resumes for specific openings.  The driver is the opening and not the resume.


bflynn's picture

 Thank you to all for the thoughts.  My suspicion was that short of being told of a collision, there's no way to tell.  

I suspect it is more a combination of the bad market and my own bad marketing in my resume.  Being mostly a high-S, I'm very resistant to bragging about myself.  I'm starting to get over that, but its still a very difficult time.


Mark's picture
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Brian, send me your resume if we haven't already helped, and let's talk about it.