When I was looking for a new job around 8 months ago I worked with an agency recruiter - the type that shops your resume around, not an in-house recruiter - to get some interviews. Working with them went fairly well and I wound up with a decent offer, but somewhat unexpectedly also got a "dream job" type offer from a company I had applied to directly, and accepted that instead. The recruiter seemed disappointed but understanding, and even sent a follow-up email a few months later, so I think that bridge was not burned.

Now my spouse is on the job market. I think this recruiter would probably have some relevant postings or contacts, so I want to put them in touch via email. I don't know who is expected to do the reaching out though.

My concerns are that if my spouse emails, maybe the recruiter would skip over it since he's not in their address book.. if I do it, maybe it will look like he's not taking initiative. On top of that, I've also managed to offend a (different) recruiter in the past by what I thought was a polite email, so while this probably sounds like overthinking - I'd like to be sure I'm following best practices.

What is the professional etiquette for connecting someone with a recruiter you've worked with before?

(In case it's relevant, this is in the northeast US, tech industry.)

5 Answers 5


There is a simple introduction protocol that is common in the tech startup scene, called The Double Opt-In Introduction. I learned this from my time at the 500 Startups accelerator program.

Here are the steps:

  1. Get permission from both parties. You will usually have an introduction from one person who wants the introduction. Contact the other party, and describe the person who wants an introduction, without naming them, why they want the introduction and why you feel it would be a good idea. If they approve, you can move onto the next step.

    For example:

    Hi Alice, I know someone who is currently looking for a job in the northeast tech sector. She is a great programmer and I think you might be able to help her. Can I introduce her to you?

  2. Once you have permission, send one email to the two parties. Make the introduction, reminding them briefly what it is about, and then suggesting they continue without you. For example:

    To: Bob, Alice

    Subject: introduction re: employment

    Hi Alice, I'd like to introduce you to Bob, that great programmer I mentioned is looking for a job in the NE. I'll let the two of you take it away!

  3. They can move you to BCC or reply without CCing you at all.

  • 1
    @Ælis great question. Primarily this is from the "double opt-in introduction" which comes from my time at 500 Startups in Silicon Valley. See for example Fred Wilson. This article goes into more depth. Regarding BCC, see HubSpot and others. I'll edit my response. Apr 30, 2019 at 4:56
  • That's fine for two regular people. This question was about recruiters. If the ones I know are representative, 99 of 100 of them who you know would rather you assume they're okay with step #1. (Question states that OP knows the recruiter and implies sending them a quality candidate.) Apr 30, 2019 at 21:11

In the past when I've been connecting a friend to a potential employer, I've used both of the methods you mention: either acting as an intermediary, or having the applicant directly mail, but mentioning my name as the "known contact".

Both methods work, but in retrospect having me start off by introducing the recruiter and the prospect is the better approach. In that case, you can mail the recruiter, mentioning that you had a good experience with them and that your spouse will be mailing them. That alerts the recruiter and then your spouse follows up to establish the direct contact.

Getting applicants is the lifeblood of the recruiter so your husband's email should get through. And you contacting the recruiter establishes your husband's legitimacy and should speed the process along.

As far as the recruiter being disappointed that you didn't go with the job they recruited you for, if they've been in business a while and are professional, they understand that that's how it goes. A certain percentage work out, other don't. And in that business, it's best that they don't burn bridges. After all, the time may well come when you are looking for another job, and maybe then the recruiter will get your business.


I've done this 50+ times in the last two decades:

  • get your friend's (in your case spouse's) permission,
  • send the introduction email,
  • let recruiter reach out when they have time.

Your position after the intro is to step back and let the two of them work it out.

Email the recruiter with a CC to your spouse's "work search" email

There is no wrong way to do this (in the recruiter's mind at least). The best kind of new contact is a warm contact, and that's what you are giving them.
Any intro is fine as long as you mention you have permission to do the introduction.

Here's a template I made up based on your situation:

Hi [recruiter's name],

You did a great job on my behalf about 8 months ago when you got me that interview at [whatever company name and position].

Although it didn't work out this time, I enjoyed working with you.
I thought you might be able to present some great opportunities to my spouse [spouse's first name]1 S/he2 is also in tech, in the [area of expertise]
S/he is looking to make a move [time period (now / weeks / months) ] so I thought I would give you his/her information so you discuss opportunities which are available.

Spouse full name
Spouse email [put preferred contact method first]
Spouse phone

Three things to remember:

  1. It is hard to burn a bridge with a recruiter,
    Yeah, they are people who can be hurt/offended, but this is business - not social. I've known dozens of recruiters well enough to hear horror stories from them, and you (a person who cares that the recruiter is a person) would not believe some of them (even if you dial it back to account for exaggeration).

  2. Someone that worked great for you may not be a good fit for your spouse,

  3. Don't be offended if your spouse doesn't like the recruiter (for ANY reason).

Having said that "this is business", please note that the email template I provided was nice, friendly, and contained multiple compliments to them. You can be a jerk to a recruiter and still get placed... but why would you want to be a jerk?

1 If last name isn't the same as yours, include it.
2 Use spouse's gender, especially if it isn't obvious by the first name (cultural differences can make this harder to discern).


I've worked with recruiters a bit in the past as both a contractor and hiring manager and have learned one thing: recruiters are salespeople. When they make a sale, a.k.a place someone, they get paid. If they don't place someone, they don't get paid. As such, they're constantly looking for people who they can place and the easier, the better. That said, they also deal with tons of potential clients daily and unless you've really done something memorable, they most likely will forget you and move on.

If you're looking at an e-mail intro, I've done this in the past.

To [friend]
cc [recruiter]

Hey there [friend], I understand you're in the market and looking for a recruiter to look at. I've worked with [recruiter] in the past and, even though that position didn't work out, I was impressed by their ability and, were the occasion to rise again, I'd have no qualm about working with them again. I've cc:d them here so you have their contact info and believe they can help you.

Best, BP

That gives each other contact info, says something nice, kind of gives your friend a recommendation, and takes you out of being in the middle of the discussion.


It's called an introduction email.

Just like if you are at a party IRL and you want to introduce someone, you don't...not introduce them to each other and say to the person--"go introduce yourself, tell them you know me."

You say hey to your recruiter, then "say I want to introduce you to X, who is looking for a job in X field. I've cc'd them here so that you two can connect!" Then it's up to X to send a follow up with further contact info, saying something like "[introducer] has said great things about SOMETHING/YOUR SPECIAL SKILLS/RESUME BUILDING." When X replies, etiquette is that they DO NOT reply all. You've made the intro, you don't need to be there for the rest of it.

I have done this many, many times.

Some folks warrant a phone call beforehand, if you've the time, inclination or a more personal relationship with the recruiter/opportunity maker.

It IS possible for a person to introduce themselves (and I have done so myself when a contact has said "You should talk to Larry about this. He's an expert!" And then I find Larry through social media or whereever and say "Hi Larry, [My Contact] said that you are an expert in something and I was hoping to be able to tempt you with a lunch so I can get your advice about a project I'm working on..." Then I maybe include a short blurb on the project/job I want/thing they should be excited about.

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