Last week we talked about unwanted come-ons from recruiters. This week: When recruiters disappear.

Reader 1: Twice I was recruited for positions and had background checks and interviews with the hiring managers. The recruiter in each case — one with the company, one an outside contractor — assured me that the position was mine. I was given a salary and a start date and told to wait for an offer letter. Then, nothing. When I tried to call or email the recruiters and hiring managers, I was met with deafening silence. I never did find out why these offers, if they were real offers, were pulled at the last minute.

Reader 2: I recently answered a job ad and was contacted by the company’s recruiting department. The recruiter discussed the job and set an interview for me to meet the hiring manager. Early in the interview, the manager told me there was not a job opening — they just wanted potential candidates for their “pipeline.” When I followed up with the recruiter, he appeared genuinely surprised and said that as far as he knew, there was an open position. After checking with his company, he informed me that the company was continuing its search to fill the position. Since then, he will not answer my emails or phone calls, and neither will the employer’s HR department. Is this legal? The company continues to post this position online.

Karla: It’s not clear — or relevant — whether the recruiters in these cases misunderstood or were misled by the employers. When a candidate is left hanging, both employer and recruiter come off looking unprofessional.

In Reader 1’s case, it’s possible that both those offers fell through for any number of legitimate reasons — but the recruiters’ and employers’ failure to follow up at all was “unethical, troubling and wrong,” says Jeremy Tolley, an HR executive with Tennessee-based health-care provider CareHere.

Several scenarios could apply in Reader 2’s case: Management didn’t convey its “pipeline plan” to the recruiter; the recruiter liked the applicant, but the manager didn’t; or the recruiter is omitting details to get bodies in the door — unprofessional, but not something you’re likely to win a lawsuit over.

Going back to the employers themselves is the right call, if only to let them know that their recruiters may be doing harm to their image. “Great places to work are concerned about their employment brand and want to do the right thing; they want to know if someone feels they have been subject to unethical treatment by recruiters or hiring managers,” says Tolley.

Branding and best intentions aside, it’s not unreasonable for employers to rely on recruiters to handle most interactions with job candidates. But for the arrangement to work, both parties must commit to clear communication with each other and with candidates, even when the news is bad.

Ask Karla Miller about your work dramas and traumas by emailing Read more @Work Advicecolumns.

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PRO TIP: In addition to researching recruiters on LinkedIn, you should check out the employers they represent on, looking for complaints about shady hiring practices.