Four things job seekers should consider before inking a deal with a recruiter.

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A recruiter contacts you from out of the blue with a new contracting opportunity. You get excited about the role, but before it can go any further, the recruiter asks you to sign a right-to-represent document.

What should you know about this document before you sign it? Essentially, this agreement gives the recruiting agency exclusive rights to represent you as a job candidate. Used mostly for contract positions, these agreements can protect everyone involved.

But like any contract, it’s important for candidates to closely read the agreement before signing. Here are four things to consider when presented with a right-to-represent.

How long does it last?
These agreements are usually written to apply to one specific position, but some recruiters ask candidates to sign a broad right-to-represent. This gives the recruiter exclusive rights to submit a candidate’s résumé for any open position they see fit. Kristen Fife, a senior technical recruiter for Zulily, warns against signing a blanket right-to-represent, saying it can limit your job search.

“Once you sign that right-to-represent, you are agreeing to not have another agency submit you,” Fife says. “You could be locking yourself out of working for a better agency.”

Read the fine print and make sure the right-to-represent is for one single, specific job, Fife says. It should include the job number and description.

Kristofer Moore, a Redmond software developer who has been working with recruiters for over a decade, refuses to sign a blanket right-to-represent contract giving exclusivity to a single agency.

“There are too many offers and too many companies to be tied down to just one company representing you for every position,” Moore says.

Do I like this agency?
“Make sure the agency you sign the right-to-represent with is who you want to work for,” Fife says, “because they are going to become your employer for the duration of the contract.”

Some agencies may pay more, offer benefits or have a better reputation, so it’s important to be savvy and do your homework, says Fife.

The recruiter’s availability is also important to consider, Moore says.

“If their mailbox is full, you probably don’t want them to represent you, because that means they haven’t responded in a present manner,” Moore says. “And little things, like them spelling your name correctly, are a big indicator of their attention to detail and how much they value you.”

What happens if I sign multiple right-to-represent agreements?
While there’s nothing wrong with working with a variety of recruiting agencies when looking for work, signing multiple right to-represents for the same position can have huge ramifications for a job search.

“A lot of employers, like Amazon or T-Mobile, if you are submitted by two agencies for the same job, you are unconsidered for that position — and potentially other positions — for a significant amount of time,” Fife says.

Large companies, working with multiple recruiting agencies, often require recruiters to obtain right-to-represent agreements so they don’t receive a résumé from the same candidate for one position from multiple recruiters. These agreements also provide a clear date stamp, to determine which recruiter a candidate gave permission to first.

“If someone is submitted by more than one vendor for a job, the client doesn’t want to deal with the fight,” says Tyra Tally, a recruiter for Mercer Island-based technology recruiting company Hansell Tierney. “They don’t want to have to pick who should get to represent this person.”

Tally suggests candidates use a spreadsheet to track which jobs candidates have been submitted for to prevent multiple submissions.

Why sign a right-to-represent?
Tally describes these agreements as a safety measure; “to make sure vendors are actually talking to candidates before they are being submitted [for a job].”

Signing a right-to-represent is an individual decision, Fife says, but often without one, a job candidate might not get a chance to interview or even apply for the position.

“If the job is good and the pay is good,” Fife says, “and they aren’t going to submit you unless you sign the right-to-represent — yeah, sign it.”

Fife adds, “Just make sure you have done your due diligence and you know what the right-to-represent means.”