Q: Not long ago I received an email from someone using a Gmail address, claiming to be a headhunter representing Fortune 500-level companies.

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Q: Not long ago I received an email from someone using a Gmail address, claiming to be a headhunter representing Fortune 500-level companies. The person asked about my interest in a position at an unnamed firm, and requested a resume. I responded positively, but became suspicious when a follow-up asked for my salary information and the reason I’d left the last company I worked for.

I could find no trace of this self-proclaimed recruiter online, so I asked for credentials — whereupon I got a nasty email back, basically dissecting my career in rather unflattering terms. I was taken aback. After a day or so I responded, asking the person not to contact me again. A couple of months later, the same person wrote back, claiming that the unusual communication had been a “test,” which I had supposedly failed.

I have not replied to that one. I am wondering if this is just a weird Web troll or if this is a legitimate way for a headhunter to check out a potential candidate. Have you heard of legitimate headhunters behaving this way?

A: This interaction sounds, at a minimum, pretty fishy to me. But I decided to ask a couple of recruiting experts about the emails.

“I have been tracking the recruiting industry for a quarter century,” Scott A. Scanlon, managing director of market-research firm HSZ Media, says. “I have never heard of a situation like this.”

Elaine Orler, chairwoman of the Talent Board, a nonprofit group that seeks to improve the employment-candidate experience, agrees. The person “was smart not to go any further with them,” Orler says. For genuine recruiters, providing good customer service to client companies and potential employees alike is central to success, she says; no legitimate recruiter would behave this way toward job talent.

One possibility — and we can only speculate — is that this individual was posing as a headhunter in some sort of data-gathering scheme. A resume can include a lot of personal information. That’s one reason a job seeker should expect a reasonable degree of clarity from a recruiter before forking over personal work-related details, Orler says.

While some companies do seek to keep their searches discreet by working through agencies or independent recruiters — who may in fact use Gmail — you should still request legitimizing details: a phone number, examples of past job placements, a LinkedIn connection.

It’s in a real recruiter’s interest to put you at ease. If you encounter one who simply won’t, walk away. Don’t share your resume or anything else — and maybe make sure that all of your online privacy settings are up to date.

As for this situation, you might save the emails from this self-identified headhunter for your files, but I wouldn’t engage any further. Whatever this person wants, it has nothing to do with helping you.

Q: In a recent column, you responded to a reader trying to decide between two job possibilities, you gave the right advice — but ducked the hard part.

The letter writer needed a job and had an immediate offer from Employer A, but might prefer a later offer from Employer B. What to do?

While taking the job from A is the right answer, you ignored the ethical and moral aspect. If you accept the job and soon after dump it when an offer from B comes through — as the reader suggested — you’ve harmed A, at least to some degree. While the applicant is free to quit job A to take job B if it’s sufficiently better, with that decision should come some awareness that it wouldn’t be a nice thing to do. The real question is: Does the job seeker have the character to admit that he or she may be doing a lesser wrong for a greater benefit? It’s a shame the Workologist played down the tough part of this question.

A: Several readers made similar — and in some cases strident — complaints that I had sidestepped an important ethical issue in my answer.

Certainly your Workologist believes that employers and employees alike must behave ethically and morally. If, for instance, the letter writer had a firm offer from Employer B starting in three months, and accepted Employer A’s offer anyway, knowing full well that the stint would be a short one, that would strike me as unethical and I’d advise against it.

The problem is that work-world quandaries are seldom so clear-cut. Knotty problems often require unpleasant solutions. That doesn’t necessarily make those solutions unethical.

The fact is, the letter writer in this case had only the hope of another offer materializing. I’ve heard too many stories about potential employers who seemed to encourage job seekers and then abruptly changed course. I don’t think you should turn down a real job for an imaginary one — even if doing so might minimize hurt feelings later.

But I concede the broader point here. All parties in the work world should strive to be humane and fair; taking actions with unhappy consequences for others should not be done lightly.

Submit questions to Rob Walker at workologist@nytimes.com.