Top 5 Recruiter Lies!

Expert AdviceThere are many out there who may accuse recruitment consultants and recruiters in general of being a little misleading at times. I know in the years I have worked in recruitment that I have heard my fair share of white lies being told. These are the five most common I have heard. You may not have heard them verbatim though the sentiment may have been the same. You may have said some of them and at the time genuinely meant it. However, if you said it and did not do it then the other person may consider it a fib. Fair?

Lie #1: “Send me your CV and I will give you a ring when I have got it”

Now there are a number of things I would say about this. If you intend to use the “send me a CV” as a fob off, don’t. Why? Because it is not going to create a good reputation for you – even though the person may not be what you want you don’t know who they know. Want to reject them? Then reject them! Secondly, asking them to send a CV for you to use to ascertain their suitability is a double mistake. What if it doesn’t arrive?? Would you send your CV to someone who knows nothing about you? Or where you know little about the position? Plus, as a recruiter, will you really call back someone who is unsuitable to reject them or will they become one of those “stalker” candidates you created by not rejecting them??

Lie #2: “I conduct competency based interviews with all of my candidates face to face”

Do you really? No, seriously, do you really? There are a lot of consultants that I have met (4 more to add to the list from last week) who genuinely believe that they conduct competency based interviews with their candidates, that don’t. There are also those I know who do. The difference is what they consider to be a competency based interview. If you think you do then you should be able to answer these questions:

“What are the competencies, and their definitions, you are testing for?”

“Who designed the competency framework from which you score the answers?”

“How was the competency framework designed and who or what is the benchmark it is set against?”

“How can you accurately interview a candidate using CBI without a specific role to interview them against?”

Telling someone who has been fully trained and versed in CBI that you are could land you in a tricky situation….

Let’s not even go to the statement about all of them. Let’s also not go too deep into the classic “I have met this candidate recently” when that recruiter knows, hand on heart, that is out and out BS as they have never met them at all.

Lie #3: “I regularly network with key individuals in the market place to identify the top talent”

Again, do you really? What does that mean to you? A quick tweet each time you get a new job in? Update your Linkedin profile to tell us what you are recruiting for again? Or do you actually engage with your market place and network with individuals, irrespective of whether they may be job hunting or not or even those you might not label a “candidate” type? There are also those who I know claim to do this and then work solely from adverts and searches on job boards. Fibbers, perhaps?? Or are they just over zealous at the point of sale to their client customer?

Lie #4: “I will keep in regular contact with you during your job search, even if there is no news”

How many times have I heard interviews and telephone screening calls end like that? If I had a quid for each time I heard that….Yet how many candidates have heard it and never experienced the reality of it? I spoke to a number of jobseekers recently and this was their biggest issue – promises, promises, promises followed by nothing. Then a phone call, 3 months later, about another job and no real closure on the previous one!! Short sighted and damaging and, unfortunately, rife.

Lie #5: “I won’t put you forward to anything you’re unsuitable for or won’t be interested in” a.k.a “I’ve got the perfect job for you …”

You may be raising your eyebrow at this point thinking… “Who would really say that and do the opposite??” There are enough that do, that it has to be pointed out. I use MarketMeTweet and there are so many tweets out there from job seekers being sent to jobs for which they are unsuitable, for a whole host of reasons. Very few recruiters do it on purpose (you know who you are and so do I), yet if you don’t know your candidate and their drivers properly how do you know you’re not?? PLUS how many times have you heard someone begin a call to a candidate starting with “I know you said you wouldn’t travel to X BUT..” and then continue to try and sell them an opportunity in a location they won’t travel to? If you are going to do that manage the expectations at the beginning, rather than force the square peg into the round hole.

Related Articles:

The 7 Deadly Sins of Recruiters

Recruitment Suicide – A Dummy’s Guide

Recruiter and the way of the Samurai – Bushido

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12 Responses

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  1. You, and all recruiters, would have been better off telling candidates the TRUTH instead of tapping into their annoyances when working with recruiters.


    1. Candidates don’t pay our fees. Clients pay our fees. Recruiters work with candidates when they are viable for the positions that we are working on. End of story. This sense of candidate entitlement is off the mark. **** We are NOT social workers. **** In most cases we work on commission only so we need to pay attention to where we spend our time or we’ll be looking for another job too!

    2. Any time a candidate is willing to pony up a 25% fee for our services, please let me know and I will be more than than willing to drop my searches and work with him/her until placed. Fees are paid in advance; 20K min.

    3. Do the MATH: a great headhunter will make 20 placements a year. Typical search: 5 candidates for each placement. 20 candidates screened to uncover 1 sendout. So that’s what, 20*5*20 = 2000 candidates for 20 placements.

    So a typical recruiter will place about 1% of their candidate pool? Candidates need to know this. If a recruiter is NOT upfront about this, then they are not setting reasonable expectations for the candidates.

    DJ 23 March 2010 at 5:12 pm Permalink
  2. Having talked to many recruiters I have learned a lot of them are not even reading the CVs they are asking for. How come I am getting asked if I would be willing to move to middle east where the CV clearly states that I am living there since years?
    Only one of the examples I could give.
    What can I expect from a recruiter like this?
    It is sad that many recruiters are around that do not understand that trust and credibility has to be earned and can not be bought!

    It is a petty that the good recruiters are getting ruined by others who believe they can make easy money.

    Frank Sander 25 March 2010 at 10:56 am Permalink
  3. Hi DJ,

    Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, always appreciated! I have to say I disagree with your comments. We must treat our candidates better! The attitude of clients pay the bills and candidates don’t as an argument for level of interest or service died in the 80s for me. Candidate entitlement has never been more important. In this social media driven age your reputation is going to be as driven by those you don’t place as those you don’t! Candidates have the opportunity now to be much more visible in their feelings. Just follow the #recruitment hash tag on Twitter to hear the grumble rumble!

    Great headhunters build networks and keep in contact with people consistently – whether they place them or not. Treating people well, irrespective of how much money they have paid them is what allows great headhunters to build enough contacts with candidates and clients to create consistency. Reasonable expectations from a candidate? call backs when promised, timely feedback, advice through the process and to be spoken to about relevant opportunities. To be told only 1% of the candidates I speak to will get a job through me is neither here nor there. Getting them a job or not is not the only measure they will use to decide if they will recommend you (or the opposite).

    RecruitmentDad 25 March 2010 at 10:02 pm Permalink
  4. I love these types of articles. It amazes me the experts out there that have little to no experience in my world. Yes if you don’t want to send me a CV then don’t. That normally means you will be a candidate with expectations can’t be met so it is better for you not to waste my time.

    As far as calling you 3 motnhs later no that is not my style but I may email you. You should take it as i ahve never forgotten about you if I call you 3 months later.

    As far as #5 Recruting is a sales job you must point out all of the FAB’s to a candidate much like you do for your client. Just because it says something about no travel I live by the old saying “if you don’t ask then the answer is always no”!

    james 30 March 2010 at 4:54 pm Permalink
  5. ‘Have you applied for anything as I don’t want to duplicate your applications?’

    From experience I have found on occasions that this means; ‘Give me a list of who you have applied to as they must have jobs that I can act as their agency for’.

    I don’t give this information any more as I have had a couple of unethical agencied call the companies that I advised I had applied to. The agency just wanted to get in there with there own list of candidates.

    Dave 6 April 2010 at 8:00 am Permalink
  6. There are many a recruiter who generates their business this way Dave. A great example here of another classic fib.

    RecruitmentDad 6 April 2010 at 9:40 pm Permalink
  7. I mostly agree with DJ’s first response, although in a much more diplomatic fashion.
    I expect good recruiters to place around 35 candidates a year, at an average fee of £4-5k. They are obliged to represent both sides ethically and professionally. Sometimes a star candidate can be canvassed out to a range of employers, but mostly we are directed and driven by the employers who pay for our services.

    Stephen O'Donnell 10 May 2010 at 11:18 am Permalink
  8. The candidates are under an impression that the recruiters have all categories of jobs with them, they need to understand that a Recruiter works in only a specific domain or industry with some fixed clients. If the recruiter is hiring for BFSI/KPO industry there could be a least possibility of the same recruiter working for an IT industry. That is itself quiet visible from the kind of posting a particular person posts.

    For one posting a recruiter posts they get applications in thousands of which hardly tens or twenties are relevant.

    I as a recruiter always tell the candidates that their profiles are not suitable for the posting which is very visible. I don’t think I needed to tell that.

    Hence I agree that the candidate has to know the recruiter, understand his client base and the current openings he has and then share his/her profile.

    Zainab Urooj 10 May 2010 at 2:55 pm Permalink
  9. This website site and it’s author hit the nail on the head. Well done you!!


    David 14 May 2010 at 4:05 pm Permalink
  10. Bottom line. If you are a good candidate, you will get a call. Look at yourself and ask? ‘Why is the recruiter not calling me?’ And the answer is simple; because you are not a good candidate. If you were a good candidate you would be called and could expect regular contact.

    Stop blaming recruiters and realise that your suitability, or lack of, are your problem.

    Will Atkinson 15 April 2011 at 10:47 pm Permalink
  11. recruiters are the corporate world equivalent of used car salesman.

    john 29 July 2011 at 10:28 am Permalink
  12. In all honesty we try not to do any of the above but at times standards do slip and maybe we didn’t get back in contact with that candidate as quickly as we should have. Candidates do need to take some responsibilities for their own actions – read our website we are specialist in marketing, sales, IT and a few other not engineering and not catering so unfortunately we won’t have any jobs for you – do not be offended when we reply telling this.

    Yolk Recruitment 20 March 2012 at 9:03 am Permalink

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