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Four ruinous errors to avoid when building a relationship with a recruiter

Get set for her questions

Get set for her questions

The blogger is a recruitment consultant.

When industries are left relatively unregulated, the barriers to entry are typically low, and consequently you sometimes end up with rogues in the marketplace. Recruitment is no different and I have had the misfortune of experiencing this from both ends of the spectrum.

As a job seeker in the past, I have fielded calls from some unprofessional consultants. And in my current role as a recruiter, I have come into contact with counterparts of a less desirable ilk at industry events. But let’s not tar the entire sector with the same brush: most recruiters are consummate professionals and can significantly bolster your career development with invaluable counsel. So pay close attention if you’re a candidate who wants to get the most out of your recruiter:

1) Don’t waste their time: you are not the client

Recruiters are engaged by a hiring company (ie the client) to find it the best talent. Recruiters can indeed be a good resource to tap into as they usually have access to information that may not be available to everyone. However, because their fee comes from the client after a successful placement, they also need to be prudent about how they spend their time interacting with candidates. For that reason, learn to appreciate their efforts, and don’t abuse their generosity just for the sake of it.

2) Don’t spread yourself too thin

Recruiters understand the value of casting a wide net, and know that job seekers sometimes deal with more than one agency. While that isn’t inherently a problem, it may mean you may end up with lukewarm relationships with several recruiters rather than a solid relationship with a single person. It is only human nature to go the extra mile for someone whom one genuinely likes. So if you build strong bonds with one preferred recruiter, you may experience quicker responses, greater information transparency, and priority contact about new jobs. Even after you have landed a position, continue to maintain the relationship. Change is rife in today’s marketplace, and you never know when you might become a candidate again.

3) Don’t play tricks with multiple offers

Respect your recruiter, be honest and maintain a sense of decorum in all forms of communication at all times. Recruiters are usually far more connected with various networks than they care to admit. If you choose to lie, for instance, about having to attend your grandmother’s funeral as a time-stalling tactic as you await a competing offer, rest assured that they will almost always find out. And when they do, you’ll undoubtedly be blacklisted in their system – and you won’t know about it.

4) Don’t harass a recruiter for updates

As much as both you and your recruiter would like matters to be expedited, companies are growing increasingly larger and more bureaucratic, and things don’t often move quickly enough. If a recruiter is unable to give you any updates following a final-round interview because the client has yet to respond, it is probably because the employer is still interviewing other candidates. Constantly stalking your recruiter is not going to change anything, and neither is stalking the company that interviewed you. Bear in mind that it is also in the recruiter’s interest to place you in a job because that guarantees the fee, so there is little reason why your recruiter wouldn’t be gunning for you.

Urban Dandy recruits financial professionals by day, while dabbling with his menswear consultancy by night. The views expressed are his and not those of eFinancialCareers.

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Comments (6)

  1. Four ruinous errors made by recruiters:
    A – Don’t tell a candidate you are going to do something (e.g. call them back) if you have no intention of following through.
    B – Don’t advertise jobs that don’t exist as this may lead to “calls” that you may not want.
    C – Don’t contact employed people with promises of increased salary and benefits at firm XYZ when in actual fact you haven’t placed someone in a role for months (number of calls from recruiters is negatively correlated to sector hiring demand) and you are really desperate to and trying every trick in the bag in hopes of finding a long lost commission. Let’s face it the market sucks at the moment and recruitment isn’t immune so while there is no need to be a pessimist you should also stop pretending you have roles coming out your ears.
    D – Don’t waste candidates time as there is so much else they could be doing like working with good recruiters who have actual mandates, a good reputation and a genuine interest in assisting you in finding the right role.

    It’s as easy as ABCD! Reply
  2. @It’s as easy as ABCD! I couldn’t agree more. The hypocrisy of a recruiter trying to counsel people on ethical and responsible business behaviour is beyond me! I second every one of your points.

    sydneysbestfood Reply
  3. Good points all. Its actually the HR manager in firm xyz that is equally deceptive. They advertise or use a recruiter when the post is already filled by an internal candidate. The do this to be PC or just cast the net wider to justify their internal search.

    Another favourite quote by a recruiter after a seemingly good meeting: “Leave it with me…!”. When ou hear this, run for the door. In the early days I thought they meant what they said. Its the last thing you should hear actually. Spread your net wide and far, and trust no one. This game is sophisticated pimping. Suck it in.

    Another thing that recruiters fail to recognise is that today’s candidate is tomorrow’s client. Return calls when you say you would. Candidates don’t mind a negative answer. This will allow them to move on. An email is a poor substitute for a business that purportedly betlieves in personal relationships.

    If you want to test your recruiters credibility, ask them if they have placed candidates AGAINST the clients wishes or against the grain. I know this is counter intuitive. If you re in Singapore/HongKong check if they have placed candidates from minority communities or people above 45 years – which is really against the bias of firms in that region.

    (In Singapore, I have even heard the expression, we only work with “Anglo-Saxons”!!!!!!! Seriously.)

    That would mean he is placing good candidates and genuinely matching skills, experience to the job, not in the pimping business of matching people to people. Its a subtle difference and most recruiters think they know the difference, but they don’t.

    This will sift out the wheat from the chaff in an unregulated market.

  4. I am amazed at the treatment that has driven you all to these comments. One cannot dispute there are “cowboys” out there who quite frankly ruin any kind of reputation a good Recruiter has but we are not all bad.

    As we have to sift through candidates (countless badly written resumes, every day) to find the good from the average, so you have to, with Recruiters. You can’t expect good service in every restaurant you walk into, no matter how many stars, nor with every shop, website, call centre, bank. Every customer service industry runs the danger of bad service when you put humans at the helm. But do you want to eat, buy clothing, book a flight, open an account, find a job..

    Don’t tarnish every Recruiter with the same brush; simply move on to the next one and give feedback. Just deal with the fact you won’t always get a rosey response every time you deal with a Recruiter.

    Oh and on the subject of racism of Singapore Recruiters, this is not a Recruitment specific disease…

  5. Some recruiters just do a key word search, and without looking at the resume, and call the candidate…. wasting the candidate time.

  6. Yes, some recruiters are acting in a good manner but we often deal with recruiters that are not acting in professional manner. Such as:
    1. fish you cv without jobs on hand
    2. always call you during office hours and then you request him/her call you in lunch time or after office hours. they just disappeared. (of course, they also need to have lunch and don’t want to work OT)
    3. always push you and convince you with no sense to a position that is not suitable for your career path even though you have expressed that the job is actually not for you (of course, they just want their commission paid)
    4. always induce candidate at the beginning that the job can offer a good salary but actually not (they may be cheated by the HR manager but it is also their responsibility to do due diligence)

    So funny that even a real estate agent is required to take licensing examination but never for recruiter. I think that’s why we cannot expect that more of recruiters would act in professional manner.

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