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Four things you should never mention to a recruiter

Working as a recruiter for three years – and now working with them on a near-daily basis – I can tell you that, despite their sometimes less-than-stellar reputation, most operate with a strong moral compass. It’s become a pre-requisite for building the job into a lengthy recruiting career. Those that cut corners, lie and burn bridges in this economy simply won’t last.

Still, recruiters are sometimes faced with situations where it’s in their best interest to advise you to move in one – and only one – direction. In these situations, there is simply no upside in involving them in the conversation. Whether their bias is overt or sub-conscious, it’s bias nonetheless. Look to fight these four battles on your own.

When You Receive a Counter Offer: As our readers astutely point out, recruiters hate counter offers. Search any job site – including ours – and you’ll find comments from recruiters advising you to never take a counter offer. Now that isn’t to say there is no merit in the argument (after all, you are taking a job that you just quit) but there are times when accepting a counter offer may be in your best interest. It’s never in the best interest of recruiters, who lose in multiple ways.

Not only do they miss out on a hefty commission check, they are also forced to call their client and explain that you’ve walked away from the position, despite the verbal acceptance they just delivery on your behalf. It’s the least fun conversation a recruiter can have.

If you look to a recruiter as a sounding board to discuss the merits of a counter offer, expect a hard sell in the opposite direction. Choosing whether or not to accept the same position that you just left is difficult, but you are better off making that call on your own. Be 100% committed to the decision when you dial a recruiter to break the bad news as you’ll be forced to defend your position with vigor.

When you realize you may have made a big mistake: Every recruiter has dealt with it before. A candidate happily accepts an offer, and then calls you a month later wondering if they’ve made the wrong decision. No matter what the circumstances, recruiters will urge you to remain where you are.

Again, there is plenty of logic behind staying the course. At the very least, leaving prematurely will stamp a red flag on your resume and rob you of any leverage in your next job search. But only you know what is best for yourself and your career. If you mistakenly joined a sinking ship or your boss mistreats you, it may be in your best interest to move on sooner rather than later.

And yet again, it’s never in the best interest of recruiters. Most contracts with clients stipulate that companies receive a full or partial refund from recruiters if the employee leaves before three to six months from the date of the hire. You won’t get advice – you’ll be told to stay put.


Confessions of a Recruiter: What Candidates Should Watch Out For

Eight Ways to Maximize Your Relationships with Financial Recruiters

Nine Key Ways to Ace Your MBA Interview

If you’ve already decided to leave: Say a year or two has gone by since you took a new role, the recruiter has been paid in full and you’re ready for a new opportunity. You still may want to think twice about calling the recruiter who originally placed you.

The problem lies in the nature of the relationship. Recruiters get paid by clients, not by candidates. They can also place dozens of people at one client, and there is only one of you. In short, recruiters by nature hold allegiance to clients over candidates, and it’s not close.

At best, they’ll tell you that they can’t in good conscience pull you from their client. I personally had to have that conversation with multiple candidates who were working at active clients. At worst, they could mention to the company that you are looking, putting your stability at risk before you are ready to move. Unless you know for certain that your desire to leave will be kept in confidence, you may want to tread carefully and put out some feelers on your own.

However, if you know the recruiter no longer works with your firm, feel free to give them a call without worry.

If there is a reason you may not be able to take the job: This is a tough one. Conventional wisdom says you should be forthright with your recruiter about all the circumstances surrounding your job search. But that may not always be in your best interest.

Say, for example, you are looking for a new job but you’d strongly prefer to wait six months until your bonus arrives before moving. Still, you tell your recruiter you would like to take the interview. They may not set it up for you.

If a recruiter has three other candidates who are motivated, packaged and ready to place, what motivation do they have to include you: the wild card? The goal in recruiting is always to eliminate the unknown as much as possible. If you have some “unknown” in your background, it may be better to keep it to yourself if you want to maximize your opportunities. Although, it may then be you who burns the bridges…

Comments (50)

  1. Recruiters are just another waste of space in most industries already struggling. All you need to know is the actually company offering the position. Deal with them direct and they will respect you more for having the initiative to contact them instead of leaving all the discussion to a third party that doesn’t actually offer any value for money in these tight times. I wish this industry would die and let the people who know what they are doing converse with the employer.

  2. Sheldon; your comments are largely unfounded and quite frankly show a lack of understanding. A good recruiter (I consider myself one after 15 years) will help good candidates achieve a far greater result than they could achieve themselves. I personally coach and guide all candidates through every single step of the process and know each and every client’s business in depth creating a fluid and successful process.

  3. I think this article should be called “four things you should do to make a recruiter’s life easier while sacrificing your own best interests”

    If you want to know the direction to the gates of hell you could do worse than use a recruiter’s moral compass to guide you.

  4. The business a recruiter knows the most about is the business of being a recruiter. Despite what they might think they don’t know a lot about the actual industries they act as recruiters within. They know how to do interviews, fill out resumes, make contact etc. , but that has nothing to do with actually being useful to the client in the end.
    We all know stories of people who appeared so good on paper (and in the interview ) but were actually just great at selling themselves (with the aid of a recruiter) and rubbish at the real job.
    A recruiter’s motivation is much like an advertiser’s. If they have a great product to sell then that makes life much easier for them but if they have a bad product they’ll pull out all their skills to flog it the best they can! Client/consumer beware!
    Personally, I prefer no middle man.That way there’s nobody hopping between the client and candidate pretending they want the best outcome for the two parties when, in fact, they want the best outcome for three parties (and especially the third!).

    A non-recruiter Reply
  5. Thank you Sheldon. You couldn’t be more spot on. If there ever was another unnecessary and implaccably useless industry ignorant of its value as recruiting I have yet to hear of it. The many times I have been shafted and outright lied to by a recruiter would fill volumes. Recruiters know they face extinction anyway, because online networking access to suitable employees and graduates directly has made finding of same a hellova lot easier than dealing with self-interested, overpriced third-party operators who know next to nothing about what a business really wants. The best decision I ever made was to ignore what a recruiter told me about my employment prospects and contact my present employer directly.

    Davis Cartwright Reply
  6. @Arecuiter no lack of understanding here. Been in my industries for the past ten years and have had to deal with many recruiters over that time. All have there own agendas by the way, don’t believe the “I’m here to help you” talk. Actions speak louder than words. I’ll take a stab and say you work for hays recruiting since you called yourself a “good recuiter” as they think very highly of themselves.

  7. If you are a job seeker who does the research on the industry, companies etc as well as having some introspection of skills, strengths/weaknesses, needs and wants then take the time to formulate a direct approach strategy you will have success and companies will appreciate your initiative. If you are not confident or willing to do the research and strategy then a recruiter is best. Recruiters are driven to succeed in gaining commissions and gaining a good reputation from their clients (employers). I agree with Sheldon’s view, and have experience on both the recruiting viewpoint, small business employer, inexperienced job seeker via recruiter and the direct approach job seeker. Each viewpoint has it’s merits and downside but it depends on the job seeker. My message to job seekers is this – take notice of yourself in needs/wants/strengths/weaknesses and how they measure on the available adverts online. This will help you in judging what approach you feel comfortable in actioning.

  8. 45 years in the workforce and rarely out of a job.
    Approach employer directly.
    Even, just turn up(ready to start).
    Don’t rely upon other people(recruiters,friends etc)

  9. I speak to recruiters all the time and have been lied to more than once by the same recruiter. I would rather now speak to the end company to gain jobs. I feel it is more likely to gain position that way.

  10. Recruitment agencies are seriously one of the most frustrating things to deal with when looking for a new job. You have no visibility about what they are really telling employers (if in fact they are telling them anything at all) and for some reason here in Australia they all seem to be from the UK

  11. I wish companies stopped dealing with agents. They are the most horrible people on the planet. They pretend they are doing a valuable service to the society. They are a joke. They just collect money from the work of other people and they are not even willing to disclose how much commission they are making on you.

    Companies please advertise yourselves!!! Do not force us to use agents!!! We do not need them. The hourly rates will be cheaper and no commissions to pay. Make your own decisions. Queensland companies are the worst.

  12. A good friend of mine once stated that:

    “If someone cannot find an add in the paper, respond to it in writing, turn up on time to an interview, tell me why he wants the job and what he can do for me. Then it’s a fair bet he doesn’t have the skills I need.”

    It’s a tough point to argue.

  13. Is it possible that a recruiter will not recommend an ideal candidate or refuse to place the job seeker with the client if the client has reservations about the amount of commission asked?
    I am in the middle of a recruitment process and the client has a problem with the amount of commission requested to place me with them. I have gone for two interviews with the client now and both times the client has expressed concerns of the amount of commission.

    the one and only peter Reply
  14. I see a lot of negative comments about recruiters on boards like this. I am a recruiter and I am interested to hear why people have experiences that they have been unhappy with. I would love to be able to find a wonderfully interesting and well paid job for all the candidates that contact me and if it was that easy I would probably have retired by now. I am always interested in negative reviews of all kinds, when I look at the reviews of a $400 per night hotel on tripadvisor I like to see what people who said it was “terrrible” are actually moaning about.
    The fact is that finding jobs for all isn’t that easy, there is a natural pecking order in all human systems and some people are at the bottom or close to the bottom. If I am contacted by a candidate who has a profile that is very much in demand I am very confident that I can get them a job and they dont need to contact lots of other recruiters. Unfortunately it’s the people who have skills that aren’t in demand or no skills that don’t get the progress they want and have to knock on may doors and feel annoyed and unloved.
    I have a lot of highly regarded companies as clients and it’s simply because they dont want to have to deal with all of the unsuitable job applicants that apply for the majority of advertised roles.
    I once advertised for an equities market maker position and received a call from a guy who actually assembled the stalls at a well known Sydney flea market, I suppose he was a market maker of a sort

  15. They’re all from the UK because it’s an easy job to get a 457 visa for.

  16. From my experience, I have to wonder about the ability of recruiters.

    The number of times that I’ve received the standard “you’re skills do not match the requirements of the client…”, when I’ve submitted an application based on the information that they’ve provided.

    As for HR people that companies employ, they are a waste of space as well. They do not add value to the recruiting process as most that I have dealt with, rarely have an understanding of the position that they are interviewing people for.

  17. I am an employer. THe people I hire are highly skilled professionals. If I advertise I get 40-50 applicants. I have to pay two people to sift through the applications, do background checks and come up with a short list. Far more cost effective for me to pay a professional to do this.
    Also if I do get the wrong person it is a very expensive risk to my business. Recruiters work for me not for the candidates and I am more than happy to pay them

  18. I have my fair share with recruiters and I don’t think they really know what they are doing. Have applied for more than 50 odd positions over the past 2 years and still yet to yield a single interview with the employing company. By the way, I am an experienced professional with a mechanical engineering degree and PMP certification and yet I received emails indicating that my skill do not match the requirements of their client even though in the job advertisement, they are seeking candidates with mechanical engineering degree and preferably with PMBOK knowledge.

    Yet many employers seems to keep using recruiting companies to “source and filter” for “suitable” candidates.

  19. Although I am highly qualified (both bachelors and masters from top universities), with good experience and normally apply only for jobs where there is a clear fit, recruiters have not put me through a single interview.

    My current job, and jobs I have held previously have all been through my applying directly to employers. I learnt the hard way that applying for job ad’s through recruiters is a big waste of my time and effort. Often, there is no response from recruiters which is the most annoying aspect. If I apply directly to employers, I always get a response.

    I have met well known recruiters in person in my city to talk about positions that they have advertised – I learnt two things. Very often, they do not understand the clients’ requirements. Second, many of them advertise ads, which are not current, only to build their database of candidates.

    Although there may be a genuine few recruiters who are truly fantastic at what they do, they are far outnumbered by the ones that are not.

  20. Hmmm, don’t we see the pattern here, employees. contractors and other professionals cannot stand recruiters. I have dealt with them on and off for last 15 ish years. I am a professional with lots of experience (I do not want to sound big headish here but giving facts) I find they fall over themselves when they need me, but the facts are typically they are just sales people acting as a barrier between those parties that need to communicate. On top of that you’ve got some 19 year old in high heels, red lipstick and no quals trying to negotiate an engineering position quite frankly its insulting. Do not suggest for one second its the client, the client typically holds some kind of professional qualifications where as the parasitic recruiter is just spit and polish. For the employer who cant be bothered reading 50 cv’s well your just useless, I had to employ and went through 70 took me a day so what, I refuse to deal with a parasitic industry that as many have said adds a big fat zero to the experience.

  21. i never found a job via a recruiter in the 16 years im working all my jobs where via referals and direct contact i give recruiters a miss even when i hire

  22. arerecuiter…….Whether you consider yourself a good recruiter or not. Your driver is your commission. I have dealt with a few recruiters.. different colours same hyena. Mostly the “recruiter” is a salesman reading off a prepared list. they bark criteria at you and you have to fill the slots. . You want a job approach employers directly. Otherwise you are just wasting your time and your money.

    around a few times Reply
  23. It’s important to understand the role of recruiters they are there to be paid by the company. If you are happy to deal directly with an employer then do so. I am also dealing with a recruiter an d dealing direct. I’ll see which one works.

  24. The worst thing is when I write a PD based on a particular person I need and that person does not even get past the recruiter of the 18yr old chair warmer in HR.

  25. Hey @Kev, Did you ever think that your “skills don’t match” beacuse you have a terrible reputation in the market, a history of bouncing job to job or that you just interview terrribly?

    I work in the IT space and on a regular basis, deal with people that have no idea of how bad they come across or how bad their manners are when dealing with recuitment agents.

    And @sheldon, you sound like the kind of person that doesn’t believe in climate change, Women’s right to vote or same sex rights.

  26. @ITRecruit regardless of what I believe this article and most comments are about the recruitment process and not personal values. Very easy to assume anything you like it’s almost a free Country but no you couldn’t be further from the truth I’m sorry to say.

    Why is it that the first IT person comments are a attach on something other than the subject matter in the article. Typical

  27. This article does not match its title. It should be named ‘Four things that annoy the recruiters’. In my experience recruiters are there just to do what is best for them, concern of the candidates or their clients are secondary. Its all about maximising their commission. I have had to deal with many of them who would try to push me to take offers that are totally against my career objectives, where the employers are visibly bullies, where the company they are trying to recruit are sinking ships; and yet they have no conscience, they still try to get you to take that offer. If you say no, they would hound you for weeks, make your life hell. I have been sent to an interview where the candidates were already recruited, the recruiter did not as much bother to apologize. I have met few good ones, who are a rarity. They all seem to care about you, but beneath the surface all they care about is their package, that I am convinced.

  28. So a few days at most of a recruiters time is worth weeks or months worth of my wage even though I’m the person with the qualifications and skills? Seems legit.

  29. As someone who was recently out of work for 6 months, my eyes were opened to the world of rexcruitement companies. I met withabout 4 different companies. I had over 20 years experience in the industry I was looking to find work in, and all recruiters were eager and said I would have no problem finding temporary work. Despite ‘checking in’ weekly as they requested, my calls were not returned and after a while I stopped bothering and hunted down my current job on my own.

    The whole experience was less than encouraging, having to rush into the city to meet with recruiters, the usual spiel, etc etc and not even a temp work placement from any of them. Before you all say, it was me and my attitude, presentation, etc….it was not. I dont appreciate having my time wasted by recuirtment companies, and it has left a very bad taste in my mouth.

  30. I found my position 6 years ago without the help of a recruitment agency or middle person. These guys from experience are hopeless and only care about placing you in a job and lining their pockets, no matter how crap the job is.

    I am still in this company to this very day and extremely happy with a great manager and support staff who treat one another is friends/colleagues and not a number.

    One recruiter tried to get me into the CBA financial planning department at the time when they have been getting bad press from dodgy financial advisers. This shows how much most of them care.

    Say no to dem recruiters Reply
  31. I worked for six months as a recruiter, and hated it. The lies, deception and time wasting did my head in. From candidates. The hypocrisy displayed in many of these comments is staggering. “only looking to make money” – yeah, and you’re looking to donate your services free of charge in your new role? Of course they expect to be paid.

    I worked for a small company, owned by two of my close friends, who are both very ethical people. I’m not saying all recruiters fit that description, I’ve been on the other side too. But bakers bake, mechanics repair, and bankers bank. Best to stick to what you’re good at, and outsource sometimes.

    As an aside, many of the most bitter responses here could do with a little spelling, grammar and punctuation help. As an employer, that lack of attention to detail would have your CV in the bin pretty quickly.

  32. My only recommendation for people who aren’t happy to deal with recruiters, is to go to companies direct. This means, sitting down, profiling each company, networking, finding out who the decision makers are in each of those companies, creating a list of the key companies, calling each company, getting through the gatekeeper, getting to the decision maker, then having 10 seconds to pitch your abilities, trying to close for the opportunity for interview, then turning up to interview on time, dressed professionally (not wearing homer simpson tie), preparing for the interview (read the company website at least), then closing the manager on why the manager should pick you, then negotiating with HR, the manager, comparing market value on salaries etc, then trying to get feedback from the manager (sometimes this is difficult), then breaking either the good news or the bad news to yourself. If you get the role, great, if you don’t, repeat this process until you do. This is essentialy a full time job for a period of time, until you are employed. From a recruiters perspective, they do this daily for many candidates, hence it being a full time job….so, try doing all of that but with one caveat…..you earn your $$$ only on success….kind of like a no win-no fee basis….not too many people like to work under that pressure, with no guaranteed income (and for anyone that says “oh, but they get a base plus commission” – this is true, but if you aren’t making placements try keeping your role as a recruiter – its dead simple – no placments = no $$$ = no job – security is an illusion)…..but they’re are some people who can work under that pressure, and some of those take up a career in recruitment. “Retained” is such a small percentage of the market, its not worth going into that.

    Market forces dictate that recruiters find candidates for jobs, not jobs for candidates. Only in a very unique situation where the candidate is the “michael jordan” of their market, would a recruiter reverse market that talent to companies who aren’t necessarily looking. Example: – “I have this ball player, multiple MVP winner, multiple all-stars player, multiple allstars MVP, slam dunk contest winner, winner of 3+ titles, who is interested to speak to you and your team”….compared with “I have this really good ball player, top of his team, has continually met and exceeded targets, who is currently unemployed and interested in speaking to you and your team” …there is no comparison. If you aren’t the michael jordan of your industry, the recruiter has to evaluate you compared to others, and you will be in a race to get the role. If you pay a recruiter to reverse market your skills, and you have a gripe, then fair enough….but as far as I am aware, it is illegal….therefore, only the MJ’s of this world will get proactive treatment from recruiter….for remember how a recruiter gets paid? Only on success !!!

    So, to all people out there that say “The recruiter didn’t even get me a role”, etc…it is not in their interest to get you a role, unless you can definitely say, you are the top 1% of your market. Take the bull by the horns and get the job yourself…by doing everything mentioned above. Of course the recruiter is not going to divulge who the client is, as they have done a lot of work to get to a stage where that client has given them the go-ahead to find a suitable candidate for them (still unpaid at that time)….can you blame the recruiter for that? The primary role of a recruiter is to match a candidate to a vacancy that the customer will then pay them for. This helps the client as they don’t have time to go through the interviews/CV’s etc, and this helps ONE candidate who eventually gets the role….this obviously means that MANY candidates miss out on EVERY role….many who will then point the finger at the recruiter as to why they didn’t get the role….trust me, it happens….but there is obviously no logic to that as one candidate is VERY happy….its a matter of perspective.

    If you aren’t keen on all that effort with no guarantee of income….engage a recruiter…pick 1-3 that you bond with, that know their particular market, that are successful (earn big $$$), it is an indication of their abilities, but just hold up your end of the bargain….MOST recruiters don’t want to waste your time or theirs. Yes there are cowboys out there…they will dig their own grave. Latch on to the good ones (generally 8-10 years tenure in the market – indication of market knowledge, perservearance, networks – just an indicator only) and work with them, divulging everything that they ask and even sometimes proactively telling them something that could be a spanner in the works for the role. A recruiters job is to ask as many questions as possible, yet we can’t ask EVERY question possible. There are younger tenure recruiters out there who can still do it for you, it is a matter of the relationship you have with them. Recruiters know that candidates become managers, so even if you aren’t the MJ of your industry, a recruiter sometimes have to pass on bad news but it should be done respectfully/professionally…as they do want to maintain a relationship with you for the future (regarless of the outcome of this instance), as you will one day hire no doubt.

    I suppose it is a bit like real estate, you don’t have to go via real estate agents, but they do a lot of work in the background (unpaid) to get to a situation where a succesful transaction actually brings in the $$$…..you can easily sell your house yourself….but of course, MOST people don’t…and there are very simple/key reasons why.

    A recruiters talent is not in their ability to do/know your role, but their ability to do everything above, getting paid on success only, managing clients expectations/grievances, candidates expectations/grievances, all the while trying to keep the client/candidate and their manager happy….they are experts in this…..essentially, they are the experts!

    If you don’t like mechanics, repair the car yourself. If you don’t like baking, bake the bread yourself. If you don’t like tradies, learn the trade and do it yourself. Otherwise, you can outsource and rely on the experts/professionals. I know I don’t like doing all these things, that is why I outsource to a mechanic, a baker and tradies…..this is why companies outsource to recruiters and pay for a service (on success only)….and it is OK to not like recruiters or the recruitment industry, as people have every ability to do it for themselves.

  33. I am an employer and I wish everyone would bypass recruiters. They have not proven to offer any value to our organisation. We would much rather a candidate approach us directly. We advertise on Seek and will take a Seek candidate over a recruiter candidate every time, if possible. A candidate from a recruiter really has the numbers (read dollars) stacked against them.

  34. A lot of negative comments here and my suspicion is they come from the bottom 50% of the work force pool. Recruiters are engaged to find the best candidate for an assignment not any candidate. I love owning a recruitment firm. I live in a house I own in a suburb I chose to live in, drive the car I want, not just a car I can afford, both my boys are at Scots and we head up to Sunshine Beach regularly to our holiday home. I am happy to not have to deal with the down trodden and negative candidates, as those that are in demand understand the value we add as do the clients.
    Please feel free to not get in contact with us and good luck with that whole staying at home thing, I however need to get back to managing a business that operates at a OP of 43% on a turnovers of $8million. Life could not be better in the career I have chosen.

  35. Jason Scott, thanks for telling us about your financial success – please go an book your next Sunshine Beach holiday and don’t come back!

    How many people have spent many hours preparing an application to a recruitment agency who can’t even manage to send a thanks but no thanks response, or advise a candidate they haven’t been successful in a timely manner. A bit of common courtesy isn’t too much to ask.

  36. Wow, incredible show of emotion here. A lot of people obviously rejected by recruiters. If the industry was so bad, why do top brands pay top dollar for top talent? I’d guess from all the commentary, they’d prefer to have a recruiter screen all this rubbish, keep the trash at arm’s length.
    Tall Poppy Syndrome? Or do people genuinely hate all sales people (don’t know of any sales person who ISN’T incentivised by some form of commission). I know some excellent recruiters, completely trust their advice as they’ve built a professional and ethical reputation over many years. Have also dealt with some idiots. What industry doesn’t have a percentage who ruin it for everyone. Financial planners? Car sales? Funeral parlours? Has no-one ever been to a doctor or dentist they wouldn’t go back to?
    Jesus people, get some perspective and grow up

  37. Dealing direct with source is best way in everyway then through a recruitment agency or middle person.

    There is no need for a middle person in any dealing. What do they know more about you and you work? What do they know more about what the source is doing and could offer?

    Middle person lives out of othersexpense.

  38. It’s amazing how some people are quick to judge, wheinge an all but when it comes to contributing positively we get nothing. I am a good recruiter who cares about my candidates. I have been in the recruitment industry for more than 10 years and I could say the same about candidates. Some of them can be the most unreliable, self centred individual. Let’s give you some of the bad examples of bad candidates I’ve worked with or for in the past:
    1. I’ve been dealing with candidate A for over a month now. all good happy with the job,salary offered etc. Interviewed with the client twice and they liked him. they send an offer through.. meanwile candidate A has accepted another job. didn’t bother to contact me to let me know. How bad is that? How selfish is that? How unprofessional is that? There are so many candidates who are liars too. Don’t get me started. and whoever said that Recruiters are the middle people and you don’t need them. We have middle guys in every industry should we get rid of them too??? Yes people get some perspective an dgrow up.. I think being a recruiter is one of the harded jobs sometimes rewarding but something stressful especially when you are dealing with people like this lot here complaining….

    a good recruiter Reply
  39. I am hearing a lot of people say “recruiters rubbed me the wrong way”, “they lied to me”, “the company thinks their commission is too high”. For those people you need to know how to play the game. Here are the rules, Recruiters:

    1) match candidates they feel are the best 5-10 candidates for the role
    2) candidates who wont make a fool of them to their client
    3) candidates who have a history of gaining employment without a checkered history AND
    4) candidates who are nice to them

    Remember they have a profile of you and you should leverage this:

    BAD: If you’ve been profiled with comments like “candidate went above me and approached the company directly”, “candidate got annoyed for not landing an interview and wrote me a nasty email” or “candidate discussed salary with client directly”. Then you’ll get the raw end of the deal.

    GOOD: If they wrote things in their CV System such as “He/She was really ncie to talk with and had good phone manner”, “He/She referred a friend (already on our system) who had a great CV”. Then you will get calls often and usually will make it the short list because you used rules 2,3 & 4.

    Also remember, recruiters have recruiter mates and its not uncommon for them to tip off their mates if they cant place you but their friends have a role going where they can.

    Sure with LinkedIn their jobs are under threat but a lot of companies dont have the HR resources or employees with the networks to fill specialist postions.

    I’ve only got my HSC, a TAFE Dip. Business and professional IT qualifications, no degree and I’ve only failed 2 job applications of 14 1st/2nd round interviews out of probably 40 roles that I’ve applied for in over 20 years.

    Play the game: dont take the counter offer; you wont be happy, thats why you were looking in the first place. If you made a big mistake last long enough for the recruiter to get their commission, in my experience they will happily place you somewhere else. Dont muck them around with being too choosy.

    I disagree with the point “If you’ve already decided to leave: be wary about calling the recruiter” – its not in their best interest to tell the company you’re thinking of leaving. It would be much smarter for them to get you out of there so they can place you elsewhere and replace you, earning two commissions while the employer is none the wiser.

    MeaningOfLights Reply
  40. No, Sheldon (comment#1) nailed it! I am a IT guy who has worked for recruiters and know exactly how they shaft their clients.I have also completed a commercial recruitment course (not all recruiters have any training, just the gift of the gab) and I still do not get what value a recruiter brings to the table. I now specialize in Applicant Tracking Systems so I hang around HR/Recruiter types….All I can say its a wishy-washy Sales industry based on commission and employers are doing themselves a disservice by engaging a recruiter. One advert on Seek with some Background Checking lists (its not hard) and your done.
    Does the recruiter have a 100% understanding of the role? No! They like to think they have but the reality is they sit at a desk making calls all day.How would they know what the roles entail. Theirs been several times I am at a Interview and what the Recruiter said and what the client says are 2 polar opposites. Imagine the embarrassed blank faces looking at each other. That recruiter doesnt get a job ever again from that employer, I can guarantee that!
    Then theirs the the amazing offer of $x a hour only to find out 3 months later the client was prepared to pay you double. You think I will ever apply for a job with that Recruiter again?
    I encourage everyone to apply direct to the employer if you know who it is.
    I encourage cold call emails to firms in case they need anyone with your skill-sets.
    I encourage you to use LINKEDIN but tell the recruiters to pee off.
    I encourage you to use the EOI functionality the larger firms use (ie leave us your resume).
    I encourage you to avoid Recruiters and all other commission based salesmen.
    I encourage you to have someone competent read your resume and application!

  41. Don – No, you aren’t. You’re a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

  42. Working in software in the US I almost always get placed via a recruiter… be they external or internal. Most of the time it’s a straightforward process if there’s a match to begin with, though I have been lied to on more than one occasion as to how “awesome the team is” only to find that the manager is a big douche and no one on the team really enjoys working there.

    As for this article, indeed the title is misleading. A recruiter has his/her best interests in mind and is not fooling anyone when they try to suggest otherwise.

    A also agree with the comments that call a recruiter’s value and qualifications into question — especially the latter. It’s always funny and a little hard not to be offended by some college grad “preparing” me for a job interview by telling me to arrive on time and dress professionally. Pfft!

  43. totally agree with this; a recruiter has just recently eliminated me from a position i preferred by telling the client i was no longer interested after contacting the client I found out the recruiter had another candidate closer to the place of employment who was placed in that position while he offered me another position which is not my ideal position; problem i have that here in new zealand 85 percent of advertised jobs are thru recruitment agencies

  44. I remember the first time I encountered a recruiter. It was in a small office, he asked a few questions, took a picture, told me he’d be in touch and I never heard from him again. I firmly decided after that, that I hated recruiters and would never want another thing to do with them. Fast forward five years, and I find myself working for a recruitment firm. It’s not a large firm, but they’ve been around for over a decade. The policies are strict, the enforcement of them stricter, and some of the people are hard to deal with. At the same time, I’ve met amazing people, made good friends, and I’ve come to enjoy what I do. The thing is… in the end, it’s about the recruiter you deal with.

    Forgive me for the extensive rambling I’m about to do, but I feel it needs to be said.

    At our agency, we are made to call ourselves Consultants rather than Recruiters. There’s a big difference in how I approach my job. Yes, I care about my clients and about the money I need to make – who doesn’t? I have to earn a living like anyone else. But I try my best not to do it at the expense of a client, or of a candidate. Two weeks ago I met a young lady. Her CV was poor, to say the least. She wouldn’t be marketable at all – by her own admission, she’d been sending her CV out for months with nary a response from agency or client. The thing is, she had so much talent and potential, the paper just didn’t show that – and she didn’t realise it, or how to show it either.

    I ended up spending three hours in that boardroom with her. We went over her CV, about all the little things that were hidden when they played the biggest part. In the end she went from trying to break into a minor marketing intern position with barely a year’s worth of experience, to being interviewed for a high level communications position – something in which she had over seven years worth of experience, and in some of the most difficult industries. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. I have several more clients who want to see her, and I can’t wait to present her with all these opportunities; from the big corporates to the NGO’s (which I’ll be encouraging her to take as opposed to the higher salaried corporates simply because I know that she adores working for NGO’s). But the decision will be hers to make and, like I did from the start, I’ll be there to help her with anything she needs, offering what advice I can.

    On the flipside, a client of mine recently wanted to turn a candidate away. They didn’t like her experience, they didn’t feel she was right compared to the two other candidates I’d sent them. More expensive candidates on top of that. Thing was… this girl was perfect for them. She was a great culture fit, and she had the perfect skills for the job, even if they couldn’t see it. I convinced them to just give her a chance. If they didn’t like her in the interview, no harm, no foul. Now she is working for them, and the client can’t stop singing her praises.

    A recruiter is a thing of the past. It’s something that will die out sooner rather than later, because no one needs someone to just screen, check and pass on. But they will be replaced by consultants who actually have the best interests of their candidates and their clients at heart, instead of their own pockets. That effort shows, and once those candidates and clients realise that your goal is their best interest, the money in the pocket follows.

    I don’t expect many to agree with my opinion – which is exactly what this is. My opinion. I firmly believe it to be true, but that might not be the case for everyone. Still… I think this industry could really be transformed into something worthwhile again – if only recruiters stopped recruiting, and started consulting.

    BeenOnBothSides Reply
  45. ‘From candidates. The hypocrisy displayed in many of these comments is staggering. “only looking to make money” – yeah, and you’re looking to donate your services free of charge in your new role? Of course they expect to be paid.’

    There’s no hypocrisy here. Candidates aren’t saying they don’t want to be paid, they are saying they don’t ‘just want to be paid’ i.e. those candidates do want more than money but in exchange for their skills, experience and labour. It’s an exchange of service for money, not ‘just wanting money’ with no proposal.

    Recruiters don’t actually offer anything or bring anything to the table, yet they act like they do both to the clients that they work for and the candidates they pretend they are working in the interests of.

    So yes, of course we expect to get paid. But we also expect to do an honest day’s work rendering a valuable service in exchange. We aren’t ‘highway tollmen’ like recruiters are; pretending we offer a service for a fee when in reality we are simply obstructing business as it should be.

  46. I’ve been placed at jobs by 3 recruiters and I’ve found jobs on my own about twice as frequently and every time I went directly to the employer I got a much better deal. I’ve also found that the vast majority of recruiters, at least in my field, represent the absolute worst jobs imaginable. I’ve generally found that the good jobs at the best companies are able to locate and hire the applicants they want without any problem because they hire through networking and have a constant field of well qualified applicants to choose from at the drop of a hat. There is a TL:DR later if you want my punchline and not the details of my experiences.

    As an example, a few years ago I saw an ad for a local company that has a horrific record with their work conditions and corporate culture. As soon as I saw their name I moved right along, despite being well qualified for the position…. Fast forward a few weeks and another ad comes out, this time by a recruiting agency and they’re looking for a person with similar requirements as the awful place (which isn’t unusual in and of itself… There are thousands of jobs with similar requirements). I applied for it and quickly discovered that it was with the horrible company who I ran away from a few weeks before. Not that the recruiter was to blame for it, but I went ahead with the process and ended up getting a pretty competitive offer for the job and it was better than unemployment.. That was a huge mistake. It was, hands down, as bad as everyone had said it was and in fact I think it was worse. I have absolutely no doubt that company used a recruitment agency because literally no one would apply to THEM. The private recruiter also just filtered applicants to their corporate recruiter, who just straight up lied to me. Lots and lots of good words about corporate culture and work/life balance and then absolutely no actions that followed them. When I left the company, by total accident, 3 other people left my department the same week. That means 1/2 of my group quit on literally the same day.

    Now I’m in the position of dealing with a recruiter again, except this time its supposed to be a contract “to hire” job (who knows??… Normally I wouldn’t even bother with such a thing, but times are pretty hard around here after a long bout of unemployment brought on by personal issues, so I knew I would be clawing my way up from the bottom again when I started my search) and it’s been an absolute disaster. The job itself is fantastic and is with a fortune 100 company. However, the city the company is located in is one of the most violent places in America and is likely to erupt in riots at any moment (the recruiter also advertised the job in a MUCH nicer neighboring city, not the city it’s actually in… it wasn’t until I got the interview address that I knew the jig was up). When you look up the employer and area on places like city data you find an endless stream of people saying they’re “coming to the area to work at X” (and I mean DOZENS of people “relocate” to work there, so my assumption is dozens of people are also jumping ship all the time) and literally everyone tells them to get out of there as fast as possible. There is nowhere to rent quality temporary housing or even eat or shop near the city. There’s not even any place to go get lunch. Everyone that works there is doing at least an hour commute (and some up 3 hours, which is insanity IMO) and that’s pretty much the expected thing of all employees. Beyond that, their on-boarding process (the contract house) has been a total train wreck, including trying to get me to fill out employment paperwork that would amount to falsifying a federal document (because they’re too lazy to do it themselves), sending my somewhat sensitive employment documents to the wrong email address (only a moron doesn’t copy and paste an address… I guess that’s my fault for having a simple and professional email and not something stupid like catgurlz4lyfe3246) and trying to strong arm me into a nearly immediate start date (2 business days notice), in a different city (and I own a home here, which everyone involved knows), and then had the nerve to tell me the employer “might get mad” when I requested an additional week to get my poop in a group to basically abandon my house and road trip my life away for months on end. Oh… I forgot.. The first time they contacted me about this job the pay was also 25% higher. A few days before the interview it magically dropped because “this is for a different position with the same company. It’s just an internal restructuring”… Yeah right. The recruiter is pocketing 25% more money is what happened. I talked my way to getting about 5% of it back.

    My interview was absolutely fantastic with this company, and that was verified by the words of my new actual boss as I was leaving being “I think this was a fantastic interview”, and the recruiter told me they phone interviewed about 12 people and didn’t make offers to 2 other people that they interviewed in person. I was offered the job in less than 12 hours after getting home from the interview (but no start date was provided). I have also already passed all of my various pre-screen checks and drug tests and such. There is no possible way that after that amount of effort and flat out glowing reviews that this company, that can just barely even find people that will work where they are (and they have more than one spot open, so they also just flat out didn’t like the other 2 applicants), was going to “get mad” about me needing a reasonable amount of time to get my affairs in order so I can show up and be really ready to work, and not fretting about issues in my personal life, from day one.

    So… After being strong armed, sure enough the recruiter came back and said it was fine to start later. I’m positive the actual employer didn’t see this reasonable request as a massive issue that they couldn’t work around, but the recruiter was sure getting greedy to start getting that hourly commission as fast as possible.

    I really didn’t want to be a jerk with them, or potentially burn 2 bridges in the process (employer and recruiter), but they are operating on my absolute last nerve. The recruiter doesn’t know that another employer (direct hire this time) with a fantastic opening that actually qualifies as a “dream job” for some people, in a MUCH better area was so excited to interview me that they called me up and wanted me to come to their facility the following day when they called me the day *after* I accepted the offer for the contract job. Interviews aren’t job offers, so I certainly wouldn’t hang my hat on that, but I was very tempted to go on the interview and find out what was going on. Instead, I told them that I wouldn’t feel ethically good about interviewing with another company after accepting an offer and thanks anyhow. My story would have changed really quick if the recruiter had stuck to their guns and continued to try to strong arm me in addition to all of the other goof-ups, oversights, and flat out lies throughout this process.


    In summary, you have to recognize which fish you are in the pond and the play the cards you’re dealt. In my case, I knew I would be dealing with every crap job and scumbag recruiter on the planet, but I didn’t expect it to me this bad (and this agency has been in business for like 60 years!!!). My general experience with recruiters was usually that they are a giant pain to deal with and only generate problems, and finding an honest one is like finding hen’s teeth (I only have ever dealt with ONE, and that’s also questionable. They were only honest, at all, with me because it was my first job out of school and everyone knows their first job will probably be poor pay and conditions no matter who it was with, and it was), and you will talk with literally hundreds of them before you even get ONE interview. It’s just flat out not worth the hassle to deal with them unless you’re in a bad situation, like I currently am, and those are the people most of them are looking to find and they are hoping you’ll take the hard sell they give you because it further lines their pockets. That also says nothing of the outright spammers and con-artists that will bombard your inbox and explode your phone nearly every minute of every day. Since my last job search, I’ve notice that the spammer in Mumbai are now in on the game too, which is SO much fun.

    If you can at all avoid recruiters and agencies, avoid them. You’ll be way better off in the long run working directly with employers, without a veil of secrecy, and making your own deal… and if you can at all avoid it, never ever deal with a contract house. The one I’m in bed with is basically just giant incompetent HR department with a lying madman at the wheel. I have no reason to believe they aren’t all the same thing and I hope to never have to speak to another one ever again.

  47. well a recruiter had a secret meeting with my current CIO! I can see my CIO’s calendar. Same recruiter name.. aren’t they suppose to help you find a job and not get you fired and fill your current position?

  48. For retained searches, the ad either will not be out there or refer interested candidates to the recruiter.

  49. The fact that you used the work “learnt” even after a bachelor and masters may be an indication of your lack of success.

  50. The entry into recruitment does not have any significant barriers and you do find many who are an embarrassment to the industry/society and rarely in touch for more than a couple of months let alone years. However, an excellent recruiter can make a very real difference to my company finding the best talent out there. Think about it, people are what make up any company and our most valuable ‘asset’..I value what a recruiter is ‘selling’ to me more than any other supplier, more than IT software/hardware, trendy office, shiny high tech workshop, machinery, telephones or whatever other element of the business you care to pick. Don’t get me wrong, a person is not comparable to these commodities, they are so much more important, complex, unique which is why it irritates me to read such negativity about people who are simply trying to do job themselves which the vast majority of business admit they need them to do.

    I put adverts out there in the press, job boards, linkedin or other forums and in a skills shortage often all I get in return are unsuitable or ineligible overseas applicants, all in all low quality. I want the best out there, not just technically but also some real world people skills – something I fear those with very polarised, outspoken views lack.
    There are other drivers but up there we have to admit any business owner is in business to make money, otherwise they are not in business for long. Recruitment firms are no different, just be a grown up, stop whinging and recognise you might not know as much as you think you do if you can’t figure out why HR/Recruiters still exist. Like it or not there is a place for them in the business world. I’ve had good and bad experiences with recruiters, it has pained me to pay out for the failures of any hire especially when there was a fee involved but ultimately I choose who I hire and take responsibility for that. I gained a job or two via an agency over my time, they served a purpose, on occasion on a contract I felt underpaid but I could say the same of some direct employers too and on a perm role I once took they clearly wanted to get their placement fee in/fill the clients vacancy, that is not inherently bad, there were probably better places I could have gone to work but I’m a big boy and make my own choices. Incidentally the best two hires I’ve ever made came via a recruitment consultant, lucky? Maybe, but I know I wouldn’t have found them any other way let alone in any reasonable time, believe me I’ve tried many times before and since. I’d like my daughters to be engineers, doctors or some highly regarded profession but if they just ended up as in HR/recruitment or another support function I hope they would get a little common courtesy and not be pre judged. It’s sad to see so much anger directed to a group of people who are not all the same.

    I’ve found recruiting and retaining good people is the hardest thing in our business. I’d like to see more business owners and CEO’s praise their suppliers and maybe more of us would know who the good ones are.

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