The games recruiters play

  • Candidates are Pawns in the Games Recruiters Play

Manipulative tactics that some recruiters will use on you

I really don’t like writing about negative subjects and I’ve put this off as long as I could.  Many of you are thinking about switching positions this year and may not have worked with a recruiter before.  These super friendly people who seem to be interested in helping you with your career have a single motive in mind – getting paid. Now there are many very talented recruiters and staffing firms who help make matches between open positions and skilled professionals.  I do not intend to slam the industry, rather to inform job seekers.

Let me set the stage on this discussion.  I spent 10 years early in my career in the staffing/contingent recruiting business so I speak from a position of experience.  Here is how it works:  The recruiter gets a job order.  The recruiter does a bunch of work for free and won’t get paid until they fill the job – with you or someone else.  For their effort they will earn a hefty fee – between 20% and 30% of your annual salary.  Or, in the situation where you are contracting and getting paid by the staffing firm, they may make even more by inflating your hourly rate.

Some recruiters use these icky tactics so you make the “right” decision and they get paid:

1. Inflate your salary requirement

That’s not a bad thing, right? After all, you deserve a bigger paycheck.  Well, yes – but!  If the salary the recruiter quotes the hiring manager is too high then the hiring manager will opt for a candidate who is more affordable.  The recruiter isn’t thinking about you – she is thinking about her commission.  Solution:  Be reasonable about your salary requirements, give a range and instruct the recruiter to quote that to the hiring manager.  You can also reinforce that range during the interview if the opportunity arises.

2. No signed contract

Have you ever noticed that there are 3 or 4 positions on the internet that look very similar?  That’s because many companies will use multiple recruiting firms in an effort to get a bigger pool of candidates to choose from.  The best candidate tactic is when a recruiter doesn’t have a signed agreement with a company to work on a position but wants to gain access to the role.  You’ll get a call about an amazing opportunity, told that you’ll be submitted but then days go by and you don’t hear a word.  The recruiter won’t return your phone call.  Unfortunately, you lose because they submitted your resume and “own” you now.  You can’t apply independently, you can’t have an approved recruiter submit you – you lose.  Solution:  During the very first call with the recruiter ask if they have a signed agreement for this position.  If no, then walk away.

3. Contract to hire option

Let’s get something clear here.  The CTH option is a win/win/lose situation.  The company wins because they get to put you to work, observe your work style and decide “if” they want to make a commitment.  The recruiter wins because they will make more money if you contract for a period of time rather than join full-time at the outset.  You lose because you are asked to make a commitment, stop interviewing for other positions and “perform” at your best in hopes that there is a position for you.  Solution: Unless you are already unemployed and bored, make sure you tell the recruiter that you are unavailable for a contract to hire position.  Trust me – they have the option to make it a full-time hire.

4. Putting a short expiration date on the offer

This is the meanest thing that recruiters do in my opinion. They will make you a verbal offer but demand that you make a decision immediately AND cancel any remaining interviews in order to receive a written offer.  First, demanding a decision immediately is unreasonable.  Recruiters should give you between 2 and 5 days to make a decision.  If the company took 3 days to get you an offer after your final interview then you get 3 days to make a decision – that’s reasonable.  Secondly, cancelling interviews for bona-fide positions that have already been scheduled is poor character.  You deserve to see your search through to the end and make the best decision for you and your family.  Solution:  DO NOT let a recruiter railroad you into making a decision that you haven’t had ample time to consider.

There are a lot of good recruiters out there – and they are very busy with positions to fill.  As long as you are an informed candidate you’ll likely have a positive experience. For more information on how to navigate your job search visit us here!

About the Author:

Kimberly Lucas is the Founder and Chief People Connector at Goldstone Partners, Inc., a Colorado-based search and talent advisory firm specializing in recruitment strategy and engaged search for privately-held companies. As a seasoned entrepreneur and career coach, Kimberly is committed to helping founders build strong, profitable companies that stand the test of time. As a Certified StrengthsFinder coach she works with individuals and teams to help them achieve their stated objectives. Kimberly is an active mentor for MBA students at the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business, serves on the board of the Rockies Venture Club, is a founding member of RVC Women and facilitates a Thinking Partner Mastermind group.