Give those recruiters a red card, ref..

Anyone can tell you that a bad experience tends to unfortunately stick out in your head more so than a good experience. It can just take one person to really upset a company brand but a whole group of people can do some serious damage and in this case, it most certainly has.

The following tale is by no means tarring the bunch of wonderful recruiters that are out there, working hard and doing great – it is merely an account of one group of recruiters who, in my opinion, should not be doing what they’re doing.

A few many moons ago, I was looking for a job. I had found what I thought was a winner amongst all the confusion that can be had when sifting through the Monster website (although I have to say that Reed’s daily emails to me were absolutely fantastic-always relevant and always what I wanted to apply for.) It was an Events Management role, something that I was very keen on at the time and seemed absolutely perfect for the minimal experience I had. It essentially said that you needed to have a degree, have some experience in a working environment and that you would learn all the Events Management experience you would need in your assistant role. So, with great excitement, I applied.

A few days later, I received a phone call from a recruitment agency company who were apparently dealing with the job I had applied for. The girl who I spoke to said that she was happy with my CV but that she needed her supervisor to ask me a couple of questions to see if I could progress to the next stage. I tried to tone down my natural exuberance and answer sensibly, with some success miraculously as I did indeed progress to the next round. I was put back onto the girl who had contacted me who started to tell me about the role. She started to describe the role, which after a few minutes was decidedly not an Events Management role. I stopped her and asked why she seemed to be describing a Sales Executive role rather than the Events Management job I had applied for. She said that the Events Management job was no longer available but that this job she was describing to me was pretty much Events Management with a little sales thrown in. Confused, but sadly naïve as I was, I believed her.

Once I had agreed to the interview, I was contacted almost immediately by somebody else in the company who had lined up a different interview for me – once again, they said it had lots of events management experience to be had but would involve a little sales as well.

Three recruiters and four arranged interviews later, I sat there feeling a little bemused and not sure whether to celebrate the supposed events management jobs that I had been put forward for. I looked up the recruitment company online and immediately felt my face fall. It stated most specifically on their website that they were a sales recruitment agency for graduates and after a few minutes browsing their site, there could be no doubt that they trained and recruited sales people for various companies.

I tried to convince myself that all I would have to do was endure a little bit of sales work and then I would be able to do what I really wanted to do and so, I went along to the interviews. Obviously, once in an interview it became evident that these were purely sales roles. However, on receiving any job offers, a bombardment of emails and bordering on bullying calls to accept the job I’m sad to say worked on me. Thankfully, the job that I accepted was a lovely company to work for and so, I started working for them. A month in, my manager and I realised that sales was definitely not something I was cut out for. Luckily, instead of throwing me to the wolves, my manager recognised that I might be better suited to a Marketing role and to be honest, I have never looked back.

Some months later, I met up with a few people who had been put in jobs by the same recruitment company and who were now, whatever they had originally wanted to do, all in sales jobs. After a few conversations, I discovered not only that a few of them had applied for that elusive Events Management role but also all of them had been approached by this company following that application. On further investigation, we found out that the Events Management role that had been advertised was in fact a fake job that the recruitment agency had put up to entice graduates, such as myself, into sales roles by pretending that they very similar to Events Management.

I know that now if the same thing had happened, I would have told the recruitment agency that I didn’t want to go into sales but they were very convincing and persuasive that my role would only encompass minimal sales and would, a few months down the line, be faded out by the events management.  I’m not sure whether this is something that just this specific recruitment company used, but I think that this kind of tactic is taking advantage of fresh graduates who are easily carried away by the idea of having a job than actually checking the reality of that job. I heard other stories from the people I met that when people had specified certain things, even when they wanted a sales role, their specifications were completely ignored and indeed some were even lied to about the jobs they were going for.

In hindsight, which is of course a wonderful thing, I wish I had been a bit more switched on and less carried away by the promises and in some cases, outright lies from this agency. However, to those recruiters I would like to say thank you. Without you having pushed me into something I didn’t want to do, I would never have got into the job now that I love. Although, I think I was extremely lucky and not all graduates are as lucky as I have been.

Is advertising false jobs and lying to candidates just something that recruiters do sometimes to get their commission? Have any of you had similar experiences?

Views: 1357

Comment by Subramani B on July 12, 2011 at 10:25am
That's a pretty bad experience you have mentioned here. Looks like the consultant themselves were doing sales rather than looking for right roles & matches.
Comment by Ian on July 12, 2011 at 12:17pm
Emily - this is a classic of poor recruitment companies that are only interested in earning commission rather than letting the candidates do the choosing. Bit of shameless sales here, but at present we're setting up a new web site called: that is for graduates and people in the early stages of their career. Simply, candidates and employers will be able to browse and meet each other on-line and then face to face if necessary. No more middle man. As you say it helped you in the long run, but what if your initial manager was less forgiving. You would no longer have a job, they would be without someone in the role and the only one laughing is the agent with their commission!
Comment by Emily Stevenson on July 12, 2011 at 12:25pm
Thanks for your comment! As I understand it, the recruiter got commission once we were accepted for a job and then got further commission if we stayed 3 months. However, the initial commission for us filling the role was substantial enough that the recruiters weren't as fussed about the additional commission so were not caring whether the candidate would fit the role or not. They were just interested in pushing/forcing applicants at the job and bullying them into accepting it! I understand that recruiters want to get their commission, of course, but surely it's not good practice making up jobs to get candidates and then pushing them into jobs they don't want to do - it's not nice for the applicant and it's not productive for the company either who will probably have to look for a new applicant when their new one doesn't work out!
Comment by Darryl Dioso on July 12, 2011 at 12:29pm

Shameful and embarrassing to the industry.


Don't stop at a Red Card. That sort of behavior needs a FIFA "Lifetime ban from all competition" ruling.  

Comment by Marc Rodriguez on July 12, 2011 at 12:36pm


I'm in the US so some of the terms I use may not relate to the UK. However ... Sadly, Recruiters and Recruiting Firms come in all shapes and sizes ... regardless of geography. There are very good Recruiters / Recruiting firms that are ethical and that are truly looking for a win / win for everyone. Unfortunately, there are other's out there that are not so positive and you've seemed to have met with the firm/agent who is simply looking for the commission.


Using a Recruiter is really no different than if you are using a Real Estate Agent to purchase a home, a Car Salesman to purchase your next automobile, or walking into a Department Store to purchase your next outfit. Some are definitely better than others ... and clearly some will have your best interest in mind and other's won't, just looking for the sales transaction.



Comment by Luke Collard on July 12, 2011 at 7:19pm

An all too common strory in the dark and murky world of bad recruitmernt. I used to work for an agency specialising in Telesales recruitment and it was very hard to find candidates wanting to do that type of role. My manager insisted on advertising the role as Customer Services or Marketing so as to attarct candidates who we would then shoe horn into the role. 99% of the time it would end up ina bad result for the candidate, the client and ourselves....but that manager was short sighted and couldn't see beyond the "chuck enough mud at the wall" and some will stick tactic.


There is however a large proportion of our industry that recognises the unprofessional practice that some elements of our industry adopt, not just false advertising. There has been call worldwide for recruitment to be better regulated, similar to any other professional services industry is, but until this happens I am afraid that we all, candidates, clients and good recruiters a like, are at the mercy of these idiots.

Comment by Charles Van Heerden on July 12, 2011 at 8:25pm

Unfortunately it happens far too often that hiring managers are not clear about their requirements, which then impact on recruiters trying to find the right person. As a result, particularly in the case of contingent recruitment, there are too many recruiters casting a wide net to fill a difficult role. In this case, however, the recruiters have seriously overstepped the mark. 

Comment by Sara Ramirez Morales on July 13, 2011 at 12:32am

It's stories like this that always made me ashamed to admit that I worked in the recruitment industry and it's the primary reason why I was so eager to move out of agency recruitment in to an internal role.

I loved helping to change peoples lives by helping them to find a new role, but I hated working in environments that were driven by aggressive commission targets. In my experience this lead to consultants behaving in an underhanded manner, much like the one in your story, Emily. 

Sadly, until recruitment consultants in agencyland are taught to treat candidates at all levels with the same respect that they do their clients, things won't change in my opinion.


Comment by Emily Stevenson on July 13, 2011 at 4:15am

Darryl - I couldn't agree more, brilliant! Made me giggle..

Marc - quite right, although obviously if you're buying a home/car then you'll probably be more switched on than I was with this incident and not let the sales person talk you into something.. It's sad when recruiters become so obsessed with the win and not about the client/candidate. However, of course there are many recruiters who do an excellent job and who genuinely care about finding the right candidate for the long run.

Luke - I completely understand dressing up a difficult role with a nice word otherwise nobody would ever apply for them! But there seem to be a few managers like yours, that just want to get a candidate in there to get the money and not care about what happens which is very sad for both the client and the candidate and indeed for the poor people who work for the manager such as yourself!

Charles - I agree that sometimes hiring managers are so focussed on filling the role that they are not clear enough to the recruiters when they specify the kind of candidate they are looking for. But, as you said, I really think in this case that they were definitely over the line! It's a shame that this kind of thing still goes on as lots of recruiters are excellent and try their best to make client/candidate happy and match well.

Sara - recruiters like you are the reason that candidates/clients haven't given up with agencies altogether! There are plenty of recruiters out there who really make it their business to get to know what the client wants, get to know the candidates and choose the best match for the job. It's unfortunate that the few that are simply just wanting their commission and don't care about anything else are still about and giving some agencies a poor name.

Thank you all for all your comments! It's great to know that everybody is aware of this sort of thing happening - maybe we can put a stop to it, in an ideal world of course..


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