The problem with recruiters is that most of them are focused on “closing the deal”and all else is just details. They will do anything necessary to simply make a placement and invoice their customer. They don’t have their customer’s best interests at heart. His only concern is getting paid and getting past the guarantee period!

Sad, but true for many, if not most recruiters. Oh sure, they “care” about the outcome. But not more than they care about submitting an invoice. In most cases, they are not committed to the success of their clients. They are committed to doing whatever is necessary to obtain a fee for services. This is almost universally true of contingency recruiters and sadly even true for many in the retained camp. It’s a basic human flaw that people are “self” first and “others” second. It is rare to find a recruiter who will do the right thing when they must decide between telling the truth and remaining silent. There is a lot at stake for a recruiter in the short term, and it takes incredible character to do the right thing when there is a large sum of money at risk. There is a sacred trust in a relationship with a company and it’s recruiter. My belief is that very few of them make the right choices when facing this dilemma.

Here are some examples of What is Wrong with Recruiters:

A. Over-preparing candidates on how to appeal to all of the hiring managers’ “hot buttons”
B. Editing a resume to cover up “red flags”
C. Pressuring both candidates and hirers to make a decision that may not be in their best long-term interests
D. Not searching for the best candidates, but only skimming the “low hanging fruit” of the Internet
E. “Flinging” resumes of people they haven’t vetted nor received permission from
F. Presenting the same candidate to multiple companies in order to create greater urgency
G. Concealing obvious flaws of their candidates

These are some of the problems with recruiters and “just cause” for HR to suspect bad behavior from them. Considering these examples, is it any surprise the industry has a poor reputation?

There is much that can be done to positively impact this bad rap, but it must start with recruiters doing the right thing at every turn. It is simply the best way to build your practice and reputation. It requires seeing beyond the short term financial gain and believing that by doing what is right for your client, you are building a business with honor and integrity, and by doing it this way, you will get repeat business. As i said, it is the right way to build both your business and reputation. If you can’t stay in business doing it right, you really should get out. There are far easier ways to make a living. Besides, you’re bringing down an entire industry!

Bad behavior isn’t right no matter how many placements you make! Do us all a favor and go do something else!

For more blogs from the author visit

Views: 9448

Comment by Zachary Sines on February 8, 2012 at 9:02am

Being a recruiter, I have to object.  Here is where I see issues with the list you presented...each letter corresponds to the list titled What is Wrong with Recruiters:

A. If the hiring manager tells me what they are looking for, I will definately tell the candidate to focus on those areas for an interview.  Let me ask this...have you ever interviewed somewhere that you said, "man I want this job" but didn't get it?  What if I gave you the answers to the test before you went in there, and then got the job because of it?  Would you still care about the means?

B. I will never edit a resume unless it is written poorly.  Most candidates I place are not professional resume writers, and I don't expect them to be.

C. Now, this is a good one.  I have "pressured" people to make a decision in my favor, sure.  Here is an example:

Recently I had a position I have been working on with one of my best clients.  Really hard to find skill set.  I found THE ONLY GUY IN THE STATE who could do it.  He went there, told me he loved it.  Direct Hire role, and it was an 8K raise...with better benefits...better commute...with an Atlanta Top 10 Best Place to Work company.  This guy took a 1 year contract, in New Jersey, for about 10K more than I was offering, no expenses paid, and he would have to be away from his family and friends for the entire year paying for temp housing in a higher cost of living environment.

Sometimes, people don't know what is best for them.

D. I can say this, my clients get every bit of service they pay for.  Even if it "low hanging fruit", I white board programmed with that fruit, I reference checked that fruit, and I qualified that fruit without you even knowing that fruit existed.  If it was that easy...why don't you do it yourself?

E. Do you think I like lawsuits?

F. I am candidate focused.  I want this person to get a job, and I will not hold back from allowing them the opportunity for a better career.  Sorry if that doesn't please the clients, but if I don't place them, others will.

G. I am very up-front with my clients about the candidates.  Of course, I have to keep the EEOC in mind.  If a candidate has a skill set flaw, and I still submit them, then I am putting my reputation on the line with that client.  Which is why I don't submit candidates that I see flaws with.  I am not working for your company, and I am not in a position to know what is best for your company.  All I can do is tell you what I found out, and let you make the decision at that point.  It isn't, and never will be, my fault if you still hire the person after you interview them.

The point I am making is that your blog post is offensive to me, but well deserved to some.  Don't hold us all accountable for the mistakes of few.  I hate the fact we get such a bad wrap because some people are just bad at their jobs.

Comment by Darryl Dioso on February 8, 2012 at 10:53am

Way to generalize. So many of those points are weak and without merit. Such as "E. “Flinging” resumes of people they haven’t vetted nor received permission from" - if you don't vet your candidate, you're not a recruiter. Period.

I normally love this site but this post was in poor taste.


Comment by Rickie Long on February 8, 2012 at 11:09am


There are recruiters with integrity.  And they are a joy to find and work with.  BUT there are too many entire companies who train their recruiters to use these unethical/unprofessional practices just as described.  So long as the primary working structure for compensating recruiters is commission based with minimum performance standards defined in terms of billing invoices then this will be a problem.  People have to earn a living and if these practices work (easier/faster/good enough) then why change? And what is the answer? Are there published industry best practices so at least those being trained in a specific practice (like unauthorized resume flinging) at least KNOW that it is sub par behavior? Are additional regulations needed?  Required disclosures to candidates? License or registry process with test over applicable laws/regs like Realtors have to go pass in order to practice? The questionable Recruiter/Sales mentality does hurt the professional Recruiter/HR Sourcing Resource field.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on February 8, 2012 at 11:10am
Let me assure you that "most" recruiters do not fall in this camp and "universally" contingent recruiters are not guilty of these examples. I am not sure why anyone would be make such a sweeping indictment of their own industry. Specifically there are "some" who fall within your category but after three decades in this industry I can attest that the majority of recruiters both contingent and retained strive to have the best interests of their clients and candidates as the focus of their business.

Perhaps you are running with the wrong crowd. Yes, call out the bad actors but let's stay away from "most" and "universally". Who the hell do you think you are to make statements like that?
Comment by Ron Webb on February 8, 2012 at 11:10am

He may have a bone to pick with some recruiters, that have "cheated" or gotten lucky and scooped him on a placement. He may have been provocative with this article to create some buzz or traffic. He may have wanted some recruiters to take a look at themselves. Some will support what he says, some will feel insulted, hopefully the ones he directed it to will see themselves in the article.

Comment by bill josephson on February 8, 2012 at 11:10am

There was nothing in this piece applying to my 31 years of Executive recruiting experience.  It was more written for the go-go years of the 1990's or 80's.

Bottom line is 3rd party recruiters are fighting for relevance in the market place usually only receiving the impossible or next to impossible jobs to fill meaning a battle to generate enough income to sustain one's business and family.

The author and I clearly live on parallel universes.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on February 8, 2012 at 11:35am
@rickie, you can't legislate or license integrity , there are as many sleazy realtors, lawyers and other professionals as there are recruiters. Integrity is a choice. No sleazy recruiter will suddenly become reformed by reading a blog post but a whole lot of good recruiters will be major league pissed off to be lumped in with the sleaze bags by one of their peers for the rest of the world to use as gospel from within to tarnish an entire industry. Wonder how it would be regarded if a doc wrote a blog saying that most other doctors were guilty of malpractice and universally general practitioners were guilty of same. I suspect there would be a "universal" outcry of this being more than "yellow journalism" from someone with a bad taste in their mouth. I would opine that if some one feels this way about most of the other people in his industry perhaps he needs to find something else to do.
Comment by Christopher Poreda on February 8, 2012 at 12:01pm

Interesting post and good to create a dialog.

My thoughts:  Sadly much of what you say is true; and I'm glad about that; made life easier for me. 

You can make an awful lot money in this business using the very principles you define as "what's wrong"...but you won't last long.  Every transaction should be viewed as an affirmation of your services to the client and knowing the candidate will/could be a future client.  If you think long term the business gets easier and easier.  Before I sold my firm, and even now (as recently as 2 months ago) old clients are calling me begging to help fill a position even though I've been out for years.  A testament to how to do the business right.  Finally, I would tell every candidate that I know they're going to take the job that's right for them and their family.  Just keep the lines of communication open and treat them with respect as if you made the placement.  One candidate in particular called me and said, "I am taking a job from another recruiter.  It's a great job for me and I'm bummed you didn't place me...the other recruiter sucked!.  You're getting all my referrals."  This was 8 years ago.  To the day I sold he was responsible for 10 referral placements and 6 job orders filled.  I made far more money from his referrals than I ever would have made from placing him in a bad position.


Comment by Bob Petersen on February 8, 2012 at 1:40pm

There are all sorts of sales tactics to close the deal in any industry.  If you go to the car dealer, you expect to get the car salesman pitch and tactics.  When you work in recruiting, you don't expect to see these shady things from what you would expect recruiting professionals.  But alas, there are car salespeople with the slight of hand tactics in the recruiting apologies to the good car salespeople.  But like an earlier post says, the poor ones go away and don't make it.  These type of recruiters may win a few deals, but they won't be in the trenches for long.  Integrety and partnership will always win over in the long term.

Comment by Terra on February 8, 2012 at 2:08pm


I don't understand why you are writing this, since based on your Linkedin profile, you are also a recruiter.  The only reason I can see for another recruiter to write something so damming is to make themselves look good, so I am not sure I want to dignify your berating of "Most" recruiters with defending myself. I will tell you this I would never lower myself to point out faults to make myself look good.  In fact I have told my clients some good recruiters to use if the position is not within my expertise.  I agree with Sandra McCarrat, there is good and bad….. there are always “some” and rarely “most.”


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