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!

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Views: 9413

Comment by Sandra McCartt on February 10, 2012 at 1:23am

Naw, think of me as God's Little Sledge Hammer.

Comment by Jeff Kristoff on February 10, 2012 at 11:18am

Good discussions.  But in some respect, that's why "Headhunters" have given our industry a black eye - at times.  Executive Recruiters know if they do "what's right" for their client's AND candidate's they represent, more business will come their way.  Too bad that there is not an indusrty code of ethics to follow. 

I, personally, don't like to be called a Headhunter OR just a Recruiter and I often discuss the differences between the 2 with clients and candidates, which has earned me more business and respect.   

Comment by David Wells on February 10, 2012 at 12:27pm

Wow Drue De Angelis I understand there are ambulance chasers in every industry, I have just rarely seen someone come out and clearly idenfity themselves as one, as you so eloquently have! Cheers!

Comment by Joe Madden on February 10, 2012 at 12:57pm

Jeff - a lot of people in our business dont like the term 'headhunter.  I understand why, and dont begrudge those  people.  I just dont really care personally.  I've actually embraced it.  I know what I do, why I'm hired, and I know how well I do it.  Bottom line in our business, you want me to find the best there is to increase your bottom line. 

You can call me whatever you want, just call me.

Comment by Ben McGrath on February 10, 2012 at 1:13pm

You write in the last sentence of the openiing paragraph "His only concern is getting paid and getting past the guarantee period!"

Guarantee!!?? Are you in the recruiting business or the candidate retention business. What happens wihtin their organization is not something we can control.

All the best,


Comment by Paul Alfred on February 10, 2012 at 4:20pm

Damn - just decided to wrap it up on a Friday and thought to myself ... "Let me check in at"  Wooow a Major Hurricane Sandra has been stirred up .. I love it ...  It seems our man Drue has been out done by the bottom feeders - which do exist in our industry,  but to come on to RBC and use the descriptive "Most" ... in, "Most Recruiters" is crazy  - Nothing wrong in having an opinion-  but to make the assumption that Most recruiters don't work with integrity is crazy -  Clients see through folks who are not thinking about building a trust worthy -long-term relationship  - This is where you went wrong with your blog,  and your A- G list has all kinds of holes in it  I am still on the ground trying contain myself,  to write a response getting into any detail.   You need perhaps write another Blog  the Problem with "Surfers " ...  As one needs to earn the right to be called a " Recruiter" in my books.

Comment by Ken Forrester on February 13, 2012 at 8:17am

Before the Internet, the art of recruiting was a zero-sum game.  And a win-at-all cost type of competition among recruiters was the norm.  Some recruiters would paint a negative image of their competitors to elevate their value to the client.  Unfortunately, those tactics created an image of distrust of all recruiters.  It is very troubling to see some of the same attitude of the past  still exist in the age of transparency, collaboration and authenticity.  The one good thing about this post is that the voices of the good recruiters have shown how far we have come as a respected profession.

Comment by Dean Da Costa on February 21, 2012 at 4:12am

Wow what a firestorm. So I think the problem Drue is you generalized. You said "The problem with recruiters", this pretty much means everyone, and so we are already thinking huh before we read it. Then you say "most", again a general statement. Have you said some, I am sure it would have been greated better. But saying "recruiters" in big letters, and then "most" in little you make it appear that in your mind all recruiters are like how you described. This is a statement I can tell you for a fact is not true. Not to say there are not some, but some is not most, and is not all "recruiters". Perhaps some years ago the word "most" whould have been correct, but never would the assumption all recruiters were like this have been correct and without a doubt not anymore. I do allot of training of recrutiers, and allot of consulting on staffing processess, procedures, metrics, etc and I can tell you for a fact that "most" recruiters are not like this. In fact most corporate recruiters have to deal with a little metrics called candidate satisfaction, soem have to deal with regular candiadtes audits/screenings, adn even more to ensure candidates are treated well.

So as I said I think it was your choice of words that were the problem. Besides comming into a recruiting forum and throwing down the gauntlet the way you did was inviting some...trouble. What you did was like going into a pro baseball locker room and say that all baseball players throw games just becasue of the whitesox fiasco from the 20s. Heck if you did that you would be lucky if you made it out alive.

Comment by Pamela Witzig on February 24, 2012 at 3:11pm

I agree there are many such recruiters out there who are, unfortunately, creating a reputation for the rest of us. Since 1986, as a contingency firm, I have emphasized that it is about building client relationships which is why most of our business is repeat and referral. Short-sightedness just means those recruiters will always be scrambling for new business and one transaction at a time. 

Comment by Drue De Angelis on March 27, 2012 at 11:36am

Thanks for the many colorful comments and thought provoking insights. The real problem in this scenario is Contingency Search. The terms associated with it have unintended consequences which in many cases force a recruiter to behave badly often without knowing it. Anytime we are engaged in a practice which does not elevate our clients' best interests to our own, it is a recipe for problems.  If you objectively consider my points, you must admit that there is a lot of truth to them and that rather than it being the fault of the recruiter, it is the system which is broken. I've worked both ways and those who I have worked with and moved into a different model have universally approved that it is better for everyone, except perhaps the unemployed candidate. But that isn't who pays our fees anyway.  


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