The 5 Biggest Lies Recruiters Tell Candidates

One of the mainstays of the weirdly niched, highly specious world of recruiting-focused content seems to revolve around how candidates can often mislead, misrepresent or downright lie during the hiring process. These cautionary tales act more as aphorisms rather than actionable advice, and while the anecdotes change, the fact is, candidates fall far behind their recruitment counterparts when it comes to misrepresenting themselves and the facts during the hiring process.

With the job market heating up and the balance of power tipping in the candidates’ favor (for the time being, anyways) due to the economic and employment realities inherent to the immutable labor laws of supply and demand, it’s probably time to turn the tables for an honest look at the top lies recruiters tell candidates.

Obviously, these statements are often true and crucially important when communicating with candidates. Most recruiters are honest and upfront with job seekers. 

Largely caring and committed, recruiters really care about every candidate. The bad news is that many of the most common put-offs, while usually well-intentioned and largely innocuous, are as integrated with the recruiting process as applicant tracking systems.

The good news? Avoiding these “worst practices” instantly translates into observing best practices, an improved candidate experience, and an easy win for your employment brand.

5 Biggest Lies Recruiters Tell Candidates

1. When a recruiter says:  “I’ll keep you in mind for future opportunities.” It might really means: “Your resume will sit in our database untouched until you apply for something else. If you’re not right for any of my open reqs, any memory of you ends the moment I hang up this phone.”

Best Practice: Tell candidates up front whether you feel there will be other possibilities for them down the line. Offer them an explanation into your rationale. Provide suggestions for relevant training or experience to increase their chance of landing a future role.

2. When a recruiter says: “Salary depends on experience; there’s no real set amount.” It might really mean: “I already have a figure with almost no margin for negotiation. So your expectations are really the sole determinant as to whether this conversation continues.”

Best Practice: An important element of every basic phone screen involves learning about a candidate’s motivations in seeking a new opportunity; often, salary issues top this list. While it’s not appropriate to require a candidate to disclose their current compensation or targeted salary during an exploratory screen, it’s crucial to address this directly if the candidate discloses an increase in pay as a primary driver or as non-negotiable. If you’re screening for a specific position and know the range, tell the candidate if the numbers match. Disclose even a slight variance; the candidate, not the recruiter, should determine whether or not there’s a willingness to negotiate for this job. Having this conversation up front can avoid complications later.

3. When a recruiter says: “You’ll hear from us either way.” It might really mean: “We’ll send you a template rejection letter from a blind e-mail address, if you’re lucky,” leaving the candidate to wonder if they’re still in contention.

Best Practice: Most applicant tracking systems send an automatic confirmation via e-mail to applicants. Many of these same systems will also send an email to let candidates know when a requisition closes and they are no longer in contention. As an HR manager, adding your name or a personalized message can help make a little effort go a long way. It’s as easy as pressing send. For candidates contacted for a phone screen, it’s a best practice to let them know directly if they’re not selected. If they took the time to follow up and answer questions, common courtesy suggests you should do the same. It’s OK to turn a job seeker down professionally; not informing a candidate about it is not.

4. When a recruiter says: “We’re interested, but we’re still looking at other candidates.” It might really mean: “An offer’s been extended to someone else, and we’re really hoping they’ll accept so we don’t have to go to Plan B: you.”

Best Practice: Be upfront about where the search stands. If there are some outstanding questions or concerns surrounding a candidate, let them know; there’s a good chance they’ll be able to provide information to inform a pending decision. If the hiring manager is delaying making an offer for reasons that have nothing to do with the candidate, make sure they know exactly what those are and the timeframe. If you don’t know this information, let the candidate know the next time you’ll speak with the hiring manager and follow up with both. Status quo is almost always better than no status at all.

5. When a recruiter says: “I was passed your name by a mutual contact who asked to remain confidential.” It might really mean: “I found your information online.”

Best Practice: This line remains incredibly common when engaging candidates for the first time. While candidates show increasing willingness to speak with someone based off a referral, it’s important to let a candidate know how you developed the information to contact them. This ensures active job seekers know what’s effective while passive candidates stay informed about the visibility of information. This information helps recruiters and employers know which resources are most effective to make more informed decisions when establishing and executing search strategies.

What are some lies you tell prospects? Are there ways to be more upfront with them?

Read more at the Human Capitalist

Views: 1322

Comment by Keith Halperin on June 13, 2014 at 11:27am

Thanks, Matt.

"What are some lies you tell prospects?" Old saying:"A Roman told me all Romans were liars".

Comment by Matt Charney on June 13, 2014 at 11:30am

Old saying: "Trust no one, question everything." That might actually be a Klingon proverb, who knows?

Comment by Keith Halperin on June 13, 2014 at 2:16pm

"Trust no one, question everything." If I don't know you, why should I do that?

I prefer this:

"Revenge is a dish best served cold, with a fine pinot grigio and maybe a light sorbet...."

Comment by Derdiver on June 13, 2014 at 2:54pm

Such a wonderful and horrifically accurate post of what a plethora of recruiters do wrong and daily. Brilliant Matt! 

Comment by Will Thomson on June 13, 2014 at 3:20pm

Ouch.  Accurate, but ouch.  Once again, great one Matt!  

Comment by sheila Greco on June 16, 2014 at 9:35pm

I like the discussion Matt. As Will said….ouch!

Comment by Mitch Sullivan on June 26, 2014 at 3:34am

Is this aimed at inhouse or agency recruiters?

I think it's an important distinction because they do two very different jobs.

Comment by Matt Charney on June 26, 2014 at 9:10am

Mitch: In house. Agency recruiters don't lie - they close.


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