As much as I HATE to give this post any more link love than it's already probably getting, I just can't help but call out something I read this morning. Here it is, in all its glory - What Recruiters Won’t Tell You and Why courtesy of Don't worry about clicking away dear reader – I'll share with you the highlights and won't hold back what I really think. My only hope is that any frustrated job seeker who takes this seriously will read my post as well. If you are still not satisfied, email me directly at Put the title of this post in the subject line so I don't miss it, and we'll talk it out.

The author leads off with "Recruiters who work for large companies to source new employees are overwhelmed by the sheer number of candidates for each position they seek to fill." Oh, hi. Welcome to EVERY RECRUITING GIG EVER. You must be new here. I work for a very large company. We have nearly 100K employees. I am no more overwhelmed here by the number of applicants I have than I was at my previous company, at just over 1,000 employees. But let's get to the good stuff, shall we?

Author Laura Pierson provides six "truths" to job seekers, in the hopes of (I can only guess) enlightening the great unwashed masses who are overwhelming us with their applications. Or something. Here we go –

  1. You are just another number. Whoa. If that doesn't get someone's attention, I don't know what will. Do you hear that job seeker? You are NOT VALUABLE. Don't get any crazy ideas about being a unique and talented individual with a certain set of skills, education, and experience that has made you the employee you are today. Maybe even the employee that's right for my current opening. Nope - you're just another number, you silly goose. NEXT! Does any decent recruiter really believe this crap? I have NEVER, in over a decade of recruiting, viewed people as inventory. Not every applicant is going to be right (or even qualified) for a position I'm recruiting for. That doesn't diminish their value as a person. To say you're "just another number" is insulting.
  2. If you haven't heard back after an interview within a week or two, it means the manager doesn't want you for the job. Sadly, this is SOMETIMES true. I will give Laura props for her last words on this subject – if you don't hear back from a recruiter for over a week, move on and don't stop looking. Frankly, you shouldn't have stopped looking when you got the interview. It doesn't mean, however, that the manager doesn’t want you for the job. It could mean headcount was eliminated. It could mean someone was out sick or on vacation. It could mean ANY NUMBER OF THINGS. The only blanket generalization that I will accept about this is that the recruiter might suck for not communicating to you there is no update. Even then, you never know what could be going on behind the scenes that has NOTHING to do with job seeker.
  3. Recruiters don't care where you went to school. You know, this one is probably true. Except guess who does care? THE HIRING MANAGER. I once recruited for a role where the manager wanted someone with an MBA from Thunderbird. The role was going to have a major global focus and that was the single non-negotiable. I found him three great candidates. It was for a manufacturing company in Ohio, not a top agency or law firm as the writer claims. Other roles require a Bachelor's degree, no matter what. So yeah, maybe it DOES matter… to the person making the hiring decision.
  4. Recruiters will lowball your salary. What? Why on earth would I want to do this? On what planet does this make sense? The reason given for this nonsensical piece of "information", is that recruiters are in the business of fitting people into employment. How "fitting people into employment" (which by the way, is NOT what I do) equates to screwing someone out of compensation makes ZERO sense to me. I have fought hard against cheap hiring managers and WON. The salary conversation should be a win for both sides – hiring manager hires a great employee for a reasonable and within budget salary + employee gets a decent compensation package that (s)he has earned. Why does there have to be a loser in this game?? Number four is just flat out stupid.
  5. A vague job description spells trouble. Sigh. If I'm being "vague" about a job description, it's probably because it's super technical and way over my head. I will tell you this. I will also encourage you to ask those questions of the hiring manager. Of course I want a candidate to feel completely comfortable with the job specs AND the culture / environment you're potentially getting into. A recruiter being intentionally vague is career suicide, in my opinion.
  6. You can bend the truth and still get hired. This is just a GEM. Lie to me, candidate. That's a great way to start our working relationship. Oh it's just little white lies, mean to protect you from "recruiter backlash" or some such nonsense. Laura actually tells candidates who've started a job on February 1st to list January on the application. The application, which is a legally binding document stating that everything you say is true. THIS PERSON IS TELLING YOU TO LIE. Don't do it. Please, for your own sake, don't.

Sadly, the author goes on to say "small discrepancies in resumes are not taken seriously unless if the job is directly related to high ethical standards". I don't want to recruit in a world where I have to violate my personal ethical standards to get a job. This, America, is why we can't have nice things. I'm curious as to what kind of job is exempt from this advice. You know, the roles that are related to high ethical standards. Perhaps healthcare, working with children, maybe cash handling… Can someone weigh in on this for me? I'm willing to bet "recruiting" wouldn't make the author's list.

Let me also add, in defense of – Miles Jennings was kind enough to respond to my tweets with links of his own –

Miles has his own views and I respect him for giving Laura Pierson a voice. I don't want, RBC, or any other social media outlet to start becoming the "article police" - I'd probably never be published again. I would still welcome the chance to debate this article with the author or anyone out there who agrees with her. Come on girlfriend, let's talk it out. I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt as long as you're willing to defend what you have written. I'm sure if we asked nicely we could chat about it live on the Recruiting Animal show. I'm game….

Views: 3133

Comment by David Hall on July 3, 2013 at 8:14am

The last on the list is a particular pain point for me. Working as I do with Chefs, i.e. people who are not office bound and often a bit phobic of office software to begin with, messy CV's are a fact of life. I spend an indecent amount of time picking through very unpresentable CVs. As I pick my way through them with the candidate, making corrections as I go, I'll find the odd gap. When I probe you'd be surprised at how often I find that it's not a real gap at all, it's a job that didn't go so well and the candidate thought, or was advised, to simply "leave it off." Often they've been given this advice by recruiters! I'd never advise that. Either the reason for the job not going well has a perfectly reasonable and credible explanation or it doesn't; if it doesn't then I'm dealing with the wrong candiate and need to go and find another one instead of trying to "fit up" my client with a spoofer. I go into a good deal more details about this here: Chefs! Don’t Doctor Your CV.

In this business you need to have red lines. We, or I do anyway, sell ourselves to clients as competent and ethical if that's not to be more than a slogan then it sometimes means working harder to find the right candidate instead of encouraging the wrong candidate to lie. 

Comment by Chris Bailey on July 3, 2013 at 4:05pm

Agree entirely Amy well put, and in relation to point 4 it is my experience that a recruiter will actually talk your salary up if they are on a percentage deal not the other way round so it should become even more of a win win. I am not suggesting we inflate salaries but we can and do get the best market rate for our candidates as often the recruiter is a better negotiator and has more knowledge of internal salaries than the candidate....

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on July 3, 2013 at 5:12pm

Thanks guys for reviving this discussion. It caused quite a crapstorm when I originally posted it and the offending post was removed, sadly. Anyway, to both your points David - love the red line idea. I have "fired" clients in my agency days for making unreasonable requests ("hot chicks" or "white guys") in what they want in candidates.

Chris - thank you. If we're going any direction it is likely UP, right? Even as a corporate recruiter I've never had a reason to try to lowball an offer. Yes, we have ranges to be mindful of, and take lots of things into consideration, but no. No reason whatsoever to try to screw somebody over. Just doesn't make sense.


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