A genuine thanks for all of the emails and comments I have received for last week's article ("Sometimes 'Confidential Searches' Aren't Confidential https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/confidential-searches-really-adam-ka...). Seems like I struck a nerve with the recruiting community. Job title "Recruiter" was the 2nd highest job title that read the article, and I received a lot of nasty emails...some of which were questioning why I was revealing how a magician performs tricks! Some recruiters accused me of "typical recruiter bashing." And they're right...for the most part I can't stand recruiters. They make the rest of us work twice as hard to overcome the stigma that they place on the industry. Which got me thinking...LinkedIn is full of posts and articles, esp from candidates, that are complaining about recruiters. But I have not found a single case of a recruiter or an agency being outed! Anytime a business falls short of a consumer's expectations, social media has become the preferred method of venting. Sure, there is shaming and unnecessary complaining, but there are no real instances of reviews or specific ethical comments against recruiters that have actually done harm to people. A restaurant messes up my lunch order? Sure, I'll blast them on Twitter. But a recruiter puts my career and livelihood in jeopardy? Eh, I'll just move on...but that restaurant better not screw up again because I will call them out on it!
Before I proceed, let me clarify. I am not talking about "Recruiter X didn't find me a job in 14 days," or "Recruiter Y didn't want to submit my resume for a particular role." Sure, you may feel these are valid complaints, but they are subjective. There may actually be reasons (whether or not you agree with them) why a recruiter does certain things. I am talking about blatant lying and unethical behavior. A few examples from this week alone:
#1 A candidate who I have known for a while told me that a VERY well-known recruiting agency (trust me, you know them) placed him at a consulting/temporary role. After a few days the supervisor at the client company expressed frustration to the consultant, basically saying based on his resume, he expected a better work product. The consultant was confused. The supervisor showed him the resume provided by the agency. Someone at the agency, in order to fill this job order, had changed all of the consultants job titles (without consent) to Manager. The consultant was angry. He had been willingly set up to fail. He would receive bad feedback, no reference for the work he had done. The recruiter/agency did not respond to the consultants questions and the consultant decided to move on. It must of been worth it for this national agency to lie in order to get a weeks worth of temp billing. Mission accomplished!
#2 A candidate was looking for something very specific...to get out of public and to get into a particular industry. He met with a recruiter last summer. He was explicit in what he was looking for. He felt (rightly so) that honesty and bluntness was the way to go here, so everyone could work towards the same goal. Unfortunately the recruiter's goal was to get a fee regardless of what the candidate wanted. The recruiter told the candidate he would need two more years in a large public firm to then be able to move into the industry he wanted. The candidate told the recruiter that is NOT what he wanted. Still, the recruiter pressed. The candidate did his due diligence on the firm and based on his networking and research, had decided he did not want to pursue the firm. So the recruiter accepted the candidate's decision right? Wrong - the recruiter sent the resume anyway. The same recruiter then proposed a mid-sized firm (*NOTE* THIS IS HOW MOST RECRUITERS OPERATE. THEY DON'T FIND YOU THE POSITIONS YOU WANT, THEY SEND YOU TO THE POSITIONS THEY HAVE IN THEIR SYSTEM.). The candidate explained that he actually had very good personal contacts at this firm and did not want to be submitted and have his relationships complicated by a 3rd party. The candidate also felt it was important to bring up again that he did not want public. The recruiter said ok. The recruiter then sent the resume to the client anyway. The candidate found out...thru the personal contacts.
How do these scenarios make you feel? Angry? Sad? What would you do? How would you react if someone had total disregard for your career and put at risk your ability to provide for your family? Why do candidates silently carry this around? Is there a reason why we do not name names? The first thing should always be confront the recruiter and their manager. Do not let them get away with this. If this is an instance of a rogue recruiter, the agency deserves to know that their reputation is being ruined. And if this is common practice at an agency, its good to know that for the future. But that doesn't mean you have no options. Inaction IS action. By not doing anything, you are acting to enable recruiters to operate without repercussions and continue the cycle of their me/fee first mentality, leaving discarded candidates in their wake.
Its a tricky situation. Your job search, for the most part, is confidential (esp if you are currently employed), so recruiters have you where they want you...you can't solicit recruiter feedback. If people don't know you are looking for a job, you can't do your due diligence...you can't ask "Hey, what do you think of this recruiter?" "Have you ever worked with this agency?" And that is a shame...because recruiters talk about YOU. Recruiters ask about YOU. They call people that you have worked with that they know, and obtain unofficial references. I have heard situations where they call current employer who they know personally and give a heads up, hoping to get an exclusive to fill your job. Internally they talk about you...if you call, email, check in, and they don't deem you "place-able" they make fun of you, roll their eyes, etc. You are fair game to them, because they care about fees, not you.
If you have situations like this...if your resume is sent without consent, if your resume is changed, if your references are called for job leads before they even send you on an interview, if you are lied to about a client, if you are lied to about a firm's bonus, if you are constantly emailed and called about jobs which you are not qualified for or not interested in, if you are constantly pushed to interview for jobs you do not want I have a proposal: TELL PEOPLE. If you are confidentially looking for a job, when you find one, don't move on...TELL PEOPLE. Name names! Recruiters will not change if they are not called out. If they can operate without repercussions, why would they change? Don't rant. Don't freak out. But don't keep it to yourself. See how the recruiters like it if the tables are turned and you put their livelihood at risk.
In the past I used to block recruiters on LinkedIn that had looked at my profile or complained about my ethical stances. But I have decided to unblock them. I decided to take action. I want them to see what I write. I want them to know that I am telling candidates how they operate. And I invite them to debate me. If you do nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about. Yes everyone will say "That's not all of us." But its enough of us that its a problem and it needs to be fixed.
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And please feel free to check out my website www.karpiakconsulting.com for more about my firm and the positions we are working on!