Why Recruiters Get a Bad Rap (a cautionery tale)

A good friend of mine was laid off of his job of 10 years and is searching for new employment. He has a complete LinkedIn profile with contact info and resume (thanks to me) and is on Monster and CareerBuilder.


He got a call last week from a local recruiter at a niche staffing firm. On the phone the recruiter told him he had a ‘couple’ of jobs for him, and they arranged to meet. My friend has an interim job so he had to arrange time off to meet this recruiter.


Upon arrival at the office, my friend notices at least 7 people in the waiting room. A very busy day there? No, said the recruiter, who bragged that they interview about 75 people each week. Hmmm…


During the interview, one of the first things the recruiter asked for was his resume. Not strange in itself, is it? But the recruiter then went on to say he hadn’t yet seen his resume and that’s why he asked for one. So my friend asked where the recruiter found him, since there are only 3 options and all 3 have his resume uploaded. The recruiter said he couldn’t remember where he had found him.


Strike one against the recruiter.


After the recruiter read my friend’s resume, in front of him while he waited, the very next question was, “Do you know anyone else in product marketing that you can refer to me? We’re big on referrals here.” This put my friend off, since it made him feel as though the recruiter wasn’t interested in HIM, only in who he knew.


Strike two.


The next question from the recruiter was, “Are you currently interviewing with any companies? I’ll need to know who.”  In fact, my friend IS in the final stages of the interview process with a company, and since he and I have talked at length about the world of recruiting, he gets it that the recruiter wants to make sure that if he presents him to a client, he won’t go off the market tomorrow, but the way he asked, and the point at which he asked the question (before he even asked about his qualifications and achievements) was very off-putting. So he refused to answer.


Strike three.


Then the recruiter, who showed his unhappiness with my friend’s refusal to talk about his other job prospects, went on to perform the requisite interview and Q&A. Then my friend asked about the ‘couple’ of jobs the recruiter had in mind for him. The recruiter replied, “I don’t have anything for you right now, but we always bring candidates in to meet them face to face because that’s what our clients expect of us.”


Need I say strike four for wasting the candidate’s time and misleading him?


Still, my friend persevered instead of walking out. The next thing the recruiter said to him was, “If you’re looking at job postings and see one that you like, don’t apply to it. Instead call me and I’ll call that company and try to get them to interview you.”  My friend isn’t stupid and knew that the recruiter was saying that he was going to ‘use’ him to try to gain a new client. That might be good for the recruiter’s bottom line, but it totally screws my friend and could prevent him from getting a job on his own.


Strike, um, what number are we at? Oh yes, five.


The finale was the recruiter taking my friend on a ‘tour’ of the office. No, not to meet other recruiters who might work with him, but to show him the ‘bullpen’ where there were 10 people sitting in small cubicles with headsets on, ‘dialing for dollars.’ I guess the recruiter thought seeing a cold-calling operation was going to make him feel good about his chances of employment.


Strike six.


The parting comment from the recruiter was a double-whammy:  “Thanks for coming, and don’t forget those referrals! And call to check in with me every week or so, so I don’t forget you.”


Strike seven and he’s way OUT!


So the next time you’re bringing in 20 candidates a week to meet an interview quota, or are told to push for referrals because they’re the best way to uncover good candidates, or are too lazy to print out a candidate’s resume, or anything else this recruiter did, just remember my friend and this unlucky 7 recruiter!

Views: 435

Comment by Sandra McCartt on May 3, 2011 at 11:48am
What a bunch of bad rookie crap. It happens all too often,insults the intelligence of a candidate and is not recruiting. That is the old "employment agency" business model. I want this type to choke on their bad BS.
Comment by Jim Durbin on May 3, 2011 at 1:24pm

You can pick just about any industry that built a chop shop and claim this is why the industry is bad.  We've all heard the stories, and many of us have worked for a firm like this at some point, but can I point something out? 


Your friend walked into the firm knowing nothing about them or the recruiter.  In your story, you don't name any names.  If you pulled this out and put it into an email, it would make the rounds as one of those stories, but without specific information, this is a waste of pixels. 


The people involved in the story aren't reading recruiting blogs.  They don't care what you think, as they are just hiring young people and training them on a system that while vile, works well enough to employ the people in the bullpen. 


If we don't like it, then we have a responsibility to do more than put anonymously sourced stories out on the internet.  There are many channels to report this kind of action.  There are positive job posts where you can direct people how to not go into these situations, but since candidates wait to understand the job search until they're panicked, it won't do much good.  All the warning in the world won't help if someone promises they'll try to help. 


So by all means, let's call out bad behavior.  But let's channel it to the appropriate places.  This is not an indictment of the recruiting world.  It's an indictment of a company that we don't know where it operates, who it's principals are, or their version of the events.  For every complaint about recruiters, I can give you dozens about candidates and clients.


Let's for a moment take a contrary look.  Why exactly does the company work in this fashion?  They do because the client cut off access to the managers, and so the recruiting agency is left trying to find out about job openings from a different source, the candidates.  If the candidates did indeed give out all of their information, the recruiting firm would have better information with which to place more candidates.  This might not be fair to the individual, but it would be fair to the candidates that did get jobs as a result of the leads provided.


The market is created by a scarcity of information.  In not giving leads and referrals, the candidate is maximizing their chance of getting a position, even if they are not the best person for the position.  That's a normal thing to do, protecting yourself, but it's a sign of scarcity.  In small niche environments, sharing information is easier because it's easy to shut down bad actors.  The information a top programmer gives a recruiter is more valuable than the information given by an administrative clerk, but the value of the information is greater to the clerk than the programmer, because there are more people who can do the clerk's job.


The recruiter has more ability to call into a manager than the candidate.  It's not a perfect system, but if your friend could do it, they would.  So they need the recruiter.  We can discuss the system in place, and the way it could have been handled, but the essential problem is your friend needs a job, and the recruiter knows a slightly better way to do it.  If your friend thinks their time is wasted, they should do a better job pre-qualifying the recruiter, and making a decision whether or not to spend that time.  

It's not as cut and dry as recruiters have a bad reputation. 

Comment by Paul S. Gumbinner on May 3, 2011 at 2:58pm

I have always felt that recruiters should be held to a higher standard, both by candidates and by their corporate clients.  I am a single business recruiter - advertising - for both client companies and ad agencies.  I am always shocked by the bad behavior of some of my competitors.  You all know the stories - resumes being sent out without candidate permission, resumes being sent without the recruiter first interviewing the candidate, people making high salaries being sent on lower paid jobs.  And of course, those recruiters who take people out of places as fast as they put them in.


What bothers me is that this is allowed by companies.  One of my favorite stories is about the account person who went to see a recruiter.  The same recruiter called the account person's boss that afternoon and said, "I know that one of your supervisors is looking, may I have the assignment to replace him".  He got the assignment.

One of the best compliments I got was from a corporate HR person who called me to ask to take me to lunch.  At the lunch he told me I was his number two ranking recruiter in terms of number of placements.  I replied that I was not sure I liked being number two.  His reply, "No, that is OK.  I did a regression analysis and your candidates never leave here.  I am firing the number one because his candidate tenure is under eighteen months.  It either means he is placing the wrong people here or or he is recruiting them out.  In either case, I am firing him.  You are my new number one and that is why I am buying you lunch.


More clients should do this kind of analysis.  it would help us all.


Comment by Judi Wunderlich on May 3, 2011 at 2:59pm

Hi Jim-


I hear what you're saying and points taken.


I don't believe it's my place to "report" the actions of the recruiter, and thus I did not name him (he was not young) or the staffing firm (a 35 year old business with one location in the Chicago area).  And my friend has no time or interest in talking to this firm's management to let them know he was dissatisfied. He does understand how valuable a good recruiter relationship can be but since his unemployment began, he has had only 1 good recruiter interaction, and 3 bad ones. Judging by what I hear from job seekers who come to my staffing firm and talk about their experiences, I unfortunately don't think this is unusual.


Rather, I posted this so new recruiters, and those who manage recruiters (like me), can step back and see how a candidate-recruiter interaction can go bad, so they be sure not to repeat the same mistakes.


Comment by Paul S. Gumbinner on May 3, 2011 at 3:04pm
Judi - You are right.  Truth is, most candidates don't want to get involved.  They merely want to get a job and don't care how they get it, where it comes from or who gets it for them.  They certainly don't want us to interfere with the relationship just in case the recruiter comes up with something that may be right.  Pitty.
Comment by Tom Dimmick on May 3, 2011 at 3:23pm
I agree that this is agency staffing at its finest.  Judi, you might tell your friend to do a little research.  One of the best methods is to look the firm up in Kennedy's big red book.  At least the candidate can get his/her expectations lined up ahead of time.
Comment by Brian K. Johnston on May 3, 2011 at 4:30pm
Judi-  Thanks for sharing... That was tough to read, because there was ZERO service or courtesy involved in the recruiting firm's process.  This is exactly why I got out of CORP America and started my own firm... More $, More time, More reach, More impact, More freedom... Thanks for sharing....
Comment by Edward Caliguiri on May 4, 2011 at 10:36am
That story sounds like a typical office support environment of 25 years ago.  That type of firm is not my competition or any other successful recruiter's compeetition.  Once in a while they may make a lucky placement just by sheer numbers but they won't be able to produce the hard to find candidates that provide real recruiters with a good living.  I actually think that recruiters like the one you described make professionals look good.  All it takes is a real conversation with a qualified candidate and they know whether we are the real deal or just fishing and hoping.
Comment by Paul S. Gumbinner on May 4, 2011 at 10:39am
Edward: I only wish that were true.  There are plenty of client companies that don't care about quality.  They want bodies and don't care how they get them.  Unfortunately, there are all too many recruiters like that.
Comment by N.Khan on May 4, 2011 at 5:06pm


you are so right but because of that recuiters this industry of recruiting is going on the dark age


You need to be a member of RecruitingBlogs to add comments!

Join RecruitingBlogs


All the recruiting news you see here, delivered straight to your inbox.

Just enter your e-mail address below


RecruitingBlogs on Twitter

© 2022   All Rights Reserved   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Service