Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Adventures in Recruiting: Don't Trust Your Recruiter

There are all kinds of recruiters. I receive comments all the time about others, many of whom are my competitors.  A good recruiter must maintain a delicate balance between the clients who pay them and the candidates who support them.  It is evident from many of the comments I receive that some recruiters really are only looking out for themselves and will do anything to make a placement.  That is a short term strategy.

A good recruiter will never lie to either his or her candidates or clients. It just doesn’t pay.  Negative word of mouth can kill a business. 
Some candidates don’t trust their recruiters – after all, the recruiter is trying to make money by placing them; but no one candidate is worth ruining a reputation or a business for.  When a good recruiter gives advice or council, it is generally given objectively and to the best of the ability of the recruiter. (My post several weeks ago about giving bad news is a case in point.)
Some time ago a candidate received an offer from a wonderful ad agency, through us.  At the same time, he received an offer from an agency where he had been freelancing; he had been working for a terrible person with a justly deserved poor reputation, but his boss had not yet revealed her true self.  He told  the recruiter he was working with, that, after all, the other job where he was now freelancing would pay a few thousand dollars more and had the promise of a big bonus.  The recruiter  warned him about the reputation of the person he would be working for. He was warned that if he accepted the job, he would not last long enough to collect a bonus – several people had previously served in this job and none had lasted more than a few months.  (I will never understand how companies keep department heads like that, but that is for another post.). The recruiter even told the candidate to ask others in the industry about the people he would be working for. All to no avail.

Our candidate would have loved the other job and, the compay really, really wanted him and went out of its way to show him how much they liked him - their offer went way higher than the original job specifications.  The recruiter tried to tell the candidate that he was making a serious mistake by turning this job down.  But I think our candidate really thought we were only trying to talk him into accepting the job that came through us.

Of course you know the rest.    

Barely a couple of weeks into his new full time job, we received a surprise email from the candidate asking if the first job was still available (of course it wasn’t).  He was man enough to admit that we were right and that he could not bear his boss.  For his sake, I was sorry to hear the news, but not surprised.  He actually apologized for not listening.  

The lesson in this story is that if you find a trustworthy recruiter with an impeccable reputation, who thoroughly knows the business, you should listen carefully to what they tell you.  And if they tell you to go to other sources to check out what they are telling you, you can believe they are telling the truth.


  1. Not all recruiters have your integrity, Paul.
    Lysle Wickersham

    1. Thanks, Lysle. Sadly, I know recruiters lie, exaggerate, and make stuff up to make a placement. I don't know how they live with themselves.

  2. I've known you my whole life. Literally.

    I can honestly say, if people can't trust you, then they can trust no one.


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