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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Six Common Lies People Tell Recruiters


Every recruiter knows that they will hear certain lies or at least exaggerations when they meet most candidates.

1)    I am not actually looking
When I call candidates, I often hear this phrase.  But I also know that if someone agrees to come see me, they are not only interested, but they are indeed “looking”.  After all, they have agreed to come see a recruiter.

2)    I am in no hurry
I hear this constantly. It is often amusing, especially, if the people come to see me a day or two after they are contacted.  Or they call or email me for a status report almost every week. Actions speak louder than words.

3)    Things are good here
I often hear this from candidates who are about to be fired or whose accounts are about to go into review.  For some reason they think a recruiter will work harder for them if they tell this lie.

4)    I am only interested in….
When I was first recruiting, I learned almost immediately that candidates will tell a recruiter what they will or won’t do or where they will or won’t go.  They frequently do the opposite.

5)    Money isn’t as important as opportunity
I have seen hundreds of candidates who do just the opposite and take the first job that offers them what they believe is an appropriate salary.  Often these are dead-end, career-killer jobs and that is why they pay well.

6)    My current salary is….
It is an unwritten law that salaries get exaggerated.  Recruiters often accept the statement without question. Candidates often include (possible) bonus into their salary; bonuses are always discretionary and are often not paid in full, no matter how stable the company.  In the long run, we often discover during the process that the salary given is a lie.  In fact, the truth almost always comes out.

Years ago, on the television series, “L.A. Law”, the Jimmy Smits character is counseling a person who is about to testify. He tells him or her (I can’t remember which), “Tell the truth.  You will never get into trouble during cross examination.”  Or as Judge Judy (I am addicted to her) wisely puts it, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to have a good memory.)

When people lie or exaggerate, the tendency is to tell different people different things and it becomes impossible to remember who you told what.

Good recruiters can handle the truth.  If you think your job is in jeopardy, they may be able to help you deal with it. If you think you are being paid too little, they can help you handle it.  If you are looking because you need money, say so (the best I ever heard was one gentleman who told me that he did not have enough money in the bank and his daughter was entering college in a few months).

It is not an embarrassment to be underpaid, it is common for the best of executives to run into roadblocks.  Even good and effective presidents get fired. Telling the truth can only help you.
If you do not trust your recruiter, find another.  A good recruiter can be your best ally.


21 comments:

  1. And companies and recruiters often lie to candidates for their own gain. It's a vicious circle and neither the candidate nor the employer have the right of way.

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    1. Unfortunately, some recruiters do lie to their candidates. They give the good ones a bad name. Don't deal with them. Ditto companies that do not tell the truth - I have written about that before.

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  2. And what about people who include a title and company on their LinkedIn profile, yet have never actually worked at that company?

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    1. I have seen everything. People who say they graduated from schools they did not attend, people who say they graduated when they didn't. But it is rare, indeed, for someone who puts a company on their resume when they never worked there, but it does happen.

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  3. Hmmm. Not sure I can agree with these things being referred to as 'lies.' On your first, almost everyone I know will happily network with recruiters even if they're not actively looking. It simply makes sense, and I think one could argue it makes no sense not to. On the third point, I'd agree that if someone's reaching out to a recruiter, something is more than likely 'up' with their current employer. Will give you that one, but still wouldn't call it a lie, as such. People do fear the actions of employers who are undergoing change, involved in mergers or other initiatives that could result in staff realignments or reductions. Things could be good, but there could also be warning signs that people are responding to. But the big one I object to is the one about opportunity versus package. I'd agree that most aren't usually going to pitch themselves at 50% of market value. That said, within reason (even up to 25%) most I know will indeed opt for more rewarding opportunities, growth potential, training, travel opportunity, resume cache or a whole host of other things over salary. I think your general point of being honest is spot on. But I think you're casting a slightly cynical view.

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    1. Unknown, thanks for your thoughtful comments. The word "Lies" bothered me, but I couldn't think of a better substitute. That said, recruiters understand that people, even many who are desperate, try to play it cool with a recruiter. This leads to stretching the truth, like, "I'm not looking" or "I'm in no hurry" or "things are good here". But telling the truth to a recruiter is the best advice I can give. What is funny is that I often know exactly what is going on at most agencies, so when someone tells me that things are good, I know the truth. As for money vs opportunity, I stand by the fact that people often do exactly the opposite of what they say on an initial interview.

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    2. Pauly ... Agree that "lies" is a pretty strong word, so I understand your being bothered by using it. And since you couldn't think of a better substitute, might I suggest you take a term out of Kellyanne Conway's Trump playbook ... "Alternative Facts". LOL, Bill

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  4. Ha! For years I've told my clients that the greatest work of fiction I ever wrote was my resume.

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  5. Great post Paul. With regard to point 6, candidates should never really have to answer the question about their current salary. The answer is only used to set a limit to what an employer is willing to pay. I totally accept the right of a candidate to lie when employers effectively use the answer as the start point of salary negotiations.

    Sadly, it also serves to reinforce existing gender and race based pay inequality.

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    1. Anon, Boy, do I disagree with you. A good recruiter does not give away salary information until it's time to negotiate. When a client asked me what my candidates are making I tell them that they are well within the specs. That's all. I have been drifting hey post on this very subject. Look for it in the next few weeks. Bottom line is that knowing current salary is not only necessary, but it is to your advantage that any recruiter you are working with knows your salary so that they can get you not only what you need but what you deserve.

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    2. Anon, I forgot to say that in life, lying is unacceptable. Period. I have seen candidates completely ruin their careers by lying about their salary. They end up getting ahead of themselves and cannot perform to the expectations that their fake salary set up.

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  6. I wonder of the gentleman who made the college tuition comment (or whatever) finds this funny.

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  7. I've told most of these things to recruiters without lying:
    1) Looking to leave but ONLY if I find a job significantly better than the one I have now
    2) 100% true. See above. I've rushed into a job once and left less than a year later. Learned that the grass is not always greener
    3) I have a job where I'm highly valued, appeciated and respected, and have many "perks" in terms of flexibility, and a boss who trusts me completely and relies on me heavily. The agency however is not doing great. There's not a single account left that I'm interested in working on. So, mixed bag but far from being a lie.
    4) 100% true. I know exactly the kind of a job I would leave for and definitely will not budge.
    5) 100% true. I can't imagine getting THAT much of a raise, and after taking taxes into account, a new role will not drastically change my financial situation. It could change how fulfilled I am and whether I enjoy those 8 hours 5 days a week.
    6) Never lied about this. Don't see a reason to :)

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    1. Anon: Every recruiter knows that what I wrote is true, with some exceptions. Here is my response to you.

      1)One should only leave a job for a better opportunity. Unfortunately, all too often people leave and take the same job all over again, but at a different place.
      2) Many people end up taking the first job that comes along. All too often people are too busy leaving a job rather than going to a new job.
      3) What you say is true, but if the agency is not doing well, the recruiter should be told - it puts a candidate's needs in perspective.
      4) All too often candidates end up taking the same job all over again which has nothing to do with what they told me they wanted.
      5) I can only say that for too many people, money triumphs over opportunity.
      6) I generally catch people in this lie. It is inevitable.

      Glad that you don't lie. It speaks well for you.


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  8. This discussion is a matter of perspective. Yes, falsehoods on a resume are serious lies, are wrong, and ultimately will be surfaced. At the same time, employers hold all the cards in hiring and firing, especially in New York, an "at will" employment state where employees can (and will) be fired at any time for no cause. Some agencies require new hires to sign a form on their first day attesting to that fact. Recruiters, certainly contingency recruiters, by design and circumstance, are working for those employers.
    I therefore humbly propose that any strategic leverage that a potential employee chooses to use to their advantage is fare game. I believe your point is that falsehoods are not to employees advantage, which I wholeheartedly agree with. But let's not give the false perception that recruiters/employers are "good" while jobseekers are "liars." That perspective would be laughable, misleading, and false.

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    1. Dan: The leverage that any candidate has is their talent and ability to solve a potential employer's problem. Your suggestion that recruiters/employers are good while job seekers are liars has nothing to do with what I was writing about. I simply wrote that candidates who lie are making a mistake because, one way or another, they get caught.

      I am not sure what you meant by "fair game".

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    2. I submit that it is virtually impossible for an employer to evaluate in a 20-minute interview whether a candidate is capable to "solve a potential employer's problem." As a result, there is an assessment made by said employer/interviewer - some say within 5 minutes - as to fitness of the interviewee. As such, in a competitive marketplace where the full advantage is on the side of the employer, I stand by my point that candidates are entitled to any and all leverage points they can muster - short of falsehoods and untruths. (I was correcting a typo, I think, with "fair game.")

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    3. Dan, I actually agree. Interviewing is actually a very flawed process. Smart companies which know how to create articulate and actionable specs can help improve the odds, but it is rare. Smart candidates who can articulate their own strengths accurately are just as rare.

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  9. Paul, much respect for putting this conversation out there. I have never lied about salary and it's a bit disheartening to think that recruiters would assume otherwise and mentally discount my number or judge me dishonest.

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    1. Anon: I never suggested that everyone lied about salaries. But you can see from the other comments how often it happens. And when it does, the perpetrator almost always gets caught. I have actually had the same candidate tell me different salaries in the same interview! Or if I double-check at sometime in the future, I get a different answer. I tend to believe my candidates until I hear alternative facts.

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