BAD Recruiter Tactics: Time to be Exposed

October 7, 2013

We really enjoy recruiting – done right it’s a real art. We get a charge out of using our expertise in our vertical (SCM) to provide real value in a consultative partnership with our clients and providing opportunities and career advice to our candidates. We love that it’s a fast-paced and a multi-faceted business, and there’s lots of opportunity to be entrepreneurial, resourceful, tenacious and inventive in terms of securing new business and making things come together for clients and career seekers.

BUT SOMETIMES, some recruitment firms can take their business approach way too far: it can be a slippery slope – in some recruiters’ hands, what starts off as inventive tactics and fresh ideas often run amuck and start to become underhanded business practices. And, by using questionable methods to achieve results, some recruiters put themselves at risk of breaking the trust of clients and candidates. And that puts us all in a bad light. This gives the industry as a whole a bad name. That’s very disappointing to say the least, because Recruiting is a much needed skill when talent is in short supply. It’s an honourable profession. Certainly a good recruiter is a very valuable asset to both ‘hirer and hiree’ and works extraordinarily well if the relationship is based in mutual trust and respect.

And that’s exactly why we are posting today.

It seems that lately desperate times (the Recession has been lean for us all) have brought out some really dubious recruiter activities. It’s time to identify some of the less desirable practices that those working in SCM particularly should be on the lookout for. Certain recruiters skate dangerously close to the line of what’s appropriate ethically and unfortunately it gives the industry as a whole a bad name. Here are some of the things we mean:

1. Not doing any background work whatsoever before contacting candidates:

This is recruiting 101. If you’re contacting a candidate with whom you have no prior business relationship, you need to do a bit of homework to avoid wasting their time. A recruiter obviously can’t know everything about a candidate before reaching out I know. But a recruiter needs to know enough to at least make sure the candidate is working in a similar industry or business function to the job they are seeking to fill. The “shotgun method” of contacting anyone who matches a basic keyword in the job description with the possibility of ensnaring the one person who might possibly manage to fit an open role leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth about working with staffing firms.

This phenomenon was most bluntly illustrated by a call one of our recruiters received a few weeks ago. A recruiter from another Staffing firm calling one of our recruiters to determine interest in a Supply Chain position. And this happens all the time…Really!!! This recruiter called another recruiter who specialises in the Supply Chain Vertical – why, because our profiles are full of the right keywords and it’s simple laziness and inexperience not to take a closer look as to why exactly we wouldn’t be a fit for their Supply Chain position? Wow. We live in an age where information is more free-flowing than ever – time to take those blinkers off.

2. Recruiters Who Send Resumes to Companies Completely Unsolicited:

Come on – these companies are not clients…This little industry trick is a huge problem which has always been rampant in the Recruiting world. Definitely this is one that on the climb in a big way and might I add I have it on good authority, it’s an increasing irritant to hiring managers and HR hiring authorities because they find it just so inappropriate and so crass.
So here’s what happens – Everyone wants to get in on the act when a new position hits the street. Recruiters see a juicy job posted on a company’s website, or with another firm or on a job site or they hear about it through their network.

It’s the oldest trick in the book (I honestly thought this one had died with the dinosaurs) to feign active engagement in a role, which of course is a mirage, with the client so as to attract and tie up the top active talent in a narrow talent vertical. The practice is sneaky as good candidates often get bluffed into believing that they are legitimately being represented to a company on an open engaged position when in actual fact it is really nothing more than a hook to get a job order the recruiter doesn’t actually have – how does it work? – by offering a slate of pre-qualified candidates to lure the client in. Yes sometimes it works but usually it comes off as cheap and cheesy and backfires for everyone.

The thing is, often the candidate get left holding the bag or holding nothing. So often, recruiters submit candidates without the candidate’s prior knowledge. Guess what, the client declines to review them, either because they’d prefer to hire on their own or they aren’t interested in working with a recruiter who jumps the gun on a search. The candidate thinks they’ve been submitted for the role, and they end up losing the opportunity for an interview altogether. All the while, they could/should have applied on their own or through the Recruiter of choice that actually has or will have the mandate for the position.
So what has transpired has muddied the water and the candidate becomes a hands-off commodity for the client because a search firm is claiming representation when in actual fact they were not engaged in the first place. The job seeker has possibly lost a great opportunity. Often candidates don’t even realize this is or has happened. Opportunities are sometimes being blocked because of some unscrupulous Recruiters ulterior motives. Brutal…

3. Sending a resume to a company without the candidate’s go ahead (permission).

Here’s the flipside. Forwarding candidates resumes to companies without the EXPRESS CONSENT of the individual just isn’t OK for a recruiter to do – recruiters don’t own that information, the candidate does and it should be treated with respect. A job seeker – active or passive – needs to remain in total control of where and when her/his resume goes on that information highway. Recruiters who send resumes to gauge interest without ever contacting the candidate to see if they’d be interested in the position are behaving inappropriately – BUT it happens all the time. And it shouldn’t – At Argentus for example, we won’t allow a resume to leave our office without the express permission of a candidate – it’s their information and they own the complete right to how its handled and where it goes. To treat it otherwise is just unethical on so many levels.

It’s embarrassing for the client if the candidate finds out that they’ve been submitted after the fact. But beyond that, a recruiter never has the right to represent a candidate without the candidate’s expressed permission. It can negatively impact a candidate in a few ways. First of all, it’s a gross violation of a candidate’s privacy. In a world where everyone seems to be putting their personal information on social media profiles, some people forget that you can’t pass around other people’s information without their consent. A resume is personal information, and that can’t be taken lightly.

Beyond that, it can negatively impact a candidacy. Say the resume the recruiter sends is out of date. Or it’s not tailored to the specific job at hand. The candidate suddenly has no control over how they’re being represented for a role. OR, the candidate chooses to work with another recruiter. The fact that their resume has already been submitted to the company (without their express consent) might preclude them from being represented by another recruiter or applying for the role independently. This is a complicated issue, but it’s something that a good recruiter will never do.

Positioning & Posting ‘Phony’ Jobs so as to Troll for good Resumes

This one happens all the time – sometimes unscrupulous recruiters will see a job posting on a company’s website and post the same role on their own website or other job boards purely to collect resumes for their database. In other words, the recruiter is encouraging good talent, active candidates to apply for a position that they don’t actually have. Unfortunate but true and this causes much confusion because when they haven’t even bothered to make any real modifications (it’s a true cut and paste job) to the position that the same company is posting, smart candidates can figure out it out and everyone looks kind of silly – don’t you agree? Every recruiter works to develop a database of candidates, but trolling candidates with non-existent jobs? This is a bait-and-switch tactic which makes recruiters look both shady and lazy. And I’m embarrassed to say we see this kind of thing all the time within Supply Chain Recruiting.

Not disclosing to one’s candidates who the client is at submitting time.

We all agree that there are a few cases where nondisclosure is warranted. If the client has indicated that they want a very high level of confidentiality with the search, it makes sense that a recruiter should be able to withhold the company’s name when they first tell a candidate about a role. But let’s face it: more often than not, non-disclosure is usually about protecting the search from other recruiters than protecting the anonymity of the client. How can a candidate really judge if a position is right for them if they don’t know more about the organisation they are considering. And how can she/he know if there is in fact not a conflict if he/she doesn’t have full disclosure about who the potential employer is. There has to be a level of trust somewhere and at some point.

So that’s are my two cents for today on our industry. I think it’s good to be forewarned and forearmed…So curious as what do you think? Have you been the subject of any of these recruitment tactics? If so, what was your experience? Have any more to add? Let us know in the comments.

bhann@argentus.com or call me at 416-364-9919.
Alternatively, you might also want to connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+
My electronic business card is bronwenhann.com – bookmark it, please

Over and Out for now

Bronwen

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