At some point or another, everyone with any type of technical background will conduct a job search — albeit a passive or active one. And either by design or accident, will encounter the nemesis of all job search: The Recruiter. These individuals are employed by companies whose sole purpose is to serve as an intermediary between job seekers and potential employers.
If you were unaware, recruiters are typically paid based on two criteria: the salary of the jobs they are filling, and how many candidates they place.
Unfortunately, the odds are always stacked on the side of the recruiter, not you. We need to review what strategies recruiters are utilizing to lure you, and why it is so bad for your career and your job search? Worse yet, why do you appear so prone to their techniques? And what can you do to empower yourself and maintain your integrity while remaining focused on your career path? Let’s take a look and what’s going on, shall we?
Recruiters: Bad For Your Career And Your Job Search?
The real value of a recruiter is to leverage his brand (the company or industry) possessing the ability to influence a candidate to believe that he/she is making the right career move.
In general, jobseekers do a poor job of finding a job on their own. Their resumes are poorly written, they often fail to network and leverage resources they have when they ARE working, and they phone screen/interview poorly when they have the opportunity. So, they will become easy prey and develop a dependency on the first recruiter who demonstrates any type of interest, regardless of it being superficial!
The Recruiter’s Job
The recruiter’s job is often not in your sync with your needs. They engage and disengage a candidate in the blink of an eye. Although they may have worked with many clients, rarely does a “real” relationship exist. But, the way it’s unraveled to you, it’s as if they have a list of client’s “in their back pocket”.
Often, the recruiter will have no warning of when a company’s next open order will come in (if ever)… but, will engage you anyway if you appear like someone that could have been a decent applicant from the last time there was an opening. It’s their feeble idea of “maintaining a pipeline of candidates” just in case. A pipeline is nice thing to have, but rarely does the system work. There’s too much movement on behalf of jobseekers.
REALITY: You have just as good of a shot of applying for a position yourself as they do sending your resume on your behalf!
Most recruiters working for staffing companies don’t have exclusive contracts to offer a job, actually screen candidates or are even remotely involved in the hiring process. Their role is largely self-defined, where they match candidates to a job posting; their success is dependent upon their network of contacts and their ability to get their candidates directly in front of the hiring manager.
It should be easy for you to detect a job ad from a recruiter — it’s very vague, non-specific, and typically refers to “a client located in”… You are never certain if this is a position that meets your level of career experience or whether it is designed for someone entry-level. And that’s the goal: To attract the widest amount of candidates and spark interest. It’s keyword-driven, like your job searches.
This Is Where It Starts To Get Real Ugly!
Recruiters will frequently ask candidates to send them a resume in Word format. First, because there is no contract in place between the company and the recruiter, and the recruiter doesn’t want to have the company hire the applicant directly, bypassing the recruiter and his commission. The Word-based resume allows them to remove the contact information of the candidate before sending the information along. But second, and more dubious, recruiters rewrite resumes.
That’s right! They’ll rewrite your resume to “match” the job description.
In most circumstances, lying or excessively embellishing a resume is typically grounds for automatic rejection or termination, regardless of who was responsible (most employers won’t take “the recruiter rewrote it!” as an excuse). Recruiters are convinced that keywords sell job candidates, so they’ll load up resumes with keywords, trying to match the resume to the job description to improve their chances of success. Finally, it’s possible you may not see the finished product, meaning you could get asked about something on your resume you’ve never even seen or heard of (can you say awkward?).
“Why do recruiters ask me to come in and meet with them?” What is this paperwork they need filled out?”
Recruiters want validation that you view them as someone credible. Once you are invested with them and their agency, it becomes easier for them to manipulate you. Think of it like a car salesman trying to get customers into his showroom. You’ve invested the time to dress up, keep an appointment, and answer questions. Recruiters will tell you the purpose of the interview is to make sure you’re qualified and that they want to gear their efforts in the right direction based on your needs and career objectives. A couple hours later, you will be back sitting at home with the recruiter’s business card, a receipt for the toll you paid to go over the bridge, a ticket for not putting enough change in the meter… and not much else, especially not a job!
The second (and often more dubious) reason is to get you to fill out paperwork for the recruiter. Remembering that the recruiter has no contract with the companies they’re trying to recruit for, many try to get around this this by making you sign paperwork (usually as part of a “job application”) promising not to accept a position with any company they put you in contact with, unless that offer comes through them. The goal here is to get one of the two parties in a situation where the recruiter can almost be guaranteed their commission; this has nothing to do with protecting the interests of the candidate, and everything to do with protecting the interests of the recruiter!!
Now that the candidate is under contract, it’s time for the recruiter’s next trick…
Your Resume Is Now EVERYWHERE?!
You applied for a single position. You sent the recruiter a copy of your resume in Word, came down to his office, spent a couple hours being “interviewed” and signed a piece of paper promising to inform the recruiter if you got a job thanks to their efforts. Turns out the role you wanted either got filled or you weren’t a good match for. You move on to your next job prospect.
Unfortunately, the next company refuses to call you in for an interview because they’ve already seen your resume. Seems that your recruiter sent it to them last week, but the company you’ve applied to doesn’t want to pay the recruiting agency’s fees and sign their contract to pursue you. You’re now too expensive and come with too many strings attached.
Since that recruiter has you under contract, he’s free to do whatever he wants with your information. You are doomed! Every place the recruiter now sends your information is off-limits to you if they decide the other candidate is more cost effective. You’ve just lost control of your job search my friend!
Sure, you can ask your recruiter to stop, but the damage has probably already been done. A recruiter’s success at their job depends on their ability to know pretty much everything going on in a given job field, which means there’s a chance everyone hiring for your field within 50 miles has gotten your resume and now can’t hire you!
Heaven forbid if you are working with multiple recruiters all targeting the same opening! The company, if interested in you, would be worried about being sued for violating another agency’s agreement!
This Is Disgusting!
Since you’ve provided the recruiter with your references, they claim they have to verify them before they can legally send you on interviews. This is not true. Your references should only be contacted if their is a conditional offer of employment that was submitted directly on behalf of the client.
(Are you nauseous yet?)
Do yourself a favor! Make it your personal policy to not incur drug testing, credit checks, driver’s license reports, or reference checks until AFTER you have received a conditional offer of employment directly from the business you are wanting to be hired from… in writing… and NOT just the staffing agency. — Please!
The Bottom Line
The only recruiter you should be working with is one that works directly for the company’s HR department.
Outside recruiters and sourcing consultants are not your friends and not interested in your career goals or happiness. You are a product to them. A disposable one.
Some recently assigned folks may swear by their recruiter. Recruiters are placing candidates. Daily. But, there is always a price to pay for getting involved in this type of relationship. Trust me.
Do yourself a favor. Take control of your own job search. If you truly are someone of value to an employer in this job market, you don’t need recruiters.