The best people in your industry would never work with bad recruiters – so why should you?
There are very low barriers to entry in the world of recruitment; there is no training or license required. Anyone with a telephone and a computer can call themselves a recruiter. This allows for a great deal of competition which is great most of the time.
The trouble starts when the recruitment bottom feeders cut corners and make concessions on their ethics. This article is about knowing when you are dealing with an unprofessional recruiter, allowing you to filter these out in favor of the top recruiters you should deal with.
The definition of working with a recruiter is actively sharing information and letting them represent you to job opportunities. A recruiter with little experience or simply a lack of ethics can hamper your quest for a new job, as they can misrepresent you to the best companies. In this game, you only get one chance so we have to make the most of it.
The telltale signs of a recruitment cowboy:
When the recruiter cannot give you the right information about the vacancy (such as salary, tasks, reporting lines), the company, and sometimes even about the industry. There could obviously be legitimate reasons for this but in general, this will be a bad sign. Bear in mind that a good recruiter would not work a vacancy without this information.
Contingency (no win, no fee) assignments only:
This means they have never actually been given the formal instruction to work on behalf of a company (retained search assignment). They are instead sending some candidates out to a job with the hope that the client will want to interview. Unless the client is game, you and the recruiter can do little else than wasting time.
Only ever speaks with you when they have a role that fits:
If you are not interested, they quickly move on to the next person on the list. Although this is the nature of the beast that is recruitment, a good recruitment company should stay in touch with people on their books regularly. This would typically be a call every 3-6 months for information sharing and general catch-ups. This is essential for really understanding a candidate and knowing exactly what you are looking for.
Not specialized in your field:
There are many generalist recruitment companies of the size that try to break into niche job markets. Although the recruitment company may be well known, the recruiter doing your market might be working on their own and tasked to ‘build their market’ which is not easy and will certainly not help you.
Focused on salary:
Concentrates on your wages and other cash remuneration as opposed to what should really matter to candidates, e.g. growth, training and promotion opportunities. Again, a good recruiter would take a more holistic approach and see what will really make you happy with a new position.
Tries to talk you into taking a job, sometimes not giving you enough time for your decision-making process. This will inevitably lead to candidates making the wrong decisions and changing their mind shortly thereafter.
Liberal with information:
Drops names of your coworkers and managers in order to sound knowledgeable. This might impress some but in the end, you know they will drop your name on the next call, which you are not likely to appreciate.
Asks YOU for money:
You should never have to pay for the services of a recruiter as the client (hiring company) pays the fees. If you are asked for money by a recruiter, ask exactly what it is for and then tell them where to stick it.
If you come across recruiters like these, politely tell them you are either doing your own search or that you are exclusively working with another recruitment company. If they keep contacting you, ask to be removed from their books. By law, they have to remove you and even send you a letter confirming the removal.
Please note that the vast majority of recruiters out there are very professional and work hard on your behalf. And believe me when I say they are just as wary of cowboys as you are.