What Recruiters REALLY Say About Your Resume
The following story is 100% true.
It's Friday morning. A typical day in the staffing community starts at 8:30. However, our CEO insists that we arrive at 8 am sharp on Fridays.
There's only one problem...he's late.
Already chapped that I've had to end an early morning cuddle with my girlfriend, I grouchily unwrap my own breakfast in the conference room and await his arrival. (Despite the early call time, this CEO doesn't even offer to provide breakfast - the most important meal of the day).
This is supposed to be a recruitment round table - where our fearless leader takes time out of his impossibly busy day to grace us recruiters with his presence and impart wisdom and advice on how to better our business.
He proceeds to tell us that we should call managerial candidates on their work phones and flip recruitment calls into sales calls. He continues on to say that he uses fake names to get people on the phone and that he's willing to "lie, cheat and steal" to bypass gatekeepers and trick hiring managers into speaking with him. (More on this later...)
Angered and bewildered by what I've just heard, I mostly keep my mouth shut. I know the price of having an ideological dispute with the CEO. The meeting ends - I go back to my desk in an attempt to do my job ethically.
The day before, I met with several candidates about (what I thought was) a very exciting opportunity in the marketing space. I went through the job description with a fine-tooth comb - studying, highlighting and researching every detail of the responsibilities listed so that I can intelligently discuss it.
One candidate stood out among the pack. He ticked every box, he interviewed well, he was punctual and he asked insightful, targeted and nuanced questions.
I diligently reviewed my submission and emailed it to the Account Manager, fully expecting positive feedback. After all, I really did my homework. Here is what I got instead:
"That candidates resume is trash."
No elaboration, no context. No constructive feedback or advise. Just "trash".
Before I proceed, I will note that not every criticism I've ever received about a candidate has been quite this harsh. BUT...
Whether or not the candidate is right for the role, I have a huge problem with someone in the recruitment business openly proclaiming that a person's career equates to garbage. There is a massive difference between being direct and being downright demeaning.
This type of derogatory, inflammatory and dismissive language is rampant within the recruitment industry and it starts at the top.
When leadership encourages brazen, dishonest, questionable and sometimes even unethical work tactics, recruiters and account managers are made to feel as though they can literally say or do whatever they want.
But toying with the fates of unemployed professionals is no laughing matter - at least not to me. The expectation placed on every recruiter is that they engage candidates even when they don't have an active job available. The basic theory behind this is that eventually you'll have a role that fits the skill set and it will be much easier to engage with this person after having built a rapport.
The reality, however, is not quite so romantic. In addition to having strict phone time KPIs they are required to hit, recruiters are also given a very clear objective when making these passive phone calls...
"Leads, leads, leads..."
That's right, folks - you're being used. Talk tracks are coached and used to get you to divulge the names of hiring managers so that sales teams can turn around, call them and attempt to get more jobs.
References aren't actually references. They're leads. If you are approached by a recruiter and are asked to provide references, make sure that you put this in writing: "do not call without my permission". Otherwise, a young, gullible and underpaid account manager desperate to generate business might actually pick up the phone and call them. In fact, they're being told to.
All of this to say - be vigilant. If you aren't getting feedback, ask for it! If you're asked to divulge information, demand to see results first.
There is no harm in taking a call or having a dialogue to explore new opportunities.
Just know that what's happening behind the scenes may not reflect the same level of transparency and service that you expect.
These accounts are certainly not reflective of every individual I've worked with or encountered in the staffing space, but they are indeed true accounts. I have written this to empower candidates across the board, as I have been greatly disheartened by some of the practices I have witnessed during my time in the staffing business.
My sincere hope is that the industry will change for the betterment of job seekers, with whom recruiters engage with during very fragile moments in their lives. It is my belief that money can not be the sole motivator in an industry of service. Sadly, that is the current state of the staffing business.