Bait and Switch Job Seeking

Certainly there are many of us out there seeking jobs. Either we were laid off or just can’t stand our employers and their weird take on employee’s rights or practice of the Peter Principle and the promotion of serial incompetents and mental patients. In job searches for those who aim higher than the food service industry, the search usually entails recruiters. After God made the weasel, rat, leech and lawyer, the recruiter appeared, which is another explanation of the extinction of the dinosaurs and other species.

Bait and Switch Job Seeking

Over the past couple of years I have noticed a trend among the jobs I have fielded through recruiters – “bait and switch.” They call about a position and salary that makes one’s mouth water and keeps an erection for days or weeks, depending on how fast the process goes until the truth comes out.

NOTE: This article, the seventh in a series of eight articles on Professional Practices which they don’t teach you in art school.

It Starts Normally…

My last job of seven years was a bait and switch. It seems I was the only candidate this recruiter presented that made it to the interview stage. I was told it was a creative director position for just under a six-figure salary; certainly a great salary in that area of the country. Doing the dance with the employer, I received an e-mail detailing my interview schedule but at the top it read, “interviewing as: Designer.”

InstantShift - Bait and Switch Job Seeking

When I brought this up to the recruiter, he said to ignore it and just go on the interview but I shouldn’t bring up titles or salary. That’s not an odd request as part of the recruiter’s job is negotiations with the employer. I interviewed and it was obvious they wanted me as a designer. The offer came in for a design position, naturally at a lower salary and the recruiter was beside himself with glee that he had closed the deal. I told him I wasn’t interested and that I had another offer for an art director position for slightly less than the other position.

“Let me make a call and work this out,” he stammered.

He called back the same day and claimed that I would be a creative director but the company wanted me to learn the business from “the ground up.” He said they would promote me to art director in six months and then creative director in a year. It didn’t sound like an odd plan but I insisted the salary be the original offer that was dangled in front of me, and the “plan,” in writing. He came back with a higher salary then the company’s original offer, but nowhere near the creative director salary and a promise of a written agreement but I needed to start right away. I told him I would think it over.

The other firm was dragging its heels on a written offer and start date and my then wife insisted I take the other job, which was in another city so she could empty our bank account and divorce me. Well, she didn’t say the last part but that’s what happened.

Needless to say, after eight months firmly entrenched and a phone meeting with the firm’s staffing person, I found out there never was a creative director position and none of the promises made by the recruiter were ever relayed to the company. The recruiter had left the firm and the new head weasel didn’t want to “annoy” their client (my employer).

Since leaving that firm, I have had a string of bad luck with recruiters. My résumé doesn’t make it to the employer on time, the job was not a creative director position but a cafeteria bus boy position, the salary is a fourth of what was conveyed and the titles and duties never quite seem to be what the recruiter said.

Does It Happen Often?

The other day, I listed a question about bait and switch on the LinkedIn questions board (a social media site for business. It’s like Facebook but without the swearing, videos and sexual innuendo…come to think of it there is plenty of sexual innuendo. It’s almost a make out party). Within three hours there were a dozen answers. I had hit a hot button.

InstantShift - Bait and Switch Job Seeking

Job seekers had also experienced bait and switch with infuriating results. Recruiters responded in a very passive/aggressive tone. All of the blame, they wrote, is with the employers not making things clear, job seekers who “demand” a salary range for the job, which one recruiter claimed was impossible as the employer would “match the salary to the person’s skill set” and, of course, on job seekers who should “shut up and accept anything in this economy.” Now I love recruiters even more!

Yes, the economy stinks and most employers have learned that hiring young and cheap saves operating costs, but what can be expected from someone who is overqualified, working for less than they are worth? Less engagement? Moving on when another, fairer opportunity arises? More insightful business decisions that made this country great…or a miserable failure depending on how one describes record unemployment and a doomed trade deficit.

I wrote and asked one recruiter, who claimed he was the best and all other recruiters were incompetent, if he sent a candidate a job description or salary range before the interview process. He replied that he didn’t as the employer may change duties and salary based on the person’s skill set and the “internal politics” of the firm. Ah, good! Nothing works better than the trust system in business.

Of late, when contacted by a recruiter, I ask a lot of questions. I go to the internet to research the employer and then discuss my findings with the recruiter. Recently I had to ask if numerous pending law suits and government probes on one firm might effect my salary or the longevity of my employ. I was told the recruiter was unaware of any of this. Nothing like a recruiter with the whole story!

Steps To Safeguard Your Career

When you are contacted by a recruiter, It’s best not to yell, “Thank goodness, I was about to become homeless!”

In the recent past, it was always easier to find a job while you have one. Employers use to think that the best people were kept and everyone else let go was incompetent. The truth is, the lower-paid incompetents kept their jobs and the experienced, higher-paid workers were let go. Not to say employed readers of this article are incompetent, but look around you and tell me there’s not a good deal of truth sitting at other desks, drooling and sticking paperclips into electrical outlets repeatedly, expecting different results every time.

It’s been tough on all of us. Act professionally and, as if stopping your freelance career for a staff position is of equal weigh to a full time position, be calm and detached but interested. You can dance and sing once the phone is hung up.

While I had a job, many recruiters tried to convince me that a lateral move to one of their clients was a great opportunity. You need to add up not just the dollars, but the company culture, city, lifestyle, relocation costs, job security, etc. You also have to remember if you’ve signed a non-compete with your present employer. If you did, you may not be able to work in the industry for a year or more. So how do you move on to another company? You don’t – mWaaa-ha-ha-ha-ha! Big competitors hire the other firm’s discards all the time (never fire someone you don’t want working for your competitor). A smaller company may be too frightened of legal actions if they hire you. I had to reveal that in interviews (as I was always asked) and one recruiter scolded me for saying it. Sorry! Let me start with this company based on lies!

A lateral move, unless it is a company that is showing growth, is a losing proposition. Making any move when you are hurting for a salary has few problems, unless you find yourself in a city you wouldn’t live in if you didn’t work there. When you are let go, moving elsewhere is up to you. It pays to ask a recruiter to negotiate an “escape clause,” spelling out costs of being moved back where they found you.

As part of a salary negotiation, aside from a bit more money and a signing bonus, I was given one extra week of vacation. When my years at the company entitled me to an additional week of vacation, I was told I had it already and they never agreed to keep extending my vacation by a week. In essence, I argued, they were lowering my salary by one week. I lost that and the recruiter, who didn’t want to anger the client, had been replaced by another recruiter, who said she didn’t know me and it was my tough luck. Get it in writing and have the recruiter give you a copy. Don’t sign anything until you have copies in hand. There is no he said/she said in business – only paperwork.

How To Spot The Great Recruiters

There are some great recruiters out there. I have them all on my mailing list. There is a large percentage that aren’t. If they haven’t connected with me on LinkedIn, I have to wonder how connected they are in my profession. LinkedIn is a great tool for researching recruiters and workplaces as well.

Look at the recruiter’s connections. 500+? Any recommendations? What companies do they deal with on a regular basis? Then check out the people who gave the recruiter a recommendation. Did they keep the job the recruiter had gotten them? Look at the dates of the recommendation, job mentioned and the person’s present position. Are they still where the recruiter placed them? If not, was it shorter than two years?

Then send a message to some of these people and ask for an updated reference. The last time I did that, I got nothing but thumbs down for the recruiter.

I encourage interviewing as much as possible. It keeps your skills sharp and you network with the people with whom you interview (many high level people with whom I interviewed went elsewhere and are in my network connections – which is good because now they can tell me why I wasn’t hired…and why I am lucky I wasn’t hired).

InstantShift - Bait and Switch Job Seeking

If it involves travel, well, I love the adventure and visiting different cities, but there is a cost you need to pass on to the firm interviewing you. Gas and tolls to the airport, parking, meals and certain travel expenses can add up to almost $100 for a one-day trip. Make sure the recruiter knows you expect the expenses to be reimbursed. A couple of interviews a month will break you, otherwise. Even across town, you are going to have expenses. Maybe I’m dreaming, these days. Do we need to spend money to show we need a job?

Rather then drone on about the good, the bad and the disgustingly ugly, let me draw some quick tips based on observations, experience and some stolen passages from Harry Potter:

A GREAT recruiter will have done all the research on the client, the people with whom you are interviewing, the salary range and title with job description (one had area information for living and lifestyle).

A BAD recruiter will refer to the client as “what’s-their-faces!”

A GREAT recruiter will go over what you should say in the interview with tips for steering things to your strong points.

A BAD recruiter will be using foul language while trying to remember where it was he/she was sending you to interview.

A GREAT recruiter will explain the salary range, what will effect it, how past placements went, bonuses, relocation costs, etc. It’s not a promise but a guideline. If the client calls and says, “We have to have Kris!” the recruiter will know how far to push.

A BAD recruiter will respond to a question about salary range with, “I’m trying to convince them they have to pay for quality.”

A GREAT recruiter makes sure they have all your travel arrangements set and will be available at the vulnerable time when you arrive at the airport and await pick up by the client, for last minute instructions and updates.

A BAD recruiter has gone to the airport and cashed in your ticket for crack money.

A GREAT recruiter will be available after you return to the airport to chat about how the interview went. It’s important to relay what was said, how you felt, any emotions you picked up on from people. A great recruiter knows the questions to ask to get the information he/she needs when they contact the client, i.e., “Speider thought you might have been put off by the fact his fly was open for the entire interview. He said you kept throwing up. I hope that wasn’t due to his work?!”

A BAD recruiter is still in a crack-induced haze.

A GREAT recruiter will call you as soon as he/she has spoken with the client. If it’s good news, you await the next move. If it’s not good news, the recruiter should have some idea of why, i.e., “they hated your work but loved the open fly!”

A BAD recruiter is never heard from again. Poor crack-addicted recruiter!

What About The “Local Yokels?”

Many freelancers work through placement recruiters for on-site work. More than once I showed up at a client for an assignment, only to find out that they asked for a “great illustrator” and NOT someone who was “great AT Illustrator.”

All of the same rules apply. The great ones are wonderful but few. The bad ones, usually are out of the business before you can request your first weeks pay.

One word of warning on every placement recruiter; they may conversationally ask who in town you are working for. Tell them and they will be on the phone with your clients in two minutes, undercutting your price. The recruiter, when calling to give you the heads up on an upcoming assignment won’t tell you who it’s for, because they don’t want you doing the same thing to them, they want to do to you. Just smile and say, “oh, I’m working here and there, for him and her, this and that!”

Placement people are also notorious for looking the other way on bait and switch assignments. A client wants a designer to “do some little designs for some print pieces.” You show up and are re-branding them for $15 an hour and building their web site.

Will the agent go back and ask their client to pony up more money for the different project description?

A GREAT recruiter will.

A BAD recruiter bonks you over the head with a shovel and dumps you at the edge of town so you can’t turn in your time sheet at all.

If I was a vindictive person, I would take any job via a bad recruiter and then resign just short of the period needed for them to earn their fee but I’m not vindictive, despite what you may see on my Twitter posts and what long-time friends may say. I’m also looking for a great staff position. Maybe you could recruit me for “what’s-their-faces?”

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27 Comments

  1. Great article. I usually don’t read articles fully, but yours really grabbed my attention.

    Just like in any profession, it only takes one bad seed to give the whole apple orchard a nasty reputation. I myself try not to deal with recruiters for the same reason I try not to deal with sales people. I find them dishonest and sleazy. You have to sell a little bit of your soul to be in this business.

  2. Nice article. Longer than most of your stuff with less sarcasm…must be a hot button for you too. I have two contracts in front of me right now…

    One has the job description of “a part time salaried exempt” position. I still can’t fathom part time being juxtaposed with exempt.

    The other has the phrase “and other marketing duties,” which could expand and expand and expand.

    The golden rule I’ve learned in negotiating is that “whoever care the most…looses.” So. I’m always prepared to walk away.

    Keep up the good work.

  3. The best part of your this post is Local Yokels, i relay enjoy this. please write an article about CSS,

  4. I don’t mean to be critical, but I would call this less of an article and more of a rant. I’m sorry you had so many negative experiences with so many people , but I think I already knew to get things in writing in the world of business. I am not trying to be mean. I wish you well in all sincerity, and I think that if your attitude becomes more positive your experiences will follow suit.
    Good luck out there.

    P.

  5. In the interest of full disclosure, I am a recruiter. (I should also mention that my niche is legal. I actually think lawyers are a wonderful group of people to deal with on a daily basis.) Actually, I prefer the term headhunter to recruiter because I think it is a more accurate description. Speider, I get it and I understand your pain. It is rough out there for the unemployed or soon to be unemployed; but, let’s take an honest look at what recruiters AKA headhunters are paid to do.

    Recruiters are paid by companies to find top talent that would be unobtainable to their company by traditional search methods. In the search of that talent, a headhunter will talk with and actually bond with many candidates that may not end up not representing the top talent for THAT opportunity but that could very well represent the top talent for the NEXT opportunity or an opportunity that may arise in the next 2 months, 2 years, etc.

    The services a headhunter provides to a candidate are completely free of charge. These services may include resume consultation, market intelligence, tips on interviewing, etc. –who knows, you may even make a friend that can bounce around these employment search ideas and interview tips with you any night of the week. These services do not cost you a dime. Just because you see an ad or get a call from a headhunter, it does not mean that your background will be representative of the top talent that headhunter is seeking or will find on the search at hand. Not being the best fit for that position does not always mean there was some underhanded bait and switch tactic at play.

    I’ve never once met a headhunter that claimed to be a psychic. Until a headhunter gets a feel for your work history, experience, and personality, they will not know how you stack up against your competition. Don’t forget for a minute that the personality and attitude of the candidates sourced may also play a vital role in who will make the final cut to the client. Time is money– so trust me in that the phone will never ring in a simple attempt to arouse you. For whatever reason, the recruiter calls because he or she believes you may be at the top of your game.

    Let us not forget a candidate’s need for basic business acumen. Any candidate that accepts an offer needs to take personal responsibility and get promises in writing or at the very least discuss them with the EMPLOYER. Any recruiter would have to be one smooth talking son of a gun to get someone to relocate on promises of a job that never existed; the likes of which I believe would be as hard to find as the loch ness monster. I am genuinely sorry to hear about your divorce and the housekeeping done at your bank; but in hindsight, do you think that your marital stress kept you from asking some very important questions about the position? Or do you think that maybe your memoires have faded after seven years working at the job you accepted after the bait and switch?

    With those points being made, there is NO EXCUSE for recruiters to misrepresent opportunities or offers to candidates under any circumstances whatsoever. In any industry, it only takes a few bad apples to ruin one’s perception. In my industry, thankfully I have countless colleagues who are excellent recruiters/headhunters. Much like the other creatures who have been here a long time, we have adapted to the environmental changes and serve as an excellent source to companies and job seeking candidates alike. With the value recruiters add coupled with the skill to adapt to market changes, true recruiters/headhunters will also be here for a long time to come.

  6. Very Interesting Read… thanks!

  7. @amy –
    Thanks for totally misunderstanding the article. I suppose you just scanned it and didn’t actually read it in its entirety. Par for the course for a bad recruiter (and what would a recruiter in the legal industry know about the design industry?).

    As a trusted recruiter/headhunter once told me: There are some really bad recruiters out there who just don’t ask the right questions of an employer and that’s how these misunderstandings occur. The complete picture is not painted for the recruiter and therefore, they cannot relay the right information to the candidate.

    Another recruiter/headhunter I know puts the blame on the firm not giving the right information to the recruiter no matter how many questions are asked. In either case, the candidate is the one being misled.

    As I pointed out, in several of the passages you obviously missed (good attention to detail, recruiter/headhunter), there are great recruiters out there. There are, as those great recruiters admit, a lot of really bad ones. Perhaps this article will help readers sort them out before they waste their time and money?

    As for my divorce, which was tongue-in-cheek (I guess the humor escaped you but the legal profession isn’t really know for creative thinking, so I understand your inability to decipher the lateral thinking involved), Nowhere do attribute it to the timeline of problems caused by the lack of attention from the recruiter. You just assume that it has and there’s part of the overall problem — you didn’t bother to pay attention to the details that you so quickly lay upon me as the candidate. So who is the fool and who is to blame? I’ll let the readers decide.

  8. Oh, and by the way… your statement, “Let us not forget a candidate’s need for basic business acumen. Any candidate that accepts an offer needs to take personal responsibility and get promises in writing or at the very least discuss them with the EMPLOYER. Any recruiter would have to be one smooth talking son of a gun to get someone to relocate on promises of a job that never existed; the likes of which I believe would be as hard to find as the loch ness monster,” is such a cop out, I am disgusted.

    Part of a recruiters job, for which he/she receives a fee, is to find the right candidate, negotiate salary AND benefits WITH the employer. Introducing a candidate and an employer, collecting a fee and saying, “well, you both work this out is the sign of a BAD recruiter.

    A GREAT recruiter negotiates the entire package and presents it in written form for both parties to sign. It’s called basic business acumen.

  9. Well I would have to say “What the hell does a Designer Know about HR, in particular Recruiting”. I generally enjoy your posts, but this one seems to have hit a raw nerve with you….why the RANT? So go ahead and take it out on a tech guy…I can handle it. I have also handled the Operations side of several Fortune Firms where I had both HR teams and outsourced Recruiting reporting to me. You appear to be woefully misinformed here.
    Amy was right on a large account.
    Your comment:
    “A GREAT recruiter negotiates the entire package and presents it in written form for both parties to sign. It’s called basic business acumen.”
    Is BS and won’t hold water. Why? In your example the prospective employee has no onus or responsibility in the process at all, that’s all left to the Recruiter. I have a huge disdain for lawyers as well, but I have also had to work with General Council on issues just like this. The employee has to know what he is signing and is just as responsible as the recruiter in many cases. LOL…maybe the employee needs to seek advice from a layer ahead of time?
    Seems you could also be in need of schooling on negotiating skills. I don’t give a rat what a recruiter tells you. In many cases, it’s just what they have been told by the employer. You, the prospective employee have home work do to too. Don’t expect that by hiring a recruiter that you are going to get everything served up to you on a silver platter….obviously you found that out.
    I have often used recruiters for their industry knowledge and their contacts. Yes, some are better than others. However, the employee also needs to research the company they intend to work for beyond what the recruiter will provide you. Learning negotiating skills are also in your best interest as often times the hiring manager may be able to make allowance beyond what they previously discussed with the recruiter. In many cases the recruiter is dealing with an internal HR associate and not necessarily the actual person making the hiring decision.
    In today’s economics many companies still use outsourcing so they can get to what they consider the cream of the crop. Read the fine lines in any agreement you arrive at with a recruiter and then do your home work before your interview and you will have much better experience. If you still have issues then maybe you need to take a closer look in the mirror because the issue is not the Recruiter.
    Fair Disclosure: I know Amy, and her team and she is one of the best. She not only works within the legal realm but also in technical areas as well. I suggested she comment on this post as a way to get her feet wet on blogs I am a bit surprised by the venting on your comments.

  10. Wow Speider! What sarcasm. I thought posting an article with your thoughts was open game for all to weigh in on. Obviously if a recruiter has an opinion that doesn’t agree with you they are blasted!

    I thought Amy made some very valid points, as did you. However, you took it to another level. Shame on you! I will avoid reading your blogs or postings going forward.

  11. @Tom —

    Interesting comment and I don’t want to belabor the point but she laid out her opinion and I laid out mine. I still stand by the belief and assertion that a recruiter is the one who must do the homework as part of their service to both parties; the client and the candidate, and research both parties as well.

    Interesting that you know Amy and, as you wrote, “I suggested she comment on this post as a way to get her feet wet on blogs.” Well, this is part of blogs and debate, which might not agree with her point of view. I find it odd a professional recruiter has not entered the world of blog commenting, so that may speak volumes about her experience, despite your referral.

    You have also said, “Yes, some are better than others.” Wasn’t that a major point of this article? Yes, I leaned towards the bad for the purpose of teaching those who work with recruiters. I have examples laid out for both the good and the bad, but it seems, both from your response and Amy’s that you negated the good part. Did you scan past that or even read it?

    Of course, I defer to the amount of tweets, shares and reposts (47,600 Google returns as of this writing) the article garnered, which proves there were a lot of people who agreed with my points. You may not agree nor may Amy. I respect your opinions, if based on the entire article and not just snippets that you both seemed to have focused upon but I may, and do disagree with your points and assertions. Does that make me wrong? No. It shows I have a different opinion.

    @Katrina — Tit for tat when it comes to opinions and posts. You may not agree with what is said, but if you disagree to the point that you want to “avoid” reading (my) blogs or postings” then that is your choice and decision and I won’t try to persuade you otherwise.

    It was my feeling and experience that Amy’s points were shallow and self-serving. My points and examples are drawn not just from personal experience but from that of others, which, as pointed out to Tom, is the reason for such extensive reposts and tweets. It struck a nerve with readers for a very good reason — others have experienced the very same thing.

  12. BTW @Tom and @Katrina… With a minimal amount of research I see you are both Twitter connections to each other as you have posts on each other’s feeds. Could it be you are not regular readers as you both claim? Could it be you were sent here to comment by @Amy? Tsk, tsk!

  13. You’ve been “outed” @Kartrina the “20 year Executive Recruiter specializing in Sales Talent!” – http://twitter.com/#!/jpbryangirl

    @Tom the “High Energy Entrepreneur: expertise w/ start-ups, technology, and social media. Passionate about Family, Fitness, Scuba Diving and Video for SMB Professionals” – http://twitter.com/#!/thomasrtownsend

  14. As someone who started out as a recruiter, I know alot about HR. I know I am representing my internal customer (the candidate) and my external customer (the client) when acting as the recruiter.

    As someone who is transitioning career, doing freelance and has 10+ years of sales and marketing experience, I am mortified by the recruiters I come across today. Seriously unprofessional. They obviously don’t have my interest or the best interest of their client at heart. They are just trying to throw something up against the wall & hope it sticks. One out of 10 recruiters that I have encountered today actually know what they are doing. Scary. I can understand your frustration and this article. I am right there with you.

  15. Speider: I have been on this site well before ever reading your post. As a recruiter I would have had a comment regardless of who wrote it. Not sure your comment on being “Outed” No secret here. I have never seen someone with such anger blogging as you do. You seem to want to make people angry rather than rallying everyone around to make changes and change the perspective. We are all in this industry within one capacity or another. If you had a bad experience, offer suggestions as to how we as a whole can make things better rather than ranting or generalizing YOUR bad experience. I think everyone has agreed that there are BAD recruiters out there, I too have experienced it. However, It is because of those bad recruiters that have made me the best I can be. Thanks for getting my blood pumping this morning. You have just inspired me to make a ton of money today placing my happy candidates!!!

  16. You’re welcome! I hope the happy candidates make a ton of money, too.

  17. Speider:

    You haven’t out’d anyone, not sure what your line is here, I have been open about my connections and as anyone with a brain and general knowledge on how to use Google will find…I am easy to track. So you’re supposed BIG FIND appears to really be nothing more than an attempt to SPIN an argument more in your favor. My comments stand on their own merits, as does my background. I will close with my final comment.

    You highlight the fact that “this article garnered 47K returns on Google” as justification of your comments and main focal point. Knowing the job market from different perspectives as I do, you cannot discount the fact that a key component of this has to do with the huge unemployment across the country that has pitted long-term unemployed against many of those working in HR and the recruitment field. I have heard and read more articles and comments about employment issues in the last few months than I have in the preceding years as I am sure you have too. I think it’s great to have constructive dialog and appreciate the forum to do this in. We can both agree to disagree on certain aspects and then go on our way.

    BTW, I stand by my comments on your site in general. I am a techie and do have an active RSS feed for your site on my reader and I do enjoy the content… so thanks.

  18. Excellent response Tom! Glad to see our efforts in Social Networking are working!

  19. Well, I hope at least a lot of happy clients found jobs today as mentioned. How many positions did you fill today, oh social networking one?

  20. I place Candidates, NOT clients. Learn the lingo if you going to play with recruiters! By the way, no human picture on your bio? Hmmmm.

  21. Pardon me. Did you place a lot of happy candidates, as mentioned?

    No human picture because I’m not human… I’m a recruiter/headhunter! ;)

  22. If the recruiters posting their vitriol would put half as much effort into finding opportunities for their candidates, or just having follow-through, there would be no need for articles like this one.

    Kudos to Speider for another great article. Keep ‘em coming !

  23. A young lady emailed me to inquire about asking a recruiter to remove her résumé from their files. She was quite upset at the recruiter and wanted no further dealings with them or for them to have access to her résumé and contact information. Perhaps the advice I gave her will help others…

    I don’t have experience requesting the removal of my information from a recruiter but I have written a pointed letter to the head of one firm, detailing poor service and another experience of calling a higher-up on an agent who was quite incompetent. Chances are, your résumé is lost in the system. A gentle and professional reminder that you are available is needed to stay in the mind of recruiters. Send a new/updated résumé when needed, call once a month to say hello and remind them you’re around and ask if you can do anything to help in the search or send a postcard every now and then. With so many people looking for work, you need to stand out without seeming desperate or becoming a pest.

    In the long run, it doesn’t pay to sever ties with an agency. Today’s screwup may be tomorrow’s success. You can’t take it personally because it’s not. No one will blacklist you as it doesn’t reflect well on them. It’s best to just ignore the screw ups and keep moving forward. Agents come and go with recruitment firms, so one bad one will only be with the firm for a short time. The next one might be very good.

    If it makes you feel any better about the situation, the one recruiter whom I called her superior about didn’t last very long. When her superior (who is also gone) tried to protect her and suggested I would “be happier not dealing at all with the agency,” (which is global) I replied that if I found another position in which I was in charge of hiring, would she want me to refuse any calls from the agency? She changed her tune very quickly.

    Recruiters need qualified candidates as much as we need them. They can’t afford to have people out there that have hard feelings and might not want to deal with them once a position is gained. It’s best to be patient and humble (and bite one’s tongue) when it comes to recruiters.

    Let me leave you with a laugh on this Monday. When I was first starting out, I had a recruiter tell me about a job with a Wall Street firm as an art director with a VERY high salary. He insisted I cut off my long pony tail and buy a $300+ dollar navy blue suit (I only dress in black and have done so since my art school days). He said I had to do this BEFORE he would pitch me to the client. I sadly cut my long, beautiful hair and emptied my savings for a suit, shirt, tie, and shoes and called him several days later. He had gone on vacation for two weeks.

    When he returned, I appeared before him and he said I “passed the test” and would give my résumé to the client. After another week of unreturned calls, I stormed into his office and he sheepishly admitted the position was not for an art director but for someone who ordered office supplies and the salary was much, much lower.

    I never heard from him again and several weeks later was informed he was “no longer with (that) office.”

    Goodbye hair, savings and self-respect for being duped by him. I finally learned to ask more questions, do my research, get everything in writing and to wait for the interview to be set before spending a dime on anything.

    Just hold your head up high, have self-respect and keep moving forward. Agents will come and go, your résumé will be updated and sent in to new agents and you will continue to gain momentum. Just do what you have to do to survive while you wait for a position in a very bad job market.

    • To be honest, your tale of being gullible enough to cut your hair and spend money up front just because a scumbag recruiter told you to doesn’t give much credence to the rest of your advice. Look at where following your own advice has got you.

      IMHO, it’s best to treat recruiters as a necessary occasional evil. Don’t outright refuse to deal with them, but do so only on your own terms. Most of them are used car salesmen. Occasionally you may need to purchase or sell an old banger. But I certainly wouldn’t be calling up Bob’s Car Lot every month just because I might need to do one of those things perhaps three or four times in my whole life.

  24. If only I had stumbled upon this a month ago.

    • Trouble with a recruiter?

  25. Great article. These days, I predominantly deal direct with employers. On the odd occasion where an opportunity comes up through a recruiter that looks promising, I contact the employer on LinkedIn, send them the job spec of advert that I’ve based my decision to interview upon and ask them if it accurately reflects their actual needs “to save both our time”. It’s amazing how often they’ll tell you it’s the first time they’ve seen their own advert (???). The good ones will be shocked and apologise for how misleading the JD is. The bad ones will try and justify the blatant lies therein. (e.g., I had one hiring manager who, on seeing a job advert for a “Development Manager”, stated that was actually his job, but that everyone basically managed themselves, plus he didn’t want to offend the other guy that had been there for six whole months so we couldn’t call the position a “management” position per se. Oh, and would I consider £7k less than the advertised salary? Yeah, that would be a “no”.) So, a lot of the time, the hiring manager is just as unethical as the recruiter. And even where they’re not actually unethical, there is a lot of wilful blindness goes on when it comes to monitoring the lies recruiters tell candidates on their behalves. It pays to be wary when a company chooses to use the recruitment agency route when filling senior/skilled positions.

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