The perils of using a recruiter. Some advice from an, erm, recruiter

Using a recruiter can be a powerful tool to not only save you time in the job hunting business, but to help give you the sort of value add dialogue with an employer that will result in a better outcome for all involved, even if that outcome is walking away from an offer.

Your recruiter is not there purely to try to slot you into a role with one of their clients, they are there to help facilitate conversations, meetings, interaction that helps you understand what you want and then to help you achieve it. Working out what you do NOT want is a very big part of that puzzle. 

Getting the relationship wrong can have the opposite effect and not only waste your time but put your career at risk. Here are a few pointers of what to watch out for and what the below signals could be a sign for.

The first time you are contacted by a recruiter, whether online or over the phone, they immediately talk to you about a job they are working on.

This is a sure fire sign that you are dealing with a recruiter who is more invested in hitting their targets than they are in building a working relationship with their candidates. The risks here are many and plenty:

  • You are very likely to fall off their radar no sooner than you have spoken to them.
  • You are unlikely to be speaking to someone who has a deep understanding of the role they are discussing.
  • They certainly don’t have a deep understanding of your experience as they haven’t spent any time discussing this with you.
  • More importantly they have no idea what you are looking for, what is really important to you in the short term and the long term. Do they understand that actually the real long term plan is about buying your dream beach side house on the coast, whilst commuting to London twice a week and spending the rest of time working from home.
  • They are going to be in no position to discuss your experience in detail with their client and more importantly they will have no understanding of how to rebut any concerns the client may have about your CV.

The result

You get rejected for a role due to hesitations from a client that the recruiter was not in a position to rebut, you get an interview for a job you don’t want, you arrive at the interview without the sort of preparation that a recruiter should be providing.

A recruiter is suggesting you have minimal time to accept an offer. 

Whilst sometimes there may be a need for a quick answer your recruiter should be working very hard to buy you as much time as you need to make a decision, and they should be working with you to understand what you need the time for and to discuss with the client if you need an extension on the offer. Most employers don’t want to pile on the pressure for you to accept any offer either (it’s a bad sign if they do), so if they are putting the pressure on this may be down to lack of communication from the recruiter.

The result

You are pressured into accepting a role you don’t want; you react against the pressure and end up rejecting an offer you should have taken; fall out with the employer. 

You receive an offer which you are unsure about but your recruiter spends a lot of time trying to convince you to take it, spending a lot of time focusing on the negatives of what happens if you don’t take it.

Candidates often think that because recruiters clients are paying their fees then they are being paid to convince you to take a job. You could be forgiven for drawing this conclusion but it couldn’t be further from the truth. Whilst many recruiters should be good sales people and might be capable of convincing candidates to take roles when they are unsure this is going to be in no-one’s interests if you end up leaving your job in 4 months because of exactly the reasons the recruiter has convinced you to ignore. In this situation the candidate loses, the client loses and the recruiter loses. No client wants to pay to hire a candidate who does not want to be there. 

A good recruiter will certainly test any hesitations you have and try to find information that may inform your decision but determining that a job is not the one for you is part of their role too, even though this can of course be frustrating.

The result

They manage to convince you to take a job you shouldn’t be taking; they pile on so much pressure it puts you off accepting the job you were hesitant about, when in fact there were good reasons that you should have considered it more seriously; they don’t facilitate the opportunity for you to take up your hesitations directly with the client - even if an interview process is defined as e.g. 2 stages a good recruiter will help you get a coffee or a call in the diary if there are concerns that it might be worthwhile discussing with the employer; you reject an offer but the recruiter hasn’t made the effort to really understand your concerns and therefore can’t manage the rejection with the employer appropriately, risking a negative impact being made. Rejecting an offer isn’t a sin, and if you have made a good impression (as you obviously will have done to have received the offer in the first place) then you should walk away from an offer having built a good relationship and leaving the door open to further discussions in the future should something more relevant come up.

Posted by: AJ Fox Compliance