For years, recruiters have asked candidates about their salary history, presumably as a way to match them with suitable job opportunities. However, at least some of those recruiting professionals had ulterior motives: by comparing a candidate’s pay and salary progression to that of their peers, they could identify those with weaker negotiating skills—and offer them lower starting salaries. (This is one reason why an increasing number of states and cities have considered laws forbidding the controversial practice.)
If that bit of information made you wonder about the modus operandi of some corporate and third-party recruiters, you’re not alone. Some of recruiting’s behind-the-scenes practices could end up having a huge impact on your job search and career. (For longtime readers, this article is an update of a previous story that continues to gather comments—this is clearly a hot-button issue.)
Prioritizing Candidates from Prestigious Companies
Your employment pedigree matters, especially to in-house recruiters at big-name companies, according to Shally Steckerl, founder of The Sourcing Institute.
To cope with hiring processes that have become steadily more lengthy and complex, some recruiters move candidates whose last job was at a marquee company to the top of the list when reviewing résumés. “They believe that the tech pros who have passed a rigorous interviewing process at a Fortune 100 company are more likely to pass their hiring process,” Steckerl said.
If you haven’t worked for a well-known company, ensure that your most recent job title exactly matches the title of the job you’re pursuing, he added. Another recommendation: include your zip code in the body of your résumé; some recruiters prioritize local candidates who have experience in the same position as the one offered.
What is ghosting? It’s when a recruiter cuts off communication with you during the hiring process in the hopes that you will take the hint and also disappear. Since the vast majority of employers provide little or no feedback to candidates who were not selected for a position, recruiters sometimes find it easier to just say nothing at all, especially if they want to end the relationship.
Not All Recruiters are Created Equal
Did you know that working through a small technical staffing firm may limit your ability to score plum contract assignments at enterprise-level companies? Over the past few years, many major tech firms have signed on with managed service providers (MSPs), whose tier-one providers may receive and fill up to 90 percent of all requisitions for contractors and temps.
Plus, you could receive a lower hourly rate if you work though a sub-contracted agency, as several firms divvy up that revenue.
Sending Unsolicited Résumés
Some recruiters try to break into a new company by scouting that firm’s job ads and sending unsolicited résumés directly to a hiring manager. The more honorable ones may scrub your name from the document or ask your permission, but here’s the catch: they don’t have a mandate from the company to work on the open position.
The tactic may backfire if the employer refuses to work with a recruiter who jumps the gun on a search. If you’re truly interested in a position, be sure to work through an approved recruiting firm.
Posting Fake Jobs to Fish for Résumés
Recruiters are often measured by service level agreements (SLAs) that require them to submit candidates to open requisitions within 24 hours. So in order to stay ahead of client hiring needs, staffing firms may post a generic job ad to gather candidate résumés. Alternatively, in-house recruiters may post fake jobs to assess the talent pool, or to add résumés to their database in case an employee makes an unexpected exit from a client firm.
They Stall for Time
In order to keep you interested, a recruiter may tell you that they haven’t heard back from the hiring manager—all while other candidates complete the interviewing process. Sometimes a recruiter knows that you weren’t selected, but they buy time to hunt for a more suitable position for you.
Some Agencies are Training Grounds
“Some recruiting firms are training grounds that like to [hire] recent grads en masse,” explained Ronjon Bhattacharya, director of Kendall Staffing. “A novice may not always have the skills to suggest moves that benefit your career, so always vet the background of the firm and the technical recruiter before you engage.”
Recruiters are Rewarded for Diversity Hires
To increase workforce diversity, more companies are asking recruiters to present candidate slates that include women and minorities, Steckerl noted. In fact, The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook rewards recruiters for diversity hires via an internal point system. The goals are not necessarily quotas, but they definitely encourage recruiters to source and submit minority candidates.