What Recruiters Don’t Want You to Know

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.

Ghosting Candidates

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.

21 Responses to “What Recruiters Don’t Want You to Know”

  1. Some1

    There should be regulations in job posting by companies too. Many job don’t post salary or hourly componsation. It takes too much time to applying for jobs. Also many working candidates have to take time off for interview. All that trouble to only find out that the job one applied is worth noting!

    • Indemand

      Apples and oranges. When a company wants to sell a product (position) they display a price to the customer(applicant). If the customer doesn’t like the price then valuable time is not wasted going through the process only at the end to be rejected when the offer is made. Now when a customer(applicant) wants to purchase a product they DO NOT tell the seller what they have paid in the past for that product. It is irrelevant what was paid in the past i.e. supply and demand change over time hence the amount paid in the past may not reflect current conditions.
      The hiring department of the company is responsible for gathering market data and setting their prices accordingly not the customer.
      Apples and oranges but then you knew that already. Just had to vent your old school thoughts. I understand and have dealt with your type in the past…..by buying someone else’s product.

      • Michael

        What the hell are you talking about @Indemand? That’s not how this thing works. The Applicant is not your Customer, the Client is. That’s the way it’s always worked. So in the labor and services markets, the only question in my mind as a “applicant” or an Entrepreneur and a Business Owner is how much of a middle man am I willing to accept. Read: how much of a mark up does my marketing partner (read: Recruiter) want, or how much of a mark down am I willing to accept, agreeing on that Price, which is a Cost to the Client. But at the end of the day, what you are really agreeing to is a License to use my wares and my know how.

        • Whatever I made is no one’s business but mine, my previous employers and the IRS. I have no obligation to reveal it and many corporate policies prohibit employees from discussing their salary, so why should I? Because of an old fashioned idea that they are higher than me/I am subordinate? Life is too short to leave money on the table and put up with that kind of shit. That said, most recruiters suck today. It used to be a profession, but now it’s full of failed used car salesmen. At one time, the more a recruiter got for you, the better they did. Now it ain’t so. If they want a salary requirement, I’ll give them a ballpark and that would be just salary. Benefits are different.

  2. Michael W Powell

    Not least of which, your salary requirements, within what the market will allow, may be different than the next Jack or Jill. The company can, and does, shop around as well, if they’re doing their homework, as I am.

  3. The employer is the one asking for someone to come work for them. The compensation is relevant information for the candidate. What if the employer is only offering 1/2 of what other employers are offering? On the other hand, what the candidate has earned in the past is none of the employer’s business, and in fact giving that information to the employer gives them an unfair advantage.

  4. Harry

    Nowadays for contract positions you will get 6-8 ads from companies whose representatitives are calling show phone numbers from USA but they are actually calling from India. These ads will mostly be tied to positions where the so called Indian Cos like Infosys, TCS, HCL, Cognizant, Wipro etc are having lots of support staff but they are raising requirements for contingent staff augmentation. The idea being that these shadow outfits who exist because of the low ad charges that agencies like dice charge them. They forward the resumes to the companies above who then make a resume for one of their staff which is a ceiling for all the collected resumes and then it is shown as justification to continue to hire their frickin stupid employee. I am not even sure if the Cos that advertise on Dice have the licence to carry out recruitment for US jobs out of India and if the H1B companies have the licence to operate this kind of operation from India into USA allowing these companies to call them “our client” and show that they are in USA when the operation is being carried out from India.

  5. Nathan

    Some recruiters take your resume and act as if they have submitted it to the hiring managers but in reality they are eliminating you from the opportunity for different reasons. I am wondering if there’s a term for such crookednes.

  6. NEVER reveal your current salary. It is confidential. It is none of their business what someone else was paying for your services.

    Recruiters and hiring managers use the line “What is your current salary?” as a negotiating tactic to see if your underpaid compared to the market. They then present you as an inexpensive option.

    Here is what a job seeker can do to even the playing field.
    1. Do your research. Look at asking salaries on the job boards, go to Payscale.com Salary.com Glassdoor.com
    2. When you hear “What is your current salary?” ignore it and say “I’m looking for a package of around $—–” Practice sounding smooth with a friend.
    3. If they press then repeat the above.
    4. If you really need a job and don’t like confrontation then just make up a number. They never check. They can’t. What are they going to do? Call up your old boss and ask “How much were you paying Jane?”
    5. The only exception to this is if you are applying for a government job like the CIA or something. I understand that they can check.

    • Guess Whover

      The more reputable recruiters ask about your salary because don’t want to waste their time if your salary expectations are much higher than the position can pay.

      So, when anyone asks me what my salary is or how much I want to make, I simply ask what the pay range is for the position that I’m applying for. Surprisingly, most of them just tell me the range. This really is a time saver for me as well.

  7. The state of recruiting has hit the skids. It’s worse than used car salesmen. We have people that don’t bother to read résumés, don’t know geography because they’re all in India and don’t understand the industry and how it applies to what’s on the résumé. No, Phoenix isn’t Philadelphia, using SCCM doesn’t make me a SCCM administrator and if you read my résumé, you’d know I am not interested in contract, contract to hire or working “full time” for a vendor, yet that’s what you always call about. Also, I am not interested in satisfying your daily or weekly call quota. They all suck.

  8. Michael

    I tend to concur with this assessment. Mine has been a lot of the same experience. The only solution I’ve got for the blight at the moment is to try and get into business for myself and cut out the middle man altogether.

  9. I am an early middle-aged, “obsolete”, “unemployable” American programmer.

    Harry is spot on. And I’ll add a peculiar experience: I got a call from a thick-accented Hindi cruiter about a gig, and got set up with a phone interview with the client staff (an American), which seemed to go fairly well. After the interview, the cruiter said I id not get the job because I only had experience in version 8.2 where as the client specified experience in 8.3, even though I clearly stated on my resume that I had experience on 8.2. It’s a racket.

    • Seriously? The company was being unrealistic in thinking that someone who is only one point release behind the version they’re using was unqualified to work in that position. The recruiter should have been able to go to bat for you when they got that feedback from the company. Inexperienced interviewer? Inexperienced recruiter? Probably both.

      And what’s up with Dice’s web site. Do you realize how difficult it is to post a reply when you render text as almost-white-on-white? Users shouldn’t have to highlight text in their browser in order to see what they’ve just typed. Horrible, horrible user interface.

      • Michael

        In so many cases I can cite for you, recruiters these days are spineless, just like every other facet of PC “culture” today. Rare indeed is the recruiter who would actually “go to bat” for you. I guess business must be that good, that’s all I can say. So much so, at least one of my secondary business goals is to see these scoundrels put out of business.

  10. Good Ole Boy From Texas

    The indian parade into recruiting has tanked us guys and gals.

    Not sure what to do about it?

    Like all the rest of us occasionally they can offer such a sweet deal.
    Just do not call them and try to speak with them..Ut Oh!!!!

    Once upon a time in USA employment companies knew their clients, their needs and filled positions with folks they knew were on target with skills.

    It is a total crap shoot now and I am not a gambler.

  11. Robert Russell

    I have been in the IT world for over 22 years. When I meet a young person who is thinking about pursuing a career in IT, I urge them to choose something with far more stability. IT has, in short, become a big joke. From companies who treat contractors bad to being out right dishonest to a science. Has IT been good? It was long ago however, most companies have champagne dreams and a 6 pack of beer budget. They tend to trash anyone who cannot develop a completely automated, bug free, self supporting enterprise application in an extremely stupidly short time line. Anyone could take a step back and look at the quality of their full time employees which are typically college educated clones with little or no real skill set.

  12. Servium 06

    Very frustrating indeed. I have been working in the Salesforce environment for 18 years and doing contracting. I no longer take calls or inquiries from India recruiters. No honesty or integrity. Especially if they are from NJ, VA and CA.