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Australia – Confessions of a former recruiter

15 November 2013

In an exposé a former recruiter, who previously worked at three different recruitment agencies, has spoken about what happens behind the closed doors of the cut throat industry, reports news.com.au.

The former recruiter, who chose not be reveal their identity, spoke openly about the tactics used by recruitment firms to secure commissions and hit targets.

According to the ex-recruiter: “You are just dollar signs. Often you know [the candidate] isn’t the best person for the job and they’ll get into the role and quit in two weeks. But all you care about is invoicing the client before they do. It’s an awful lot of résumé flicking and luck. Sometimes you find other recruiters represent the same candidate. If you find out the other recruiter has put them forward, you try to convince [the client] that they’re your candidate, otherwise [the other recruitment firm] get the AUD 20,000 (USD 18,655).” 

“It’s hard because sometimes I’ve had four or five jobs on the go and you have 500 messages. Often there is no way to get through them all so you’re just deleting them. It’s awful, I used to feel sorry for them. Some people are so lovely and you’re lying to their face.”

Recruitment can prove to be lucrative when the roles being filled have higher salaries. Commission according to the ex-recruiter is anywhere from between 15% and 30% of the offered salary. “It’s a lot of money for what is sometimes just résumé flicking… you’re thinking ‘Oh my god I just billed AUD 15,000 (USD 13,995) [for] this candidate I’ve never met who happened to email me.”

One of the tactics used to source recruitment opportunities is to create fake job advertisements, said the ex-recruiter. This involves creating a fake job advertisement online to lure candidates. When jobseekers contact the recruiter with regard to the fake job, the recruiter uses the opportunity to find out where else the candidate has been looking for work. In doing so, the recruiter can identify companies not currently represented by the recruitment firm who are seeking employees.

“You’d get résumés, call up candidates and say: ‘You’ve got good experience’. What you’re trying to do is work out where they’re going for interviews so you can ring up that company and say: ‘Oh I heard you’re looking for staff’. Then you pitch other candidates,” the ex-recruiter revealed.

The fake position is never filled and the people that applied are none the wiser.

Another method of sourcing information from candidates is to find out more information about their current workplace. “You try and find out who their managers are, so that you can call them a week later and say: ‘Oh I heard you’re the IT manager… here’s my [details]’. A lot of the time you’re just trying to get information out of the candidates about the place. They might dish the dirt on ‘five people are leaving’, and that’s great because that’s five roles you can fill.”

The ex-recruiter also advised temporary workers to challenge their recruiter when they advise that a company can only pay ‘so much’. “Let’s say you have a temp candidate that wants AUD 50 (USD 46.65) an hour. The client will often say we’re going to pay you AUD 80 (USD 74.63), so they pay us and we pay the candidate. So we say ‘fair enough’ and you get your candidate in.”

“The candidate knows they’re worth AUD 50 an hour but you say to them: ‘Oh this client in on a really tight budget’. You don’t tell them who the client is at this point. You say: ‘Look, they can only afford AUD 25 (USD 23.32) or AUD 30 (USD 27.99)’; whereas you could pay them AUD 40 (USD 37.31) and still make a profit margin,” the ex-recruiter advised.

Shockingly, the former recruiter also revealed: “Another thing we did is really screw down temps, particularly if they’re new. You have a lot of people that come from overseas, so they wouldn’t know much about the market so you would try and hook them in on a six-month contract where they were being grossly underpaid.”

“A lot of the time people are desperate… you can just say whatever you want and the candidate will often take it, and you think: ‘Wow, I’m going to make commission this month.”

Having now left the recruitment field and retrained in another career, the former recruitment consultant has one piece of advice for job seekers: “I always say don’t go to recruiters, go direct to the company. They’ve got an internal recruitment team and they don’t care about making budget. They care about filling the role. I always tell people to stuff recruiters unless they can prove to you they’ve got [an] ongoing relationship with [the] company.” 


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Alan Shave 11/15/2013 09:58 am

Is this a serious article? What exactly does it achieve?

What they've done is found the most ridiculous/biased individual and given him airtime. There is no balance to this article whatsoever, e.g. "spoke openly about the tactics used by recruitment firms" - I can only assume you mean by SOME firms/individuals. Unfortunately this is the trash that media outlets want to report and it undoes so much of the hard work done by real recruitment professionals.

I'm sure that some of these tactics go on out there, but this guy/girl seems to have listed every negative perception about recruitment that exists.

How they can justify publishing an article like this where the individual won't even publish their identity? If it's true then why are they scared to let people know who they are and who they worked for? Hiding behind anonymity and sensationalism isn't going to improve the image of the industry or change the behaviour of the cowboys.

I’d suggest that there is a reason why this individual is a ‘former’ recruiter.

Oh and some advice… There are times that going direct to an employer is a good idea. Arguably there are also a lot of situations where a good recruiter can give you an invaluable understanding/appreciation of the market, before recommending particular employers based on your experience & career motivations.

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