How to spot a cowboy recruiter

We all know that recruiters often get bad press. Every client and candidate we speak to has had a bad experience or got a recruitment horror story to tell! But is all the bad press justified? And how can you make sure the recruiter representing you has got your best interests at heart? After all you are entrusting them to help with your career choices.

Over the last 16 years of working in the recruitment industry I’ve worked with some great recruiters. Most of who were professional and did a good job I’m glad to say! However, the recruitment industry is highly competitive and fast moving and unfortunately some recruiters let ethics go out the window in an effort to win the race.

So, what are the tricks of a cowboy recruiter?

  • Downloading CVs from a job board and sending it to clients without your knowledge
  • Telling you you’ve been submitted for a job when you haven’t
  • Advertising non-existent jobs to get your CV
  • Misrepresenting you to clients by giving them false information
  • Pretending to be candidates to find out what jobs other recruiters are working on
  • Giving you the wrong information about the job
  • Lying in their feedback
  • Only keeping in touch when there’s something in it for them

Fortunately, cowboy recruiters are in the minority but it can be very frustrating for professionals as it can make candidates wary and think we’ve all got an ulterior motive when we’re just trying to do a good job.

What are the danger signs?

They’re being vague about a job

The likelihood is they don’t know the client very well or there is no job.

They won’t tell you who the client is

After reviewing your CV and having a conversation to find out if the opportunity is relevant they should be happy to tell you this. And let’s face it you can’t make an informed decision about if you want to work there without knowing!

The first you hear is when you’re called for an interview

We recently spoke to a candidate about a job who discovered he’d already been put forward by another agency when they called him to arrange an interview! He had no idea they’d submitted him. Chances are your CV has been downloaded from a job board and sent over without your knowledge.

You get to an interview to find it’s a completely different job

One of the biggest annoyances for candidates is turning up to an interview only to find out you are being interviewed for a totally different job to the one discussed with the recruitment agency. Or the hiring manager has the wrong information about you.

How can you make sure you’re working with a professional?

They’ll be a specialist in your field

A good recruiter will know their market inside out and be able to advise you on salaries, the skills that are in demand and what’s happening in the industry. Using a recruiter who’s a specialist rather than a generalist means they will be able to offer sound advice, have a great knowledge of their industry and they’ll have a good reputation built up over time.

They’ll be able to discuss jobs in detail

Not only the basic details of the job but about the bigger picture of why their client is recruiting and how the role fits into the organisation over the longer term.

They will ask a lot of questions

And listen to your answers! They will want to find out as much as possible about your career aspirations and personal requirements to make sure that if they put you forward for a job not only is it a good skills and salary match but is also a good culture fit and works with your own personal circumstances and longer term goals.

They will care about the long term

It’s not about a quick fix or pushing people into jobs that aren’t right. Success in recruitment comes from building up relationships with candidates and clients and acting with integrity at all times. This means delivering on promises and keeping you informed of the process.

At KDR our aim is to be the UK’s first choice Information Management recruiters without compromising our values.

What do you think? Do you think the bad press recruiters get is justified? If you have a story to tell good or bad I’d love to hear from you.

KDR Recruitment is the home of the best data, technology and analytics jobs. For more career advice follow KDR on LinkedIn.

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