In the May 14, 2019 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter some readers get fed up with headhunters who waste their time.


headhuntersMy friends and I are successful IT (information technology) types and receive calls about positions from headhunters often. We are all experiencing the following:

  1. The initial salary range presented is higher than what the employer discusses or offers and thus, everyone’s time is wasted. The recruiter then weasels out of the lie.
  2. The headhunter calls with a “hot” opportunity, gives us the details, finds out if we’re interested and then tells us that interviews will be conducted very soon. We never hear from the headhunter about that particular position after that and our phone calls go unanswered, until another opportunity comes up and the process starts all over again.
  3. The headhunter asks if we will interview but he doesn’t know any specifics about the job, like what the company specializes in or what technologies they use.

Are these really legitimate positions? Why don’t headhunters take the time to research the position in order to convince the candidate to pursue the opportunity? Why don’t they return our calls or explain what happened to the “hot” position? Do they really think we will recommend potential candidates when they are so unreliable and inconsistent with their stories? (We are called upon to refer candidates to fit entry level and lateral positions.)

What’s going on? We don’t have time to waste talking about positions that don’t exist, or to interview for positions not in our specified salary range. Many thanks for your input!

Nick’s Reply

Most “headhunters” are no better than most personnel jockeys. They’re ignorant of their own business, they have no clear business goals (other than to make money), they don’t understand the jobs they’re trying to fill, their strategy is to “dial for dollars,” and they lose their credibility quickly.

The problems with headhunters

You must understand two things.

First, the cost of entry into the headhunting business is so low that anyone (and I mean anyone) can give it a shot. All it takes is a cell phone and a free LinkedIn account.

Second, turnover in most of these firms is very high because they do next to nothing to train new headhunters (I shiver to even call them that) properly. The result: the experiences you describe.

You hit the nail on the head. Refuse to have your time wasted.

Play hardball

The solution is to grill the headhunter. Play hardball.

Get references: Ask to talk with three people in your field that the headhunter has placed and three managers that have hired the headhunter’s candidates.

Issue a warning: Assuming you get those names, tell the headhunter that if she doesn’t call you back when she says she will, her name will be mud among your associates.

Know headhunters from telemarketers

Fast-buck artists who talk a good line, make little sense, and don’t keep promises aren’t headhunters. They’re telemarketers playing long odds to get a fee every now and then. Most of them don’t know the first thing about dealing with the professional community they recruit in. If they sound like they don’t know anything about your work, it’s because they don’t. Heck, most don’t even recruit — they copy and paste keywords, job descriptions and resumes.

Make them earn their money.

(To any “headhunters” reading this, if this describes you, don’t send me your complaints. You get no sympathy from me for treating candidates like this.)

Good headhunters

Should I give a headhunter my references?

If a headhunter presses you too soon for the names of references, politely take control of the discussion.

How to say it: “I think you’ll enjoy talking with my references — have you already talked with people who know my work? If not, then first we need to talk about the position you’re working on. If you decide I’m a viable candidate, and if I decide I want to pursue it, then we can talk about my references. So, tell me more about the position. Who is the manager?”

From How To Work With Headhunters, p. 84

Good headhunters are few and far between. Remember my advice to ask for references? The “headhunter” who contacts you is very unlikely to give you any because he doesn’t have any. That’s the first sign you’re going to waste your time.

  • Good headhunters will share references.
  • Because they circulate in your professional community, they probably know people whose names you will recognize.
  • They will treat you with respect, and they will do what they say they’re going to do.
  • They will also instantly reveal that they know a lot about the work you do.
  • They will ask intelligent questions, and they can answer yours.

It really is that simple. For a good primer about headhunters, please read Joe Borer’s How to Judge a Headhunter. Joe is a good headhunter, but please don’t try to contact him. Good headhunters don’t field unsolicited calls from job seekers. (See Headhunters find people, not jobs.)

Be your own headhunter

The purpose of Ask The Headhunter is to teach you how to be your own headhunter — even when you’re not actively seeking a job. Cut out the middle man when necessary. But when you meet a good headhunter, you’ll know it – they’re worth your patience and your attention, because they’ll treat you with respect and negotiate a deal like you never could on your own.

I usually rant about personnel jockeys and career counselors and coaches. Did I ever tell you the one about the inept headhunter…?

How do you judge headhunters? Give us three signs that quickly tell you who’s for real and who’s going to waste your time. Let’s compile a list everyone can use.

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  1. I would like to have the community’s opinions on the following LinkedIn message exchange with a recruiter:

    “Dear Karsten,

    I hope that you are well.

    I wanted to get in touch with you to see if you might be interested in a Senior Geoscientist role with Oil Company X?

    The key part of the role would involve managing the seismic database, risking prospects, mapping and basin modelling.

    This would be a permanent position focusing on North Sea assets and Oil Company X would be offering a very competitive remuneration.

    I am enclosing available job description and would be very happy to have an exploratory chat with you should this be of interest.

    Look forward to hearing from you.

    Kind regards,

    My reply:
    “Hi Recruiter,

    I am aware of this job opening. It has been publicly advertised: (Link to the ad on, the main Norwegian job site) As far as I can see, your job description is simply scraped off

    I have contacts there, so if I wanted to apply, I would do so directly. Sorry, but you or another recruiter would in this case be a completely redundant middle man.

    Furthermore, I know that Oil Company X is a bureaucratic nightmare, so I would not want to work there.


    Recruiter’s reply:

    “Hi Karsten,

    Thank you for the reply.

    Your reply back to me is at best very ignorant and at worst quite rude. I wonder if you ever worked internationally and truly understand what myself and my colleagues do.

    In any case have a good rest of the day.


    My reply:

    While I have not worked internationally, I have 11 years of experience from the oil industry. I have frequently been contacted by (mostly British) recruiters, who pretend to work on behalf of oil companies, but who really just want to throw in a CV and hope it sticks. In one case, recruiters from at least four different recruitment agencies contacted me for the same position, in a case where I know that the company had not hired any recruiters.

    This experience is not unique to me. Keep in mind that the Norwegian oil industry is a fairly well connected community, so words get around. So, no, I am not ignorant of how recruiters work, I talk from experience.

    I have also at occasions been contacted for positions that were not advertised publicly, or where the recruiter worked in parallel with a public advertisement, but in all these cases, the recruiters provided documentation that they were on assignment for the company.

    If you actually are on assignment for Oil Company X, I apologize for my first reaction, but you know the story of the boy who cried wolf….?

    I also know that there are some recruiters who work to convince passive candidates to apply for positions, which they would otherwise not have considered. After all, you cannot read my mind and know what I want to apply for or not. Again, if this was your intent, apologies for my fist reaction, but unfortunately it was shaped by my experience with recruiters in general.


    Never got any reply. May be he though I was too rude, or may be he was busy cold calling. Was I too rude?

    • In my opinion, you were the model of politeness, considering what you caught the recruiter doing. His defensive, insulting reply says you were right on all counts.

      You were kind in your response, too. I’d have told him I planned to share his name and oh-so-professional reply among all my colleagues, domestic and international, so they’d know to look out for that particular recruiter.

      • Not only was the recruiter’s response defensive and insulting, but it was short on any detail. That is, of course common when the recruiter isn’t actually connected directly to the opportunity.

      • I just though may be “As far as I can see, your job description is simply scraped off ” was a bit to direct… otherwise, I think I was fairly direct, but not too rude.

        • Karsten, never apologize. You were right on.

    • You were way too nice to the jerk. I’d have tracked down the name of the company owner/president and snail mailed a letter to them about how I was treated (“There is a rot in the employment/recruitment landscape, and you illustrated this rot perfectly”) and then posted the story on my webpage with a link on the front page entitled “My recent experience with X Recruitment Co”) AND I’d publish the same on StinkedIn (although the latter would probably be deleted)…

      • Really? You’d spend that much time and energy putting together and publishing, for the whole world to see, a negative and vindictive picture of yourself? I don’t really believe you’d do that, but if you did (what’s on the Internet is on the Internet forever) you should be prepared for the possibility that your future job prospects (and the chances of you ever being approached by a legitimate recruiter again) are slim to none.

        • I’m in the same job market as Sighmaster. I understand where she’s coming from. My phone has been ringing daily for the past 3 months, from 8 AM to 6 PM by “legitimate” recruiters in the area. What have these “legitimate” recruiters provided? Absolutely nothing. Zip. Nada.

          I’m more likely to run into a Unicorn before I find a legitimate recruiter in this region. These recruiters are nothing more than salesmen, soon to be fired for lack of production, throwing stuff against the wall in the hope that something sticks for a 25 to 30 percent commission.

          A couple of letters to the CEOs who have HR departments employing these clowns wouldn’t be a bad thing.

          • I’d put them in the same category as those Nigerian prince email scams from twenty years ago. If I never heard from another of these so-called recruiters I’d consider myself blessed.

            I realized that searching for work in this job market was akin to being in an abusive relationship, the only way to end the abuse is to walk away from the relationship, which is what I did (I now get my paycheck from China teaching English online). Screw anybody who lectures me on how I or anyone should accept the abuse graciously (because look how great that’s been working out for everyone, SMH).

        • Let me give you an example of a legitimate recruiter in our region of the country:

          A large corporation…. Let’s call ‘em “Esob…” is looking for employees for a new division. Esob puts out a “cattle call” to their approved contracting firms looking for employees with skills in the medical industry. Esob has these openings listed on their employment website.

          Due to a mistake by one recruiter, I have Esob’s un-redacted “cattle call” e-mail in my hands. I already have an idea what can and cannot be done. I even have names of employees recently hired. I can check out their skills on LinkedIn.

          The calls come flooding in for “contract to hire.” None of them can do a direct placement on contingency because Esob won’t pay them for direct placement. Because I have Esob’s cattle call in my hands, I let one of the nationwide staffing firms submit me, with 2 conditions:

          I need to see in writing what “contract to hire” means.

          I need to work remote during January & February. Terms can be flexible.

          It’s been a week and a half since I told the firm to submit me. Haven’t heard a thing. Total silence.

          This is real example. This nonsense goes on in our region everyday. After a few months or even years of this crap, do you wonder why someone wants to write the CEO?

          • Just out of curiosity … if Esob has the job posted on their website, if you have some / many details about the job, and if you have the names of several employees who presumably you could contact to scope out the job … why would you even think of applying through a recruiter?

            • If you were one of the contacts on that cattle call e-mail, would you want me contacting you out of the blue? Probably not.

              For this region, I’ve seen job openings posted for over 4 years. If you’ve been burned enough times, you take any employer-listed job opening with a boulder of salt. I’ve been burned enough times that I was willing to listen to contract-to-hire… on this occasion.

              One more thing… I can’t guarantee that one of the recruiters hasn’t already submitted my resumé. I’ve had that happen as well.

    • You handled it with tact.

      I’ve been in the same situation where I knew the manager at the company that had the job spec – and was harassed by several agencies.

      If I really wanted the job, I would have reached out to the manager myself.

    • “I wonder if you ever worked internationally and truly understand what myself and my colleagues do.”

      Well, we know they don’t attend English classes. “myself and my colleagues”???

      In any case, the recruiter’s response says it all: this is no recruiter.

      • In all fairness, English was probably not his native language. That was the least problem… ;)

    • @Karsten: You were the model of politeness! The fact that he got so defensive after you called his b.s. proves that he’s probably dialing for dollars, hoping that someone won’t notice, won’t care, and that something, anything will stick so he can get his fee.

      I don’t think going to his boss would do any good; if he’s that rude, that’s the culture. They’re not real headhunters, otherwise they’d treat you with more respect. If he’s that ignorant of the small community in your industry, then he’s not an insider. I would hope an insider would have more sense.

      • @MaryBeth

        I agree that it is likely a cultural problem at the company.

        I know of many agencies where the “recruiters”/”headhunters” have to hit metrics – i.e. number of calls per day, emails sent, etc.

        The boss won’t care because his employee was “doing his job” and @Karsten was just a number to them.

    • I should probably point out that this recruiter was from a British company. Here in Norway, we have not been plagued with Indian phone(y)recruiters, but there seems to be a zillion British recruiters, who all are “specialised on the oil and gas industry, providing premium services to provide the best candidates” – or some BS like that.
      This one came from a company called Petroplan.

  2. My bad signs:
    – Generic message about a position that already is advertised, with the job description the same as in the ad (in a word document with the company logo pasted in).
    – “Competitive remuneration package” – may be or may mot be true.
    – If they call; speaking fast from a crib sheet, sometimes so fast that I cannot even get their name.

    My good signs:
    – They will tell the name of the company without hesitation.
    – I always ask for a written confirmation that they are on assignment, or for a confirmation from a manager at the company itself. Good sign if I get it.
    – They are specific about the role.

  3. I suspect many of these so-called “head hunters” are Indians calling from outbound call centers in India who work what is called the Recruiting Process Outsourcing industry. They are notorious for wasting peoples time just the way you describe.

    • Listen to them tell me I am a “perfect fit” ;-)

    • While I irregularly get calls with business proposals from “my name is Justin and I call from London” with a very heavy Indian accent, it seems that most of the cold calling recruiters for the oil industry here in NW Europe are British. Often speaking so fast from a crib sheet that the nasal British accent even hides their name.

    • Just change the job to marketing program management or digital writing and the calls are exactly the same as Rob’s. Some employers like BD and Siemens are notorious for flinging out contract positions to 10 or more India based recruiters who all call and email at once. So it’s a race among them, usually on a Friday, to get in candidates to their system before company HR closes it. All the rates are below market and 9 hours onsite for 8 hours pay.

      • Interesting, isn’t it, how big-name companies are able to mitigate legal liability by off-loading recruiting, advertising, lying and hiring to third-party companies that are often difficult if not impossible to track down and identify?

        Howzzat play with their PR departments?

        • Ignorance is bliss? When you see this happen, it’s a leading indicator of how they treat employees. Both companies are well known in healthcare as on the lower scale.

      • PPG does this, too. I keep seeing the same job(s) for the same crappy pay promoted by a constantly changing list of “recruiting” companies.

    • I dealt with one of these guys. After I was laid off unexpectedly from a long term position I took unemployment benefits to help keep a roof over my head. In my state this meant that I had to amke at least 3 valid job search contacts each week and supply contact info on request. After several months of searching, an outside recruiter with a South Asian accent and a local area code called me about a contract to hire spot with name company in the health insurance industry. The job description provided was point for point within my experience and the duties ranged from routine admin tasks usual with that kind of work all the way to substantial policy-making activities. The catch was that the job was about 40 miles on the other side of DC from where I live. It would be the commute from hell but I might be willing to relocate if the job turned permanent. Since I had yet to make my three contacts that week, I agreed to an interview at the company.

      I drove there and was interviewed halfheartedly by the manager. I learned that the duties for the job consisted only of proofreading insurance policy set-ups on their system for 8+ hours daily The pay was way less than the figure I gave to the recruiter and, per the manager, the position would remain on a contract basis probably forever. When the interview ended, I simply thanked the manger and left.

      There was no way on this earth I would take this job but, in my state, you lose unemployment if you decline an offer. I called the recruiter about 10 minutes later to preemptively withdraw from consideration on the grounds of the nearly impossible commute before any possibility of an offer being extended. He was angry and called me back an hour later to say that they wanted to hire me. I ignored his calls after that and prayed that this would not be the one contact that the unemployment folks would check. After that, I tried to avoid these kinds of recruiters and did not engage on a job with an unreasonable commute.

  4. As the costs to set up your own recruiter in a box goes down, I think these issues will persist. My favorite are the ones who want for me to drop everything to apply to a position that pays less than what I am earning now and has fewer benefits. Gee let me jump on that opportunity! If you read my resume, you would see that I am presently employed.

    As others have mentioned every once in a while I will get a poorly constructed “job opportunity” from people who apparently don’t have the skills to make it in the wonderful world of sending out regular spam emails.

  5. Three signs of trouble:
    1. They can’t or won’t tell me how they got my name.
    2. They won’t tell me the salary range, other than “it’s competitive.”
    3. They don’t know the name of the company I work for now. (I’m a contractor.)

    Bonus sign of trouble: They have no clue what I do. For contractual reasons, I have three different titles, none of which describe my actual responsibilities. What one of the titles DOES have is the word “engineer,” which I most definitely am not. This seems to confuse the war-dialing recruiters. ;-)

    • I was once called by a recruiter who said he had me recommended for a development geologist position (error 1) with a consultancy (error 2) in the UK (error 3). I told him plainly that if he had even bothered to just spend three minutes on my LinkedIn profile he would have seen that I left a consultancy three months ago (at that time), my expertise is exploration and I have no intention of moving abroad now.

      I told him straight out that if he did not bother to even spend five minutes googling the candidate, he should not call. He said that he was in a hurry, and had not had the time. Yeah, right, better to waste time by calling irrelevant candidates?

  6. Nick,

    Thanks as always for your sage wisdom.

    Given your comment about the low cost of entry in the field and the fact that so many so-called recruiters’ pitches to candidates seem to border on common-law fraud, I’d be curious about your take on the notion of formal licensing for the headhunting industry.

    It strikes me as somewhat odd that in fielding inquiries from recruiters, the onus is always on the job hunter himself/herself to ferret out hacks and amateurs. Having been of the receiving end of many of these types of calls/e-mails over the years, my B.S. detector immediately gets switched on out of pure habit.

    At least in the U.S. financial services industry, consumers have some protections afforded them in the form of regulatory bodies such as the SEC, CFPB and FINRA. Heck, even real estate agents and electricians need to be licensed. Of course, these safeguards certainly aren’t fool-proof, but they do thwart a lot of unlawful, dangerous and predatory conduct. At the very least, they provide means for redress and sanctions.

    Membership in or accreditation by a professional association might not be sufficient to guarantee minimum standards of conduct in recruiting. Hence, would government regulation of the headhunting industry – either at the state or federal level – impose unnecessary hurdles or restrictions? Or is the current ‘caveat emptor’ warning sufficient enough to protect job hunters against fraud? With the U.S. unemployment rate currently at a 50-year low, it would seem that there’s never been a better time to become a telemarketer in the staffing business.


    • @Garp: Good question. I can’t report definitively because I haven’t researched this, but many states have “employment agency” regulations, often managed out of the state’s department of consumer affairs. They seem to be pretty lax and enforcement weak.

      You make a good analogy to SEC and FINRA. Isn’t your job as valuable as your investments? Why isn’t there comparable regulation?

      Accreditations are worthless unless the accrediting organization is really powerful.

  7. I always recommend if you are contacted for a particular role by a recruiter/headhunter to listen to their ‘pitch’ then ask them one question: “how many people have you, not your firm, placed with this hiring manager?” and go from there. You never know which ‘agents’ are real and that is their business by the way, to protect their end client’s confidentiality. Noticed I used ‘agent’ in place of ‘recruiter/headhunter’. I think a good recruiter/headhunter is an agent for a hiring authority plain and simple and sometimes they can help you with your career. Also, politely let the person know that your references are for a formal offer only, keep your references protected.

  8. When I get emails from those kind of “recruiters”, I simply send them a link to Nick’s website and tell them to get a clue.

  9. Nick, I hesitate as well to lump “Dialing For Dollars Recruiters” in with legitimate headhunters.

    However, some warning signs I adhere to:

    1. “I have an urgent requirement …”

    2. Less than 12 month duration.

    3. “We are the fastest growing staffing company in North America and the only firm of its kind that specializes in recruitment services.”

    4. “We are the sole agency that does recruitment for XYZ Technologies, Inc., leveraging our extensive network and resources. XYZ has a diverse portfolio of various Information Technology & General Staffing Services contracts with the United States Government and Private Sector Agencies.”

    5. Phone call from a “recruiter” who is only tangentially aware of the fact that English exists as a spoken language.

    6. “We see that you are a (position I held some 15 years ago).

    • I forgot:

      7. “I think you would be a perfect fit for this opportunity!” But then wants you to completely re-write your resume for the position, including some arcane buzzword at each and every paragraph.


      Professional Tagger, Acme Public Art
      – Skills Shade Tatoos

      Wall painter, Indoor Decor and More!
      – Skills Shade Tatoos

      Cashier, Piggley Wiggley
      – Skills Shade Tatoos

      (You get the picture.)

    • @L.T.: I find that legit headhunters enjoy articles like this and send them to their clients.

  10. Red flags:
    * Focuses on a keyword instead of how the whole fits together to describe your current position.
    * Ignores available information, soliciting on behalf of a contract position, in another industry.
    * Attempts to lure conversation without providing a solid job description to justify interest. “I’d like to talk with you more about this. When is a good time to reach you?”

    It sounds like it’s necessary these days to ask a recruiter if they’ve been retained by the employer.

    Recruiting seems similar to the real estate industry. Licensed real estate agents send out an introductory mailer postcard with properties listed. They vanish and some other unknown sends a mailer a few months later, or leaves a refrigerator calendar on the front mat. (Churn is good business for the real estate licensing schools.) So too with recruiters. You almost never hear from the same one twice. Their LinkedIn photos all look like they gave up a career in modeling to work the trenches of talent acquisition.

  11. @Phil

    “Their LinkedIn photos all look like they gave up a career in modeling to work the trenches of talent acquisition.”

    What’s worse is when such people are working for “legitimate” recruiting firms that ARE under contract with a client that has a decent looking position to fill that you want to apply for. Biff or Buffy, who have pretty much no experience in anything, then become the gatekeeper. Good luck with that when the firm resembles a sorority house, as at LaSalle Partners in Chicago.

    At least when you’re contacted by a bogus “recruiter” out of the blue, it’s merely a nuisance.

    • @Bill Freeto Who ever thought of recruiting as a skill one would “age out” of? It makes me wonder what happens to these hopefuls. To what career do they go when they’re no longer cast as the romantic lead? Yoga instructor? Aromatics home party distributor? Person who buys their own drinks? A flat organization with a large pool of young talent should warn them their employer has no career path.

      • Aluminum siding sales seems the natural career path.

  12. @Nick:

    It seems to me that the best thing to do is for a job hunter to find a recruiter that they like and who specializes in a person’s field. Word of mouth works great. How would I do this?

    I like my current job but the industry my company is a part of is in flux. I find it’s best to look for a job when things are going well.

    • @Kevin: Best way to find a good headhunter is to talk to their satisfied clients – both employers and job seekers. Talk to people you respect at good companies, managers and employees. Get introduced to the hh’s they respect. Just don’t expect those hh’s to find you a job. It’s not what they do. Learn to offer them good referrals. Then they’ll stay in touch, and when an assignment comes along that may be right for you, you may get a call. Just remember that only a tiny % of jobs are filled by headhunters.


  13. i recall one incident from a company, cannot recall who, but as I was using Indeed at the time, it was possible they could have been a staffing agency as I didn’t know what was satffing and what wasn’t until I found a filter on Indeed one day.

    Anyway, I applied for what I thought was a tech company itself (and it may have been, I applied for so many cannot recall what was what, but the way they acted, I think they were a recruiter), and we set up a phone interview and some of the way in, they said that they didn’t think I’d be a good fit. Granted, i’d contacted them first, but apparently they didn’t read my resuume before setting up the interview and so were shocked when I didn’t have experience in everything (I told them in the resume and possibly in the application, if they asekd it, cannot recall, what I had learned) and some companies list a ton of stuff where you might meet 70-80% of the stuff and being a new grad, I decided to go for it.

    Well, some way into the consersation, they sudddenly said “I’m sorry, i guess you aren’t a good fit after all.” No, they didn’t so it that bluntly or rudely and I think it was kind enough, but still, that ended the conversation. After the call ended, the first thing that crossed my mind was “you clearly didn’t read my resume”.

    Another thing I applied for, myself, and I think they too were a recruiter, and it was for a PHP something and when I got the phone interview set up, they said “No, we don’t have the PHP thing anymore but we do have this other thing.” and I said “Hey, I applied for this as what was advertised in the job ad.” and we argued a bit and I soon hung up, thinking they’d baited and switched me.

    As for the other kind of recruiters that contact you first, I only think I once bothered to try one of those, as it seemed worth the try, but I never heard back from them (surprise, surprise).

  14. Unfortunately, I keep getting contacted either via email or the most frustrating, time & cost wasting- on MY CELL! (obtained from job boards that have my Resume?) Yes, they are all seem to be’Indian’ and offer only contract positions with very low salaries-NOT what I am looking for! How do I STOP them? I keep asking them to remove me from whatever database they are working from. VERY ANNOYING!

    I also get contacted from Agency recruiters as a possible candidate for a position they are seeking to fill-“Am I interested?” Sometimes, I come in for an interview with them…then NOTHING. No follow up. Later, I may get a call from them about another opportunity…again- No follow up. It’s always a chaotic/rushed scenario to fill this position.

    If they do mention a company, I research and find that there is not even a position open (online).

    It’s as if they just added me to their roster of potential candidates for a potential position… What sort of ‘game’ is this?

    I KNOW I am a good candidate and can secure a commission for them as I have in the past; but, this is just ridiculous!

  15. @Nick: Please check your website email. I’m sending you something from LinkedIn that you might like.

  16. Hi Nick,
    here’s another offering from the ‘archive of stupdity’ that constitutes recruiters. A recruiter e-mails me about a job – lists the description etc all of which is mostly irrelevant to my experience. He adds this line in his e-mail:

    “If this role isn’t suitable, I apologise. My search is very much based on CV keywords so some profiles will come through that aren’t as suitable as I would hope.”


    1) the recruiter begins by stating he has a role he thinks I would be suitable for
    2) he then acknowledges he hasn’t actually read by cv
    3) he then is surprised that this method isn’t quite as successful as he would like

    Er – no, a ‘techique’ of not reading a cv is always not going to be ‘quite as successful’ – in what way does any recruiter think contacting someone and not reading their cv yields accurate or successful recruiter.

    And this recruiter is ‘Head of Account Delivery’ for a recruitment firm. Does his client know that his technique is not to bother reading cvs?

    This sums up the garbage standard of recruiters. I don’t think actually this is to do with ‘too many candidates’ but quite simply that recruiters and their equally useless kith and kin in HR have become so lazy that they cannot bothered to study or read information. You could have 3 applicants for a job and HR/recruiter would still use keyword search or ATS.

    We all know that recruitment doesn’t attract the brightest but is mediocrity of this nature something companies who use external recruitment firms really so unaware of?

    • What would be more prudent would be to use a search algorithm as a “first pass”. Then it’s time to have human beings actually read the resumes. If there are too many to read, go back and fix the algorithm.

      As an engineer I think automation is great, but please keep people in the equation. For example, my car recently got totaled. It happens that my insurance company has a most excellent web site and also most excellent help over the phone and you can get people quickly.

      At the accident scene I went into my insurance company’s app on my phone to start a claim. I answered a few questions after which I was directed to call them. Injuries were minor, by the way.

      My whole point is let computers do what computers are good at (such as searching through data) and let people do what human beings are good at (thinking creatively and intuitively).

    • @Nick: You could “cooperate.” Get an interview scheduled for the job so you can find out who the employer is. Skip the interview, but look up the chairman if the board for the employer. Send all your documentation. “Do you have any idea how stupid your company looks to the professional community you’re trying to recruit from, and to your investors and customers? Do you enjoy blowing company money on the equivalent of wet spaghetti stuck to a wall as your recruiting strategy?”

      My guess is the “recruiter” ‘fessed up because he’s being paid peanuts to push a button.

  17. I have a personal policy “NO HEADHUNTERS OR RECRUITERS,PERIOD”!!
    In my personal experience, the few times I’ve used headhunters and recruiters, it has been talking a good game, but no results. I’ve had headhunters call me before with the “this is the greatest opportunity in the world” story, only to find out they have been web surfing, and are just fishing for candidates to submit to the perspective employer. I call that a scam, and unethical, in my book!

  18. As a veteran IT guy working in the industry for over 25 years, I’ve experienced every scenario listed in this thread. There are several distinctions with Recruiter roles and associations that are worth highlighting.

    There’s three main categories of Recruitment professionals.

    1. Corporate recruiters (10%)
    2. Retained Search recruiters (5%)
    3. Sole Proprietor Recruiters w/Key Accounts (5)%
    4. Staff Augmentation / Contract recruiters. (80%)

    In general, you will never hear from 1, 2 or 3 unless you have a marquee resume, tons of relative experience, or an inside contact.

    That means that most of the contacts are being generated by 4, which are your worst possible routes to getting meaningful employment.

    1-3 will have details that will enhance your knowledge beyond the available job posting. What does the hiring manager really desire, what’s the company culture and work ethic like, why is the role available, what’s the manager like, etc. These are the details that you need to have to properly evaluate an opportunity. The really good ones will also understand the how your role is an asset to the hiring manager, and give you tips on what you might listen for or focus on. they will coach you about the different personalities that will be interviewing you, and what those people are like, etc. They will also be able to tell you why you’re a great candidate for he position, and what strengths you would bring to the role. They might even tell you why the previous person failed. Sometimes they will provide you with feedback that is coming from the interview loops from other candidates.

    Don’t take this as gospel – I’ve met my share of terrible corporate recruiters as well, but in general, they may have quotas and stats to make, but they’re much more connected to the organization and decision makers than #4.

    4 won’t be able to give you any of those details. They exhibit all of the traits that have been described. They waste your time, market roles that aren’t relevant, and think keyword searching and e-mail blasts are recruitment.

    ALL of these people are hamstrung by the proliferation of ATS’s. Those tools have become a crutch. 95% of the applications that are submitted through a portal never see the light of day. A huge percentage of those never even generate a response to the application.

    And companies wonder why they can’t seem to find good candidates?

    The answer is simple. They opened a flood gate with online submissions. No barrier to apply.

    Then they decided to outsource or augment recruitment as ‘talent acquisition’. Those people are paid to generate submissions….and IF those submissions result in a Sale (hire), then the bonus round payments come through.

    The model is the same as the old Stockbroker model for the last 60 years where the person makes 300 calls a day, and get at least 10 submissions a day. Eventually the numbers will work in your favor and the activity will produce the desired result.

    Except Stockbrokers didn’t have e-mail, or to put their contacts through an ATS or VMS.

    So the model is broken, but as an industry, it still produces results based on pure supply/demand/numbers logic.

    Blind portal submissions have almost NO chance of making it through the process.

    Recruitment is advocacy and sales. Soliciting resumes for blind submission is about as effective as playing the state Powerball lottery.

    The #1 thing that people should do is ask what value the recruiter provides beyond basic solicitation and resume submission. How is your relationship an advantage in your job search? What makes this job a good fit with your skills and experience? Why would you view this as an opportunity worthy of your time investment? What differentiates this recruiter’s representation from their competition (or applying directly)?

    Chance are you’ll get a lot of blah, blah blah. When you don’t, you’ve found a keeper.

  19. It’s cool that good headhunters will share references. One of my old friends is looking to get a job, so he may want to know this. Thanks for the interesting information on headhunters.