Dealing with Recruiters
Agency Do's And Don'ts
In your resume, never disclose BOTH the agency through which you
had an assignment AND the client company together - pick one or the
other - other agencies may be calling you only to ask about openings
the client company has where you are assigned (commonly experienced
when you list a telecom company job or assignment on your resume).
The recruiter may ask you, in a friendly, chatty sort of way, all
about your job, who your manager is, what the department does, its
structure, if any of your co-workers are looking... Guess what? If
they now know your manager's name, and they know you are looking to
leave, what prevents them finding out your manager's number and
finding a replacement for you much sooner than you'd anticipated?
Moreover, other agencies do not need to know what their competition
is (who actually gets to place clients at a particular company),
unless they're making it worth your while. For instance, if they
want a phone list from your current client company, make sure you
have asked for and OBTAINED a favor from them before you hand over
the list. Once they have it, you're forgotten.
Dealing With Recruiters And Hiring Managers
Recruiters will call because they saw your resume or because you
responded to a specific job posting.
They should start out their conversation with you by talking
about a specific job or jobs for which they thought you might be a
good fit. If they don't bring this up right away, then you should
cut straight to the point (albeit politely) and enquire as to which
position they are referring. Otherwise, they are conducting what I
call a salary survey/database stuffing session AKA "turd
They will ask you what you currently make; remember to state this
according to guidelines (see Salary
Negotiations). They do not ask this in order to help you obtain
such a figure; they do this in order to see how much profit they can
make on a particular position (if you have been grossly underpaid
and are naïve enough to tell them so) or to weed you out (if you
make too much already for them to rent you out at a profit). The
more unscrupulous among them will ask you what companies you
interviewed with, who you talked to, what the position was. Be vague
and waffle. Generalities and amnesia are in order. They will simply
be using this information in order to ferret out who is hiring and
for what; they'll depth charge you by placing a more qualified (or
less qualified, as the case may be) candidate up for the position if
Remember, they already have your resume, and according to what
you said (position description, you wanted too much money, etc.) it
is easy work for HR professionals such as they to learn from your
blunders and put another better-suited candidate in your place. An
employer may just decide to wrap it up and pick from the choice of
candidates they've already seen - and since you're in that group, it
could well be you. Your chances decrease considerably the farther
back in the pack you become. You always want to be the last to
interview with an employer.
Don't let the recruiters know much in the way of salary details.
Believe me, they know exactly what a person with your qualifications
should be getting for a position in this geographical area.
Overstate it too much and they won't believe you. Understate it too
much and you might as well paint a target on the front of your
shirt. If you didn't get one of the positions in question because
you wanted too much money, it is entirely possible that they will
get a less qualified candidate who is barely "enough" for
the job and present them at the lower price the employer would
prefer. Keep this in mind when providing "feedback" after
the interview to the recruiter who has put you up for a position.
They don't have your best interest in mind, only theirs. So only
help those who are helping you.
Even if they really do have a position available, try to do all
your screening and interviewing over the phone. Set up a phone
conference, claiming you have a busy schedule and can't leave the
office during the day. Try not to waste time interviewing with a
recruiter agency face to face. Save such time-consuming maneuvers
for face-to-face interviews with hiring managers at actual
companies, unless you need the practice. This is especially true if
you are a contractor, or bill by the hour or job. If you absolutely
can't get out of it, insist on a 7:30 AM or 5:30 PM slot. They're
making their money off you, anyway. While still at your old job,
don't tip your hand by billing much less than 40 hours/week
consistently. HR people are on the lookout for such behavior.
On dealing with recruiters and HR personnel:
98% of the time, these people have little in the way of technical
backgrounds. They won't understand the technology of the position
for which they are trying to place you. They're keyword matchers. If
you don't have a particular word or phrase on your resume, never
mind that if you can use a GUI front end to HTML like Dreamweaver
then you can certainly manage one like Front Page. They will
disqualify you because you might not have exactly what they are
looking for. Consider it to be like a game of "Post
Office". The technical manager (who may or may not be technical
themselves) has a list of qualifications (which may or may not
really be needed) in order to get the job done. This is passed onto
Human Resources. Then this is passed onto a recruiter. It's a
surprise that it isn't more garbled by the time it comes to you!
Common mistakes include job descriptions that focus on lots of
acronyms that stand for proprietary systems only used within the
company itself, instead of asking for "mainframe background,
Oracle database experience, and WAN-based architectures".
Watch out for collusion between the agency and the hiring company
on price. Often they will submit you at one price and then tell you
that they submitted you at another, higher one. Then when you get
there, you find out the hourly rate is something different
altogether. Especially when it is time to go permanent. Another
practice is to reveal their hourly rate to the client, or to state
that they have. If you are making $30 per hour for your services,
the agency is billing you out at $75 - 90 per hour to the client.
The client should not know what cut you are getting of that hourly
fee. That way, when it comes time to negotiate permanent wages, the
employer does not have the advantage of you and cannot limit your
wage to below market rates. Many agencies are very dishonest in this
regard. If an agency does anything like this, it's a huge red flag.
Look elsewhere for another position as soon as possible.
Another one is that the agency promises you one price to get you
in the door, and once you start salary negotiations with the hiring
company, they say there must be some mistake - the price they can
"afford" to bring you on at permanently is much less than
the agency said it would be. When you offer to call the agency to
resolve the issue, the client company would so much rather you did
not. Take the offer if you want, but they'll treat you like crap
because they knew they could get you for cheap. Keep looking for
another job; as soon as you find a suitable one, give notice and
leave. Resist any attempt at counter offers.
Common ploys to get information
You get a call at work and the recruiter says, "I got your
name from a friend of yours." Then the recruiter tries to talk
you into sending them your resume, or the names and numbers of
colleagues or managers who "might be interested". This is
a fishing expedition. It's OK if you're looking for a position, and
you're a contractor there and coming up on the end of your time at
the client site, but be wary. When pressed for the name of who
referred you to them, the recruiter will waffle. Alternatively, it
will be a name you've never heard of, but it will sound plausibly
common. If they can't be up front about needing you for a job, which
is not that big a deal (isn't that what they're in business for?),
then what else will they be dishonest about in the future? In
addition, they called you at work. Your friends are bright
enough to only give them your home or pager number. What if a
recruiter calls you, your boss is standing right there, and they
want to know who it is? No friend of yours would put you in that
position. Likewise, if you are going to refer a friend of yours to a
recruiter with whom you are working, you would give them their home
or pager number, and when the recruiter called them, they would say,
"The Green Fairy referred you to me, because you are looking
for work as a senior systems engineer and he says you walk on
water". This is also true for references. Home numbers only
please... this buys you time to give your friends a heads-up first
that someone will be calling.
Having to pay a deposit towards a job:
The Shocking Pink Fairy: "There is a recruiting agency out
there with a name that sounds like a law firm. Very impressive
sounding. And they had many job ads out on one of the decent sized
job boards (but not the biggest). They were offering ridiculously
low prices for some of these jobs, but were somewhat reasonable on
others. So, I sent in a couple of resumes. I got an e-mail about two
weeks later saying that they were holding interviews in Paris. They
would pay you a per diem when you arrived at the airport, but in
order to ensure that you did take the flight that they had reserved
for you, you would have to put down a $200 deposit. All I got was
the e-mail. There was no call from a recruiter, no phone screen, no
request for a Word copy of my resume. They said that the screening
would be on the first day, and if you made the cut, the offer would
be presented to you on the second day. Now, I have been recruited by
a major software company that was not located in my home state. They
did a lot of chatting with me on the phone, and e-mails back and
forth before they booked me on a flight to their office. They did
not charge me a deposit, and they offered to reimburse my expenses
that I incurred during the trip (which they did)."
This smells like a scam to me, and this is why. The protocol is
that the recruiter finds your resume in the database or you send it
in towards a position. Then they call you or e-mail you back. They
take the time to screen you over the phone and then they invite you
down to their office to chat. They ask for your references. (The
software company in question checked out Shocking's references
before she even flew out to meet them.) After this, if you are
qualified, then they present you to their client. There are no
payments, deposits, anything like that - even if you do have to fly
out to somewhere else to meet the hiring manager. The Teal Fairy
went through something like this years ago, only they wanted her to
fly out to England. It's OK to deal with out of state recruiters,
but you should never have to pay to get a job.
See for yourself. Their e-mail,
and the e-mail
in response from the job board.
Follow up: What
their website currently reads, contact
information from Whois.net, another
contact information screen shot from Whois, and another
database lookup on their domain name, a database
lookup on a variant spelling of the name, and their latest
enabler in the next scam. The Job Fairies don't share in the
domain owner's sense of "humor". When people need work
badly enough, there is always the opportunity to get hurt. People
like them are why there are sites like this.
"The job's on hold".
"They're not offering your range".
"They filled the position".
"We haven't heard back from the client".
Trust me, if the employer wants you for the position, the
recruiting agency will turn back flips to get in touch with you. Any
other answer than "yes, they want to extend you an offer,"
means no. Don't call, don't pursue, and don't bother. Expend your
energy producing leads.
Responding To Postings
A quick way to respond to postings with a cover letter is to
create a short one in Word. Spell check it, proof it carefully. Make
sure it opens with a non-specific "Hi" or something along
those lines. Then save it as text format and either copy it into
your e-mail program as your "signature", or have the
program refer to your text file as your signature file. This way,
when you click on a link and have the e-mail program open up a new
window, your cover letter will already be there; just attach resume
and send. You can insert a name in the greeting if the information
Sending Resume To Recruiters
They will reformat it in their style. Often they do not know the
difference between hardware and software. You may wish to create a
resume that categorizes this for them, but they should really know
enough to do this themselves. It depends on how much effort you wish
to make for a particular position. Most technical recruiters are
shockingly non-technical themselves. It would be hilarious except
that they play a pivotal role in connecting you with new and/or