Industries, like Fish, Rot From the Head Down

by : Toby Marshall

Unfortunately, in recruitment, many of these experts are teaching the industry how to lie.Now, I’ve sat in a lot of training courses in my 19 years in the industry and have done my share of speaking from the platform. What fascinates me is that the rot has permeated so deep that recruiters simply don’t notice they are being taught to tell porkies.If training to lie were in another profession such as accounting, financial planning, or law, there would be uproar. Just silence in my industry.Let’s look at 3 examples:Melbourne and Toronto with the speaker delivering the same talk – the audience were all recruiters, over 300 of us. He told us to lie when relaying an employer’s salary offer to a candidate, to ask the candidate what salary they want and to say “I don’t know if they’ll go to that, but I’ll see what I can do and call you back." Knowing that, in this case, the employer will go to that or more as that was their instructions! Then he suggested a good lunch to celebrate while letting the candidate sweat for a while. This was just one of a number of ways he advised us to keep the pressure on the candidate so you don’t lose them (and our fee of course!).At lunch after the talks, we all discussed it – most thought he was terrific as there were good sales tips and other ideas. I agreed - there were some good insights from one of Australia’s most experienced recruiters. But did anyone notice the bit about lying? No one in two countries had.Even more worrying was that most attendees, including the conference organisers, didn’t care. If you’re an HR manager reading this I’m sure you have a different view.The second lie was at a session in Columbus Ohio, where successful recruiters were on the platform sharing their experiences so we could learn from them. One of them had a simple business model: scouring resume databases on internet job boards and then calling the candidates directly. Boring but not unethical.The lie: he and his staff started EVERY conversation with a little ‘trust builder’: “You have been recommended to us by someone who thinks highly of you." They started every relationship with a lie to get the potential candidate to listen.It brings to mind the old quote: “The secret of success is sincerity …. fake that and you’ve got it made." This recruiter and his team had sincerity down pat.Again, no one noticed, no one cared.Finally one of Australia’s own, Sophie Robertson, who I have never met. What I like about her is her frankness - she is prepared to put in writing what everyone else just does.Hers is about cold calling to sell bodies – what the industry calls Reverse Marketing and is how many recruiters spend the majority of their days. Sophie’s advice is talk to a candidate, get an exclusive, and jointly pick 10 companies, and call them ALL with 3 variations of the same line: “I have a star candidate who expressly wants to work with your company." Clearly a lie – how could 99% of candidates know even the sketchiest details about more than a couple of the companies? The cake’s icing: she recommends the recruiters do these calls in front of the candidate – says it will make them “loyal to you forever". Hopefully at least some have the opposite reaction!The saddest part: Sophie’s article was posted on Recruiter Daily (see and the scathing response from an in-house recruiter was posted anonymously. It is time HR stood up to be counted, but I fully understand why he or she felt the need to hide their identity.All small lies? In some ways perhaps. Certainly many recruiters will think that. But these and similar examples all contribute to an industry with a dreadful but largely deserved reputation.If you are a user of recruitment agencies, it’s time to stand up and be counted – go onFind Article, post a comment.