Recruiting is hard. Whether your company is growing, experiencing turnover, or you’re looking for specialized skills, finding the right people for the job can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. The process is time-consuming and expensive. Yet, every day that a position is open costs the organization productivity.
It’s no wonder that 64% of companies U.S. outsource at least some of their recruiting efforts. But working with third-party firms can present problems. If you haven’t noticed, there are a lot of firms out there. Separating the good from the bad can be tricky. And we all know working with the wrong firm can be a horrible experience whether you’re a client, a candidate, or even an employee at the firm.
Look, we don’t mean to turn on our own industry, but frankly, we see and hear tales of companies and recruiters that give our profession a bad name. We hope that if job seekers and employers become more aware of these practices, they can avoid the bad apples—and that we can elevate the recruiting industry as a whole.
So grab a latte and have a seat, while we share recruiting practices that range from ill-advised to stunningly disreputable.
1: Firms with mostly inexperienced recruiters (I.e., new grads, or those who are one year out of school) and/or don’t specialize in your field
Many firms make all of their hires straight out of school. That means these new recruiters are not domain experts, don’t have a clue about your career, your company, or what good talent looks like.
Determine if the recruiting firm has the experience you need by vetting them thoroughly. Don’t just ask how they find candidates. Ask if they’ve actually filled the role you’re hiring for and if so, how many times and with what companies. Find out how experienced the team is. But don’t just take their word for it: look the company and recruiters up on LinkedIn. If the recruiters have less than a year of experience, be ready for a flood of resumes that haven’t been properly screened. (It’s what we like to call the “throwing a bunch of spaghetti against the wall in the hope that something sticks” approach!)
2: Companies that submit candidates’ resumes without approval
This practice happens more often than it should. In the quest to fill an open job, some staffing agencies will send a candidate’s resume to the hiring manager without alerting the candidate (the throwing a bunch of spaghetti against the wall approach of recruiting). There’s nothing wrong with sending a resume for a job outside of the candidate’s stated interest—as long as the candidate agrees. With the rise of automation, the race to get resumes over to clients “first” and the insistence on submission metrics by some firms (more on this later)—many firms send resumes out first and ask questions later.
If a recruiting firm frequently sends candidates who are disinterested, unprepared, or who drop out of the interview process, this is a signal that the recruiting firm may not have been upfront with the candidate about the job. This also indicates that a recruiting firm isn’t doing a good job of communicating your company’s value proposition to candidates.
And if you are a job seeker and this happens to you – run away. Fast. And don’t be afraid to let the company know that this is how the firm operates.
3: Companies that oversell candidates
As crazy as it sounds, some recruiting firms fudge a candidate’s resume to get them in the door. I’ve also heard horror stories of companies doing a bait and switch on the interview or tech assessment process.
It’s nearly impossible to find a candidate who meets every job qualification, but some recruiters will insist that their candidate can meet each requirement perfectly. And when you’re a company anxious to fill an opening, that can be reassuring to hear. Unfortunately, it’s usually fake news, and hiring managers at small or new companies who haven’t hired a lot may be the most vulnerable to this tactic.
If a recruiting firm sends you one “perfect” candidate, beware. Recruiters should be transparent about the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate: Yes, Leon only has a year of a particular experience, but he also has four years of another critical skill.
We want to be clear: there are plenty of great recruiters out there, and not all recruiting firms are horrendous. But enough take part in questionable practices that it bears bringing these situations to light. Not only can working with a bad recruiting firm derail your hiring efforts, but there’s also another factor to consider. Candidates often think of the recruiting firm as an extension of the company, and a bad experience with the recruiter can result in a negative impression of your brand. Knowing what questions to ask and what to look for can help you steer clear of awful staffing firms’ worst practices.