Please, Don’t Hate Me! Here Are the Biggest Lies That Recruiters Tell

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Editor’s note: TLNT is continuing an annual tradition by counting down the most popular posts of the year. This is No. 38. Our regular content will return in January.

So, last week I wrote a little HR blog post called  Top Candidate Lies, and it got a rather large reaction.

LinkedIn’s What’s Hot picked it up from TLNT (where it was titled How Candidates Lie, and the Best Lies They Always Seem to Tell), and in a little over eight hours, some 75,000 people read the post and left over 500 comments (at TLNT)!

Cool for me, right? Well, let’s just say there were a “few” folks who didn’t agree with my post, so I took a bit of beating – as did the Recruiting profession in general.

The 3 kinds of people who responded

Basically, the comments on the post fell into three camps:

  1. Recruiters – Where about 99 percent agreed with the “lies” and found it all funny.
  2. Job seekers – Who honestly had one of these things I wrote about happen to them, who now understood that some recruiters might see these as lies and who wanted help in how they should address them. I got over 50 personal emails like this, which was cool, and made for a busy weekend.
  3. The Haters – These folks assumed all “candidates” were out of work people, and that they weren’t lying (or had to lie) to get a job. There’s really no logic in addressing these folks, because many candidates lie and are actually employed, candidates lie because they just don’t want to tell the recruiter the truth (more on this later), and candidates lie because most candidates lie! The Haters also pointed out that Recruiters lie! To that charge I say – “Yes, yes they do!”

Top Lies That Recruiters Tell

I love The Haters passion, though, so I wanted to go down that road of the Top Recruiter Lies. Here you go, Haters!

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  • The “Send Us Your Resume, Even Though We Don’t Have a Job” Lie – This was pointed out by a few people, and I would say this is a “semi-lie” (how do you like that Haters?). While the recruiter might not have the opening currently, they’re asking for a resume because they frequently have openings pop up and they never know when one is coming. The recruiter, though, is wrong by not telling you this up front so that you know what to expect.
  • The “Hiring Manager Hasn’t Gotten Back To Me” Lie – This is a lie and not a lie – potentially! For Corporate Recruiters, this is a lie or just being lazy, so you pick. If you’re a corporate recruiter and tell the candidate that the hiring manager hasn’t gotten back to you, get your butt up from your desk and walk over to the hiring manager’s desk. If they’re in a different location and won’t get back to you, well, you have an influence problem you need to work on. Agency-wise, it’s one of the frustrating things recruiters have to deal with; Hiring Managers will get to “us” when they feel like it, and usually after they’ve exhausted every other opportunity internally to fill the position.
  • The “Never Call Back the Candidate” Lie – This really isn’t a lie, but The Haters pointed out that this happens all the time! For the sake of recruiters everywhere, if you do this, please quit this profession because we (all recruiters) hate you as well. You give all of us a bad name. It takes 10 seconds to call back a candidate you spoke to a job about and tell them, “Sorry, you were not chosen – stay in touch, don’t call me again, etc.” Ten seconds! Dear Haters, bad recruiters don’t call you back because they have major conflict avoidance issues and don’t like telling people negative stuff like, “You’re not good enough, we found someone better,” or, just a simple lie like, “We filled it internally.
  • The “You Didn’t Score High Enough On The Assessment“ Lie — The company you’re trying to get into might actually have cut-off scores at some point they’ve established.; the lie comes into play when a hiring manager presents someone they’ve worked with previously and that person scores the same as you but still gets the job. If they really like you, the assessment won’t stop them from hiring you.
  • The “We’ve Decided To Go Another Direction” Lie – This one goes along with the “We really liked you, but…” Lie. Basically, this is Recruiter Training 101 – to not get yourself into trouble when telling a candidate they didn’t get the job and give them a reason that legally can never come back and bite you in the butt. Such as, “We really, really, really liked you but have decided to not fill the position.” Two weeks later, a new job posting comes out that seems very similar to the old one, but with a title change and a few description changes. Yes, they didn’t like you.

Honesty is NOT always the best policy

The biggest reason recruiters lie? They have major conflict avoidance and are not willing to tell you the truth, which is usually that  there is something wrong with you based on what they are looking for, and, they don’t want to hurt your feelings.

Unfortunately, many candidates would actually be helped by a little recruiter honesty, but recruiters are afraid of candidates who get told the truth and then go to the EEOC, other state or federal agencies, or, just flat out decide to sue you. Candidates have a hard time with feedback like,  “You’re really creepy,” “You’re annoying,” or “Your personality is grating.”  So, the lies come out because recruiters have found that “lies” are easier than the truth.

OK Haters, now it’s your your turn. What Recruiter Lies did I forget? Hit me (not literally) in the comments.

For more great insights from Tim Sackett, check out The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.


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