obnoxiously aggressive recruiters

My blood is boiling after reading about the high-pressure recruiting tactics being recommended in a post over at ERE.net. The article recommends really aggressive sales tactics and game-playing. Here’s a sample:

“What’s the compensation?” When someone asks, don’t tell! Say, “Before I tell you that, I’d like you to think about the best jobs you’ve ever held, those that gave you the most personal satisfaction. Were the reasons they were the best due to the amount of money you were making or due to the work you were doing?” (PAUSE and wait for an answer.) “Now, if the job I’m representing offered you a chance to maximize your personal satisfaction plus offered a competitive compensation, wouldn’t it make sense to at least discuss it for 5-10 minutes?” …

“First, tell me about the job.” You must never tell the person about the job, even the actual title, until you have conducted a quick work history review. Start the conversation by asking your prospect if she’d be open to discuss an opportunity if it were clearly superior to what she’s doing now. Most people will say yes, then immediately say “Great. Could you please give me a quick overview of your background, and I’ll then give you a quick overview of the job.”

Ugh. I don’t know about you, but if a recruiter called me out of the blue and subjected me to this sort of game-playing, I’d be off the phone in seconds. I’m happy to talk to recruiters who respect my time and don’t try to manipulate their way past “no,” but make me feel like you’re an aggressive salesman and we’re done. And to demand that I recite my job history for you, when you called me? That just tells me you didn’t do your homework.

I’m sure there are recruiters whose response to this is that it’s my loss, since I’ll never hear about their fantastic job opportunity… to which I can only say that if it’s that fantastic, you should be more inclined to talk about it candidly up front.

{ 18 comments… read them below }

  1. Mandatory Vacation*

    Wow, that was vile. I wanted to comment over there on his astounding response to your comment, but I really don’t want to have anything to do with him, plus I think everyone involved knows what incredible bullshit it was.

    Okay…one comment. He calls you demanding a job history, and then expects you to know he’s a “highly regarded” recruiter who is totally worth your time and totally respects you even though he doesn’t think you can plan your own career.

  2. Rachel - Employment File*

    I’d say this recruiter is selling something and it’s not me a job.

  3. almostgotit*

    He’s also got his facts backwards. Compensation Force fingered a recent study showing it *is* the poor workers who stay put, and the best ones who look for new jobs. This “in tough times, treat job applicants like s***” attitude really has GOT to go!

  4. HR Wench*

    You know, I would love to comment on Lou’s actual post…but I’m sick of registering everywhere I go. Just let me write a comment already!

    Anyhow, I agree that these tactics are a huge turn off. I also think that Lou is reaching when his rebuttal to AAM’s comment is to claim:

    a) The recruiter is *suddenly* well known.

    b) The candidate is *suddenly* only one that would be interested in an executive position.

    c) “Top performers” would listen to this spiel (so, is he insinuating that AAM is not a top performer? BAH!)

    d) “Bad” recruiters come across crass when they use these tactics, but “good” ones come across as professional.

    Give me a break, Lou.

  5. PhD*

    I’m with you, AAM. I’d be saying “I’m sorry, but it’s you that called me,” and hanging up.

    (I’m also with HR Wench in that I’m weary of registering every time I turn around.)

  6. Rebecca*

    I’m with Mandatory Vacation. There are no “highly regarded recruiters” who use anything akin to greasy sales tactics.

    And maybe I sound old-fashioned here, but I’m also wary of any company that outsources their headhunting and hiring for anything other than temp jobs. It just gives off an impression (to me, anyway, it could be just me) that the company is publicly admitting it can’t handle its own shit.

  7. nb*

    I have to agree with all. This is really coming across as sleazy and pushy, not professional in any sense.

    And perhaps I am being naive, but why is it impossible for these guys to show their cards and just be upfront about what they are looking for specifically from you? What do they have to lose?

  8. Anonymous*

    Oh lord don’t get me started on some recruiters/headhunters and how they treat you when they are the ones who contact you.

    Before I took the temp assignment I’m currently working, I went to an agency here in town. They called me, wanted me to come in and discuss a couple of openings they had. I did not solicit them, they found my resume on one of the big boys and contacted me.

    Once I got in, I did the typing tests, the Excel/Word testing, and the first thing the person started telling me was how my resume was bad and she needed to fix it. Um… so tell me again why you contacted someone with a bad resume? And then starts wanting to send me on interviews without telling me one thing about the potential job or company.

    Sorry, that is not how I roll. I want to do my research before the interview and not walk in looking like a tool who does not know what’s on my own resume or what I’m interviewing for.

    I have to admit, one of the red flags I had with the company I’m temping with now was they insisted I not offer my own copy of my resume and only use the one they sent (with their logo prominently displayed across the top.) Well, that and the whole not returning calls thing.

    It truly makes me wonder how some agencies even stay in business.

  9. Evil HR Lady*

    You’ve got my blood boiling now. I would so not speak to someone like this. On the other hand, I got a call the other day from a head hunter. I told him I wasn’t looking, as I’m working part time now and not interested in changing that status. He thanked me and asked if he could describe the job and would I be willing to refer someone if I knew someone?

    He was very polite and he explained the job, the location, and the pay rate. I gave him the name of a former employee of mine. He contacted her and she’s interviewing now. Hmmm, he might just get a good placement, which will pay him. If he’d used this guy’s recommended approach, he would still be high and dry.

  10. Evil HR Lady*

    Oh, and this reminds me of the “advice” I read about, “you can find out a lot about a person by looking at how they keep their car. So, tell them you’re overscheduled and you really need to pick up your dry cleaning. Could you possibly conduct the interview in their car?”

    If a potential manager said that to me, I’d say, “I don’t think I’m interested in this position” and then I would leave.

    Gah! Be honest and straight forward.

  11. Ask a Manager*

    Mandatory Vacation: I’m thinking he is not “highly regarded” at all, quite frankly.

    Rachel: Ha, exactly!

    almostgotit: Yes! I saw that study too.

    HR Wench: I will usually never comment if I have to register in order to do so, but I think I would have gone through pretty much any hoop in order to comment over at that post. And yes, I do believe he was insinuating that I obviously am not enough of a top performer to respond well to his ways.

    PhD: You’ve got to wonder how many people he reaches who react exactly like that. I guess he just writes it off to us all being “low performers.”

    Rebecca: I’ve always been wary of outsourcing hiring too, although I’m actually working with a recruiter to fill a position for the first time ever. Interested to see how it goes…

    nb: I think what they have to lose is that you might decide you’re not interested in the position, if they give you real info about it.

    Anonymous: I too would be very wary of any agency that handled me that way! Not preparing you with info about the jobs they wanted you to interview for?!

    Evil HR Lady: Ha! That reminds me of a time I had to convince a manager that no, he could not conduct the interviews in his hotel room (one chair, one bed) while he was in town for a conference.

  12. Breanne*

    YUCK! Just reading that script made my skin crawl. I’d hang up if a recruiter talked to me like that.

  13. Michael*

    The only “recruiters” I’ve encountered who acted that way ultimately turned out to be trying to lure people into attending indoctrination meetings for pyramid schemes. Not kidding.

  14. Aimee*


    Yes, recruiters are in somewhat of a sales position (selling opportunities to candidates, selling candidates to hiring managers), but boy does this guy take it to another level! One of my former bosses who was an amazing recruiter told me once that we are the candidate’s advocate, and I’ve never forgotten that. This guy is an advocate for no one but himself. He’s not an asset to his company or his clients, and certainly not to his candidates. “Highly regarded” as what? – He can just as easily be a highly regarded jerk as he can be a highly regarded professional.

  15. EasyELonghorn*

    First time to the site (found it through Fistful of Talent) and I love everybody’s thought process, so far. I actually have sat through a presentation of this “highly regarded” consultant, where he said these exact lines to the audience, I about threw up, but did the ol, “pfffff, like that will ever work in the real world with real candidates” ESPECIALLY WITH TOP PERFORMERS!!

    It looks like this is not a site loaded down with recruiters (I am a recovering recruiter)and as a social experiment I would like to ask a question to a scenario I posed to some Executive Recruiters on other sites, albeit a little differently. Evil HR Lady, based on your response I would be curious to get your feedback.

    Two recruiters call you about the same job, you are not interested, then they each ask if you would be nice enough to do their job for them and refer someone you know that might be a fit.

    One recruiter gives you their email address and phone number in the hopes you will refer.

    The second sends you an invitation to join them on a private social network so they can send you the job description, and they tell you that if you do refer your friend and the recruiter accepts it, the recruiter will pay you $50 TODAY, and if they end up placing that person, will pay a remaining placement reward.

    First, do you believe it could ever happen, if no, why? if yes, which recruiter would you choose?

    1. Charlton*

      I believe it could happen, although I’d expect it to happen in an economy more like the dot-com craze than this one.

      But I’d choose the former recruiter. I don’t have any interest in joining any more social networks than I’m already on, and I don’t accept as friends (on Facebook) or professional contacts (on LinkedIn) people that are not actually friends or professional contacts. Especially for only $50 – if you want to buy my integrity, to the point where I’ll vouch for you just for cash, it will cost you a *lot* more than that.

  16. Recruited One*

    One of the best positions I ever held was a result of an aggressive recruiter who believed that their client and the company they represented deserved the best recruit in the marketplace. That was me! :-)

Comments are closed.