bad recruiter behavior: deceptive sales tactics

There are loads of good recruiters out there. But here’s a story of the type of recruiter you don’t want to work with — the deceptive, slimy kind who annoys the employers they’re hoping to pitch candidates to.

Here’s the background: On the employer side of things, often when you have an open position you’ll get contacted by staffing firms who want you to hire them to help you fill the role. I almost always turn these down because I do my own hiring. (And also because the few times I’ve said yes, the candidates sent to me were never as strong as the ones I found on my own … and on top of that, their fees are really high when you’re hiring for nonprofits.)

So I was doing some hiring a couple of months ago, and I get an email from a recruiter, who says this:

I noticed your ___ opening. We are representing an exceptional candidate who you may want to review.  If you’re interested, simply reply to this email or call me, and we will contact our candidate regarding the opening right away.  You will be able to review their resume, interview them, and see if there is a fit before any fee is charged.

I think to myself, “Well, what the hell, I’m not interested in opening up a search with a firm, but I’ll take a look at this person they’re talking about. If the candidate is fantastic, we might be willing to pay the fee.” So I say:

Sure, I’d be happy to take a look at the candidate’s resume.

Now, please note: She approached me alleging one particular candidate — “an exceptional candidate.” Right?

But it turns out that there’s no candidate in mind at all. This is just a slimy come-on to draw me into using their services. The next email I get is from a different guy at their firm and says this:

Your exchange with Joan was forwarded to me.  I’ve got a great portfolio of candidates that may fit your needs. Give me a call so we can discuss a few details. I will be happy to forward to you a few suitable candidates and look forward to working with you to complete this important search.

I respond:

We actually don’t generally use search firms because we have a thorough search process on our own side, and we’re not seeking to use a firm for this search. I’d be happy to take a look at the specific candidate Joan reached out about and tell you if he/she is a viable candidate, but please don’t launch a broader search.

He writes back:

Always wise to have a strong process internally.  Our service is ideally suited to extend your visibility and not leave any stones unturned searching for your best candidate.  It is also a plus that there is no fee to you unless a candidate is found and justifies our fee.

Joan forwarded to me as she knew I had these other similar searches in the area.  The more you can tell me…beyond your job description…the closer I can match my candidate.  I am very confident I have a strong one for you.

Agggh. My reply:

I think we’ve miscommunicated — Joan said that she had one specific candidate in mind who she wanted me to look at, which I’d be happy to do, but again, please don’t launch a broader search.

I don’t hear back. Because, obviously, there was never a specific candidate they had in mind; it was just a deceptive sales tactic to try to get in the door.

Then, a full month later, I get this from the same guy:

Did you fill this position yet? I’m still looking at possible fits for this role and discussing a few details will help me filter and select the “best” candidate(s) for you, as we both opt for quality over quantity.  If you could give me a call when you have a 10 minutes, that’d be a great help.


If you’re a job-seeker using a recruiter, try to find out a bit about how they operate. You don’t want the ones who are out there pissing off employers while they represent you.

when a recruiter misleads you and wastes your time
when a recruiter asks for your height, weight, age, and marital status

{ 50 comments… read them below }

  1. Kimberlee*

    Honestly, I have a hard time figuring out why people use recruiters at all. I mean, I can understand why firms use them, but I’ve never registered with a staffing office. I guess they have their place, but the whole idea is sort of weird to me.

    1. Julie*

      I find placement agencies help me a lot with my job hunt. They expose me to companies and opportunities I might not have thought of on my own, and I’ve had one or two offers of employment stem from recruitment agency searches. (Only one worked out, and even that is part-time, but mostly that was because I wasn’t crazy about the companies once I’d had the interviews.)

      I find it very difficult to find jobs using standard job hunting techniques (web and print listings, etc.) and appreciate that the recruitment firms have a better sense of the job market than I do.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      They can be particularly useful when you have a field you specialize in and can form a relationship with a recruiter who specializes in the thing you do.

      1. lorrwill*

        That is the only way I have had it work for me in the past.

        I have a relationship with a very small, niche agency in the area and they have gotten me a couple of jobs. But being small and having low turnover means I have had a chance to get to know them and them me. Their opportunities have been good matches.

        The larger agencies have such a high turnover in recruiters that there is no way to establish a rapport. They work by numbers, not individuals.

    3. Brian*

      I hooked up with 4 or 5 large staffing companies during my last search and they each sent me a few good opportunities I couldn’t have gotten on my own. One of them even shopped me around to their larger clients with dozens of openings to see if I was a fit for any upcoming positions. I wouldn’t put all my eggs in that basket but they’re a useful resource if you have a solid or unique skill set. I much prefer working with recruiters to being one of 500 resumes sitting in a pile.

    4. David*

      From the job candidate side, I can totally get on board with the hiring agencies being slime balls. You’ve heard of the old adage about fooling someone – Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice on shame on me. Yeah, I got shamed. Badly.

      I was unemployed for three months and then underemployed for another ten. The beauty of my underemployed job is that I was given interview freedom as they understood that I could be gone at any time to get back to my field of work. I job hunted constantly (thankfully I’ve found an amazing position that I’m loving so far), and occasionally came across some great sounding jobs. I’d send my resume in and wait to hear back. Often I would, often I wouldn’t. You know the drill.

      Anyway, before I get too into my diatribe about the suckocity (yeah, I had to make up a word) of looking for a job in this economy, I’ll get to the point. One time I got a response fairly quickly and it was from a hiring agency. I figured that wasn’t too far out of the realm of possibility that this company could be using an agency to help them. I go there and they claim the job has been filled already. I applied the day before…THE DAY THE JOB WAS POSTED! So I was upset and annoyed, but I figured that they had my resume on file, so that couldn’t hurt.

      Five months later probably, the same situation occurred. I applied to a job that seemed great, and got a call back the very next day. They asked if I could come in the following day. Of course, I can’t turn down an interview, though I was skeptical. So I went in with my writing samples, my extra resume copies, copies of my references and I think a lock of my mother’s hair (they ask for such weird things). I get there and ask specifically about the position early and I get told that the position was filled a week ago. IT WAS POSTED TWO DAYS AGO! Needless to say, I will not be doing business with that agency as I may have flown off the handle a bit.

      Sorry for the long winded response, but I just wanted to show that hiring agencies are slimy sometimes on all ends.

      1. lorrwill*

        Preaching to the choir my friend, your experiences mirror mine rather perfectly.

        I would never make a blanket recommendation of using staffing agencies for a job search. Unless one is completely lacking in skills and can work part time for minimum wage.

        1. Charlton*

          It really depends on the professional culture in your area and field.

          Corporations use good staffing agencies because they winnow out most of the poor matches, and so if you use a staffing agency it’s much easier to get in the door for an interview: you’re getting in on the strength of your resume and skills, and the interview you had with the recruiter, and not just on the strength of your resume and cover letter. And at the same time, if there’s a job that’s being advertised and you send in a resume, you’ve just eliminated yourself from staffing agency consideration, because they don’t get paid if you contacted the employer yourself.

          I learned this the hard way: in my area (Boston) and field (software engineering), it’s common to use staffing agencies. I saw what might have been my dream job on a job board, and sent in a cover letter and resume — only to find out from the staffing firm I met with that afternoon they were representing that client and that they could have gotten me an interview. In the end, I followed up, I called, I emailed, but I may as well have sent my resume into a black hole.

          So I wouldn’t make it a blanket recommendation, and for every competent recruiter I’ve worked with I have worked with two or three idiots, but I wouldn’t recommend against it categorically either.

    5. Natalie*

      Just chiming in – three of my co-workers were hired through a staffing agency.

      Two of them were relocating to this area, and I believe the staffing agency was attractive because they were naturally more familiar with this city. Another co-worker was mostly happy with his current job but had no room for advancement. He chose a staffing agency because he was only looking for a few types of jobs and didn’t want to devote a lot of time to a full time search.

      I was actually hired through a temp agency, which I had signed up for the usual reason – I needed some work while I looked for a full time job. But my coworkers’ experience has made me more open to working with a staffing agency.

      1. Elsie*

        Is there a difference between a temp agency and a staffing agency? I thought they were different names for the same thing.

          1. lorrwill*

            Way back in the day, staffing agencies were the one’s job seeker paid to find them jobs.

            That is a whole different way people got ripped off.

  2. WorkWidow*

    Recruiters, for me, can seemingly be the only way to get in the door at major corporations. My husband and I have had a number of times where we’ve applied to a job through some giant corporate website, heard nothing, and then got an interview through a recruiter.

  3. Anonymous*

    I hate hate hate hate HATE recruiters. HATE THEM. I’ve had my time wasted by more than one and usually they waste my time more than once. Unfortunately since I generally look for work as an administrative assistant, they are a necessary evil. It seems like HR folks simply can not find an AA outside of a search firm. I’ve really tried to avoid them and haven’t had luck with or without them this go around.

    1. mesogood*

      I cannot agree more with Anonymous, posted Feb. 9th, 2011.
      The new breed of recruiters that have popped up like stinkweed are incompetent, have no idea what jobs are about, flood the internet websites with the same description, and lie, lie, lie to companies and candidates.
      3 recruiters contacted me, thru the other armpit of the net Craigslist. All 3 were fawning all over me,” Oh you are so marketable, Oh come in with 2 forms of ID, Oh I have 3 clients that I want to send you to, etc” BS…. I juggled schedules just to have no call backs. WTF??? I am so tempted to air my disdain for them that I am seriously going to start a website- named it something like And I am going to have people name each and every lying, indecent recruiter out there. There needs to be accountability and honesty from both sides of the job search and job fill. Who’s in???

      1. lorrwill*

        Do you have any idea who HUGE that list would be?

        You comment made me laugh. It is actually refreshing to know that I am not the only one that recruiters, staffing agencies, and temporary services have pissed on, lied to and wasted their time to the point of loathing.

  4. Kathy*

    I was one. Fresh out of a midwest college with very little idea on how to seek a job, I went to a big city “personnel agency” and ended up employed there briefly. I was given a pack of business cards from the supply closet – “There. You’re Sandi Scott now” – and learned hard sell techniques. I barely survived on minimum wage plus “draw to commission” although in one lucky month I was awarded a coffee cup that said “Sandi” on it. It was the sort of education you can’t get in college! I can’t say much for our service, though. We rarely did right by either employers or candidates, even when we succeeded in placements.

  5. Brian*

    I am sooooo sick of dealing with these type of staffing companies. I had my resume up on Dice for a few months and routinely got 5-10 calls for the exact same job with “one of their prestigious clients” (that they never met or even spoke to before). It was almost comical because they all read directly from the original job description posted by the company. By the 3rd call I would stop them about a minute in and say is this for the Citrix position at a hospital north of Chicago? Yeah? Well, I’ve already turned it down 6 times today so no thanks. If a new job was released at the end of the day they would even call you in the late evening to beat the competition. The biggest clue is when they can’t tell you anything specific about the company or the hiring manager. If you’ve placed so many candidates there why can’t you tell me about the benefits, dress code or the interview process?

    This is the other side of what Alison experienced. They will lie to both of us about an existing relationship with the other. I’ve worked for 3 staffing companies and they were nothing like this. They could tell me everything about the company or the hiring manger and usually let me talk to other people they placed there before I even committed to an interview. There’s a big difference between building a long term relationship with the customer and only trying to get a quick pay day regardless of whether you even filled the customer’s need.

    Another shady practice is the fake job listing. They will post a semi-generic job that matches a lot of candidates. When you meet with them they drill you for an hour about your background, create a file on you and then ask you to sign an exclusive contact with them that says you can only be represented by them with their existing clients. That could really screw you if they’ve worked with every large employer in town. When you eventually ask about the job from the classifieds that caught your eye, they say it was just filled yesterday but they’ll search their other job listings. Then they wait a month and list the same job again.

    1. Charlton*

      In my recent job search, something similar happened. A recruiter I worked with contacted me about a six-month contract job, and I did all the due diligence on my end. They wanted a software engineering team lead with training and communication skills. So I looked at comparable salaries, turned it into an hourly rate, doubled it to make up for the lack of benefits and the short contract, and added 20% to give myself some negotiation room. The recruiter responded by saying, “Oh, they were thinking more like this” — and named a number that, annualized, would have resulted in me taking a significant pay cut.

      Over the next month, at least two dozen different recruiters contacted me about that job, *and* I saw it on As soon as they said “software engineering team lead for an industry-leading [industry] company,” right out of the ad, I’d interrupt and say, “Actually, if that’s the FooCompany job, I’ve already turned it down.”

      1. Anonymous*

        I had a similar experience. I had been contacted by a staffing agency I had signed up with about an admin position in a large insurance firm. I got an interview and ended up not getting it because they decided I didn’t have enough experience. After that, I was contacted by no less than 12 other agencies about the same position. This happened over about two months. At first it was amusing, but after the 6th or 7th time it became incredibly annoying. I would usually let the recruiter know that I had been rejected for the position and that I had been contacted by several other agencies for the position.

        1. Anonymous*

          I should clarify that this position was a temp job, not a permanent one. That made it even more comical.

  6. Charles*

    AAM – just wait 6 months, they will try this same tactic again, and then again. At least that is what they do with job seekers. So many recruiters are so clueless that they won’t even remember that you are the client that they pissed off.

    On the bright side, at least they weren’t contacting you from Bangalore with a job candidate in Boston, for your position in DC?!

  7. ImpassionedPlatypi*

    Here’s what you do, if he contacts you again asking for more info you email him saying that the webpage linked should provide all the information he’ll need. Then you link directly to this post.

  8. Jesse Hachey*

    I used to work with an agency that actively employed this tactic – but did it a little sneakier. We would get a good idea of the job description, and sometimes even have a conversation with the hiring manager / HR rep in charge to get a more specific idea of what they wanted, and said “Yep, this person has all of that!” and then we would rush to find a person to send. If we didn’t find one within 24 hours, we would respond back that the person was no longer interested.

    I think it is a little slimy, and there are definitely better ways to garner business from companies. No company is going to appreciate you if you twist their arm into seeing your candidates, interviewing them and paying you a fee, and will likely never work with you again beyond that.

  9. Marie*

    I’ve had nothing but bad experiences with recruiters and hiring agencies – they lie, and they don’t follow through. A few times, I was given job positions which were not relevant to my skills. I avoid all contact with these recruiters.

  10. Kelly O*

    I have only had one really positive experience with a recruiter/agency and she was truly the exception. She called me, talked at length about the opening that was available and how my experience would fit in with that. She met me after hours (because I was temping at the time) to answer more questions and get to know me better. By the time I went on the interview with the company, I already knew a lot about them and their needs, and why I was the best person to do that. She was awesome. I wish I had here here.

    The majority of my experience has been very similar to what others have said. Vague-ish job descriptions that sound decent, but no real opportunity there. I temped for one company and was not pleased with the assignment. I called the recruiter who placed me regarding an ad the company had placed in the paper. Turns out there was no job. She admitted to me they “had nothing” but kept putting the same/similar ads in the paper and online. I was oddly enough not qualified for anything they had at the time, according to her. Qualified enough to stay in the awful temp position that no one else would probably take, but nothing better.

    I’ve gone on interviews through agencies and discovered the resume they sent the employer looked absolutely nothing like mine and had different information on it. I was asked about my experience in a particular software program that I’d never heard of, but there it was on my resume. Suffice to say the interviewer AND I learned a lot when we started comparing notes.

    I have not even tried going through an agency since our move back to Texas. I guess I just got burned one too many times, and the whole process can be absolutely humiliating. Plus, I’m not a fan of signing an employment contract when there is no employment pending. I really, really wish there was a way around giving them all your personal information before you even meet with a single person. (Robert Half and I had an incident because I did not want to provide my references or social security number before I’d met a soul or found out about anything that was open.)

    I said it in another forum earlier this morning, but it really bears repeating. The system we use for hiring is broken, but fixing it requires more change than most are comfortable with, so we keep doing what we’ve always done because that’s what people know. Until we can really effect change in the process, it will stay the same, or so I fear.

    1. lorrwill*

      Your story reminds me of the agency that told the potential employer that I had 3 years of experience when I actually had 3 months. I was very young at the time, barely getting into the work force.

      When I interviewed with the company the man ripped me a new one because he felt I lied. I pointed out to him again, that my application clearly says “3 months” and that I did not know why he was told otherwise. He kept grilling me and asking why I had lied about my experience when it was the agency who gave him the wrong information.

      At first I thought an honest mistake had been made but became pretty steamed at that agency when they laughed in my face while offering a completely insincere “apology for the mix up”.

      I was left with the impression they did this routinely and it was my job to play along. But honest stupid me didn’t get the memo.
      I had forgotten all about that until now. What a cluster that was!

      1. Charlton*

        Years ago I dealt with a recruiter who told me the salary for a position was $35K — which was already way below the going rate. (The job I ended up accepting at the end of that job search paid $50K a year for a similar skillset.) But I was unemployed and the cash reserve was not infinite, so I interviewed.

        When I got there, I and the interviewer found out when I offered a printed resume that the recruiter had edited it, and that the company was not prepared to offer more than $28K.

        I’m not sure what the recruiter was trying to accomplish. I suspect he failed.

  11. Anonymous*

    There are a (very) few good ones out there. But mostly I encountered the bad ones. Especially those who ‘made up’ job posting, then called me up when they got my resume, asked me to come to their office for a chat. They’d then talk about what I’m looking for, but nothing about the job posting. And that was it, no more follow up, nothing.
    Worse, a lot of times they fish info on what companies I’ve applied to, or in an interview process now, and asked what agency got me in, etc. Or, they even have the audacity of trying to get internal recruiter names of the company I used to work for.

  12. tami*

    my experience with recruiters is vast. i found that larger staffing companies were terrible, but there are plenty of great independent recruiters who are sometimes shitty, but usually great. you just have to find somebody you trust.

  13. Joey*

    Keep it in perspective. Recruiting is mostly sales. Recruiters aren’t there to find you a job they’re there to make money. They sell the resume and candidate to the employer and sell the company to the candidate. As with all sales fields some salespeople do it the right way and others use shady tactics.

  14. Jamie*

    This discussion makes me wonder how recruiters find people when they cold call them at work; potential candidates, not hiring managers.

    At my last job I was contacted by recruiters every couple of months via cold calls – I wasn’t looking or interested and certainly not in any kind of professional network at the time. It hasn’t happened to me once since I switched companies. Strange.

    1. Interviewer*

      Jamie, my husband is in sales and this is typical of the headhunters that contact candidates – calling people at their current job. What this typically means is that one or more of your co-workers is (or was) job searching, and has given your name to the headhunter as a potential good contact to have in case of other openings.

      1. Jamie*

        Ahhh…that makes sense. It was a much bigger company. I’m sure no one at my current place would risk it…too small a pond.

        Thanks – glad to know it’s not me!

    2. lorrwill*

      Similar experience. I was being cold called for positions I had no experience in at all at one job. I got several of these really weird calls. Changed companies (but not my cell phone number) and nothing since.

  15. HazelUK*

    I got sent for an interview by an agency that had been arranged very quickly. I kept pressing for details but was told that my “medical background” was why they had put me forward for the job. When I got to the interview, which seemed to be a group affair, I realised about an hour into the process that I would be expected to work nights manning a helpline – I’m a medical secretary. I don’t drive and where I am the buses don’t run at night – not quite sure how I would have got to work and home. Much to my embarrassment I had to tell the interviewer that I wasn’t interested actually during the interview as I didn’t want to waste her time.

  16. Sabrina*

    One firm I’ve been to has called me several times, always someone who “just joined the firm” and was given my file. Every time they’d say “We have a job that’s just perfect for you” and the way they’d describe it, it was exactly what I was looking for, and so was the pay. So I’d go in to “update my file” and that job that was perfect for me yesterday for some reason today isn’t going to work out but here’s this other job I might be interested in that isn’t even close to what I want to be doing and pays nothing. They’ve done this to me three times. It’s enough to notice a pattern, I’ll never go back there.

  17. lorrwill*

    And they do this to candidates too. I started my adult working career using staffing agencies and can tell you that things a extremely different now than there were back in the early eighties.

    Now 99% of the time the position advertised by a recruiter does not exist or if it did, it was a very filled or canceled a long time ago.

    The other false ploy they use is to advertise temp-to-perm positions that are only temporary and usually very short term assignments. They client has no intention of hiring any full time staff and the recruiters know that. However, they want a certain skill and experience level and know that those folks are not looking for a low paying short term gig. So they lie about it.

    And then there is the latest one, recruiters from out of state – they just don’t get that 100 miles is too far to commute everyday. Nor that a decent wage in their state may mean living in your car in your state.

    And this is IF you can get anyone to actually speak with you. They seem to be gung-ho on the recruiting but not so much on the actually placing on the job.

    So I have lost all respect for staffing agencies.

  18. Daniel*

    I’d say it’s probably the same with the job seekers.
    With the financial situation pretty bad for the past couple of years, local recruiters know there are going to be a lot of people looking desperately for work, so they use deceptive tactics.

    I have some customer service experience, and although it isn’t my chosen career path, I was out of work a couple of years ago, so I went for it.

    I was selected for interview, and when I turned up, was told that the job was knocking on doors trying to get people to switch electric companies and it would be paid on a commission basis.

    This was pure deception from the agency, and I told the interviewed this and left the interview.

    You’ll find some excellent agencies, but there are some who just want to fill the gap and collect their paycheck.

    The best agencies are the specialist ones who really know their industry. The general ones might not even know who a correct candidate for a job is.

  19. Benjamin*

    Fully agree with the previous comment.

    I think there should be a community that gives feedback on recruitment agencies in order to protect people from fraudulent ones.

  20. Wen*

    I had a recruiter ask me for a full length photo of myself. Seriously? I asked if I was applying for the Betty Ford Modelling Agency or a high level management position. After declining to send the photo he said, “FINE! Don’t send the picture then!”

    Yeah, moving on.

  21. Sharyn*

    I don’t mean to sound redundant, but I HATE, HATE, HATE RECRUITERS! They are nothing but parasites & LIARS! Managers out there: If you can shed some light or make the recruiters look better than the things I describe here, please do so!

    I’ve been in the IT industry for 30 yrs & I know what they’re all about. I’m an independent contractor (or at least that was my initial intention 20 yrs back when I started contracting), but the gatekeepers at corporations/companies make it virtually impossible for the independent person to get in there. You have to be on their “Preferred Vendor” list->translation recruiting agency. I’ve tried many times to get on that coveted “Preferred Vendor List”, but have failed. lt baffles me that companies won’t let the independent contractors (who meets the requirements & who are insured) in, but they have no problem dealing with the crooked recruiters that rip them off with fees. Most companies have a policy that a bond of some ungodly amount is required. They know a smaller entity can’t afford it. So in essence they’re welcoming the recruiter parasites that they know are taking sometimes taking upwards of 40-70% of the hourly bill rate from the person who’s actually doing all the daily work. I think this is unfair, & criminal. I don’t know how they sleep at night. I also don’t understand why this is legal in the IT industry. WHY isn’t there a law that at least caps the amount of “margin” they can take? If these agencies were as honest as they claim, they wouldn’t be so vigilante about hiding the bill rate from the contractor. They don’t want you to know how greedy they are & they know the contractors would be furious & never go for their real margins. They go so far as to put it in their contracts (which I cross out) before signing to say that you won’t discuss the bill rate or try to find it out? Huh? Excuse me, isn’t that against freedom of speech?

    Over the years I’ve tried market-campaigns, cold calling and emailing managers & other tools to get a direct contract, but have been mostly unsuccessful. If somebody has some secrets, please do share! In all these years, I’ve only had two direct contracts, and in both cases the employer didn’t/wouldn’t pay me the rate they were paying the agency, although I wasn’t even ASKING for the astronomical rates they pay the agencies. Hiring me at my asking price was still a great discount. In the 1st case, the manager who was doing the hiring would only let me do direct contracting at a really low rate (the exact same rate online recruiters were giving for the position). I was really angry! I finally get the opportunity for a direct contract & they want to pay me what the middleman would pay. I felt completely cheated, while the employee was thrilled, proud & bragged to peers that he saved the company money—>It boosted his performance review. The lesson is that even if you do get a direct contract, the employer doesn’t want to pay the individual, nor thinks the individual DESERVES what the employer would pay an agency for the same service! It’s such disrespect. They feel they HAVE to pay the agency that extra money, but not you! WTF! I’M THE ONE doing the work! In some cases, like in the above, some managers do stuff like this just to add it as a highlight of their accomplishments for year. The 2nd case was slightly different but even worse. The employer wanted to pay me $25/hr LESS than the rate I was getting when I was a contractor working THROUGH an agency —and they fought me HARD I might add. HUH?!? So let me get this straight, you want to pay me less than the middleman was paying me even though he’s now out of the picture, and for the same services? Yup! Un-freakin believable. They wanted to have their cake & eat it too! However, I stood my ground. I refused to be paid less. If anything, I should have been getting the same rate they had paid the agency in the past for me. Just to keep the job because it was convenient & close to home, I kept working at the same rate that I was working before I was a direct contractor. Not a penny more, not a penny less. Needless to say, I left that pathetic company.

    Besides the things already listed above, here’s some more games recruiters play when negotiating the rate. This is what I’m hearing today. It’s the same as in the past and whenever the economy is bad they take major advantage by deceiving people into believing that the rates are really low due to the economy. Now let me clarify, this may be the case with some struggling companies, but it is not the case with all companies who still pay the same rate when a position is funded & opens up. The recruiter simply lies to you and tells YOU it’s the best rate the company can afford due to a bad economy, …yada,yada. By doing so & if you fall for it, they just added big $$$ to their margin. They probably chuckle all the way to the bank & say to themselves, “works every time!”. I pass on these before I fall for this lie.

    So some more of their tactics:
    1) I always ask agencies about their % for margin (lol as though they would be honest), just to hear them lie or rant with their prepared statements (I’ve heard it a gazillion times!). They say, “Oh No, I ASSURE you our margins are very, very small. We don’t take any where near a high margin like that. We’re barely breakin even”.

    2) Here’s my favorite with respect to margin: “We only take $4 or $5, off the bill rate.” Really? Am I supposed to be sympathetic? What kind of fool do you think I am?

    3) When they sense I’m no fool, they go “You’ve gotta trust me if we’re gonna work together”. Again, really??? Ironically they go on to say, “I don’t know who you’ve dealt with in the past…”. It’s so laughable. Who have I dealt with in the past? YOU- RECRUITERS!

    4) When you say you’re interviewing, they want to know with whom/what company so they can quickly get to that employer with their sales pitch. I stopped giving them this info a long time ago. However, they’ve gotten even slicker with the lies. Hence, watch out for #5 below (which I was COMPLETELY aware of but I threw him a bone because he got me a job-albeit he lied about the amount of margin which I later found out. He told me, “Honestly, we’re not making much off of you because you’re such a senior person. Only a few dollars, really”. Really? Ohh what’s $30/hr? Just a few dollars right?! You do the math. Their margin (around 33%) was on the low end for the typical/standard recruiter parasite so I let it go. (I didn’t go by recruiters word. I was later shown the paper work by the employer)

    5) A few months ago a recruiter looked at my resume & said, “Oh I see you worked at company ABC not that long ago.” Who was your manager there? We have a few projects and consultants there & I’m actually on my way there tomorrow on business. I’d like to talk to your former manager.” (Under pre-tenses for a a reference). Later I found out that he cold called my former manager & took him out to lunch. The recruiter’s company had NO business with my former company and had no consultants there.

    6) Of course there’s the “We need your references from your past two supervisors”…..Nothing but sales leads.

    Some agencies require you meet them for all of these BS reasons, and I stopped doing that a long time ago & I’ve told them flat out, at the end of the day, I’m only interviewing with employers because at the end of the interview at least I have a chance of landing a job as opposed to being filed away in the agencies database just in case a job MIGHT come up that matches my skill set.

    Recruiters are worse than pharmaceutical salesman chasing doctors, or lawyers chasing ambulances. I think recruiters lie way more on a daily basis, every day of the week, all day long. It’s their way of life.

    I think employers should know this by now & they’re probably tired of being lied to also.

  22. OD*

    I have had a great relationship with recruiters till I ended up interacting with the recruiter from hell…

    I had a phone screen with Broadridge a financial consulting firm in Jersey City then I had an in person interview the next day. The commute was 1.5 hours both ways for a total of a 3 hours round trip from Harlem. Later on I get offered the gig but decided to only accept it with the following conditions:

    • That I be able to telecommute part of the time
    • That I be able to leave early if my wife is in court and I have to look after my son
    • That I be able to come in after 9am due to the commute and having to look after my son in the morning

    The recruitment manager then gets back to me with this:

    Hello OD,

    I work with Mahwish Ali and the rest of the East West Systems Recruiting Team.

    I’m following up my voice message from earlier this afternoon, and with your interview at Broadridge yesterday afternoon.

    The hiring manager at Broadridge, Imran Siddiqui, was favorably impressed with the way you presented yourself.

    What really impresses me, though, is how you married an attorney, and had a child, within 24 hours of the interview.  That’s fast work: congratulations!

    I’m making this assumption, OD, based on your e-mail message to my team below.  Based on your professional skills and background, there’d be no way you’d keep the information about your home office, your school-age child, and your attorney wife a secret until after the in-person interview, right? That’d make you look bad, and stain your reputation, as word gets out about this.  I’m sure you’re too smart for that.

    If you really wish to work remotely, as part of this opportunity, there’s a very smart, very clever, and very professional way to have this presented, to put you in the best possible light.  Feel free to contact me (my information is at the bottom of this message), and I’ll be happy to share with you EXACTLY how to do this.


    Tony Mascia


    So, basically he insults me and my family then threatens to ruin my reputation if I did not accept the gig. I didn’t know I was required to reveal my personal life before an interview or before even being offered anything which I am pretty sure breaks labor laws. The only reason I brought up my personal concerns was because I got offered and I have a right to negotiate on my terms. 

      1. OD*

        I basically said that he was the one that was unprofessional because I did not have to accept the job especially if he could not meet my concerns which were very reasonable. I also said that my personal life did not have to be discussed until I got an offer and that he had no business bringing my family into any discussion amongst other things.

  23. M Joy*

    From a candidate’s POV: yes, there surely are some slimy recruiters out there – here’s my latest example:
    Was set up to interview with XYZ Company. Two hours hour before the interview, recruiter calls me to ask if I had a specific skill-set they were looking for (which would have been obvious, had he had the technical know-how to read my resume properly in the first place).
    I answered in the negative. An hour later, AS I AM PULLING OUT OF MY DRIVEWAY to go to the interview, said recruiter calls to cancel the interview!! He obviously over-sold my skills to the company (whom I had worked for before, I might add), thus giving me a black mark with a company that knew me!
    Blech on the parasitic lot of them.

  24. steve*

    You are half-way there. The real problem is that real developers cannot contact business owners because they are SO weary of these screwballs.

    I wish all recruiters would just get a different job.

  25. jack*

    I don’t know if this thread is still alive at this point (Jan 2014) but I’m curious if there are any improvements in contacting I.T. managers directly for development jobs etc. I am getting recruiters asking me now for the “last four digits of your social…”, which I turn down. I can’t believe any company watching their budget would prefer to pay a double-or-more rate to get a candidate than they would to just find candidates themselves, but Sharyn’s comments above seem to indicate the psychosis there. Who knows. Does anyone know of any channels used by managers to find people (either contract or FTE) directly? Thanks in advance.

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