Main image of article Some Recruiters Demand Social Network Connections
Some recruiters are instructing job seekers to add them to their social networks if they want help finding work, but some candidates are pushing back. “One recruiter said that if I wanted the job, I had to add him to my social network,” recounts Benjamin Weiss, who’s been an Android developer for four years. “That was so arrogant. I already had a good job and I’m good at what I do, so why should I have to add him to my network to get a job?” Many recruiters protest that attempts at forced connection are the exceptions and not the rule. “It's a common practice for recruiters to ask to join a candidate's network, but I've never heard of a case where they said they wouldn't move a resume forward if the applicant didn't,” says Douglas Roark, managing director at Dallas-based Staff Perm and vice president of the DFW Texas Recruiters Network. “If they do, I think that is a bad practice. You may have young recruiters who are coloring outside the lines, but I've never heard of this.” Still, whether it’s a common practice or not doesn’t matter if you’re the one under pressure. After all, no candidate wants to pass up a chance at a good job. So what do you do?

Sound the Bell

If a recruiter says you must connect, you’ve got several options, advises Roark, who has also served on the board of DFW Texas Recruiters' Social Media Committee. In sharing his personal opinion on the matter, he outlines four steps:
  • Search the website of the recruiter's company to file a complaint. Most have a correspondence or complaint section.
  • Call the recruiter's manager or director to lodge a complaint.
  • Notify the recruiter's HR department.
  • Reach out to the CEO or an executive officer at the recruiter's company.
"Sometimes a practice like this can be coming from an individual recruiter and not be the practice of the company," Roark says. "Sometimes a simple call to an authoritative individual may stop it." For the best results, be polite and explain how the recruiter’s demand is an unfair hiring process. "This should get the attention of a senior level manager in the company," Roark says. Roger King, CEO of Chief People, a Sausalito, Calif., recruiter for startups, offered another suggestion: "Call the recruiter's client and complain." Client companies will likely appreciate learning about the recruiter's behavior, he says, and, if anything, would like to be given a second chance to provide the candidate with a pleasant experience.

Potential Push Back

Of course, candidates who complain about any matter may face repercussions, notes one recruiter. "You could be cutting yourself off, but you have to consider what are you cutting yourself from," says the Silicon Valley recruiter, who requested anonymity. For example, a recruiter working on a retained search has been given the exclusive right to find a candidate for a particular job opening, usually for an upper management or executive post, or for a highly selective search that hasn’t been publicized. A complaint filed against that recruiter could cut you off from the main entry point to a particular job or organization. A similar scenario could happen with a contract recruiter. "If a job seeker files a complaint against a contract recruiter and it's for a company they really want to work for, they have just shut the door to that company," says the Silicon Valley recruiter. But the impact is likely less if you file a complaint against a contingency recruiter. They usually represent multiple companies on job searches, and often the same job with the same company is being handled by several of them at once. So although you could potentially lose out on having one recruiter place you, other recruiters could still put your name in for the same position. Have you had a recruiter lean on you to connect? Tell us about it in the comments below.