Main image of article Recruiting's Dirty Little Secrets
One of the biggest controversies to rock the tech world over the past few years was the revelation that executives at Apple, Google, and other firms “fixed” the market for highly skilled tech workers by agreeing not to steal each other’s employees. If the unveiling of that secret practice made you wonder about the true modus operandi of corporate and third-party recruiters, you’re not alone. Across the country, tech workers are wondering: Did that last recruiter deliberately steer me toward some jobs instead of others? Are my resumes really being kept on file? Are in-house recruiters giving equal consideration to outsiders?

“No Poaching” Tactics Are Common

Some companies will hire aggressive third-party recruiters in order to prevent them from stealing their staff, according to Erica Seidel, an executive recruiter and founder of The Connective Good, a recruiting firm based in Cambridge, Mass. “Companies protect their turf by awarding contracts with ‘no poaching’ clauses to hotshot recruiters,” she noted. “Most recruiters won’t source candidates from a client because it’s bad for business.”

Recruiters Follow the Money

When demand exceeds supply, recruiters increase placement rates and commissions by submitting top candidates to companies that offer competitive base salaries or lucrative placement fees. But a recruiter may not lobby for a higher starting salary if they’re paid a flat fee—in other words, their financial interests may not align with yours. “Always ask a recruiter whether they’re making a flat fee or a percentage of base salary,” suggested Ronjon Bhattacharya, director at Kendall Staffing, a software recruiting firm based in Cambridge, Mass. “While recruiters represent companies and candidates, in some cases, they may encourage you to consider deals that benefit them or seem easy to close.”

Some Jobs Aren’t Really Open to Outsiders

Just because a job is posted on a job board or a company’s website doesn’t mean that you stand a chance. In fact, some 30 to 35 percent of open positions go only to internal candidates or recent college grads, said Shally Steckerl, president of The Sourcing Institute, a training firm for recruiters based in Norcross, Ga. If that didn’t make things hard enough, referred candidates usually receive first consideration. In essence, only a small percentage of jobs are actually open to outsiders with no connections.

Rejected Candidates Can Be Blacklisted

Unselected finalists sometimes end up blacklisted by recruiters. “Either they prefer to work with fresh candidates or they forget to update your status in the system, so your name doesn’t come up when recruiters search the database,” Steckerl said. “Either way, you’re unlikely to hear from a recruiter if you go through the interviewing process and don’t receive an offer.”

Many Recruiters Have Activity Quotas

Why do recruiters pepper you with unsuitable positions? Why do they push for interviews? While the real pros won’t waste your time, newbies often grasp at straws because they’re judged on activity such as interviews and resume submittals, as well as results. Some recruiters also use interviews to gather market intelligence; they view the resulting reference checks as a way to meet new IT managers and solicit job orders.

Most Recruiters Want to Screen You Out

Most recruiters don’t read resumes. Instead, they scan resumes and cover letters for keywords before asking professionals a series of “knockout” questions. “They’ll ask if you have a certain amount of experience with a tool or software program,” Steckerl noted. “If you answer no to any screening question, that’s it.” Will they really keep your resume on file if you miss a knockout question? Yes, it’s stored in the database for a year or two. But if you want to be considered for future openings, you’ll need to stay in touch.

You’re Locked Out Once a Recruiter Submits Your Resume

In most cases, you can’t apply for any job at a company for six to 12 months after a recruiter submits your resume. Having two or more recruiters submit your resume for the same position may force you out of the running.

Rejection Letters Are Boilerplate

Recruiters are reluctant to share the real reason why you’re rejected. And if they do come clean, they certainly won’t put the information in a letter. You should absolutely ask for feedback… but unfortunately, you may never know the real reason why you weren’t chosen for a position.

Upload Your ResumeEmployers want candidates like you. Upload your resume. Show them you're awesome.

Related Articles

Image: Olivier Le Moal/