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6 Hidden Evils of Recruitment

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Summary: To what unethical ends are you willing to let a recruiter go to get you an interview and eventually a job?

6 Hidden Evils of Recruitment
  • Sure, recruiters are good people, or at least they make themselves out to seem like they’re good people.
  • They are kind, accommodating, receptive, accepting and empathetic.
  • However, what goes on behind the scenes of the recruiting machine may indeed not be so worker friendly.
  • Find out in this article what some of those not-so-worker-friendly processes are and how they can affect your job search.

It’s not easy being a job seeker.

Sure, you’ve prepared yourself for the task of finding a job. Your resume is in good shape with no typos or grammatical errors. And to boot, you look very business-like and ready for any challenges the HR department and potentially, the tests that a new job could throw your way.

The problem is this isn’t how some recruiters see things.

They don’t look at you as a willing worker, eager to get started in a new position that you can thrive in. What recruiters may instead see is a piece of meat that they plan to slam into a job opening that needs to be filled ASAP.

Your credentials and past achievements don’t matter. Your skills and experience are casually glanced over. The fact that you are here, standing and breathing in front of an HR representative is reason enough for you to be offered the job.

Never mind the flowery platitudes of the job’s description; the needfulness of a “team player” with “creative intent” who “thinks outside of the box.”

What does such a job description even mean?

Who are the “outside the box” thinkers with “creative intent” that are also “team players?”

No one you know, and when it all comes down to it, no one that the recruiter knows.

But either way, you’re perfect for the job. As long as you show up each day, complete your tasks, leave then show up the next day, everything’s copasetic. Oh, and by the way, you also have to do the following:
  1. Look the part for the job, but also remember who you are as a person.
  2. Apply ASAP because others before you already have.
  3. Announce yourself with your college degree.
  4. Oversell your ability to do the job.
  5. Don’t apply if you were previously a contractor, freelancer or otherwise a solopreneur.

If anything, all this points to a job market in which you have to at the very least, embellish who you are if not downright falsify your experience as a legitimate worker.

Meanwhile, the recruiter has a job to fill. And you may be the one to fill it if the following six red flags don’t fly into your face first.
6 Hidden Evils of Recruitment

As has been said, recruitment can have some dark hues to it. Most of that is due to one recruitment staff competing with another, as well as a very tight job market in which there simply aren’t enough workers to fill the vacancies.

Invariably, this leads to some shady dealings within the HR and recruitment worlds as you will see in the following 6 examples, called Former Recruiters Reveal The Industry’s Dark Secrets That Costs You Job Offers, which was first published on the Fast Company website.
  1. Your Online Identity Could Work Against You

With the onslaught of all things online, it has become a common practice in recruiting to Google potential candidates who make it far in the recruiting process.

In fact as former recruiter Laurie Ruettimann explains, recruiters are known to Google job applicants even before the innocuous initial phone interview occurs in which a candidate is offered small details of a job’s tasks, where at the end of the interview, the recruiter asks the broad stroke question of “Is this something you feel you can do?”

This vetting by internet isn’t limited to just one form of social media such as Facebook or Twitter. Recruiters also examine LinkedIn accounts, personal websites and blog posts all in an effort to judge a candidate’s character and credibility. Needless to say, many have questioned not just the invasiveness and discrimination of this practice, but the potential illegality of it as well.

Then as the Fast Company article explains there’s the physical judging that occurs in the recruiting process.

Yes, believe it or not, there have been cases in which stereotypes have been gathered and harped on when “looking” for, or rather at the perfect candidate.

For instance, overweight candidates can in some cases forget about working for an exercise or health company as overweight people are thought of as slovenly or without ambition.

The same can be said for ethnicity in which a candidate of color or of a certain sex is considered more highly than one who is Caucasian and (in particular) male.

This often occurs in instances where diversity has become the focus of a business’s hiring practice. Yes, it’s a fine effort to do this, and kudos to the entity that attempts to make itself more diverse. But as many have asked, does it really matter when most of the entity’s leaders are older white males?

For the truly desperate businesses that face workforce diversity issues, their recruiting staff have gone far enough to use “visibly diverse” as a measuring stick of how diverse a job candidate is, or looks.

From that point on, questions arise in which candidates are wondered by recruiters as to whether or not they’re “black enough,” or have enough gray hair, queries that undoubtedly could land a business’s HR department if not the business itself in legal hot water.
  1. You Are Given A False Number of Applicants

Have you ever had a recruiter tell you how many candidates he or she has spoken to regarding the job you are inquiring about?

This is a tactic designed to make you think there is much more competition for the job than there truly is.

Giving out false numbers regarding how many people have applied to a job is used to insight you into applying for that same job, ASAP.

Recruiters wise to this tactic suggest candidates stay calm and collected if they hear this. While appealing and popular jobs working within Google, Microsoft or Disney may have exponentially more applicants, it is more likely with lesser known companies that only two or three applicants have applied for a certain job.

This can bring the odds tremendously in your favor as the recruiter by now has more than likely narrowed down their candidate pool to which there’s probably a strong chance you are in that pool.
  1. Hopefully You Have Strong College And Workplace Cred

At the start of a company’s hiring process, they may receive over 100 resumes for any given job opening. So with that, the question becomes how a recruiter narrows down the 100 resumes to the top 10 or 20 percent of applicants. It’s simple. The recruiter bases their choice on prestigious credentials.

One recruiter in the Fast Company article states that they “go (down) to lower common denominators.”

“Who are all the Ivy League–school grads? Who are the McKinsey folks? Who is from a brand or company who we know and love? We wouldn’t eliminate people for not having these things,” the former recruiter states, “but we would prioritize people who did have Harvard credentials, for instance.”

Of course, this can result in a candidate pool that’s only as diverse as those elite institutions.

The recruiter goes on to explain that the only really effective workaround is a referral.

“It can supersede a lot of things. It depends who it’s from, but if the CEO says, ‘We should be talking to that person,’ [recruiters] will be screening that person”–no matter what name brands may or may not grace their resume.

To be considered against stacked odds like these, the recruiter says: “It’s really important to be able to network your way in . . . Go look at LinkedIn profiles of people inside the organization. Look at how they came up and where they came up, and model their paths. What led them to their role eventually?”
  1. Sell Yourself Well

Experience is a fickle benefit as well as a hopeless detriment.

The reason experience can be as much an ally as it can an anchor during job interviews is because what a candidate displays as their capabilities to perform the job might not be what a hiring manager is looking for.

Many companies are either looking for someone who has a very specific type of experience or someone who has a plethora of knowledge in many fields that can complement each other, such as a computer programmer who also has a background in tech support.

Conversely, some employers like candidates with experience in multiple fields. Say, for example, a machine shop’s shift supervisor who is also an accomplished mechanic can for an industrial enterprise cover a lot of ground – which again is something a hiring manager will lust over.

None of this should be too difficult for a recruiter to discern. However, as was stated earlier, recruiting is a competitive business. To that end, there are times when a recruiter may not have candidates that fill out the entire package of what a company wants in a recruit. Or, their experience may not exactly fit.

In lieu of this, former recruiter Erica Breuer reveals in the Fast Company article that she would sit her recruits down and tell them up front, “Listen, they’re really looking for this—what can we do about it?’ I would encourage the candidate sometimes to just bring it up and be frank,”

Other recruiters have told their job seekers to talk up a snippet of their experience to match what an employer wants to hear.

Without a doubt, recruiters who engage in this type of action and given the poor spate of advice of “just tell them what they want to hear,” are not only risking the candidate and their reputation, but also risking their own reputation as unethical, and not worth hiring as a recruiting service once more job openings occur in the future.

Breuer says she’d also have to “prep the client” in situations like these, encouraging hiring managers to ask a certain question that she’d coached the candidate to answer. “When you get to that point when you only have two options, you’ve got to get creative with your candidate.”
  1. If You Are A “Solopreneur” You May Be Frowned Down Upon

During the times in a person’s life when they are job seekers, it is always good advice to follow the economic market. That way, a job seeker will know if now or sometime later in the future might be a more optimal time to look for a job.

The market can indicate how soon a person will be hired as well as how high their salary might be. With that, some economists believe an economic downturn is overdue, which will flood the job market with legions of contract workers, freelancers, and so-called “solopreneurs” applying for corporate jobs with full-time benefits. Whether or not that proves true, to the recruitment world, the so-called gig economy that these solopreneurs are a part of is a falsity at best.

Former recruiters agree that if a person is self-employed, it’s because they can’t get full-time work, which is true in a high percentage of those driving for Uber, Lyft or delivering GrubHub in between dog walking stints.

Sure, some solopreneurs say they like “the freedom” that comes with participating in a gig economy, but honestly, when the day is done and they have the opportunity to take on full time work with benefits, not many would balk at such a notion.

The problem is that notion will never come their way. Job seekers looking for traditional roles after years of supporting themselves—particularly older ones—face serious ageism and bias in the workforce.

Ruettimann states, “If you’ve been in this gig economy, get your references in order and make sure you’re working for really awesome clients who can vouch for you, then think about turning those clients from customers into employers.”

Secondly, “downplay how much you took on in terms of risk or innovation or ability,” as that experience won’t matter nearly as much as a solid and easily understood job description to those conducting the interview.

The point is this: Solopreneurs are looked at as risk-takers. And in the working world where so much depends upon uniformity and following rules, risk-takers are thought of as unpredictable liabilities.

Given that, job seekers are encouraged to highlight that in previous jobs they were team workers who took orders, were looking to learn and easily collaborated with the other workers present.
In the end, recruiters and hiring managers alike are looking for someone who will come in and assimilate with the team, not necessarily challenge it.
  1. Dream Job, Though It is Not

Pitching a job is much like pitching a business to potential investors.

There’s great flamboyant talk of how fantastic the position is, how nice and caring the coworkers are, how cool the perks are and how lucrative the job seeker will be once he or she is brought onboard.

To this, former recruiter Breuer explains, “There are a lot of companies talking about their mission and values, but it’s really a sales story. I was seeing huge promises get made to candidates, and three weeks in they are emailing me saying, ‘Hey, this isn’t what I expected.'”

Breuer states that what she found to be most oversold was the degree of flexibility that came with the role and e-learning and internal education [opportunities].

“I think companies know how much both of those things mean to candidates,” so recruiters tout them, often in good faith. But, she says, “I don’t think companies have the best systems and internal processes in place to make sure they’re fulfilling on them.”

She goes on to say that as recruiters “We have these stories that we repeat—that sales story. We believe it when we’re saying it because we’ve heard it so often.” even if it isn’t entirely true.

The only real solution is for the job seeker to speak to someone who actually works at the company at which they want to apply.

Another suggestion is to read the company’s Glassdoor and Yelp reviews or query former employees on LinkedIn.

As Breuer states, “If you think you’ve done enough research, do that extra half hour—reach out to a few more people, Google it one more time. If you’re not feeling sure, there’s probably info you haven’t uncovered yet that’s making you feel nervous about what you’re looking at.”
In Conclusion

The crux of this article relies on the message of “job seeker beware.”

In job interviews, we are often told untruths; benefits that kick in far later than we were led to believe – that is if they kick in at all. Raises promised but never realized and perks that punked us from the get-go.

The best way to combat any of these falsehoods is to be aware of the job and economic markets. Weigh one against the other to find out when might be an opportune time to look for a new job. In strong markets where workers are scarce, recruiters also know that workers are scarce, which is why they are on the ropes for good high quality candidates, not just warm bodies with working limbs. Be cognizant of this, and challenge the recruiters with strong questions about the job you’re applying to, the coworkers, managers, business and benefits that surround the job, and with your experience, a fair evaluation as to whether or not you would make a good fit.

Your research will tell you if the recruiter lies in some way, brings up only half truths, or isn’t knowledgeable enough about the job opening. Once that becomes apparent, it’s time to head for the exit.

Stay vigilant and alert, and know through online research and while speaking with both past and present employees of the business where you plan to work, what demarcates the truth from the recruiter BS.

Remember, as you’re going to eventually be the one with a job, you may as well assure yourself it will be the job in which you can nicely fit and of course ultimately thrive.

For more information, look into these articles:
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