Is recruiting the Game of Lies or is it still real professional matchmaking?

I found my best jobs with the help of professional recruiters and I managed to solve some of my most difficult staffing issues with recruiting experts. Am I living in the past?

I am noticing a bad vibe around recruiting and an increasing trend from hiring managers and candidates to try out alternative recruiting and job seeking solutions.  I am also noticing that online forums, advisory boards, job portals and social media networks are increasingly full of opinion pieces regarding the demise of the recruiting industry. It appears that the recruiting industry is in trouble and everyone involved (including the candidates) is finger pointing at the others.


“It’s not me – it’s them” is the common commentary, and anger, frustration and the never ending accusation of ‘lies’ seems to be the main explanation for the apparent demise.


So has the process of recruiting evolved to a business of lies? I regularly curate blog post material on the subject of HR practises and recruiting and what I read is disturbing. Many of the industry experts in Australia, New Zealand and of course North America are lamenting a demise of the industry and most blog posts confirm that the idea that ‘honesty is not always the best policy’ is a common one… but more on that later.


I found that there are 3 general categories of commentators on the recruiting subject in online forums and blogs:

  1. Recruiters – Where about 99% agreed with the ‘lies’ and found it all a bit humorous.
  2. Job seekers – Who confirm the things that are posted in blogs (often about what happened to them) and who want help in how they should address recruiters’ ‘lies’.
  3. The Haters – These people assume all ‘candidates’ are out of work people, and that they weren’t lying (or had to lie) to get a job. There’s really no logic in addressing these Haters, because many candidates do lie and are actually employed.  Candidates lie because they don’t want to tell the recruiter the truth and … well, candidates lie because most other candidates lie! The ‘other group’ of Haters also point out that recruiters lie! To that charge I say – “Yes, yes they do!”


I found this great blog post from one of the heavy weights in the North American recruiting industry. It summarises the finger pointing really well. I have shortened the findings.


Here are the Top 5 Lies That Recruiters Tell

(re-posted from Tim Sacket CEO at Talent 911 )

  • The “Send Us Your Resume, Even Though We Don’t Have a Job” Lie – This was pointed out by a few people and I would say this is a ‘semi-lie’.  While the recruiter might not have the opening currently, they’re asking for a resume because they frequently have openings pop up and they never know when one is coming. The recruiter, though, is wrong by not telling you this up front so that you know what to expect.


  • The “Hiring Manager Hasn’t Gotten Back To Me” Lie – This is a lie and not a lie – potentially!  For corporate recruiters, this is either a lie or them just being lazy, so you pick. If you’re a corporate recruiter and tell the candidate that the hiring manager hasn’t gotten back to you, get up from your desk and walk over to the hiring manager’s desk. If they’re in a different location and won’t get back to you, well, you have an influencing problem you need to work on. Agency-wise, it’s one of the frustrating things recruiters have to deal with.  Hiring Managers will get back to recruiters when they feel like it, and usually after they’ve exhausted every other opportunity internally to fill the position.


  • The “Never Call Back the Candidate” Lie – This really isn’t a lie, but many commentators pointed out that this happens all the time! For the sake of recruiters everywhere, if you do this, please quit this profession because all other professional recruiters dislike you as well. You give the profession a bad name. It takes 10 seconds to call back a candidate you spoke to about a job and tell them, “Sorry, you were not chosen – stay in touch, or don’t call me again, etc.” Ten seconds!

Dear Recruiter Haters, bad recruiters don’t call you back because they have major conflict avoidance issues and don’t like telling people negative stuff like, “You’re not a good fit, we found someone better,” or just a simple lie like, “We filled it internally.


  • The “You Didn’t Score High Enough On The Assessment“ Lie — The company you’re trying to get into might actually have cut-off scores that they’ve established at some point. The lie comes into play when a hiring manager presents someone they’ve worked with previously and that person scores the same as you (or maybe even lower) but still gets the job. If they really like you, the assessment won’t stop them from hiring you.


  • The “We’ve Decided To Go Another Direction” Lie – This one goes along with the “We really liked you, but…” Lie. Basically, this is Recruiter Training 101 – to not get yourself into trouble when telling a candidate they didn’t get the job and give them a reason that legally can never come back and bite them in the butt. Such as, “We really, really, really liked you but have decided to not fill the position.” Two weeks later, a new job posting comes out that seems very similar to the old one, but with a title change and a few description changes. Yes, they didn’t like you.


Does all this sound familiar? I’m afraid it does. I have no silver bullet solution but I can offer another summary why there are so many lies.


The biggest reason why recruiters lie

They have major conflict avoidance issues and are not willing to tell you the truth, which is usually that you aren’t what they are looking for.  They don’t want to hurt your feelings or are simply not comfortable doing it.


I have worked with many experienced and very professional recruiting firms and learned firsthand that some candidates would actually be helped by a little recruiter honesty, but recruiters are afraid of candidates who get told the truth and then go to government agencies, or just flat out decide to take a recruiter or hiring manager to court.  Many Candidates have a hard time with negative feedback.  So, the lies come out because recruiters have found that lies are easier than the truth.


I know that something has to change for a better recruiting future so all involved return to ‘matchmaking’ vs. lying.  I would love to hear your comments but I am not looking for long ‘hater’ e-mails and lamentations!  Give us some simple, common sense ideas on how recruiting can evolve into matchmaking. I am positive that someone out there is working on a solution, maybe even on a new way of recruiting?!


So, if you are out there in the world of job seeking and recruiting, tell us about yourself and if you have some good ideas, give us your comments and, no matter on what side of the table you’re positioned, remember to


Hunt wisely!