Are executive recruiters dinosaurs?

It’s not hard to find people who have been “burned” by executive recruiters.  While there are some really good ones there are still too many who treat candidates like expendable assets who don’t even deserve basic business courtesy.

When I had first moved to Massachusetts I contacted several executive recruiters to try and find a position with the numerous pharma and biotech companies in Cambridge.  I even met with one at my house and showed him my portfolio, including some interactive marketing awards that I had won.  Two weeks later I never heard from him again.

You would think that a story like that is a rarity, but I hear it often from people who are looking to switch jobs and the horror stories keep on coming.  One woman interviewed for a senior director’s position and went through three rounds of interviews and never heard back from the recruiter who set up the interviews.  “When they want you recruiters pretend to be your best friend, but when an employer rejects you the silence is deafening”.

There are many reasons that candidates get rejected by employers.  Some reasons are that employers fear “change agents” or people who are smarter than the hiring manager.  Sure, there are some candidates who come unprepared or make a bad impression, but most are well prepared and anxious to understand why they may not be considered for a specific position.

I always tell colleagues to be very wary of executive recruiters and if they do forward resumes to include a disclaimer that this resume is only to be submitted upon approval of the candidate.

We don’t expect to be coddled when we work with a recruiter; we just want the simple business courtesy and respect.  This means keeping us informed as to what’s going on and suppling us with feedback when we don’t get the job.  More importantly, don’t bullshit us.

Executive recruiters do serve a purpose, but when these recruiters act like used car salesmen it’s time to dump them.  You should be very skeptical when a recruiter tells you that you might be a “good fit” because it’s not often about the fit, but how someone who interviews that day feels about your appearance and handshake.

Corporate recruiters need to ditch bad recruiters and it’s in their best interests to ask candidates to review recruiters during the hiring process.  This is especially true of people who don’t get the job.


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