Recruitment Agency Dirty Tricks

Disclaimer:- Unusually for this blog, the below post contains some profanity.  If you’re easily offended, you’re probably best to move along now.

A friend is looking to make a move in the IT industry, and asked my advice on suitable Recruitment Agencies I could recommend to him. I’ve happily done so, as being a former IT Contractor myself – many many years ago now – I dealt with a lot of really good Recruitment Agents and Recruitment Agencies who I still keep in touch with to this day. There are actually very few Agencies I’d consider “bad”, as it’s generally the specific recruitment agent you’re dealing with that determines your experience.However, there are a number of tricks that newbies to the job market might wish to become aware of, so when the Recruitment Agent tries it on with them, they can have a good laugh with said agent about how she is trying to pull the wool over their eyes. They will laugh!

  • “Thanks for your CV. We’ve got a job in mind for you, but we’ll need a couple of references off you before putting you in front of the client.” In plain English this may actually mean – we’ll put your CV on our register, but would you mind giving us a couple of potential employers we can speak to about their recruitment needs right away?
  • “I notice you’re leaving xyz company – who’s your manager there?” Or – can you please give me a potential employer so I can speak to them about their recruitment needs. I’ve also heard they’ve got an ungrateful bastard leaving them that they might not know about yet.
  • A variant on the above, when you don’t give up your Managers name is… “Remind me, is Dave Bloggs still the IT Manager there? He isn’t? Maybe I meant Dave Joggs. Or was it Steve Biggs? Or Karl Moggs? ” The goal here being that eventually you’ll put this poor guy out of his poor addled brained misery and give him a potential Recruiters name at your existing place of work.
  • “Have you got anything else going on at the moment? We want to make sure we don’t pitch you for a job you’re already going for.” Or to put it another way – tell me who else has got a Vacancy at the moment, we can put our far superior candidate in to pip you to the post.
  • “I’ve got the perfect job for you, but it needs you to start immediately” Or – screw your existing employer, just walk out on them. Never mind you’ll have burnt your bridges and acted unethically, they’ll desperately need someone to fill the gap you’ve left! (Agent rubs hands in glee)
  • And when you tell them that travelling to The Outer Hebrides from Birmingham each day is too much of a commute “It’s your decision, but I must tell you that there may not be any other opportunities for you at the moment” or “Take this job whilst we find you something closer to home in the meantime” For that read, I don’t give a rats a$$ about whether you want to commute or not, I want my 20% dammit!
  • Finally, when you turn down that role you’ve been offered “I’m stunned you’re turning this job down. I think it’s perfect for you” or “I really need this deal – you don’t realise the work I’ve put into it” She’s stunned you’ve turned down this role, but not because it’s perfect for you – but because she’s f*cking furious she isn’t getting her 20% – you ungrateful w*nker!
  • And after you do find that perfect role… “Hi, I just wanted to make sure everything was alright” – I just wanted to see if there are any other jobs going on at your new place. Repeat every two months. Finally after twelve months “I’ve got something that might interest you”. In other words, you’ve done me proud in the past – how about I screw my existing client by poaching you for another client.

Queue the flood of irate comments from Recruitment Consultants about how I’m being unfair by tarring with them all with the same brush or how some of the above practices are “necessary”. I’d better watch my step when I visit Bennetts Bar in Birmingham anytime soon, a drunken Recruitment Agent is a nasty thing! Sorry, but I’m merely pointing out that I’ve genuinely experienced all of the above when dealing with sh!tty or underhanded Recruitment Agencies in my time and this is my blog you’re reading, so it’s my opinion you’re reading – be it right or (possibly) woefully wrong.

A reminder that I’ve also worked with some excellent and honest Recruitment Consultants/Agents who I regularly recommend to other people, both potential employees and employers. I also work with Recruitment Agencies as clients and they are nice and honest people – so I’m not anti-Recruitment Agency, I promise you! 🙂

Richard Tubb is an Independent Consultant who works with IT companies to help them feel in control and grow their businesses. You can e-mail him at or connect with him via Twitter and LinkedIn.


2 Responses to “Recruitment Agency Dirty Tricks”

  1. 1 jennifer February 4, 2009 at 9:26 am

    Thank you for this, I was wondering why \’it looks bad on me if they put me forward to somehwere I\’ve already been put forward for\’!

  2. 2 Arminder September 30, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Nice – I like this – thanks for translating "Recruit Speak" – I\’ll have to remember it.

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