My Experience with Recruiters

Just like the fact that there are good freelancers and bad freelancers the same goes for recruiters. These stories of two bad experiences I've had this year are an effort to help freelancers and people looking for work be aware of things that can happen.

Routinely I apply for positions stating up front that I'm a contractor unless it's a position that I really want. It's worked out quite well for companies who can't find the right person but need immediate design help. Every now and again I've applied for the actual position and if the job is everything the posting makes it out to be I would consider employment [1]. Most of the time the position becomes much better suited for contract work anyway so it's a win-win. However, many jobs postings out there are not done by the company looking to hire, they can be posted by recruiters with the consent of the company or in these two cases done without their consent. With that, let's start with case one.

Case Number One
Through Indeed I applied for a designer position at Company Unnamed (first red flag is not seeing the company name [2]). The general location sounded right, the position sounded right and I had all the qualifications to come in and make an immediate impact. I received a call from number in the Atlanta area (I am in Cincinnati) saying that they were working with Company Unnamed and told me more details about the job. The recruiter were careful not to mention the company name but acted as if he had in depth knowledge of them, their work and their employees and even called them "my client". If I was still interested, he was going to call the company and arrange an interview. Of course I was interested so without knowing the company name, I allowed the recruiter to schedule an interview.

Within two days I heard back from the recruiter via email regarding the opportunity. At this point, I was now finally aware of the company name and location. Everything still seemed on the up and up. The email was odd though. Peppered throughout it were highlighted sentences like:

Bring a pen and pad to take notes. (This makes YOU LOOK SMART AND ATTENTIVE) - that is exactly how it was written.

Ask 2 meaningful questions

Do not discuss salary

Tell the manager at the end "Thank you for speaking with me. I want this job and can perform at a high level for you guys"

Okay, then.

Upon arrival for the interview, I was met by the company owner. First words out of his mouth was something like "we've got to talk about this recruiter to make sure we're not wasting each other's time". Uh oh. So just as the recruiter acted as if he was best friends with the company to me, he made the same impression about me to the company. The company was led to believe that I had an intimate relationship with the recruiter who I had first contact with only four days prior. It was quite clear that neither one of us knew the recruiter. The company had posted a job once upon a time. The recruiter clearly reposted it without the company's permission and tried to marry us together for fun and profit. Days later, I spoke with the company owner and said the recruiter bitched him out after he was called out for what he had done.

Case Number Two
After applying for another job through Indeed I was contacted by a recruiter who said I was PERFECT for this project/product engineering position. A recruiting company had once again posted "on behalf" of Unnamed Company Number Two. Over the phone, the eager recruiter gave me intimate details of the company, their products and their need. I knew everything about them except the company's actual name or location. An interview was later scheduled after a few days. No mention that this interview was scheduled with the recruiter only, at the recruiter's office with no one from the unnamed company present.

The interview with the recruiter went great and I finally learned the company name and location. After discussing my significant project and product management experience with installs world-wide, the recruiter changed his approach and started telling me that the company needed my management skills more than my design skills. He had me completely sold that I was a lock and was going to talk to the company tomorrow and would call me the day after. About a week later I sent an email to the recruiter asking if he had heard anything. It turns out that I had applied to that same company for a different position a month prior through LinkedIn and the recruiter couldn't represent me as a result.

About a month later, the recruiter called me out of the blue saying the company still had a position open and with my blessing he would reach out to them again and "talk me up". I told him to go ahead and never heard from him again. Overall, it was an odd experience. As far as the LinkedIn ad, I received a "form" email from the company that I didn't meet the qualifications of the position they had posted. I have no way of knowing how much conversation the recruiter had with the company about me if any at all.

Be aware of jobs you apply to and who you are applying through. There's no way to tell if an ad is legitimate or not, but if an obvious recruiter calls and the conversation starts to get odd be on high alert.

[1] Some may consider this approach in poor form. However, I am always up front with any potential employer/client about my status. I am open to full employment but it must be right for me, the company and my family.

[2] I completely understand legitimate companies wanting to use recruiters and not having their name on the job post. But not having the company name on the post means that most likely you will be dealing with a recruiter, be it for good or bad.

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