The Truth – Impossible To Trip Over

Picture of Tom Greet

Tom Greet

💥🏉The Rugby-Playing Recruiter!

There’s an old saying that I’ve used throughout my life – and it’s this:

“You can trip over a lie, but you can’t trip over the truth”

This is something that all recruiters should remember throughout their careers. As much as it may be easy to tell a little white lie every now and again to a customer in order to spare their feelings or improve your chances of working together, that lie may do more harm than good.

And it’s easy to slip up once you’ve told the lie. You’ll have to remember saying it and the more it happens, the harder it will be. Until one day, you’ll slip up and potentially lose a client, candidate, fee and even your good reputation.

In this article, I will attempt to break down a few lies that are told within the recruitment industry on an almost daily basis. From there, I’ll give my account as to why, long term, saying that should be avoided.

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It’s important to say at this point that I too have been guilty of a few of these in my early days in recruitment, and I will gladly say that as I’ve learned from my mistakes. These days, I will always be as honest as I can, as that’s the way I’d wish to be treated.

So without further ado, let’s jump into a few things that actual recruiters say that can often be a lie:

1.) “I’ve got loads of candidates for you, working exclusively with me!”

Top of my list, and a particular bugbear for me when going up against another rec2rec to win business. I will always say if I have candidates in mind, but more often than not they will probably be gone by the time I speak to them as recruitment moves quickly. The one thing I’ll never say is that I have loads of people.

Let’s face it, both of the above statements aren’t true. As soon as a brilliant candidate becomes available, they’re gone within days, whether that be through you or somebody else. Once you start working with that customer, they’ll want to see these brilliant candidates – what do you do then? you’ll have to lie again and say that they’ve been snapped up by a rival, or that they’ve changed their mind. The lies grow deeper and will cause you unnecessary stress.

Maybe when you’re pitching to a potential customer, mention your resourcing style, and how you hook potential people with an opportunity. Maybe also add that you may not find anyone for weeks, but anyone that you do send over will be credible. That honest approach will rarely come back to haunt you.

Honesty will always win!

2.) “They’ve got other offers on the table”

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They might well do, and your customer will miss out on securing them if that’s the case. But imagine if you’re lying just to try and scare the company into making an offer quickly to increase your pipeline or hit your target.

This may lead to more questions:

  • Where’s the offer?
  • How much is it?
  • When do they need to give you an answer?
  • Is there much point in proceeding if they already have options?

Do you really need to go further down that hole that you’ve dug yourself? The customer may even call the candidate to find out more, depending on if they have a good relationship. And then you have the risk of being rumbled.

Just don’t do it. It’s really not worth the extra hassle.

3.) “I’m an experienced recruiter/specialist”

First of all, it’s great that you have this confidence in your ability. You’ve worked hard to learn all there is to know about your chosen sector, built up a great reputation, and put in some real hard graft to achieve your success. It’s taken years, as that’s how long you’ve been doing this for.

Hasn’t it? Because to be defined as ‘experienced’ or ‘specialist’, you have to be very knowledgable in your field and that can take years to achieve.

As much as you may have the confidence to say you are, you can’t be a specialist after only a few months. The expectation from clients and candidates will be huge, and if they think you know everything there is to know, you’ll be in for a shock when they ask you a particularly taxing question.

Even after nearly 5 years of rec2rec, I still don’t know everything, and I probably never will. This isn’t because I’m a slow learner, it’s simply because you will never stop learning about your role until the day you retire. So remember that when you can.

And……it’s completely fine to tell someone “I’m new to this, so please bare with me”.

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So there are a few things from recruiters. I think it’s safe to say that the above situations should be completely avoided to maintain good/honest relationships.

But think about why they started lying. A lot of this can come from Recruitment Managers forcing their team to dabble with the truth. If you are one of these, then I strongly suggest that you think about your style and what it’s doing to your business and team long-term.

Sometimes, it starts with the Interview process, which anyone reading this will have been through at least a couple of times during their recruitment career. Here are a few things said by Hiring Managers to try and entice people to join them. Buckle up:

1.) “It’s a hot desk on offer”

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A hot desk essentially means that there a roles to work on from day one, as well as an up-to-date CRM system with candidates that can be contacted about said roles. If you actually arrived to a hot desk at your company, you’re incredibly lucky!

But picture a slightly different scenario.

Someone has bought into a company’s ethos and values, as well as the culture and career opportunities on offer. They now wish to find out more about the desk that they will be working on, as they will be spending over 40 hours per week growing it for the foreseeable future.

If you legitimately have a hot desk for them, then brilliant. You’ll be able to sell the dream to them even more so that if/when an offer materialises, they’ll be more likely to accept. No concerns and you’ve told the truth since the start.

Now let’s just say on the other hand that you felt compelled to tell them that there was a hot desk on offer, even though you know there isn’t. And they accept an offer based on this decision.

Fast forward to day one of their new job with the company – imagine the shock they’ll get when they find out that there are no clients, candidates or even a database to work through. They’re going to have to work harder than they thought to win business quickly so that they have a chance of passing their probation.

Possible knock-on effects could be:

  • Raised stress and anxiety levels
  • Loss of respect for you as an employer
  • Loss of motivation to do the job properly
  • Leaving sooner than expected
  • Potential reduction of future employees due to word of mouth/glassdoor/etc

One key point has been missed here – if you had to lie to convince someone to join your business, are they the right person in the first place? And for that matter, are your internal processes correct? Many different factors to consider here.

2.) “We offer flexible working”

I feel that this one has been lost in translation somewhat over the years. Let’s elaborate on this.

‘Flexible working’ traditionally means having the ability to work from home occasionally, as well as flexibility around start and finish times. For most full-time working parents, this suits perfectly and is preferred.

In recent years, especially since 2020, ‘hybrid working’ has become a must-have for many recruiters. Just having the option to work from home is brilliant, and it means you can save what is now considered to be a small fortune in travel costs.

But supposing someone has accepted a role with your company after you lied to them about this possibility. Every time someone accepts a role, there are many factors that they take into account. The main one is usually around the remuneration they will receive.

The average commute by public transport in the UK is 59 minutes per day (according to a 2019 report), or 23 miles. In London Alone, the cost of an underground day pass can be as high as £14.10 depending on which zone you need. (figure correct as of July 2022)

If they’ve been told, for example, they are allowed to work 2 days per week from home, not only will they be saving 2 hours a week in commute time, but could be saving as much as £28 in travel costs per week.

That equates to over 100 hours AND £1456 saved every year!

With the cost of living rapidly increasing, this saving could be the difference between living comfortably and not.

So as soon as they realise that, in fact, they AREN’T allowed to work from home, not only does disposable income go down drastically but so does their rest-time in between working days.

Do you really want to put more burden on your team members? Simply because you love being able to keep an eye on your team all day and don’t trust them to work independently?

Don’t expect anyone to stay too long with your company if you go back on this promise. Plus, as mentioned in a previous article, you reduce your candidate pool by as much as 70% if you insist on 5 days per week in the office.

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3.) “We don’t Micromanage”

Well, this one will soon become apparent. And again, it’s one that many misinterpret.

In my own opinion, micromanagement is putting KPIs in place for just about everything.

Phone calls, CVs sent, Interviews, Offers, Coffees made, compliments paid – if it’s something as mundane as all of this, then, believe it or not, it is micromanagement!

I count myself very lucky – my company trusts me to do my job and only sets me a budget to achieve. How I get there is up to me. And this is the way recruitment should be.

If you say you don’t micromanage but know full well that you do, then surely that is an admission that you don’t agree with it. And if that’s the case, change it. Lying about it will only annoy the person that you’ve just hired, and they too won’t hang around too long.

4.) “We don’t think they’d fit into our culture”

Experienced recruiters will know that this is the weakest reason for rejecting a candidate after an interview. It’s such a loose explanation, and in no way helps said candidate improve/adjust for their next interview.

Interview feedback should be constructive. If they made a mistake, or you doubt they’ll be capable of doing the job to your standards, then tell them that. The ‘Cultural Fit’ excuse is so weak. It seems ridiculous, but it could be that the candidate said during the interview that they don’t do drugs, and as the hiring manager does, they wouldn’t fit in. True, this is an extreme case and very unlikely, but it could be interpreted as that. So be careful when you use this excuse. Or just don’t use it at all!

5.) “You can earn 100k in the first year”

Seriously, why is this being banded about still in 2022? Why are you having to use a high OTE to entice Trainees to join your business? Surely there’s a lot more to your business than money?

Experienced recruiters understand that it can take months, sometimes years to build your desk and knowledge to a decent level where the above OTE can be more achievable. But a newcomer will have no idea, and will often make their decision based on this claim.

It is worth saying that many companies now have such a good commission structure and fee chart, that this OTE is more than achievable for an experienced team member. But a trainee? In year one? Slim to no chance in all honesty.

The way around this? Be honest. Even if the OTE is likely to be a fraction of this, tell them that, but give them an accurate account of what others in the business that have been there a while are now making. It gives them something to aim for, as well as set realistic expectations from the start.

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So there you have it, a breakdown of typical things that recruiters say and how they can have a bad knock-on effect not only on their careers but on the businesses that they work for.

My advice is simple – be as honest as you can be as often as possible. In an era where everything is digital, bad blood will almost always be aired. Whether that be through word of mouth on LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Google Reviews or any other social media channel. As I mentioned in another article, it’s been proven that people will often be compelled to review somewhere based on a bad experience rather than a good one. So be aware of this at all times and if you feel the need to lie, ask yourself a simple question – why?

If you can think of any other lies that I’ve missed in this article, feel free to share in the comments. And thanks for taking the time to read my latest article. I hope you have a brilliant (and honest) week!

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