3 Lies Engineering Recruiters Tell

October 23, 2013
engineering recruiters

Credit: Mark Brooks

Tight resources can incentivize bad behavior. As markets thaw, some recruiters stretch the truth in order to land lucrative hires – such as yourself. Be prepared, engineers: here are three common lies recruiters tell.

We reached out to a number of working engineers – and some white hat recruiters – to document the whoppers they hear most frequently in their dealings with engineering recruiters. Most respondents elected to remain anonymous or spoke on background. We redacted the names of specific engineering recruiters or recruiting firms to preempt flame wars.

Remember: most recruiters are paid on commission. If you don’t take the job, or the company doesn’t hire you, they don’t get paid. In lean times, this can push otherwise decent folks to cut corners… and say whatever it takes to close the deal.

Engineering Recruiter: “You’ll be Evaluated for a Raise in 90 Days”

… so don’t worry if the salary seems a little low.

You can expect to hear this as often from pressured recruiters as hiring managers. Downward wage pressures are a fact of life, in some sectors, but that’s no reason to settle for vague promises.

engineering recruitment

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Jason Swett, founder and CEO of Snip Salon Software, fell afoul of this one a few times in his early years. “In my experience,” he said, “companies don’t often keep on top of their purported evaluation schedules and they certainly don’t voluntarily give out raises.”

Scoping out the evaluation process – and how success is rewarded – is an important part of investigating prospective employers. If there’s an established evaluation and development program with clear metrics for success, the case is less clear.

Typically, however, your recruiter needs to fill a vacancy with whatever resource comes to hand… and you’re it. If the promise of a sure raise in ninety days will seal the deal, that’s what you’ll hear. “My advice,” Swett continued, “if you’re not thrilled with the salary offered at a certain job, either negotiate a better salary up front or move on. The promise of a near-future evaluation is not really worth anything.”

Engineering Recruiter: “This is an exclusive position available through my agency”

… so if you want to be considered, play ball.

This is usually a lie. At the senior engineer and executive level, where positions are very difficult to fill and skill requirements maddeningly specific, companies may reach out to engineering recruiters rather than post listings on specialized job sites or in industry publications. It’s also true that, in some cases, engineering positions are found through personal networks, rather than public listings.

What’s far more often the case, unfortunately, is that the recruiter is attempting to leverage a public job listing for private gain. If the position is not incredibly focused, at the senior/management level, or obviously tailored to your experience, maintain a skeptical posture.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Engineering Recruiter: “You’ll Need to Sit for an Assessment, First”

… and provide your social security number. What’s your mother’s maiden name, by the way?

When we contacted white hat recruiters for this article, Janine Truitt of Talent Think Innovations was quick to warn engineers away from recruiters who are too quick to demand personal information or expensive assessments. “Be leery of any company that requires any testing, assessment or a requirement that you provide personal information before a formal interview or offer has been presented,” she said. “There are steps in the hiring process for a reason.”

Credit: Dave Dugdale

Credit: Dave Dugdale

Unscrupulous recruiters may capitalize on your desire for honest work in order to collect commission on needless assessments, have you pay for ‘resume assistance,’ or similar dodges. In the worst cases, the ‘recruiter’ has no intention whatsoever of connecting you with an open position; they’re just selling publicly available resume hint sheets, job listings, or harvesting personal information through social engineering. “There are companies out there broadcasting phony jobs and are ‘offering’ them up – having received all your information,” Truitt said. “What I have seen is, people end up with no job in the end.”

The recruiter may be scraping resumes for a database in order to ‘cattle call,’ looking to scam you out of up-front fees, or trying to sell needless assessments and tests. Remember: real recruiters work for employers, either on retainer or commission. You don’t hire them, they’re paid to find and recruit talent. Ideally, you.

“Use credible websites and job boards in your search,” Truitt said, “and always be ready to ask poignant questions to decipher whether it is a worthwhile job opportunity.”



Have you run afoul of unscrupulous engineering recruiters? Share your experience in the comments, or tweet @EngineerJobs.