The Double-Ruse: Unethical Recruitment Continued

Now that we know what rusing is, we can advance to the double-ruse. Often times in recruiting, you find conflicts of interest that you must avoid. At venture capital firms, you don’t recruit candidates from your own portfolio companies. At an agency, you don’t recruit candidates from clients who pay you to fill other jobs. Simply put, don’t go to the bathroom where you eat. When recruiters succumb to greed and check their ethics at the door, then we have a problem. Don’t be the recruiter who has no jobs to fill because nobody trusts you.

The double-ruse is more common at agencies, where there’s the option to call from a blocked number. In this flawed lead generation system, the recruiter starts by calling a prospective candidate currently employed at a client site. The recruiter introduces him/herself as , a “search consultant” from . If the recruiter gets a clear idea that the person is willing to shop around the job market, the recruiter obtains their information and calls back a month later… under no alias.

The candidate won’t recognize the recruiter’s voice as it’s been so long since they last spoke. The recruiter then tells the candidate they were referred by  who didn’t have any roles available at the time, but recommended that the two work together. Immediately the recruiter addresses the conflict of interest and sensitivity of the arrangement. The recruiter asks if the candidate is comfortable because the relationship has to work both ways. If the candidate on board, the recruiter can then proceed without having to worry about the candidate leaking to HR that the very same search firm they hired is poaching from their own talent pool. This is the sneaky side of due diligence. If the candidate says they’re comfortable, the odds of the recruiter being ratted out are pretty low. If they say they’re uncomfortable, the recruiter backs off, ends the conversation and will probably not suffer any ramifications.

On the other hand, when recruiters blindly poach from their own (call the client, introduce their real name, real agency and make their pitch), they emphatically shoot themselves in both feet. In no more than 5 calls, you can be sure an employee will contact management teams or HR to inform them about such shenanigans. Employees know who their vendors are and will be quick to report any foul play. When this happens, the recruiter shouldn’t be surprised to get a call from the client informing them that the business relationship has been terminated permanently. So now the recruiter has lost a lucrative account with fewer jobs for which to recruit – well done! Denying it won’t do any good either as it will always be the employee’s “strong-as-oak” word against the recruiter’s.

Employees are sometimes trained to “play along” with unethical recruiters, especially those in “hot” industries who are constantly peppered with calls. This is done in an effort to see how far the recruiters will play their unethical sourcing game. Some employees even lure recruiters into sending emails (from their agency’s account) clearly spelling out their poaching desires — irrefutable evidence of underhanded tactics, at your service. Candidates who willingly worked with incestuous recruiters have often turned on them! In this scenario, the candidate didn’t get the job and didn’t want to blame themselves… so the recruiter becomes the scapegoat. Sometimes it is the recruiter’s fault; sometimes it isn’t. Either way, what better way to get revenge than to report the recruiter to HR? The recruiter can’t do much other than blacklist the candidate, but at that point, the damage has been done.

There are several routes an unethical recruiter can take that will result in falling flat on his/her face. Beware unethical recruiters – your days are numbered!

Victor Mahillon
Victor Mahillon
Director of Recruiting

Victor Mahillon is the Director of Recruiting at Kamcord. Previously he was a Talent manager at OpenView.
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