As I sat down to write this post, I began to doubt if it’s really a thing. Are there actually recruitment professionals out there who deserve the cowboy label?

I’m an optimist – I like to see the best in people. But the reality is that I work in an industry that probably doesn’t deserve an optimistic lense.

I could write about the recent news of a recruitment agency in Sydney being caught out posting an advertisement for a marketing job that doesn’t exist. Or about one of the many, many anecdotes I’ve heard over my 10 years in marketing and communication recruitment which left me thinking “Really??”.

I could reflect on the countless conversations I’ve had when I meet someone new in a social setting and they ask “What do you do?”. I tell them I’m a recruiter. Cue horrified face and/or horror story.

Perhaps that’s an exaggeration. Even if they don’t have experience with the recruitment industry, everyone can relate to the process of job hunting. Talking about what I do is generally an easy conversation to have with anyone from any walk of life.

Where it becomes a bit sticky is when someone does have experience with a recruiter. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the vast majority of people have at least one story about their not-so-positive experience with the recruitment industry.

Here are a few signs that a recruiter doesn’t have your best interests at heart:

  1. Your CV is presented without your consent. Often the first sign this has happened is a call to say “You have an interview” … for a job you’ve never heard of. In my books, this person can’t be trusted, period.

  2. Refusing to disclose the client company, role and/or salary details. I really don’t get this. If you don’t know these key details about an opportunity, how can you possibly know if you’re interested?

  3. Pushing you to accept a job offer. Word on the street is that this is very common. Again, I don’t get it. If you’re pushed to accept a role you don’t want, the wheels will fall off somewhere along the line. This is bad news for everyone involved, including the recruiter.

  4. Less than honest feedback. This can be a tricky one to detect. If you’ve invested time in an interview/s and been unsuccessful, I believe a recruiter owes you the respect of some verbal feedback. Granted we are at the mercy of how much feedback the client shares with us, but if you find yourself hearing vague, flaky feedback after an interview, you’re probably not hearing the whole story.

  5. Doing all the talking (and not much listening). Active listening is a basic communication skill for business (and life). If you feel like a recruiter isn’t actuallylistening to you, they’re not likely to walk away from your meeting with much understanding of what you want in a new job.  So how can they actually help you?

  6. Asking you to pay a fee. I’m pleased to say I haven’t actually haven’t met someone who has experienced this… but I’ve read about it. It’s absolutely notOK.

  7. Advertising a job that doesn’t exist. This can also be tricky to detect. But let’s hope that by the power of social media and digital communication, this cowboy tactic becomes less common.

Just like a wild west movie, it can be hard to figure out who the good guy is among all the cowboys.

The recruitment industry in Australia is unfortunately unregulated, so it pays to be savvy and make sure you only work with a recruiter you can trust.

Given the stories I’ve heard over the years, sometimes I think about creating an alter ego for myself – and a totally fictional profession. But instead, I decided to start my own recruitment business and fight the cowboy reputation that my industry often sadly deserves.

Heart Recruitment is dedicated to marketing and communication people. And we are proud to be a values-based business.

If you (or someone you know) works in marketing and/or communication in Australia, we’d love to hear from you.