Recruiting Myths – Candidate Resumes

I know that lots of folks out there reading this have a very strong opinion of how recruiters do their jobs (some of it we can’t print because we aren’t categorized as an adult site.) But most of you are wrong. I had some strong opinions too, from all the research that I had done on job hunting. But when I actually became a recruiter, that is when I found out that things aren’t always as they seem – especially in the world of recruiting and what recruiters do for a living.   

There are numerous myths about recruiters involving what they do for a living, how they earn their pay, how they interact with clients and candidates, and in fact what very nature of their job is. I will explore some of those in a series of posts and give you my perspective. My perspective comes from the inside, so it will have a certain slant. But, since I work as a recruiter, it will also dispel a great deal of the mystery that surrounds what it is that we executive recruiters do for a living.

Do recruiters fish for resumes? The answer may surprise you.

Many of the folks that I have chatted with have an idea that recruiters post jobs on Internet job boards or place ads in the newspaper to just get resumes, fishing you might call it. These folks are under the impression that vague job postings are “shill” posts that are designed to build up a database full of resumes. These job seekers think that because there are not really specific details about the job or the company, that because it is generic looking and sounding, that somehow means that there is no job associated with it; that some recruiter posted the job just to get a stack of resumes. THIS IS WRONG!

Plain and simple, it couldn’t be further from the truth. There are so many reasons that this doesn’t make sense and they are so simple and logical that it actually pains me to have to take time and space to point them out to my gentle readers. So let me list just a few of them, so that maybe it will ignite a spark of reasoning that will lead you to discovering more for yourself.

1) Recruiters don’t get paid for resumes – This reason sounds plain enough, but some people are under the impression that somehow, somewhere there is a company out there that would actually pay a recruiter for gathering a resume. Doesn’t happen, at least not the way you think. Resumes are not worth money. There are 10 million (or more) on Monster that a recruiter with a password and user ID could access at any time. Who in there right mind would pay someone any kind of decent money for bringing them a resume that they could access with an account on Monster or Career Builder or some other job board? Now, there is a position in the recruiting world, some call it a research assistant, which has a component of the pay that may be tied to production of a certain number of resumes… BUT believe me, they aren’t being paid for the resume. They, just like the recruiter are being paid for placements. Resume production in the case of a research assistant is just a metric, and if they don’t ever produce a placement from the resumes they provide to their employer, they will lose their job. Recruiters get paid for placing people in open positions with companies that have signed an agreement with them. Companies don’t pay them for resumes…. therefore the resume by itself has no value.

2) Job postings and ads cost lots of money – Would you post a classified ad in the newspaper saying that you had a TV for sale if you didn’t? Of course you wouldn’t. One of the reasons is because it costs money and without something to sell, you would lose money because you posted the ad. Now what if it cost a LOT of money? You really wouldn’t post an ad if you had nothing to sell, would you? In fact, you might not post an ad even if you DID have a TV that you were trying to sell, because it would take a lot away from the profit you were going to make on the sale, right? So why on earth would a recruiter place an ad on the Internet just to get resumes for a job that he didn’t have? That doesn’t make any sense at all does it? What would the recruiter do with all those resumes anyway? “Put them in a database” you say. Well that is where we store them, but we only put resumes that are ‘useful’ to us in there. See resumes have a life expectancy. And once expired they can’t be used for anything. Nowadays, the life expectancy for a resume is not very long because people change jobs so often. So even the resumes that we place in our database that we think are useful, are depreciating from the day we get them. The only reason for a recruiter to post a job, is because he is having a hard time coming up with enough candidates to fill a position for which he will get paid. Recruiters, like any other business person don’t want to spend money unless they will get a return. There isn’t a return on a job ad, unless it leads them to a candidate that they can place in a client company.

3) Recruiters leave out the details for competitive reasons – Recruiters that work on a contingency basis work in a very competitive marketplace. They may not have an exclusive with a client company, and there can be many reasons for this. But because of it, they have to be smart about how they advertise their openings. Why? Well, that is easy to answer…. other recruiters. You see other recruiters out there who are industrious may be looking at the same job boards as candidates, in order to find open positions that need filling. The more information contained in a job posting, the easier it is to identify the client company. With a phone and a few minutes time, a really good recruiter could come up with the same assignment that it may have taken the person posting the ad months to secure. Now it’s a race, one that the person who placed the ad could lose. Losing that race makes the ROI for the ad come in at 0% (or less) and keeps the first recruiter from being able to pay his bills. So, knowing this, almost all recruiters will do everything in their power to keep from giving out too much information about their assignments and client companies. Since not all client companies will work with recruiters on an exclusive basis, smart recruiters keep their cards close to their vest. So when you see a vague ad, don’t think for a second that there isn’t a real job associated with it, it is more than likely just a contingent, non-exclusive arrangement that the recruiter has with the client.

4) Recruiters don’t like to say no – (and I will make this last for now) OK, so you applied to one of those vague ads. You sent your resume and cover letter that over which you so slavishly worked. You followed up with a phone call and kept doing so until you caught the recruiter ‘LIVE’ on the phone. Nine times out of ten, the recruiter tells you that the job is filled, or the assignment is completed, the position is on hold or that there is a hiring freeze. And you think to yourself “I knew it, another fake job ad.” Well again, nothing could be further from the truth. You see, recruiters hear “no” all day long. They hate it, they don’t like the word and they hate to even use it. They sure can feel empathy for others that may be hearing it as well. So the last thing they want to do is tell you “You aren’t right for the job because of blah, blah, blah….” It would be such a crushing verdict to deliver on your resume, skill set, and experience… they just don’t want to do it. So, it is easier for them (I don’t say all recruiters do this, and I certainly don’t, but in my experience there are quite a few who do tell ‘white’ lies from time to time) to just let you down easy by saying “the job is no longer available.” That way, it is no one’s fault. They don’t have to be critical of your talent, job history, or accomplishments, because those things don’t matter…. the job is gone anyway. They have spared your feelings and they didn’t have to deliver any bad news. A win-win situation. Now, notice that I said nine out of ten. What about the other 10% of the time… well there is the good news. You see sometimes a resume or an email or an application can slip through the cracks, and you may just be the perfect candidate that the recruiter is looking for. Your call may bring this to his attention, and you may end up getting an interview. So by all means, keep following up, but ask when you hear what really is a ‘no’ about the real reason behind it.

So, I hope that takes care of the resume myth. Recruiters do want your resume, but it is just a part of the puzzle. It helps them judge whether or not you have the skill set that their client has asked for. Most of the time, a recruiter will ask you to ‘tighten’ up your resume so that it will present better. Resumes in and of themselves have no value; it is a well presented candidate that receives and accepts an offer that has value to a recruiter.

-author: Carl Chapman. Carl is the founder of
CEC Search – Executive Restaurant Recruiters. He has 20+ years of restaurant industry experience, spent 5 awarding winning years as an executive recruiter with a top 25 MRI franchise office. Carl graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1980.

About the author, Chief Executive Restaurant Recruiter

Born in Arkansas, moved to FL for 3 years as a youngster. Lived in GA most of my life. Married in 1985, 2 kids, one of each. Graduate of USNA Class of 1980. Love golf, computers, poker, photography, and gadgets.