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When Do You Fire a Headhunter? 344

Captain Sarcastic writes "I have been a contract programmer for a few years (with some time off when a contract-for-hire paid off and made me a full-time employee). Currently, I'm between projects, but I'm a little worried about one of the contracting companies who's helping me. First off, a little history. "Zeke" (not his real name) was with ABC Contractors (not their real name) when I first met him, and he took my resume and started processing me through the jobs that ABC had available. A bit later, Zeke left, and his replacement Yvonne (standard disclaimer) submitted me to a company (call them "Acme") for a contract-for-hire. Everything looked like a good fit, and she E-mailed me a copy of the resume they submitted to Acme. Came the interview, I realized that Zeke had left out part of my history and had mis-dated other aspects, to keep me from appearing unemployed. Like an idiot, I tried to correct this at the interview, to find out that Acme had decided that I had fabricated all of my experience, and chewed out the rep for ABC for sending an unqualified applicant. Fine, learning experience for me — double-check what the contracting company says about you, and don't try to correct things in the middle of the interview." Read below for the rest of the story. What other difficulties have others gone through with headhunters and when is it time to leave one behind?
A couple months later, Zeke contacted me from his new position with Blue-Sky Consultants (standard disclaimer), and sent me on a couple of interviews. Once again, I found out he'd "corrected" my resume — the same way he did with ABC. I raised the issue with him, and he apologized and said he'd correct the resume, and he's submitted me for other positions, but none seem to have gotten to the interview stage. I suspect that he's not trying very hard, and I wonder if he's soft-pedaling submissions for me to keep his own bosses from recognizing he'd altered my resume. So, I have the following questions:
  1. Am I suspecting malice and/or clumsiness where a competitive market is the true suspect? (An answer of yes would be harder on my ego, but a relief.)
  2. Do headhunters modify resumes, and if so, should I just shut up and go with what the headhunter says? (I was always told that eventually, the truth comes out, so I'd be uncomfortable doing that, but life isn't always comfortable.)
  3. Should I tell Zeke to get lost and stay that way? (I was always told that making enemies unnecessarily was "considered harmful", but I get the impression that Zeke isn't a friend).
  4. Have fellow Slashdotters dealt with similar situations?
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When Do You Fire a Headhunter?

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  • by nahdude812 ( 88157 ) * on Friday October 09, 2009 @04:54PM (#29698427) Homepage

    We see dishonesty from head hunters all the time. Personally I'd much rather if there was a mistake on your resume as we have it in front of us, that you point it out. For this reason, it's always good to go to an interview with 5 or so copies of your resume. If you try to cover for the contracting company's rep, now you're starting your relationship with me out by lying and covering something up. Unless you really are trying to cover something up, I guess =).

    Especially if you bring correct copies with you, I would easily believe the contracting company misrepresented you. If you're still a fit for the job, I'll be happy to talk to you.

    Also, as soon as a contracting company knowingly falsifies data about you or otherwise misrepresents you, make it clear to them that the first time was the last time. If they keep it up, drop them. Unless you're willing to move around the country a lot, there are only so many companies in a given area which are likely to have skill sets that line up with yours. You don't want your contracting company closing doors on you.

    • In my experience, headhunters are very forthright about their desire to kill people, eat them, and hang their shrunken, stuffed heads from strings around their neck. Obviously, you should fire them if they look overly hungry and there is no one else for them to eat. Or if they catch and eat people other than those you hired them to catch and eat. Employed with care and attention, though, headhunters can bring something to your business that no other employee can: abject terror in those that oppose you.

      • by bjackson1 ( 953136 ) on Friday October 09, 2009 @05:26PM (#29698811)

        Is that you Dwight?

        Jim Halpert: Have you called any headhunters?
        Michael Scott: Any good headhunter knows that I am available.
        Dwight Schrute: Any really good headhunter will storm your village at sunset with overwhelming force and cut off your head with a ceremonial knife.
        Jim Halpert: Right, because that's what we're talking about.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Scary thing is that I read it almost to the end before realizing that you are not in fact talking about recruiters...

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Red Flayer ( 890720 )

        Obviously, you should fire them if they look overly hungry and there is no one else for them to eat.

        Unfortunately, I am cursed with a very large head. I would need to fire them if they looked hungry at all, no matter who else was in the room.

        I'd post a link to the obligatory Far Side cartoon where a man with a ginormous head approaches a headhunter village (thus stepping into headhunter lore forever), thereby telling all you "obligatory xkcd" kids to get off my damn lawn, but I can't find a damn link to i

      • Employed with care and attention, though, headhunters can bring something to your business that no other employee can: abject terror in those that oppose you.

        And they throw fun Windows 7 launch parties, too.

    • Even a cursory reading through a job board will tell you that many people want and expect to be lied to. Now, if someone lies to you, they only lose out if you catch them. If someone tells the truth to someone who wants to be lied to, they're guaranteed to lose out. Companies that use headhunters will disproportionately, if not always be the latter.

      • familiar attitude (Score:4, Insightful)

        by reiisi ( 1211052 ) on Friday October 09, 2009 @10:33PM (#29701013) Homepage

        It's a familiar attitude, and the reason I don't work in the computer industry here in Japan any more.

        Waterfall? eXtreme Agile? UML?

        You can't run a project period, if you don't have some kind of idea what your human resources really are.

        I know what the theory is, you don't really know anyway. Geeks tend to be too negative about some of the things they've experienced. Teamwork attitude is more important than experience. Positive Mental Attitude Conquers All.

        Money exceeds all reasons, especially sleep, and you really didn't want to see your family anyway, way deep down inside.

        I just got tired of the games, and tired of the death marches.

        Lying about experience is a really good way to help start death marches, not coincidentally.

        Why did I leave? Why don't I go back?

        I was back on the job market after one particularly gruesome death march experience, and an outsourcing company arranged for what looked like my dream job. I really wanted that job, but I had bad vibes about it. My wife also had bad dreams. When I told this outsourcing company about the bad dreams, they thought higher pay would make it up for me or something. That was where the illusion tore, and I took a good look at all the lies and the real reasons for all the death marches I've been on, and I realized that I've just been too willing to try to go along with the hype.

        I'll still go along with the idea that there is a difference between being honest and being negative, but I'd rather try to support my family on a single man's wages, teaching English, than get back into the industry with a dressed up resume again.

        Lately, I've been thinking about undressing my resume. Paring it down, admitting that all the peripheral experience was peripheral, and focusing on what I can really do. It should be a lot harder for the headhunters to dress up a focused resume, and I'll have fewer meaningless interviewers from people who are interested in the side stuff.

        Since the teaching job puts food on the table (except for the summer), I can afford to look for work I can really do, instead of wildly grabbing at stuff I might be able to do, if given the chance.

    • by CorporateSuit ( 1319461 ) on Friday October 09, 2009 @05:25PM (#29698799)
      This. I'm not the HR of my company, but my job includes reviewing all resumes submitted for the people who will be working under me. If I asked you in for an interview because your resume showed me that you might not be a complete knucklehead, and you tell me that the agency who sent in your resume completely fabbed it up, you still have 2 minutes to explain to me why you're not a complete knucklehead.

      Basically, you've substituted the list of skills on your resume with a single relevant skill: Honesty.

      It's up to you, in the interview, to very quickly tell me what relevant skills you DO have and why I shouldn't waste my time listening to you any further. If you can do that, your false resume doesn't preclude you from the job. I'd rather have an honest person with a remotely relevant skillset and a bad resume than an idiot with an impressive resume. That's why most businesses won't even look past the coverletters anymore, because resumes are typically crap.

      Also, as a personal note: Lighten up. Have fun with your resume and don't follow the exact rules and formats of everyone else. Keep it concise and to the point (I don't want to be bored while reading it), but also include something that will make it stand out and be memorable -- like printing it on the blank back of a page from a dinosaur coloring book. People think that HR's are robots who want to trash anything that looks individual or informal. They're humans with senses of humor, and something that will brighten their day will tend to come back and brighten yours. After I helped my wife with her resume, the next job she applied for (a bank, of all places) not only hired her, but asked if they could frame the resume on the wall.
      • by Commander Doofus ( 776923 ) on Friday October 09, 2009 @06:05PM (#29699245)

        Also, as a personal note: Lighten up. Have fun with your resume and don't follow the exact rules and formats of everyone else.

        I have to disagree. A "fun" resume makes you memorable for all the wrong reasons, it's like showing up to a first date wearing a clown wig and oversized shoes. Make your personality be what makes you stand out from the crowd. It's okay to toss out a joke or two at the interview to show you're not a stuffed-shirt, but at that point they're already interested in you.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cayenne8 ( 626475 )
        "That's why most businesses won't even look past the coverletters anymore, because resumes are typically crap."

        Interesting...this is the 2nd reference to a cover letter I've heard on /. in the past week.

        I'm actually not familiar with this...what exactly IS a cover letter, and what would make it a good one?

        My resume is more of a CV type document...skills, followed by job history with details on what skills were on what jobs. I've not had problems getting hired for contracting with that....

        • by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Friday October 09, 2009 @06:53PM (#29699747)

          Oh, dear. I've had to hire and fire, and apply for work. Cover letters are what tell the company you paid attention to their job ad and the fancy certification they asked for is covered by your experience with a related technology, that you're dating the boss, that you _wrote_ a significant portion of the software application they need help with, or other data that is not in a CV but might be relevant.

          I've seen all of these in cover letters. The "dating the boss" one was fascinating to deal with.

        • by CorporateSuit ( 1319461 ) on Friday October 09, 2009 @06:59PM (#29699805)
          Cover letter is basically an explanation of why they should hire you. It doesn't need to wade through the dates, reference information, and bullet points of a resume. It tends to revolve more around motivation and less around sterile data. It's simplest form is just to answer the three questions: Why I want to be hired by your company. What I can offer you. What I expect you to offer me in return.
      • by Herkum01 ( 592704 ) on Friday October 09, 2009 @06:13PM (#29699329)

        Basically, you've substituted the list of skills on your resume with a single relevant skill: Honesty.

        Consider how under valued this skill actually is. You want to dump this guy in 2 minutes for being honest for possibly being unable to explain another persons dishonesty. On the other hand you would probably have a full scale interview with someone who lied about their resume and can BS enough about their skill set to at least seem competent.

        Any wonder people willing to lie about this stuff?

    • by Jim Hall ( 2985 ) on Friday October 09, 2009 @05:30PM (#29698865) Homepage

      I agree with the parent. It's unfortunate, but sometimes headhunters mess about with the resume before sending it on. You can reduce the odds of this happening (somewhat) by only giving the headhunter a PDF copy of your resume. They'd have to re-type the resume to edit it, and many may be unwilling to go through the effort.

      Definitely do bring copies of your resume with you to any interview, and if you find the resume they have in front of them is wrong correct it right away. Don't try to cover for the headhunter. In the original question, the submitter said he was an idiot to correct the resume during the interview - no, you weren't. As a hiring manager, I'd rather hear that the headhunter falsified your resume, than discover that you did.

      If you find a headhunter has faked your resume, I'd drop him/her right away, and insist they no longer share your info with anyone. Limit the exposure. If it happens once, it will happen again.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I had this problem (I had taken about 8 months off before I got into my current contracting position) when two recruiters tried to bridge the gap. I flat out refused to either change the resume myself or let them change it on my behalf. Of course, it was good they mentioned it to me rather than doing it themselves and sending it out without letting me know.

        One of the two was so bad I just told them not to look for any position for me. He was hell bent that I change my dates and make it appear I am still w
    • by Lehk228 ( 705449 ) on Friday October 09, 2009 @05:36PM (#29698921) Journal
      i would prefer to notify them that the first time was the last time and they are to destroy or return to me any copies of resumes or other records pertaining to me, along with a signed certification that it has been done. any further deflection or waffling and they will get to talk to my lawyer instead of me.

      if you are lying on my behalf your behavior reflects on me and i do not tolerate that kind of horseshit.
    • by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Friday October 09, 2009 @05:39PM (#29698953) Journal

      Also, as soon as a contracting company knowingly falsifies data about you or otherwise misrepresents you, make it clear to them that the first time was the last time. If they keep it up, drop them.

      Too soft. For them to lie about your information to potential employers is a big no-no. I suggest dropping them immediately and going to another recruiter (it's not like there are a shortage of them out there). Only problem is that if they've made efforts on your behalf, there may be some obligation if you get hired for a position where they sent your resume (whether or not their actions resulted in your hiring).

      When you deal with a respectable recruiter, they get your approval on any changes before sending it out. Any deviation from this is a sign you need to run. Keep in mind it's YOUR reputation as well as theirs that can be affected.

      I've blacklisted recruiters because they've sent me resumes that were substantially different (as in your case) from the resume the employee handed me at the interview. Unfortunately, that means the applicant has been rejected as well -- but the only way the recruiters get it is if it hurts them in the wallet. If I hired one of those applicants, the recruiter would be *rewarded* for lying... not a good thing.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by jslater25 ( 1005503 )
        This. Its a double-edged sword imho. If I were the person interviewing you and I received Zeke's version of your resume, I would not only not hire you (in order to not reward Zeke) but I would no longer use Zeke or his company to find me qualified help. Its unfortunate for you that (if you were truly qualified) you were not offered the position only because of Zeke. But that's the reason I would never use Zeke if I were in your position. One falsification on his part and I'm out the door and going to the he
        • by Bigjeff5 ( 1143585 ) on Friday October 09, 2009 @08:16PM (#29700245)

          If you are willing to knowingly screw yourself and the candidate by not hiring the best candidate for the sole purpose of "sticking it" to the recruiter by not allowing him a commission, you're an idiot.

          What you do is cancel your contract with the recruiter, citing a breach, and hire the candidate anyway. Refuse payment, essentially. If you have a contract then they are in breach of it, if you don't then it was volunteer anyway.

          Why you'd chose to screw yourself and an honest potential employee instead of screwing the recruiter is beyond me.

          By the way, if you do cancel the contract with the recruitment agency, you can almost guarantee that "Zeke" will be fired. Chances are the recruitment agency will attempt to negotiate a sweater deal to keep you as a customer as well.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bjourne ( 1034822 )

      Don't ask a fish how it likes to be catched. It is standard procedure for everyone to brush up their resumés, to highlight the good parts and try to hide the damaging ones. That is standard procedure not only for contractors but for everyone in the business. I'll wager to bet that whatever company you work for, they do the same thing with the products or services they sell.

      Personally, when I have worked with head hunters, I've usually used multiple CV:s for each occasion. If we have a client looking fo

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        there's a difference between not mentioning awkward facts, sending out a CV tailored to emphasize the information about you relevant to the job and outright lying. Don't lie in the recruitment process, don't ever lie. All your employment protection goes out the window if you lied when you were recruited and you can be dumped immediately at any point afterwards.

        Knowing what documents your agent has sent to the employer may be useful so you can surgically correct them (rather than floundering about over them

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by upuv ( 1201447 )

      "Also, as soon as a contracting company knowingly falsifies data about you or otherwise misrepresents you, make it clear to them that the first time was the last time. If they keep it up, drop them."

      This is bad advice. JUST DROP THEM. No second chances. It's your life that these individuals are screwing with. Make sure all of your friends know the score with this dodgy company.

      At no time what so ever do you ever tolerate someone making up lies about you when it affects something so fundamental as your ab

  • by More_Cowbell ( 957742 ) * on Friday October 09, 2009 @04:54PM (#29698431) Journal

    Should I tell Zeke to get lost and stay that way? (I was always told that making enemies unnecessarily was "considered harmful", but I get the impression that Zeke isn't a friend).

    That's not 'unnecessary'... the guy screwed you. Never work with him again, and advise any friends to do the same.

    • by Svartalf ( 2997 ) on Friday October 09, 2009 @05:07PM (#29698595) Homepage

      I would have to concur.

      A reputable headhunter will typically ask you questions to ascertain if they need you to update your resume and have you do it. If there's an issue with formatting, but not content, the headhunter will show you what they've done.

      This guy is a slimeball and I've met a few like him...drop him like a hot potato and make sure your colleagues know about him as well.

      • by mewsenews ( 251487 ) on Friday October 09, 2009 @05:42PM (#29698989) Homepage

        This guy is a slimeball

        "Zeke fucked with my resume and I suspect he's not trying too hard.. should I go back to him??"

        ^-- this is like asking a room full of women if you should go back to your abusive husband. the answer is glaringly obvious but the real question is if you will listen?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by DLG ( 14172 )

        Agreed 100%. I have had headhunters revise my resume from a format perspective so that it could fit within a format that the companies were looking for (often they want very little formatting) and when they did so they sent me back the revised copy.

        The only other thing I have seen them do is remove my direct contact information from resume, to prevent the company from going around them. I respect that.

  • run away (Score:5, Informative)

    by prgrmr ( 568806 ) on Friday October 09, 2009 @04:55PM (#29698465) Journal
    Find a new agency and go talk to a lawyer. Depending upon the law in your state, you may have grounds to sue the headhunting firm--and not just for money, but for a written apology and retraction to the company that you interviewed with. Your reputation in the market is crucial, and they just screwed yours.
    • by nomadic ( 141991 )
      I don't see damages, which is required to have a legitimate cause of action. While saying someone is "worse at their job than they really" are qualifies as defamation per se in some jurisdictions, I don't think any recognize saying someone is better at their job than they really are" as defamation...
      • by selven ( 1556643 )
        Making a statement on someone's behalf that shows that the person is a liar seems to be pretty clearly defamation to me.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Red Flayer ( 890720 )

        I don't see damages

        Lost wages due to non-hiring due to the discrepancy. Non-hire damages used a lot in discrimination suits. Problem is that you'd have hard time proving this, as you'd need the cooperation of the (non)hiring company to make depositions and possibly testify.

        Also, there is loss of reputation, which is much harder to quantify.

        The problem is not that they claimed the person was "better at their job then they really are" the problem is that their actions resulted in the person being seen as

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You don't see damages at a job interview where the company views you as a liar due to a fraudulent resume? Really? Think for ten seconds.... REALLY?!

        An agent working on your behalf commits a possible crime and a certainly unethical act of resume fraud on your behalf with your name attached and without consent in a venue where you otherwise have the potential for great economic gain? Really?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Blakey Rat ( 99501 )

      Remeber, it's impossible to solve any problem you have without the law! Hire a lawyer! Did you find that spelling error annoying? Hire a lawyer! Legal action is the only way to solve problems! Actually hashing out issues with other human beings is for chumps!

    • That's probably why "Zeke" "left" "ABC" in the first place.

  • When do you fire a headhunter?

    When you no longer trust them to represent you.

    Look, this isn't a marriage - you didn't promise "...til death do you part." There are no therapists specializing in helping estranged contractors/headhunters work out their problems. It's a business relationship; if they aren't producing, find someone who will. /frank

  • by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Friday October 09, 2009 @05:02PM (#29698541)
    All the agents[1] do here is take a list of bullet points from a company, then slavishly match them against the keywords they extract from your CV (translation: resume). Not a 100% match? Easy solution: no interview. Outlandish or impossible requirements? Simple: no match - no interview. Your CV can contain the requirements the client wants, but if the keywords don't match: e.g. you say C++, they ask for "C", again: no interview.
    And they wonder why everybody, on both sides of the contract, hates them.

    [1] they're paid on commission from the employers - so that's who they "work" for.

    • I would hope they would not match a C++ programmer to a requirement for a C programmer. Often programmers learn C++ and think, well I don't need to learn C as C++ is just C with OOP...which was kinda true since C is C++ predecessor but in practice its not that simple. You can take a C++ programmer, and give him a C only project, and he would be at a loss as to where to start, he would have no classes, no oop to work with, none of his methods would apply in C. Also, Normally when they want a C programmer,
    • by wed128 ( 722152 )

      It's better to list C and C++ seperately, if you're proficient in both. I've met several people who are proficient in one but not the other. People tend to think they're equivelent, but they're not.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Carbaholic ( 1327737 )

      that's easy to solve, you just add an apparently blank page that says "Intentionally left blank" on the top. Then, in very very small white font, you write: "Key words that may or may not be related to my actual skills: " and then you fill the whole rest of the page with every key word imaginable.

    • by afidel ( 530433 )
      There are both client hired and professional hired headhunters. Good headhunters do a LOT more than just match requirements to CV. One of the best I worked with got me my first "real" IT job. He saw that I had most of the skills they were looking for and from talking with me though I was bright enough to do the job, so he took a risk and worked with me to truthfully modify my resume to more closely match the requirements and on the back end talked to the hiring manager and let them know not to blow me off j
  • Headhunters (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jetrel ( 514839 ) on Friday October 09, 2009 @05:05PM (#29698579)

    I have owned a recruiting firm (sold it because I miss working in technology) and can tell you that most headhunters do not ever have your interest in mind. They are trying to fill a slot and make a commission from the company, no more. With the current economy you as a job seeker / contractor is a commodity that is fairly easy to find right now and will pass you over pretty quickly with little resistance unless you mean $$ to them.

    There are all types of recruiting firms and you have to remember that they are trying to sell the contracting position twice.

    1) You to the company
    2) The company to you

    The best advice I can give you is no matter what they tell you they are a sales people and to be cordial but always realize that they are there for one reason to place a body in position and reap the rewards. Also never put your eggs in one basket. Make contacts with many firms and find how/what fits for you.

    I hope this helps!

    • In addition, don't be afraid to make contacts with potential employers directly. The best jobs I had I got by talking directly to the employer, not by going through a headhunter.

      That said, a good headhunter will have a lot of contacts you won't have.

  • by Xeleema ( 453073 ) on Friday October 09, 2009 @05:05PM (#29698583) Homepage Journal
    I follow the three-head rule; if you can't give me three heads shrunken down and stitched up to my QA-Approved Design Specifications, then pack up your grass skirt and nose-bone buddy!
  • by beebware ( 149208 ) on Friday October 09, 2009 @05:05PM (#29698585) Homepage
    Always take a copy of your CV or resume to an interview: I've yet to be interviewed somewhere where the agency hasn't "tweaked" my CV in some way or another (and I've been on the receiving end as well - we were looking for a PHP programmer and the agency sent someone with a good looking CV - apart from the fact they had changed all mentions of Java to PHP: totally misrepresenting the candidate). Plus it's useful to have your own CV to refer to "just in case".
    Alternatively, don't forget to promote yourself on sites such as [] and [] - build up your own client base and get to keep the 10-25% the agency "skims" for just download bunches of CVs from job sites, adding their logo and sending them on.
  • by guanxi ( 216397 ) on Friday October 09, 2009 @05:07PM (#29698597)

    No matter what the headhunter or someone else does, your integrity is attached to you as an individual. If you are dishonest, nobody thinks 'ABC contractor is dishonest', they think 'Captain Sarcastic is dishonest', and that follows you when you leave ABC. In fact, if they are being dishonest or even just reckless with the truth, I would avoid association with ABC; that also might follow you wherever you go.

    You also should demonstrate good judgment by avoiding embarrassing ABC, but if pressed, just say 'I'm sorry, there must have been some miscommunication, my real experience is ...' or 'there must be some mistake, let me get you a corrected resume'. Don't speculate on ABC's motives, which you probably don't know anyway. (and don't need to know; intentionally or not, ABC is unreliable). Even silently allowing important mistatements to pass is deceitful.

    Integrity is a necessary trait for anyone I work with. Others certainly don't mind or even admire someone who can deceive effectively; if someone like that hires you, you know what to expect from them.

  • The only real problem I have had lately is with low ball offers trying to get
    a bigger margin. You know darn well none of them are charging any less but
    using the market conditions to low ball contractors. In fact I had one
    today try to drop 5 bucks off a already agreed upon rate just to see
    if I would take the bait to increase his margin. That is about the quickest
    way to get on my ignore list.

    • We are guilty of making some low-ball offers lately. In our case (which will vary between companies of course), it is about managing risk. We are happy to take on someone at 20% discount to what they should be getting (in terms of what people started at 3 years ago), because it gives us a chance to build our team faster. In six months, we are able to hire 9 people instead of 4 if we can get a 20% discount. In a year, we can bring their salaries up and give great bonuses as well. We are able to grow, hi

  • Anonymous Coward (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Specialized headhunters sometimes do the job properly. At least here they have the decency to ask for a pdf-based CV and copy it by hand into their database. They also usually don't have any concrete numbers for a salary, they just send you to the company and they get paid by the companies for this.

  • Sorry to break it to you, but you're already been fired from Company ABC. Or at the very least you're now on the C squad, the guy they send in at the last resort.

    Also, I would not just use one company. If I'm hunting for a job I usually go for two companies. Make sure they understand that in this market you're not just sitting home twiddling your thumbs and that they better call you before submitting a resume. Outside that, move on. If company "ABC" always calls you before a submission I wouldn't even

  • A lot of companies won't even take calls from headhunters. You may be shooting yourself in the foot by hiring one in the first place.

  • When one of the headhunters finds what you're looking for but doesn't tell you, and then hides in your garbage, it might be tempting to fire them - but it's important to remember that headhunters are very clever - by following the target discreetly in this fashion it is more probable that the target will grow complacent, and thus vulnerable to a trap.

  • Seriously, most people don't change so the first time I caught this guy outright lying I would have dumped him (and changing your resume is not a mistake or an oops). Who knows what other lies he is telling to other people, I would steer clear.
  • ...but I personally would not think it was acceptable for them to edit a resume without collaborating with the candidate. If they want to suggest changes and work with them, that's one thing, but changes without the candidate's knowledge are a totally different matter.

    Also, from the interviewer's point, they probably don't have the time or interest to weed through "why" it's wrong. And yeah, they may check in the future, and if stuff does not line up you might be held accountable for it. So even from an

  • Headhunter? WTF for? (Score:3, Informative)

    by tacokill ( 531275 ) on Friday October 09, 2009 @05:16PM (#29698699)
    Let me get this right, for almost 39 weeks now, we've been seeing an additional 500,000 people unemployed every two weeks. I can't pick up a paper without reading about more layoffs...

    Rather than answer the question, I'd like to pose another one: Why are headhunters even needed?

    I am an employer. I can't imagine using a headhunter right now. Why? Because there are millions of people to choose from. I don't need help finding people at all. There are more jobs than people. Call me when there are more people than jobs. That's when I need (and will pay for) a headhunter. I am 100% certain I am not alone.

    Methinks the headhunters are duping people into thinking there are more opportunities than there really are. I mean just stop for a second and think about the entire headhunting business: the employer pays a recruiter to go find him qualified candidates. Note, the employer pays for this service (usually 1 months salary, ymmv)
    Who the hell is doing that right now? Answer: nobody.

    It just an industry that is currently unnecessary. Surely, it will be needed again. But not for a while. Anyone using one to currently find a job is probably doing worse than they could do on their own. So the answer to TFA is: fire them now.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anders ( 395 )

      There are more jobs than people. Call me when there are more people than jobs. That's when I need (and will pay for) a headhunter.


    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Let me get this right, for almost 39 weeks now, we've been seeing an additional 500,000 people unemployed every two weeks. I can't pick up a paper without reading about more layoffs...

      Rather than answer the question, I'd like to pose another one: Why are headhunters even needed?

      I am an employer. I can't imagine using a headhunter right now. Why? Because there are millions of people to choose from. I don't need help finding people at all. There are more jobs than people. Call me when there are more people than jobs. That's when I need (and will pay for) a headhunter. I am 100% certain I am not alone.

      I am a manager at a large Fortune 500 company, and I have hired a fair number of people for accounting positions in the company. I certainly won't rule out a person who is out of work, but I certainly have a bias towards people still in their job. Here is what goes through my head when I see a person applying for my position who is unemployed:

      a) Where they fired for cause?
      b) Were they laid off, and thus at the bottom of the performance rankings at their previous company?
      c) If they quit (to find anoth

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hibiki_r ( 649814 )

      If your HR department is unable to understand the hiring manager's needs, it's precisely in this economy that you can use the help separating the wheat from the chaff: Do you really want to go through 800 job applications? It's easy to spend a lot of time going through applicants. In a small company, spending much time in the preliminary steps of hiring might have higher opportunity costs than hiring someone else to do that for you. A good headhunter has interviewed each applicant he gets, and might be able

  • In almost every situation, a Recruiter is not working for you. The employer is the customer, and you are the commodity. So you can't really "fire" a headhunter. You can stop working with him, though. In this case, you absolutely should-- in fact, you should have after the first time his unethical behavior cost you a job.
  • by aaarrrgggh ( 9205 ) on Friday October 09, 2009 @05:19PM (#29698737)

    We have a few recruiters sending us resumes. The only time we ever get good people from them are when there are lots of people sending us resumes directly. This puts us in the situation where we have to decide between someone with an artificially inflated salary and significantly higher risk profile if they quit in that first year.

    We also have the very real risk that the recruiter starts playing both sides of the game and going after our employees. Far too many of them are really unethical.

    We now just try and spam-block them on email and phone systems it has gotten so bad.

    Always do leg work yourself and never rely on just a recruiter. More leg work gives you much better exposure than a recruiter ever will. But I am in a different industry (consulting engineering), so YMMV.

  • I once was working with a headhunter (after being laid off). When I sat down with them and went over what I was looking for, I flat out told them NO DATABASE -- I didn't know any DB at the time.

    So they send me out on this interview. And I get to the place and guess what? When they explain what the position is for, it's a DB position. So the very first thing I do is thank them, and tell them that I'm a bad fit, and apologize for wasting their time.

    The very next thing I did (after I got home -- pre Cell p

  • Be honest! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by edelbrp ( 62429 )

    If you are lying to a company in order to satisfy some requirement of theirs you think might be silly, then they probably aren't a good fit for you anyway.

    Overselling yourself is just going to make life hard for yourself. We've hired a number of people who have oversold themselves and I think some do so because they are cocky (blah, how hard could it be?), or because they are simply ignorant of what the job entails. They flounder and eventually get let go.

    Find companies that share your sensibilities and b

  • by thesandbender ( 911391 ) on Friday October 09, 2009 @05:26PM (#29698813)
    You can use what every euphemism you want... doctoring, massaging, fluffing, polishing, etc the resume (they're all as dirty as they sound). Potential employers all call it *lying*. There are several things you need to keep in mind here.

    1. You probably just killed any chance of getting hired with that company, ever. If you walk into an interview and impress them, they'll usually keep you on a short list and even try to find appropriate matches for you. If you lie (doesn't matter if it was you or the headhunter), you go on the black list.

    2. HR departments may not talk to each other but technical staff certainly do. I'm originally from the DFW area and it's basically six degrees of telecom employment []. If you make a substantial impression, good or bad, other people are going to find out about it.

    3. Ultimately... represent yourself. It's a lot more work, but you pick who you engage and how you engage them. You're going to pick engagements that benefit you. Headhunters don't care... the want their cut and then they move on. If you're serious about contracting you need to build personal relationships and trade on that reputation.

    Finally, I'd report these clowns to the BBB. If you have a good relationship with a lawyer you might want to get their opinion on this. The headhunter is acting as an agent on your behalf and if they doctored your resume you may actually have some legal recourse (IANAL).
    • Having worked with a variety of headhunters, and interviewed at companies that work with a lot of headhunters, the companies do not expect the head hunters to be honest, but they certainly expect you to be. the first thing I do at the beginning of every interview I go on is give them a copy of my resume I know is correct and basically say "I don't know what the headhunter gave you, but here's a correct copy."

      Also, you can work with more than one head hunter at a time; there's no reason to work with only
  • I office in the middle of a headhunter firm right now, and I just finished having lunch with one a couple days ago where she talked to me about their business. Here is the summary:

    1) They just match your name and experience against a request from a client -- it's all keyword search all the time.
    2) Skip the cover letter, it wastes their time -- just a 'I'm looking for work in these areas' will do fine, thank you
    3) E-mailing the Resume is the way to go, there are well established processes to get your e-mail

  • The day before you hire him.

  • The premise of the question asks when to fire a head hunter. That leads me to believe that they have been hired, and are being paid. I've never paid for a head hunter and I get at least one or two job offers a month. I have my resume up on Dice and a few other sites, and over the course of the last couple of years I have submitted my resume for some positions advertised on Dice. Often times those positions are just reposted by hiring agencies and when I apply for the job, they keep my resume on file. S

  • Because you never hire one. Because that would mean you would need to hire a headhunter first. Or else your headhunter will not be specially selected for greatness, and thus fail to select a specially selected headhunter or other person for greatness. But you can't hire that headhunter because you don't have a headhunter. Because... *fast forward* becthawomeywonethiahedutefioeyueauallnbes$i%os+n|r:r_e{e@a_... *head explodes* ...

    Wait, let me start again... *rewinds* ...

    Because you never hire one. Because tha

    1. There is no excuse for dishonesty. If you had represented yourself honestly from the beginning, none of this would have happened. Yes, I am assigning the blame to you. You should have fired this headhunter after this first (extremely serious) offense
    2. The only unilateral modifications that a headhunter should be doing to your resume is removing your contact information and standardizing the format. Any other modification should first be cleared with you. A good headhunter will help you improve your resu
  • I've had recruiters/headhunters who read through my resume, bring me in for an interview, have me spell out for them in detail what my experience and skills are, then stare at me blankly for a few moments and ask me in all seriousness "So what do you do?". I'm not kidding you. It would be helpful if these people were more than just salespeople/paper-pushers, it would help if they had some idea of what the work entails.
  • I think fudging your resume is a big red flag.

    If they're lying to clients, they're probably lying to you.

  • I've known some good recruiters and a lot of mediocre ones, but I'll tell you one thing they all have in common. They all tell me how important it is for us to coordinate on making the approach to a prospective client/employer.

    It's entirely possible that I will find the prospect on my own, and it's always in my interest to do so. The recruiter meanwhile gets some mileage simply from being able to say to a client, "Look, here's a synopsis of all the great candidates we have for you. Let me know if you'
  • by bhmit1 ( 2270 )

    The head hunter won't have your best interest in mind, they are looking for money to act as the middle man. If they are altering your resume, I'd avoid working with them in the future. No need to tell someone to get lost, but you may want to resend your corrected resume, and only in pdf format (not fool proof, but I doubt many head hunters would change that). I tend to avoid working with people that demand my resume in Word format. And I'd only follow up on leads from them when you have nothing better t

  • I've been in a similar situation, and there are a few things I suggest for those hiring headhunters or contracting through agencies.

    1) They should have to tell you about every company they are going to submit your resume to before they do. This deals not only with the fact that you might not want to go to a particular company, but also helps eliminate double submissions. If you have more than one company presenting you to a client, the client is likely to pass just to avoid having to pay each headhunter.

  • dude.. if Zeke or whatever submitted your resume to us, and we decided we liked you enough to bring you on, we'd do a background check (we're obligated to, due to the nature of our work, and the Federal regs around the kind of people we can hire). we'd check those references independent of your headhunter. if there was an inconsistency (like the dates for your previous jobs) we'd fire you on the spot.. like escort you from the building, we'll send your stuff along in a week or so fired.

    Zeke is not only cost

  • by ajlisows ( 768780 ) on Friday October 09, 2009 @05:50PM (#29699055)

    Most of the Headhunters I went to asked if they could tweak my resume. Most of them added things that were (at best) stretching the truth. Some of them did do some things (formatting, wording) that I liked which I integrated into my permanent resume. A few times after not looking into their changes enough I got called into interviews and had them ask about my experience with . Those moments were quite embaressing and needless to say I did not land those positions. I'd call the Headhunter and tell them not to have that on my resume and they would say "I thought you knew Java. OH! Javascript! I'm sorry. I thought they were the same" or something of the like. Ugh.

    The last headhunter I dealt with got me a job in about two days. I was hurting for a job and was pretty darn happy at the speed in which he got me into his office, got me in to see the client, and got me employed. It was going to pay $37/hour. Nice. I went to my first week on the job, liked the environment, and generally got along fairly well with the people. My first check was a live check (until they got direct deposit set up) and I eagerly awaited it, as I was getting pretty low on money. I opened it What did I claim on my taxes for it to be this low? Hmmmm, taxes don't seem that out of whack. Maybe I didn't get paid for the entire week yet. No, all my hours are on there. What is this? Hourly rate....$21.00.

    I called the Headhunter and him and his secretary both "Clearly Remembered" that he said Twenty One and would not have said Thirty Seven. He told me I could ask the company I was working for if they wanted to pay me more, but he guessed that would upset them at this point. I cursed at myself for making a handshake agreement, sent out some more resumes, but went back to work. After a month of being there my boss sat me down to ask me what I thought of the place. I was doing a really nice job and they were really happy with me. I told him that I liked the company and figured I'd just throw out the information about the headhunter and my salary. He just about hit the roof. He grabbed the contract out of his file cabinet, called the headhunter, and asked him about my pay. Apparently he had a written contract indicating how much the Headhunter would be payed and how much the employee would pay. Those numbers were more in line with what I had expected. By the next week after some phone calls between my employer and the Head Hunter, I was out of my contract and hired on as a "permanent" employee at $37/hour but with no health benefits until I had a year with the company. I was really pleased at how the company went to bat for me despite being there for only a month. I'm in my fourth year with them now. ;)

  • Well, I was working with a headhunter, and everything was cool till I found out he called a place I was interviewing at to see if they needed any assistance filling that position that I was applying for. That was it for me.
  • You're never given a second chance at a first impression.

    Your headhunter has placed you and your prospective employer in a difficult situation and you are the canon-fodder. If you can't trust your headhunter to honestly represent you then you need not work with them.

    I, too, am a contract programmer currently between gigs. If some headhunter calls you and says you're Mr. Wonderful but refuses to pay travel expenses for your interviews then don't even entertain them. Find out before you are submitted to the client because if you are submitted first and then refuse to pay an $800.00 air fair for a Face-to-Face then you are screwed and will never get a F2F with the client. One, you are not guaranteed the position so you'd be out $800.00 based on conjecture. Very hollow, indeed. And, two; being doubly-submitted is very taboo. Depending on whether you signed a right-to-represent from the headhunter they could take you to court which makes you a risk to the prospective employer. Which leads me to my next topic.

    NEVER sign a right-to-represent without fully reading the entire document. If you must sign, then ENSURE that the right-to-represent is ONLY with the single client position for which you are being submitted. Some headhunter houses are *very* shady. These hunters will, and have, sued people for not using them to get positions at locations in or around cities in which the headhunter-house operates. It has happened. Sure, it's a scam; but, desperate contractors do fall for the scam and lose out on large amounts of money. (Mostly, it's small claims court; so, usually $5000.00. No need to bring in those meddlesome attorneys.)

    NDAs. Don't sign NDAs with companies simply for an interview. I did this. Epic fail on my part. Basically, I was creating similar systems on my own that a company in Missouri was creating. I, arrogantly, thought I was a shoe-in. I didn't get the job and for a period of two years I am contractually restricted from creating like-devices for that industry. Recently, the company began looking for more people. When I inquired to one of my trustworthy Head Hunters he told me who it was. He informed me that they're not looking for anyone they've already interviewed. Honest and OK enough. I asked him if they hired anyone the first time around and he said, "No, they didn't." Imagine my surprise.

    Save your NDA signing for when you have already been given an offer of employment and it has been accepted.

    Last and certainly not least: Never discuss your offered positions with other Head Hunters. If they find out what position you are being represented for by another head hunter they will attempt to undercut you and you will never get the job. Need an example: Here. I know a guy who was traveling to his next assignment. One of his head hunters called and began talking to him about his situation. He informed the HH that he was going to start work in 1 week at company X, 600 miles away for $X.00. They spoke for about 10 minutes. The next day the contractor that got him the job called and told him not to come as the client found somebody else cheaper.

    Moral of all this: Don't slit your own throat. Lose lips sink ships.

  • by jamonterrell ( 517500 ) on Friday October 09, 2009 @06:43PM (#29699639)
    I can tell you that having dealt with headhunters from both sides, as an employee, and as the person doing the hiring, I hate the bad ones no less regardless of my current role. I have quit good jobs because the contracting company I was working through were being jackasses. I hated to do it, but it had to be done. The problem from the interviewers side is, even if they like you, you've pointed out that the contracting company misrepresented you to them. That means that the contracting company is disreputable, and they likely won't want to do business with them anymore. If they hire you, they have to continue to do business with them, and deal with potential issues that will arise between them and the contracting company, and you and the contracting company. Unfortunately, they typically can't just circumvent the contracting company at this stage, so you might not get the job, simply because they don't like the contracting company. The two of you get hired or passed up as a team, so you need to work as a team. They need to understand that if they place you somewhere you're not happy, it won't last, so they're better off putting you somewhere you're going to be happy, and to do that, it involves working together and not lying about things to either side. As a side note, I tell every headhunter before they submit me to any job that they are not permitted to change my resume in any way. I've never had them say no to that request, however, they have gone ahead and changed it once, in which case I informed them I was no longer interested in the position. Contracting companies/headhunters work for you, which you seem to get, now the second part you need to get is that there's a million of them out there, and they're all fighting over you and the positions, they aren't in a position to pull that kind of crap, and you should be sure to let them know.
  • by merc ( 115854 ) <> on Friday October 09, 2009 @08:23PM (#29700299) Homepage

    Why redact the headhunter and headhunting firm's name from your story? If the facts are true it seems they should stand on their own merits. I say spill their name and let it serve as a warning to all. Even better, submit your story with all of the relevant facts to The Consumerist [].

Real Programmers don't write in PL/I. PL/I is for programmers who can't decide whether to write in COBOL or FORTRAN.