Top Five Recruiter Lies (and How to Avoid Them)

It’s time for an honest look at the top lies recruiters tell candidates. Obviously, most of the statements recruiters make are true and crucially important when communicating with candidates, even when they need to withhold certain information. By and large, recruiters are honest and upfront with job seekers and many genuinely care about every candidate.

However, recruiters do sometimes lie. The most common recruiter lies are usually well-intentioned and largely innocuous. However, lies are sometimes built into the recruiting process and can create a negative experience for candidates. Avoiding these “worst practices” can instantly translate into a process that observes best practices, improves the candidate experience, and scores an easy win for your employment brand.

How do recruiters lie? Here are five lies that recruiters often tell candidates—and ways you can avoid them.

1. When a recruiter says: “I’ll keep you in mind for future opportunities.”

It might really mean: “Your resume will sit in our database untouched until you apply for something else. If you’re not right for any of my open reqs, any memory of you ends the moment I hang up this phone.”

Best practice: Tell candidates up front whether you feel there will be other possibilities for them down the line. Offer them an explanation into your rationale. Provide suggestions for relevant training or experience to increase their chance of landing a future role.

2. When a recruiter says: “Salary depends on experience; there’s no real set amount.”

It might really mean: “I already have a figure with almost no margin for negotiation. So, your expectations are really the sole determinant as to whether this conversation continues or if I’ll keep you in mind for future opportunities” (see above).

Best practice: An important element of every basic phone screen involves learning about a candidate’s motivations in seeking a new opportunity; often, salary issues top this list. While it’s not appropriate (or in some cases even legal) to require a candidate to disclose their current compensation or targeted salary during an exploratory screen, it’s crucial to address this directly if the candidate discloses an increase in pay as a primary driver or as non-negotiable.

If the candidate provides you with their desired salary and if you know the range budgeted for the position, tell the candidate if the numbers match. Disclose an even slight variance; the candidate, not the recruiter, should determine whether there’s a willingness to negotiate for the job. Having this conversation up front can avoid complications later.

3. When a recruiter says: “You’ll hear from us either way.”

It might really mean: “We’ll send you a templated rejection letter from a blind email address, if you’re lucky,” leaving the candidate to wonder if they’re still in contention.

Best practice: Most applicant tracking systems send an automatic confirmation via email to applicants; many of these same systems will also send candidates an email to let them know when a requisition closes, and they are no longer in contention. While your company probably has specific legal and HR approved language that must be included in notification letters, you will want to keep in mind some best practices in order to avoid certain recruiter lies.

For example, adding your name or a personalized message can help make a little effort go a long way. Also, for candidates contacted for a phone screen, it’s a best practice to let them know directly if they’re not selected. If they took the time to follow up and answer questions, common courtesy suggests you should do the same.

Remember, it’s okay to turn down a job seeker in a professional manner, but not informing them of the decision reflects poorly on your organization, especially if they were told that they would hear back. When someone is desperately looking for a job, this is perhaps one of the worst of the recruiter lies they experience.

4. When a recruiter says: “We’re interested, but we’re still looking at other candidates.”

It might really mean: “An offer’s been extended to someone else, and we’re really hoping they’ll accept so we don’t have to go to Plan B: you.”

Best practice: Be upfront about where the search stands. If there are some outstanding questions or concerns surrounding a candidate, let them know; there’s a good chance they’ll be able to provide information to inform a pending decision.

If the hiring manager’s delay in making an offer has nothing to do with the candidate, make sure they know exactly what the reasons are for the delay and the new timeframe. Recruiter lies by silence or omission are still lies. If you don’t know this information, let the candidate know the next time you’ll speak with the hiring manager and follow up with both. Status quo is almost always better than no status at all.

5. When a recruiter says: “I was passed your name by a mutual contact who asked to remain confidential…”

It might really mean: “I found your information online.” So, do recruiters lie when they equate online research to a referral? Perhaps not technically, but it’s not entirely honest either.

Best practice: This line remains incredibly common when engaging candidates for the first time. While candidates show increased willingness to speak with someone based on a referral, it’s important to let a candidate know how you developed the information to contact them. If you found their information online, then they probably were hoping to get noticed by recruiters.

This ensures active job seekers know what’s effective, while passive candidates stay informed about the visibility of information. It also leads to better sourcing in hiring reports, which is often self-reported by candidates. This information helps recruiters and employers know which resources are most effective to make more informed decisions when establishing and executing search strategies.

Do Recruiter Lies Hinder Your Hiring Process? Monster Can Help

Your company may not even be aware of the little recruiter lies that they’re telling candidates. But your potential candidate knows, and they’re not shy about posting a negative experience on social media. The first step in ensuring accuracy — and effectiveness — is understanding your candidates, what they need, and what you can provide. Instill greater confidence in your recruiting process with free access to survey data from candidates in today’s job market, and more.