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Keeping Recruiters Accountable
1997, September (September 22, 2008)
By Ceil Shuman, a member of the Education and Training Committee

Sooner or later, most of us work with a recruiter or two (or three or four) to look for a job or to respond to the ever-increasing abundance of employment opportunities for technical communicators in the Triangle area. In fact, due to the tendency companies have for hiring technical writers on a contract basis, recruiters often play a necessary part in our career development.

Most of us know that this can be a mixed blessing. Some recruiters are honest, hard-working people whose sincere efforts help us find a job that matches our professional needs and talents. Others (let?s face it), seem more interested in a commission or in just filling a position quickly. Think about the kind of service you've received and ask yourself these questions. Has a recruiter ever:
  • Given you the wrong information about the length of a contract?
  • Told an employer that you have certain skills that you do not actually possess?
  • Given you descriptions about a job that turn out to be inaccurate when you interview for the position?
  • Given you the wrong salary or pay rate figures?
  • Given you misleading information about contractor benefits?
  • Called you up about a job without knowing anything significant about the position?
  • Given you incomplete, exaggerated, or false information about their company's clients?
  • Given your resume to other recruiters for subcontract opportunities without your permission?

Many of these things have happened to me. Usually, if there's going to be a discrepancy between what you're told and what actually pans out, it'll be about the length of the contract. If I had a dime for every time a recruiter called me up to say, "The contract runs for six months, but it can last longer," I could retire right now to a cozy yacht and cruise around the Cayman Islands in style. Once, a recruiter told me that a particular position would last at least a year, and when I spoke to the employer on the phone, she told me that the contract would end in exactly three months.

Is there anything that an honest, hard-working writer can do to prevent these disappointing experiences? You bet there is! It is high time that we arm ourselves with the right questions, unequivocally communicate our requirements, and share what we know with each other.

Here are some tips to help you avoid falling victim to poor recruiting practices:
  • Ask a lot of probing, specific questions when speaking to recruiters. You might want to keep a list of questions by the telephone for this purpose.
  • Before you commit to an in-person interview, ask the recruiter to set up a preliminary telephone interview between you and the employer.
  • When interviewing prospective employers, check the recruiter?s story regarding job description, contract duration, and other important aspects of the job.
  • Make it clear to the recruiter that you expect any recruiter who handles your resume to solicit your permission to send your resume to each and every client, each and every time.
  • When you accept a position, get all of the particulars about the job in writing. If you have accepted a temp-to-perm position, be sure that both the temporary pay and the pay at the time-of-hire are in writing.
  • Never submit your resignation to your current employer until your recruiter has received a written commitment from your new employer to hire you and you have signed an agreement-to-hire statement with the recruiter.
  • If your employer is thinking of doing business with a recruiter who has given you misinformation, tell the employer about it. Conversely, sing the praises of recruiters who have behaved in an ethical, professional manner and who have made a sincere effort to match you with the right company.
  • Do business with recruiters who invest in the industry. Advanced Concepts Business Communications, Inc., TPS, Inc., and others are all active in the local chapter and support your involvement in the STC.
  • Do business with recruiters who are certified or who are working toward certification. Two fabulous technical recruiters with whom I have worked at RHI Consulting in Raleigh have their CTS (Certified Temporary Specialist), issued by the National Association of Temporary Services. They told me that, to get certified, a recruiter has to be in the industry for at least two years and must demonstrate knowledge of the legal and ethical ramifications of the business.

During an e-mail discussion with several Carolina Chapter members, a terrific idea emerged about how we can help keep recruiters accountable. STC members can offer themselves as a reference for specific recruiters and recruiting firms with whom we have done business. I would like to see our chapter take this giant step toward helping our members and other employees in our industry. It might help some good technical writers avert a professional mishap, as well as show the recruiters out there that we expect them to be accountable for the information they communicate to us and their clients. End of article.

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