This post was written by our Co-Founder JuIiet Eccleston

Last week, I blogged about how AnyGood? had commissioned independent research which painted a worrying picture of our recruitment industry. More than half of people who had used hiring agencies in the past year didn’t feel that they were dealt with honestly, and there were tales of firms faking jobs to get interest from jobseekers, as well as putting profit before the interests of clients and candidates. Of course, there are still some good agencies out there, but it pays to be wise to the warning signs of a less-than scrupulous firm. After all, your career or business is going to be in their hands, so it’s vital that they treat it with the same care as you would. With that in mind, here are my top tips for spotting dodgy practices.

Are they part of a trade body?

Always check whether or not the recruiter is a member of one of the recruitment trade bodies – such as The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) or Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC). While there is no industry regulation at present, membership does mean that they are audited and have to provide client references.

Do their roles actually exist?

Unbelievably, some recruiters really do invent jobs and place fake advertisements for them as a hook to attract good candidates. Forbes recently wrote about this in a feature about job-search scams, and there are a number of comments from individuals who have experienced this on a LinkedIn post where a professional attempts to justify the practice.  So, if you reply to a specific ad from a recruiter and they invite you in for a meeting then make sure the role actually exists. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting your time on a non-existent job and they’ll be keeping you on the backburner in the hope that a position like that does eventually materialise.

Are they using you to get business leads?

Be wary of recruiters who are overly interested in where else you have been on interview. It’s likely that they are looking for leads and will be on the phone to the company as soon as you are out of the door. Worse still, they can potentially introduce other candidates on their books who will then be in competition with you! Play it safe and avoid giving away any information about your other job searching activity.

Will they put you forward for roles without your consent?

Many recruiters are under considerable pressure to show clients that they can find them a decent shortlist of candidates to choose from. Unfortunately, this can mean that they aren’t always thinking about your own requirements and wishes, and it’s not unknown for some agencies to send your details to prospective employers without asking if you are happy with this. No reputable firm should send your details without your prior permission – and this should be clearly explained to you. If it’s not, make sure that you tell them that this is your expectation. Their answer will tell you if they are an honest recruiter or not!

Do they know their stuff?

In order to match applicants with the right jobs, it’s absolutely vital that agencies have a solid grasp of the sector which they are recruiting for. A true professional will know a lot of information about the role which needs to be filled, as well as the company and its hiring managers. It’s only with this knowledge that they can give you a comprehensive picture of the job and establish if you’d be a good fit. Consequently, you should expect a full briefing before any interview that the recruiter arranges for you. If they have a patchy understanding of what’s required, you can’t be sure that the role they are selling to you will match the reality.

Do you have any other top tips for spotting less-than honest recruiters? Let me know!

Have you got a role that you want filled? Find out more here

Interested in becoming a member? Sign up today