I am not a recruiter or, as am I more apt to refer to the folks in the profession, a headhunter. I’ve always considered hunting for heads a tough job.
In past lives, I have used recruiters – both contingent and retained, and I haven’t always been the best client. I’d get distracted from the search by what I thought were more pressing issues (like anything is more important than finding the right people). I’m certain I’ve frustrated more than a few recruiters. Most reruiters were good people, worked their butts off and did quality work. But like any profession, one bad experience can taint the whole profession.
A couple of months ago, my wife’s administrative assistant received a call from a woman who identified herself to be calling from the office of the CEO of a local Fortune 100 company. The CEO was a member of my wife’s company’s Board of Directors and the Compensation Committee she works with on a regular basis. The woman on the phone stated that this Board member had some questions about their programs and was therefore requesting a list of the names, phone numbers and email addresses of all the people in my wife’s Compensation and Benefits Department.
Thinking this was a strange request; the administrative assistant relayed the request to my wife who was immediately suspicious. Interestingly, a similar call had been placed to my wife’s boss’ administrative assistant.
My wife made a call to the supposedly inquiring CEO’s office and was told that no such request had been made. At that point, the administrative assistant dialed up the original caller and attempted to clarify who she was. She again stated she was calling on behalf of the Board member and he was right there if she needed to talk to him before sending the requested information.
What a scam! Who was this woman? It turned out she was a recruiter and this was her method for identifying potential recruits.
When my wife told me this story, I had a curious reaction. I was fascinated by the brazen approach. On one hand, pretty ballsy. On the other hand, ethically distasteful. I was surprised as well that the perpetrator was female. More than a few morally bankrupt males have used the fake identity ploy as a “recruiting” strategy in search of a date. I actually expect more from the fairer sex. Should I?. I’m guessing the “readily available” fake CEO put her up to it.
We live in difficult economic times. And, as I said, I’m not a recruiting professional. Is this an instance of “desperate times require desperate measures?” With all the “new fangled” social tools available to employers to identify candidates, do recruiters have to kick it up a notch to distinguish themselves?
I’ve been in this work world for over a quarter century. I get the hiring philosophy that the best candidates are employed and often reside within competitors or companies in parallel industries. Getting to them can be difficult. Having an experienced “hunter” to accelerate the process can be invaluable. I dig creativity and unique approaches but this isn’t that. It taints the profession.
Is this incident just an aberration? Has anyone had similar experiences?
Photo credit iStockPhoto