from San Diego wondering if you are interested in a .net position there? This happened to me...twice. The latest time was when a large recruiting firm was bought out by one of the MONSTROUSLY large, ubiquitous job boards. I had read about the buyout in WSJ and within a few weeks I was getting more spam than ever from India-based recruiters. After some legwork I found a copy of my resume on this MONSTER of a job board, and after a few hours of fighting with their customer service people, got it removed. BTW, the copy of my resume they had was over 10 years old.
Your resume is easier for a recruiter to alter in Word format
Not all recruiters do this, but most will ALTER your resume before sending it to their client. THIS PISSES ME OFF. I put a lot of time and thought into my resume and while others might think my resume is GARBAGE it is MY GARBAGE. And I don't care to have it altered without my consent. I have no problem with ANYONE who wishes to provide me with criticism to make my resume better. There are recruiters who have more experience than I do and I value their inputs. But ultimately these decisions are mine to make.
Some alterations are OK. In most cases the recruiter will insert their firm's logo at the top of your resume and remove your personal contact information. This is smart since some clients may decide to poach a candidate to avoid paying the recruiter's fees. If a prospective employer EVER tried to do this with me I would not do business with them. That shows a total lack of ethics. Although I find most recruiters to be sleaze-balls, if a recruiter introduces me to a client then that recruiter has earned his fees. Period. Most of us believe recruiter fees are outrageously high and we all complain about it, but until our industry cuts out the middleman, then the middleman deserves his pay. So, I certainly would not mind if a recruiter alters my resume to remove my contact information, but I should be notified FIRST and should need to APPROVE this and this is the ONLY thing that should change.
I once had an ambitious recruiter alter my contact information at the top of my resume. At the face-to-face interview I saw this and asked if I could peruse their copy more closely since this was not my version. I was surprised to see that my blog information, LinkedIn profile address, and even my NAME were altered. The recruiter altered my NAME! That is unacceptable. Smart clients wish to do their own candidate vetting independently of the recruiting firm and the best way to do this is via reading someone's blog, LinkedIn profile, and googling their legal name. They can't do this if the recruiter altered this data.
Blatant falsification of my resume
On another face-to-face interview the interviewer wanted to know about my experience with software XYZ. I mentioned that I had no experience with XYZ and didn't even know what it was. The interviewer showed me that it was displayed prominently on my resume in the "Skills" section.
The recruiter actually falsified my resume! I explained that I had no knowledge that XYZ was on my resume and apologized profusely. The interviewer explained that XYZ was some industry-specific, esoteric piece of software that maybe a handful of people in the world worked with, but they were hoping to find someone with experience in it. It was not a requirement, rather a "nice to have" for the position. The interview proceeded and I think I did ok with everything else, and everyone was cordial and happy, but I never got a call back.
And I didn't expect one.
If you were that interviewer, would you recommend your company hire a candidate from a recruiting firm that falsifies documentation? And then pay them a finder's fee for the privilege? I wouldn't. If it wasn't for the recruiter being too ambitious I am positive I would've gotten that job. The recruiter lied his way right out of a commission.
You're probably thinking that this kind of behavior is an edge case. Certainly this is not prevalent? WRONG. For a number of years I was a team lead at a large ISV and interviewed, on average, about 1 candidate a week for various open positions...DBAs, Java guys, QA folks, etc. I did a non-scientific study during this time. I asked every candidate to provide me with her copy of her resume. Post-interview I compared the candidate's version with the recruiter-supplied version. In more than half of the cases I saw "content" modifications to the resume. By "content" I mean the change was not:
Those changes are OK. I guess. I don't approve of someone modifying my stuff, but you could make the case that the recruiter was just being overly "helpful". Here are some examples of what was changed. And there is no good reason for it, other than blatant FRAUD:
Need more proof?
If you still think these stories of recruiter fraud are merely edge cases and not indicative of most recruiters, well, perhaps we should ask a recruiter? Read this article, written by a recruiter on a recruiting forum website. The author, and frankly most of the commenters (also recruiters), see nothing wrong with recruiters who alter resumes to make them look better in front of a client. And they do it without seeking the permission of the candidate. Here are some screenshots that should get your blood boiling:
OMG! This is fraud folks. It's like a used car salesman saying, "Yeah, GM didn't put air conditioning in this model but it blows out cold air anyway." Of course it does...when you test drive it in December.
Thanks for doing me that favor pal! See my story above where the recruiter did me a FAVOR and cost me the job. I can't believe the arrogance.
Let's move to the comments:
Gotta love the author/editor analogy. Here are the problems with that fallacious analogy. The (non-sleazeball) editor always runs his edits past the author before publication. More importantly, an editor may change grammar, spelling, or style, but doesn't change FACTS. The editor is not the fact-checker. Note above that Craig also knows his target market better than the candidate. Yeah, the day a recruiter knows more about my domain than I do is the day I retire. What an asshat!
Here's a more accurate analogy. Let's say the local grocery store decides that the makers of Tide have horrendous marketing and the local grocery store could do better. Does the local grocery store change Tide's marketing material? Of course not. In fact, that is trademark infringement and is illegal. Resume altering is the same thing. My resume is my "mark" (it isn't a trademark) and I would prefer my mark not be altered.
"Sure Rebeccah, go ahead and modify my resume. I promise not to be shocked at the interview when you total misrepresent my skills and experience." Clearly Rebeccah is contradicting herself in the second sentence. If Rebeccah asked me I would give her my consent but I would ASK to see the changes BEFORE they were submitted. This avoids the shock. I'm appalled that Rebeccah would want any of her candidates to be shocked at an interview. Isn't that lack of preparation?
And look at that last sentence...she actually modifies executive resumes. Words fail me!
Rebeccah is clearly inexperienced. I agree that Times New Roman is a yukky font, but there are very good reasons why it is used. It is guaranteed to be an installed font with every copy of Word since...forever. Clearly Rebeccah does not know how Word works when the font du jour she uses is not installed on her client's laptop. Then there is the issue of the hiring manager that uses OCR and it can't interpret her nifty font. The point is, TNR is horrible, but the alternatives can be worse. Be careful!
If a candidate has a resume professionally prepared then that means they are better prepared. I like that candidate already. It shows initiative. It shows attention to detail. It shows that they understand their limitations. I had mine professional prepared...15 years ago. Since then I had other "professionals" try to modernize it but each one looked horrible and I like the style and am sticking with it. As an interviewer I want to know how prepared the candidate is. Craig is conflating "professional resume preparer" with "recruiter". The two are totally different. And I don't know any professional resume preparer that will alter CONTENT.
And again, the analogy used by Craig is wrong. If the candidate submits a professionally-prepared resume then the CANDIDATE gave his explicit consent. If the recruiter prepares the resume and submits it then the CANDIDATE did NOT give his consent. It all boils down to consent, ethics, and honesty.
"But most technical people can't write a coherent English sentence in a resume and I'm helping the candidate by doing this"
I was told this once by a recruiter who reformatted my resume to make it look more modern without my consent. To any recruiter reading this: YOU ARE LYING WHEN YOU DO THIS. If your candidate can't put together a good resume how do you think they are going to represent YOU in front of YOUR important client? Get permission from the candidate before altering a resume. And consider coaching the candidate and having them make the recommended edits. This helps the candidate LEARN how to present themselves to a client better. When you add lipstick to a pig, you still have a pig.
Some approaches to combat "recruiter resume fraud"
Here are some approaches I've tried to combat overzealous recruiters:
When a recruiter asks you for references to call BEFORE any contact with a prospective client, tell them NO. There is at least one HUGE national recruiting firm that does this under the premise of being a value-add for their clients. On the surface this sounds reasonable. They want to check your references before embarrassing themselves with an important client if you are a dud.
Problems with that:
Don't give your references to any recruiter until you've gotten through at least the phone interview with the prospective client. There is no good reason to hand out your references prior to that. You need to be sure that you are a good fit for the opportunity. And when the recruiter says that this is their NON-NEGOTIABLE policy, then tell them, "Thank you, but I'll look elsewhere."
As I've said, I've interviewed dozens of candidates and I would never dream of asking for a reference first. Most candidates are not good fits and I don't have the time or the inclination to do reference checking first. I get a feel for the other person at the table and I go with my gut. Then I get a background check. Those are much harder to fake. I couldn't care less about a reference.
Whenever any industry is experiencing a boom you can rest assured that the percentage of charlatans will rise proportionally. We see this with IT people that pad their resume to include the hot new skill that is in demand. We also see recruiters who are just interested in getting asses in chairs and are not interested in ethics.
My advice to IT people reading this blog post: Be leery of all recruiters until you've built up trust. Never allow a recruiter to alter your resume's content and never provide references until you've had the opportunity to talk with the client.
To any recruiters that might be reading this post I offer you my advice: Never alter someone's resume without permission. Never recruit someone's references. Always be honest in your dealings with your clients and your candidates. If you work at a sleazy recruiting firm get out now. Life is too short to be a whore. I know lots of good recruiters who have left these places and are much happier now. If you can't abide by my rules, don't contact me. I'm not interested in your business. Remember: you called me, I didn't call you!
I wish you the best of luck in life's endeavors.
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