Meet the former bastard: an EXCLUSIVE chat with a former recruiter

I catch this guy at his place, just to make sure he can’t run away. He is a former recruiter ready to reveal dark secrets and wants to stay completely anonymous.
I’ll call him Former Bastard.

Hey Former Bastard, let’s talk again about all the things we’ve been talking about these days.

What do you mean?

Let me take a picture of your feet as proof that you do actually exist.

Don’t show my face.

Man's legs in jeans and socks, black and white picture

A pair of recruiter’s feet.

You really don’t trust me, don’t you?

Well, you need to be careful with journalists.

Tell me everything about your time as a recruiter, and why you did quit that job.

Do you want some coffee?

No, thanks. You need to be careful with former recruiters. You said your manager told you that you were not enough of a bastard…

You won’t report my name, right?

I will also report your national insurance number if you don’t stop it.

OK, so what do you want to know? Yes. My ex-manager told me I am too nice and that I needed to be more ruthless. He wanted me to irritate people, to get on their nerves and provoke a reaction. You never pick up a client initially if you’re not like that. You need to call them 8 times before they say yes. You have to keep calling and calling, or other recruiters will pick up the client before you by just lying to them, by saying they’ve got all the CVs of the best candidates, a big database of exclusive candidates. Actually, you’re restricted to find clients because others will lie before you. You have some daily targets to meet about cold calls.

I changed my mind. I would enjoy some coffee now.

You said you didn’t want one. That’s a contradiction.

I’m a woman. What else do you expect?

So, as I was saying, you have to do business development. Hours of cold calls to companies that are in your database but have already said no. These calls are primarily designed to make you take away your emotions, to make you cold inside. You know the human reaction you’ve got when someone says no to you, yah? This makes you immune to rejections. They force you to bombard companies with cold calls to break your barrier to pick the phone up. Cold calls make you cold – it’s like military training.

And I’d also like another of those little biscuits, please. They’re delicious.

Almond and Rose Water biscuits, homemade by me. The recipe is on the fridge.

Handwritten paper recipe for almond and rose biscuits

Recruiter’s food recipe attached to recruiter’s fridge.

Tell me more about cold calling candidates to sell them fake jobs. Do you do it to expand your database of candidates?

Not at all. That’s what people think, that recruiters call candidates to expand their database. Actually, it’s to get leads.

Leads? What sort of leads will you get from desperate unemployed?

Leads about other companies looking to recruit people. That is why fake jobs are posted. A recruiter needs the candidates to tell him what companies are currently recruiting, how many job interviews they’ve had and where, and also with who. Graduates are the most vulnerable in that sense.

So, most of the fake job offers are meant for graduates, right?

Yes. Fake jobs are generally for entry-level and lower positions. If you phone a graduate, they’ll get nervous, and the more pressure you put on them, the more answers you’ll get. You want to know if they have had job interviews, so they tell you the company’ names – and also the person they’ve had the interview with – and you’ll use the information to call those companies back and pick up new clients.

Did you use to do that, Former Bastard?

Never. I’ve never lied on the phone, ever. I told them from the beginning that I refused to do so. I’ve tried to be a good recruiter by understanding exactly what the jobs were about, sending CVs to clients and meeting sales target. But when they force you to make 30 cold calls per hour, you just become a machine – to be honest with you. A statistic machine.

Why did you leave such a lovely job?

I didn’t see a future for me there. I lost all my clients because other recruiters got in before me by lying.

I want more.

OK. The problem I had is that I was given the warning to change my character on the phone as it is scientifically proven that you sell more if you have a deeper voice on the phone. You have to do it because if you sound just normal, you’ll get eaten alive. It’s like a race to find the candidate, with no ethic at all. It’s not like if you’re working for a charity, charities shouldn’t lie and should have some ethic in their work.

Were you given a warning for having a regular voice?

Well, you know me.

I do. You would be able to sell a refrigerator in Antarctica.

Yeah – but I am polite, you know, and I believe in myself as the person who I am. I tried to do it my way, and it didn’t work. I had to be more rude and loud. The irony behind this is that the most recruiting agencies show off their ethical values on their websites, they say they’re different and that they do the right thing, and they are honest, but it’s simply not true.

★ If you enjoyed this interview and need more career tips, you may also like to find out why recruiters are bad for your career, why recruiters lie and never call back  

★ And if you want to have fun, also see our most ridiculous cartoons about job interviews!

About The Author

Founder of The Shortlisted Magazine

The one behind the wheel.