Thursday, May 11, 2017

Predatory Recruiters and Where to Find Them

You may have seen many of those posts in LinkedIn with 1000s of likes: "Pls like this post if you are available to start working in Dubai, Doha, Singapore, and Abu Dhabi". These posts usually serve the purpose to increase the views and rankings of the recruiter. On the other hand, some of these posts are indeed partially genuine. They create a farm of potential recruits for the recruiter, to whom the recruiter will later send a mass email collecting CVs and personal information for a job that may or may not be relevant. Some of these jobs may not even exist.

I was recently contacted by a recruiter (Let's call him Tim) from such a predatory HR startup called Provide People on the pretence of a job in an open source company, through LinkedIn. He sent me a connection request (by that time he was a 2nd degree connection). He then messaged me to email him my CV. He referred to me as "Ganesh". This was the first warning that he was copy-pasting to a mass list. I was reluctant to reply to an email that was not even addressing my name properly. But he reminded me again. So I replied later.

Followed by that, he started asking personal questions such as "Current and expected salary, visa status". Further, he sent a coding challenge (or requested to share a link to a public code). I chose the latter. His sms-style language ("u" instead of "you", no proper capitalization. Are we talking in sms/twitter?) was a second warning. I did not pay too much attention to these warnings.


After a day or two, he replied that the company found that my CV does not have their required experience. I reminded him that it would be more appropriate to send the CV first and then find more personal information. He vigorously defended his stance, and CC'd the "co-founder" of his company so that the co-founder can support him. Interestingly the co-founder never replied to my email, defending his employee. Probably the co-founder is busy, fishing for the product (i.e. potential employees).

Part of the email communications are given below (omitting personal information):

Tim says:
[Quote]
Thank you…

What is your

Current salary:
Desired Salary:
Notice Period:
Visa Status:

Cheers
 
[/Quote]
---------------------------------------------

I shared with him in detail the notice period and visa status, though I explained him why it is not relevant to discuss the salary right now.

I later indicated him:

[Quote]
A piece of suggestion: Pls consult the employer next time on getting the first reply before asking personal questions such as
Current salary:
Desired Salary:

Notice Period:
Visa Status:
These questions can be left at a latter stage. Specially the salary details can be left to the final stages of the interview.

It wastes both of our time and invades my privacy unnecessarily. It did not reflect good on Provide. I will share my feedback with Provide later on this aspect.

Regards,
Pradeeban.

[/Quote]

----------------------------------------------------

Tim replies back sooner.


[Quote]

Hi Pradeeban,

Thanks for your thoughts. Unfortunately I must whole heartedly disagree with:
These questions can be left at a latter stage. Specially the salary details can be left to the final stages of the interview”. We need to know this information prior to submitting your CV… this is basic information all clients ask for prior to submission, it is part of our SLA agreement. It saves wasting time with potential candidates who’s salaries not online with client budgets budgets, have maybe inflated salary expectations, visa issues that we cannot support or too long a notice period if we need a hire to start within a month.

This might be the difference between the research and commercial worlds, but the R&D organizations I work for also request this basic information upfront. Image investing 4 hours of you time in interviews, just to get to the final stages and realise the salary we have is too low for you? For a client also, that could be up to 11 man hours wasted in interviews.

I have cc’d one of our founders, ***** ******,  into the email so you can talk openly. I am sure he will voice a similar stance to myself.

Kindest Regards
[/Quote]

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I reply back now addressing the "co-founder". Let's call him Stephan:

[Quote]

Hi Stephan,
Probably Tim misunderstood or misrepresented my comment (that is in the email).

"These questions can be left at a latter stage"
A quick overlook of the CV to find the match requires just 2 minutes, specially for a rejection. You may ask further personal questions when there is a match based on CV, and when the employer showed the first interest (as in, "the CV looks good. I need more information").

The same can be mentioned about asking to do the coding challenge (defer it after to the first reply from the employer. I did not do the coding challenge. I just shared a link to my work. But if someone did a coding challenge before the CV screening, this is a waste of time for the prospective employee. I estimate it may take up to an hour for this coding challenge).

I stand by my stance on asking the salary details early on is a no-no. It should be left to the employer. It is better if the employer is transparent on potential offering instead. It is a win - win. But that is a separate topic/discussion.

I have interviewed myself candidates for junior roles for my previous employers in the US and Sri Lanka. Also in my experience, I had zero instance where a recruiter (those who represent companies and research labs) asked for my salary and visa details when the CV is not even shared with the employer. This is somewhat a predatory practice.

I would rather prefer if you contact the potential employees with more personal questions when there is some interest and match from the employer's perspective. But if this is your business model, I have no say on that.
But feel free to reflect upon these comments during an internal discussion.

Regards,
Pradeeban.
[/Quote]


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No replies from Stephan. Probably Stephan's email is not even valid. Or may be he does not care about us - we are his product. His customers are the employers.

What is next? Provide People and similar companies will ask questions such as "Are you pregnant? Do you have any life-challenging diseases?" to help the companies weed out these "anomalies" earlier? We are in a weird situation where employees are brain-washed to believe their founders. I believe Tim is one of them who "
must whole heartedly disagree with" me.

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