cheesy recruiter


It is old, but has become new. Let me explain.

Do you ever notice how you (candidates) get so many more calls from recruiters stating that they have been “retained by so-and-so company to find…(ostensibly you)”?

Well, in years past I have personally been in a coaching session for recruiters in which the trainer specifically told us to use that specific phraseology when approaching candidates on the telephone.

You see, in the past a Retained Search was conducted by a recruiting firm that was given money in advance by a client company, because it was very serious about filling a critical role. Often it was for a C-Level executive or VP, but as the shortage of talent looms, more recently we have been engaged on retained searches for senior level contributors. At any rate, the word “retained” used before the word “search” used to mean that it was a highly critical role to the client, highlighted by the fact that non-refundable money has already been paid to the recruiting firm, and that the search was given to one, highly qualified search firm.

Not anymore.

What this “retained” phraseology is designed to do is give a false air of importance to the search and to the firm conducting the search. Today, it is often used to mislead.

Do me a favor.   The next time a recruiter calls about a “retained search” they are working on, ask…

1) if they received money up-front and,

2) if they the only recruiting firm working the role? As in, will you get calls from other firms about the same role?

If either, or both (depending on how lenient you want to be) of these answers are “no”, then you have been intentionally mislead.

Yes, I say “mislead” and not “lied to”, because as our trainer taught, any time we are given a search, our services have been “retained”. I guess technically this is true, since you can be retained verbally, but you get my point.

It is a practice based in deception.

This is just another example of the perpetual efforts to make the recruiting profession eternally less professional (aka “cheesy”)…and it irks me to no end. It makes a perfectly legitimate profession seem less so.