Fishing Expeditions

17 September 2013

We had a call last week from a friend to tell us that she had been approached by Shotgun Sam claiming that his client instructed him to approach our friend about a position, yet he refused to identify the client or to provide her with any details about the role.

(This was the second time in a month, by the way, but that will have to be the subject of another blog post – rogue recruiters who apparently do not know the meaning of the word “no”.)

Calls such as this do not in most instances represent a legitimate opportunity, but rather are nothing more than a fishing expedition.

In this specific instance we know with certainty that it was a fishing expedition.  How?  Because we happen to be working with the firm in question and can confirm that Shotgun Sam submitted several candidates (but not our friend!) whose profiles are completely different from what the firm is seeking.  Clearly the partners at the firm are unhappy about being misrepresented in the market.  But I pity the poor candidates who have had their details revealed for an “opportunity” that does not exist.

Has something like this ever happened to you?

In essence, Shotgun Sam lies to you to determine whether you might consider making a move and then, based on your positive reply to that misrepresentation, approaches a number of firms, ostensibly on your behalf, indicating that you are actively on the market.

It is an unfortunate, yet all-too-common, practice among rogue recruiters to call around to collect as many CVs as possible and then to shotgun them around the market in order to generate a bit of business for themselves.

How can you help protect yourself against this type of approach?  A few thoughts:

  • first, work only with people you know and trust;
  • second, be on your guard when you receive a call out of the blue because, while it may represent a legitimate opportunity, you should probably assume that it doesn’t;
  • third, enquire as to how many other potential candidates have been contacted about the role in question (any equivocation should be a red flag that all is not as represented); and
  • finally, if you have any doubts, demand that Shotgun Sam provide you with a written mandate from the "client" (if it is a legitimate opportunity, he will be able to provide one).

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