Recruiter Insights: Tech Recruiting the Ethical Way

about 1 year ago by Judah Berger

Recruiter Insights: Tech Recruiting the Ethical Way


In New York City, which was recently named the best city in the world for tech companies, the recruiting space can be quite competitive. In the past few years, headhunting firms have popped up left and right to grab a share of the pie and attempt to link these growing tech companies to the vast talent pool here. As with any industry which is still in development, the best practices for these recruiters have not been implemented by every firm, resulting in scores of less-than-par recruiters entering the field. This is expected to change as the industry matures, but for now we are left with haunting stories of candidates being used as a means to an end or being promised the moon when reality falls far shorter.

Aside from basic procedures, such as following up and staying organized, there is much that a recruiter can do ethically to stay ahead of the game and set themselves apart from those head-hunters simply looking to make a quick buck. Ethical practices include being as transparent as possible while keeping certain things confidential; a balancing act which even the most experienced recruiters sometimes have difficulty with. Reporting intentions and sentiments to the other party is something which must be considered on a case-by-case basis, with the best interest of both parties in mind. A good general yardstick for measuring whether what you’re doing is ethical or not is to ask yourself the question “If I do ___, who benefits the most?” Usually, that answer should be both the candidate and the client. If the answer is instead the recruiter, then it is likely to the disadvantage of the other two parties.

However, ethical issues may not always be intentional. One candidate recently told me that they were set up for an interview, by a recruiter who assured him that the interview would be a breeze—after all, the coding languages used by the company were the same as the candidates. Once the candidate got to the interview though, he found there to be a gross misalignment; the firm used Java, and the candidate used Javascript. Despite the similarity in the names of the languages, the two are worlds apart with little overlap, and the candidate failed out so quickly you would think he didn’t know how to code at all. The onus of responsibility on the recruiter was twofold: to not only understand the technical aspect of both the client and the candidate but also to share all relevant info in the best way possible, so any informational gaps are filled by the more knowledgeable parties involved. Of course, the clueless recruiter didn’t intend for this negligent practice, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that many people’s precious time was wasted.

Another less common but still seen practice is using candidates as “cannon fodder.” This is when a recruiter will use a candidate, who is likely not a fit for the job, in the hopes that the candidate can shed some light on the interview questions, paving the road for the next candidate and giving them a leg up when it is their turn. Of course, it is different to push through a candidate who has a shot at the role—as recruiters, we want to give everyone a fair chance—but using a candidate merely as a means to an end, in order to secure information, is highly unethical and can never be done in good conscience.

All in all, there is plenty of room in this industry to take advantage of people. Recruiters need to realize that this isn’t just sales; it is people’s careers that they are dealing with. These candidates’ livelihoods should be treated with the utmost care, as should the vast sums of fees that the clients pay out. At the end of the day, recruiters add plenty of value by pairing the needs of the candidates with the needs of the firms but must heed caution so not to leave hopes and dreams discarded in their wake.