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Recruiters, The Great Pretenders

By March 17, 20163 Comments

I was asked a slightly strange question by an HR Manager I know this morning.  They asked me if we ever pretended that we worked with clients in order to get a foot in the door and maybe get a chance to send in CV’s for open vacancies.  I replied that we do occasionally cold call businesses that haven’t used us before, but couldn’t understand why anyone would pretend that we had done work in the past to get some kind of leverage?

Well this HR Manager is now in possession of a previous boss’ company phone after they left for a new role.  Apparently several recruiters still call this phone every day, and upon being told the person they’re calling no longer works there, many often claim to have done lots of recruitment work with that company in the past.  This HR Manager happened to look after recruitment at the company previously too, so knows this to be a lie.

So recruiters lie.  Some do.  Many don’t.  But it’s a label often slapped upon us by a distrustful public and jaded jobseeker market.  Some may regard this behaviour as opportunism, but it brings with it a serious whiff of desperation too.

This was taken to a whole new level by Australian Sales & Marketing recruitment firm Denovo Consulting recently.  It seems that Denovo pretended to be recruiting a role for Sydney cricket club the Sydney Sixers, who felt compelled to issue a statement on the matter:

Recently a recruitment advertisement appeared on Seek and LinkedIn for a Membership Manager for a Sydney BBL team. The advertisement was posted by a recruiting firm called Denovo Consulting.

The advertisement was false. Cricket NSW and the Sydney BBL teams have no such position available, nor do we have, or have we ever had, a relationship with Denovo Consulting.

If you have submitted an application to, and/or been contacted by Denovo Consulting in relation to the advertisement, for example to schedule an interview, please contact us on 02 8302 6066 so we can take appropriate action.

Posting false adverts is an age old trick of the more bottom-feeding, CV-flicking, chancer recruiting agencies.  One that I thought was phasing out.  But at least these adverts are always vague about the actual client.  This is the first time I’ve heard of it being done with the “client” actually being named in the advert.  I can’t actually get my head around what they were hoping to achieve and how they expected to get away with it.

But more than that, I can’t for the life of me find any kind of response from the Directors of Denovo, which almost seems more incredible.  The bad PR is profound, and the backlash on LinkedIn predictable, but intense nevertheless:


If anyone can direct me to some kind of response then please do, but from a search of their website, their blog, their LinkedIn page, Google and even some site called Bing (!) there is nothing.  Nada.  Tumbleweed.

They do still have 394 vacancies on their website though so clearly a policy of lying low and sweating it out isn’t doing too much to harm business.  Even if only 10% of them are for real.  The truth is that in the world we live in, this will actually blow over, everyone will move on, and they will go back to doing what they (and many other firms) do.

It won’t do much to improve the long-term prospects of improving the recruitment industry’s reputation though.  But then I doubt they care.

Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.


  • Jess says:

    Claiming to have done “lots of recruitment work in the past” probably meant “I have called hundreds of times to try and get a meeting”. A twisted lie, they could have done better than that and added more value to the phone call!

  • Carmen says:

    Its been happening for years as has ring fencing of candidates by floating them to fifty plus companies whether there is a relationship or not in order to own any placement that may happen. Most of these desperate measures come out of pressure from Management to deliver to certain numbers – we deal in people not numbers and yes there are certain formulas that work but the moment you focus just on the numbers you are in trouble.

  • Surely the obvious response is; ‘Great. Who would be a current employee that you placed here?’