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I’m currently being lied to by a candidate. If they know I know they’re lying, I don’t know, but I suspect they do. Or maybe they don’t and are living in hope that I am stupid. For now I’m happy to be perceived as stupid as I’m enjoying watching this play out. I also like the candidate so I want to give them as much opportunity as possible to ‘fess up. A reputation as a teller of tall stories is a hard one to shake. Perhaps impossible in very small recruitment community.

People lie to recruiters all the time of course. In my experience, it’s rarely out of malice. Sometimes it’s done under the mostly mistaken belief that it will advance your career. Sometimes it’s out of pride. Mostly, it’s out of embarrassment. A white lie following a poor decision slowly turning darker and darker as the candidate keeps digging. What would have been a marginally tough confession met with sympathy from someone who is actually on your side, turning into a candidate who ends up blacklisted across town. It’s such a shame.

Part of the problem is that lying to recruiters is actually very difficult. The lie, slipping off the tongue like a greasy chip is easy enough. However, recruiters tend to have a fantastic nose for bullsh*t. They are often purveyors of this themselves. Decent recruiters are also naturally inquisitive. They also have fantastic desk research skills. They are also ridiculously connected in your industry. Although candidates think what we do is review a CV, conduct and interview, and represent a candidate, more than 50% of my time is working and lurking in the shady world of market intelligence, off the record chats, snooping, gossiping, and sharing beers with people with loose lips. If a candidate lies to a recruiter, a decent recruiter can get to the truth with one phone call. Two max. And if a recruiter doesn’t make this call, it’s typically because the lie suits their agenda.

The problem is, containing a lie is impossible in New Zealand. Everyone knows each other and everyone loves a good ol’ chin wag. So what may have given you a slight advantage during an interview, or was just blurted out during a moment of high pressure, always bites you royally on the arse.

Candidates also misunderstand the agency recruiter’s role in the recruitment process. Yes, we assess you, but providing you tick 5 of the 8 boxes, we really want you to get the job! We’re are not the final boss to beat at the end of the game. We’re the little wizard giving you health potions and armour. We’re your defence lawyers, and in order to defend your career decisions, we need the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. So help me God. There is nothing more detrimental to a candidate’s candidature than the hiring manager telling the recruiter something they found out about the candidate that was not previously declared. You will not get that job. To be clear, you are of course allowed your secrets. When I ask where else a candidate is interviewing, they have no obligations to tell me. If they have signed an NDA then I have to respect that. Many recruiters cannot be trusted with information that does not fall into the “need to know” buckets. I’m talking barefaced lies.

If you have lied to a recruiter, the best thing you can do is come clean. Jesus H Christ himself is no more forgiving than a recruiter trying to earn a fee. Armed with the actual truth, any good recruiter will help you position this reality in the best possible light. Without perpetuating the lie, an explanation can be made and a story can be told. You will also minimise any damage to your reputation in the future. If you aren’t aware of your own reputation, others are.

Anyway, we shall see where my current situation leads. I’m hoping that we come to a point of honesty, for everyone’s sake.

Speaking of secrets, it’s been no secret that here at Rice & Co we’ve been looking to grow the team for the past 18 months. Although I love running an agency rec to rec desk, and will always continue my involvement, we’ve been searching for someone to spearhead the collective efforts of Anastasia, Jon, and myself. After speaking with hundreds of recruiters, yet never finding someone with just the right mix of tenacity, drive, resilience, skill, work ethic, and humour, I’m genuinely over the f*cking moon that our search is over. As of Monday, Claudia Dawson-Jenner will be joining us as a Senior Consultant, working with agency candidates and clients across New Zealand. We will of course do an official click-bait announcement on Monday, but I’ve got a big mouth, and this is too exciting not to share. Welcome to the madhouse Claudia.