Recruiting Roadmap: Recruiting Agency Red Flags

Ryan Joseph
by Ryan Joseph

Is your recruiting partner displaying any of these five danger signals?

Every month I speak to many prospective clients, and while some are eager to speak with me about our services, there are many others who seem scorned, often skeptical of recruiters.

Upon digging deeper, I nearly always uncover that they have had a mediocre – or worse, a straight-up terrible – experience with previous recruiter relationships.

Here are five major signs that you need a new recruiting partner:  

1. The don’t follow the three Ls of recruiting:

The three Ls of recruiting are pretty simple. They are listen, listen and…you guessed it…listen! To truly know what an organization is looking for in a candidate I have to take the time to hear about what tangible and intangible features are important. Over-talkers, interrupters, and rapid-firers are classically bad listeners by trade. If your recruiting partner shows any of these signs, it is a huge red flag that should be vetted thoroughly. If the person is annoying you as the customer, imagine how a potential employment candidate may feel when they run into the same issues.

2. They can’t engage:

As an almost complete contrast, there is a fine line between serious and professional to just plain old boring. The best recruiters should be able to entice candidates to come work for their clients. A monotone or purely unengaging conversationalist will seriously struggle to bring on superior talent. Remember, your recruiting partner is often a candidate’s first impression of an organization. Choose wisely! 

3. They are willing to work at a very low rate:

While recruiting services can be costly, they are an important investment. The old saying holds true that if something sounds too good to be true it probably is. Recruiters willing to operate at below industry standard pay rates can only mean one thing…they are not representing top candidates. In recruiting, good, qualified people are our “product.” Don’t settle for the cheapest service and expect the best results.

4. They are recruiting people in your organization:

If an agency has an active agreement with your organization, but for some reason they are also taking people out of your company – that is a major red flag. This would basically be equivalent to a security integrator going to a prospective client, stealing all their security equipment and then calling them the next day and pitching them their installation services. This is obviously an extremely unethical practice. One of the major benefits of working with a recruiting agency should be safety from candidate poaching! 

5. A lack of diversity in the pool:

Last but certainly not least is a critical topic these days – diversity. While some might say this is an area our industry is lacking as a whole, there are many diverse candidates in our industry with valid experience. If your recruiting partner keeps providing the same profile, it might be a good time to reevaluate. 


The bottom of the line is that there are many recruiting agencies out there, but not all of them are ideal for your organization. When evaluating a recruitment partner, put yourself in a candidate’s shoes and ask yourself “Is this a good representation of our brand?” Then take it a step further and decide: “Is it the best representation of my brand?” If neither are a yes, it is time to revisit other options. 

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