Dealing with Recruiters: Honesty is the Best Policy

The job hunter/recruiter relationship is a complex one. On one hand, you build a rapport with them and form a unique professional relationship. On the other hand, you both have your own agendas; you want a new job and they want their commission or bonus. So, there’s a temptation to be wary and hold back information when dealing with recruiters. However, only bad recruiters don’t care about their candidates, and they genuinely can’t help you to the best of their ability if you aren’t honest. There are certain things you should always tell your recruiter.

The world of recruitment has changed

Of late, the candidate has the power; they can afford to be picky and do things on their own terms when it comes to dealing with recruiters. While you are likely to have to adhere to a recruitment process of sorts, these are becoming more flexible. Additionally, job hunters aren’t expected to jump through hoops or mould themselves to fit a job description anymore. As long you are right for the job, responsive and reasonable throughout the process, recruiters are much more likely to at least meet you in the middle with any demands or stipulations you may have. This ‘candidate-led’ market means that the ball is in your court, so you may as well be open.

We’ve worked with enough candidates over the years to know that when they fail to provide information or if they fudge the truth, it can really ruin their chances. Sometimes, even their reputation. Whereas, if they had been honest in the first place, there may have been a work around or it may not have even become an issue! Put yourself in an employer’s shoes; dishonesty is not a desirable characteristic in an employee. Therefore, what you may think is a little white lie will appear more serious in the eyes of your recruiter and their client.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that you have to disclose every last detail about yourself. Definitely leave your mother’s maiden name and your first pet off your CV! However, there is some information that is always best to disclose when dealing with recruiters. We’ve put a list of some of the most important things to tell your recruitment consultant during your job search.

Any terms, concerns or objections you may have

This one is tricky. You can’t have everything completely your own way, plus you don’t want to come across as too demanding! However, if there are certain things you just won’t compromise on, let your recruiter know right away.

For instance, if there’s no way that you would do occasional weekend or shift work, then make it clear. If a recruiter puts you forward for a job that entails occasional weekend work, they’ll be wasting their own time and yours. Another common stipulation surrounds references. If you are uncomfortable providing references early on in the process, which is understandable, let your recruiter know and they’ll be able to compromise with you.

If anything about the process or the role is worrying you, or if you’re unsure about something, talk it out with your recruiter. It’s best to speak up as soon as possible!

Your salary expectations

Of course, the money is a huge factor when it comes to looking for a new job. Most of us wouldn’t say no to a significant pay jump! However, when speaking to your recruiter about your salary expectations, there’s not much point saying that you’re looking for £50,000 when the market shows you should be earning £25,000. It’s a case of being ambitious but realistic.

Recruiters are clued up on the job market, so they’ll know when you’re trying to pull the wool over their eyes and that won’t do you any favours. Similarly, if you don’t tell the recruiter exactly what you are looking for salary-wise, they won’t be able to help.

Your current or past salary details

You’re not actually obligated to disclose your current or past salaries to a recruiter. However, if you are not willing to provide this information, be up front about it rather than dodging the question. It goes without saying; never be dishonest about what you’re earning or have earned in the past. If your lie unravels (recruiters and clients have all kinds of sources and contacts), it’s likely to be catastrophic for your application.


Sounds silly, doesn’t it? Do you know how many candidates we’ve had disappear off the face of the earth rather than say “no”? It’s natural to shy away from difficult or unpleasant conversations, however don’t forget that recruiters can really help you out.

If you’re ever in a situation where you find yourself wanting to say “no” to your recruitment consultant, then you should. Don’t want to accept the job? Tell them. No longer wish to be considered? Tell them. As long as you do so in a polite and professional manner, they will appreciate your honesty.

Sometimes, saying no is best for both parties. Recruiters won’t chase you if they know that you aren’t interested, meaning that you won’t have to worry about dodging their calls. Saying no also gives you the opportunity to discuss your concerns. Something you thought was a deal breaker might be negotiable, or your recruiter may have other opportunities you could explore instead.

If you have other things on the table

This is mainly a matter of courtesy. If you are working with more than one recruiter or if you’re in the final stages with another company, make this clear from the beginning. Doing this shows that you’re open and honest, and if a recruiter thinks you’re perfect for the job even though you have other things cooking, they might hurry things along for you!

The truth

This point sums up all of the above and then some. It’s best to tell the truth when dealing with recruiters. Yes, there may be things you embellish slightly to sell yourself however when it comes to the important things, stick to the truth.

For example, your reasons for leaving previous jobs. If you tell your recruiter you left of your own free will when you were let go or made redundant, you’re playing with fire. Recruiters speak to their clients and their clients speak to people in the industry. They have ways of finding all the details of your professional past if needs be.

In the past, we have had candidates that have told what seemed like little lies during the recruitment process. When clients uncover the truth, even if it’s a small thing, it raises the question: “Why did they lie?”

Overall, the main thing to remember when dealing with recruiters is that honesty is the best policy!

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