While I was out to lunch yesterday I received a voice mail from a recruiter who was very impressed with my actuarial background specifically within the Medicare advantage space. He had a career opportunity for me that he wanted to discuss. Considering the fact that I  am a headhunter without actuarial work experience, it was odd how he found me and how he failed to recognize I was a recruiter. He mentioned that I had come highly recommended by a former actuarial colleague. Since I never worked as an actuary, the only actuarial colleagues I have are my clients and candidates.  I’m sure they didn’t recommend me to another recruiter. I decided to play along and see what other fabrications came up.

I called the recruiter back and he quickly answered, excited that I returned his call so quickly. He explained what their organization does and that he would be very interested to learn more about my background. The first opportunity I had to speak I asked for more information on this elusive colleague of mine, one that was so quick to offer a recommendation on my behalf. I was told that the colleague was currently interviewing for the very same role and it would be a breach of confidentiality to provide his name or even the company he works for. I told the recruiter that I was surprised he would offer up such a referral when he himself was vying for the same position, in essence creating his own competition. The unsuspecting recruiter told me that it happens often and that he wanted to get back to discussing my background. I decided not to keep him in the dark any longer and told him that I am a fellow recruiter and felt that making up a fictitious colleague was a poor way to do business. He hung up on me!

Gosh.  I hate what this type of behavior says about the industry I’m working in.  Unfortunately, this is representative of why recruiters get a bad reputation.  Don’t work with recruiters like this.  Here are some suggestions to use for assessing whether a recruiter is worth your commitment:

Catching the Recruiter in a Lie

Any recruiter approaching you with a story of you being highly recommended by someone who is also interviewing for the same position is a very questionable contact. Not to mention a recruiter who can’t tell the difference between an actuary and another recruiter.

Recruiter’s Knowledge Lacking

If a recruiter likes your particular background, ask why? Why is my specialty in such demand? What is the market like overall in my discipline? If they can’t answer some simple questions, move on.

Not Sharing Client’s Names

If the recruiter isn’t able to give you the name of the person who will be reviewing your resume or the name of the person you will be speaking with or the person whom the position reports to, they are just a using your background to open doors for them. Yes, organizations are large and candidate portals depersonalize the process, but you are working with a recruiter for their relationships and their knowledge…if they don’t have either, don’t work with them.

Paper Pushers

When they email you a long list of companies they want to send your resume to and don’t offer any additional information or even wait for your approval, these are paper pushers. They are trying anything, without targeting your skill set or listening to your career goals. What do they say about throwing S*#T against the wall?

Charging a Fee

When they ask you to pay any amount, don’t work with them. All reputable firms are contracted and paid by the future employer. Never agree to pay a recruiter an upfront fee in order to find you a job.


Interested in working with a reputable, informed actuarial recruiter?  Contact Smith Hanley AssociatesRory Hauser at or 203.319-4305.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.