7 Secrets Recruiters don’t want you to know… (But I’ll share.)

There are some hush hush recruiting secrets and HR best practices that you probably should know about as a business professional.

1. All companies have a 90-day new hire termination policy.

Whether it is in your contract or not, any company can let you go during the first 90 days without explanation or notice. I asked an executive once “When is the best time to fire someone?” Their answer: “The first time you think of it.” Let’s face it. If your manager has thoughts about letting you go during the first 90 days, they should – and probably will – cut you loose. The probability of things getting better over time is really low and employers can lose millions of dollars annually on bad hires. HR will let you go within the first three months if they see any behaviour they don’t like, rather than wait and run a greater risk if they have to fire you later.

2. The 6-Month termination guarantee.

If you were hired through a recruiter, chances are your employer has a 6-month guarantee. This means that if the employer lets you go within the first six months (or if you quit during that time), the recruiter will have to find a replacement without extra costs to the employer. If you leave after the 6-month mark, the employer will have to pay a new search fee. That means an employer has an incentive to terminate you before that time rolls around, if the relationship seems like it won’t work out. The six month mark, like the 90-day mark, is a “danger zone”.

3. “Off the Record” reference checks happen All the Time.

Many hiring managers and recruiters will do “off the record” reference checks. They will look on LinkedIn to see who they know that is connected with you from one of your past roles. They will ask “off the record” for feedback on what you are really like. This feedback can often be more meaningful than the references you personally provide. In today’s litigation-prone environment, employers are reluctant to say much that may be traced back to them, and often have a policy of providing only confirmation of employment dates to reference checkers – but someone may say more if they can be assured their remarks will remain off the record. This technique is often used when you say that you were laid off, but they have a concern that you were fired.

4. When the recruiter says “I’m just starting the search and need to interview a number of people before determining my short list” it means you’re probably not on it.

Have you ever asked a recruiter where you stand in terms of your likelihood of being on the short list, and heard them say “I’m just starting my search and I need to interview a few more people before arriving at my short list”? This is what recruiters say when they aren’t interested in putting you forward but don’t want the awkwardness of saying it to you personally. They don’t want to alienate you by being blunt, but if they wanted you on the shortlist, they would be selling you on the opportunity and you wouldn’t have to be the one asking.

5. HR will put you on a performance plan because they are looking to gather evidence that will allow them to fire you. It is code for “Start looking for a new job.”

When HR puts you on a performance plan, it is time to start looking for a new job. In fact, many companies use this as a strategy to encourage your job search. After all, if you leave on your own terms, they don’t have to pay for severance or outplacement. The likelihood of things turning around once they get to that stage isn’t good. When they put you on a performance plan they are putting together the necessary case history to justify your dismissal.

6. A good performance record won’t save you from getting fired or laid off. Every job today is temporary.

No one has job security. Period. Even though you have done great work in the past, all it takes is a new manager or CEO, a merger or acquisition, or cost cutting efforts. What you did yesterday is old news. You have to be making your company money, saving your company money, saving your company time (which equals money), or making the office a great place to work because of your amazing personality. Remember that EVERY job today is temporary

7. Online background checks are standard practice.

Be careful what you post online. Google yourself and see what comes up. Your future employer will. Remove photos of drinking, smoking or partying. Remove provocative photos or comments. Privacy is dead. If it is there, they can find it.

In closing – information is power. Now that you know these “hush hush” recruiting and HR practices you can use them to your own best advantage. You can be aware of the signs of trouble and know where to concentrate your efforts.

The most important thing to understand is that a company will always be weighing its options in terms of whether to keep you on or not, and so it makes sense for you to do the same. Always keep your own options open and be on the lookout for an opportunity. If things aren’t working out, you may need to change jobs, and even if they are, a better career move is probably out there waiting for you. In today’s career environment, we are all surfing on chaos. Great opportunities are out there waiting for you, but you need to be flexible and not let yourself get tied down.

Here’s to your success!!