Lies My Recruiter Asked Me to Tell

by Maggie Hamilton

The daily hunt for a new job is exhausting. After a long day at work, it’s tough to trek home and then hop on the computer to scour or for the latest postings, all while eating leftover Pad Thai.
Enter: The Recruiter.
I thought adding headhunters would be a good addition to my job-seeking arsenal. I contacted two — both whom were recommended by friends. The first recruiter fizzled out after I told him I was interested in a graphic design position, but couldn’t afford to live on a junior-level salary. When I told him I was thinking of just abandoning the whole design route altogether and that I was extremely open to other fields, I never heard from him again. I chalked it up to a good rehearsal experience, and moved on to the next agency.
With some practice under my belt, I confirmed my appointment with my next recruiter and prepared to meet with her. I picked out my outfit (a gray shift dress, a purple cardigan, and heels), purchased a new portfolio for my resume and notes, thought about answers to questions she might ask, and selected jobs from their website that I was interested in. I went in prepared, ready to get a new job.
The meeting seemed full of promise. Her agency specialized in placing executive assistants — the type of job I thought could provide an opportunity to get my foot in the door at a company I found interesting. After I arrived, she even brought over a few of her colleagues and gave them her pitch, and they all seemed excited and said they had a few positions in mind for me.
“This is fantastic!” I thought. “I’ll be giving my notice in no time!” I started envisioning my week off before I started the new gig. Oh, the things I would accomplish.
After going over my resume and giving me some things to tweak or expand on, the recruiter told me she wanted me to change my current title (luxury sales) to “Executive Assistant to the President.” I know a lot of people pad their resume and tell white lies, but it would become very clear in three minutes that I have never been an executive assistant to any presidents.
Could I be an executive assistant and be awesome? Absolutely. But I’m a terrible liar. I went home, made some tweaks, and, as a compromise, included that administrative assistant had been part of my job description at one time, which was true. But I wasn’t going to go any further than that.
A few days after the meeting, I sent the recruiter back my updated resume, with a note that I thought it would be misleading to call myself an executive assistant. I said I was excited about the possibilities and was eager to learn. It became clear to me that she was not impressed by my honesty, because the trail quickly went cold.
Contact with her has been one-sided: “Hey there! Just checking in. Do you need anything from me? Here’s an updated resume! Please call me! I’ll name my first born after you. Do you like homemade cookies?”

I can’t get a response. It is so frustrating to go from being hopeful to dejected. I have one more recruiter to contact via a friend’s recommendation, but I’m wondering if it will just be a waste of time. Has anyone had any good experiences with recruiters? There has to be some good ones out there.

Previously: “I’m Stuck in a Career Rut”

Maggie Hamilton lives in New York City and is an avid pie-baker, cat-stalker, and park-runner. She’s awaiting your job offers at