How To Prevent A Recruiter “Closing” You


By Jas Singh

“Just call him back” my manager said. “Just tell her you think she’s making the wrong decision. Meet her for a coffee, lunch, anything  – you need to get inside her head. You can turn her around. You can always turn anyone around”.

It was late 2006 and my first few weeks as a twenty something in the recruitment industry. Working for one of largest City based firms in London. Boy, had it been a culture shock. Coming from the healthcare industry things had been very different. “Do no harm” is the mantra I had learned at med school.

“Do whatever it takes” was the message I was getting here.

It was boiler room vs wall street. Hard core sales tactics, pressurised selling, aggressive management. Hit your monthly targets or you’re out. Putting money on the board was all that counted. Never mind the careers you were messing with.

As a hiring specialist, I am well aware that the recruitment industry overall doesn’t always have the best reputation. Don’t get me wrong, there are some fantastic recruiters out there who are truly passionate about helping others and what they do. But likewise there are many whose sole goal is to try and get a commission as quickly as possible. At any cost. Who won’t take no for an answer.

The commonly used phrase to such an approach in the industry is “closing”. As my first manager used to challenge me in the corridor “nice work Jas – but are you going to be able to close him?”.

Many recruitment companies even invest heavily into regular training and psychological techniques to ensure that they can increase their chances of getting candidates to say yes. NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) is a commonly used one. Some even encourage outright manipulation. To know which buttons to press – whether it is money, personal rewards or even family.

Messing with someone’s livelihood isn’t a minor matter. Good recruiters can certainly be used for help and guidance but only if they put the candidates interest first.

Here are a few ways how all people can make sure the recruiter doesn’t close them.


Focus on your initial goals

Having advanced brains certainly has it’s benefits. But sometimes us humans can be funny creatures – we can be too clever for our own good. Most of us know what we want, many of us even know how to get it. Yet often what prevents us is not our goals but our distractions. Other “things” that suddenly seem appealing.

The grass can seem greener on the other side. Maybe this unexpected glamorous job in fashion could be more interesting than that career we’ve always wanted in healthcare.

Often we can get emotionally attached to multiple things. Things that seem exciting or rewarding in the short term. We might even start to want everything – and so become undecided. And so the most “convincing” case wins.

Deciding what you want in your next job requires some thought. The best time to do this is usually before you start interviewing. If you are wooed and impressed with things in the moment, all you will do is be satisfied short term.

Aggressive closers know this. They realise that most people can be tempted in the short to medium term – even if it’s not what they really want. That the first step in convincing someone to change is to challenge their existing beliefs.

At all stages of their lives, successful people have a clear set of goals that they focus on. This applies to moving jobs. Spend some time asking yourself “what is most important in my next job?”. Then stick to it. Nothing else matters. The only time you might change your mind is on your own terms.

The only way to achieve your goals is to stick to them.

Maintain direct contact with the hiring manager

When my wife and I bought our first home some years ago, we made over ten offers on different properties at asking price or above. All of them were rejected. Each time the agent kept coming back with the same story about how the seller wanted more money because he had lots of people also interested in the property. Often we increased our offers. Yet infuriatingly we never knew where we stood and felt totally in the dark. When we did eventually buy, it all happened first time – with a lady I met in the tube, where we ended up dealing with the seller directly.

It’s much easier to be influenced by another person if they are holding all the cards. When they have the freedom to explain the situation whichever way they like. Nearly everyone has been told one thing by a recruiter when the client is thinking something totally different. That the role doesn’t really involve 50% travel (when it does). That the realistic bonus potential is 100% (when it isn’t).

The best way to prevent this is to deal with the hiring manager directly as much as possible. To get full visibility on the role, decision making process and current status.

It’s your career. You need to know what your potential future boss is thinking.

Don’t get too personal too quickly

As social creatures, humans have a natural tendency to reciprocate.

To return a favour. To show gratitude for a nice time. To play along with those who have treated us well. The problem is, sometimes our desire to reciprocate can result in making big decisions that aren’t really the right ones.

We’ve all seen things through just because our manager has previously watched out for us (even though we know where things are heading). Or agreed to meet a date again just because he was a nice guy. Or felt guilty about saying no to someone whose previously gone out of their way.

Relationships are an important part of life, including business. But getting too personal too quickly can often cloud our judgement. With recruiters, often we can end up subconsciously linking what we feel about a recruiter with what we feel about the job. Both can be very different.

I personally think a coffee or office meeting is usually a good place to start. But if you are wined and dined too early, it may end up affecting your judgement. You may feel obliged to not want to disappoint.


Moving jobs is a big decision.

But a decision that you have to own.

Although it’s useful and often necessary to hear multiple perspectives and advice, there is a fine line between being guided and being controlled.

The only person who should finally close the deal should be you.

Good luck.

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