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I've been working with a recruiter for the past two months and I finally landed a great offer at a software consulting company. The start date was set three weeks out at the start of October. Right from the beginning she was pushing me to move up the date but I told her I was fine with it as long as the employer was (I wanted a few free days to help with the transition).

Then just today I stopped by my new company to start some paperwork and their HR person told me "Your new start date is all set." I said "New date?" And he said "Yes, your recruiter called us today and said you wanted to start a week early, that's ok with us." I explained to him that I didn't say that, and he gave me a smirk like he kind of knew what the recruiter was trying to pull. I said I would gladly start earlier if there was a need for me to, but when he realized that I didn't request it, he quickly said "No let's just stick to the date in the offer."

Should I just let this go? Should I tell my new company that I'll start a week early? I just don't want this to mess things up before I even start.

I'm assuming the recruiter lied in order to get her commission quicker. But why would she risk her reputation just to get paid a week early? I emailed her asking her to explain why she said that, but she did not reply.

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    @mgarciaisaia: You should not need to give an "excuse", or indeed any reason of any kind. You said when you could start, and that's the end of it. Not providing personal details of your reasoning is not carte blanche to start spreading lies and sabotaging your career. (FSVO "you") – Lightness Races in Orbit Sep 19 '16 at 23:40
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    She didn't lie to get paid a week early, she lied to get the deal in the books this quarter (or month). There's a good chance that she had her boss' tacit or explicit approval. – Dan Bron Sep 20 '16 at 2:15
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    If you hired the recruiter and you are responsible for paying them, I would withhold payment. This is an unforgivable breach of trust that stained your reputation. If your employer is supposed to pay the recruiter, make sure they know the recruiter breached their trust so they can stop working with them. (If you hired the recruiter, tell them you will discuss an appropriate compensation for this screwup after they have apologized in writing to your employer.) – David Schwartz Sep 20 '16 at 4:02
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    What a recruiter lied, manipulated, looked out for #1? Wow! That never happens. In my experience, recruiters are dead honest, care about your welfare, concerns, etc. Paychecks, contracts, and profits are completely secondary. Not even a thought really. Totally out the door. (sarcasm) Let it go. Next time, avoid using a recruiter if you can or just know that you will have to bend a little for fast work. That is just how the world works. It is how recruiting is done. Sorry. It is a really really sucky business. Personally, I hate it. But it does ensure fast returns. Cheers!! – closetnoc Sep 20 '16 at 5:07
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    @closetnoc Yep. Recruitment agents are mostly without conscience. I have a number of low-grade horror stories which won't fit in a comments box but are worse than misrepresenting a start date. Don't trust recruiters, ever, and state your requirements to them firmly and clearly leaving no wiggle room. If worried, communicate by email and keep everything in writing. – Bob Tway Sep 20 '16 at 8:28
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You need to remember who is responsible for getting you onboarded successfully. That would be HR.

If HR says to stick to what's in the offer, stick to what's in the offer.

Once you're in and working, I'd have a talk with your boss or hiring manager and discuss what happened. At that point (and not before) I would also call the recruiter and give her a "what the heck?" call.*

Lastly, I would give SERIOUS consideration to talking to the recruiter's boss. In a business like that, ethical lapses can seriously stain a reputation and I'm sure they don't want that.

Personally, I'd never work with her again. The reasons don't matter why she did it. Lying to an employer about you is never excusable.


* The reason I would wait before talking to anyone is because the recruiter could still sabotage you if something happened to her own job, or at the least make things difficult. Just go with the flow until you're on board and then look at your options.

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    +1 - One small thought regarding "In a business like that, ethical lapses can seriously stain a reputation and I"m sure they don't want that.": Only a smaller subset of recruiters are going to care too much about their reputation unless there are some kind of serious legal consequences. They usually work off of a high volume of jobs and applicants where reputation starts to become irrelevant. – Mark Rogers Sep 19 '16 at 20:47
  • @MarkRogers Fair point until you're you're talking about larger accounts. That's where it becomes more of a concern I think. – Chris E Sep 19 '16 at 21:28
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    @MarkRogers: if that's their thinking then the employer might be more effective in complaining to the recruiter's boss: "your recruiter lied to us about the candidate's offered start date. This risked our hire and we no longer have confidence in you. Your move". It's not in the employer's interest to use recruiters who pull this nonsense, since the result is employees who you think are starting on date X but actually are out of the country doing whatever it is they planned that time to do. The recruiter is trying to get their money early to the cost of both other parties. – Steve Jessop Sep 20 '16 at 9:27
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    As a guess, the recruiter has a non-linear reward scheme. Ie, hires over a certain quota in a month give a bonus, or they get in trouble if they are under some quota, or they planned on changing jobs and the hiring bonus from the previous month would clear their paycheque before they switched jobs. And they wanted to move their hire to a month they would get a bigger benefit from. – Yakk Sep 20 '16 at 13:15
  • @MarkRogers So disagree. Word of mouth can kill any business. If I have an experience like that I will tell 10 people or 100+ if they will listen. Long term a bad reputation will kill the business. No way a commission 1 week early was work the loss of reputation. Even that single person not using them the next time he is looking for a job made it a money loser for the recruiting firm. – paparazzo Sep 20 '16 at 18:13
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Should I just let this go?

If I concluded that a recruiter lied on my behalf I certainly wouldn't let it go.

I'd make sure that this recruiter personally apologized to both me and my new company. And I'd let the recruiter know that I would never recommend or personally do business with her/him again.

My reputation is extremely important to me. I don't lie. And I don't allow anyone to tell lies as if they came from me. Not ever.

Should I tell my new company that I'll start a week early?

That's completely up to you. If you want to start early, start early. If not, just go with the current conclusion by HR and start on your original offer letter date.

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    "My reputation is extremely important to me." And the reputation you'd like to have is as a huge pain in the ass? Maybe the recruiter was just trying to move her commission up a week, maybe there was a genuine misunderstanding, maybe something else. If I had to choose between someone who told a porky once in a while and someone who turned every perceived slight into a March on Washington, I would go looking for a third person. – Malvolio Sep 21 '16 at 6:58
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Should I just let this go?

There is nothing you can let go or not let go. The recruiter doesn't work for you, she works for your new employer. HR knows about the situation, if they want to stir this up, they will. If they don't - it's their call, not yours. Beware, if you go against your employer will here - that will definitely be unwelcome.

Should I tell my new company that I'll start a week early? I just don't want this to mess things up before I even start.

Wait, what? You wrote that you have already talked to your new company and you both agreed on the original date. You've already did the best thing you could do: you offered to compensate for recruiter's fault and go any way they want. They wanted to undo the change and both sides agreed to undo. Keep your word.

(BTW, you can't just tell somebody that you're unilaterally changing an agreement. Not here, not ever.)

It was probably bit of work for the HR to move the date closer, and again bit of work to push it back. They did it, because first was a courtesy to you (as they thought at that moment) and the second was both beneficial for the company (so they don't have to pay for a week they don't need) and a courtesy to you (AGAIN!). Do not ask the guy to do same work third time, now it will be really annoying. It will benefit nobody but your ego.

But do explain the situation to your direct supervisor at your first day. He was probably contacted by HR and it went something like that: "This new guy will come a week earlier than you wanted him." "What? We won't have anything for him to do so soon." "Just do it.". Now the situation was cleared up, but he probably remembers there was trouble, so explain that you were not the source of it. I recommend being neutral about it, eg. "There was some communication problems with the recruiter" instead of "That lying bitch tried to scam us all" because nobody likes to deal with judgmental people and first impression is hard to change.

5

At this point you have nothing to gain by pressing the issue. You have a job lined up, and it sounds like your new employer is okay with the original start date and is aware that the recruiter was not being completely honest. Soon enough, you won't ever need to speak to her again. Just let this one go.

  • Ethically I agree with everyone else, but in practical, pragmatic terms, yeah, who cares, why rock a boat you just stepped on for no gain beyond hurting someone else, people lie, it happens, it didn't make a difference. – Kilisi Sep 19 '16 at 21:49
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    @Kilisi It's because of people like that that things get messed up for others. The fact that, as far as you can tell, it made no difference in this particular instance doesn't mean that others who have gone before the OP haven't been on the receiving end of a bad situation because of that recruiter's behavior. The OP was still placed at risk by the recruiter. Imagine if the HR person hadn't said anything about the date and/or the OP hadn't asked about it. Screwed. Letting this go, I think, is a mistake that rewards immoral recruiter behavior. – code_dredd Sep 20 '16 at 0:15
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    @Kilisi: "people lie, it happens" -- how do I know you're telling the truth? Maybe people don't lie ;-) – Steve Jessop Sep 20 '16 at 9:34
  • @SteveJessop becasue I'm Catholic? hehe – Kilisi Sep 20 '16 at 9:36
  • Nope. I would wait until after I started and knew that those above me understood what happened and agreed it was not my fault, then I'd either have words with the recruiter, or possibly seek to go above them. Their actions reflect poorly on them and possibly on the asker. Maybe this is an ongoing issue with this recruiter that's being monitored by their company? Perhaps they've been warned against pulling stuff like this and were hoping to get away with it again? Simply, "Letting it go," only lets the recruiter try it again later. – MattD Sep 20 '16 at 17:16
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Should I just let this go? Should I tell my new company that I'll start a week early?

It sounds like you have already done the right thing as in your question you stated

I explained to him that I didn't say that, and he gave me a smirk like he kind of knew what the recruiter was trying to pull. I said I would gladly start earlier if there was a need for me to, but when he realized that I didn't request it, he quickly said "No let's just stick to the date in the offer."

So, just stick to the current plan. I would also follow up with the HR person in a week or two just to make sure nothing has changed.

why would she risk her reputation just to get paid a week early?

We can only speculate. That said, at this point, I would call the recruiter, not send an email, and ask for an explanation. Explain to her that you need to be able to trust her or you can't continue working with her. Likely this will scare her straight.

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    "Explain to her that you need to be able to trust her or you can't continue working with her." It's too late for that. The recruiter already broke the trust. There's no point in trying to salvage something you didn't mess up. – code_dredd Sep 20 '16 at 0:13
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    @ray, "There's no point in trying to salvage something you didn't mess up." I have to disagree. Learning how to salvage relationships is a very important skill to have and doing it can often be for your benefit. Since when have we become such an unforgiving and revenge-seeking society? – mikeazo Sep 20 '16 at 14:40
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    The fundamental problem is that the receuiter has proven herself to not be a trustworthy person. No amount of "skill" can turn a liar into an honest person and address a fundamentally moral problem. If you insist in maintaining a business relationship with with someone who lacks integrity, you're setting yourself up for failure. The saying "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me" seems appropriate here, IMO. – code_dredd Sep 20 '16 at 16:48
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    Knowing how to salvage relationships is important, sure, but knowing when you should or shouldn't is also important. In this case, I don't think it's worth even the slightest effort on the employee's part to attempt to salvage the relationship. He's not the one who screwed it up. And bad recruiters are a dime a dozen. – Michael Hampton Sep 20 '16 at 23:10
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If you were working with a third party recruiter then once you are settled into the new job you should write up your experience and post it to an anonymous job reviews site such as Glassdoor. It won't help you but it may help other people avoid working with an unethical recruiter in the future. (And as other people have said, a small lie about a start date is really minor in the big scheme of things. I've had recruiters do much worse.)

Don't just let it go.

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SHADY!

If there's no huge impact, start your new gig whenever it's reasonable. But prior to that - was there an offer letter? Make sure you have an written offer letter as a matter of course. Make sure that you've properly responded to it - and keep a copy of your response! Start the job, get in there, and kick butt.

After that - and only after that - get in touch with the recruiter's supervisor. Sorry you had to deal with a messy recruiter. They usually live on commission and not much else. Scumbags are everywhere, and for every kind of employment.

Good luck on your new job.

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