We all walk into a room with an image of who we are, a goal of how we want to be portrayed and perceived. Some even advise fake it until you make it. Be a great story teller, tie a bow around your company culture or embellish your professional experience. You’re under great pressure to make it all sound outstanding (and you’re not even in marketing!). But does that strategy really pay-off when working with an experienced recruiter?

Put away the smoke and mirrors.

Whether you are candidate looking for your next career move or a company exec seeking to hire your next sales all-star, you need to keep it real. Here’s why:


  1. Experienced recruiters can flush out truth from fairy tale, anyway.


A skilled headhunter will be able to parse through what you say versus what you mean. Over multiple interviews, professional history, personal anecdotes, even exploring goals and dreams, the authentic you comes through, like it or not. This is not only true for candidates looking for a new role but client company hiring managers as well. A recruiter that rigorously vets prospective companies, asks astute questions, visits the office and meets the wider team is looking behind the scenes in order to learn more. Do things really add up? From company culture and leadership to financials and efficacy of the product or service solution, an expert recruiter’s insight always goes beyond what is reported in order to synthesize the real story. By bringing your honesty and clarity to the table from the get go, you can make the engagement smoother and the placement process even more fruitful.


  1. Exaggerating will not land that dream job earning scads more money


Let’s talk about the elephant in the room – many candidates feel like they need to oversell themselves when they first sit down with a headhunter. It seems obvious as to why: if I enhance and embellish my skills and accomplishments, even just a little, I will be sent on interviews for a role of a lifetime, make a ton more money, and be super successful. Congratulations! See fireworks bursting in the sky. Well, it’s highly unlikely it will work out that way. If you over-promise your abilities, to lead a team for example, or report sales 3x of goal, and it’s not true, you are establishing unreasonable expectations of what you can deliver (of course, reference checks can verify a lot too). Instead of setting yourself up for success, the stage is set for disappointment and failure, no matter how hard you work. Be upfront about your signature strengths, vulnerabilities, mistakes and goals. It will make your next move your best move.


  1. Transparency in business is actionable with direct and lasting impact.


The importance of open and honest communication between client companies and recruiters cannot be overstated, triple that for high-growth organizations. What kind of company are you really? What do you value? What are the leadership dynamics? How engaged is management? What level of collaboration or support is given to the sales team? There is no upside to withholding or sugar coating the state of the your business. Client companies that deeply understand that recruiters are a highly confidential and skilled extensions of their team, build genuine partnerships that yield the most powerful outcomes; providing clarity and direction, saving time and ensuring a successful and lasting hire. In sales recruiting, for example, when a company highly inflates the amount or quality of pipeline leads for the new hire to pursue, and further investigation reveals the reality is not as advertised, the recruiter and candidates feel deceived. From bad to worse is this aggrandizement coming to light only after the sales professional was hired. This is not the way to kick-off a relationship with any employee, raising questions of ethics and undermining openness and accountability. Everyone knows a true sales hunter needs to go out and create a book of business. So let it be said.


Honesty really is the best policy, cliché or not. We guarantee it’s the best possible outcome for everyone—recruiter, client, and candidate.

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