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The #1 Lie Employers and Recruiters Tell

The #1 Lie Employers and Recruiters Tell

I worked in recruiting for more than 40 years, filling more than 1200 full time positions plus consulting assignments. I now coach job hunters with their searches, working worldwide with people in a variety of professions and careers.

When I worked in recruiting, I noticed a sad truth. Employers and recruiters told a big lie when describing the positions they were recruiting for. If you re-read my first sentence, you will see that I used the correct language, rather than perpetuate the lie when I described the jobs I filled as a recruiter as “full time positions” and not “permanent positions.”

The dictionary defines the word “permanent” as “existing perpetually; everlasting, especially without significant change.” Do any of you really think your job will be permanent if there is another economic slowdown? Seriously, do you really think your work is “permanent” by this definition or any other definition of the word that you can find?

Of course, not.

So why are jobs described as being “permanent positions?”

I think it all goes back to the way we have been conditioned from the time we went to school and were taught skills to prepare us for being employees. I am not speaking of math, English or science. I am speaking of conforming to systems and institutions that demand your loyalty without any offer of real reciprocity in return.

In school, you were taught:

  1. Do what you are told when you are told to do it . . . or else!The #1 Lie Employers and Recruiters Tell
  2. Get good grades . . . or else!
  3. Have the right answers. Collaboration is cheating. Don’t collaborate . . . or else!
  4. Shut up. Don’t disagree . . . or else!

At work, you are taught:

  1. Do what you are told when you are told to do it . . . or else!
  2. Get good reviews . . . or else!
  3. Have the right answers . . . or else!
  4. Shut up. Be a team player. Don’t disagree . . . or else!
  5. There is job security at a big company.

You see, what you compete for are not permanent positions but “full time jobs.” These are jobs that want to purchase your services for a minimum of 40 hours per week to do a bunch of predetermined tasks and any other task they think you should do.

And they have the right to fire you (or if you prefer another lie, “rightsize you” out of a job, lay you off, furlough you). The #1 Lie Employers and Recruiters Tell Remember, you are seen as disloyal if you decide that what they promised you is unsatisfactory and firms reserve the right to punish you for their mistakes (including paying you less than market value, underpaying you, demanding you work insane hours, etc.) by the collective action of seeing you as (GASP!) a “job hopper!”

Let’s start turning the tables on the situation. If they use the word, “permanent,” let you “BS detector” go off and mentally convert the term to “full time.” Instead of blindly looking at these positions as being the panacea to career advancement, look at consulting or temp assignments as being preferable, particularly at early stages of your career. After all, many of these job will pay double your full time salary (minus insurance, minus paid vacation plus the ability to deduct commutation and other work related expenses that your full time co-workers or clients are unable to do) leaving you ahead of your full time brethren by a lot.

Yes, there may be a time when it makes sense to go to work for one of these firms on what LinkedIn founder, Reid Hoffman, describes as a “tour of duty”(work done for a fixed task and period of time after which your manager may even help you find your next role.

But no matter what, don’t allow yourself to be tricked into thinking you are taking a permanent position.


© The Big Game Hunter, Inc. Asheville, NC  2017

Jeff Altman, The Big Game HunterJeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves life coaching, as well as executive job search coaching and business life coaching. He is the host of “Job Search Radio” and “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” both available through iTunes and Stitcher.

Are you interested in 1:1 coaching from me?  Email me at [email protected] and put the word, “Coaching” in the subject line. offers great advice for job hunters—videos, my books and guides to job hunting, podcasts, articles, PLUS a community for you to ask questions of PLUS the ability to ask me questions where I function as your ally with no conflict of interest answering your questions.  

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If you would like to read another article of mine, try, “6 Ways You Know It’s Time to Change Jobs.