Rusing: An Exposé

There are some practices in recruitment and Search which get little press and yet are used widely throughout the industry. Rusing is one of those practices. If you’re anywhere other than the US, you might not have heard the term before. But that’s not to say you haven’t done it, just that you haven’t heard it given this name.

Due to the socially connected world we live in nowadays, the practice may not be as prevalent as in the past. Today, if you want to know who a Manager is at a certain company, you’ll probably be able to find out online.

But, as shocking as this might sound, not everyone has a LinkedIn account.

What is Rusing?

Typically associated with Executive Search, rusing is when you call a company with the intention of gaining information. Instead of introducing yourself with the correct details, you portray yourself as an employee of the business you’ve called, or anyone other than your true identity. Why? Because, you’ve probably tried saying you’re a Recruiter in the past and the gatekeeper is trained to politely (or not) put the phone down on you.

Recruiters can get a bad press sometimes. But there’s nothing more frustrating than being hung up on by someone on a power trip. Especially when you’re calling in good faith or are mistaken by the recipient.

So you’ll sit there thinking “I need a way to get past this person, just to be able to get this info.” Or maybe your boss or team are demanding information that you simply have to find.

So in an attempt to get through, you tell a small lie. A ruse, if you want a nice way of putting it.

There are some businesses that have staff, whose sole intention is rusing. It may be the role of the research team or a KPI for less experienced staff. After all, in Search, information is power. The most likely businesses to be on the other end of rusing are probably banks and financial services companies whose staff aren’t on social media.

As an example, if you go onto the ‘about us’ section of a private hedge fund website, it’s not likely to contain any names. Let alone contact details.

So extreme measures are turned to. According to this article from Bloomberg, some businesses have gone as far as to hire actors that can slip past the gatekeeper with more aplomb than a Recruiter. Whilst that’s pretty extreme, it shows the lengths some go to.


Isn’t There a Better Way?

Yes, there is a better way.

Rusing is a direct result of companies being sick of cold calls. It’s not you that’s a nuisance (probably) but the sheer volume of people calling, all with a similar request. Also, when you call ‘number withheld’ there’s no one target to criticise, so the whole industry probably gets blamed.

There are two reasons to cold call a client. The first is to recruit for them. The second is to recruit their staff. Even if the reason you’re ringing is to recruit for them, it’s probably not viewed as conducive to a harmonious working day for someone on reception.

If you’re ringing to headhunt their staff, it’s more likely you’ll say anything to get through the first barrier. Whatever the reason for the lie, it’s still a lie. And it’s not going to be something you can dismiss easily when someone calls you out for it. The issue with rusing is, for the recipient they don’t care if it’s for the benefit of the business or not, it’s detrimental.

What Do You Do Instead?

There are a lot of things you can be doing instead of rusing to find information. It’s highly probable that when you’re experienced and have been in the industry for a while, you don’t have to rely on doing practices that are deemed ‘underhanded’. It’s perhaps a way to build market or network information when you’re starting out. But like many dark arts in recruitment, there are so many more ways to operate on an ethical level than reeling off a quick lie.

Getting out of the office is normally the best way to build a network. Go to events, meetups, networking evenings, book meetings with both candidates and clients. Go wherever your network is

If you believe that place is only their place of work, you’re not researching very well. But even if that is the case, calling up and lying as the first introduction will not set the best impression of you, our industry or your company, should they ever find out who that is.

Help us all out. Be different, be credible and be honest.


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