Getting the most out of recruiters is about more than crafting a targeted resume or having the perfect pitch. It’s about avoiding the gaffes they see every day, too. So, to help make sure your phone calls get returned and your name stays high on their list, here are five of recruiters’ top pet peeves—some subtle and some obvious—you should take pains to avoid.
1. The Fudged Resume
Don’t send a resume that’s rife with misspellings or you may never get called. Don’t lie either. You’ll get caught.
Your resume “doesn’t have to be perfect,” stresses Doug Schade, Principal Consultant at WinterWyman Technology Search in Boston. “I’m here to help polish the resume, but there shouldn’t be any spelling errors.” Also, he says, be sure your information is consistent. “We have information on candidates going back years,” he observes. “We can check an online profile and if things don’t line up it can lead to mistrust.”
2. Bad Communication
Good back and forth between you and the recruiter is vital during a search. Recruiters need to know what you want professionally and your level of interest in the positions they present as possibilities. If you don’t waste their time, they won’t waste yours.
“Let’s say we have a great candidate and we’re doing all the work to find a perfect fit,” says Jon Heise, Senior Tech Recruiter at Instant Technology in Chicago. “We send a great email and leave a great voicemail about a position and then they don’t pick up their phone. They’re non-responsive. That drives us crazy.”
Schade concurs and notes a flip side: “The candidate who’s overly aggressive and follows up with calls two times a day.”
3. The Unprepared Candidate
A lot of what recruiters do is mitigate variables. They let you know what the interview may be like and who you may talk to. They may even role play with practice questions. But at some point, you have to hold up your end of the bargain and prepare.
“Occasionally, we get someone who doesn’t research the company, doesn’t look at the website and doesn’t really know what they’re getting into,” says Heise. “I had a great candidate a couple months back. We told him to come in for the interview ‘business professional.’ He showed up in jeans, a leather jacket and a baseball cap. It turned the client off. He had it in the bag until they saw him. He never got the job.”
4. Too Important for the Room
No matter how admirable your skill set or how deep your experience, you still have to go through the interview process. Yet some people don’t think they should have to. Heise, for one, is incredulous at that attitude. “They feel they can get hired off a phone screen and make a very minimal effort, or they think the next position will just fall into their laps,” he marvels.
While he allows that with a particularly stellar candidate there’s an off chance that could happen, Heise feels strongly that those people are shortchanging themselves. “They may not like the position, or the client may not like them,” he says. “If they take a little time up front, we’ll all know if it’s the right match in terms of tech and culture.”
5. The Dreaded CounterOffer
You’ve worked with your recruiter for months and finally said “yes” to a great job, given notice and then… your employer makes a counteroffer. You then scuttle the new deal and stay with the devil you know.
“When someone comes to me, it’s because they’ve already made the decision to look for a new position for a variety of reasons,” Schade says. “The job search is no small undertaking, so it’s more than about money. If it’s just about money, they can often look internally and we can help do that as well, rather than spending the time on a search.”
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