10 Things to Avoid When Talking to a Recruiter

10 Things to Avoid When Talking to a Recruiter

Contributors: Tyler Daniels and Lyan Ware

Asking easily researchable questions: Not doing any preliminary research is a sure way of becoming a red flag for recruiters. Before approaching a recruiter, make sure you’ve done your own prep work by Googling some basic information about the job and the company. Looking at the company’s LinkedIn profile and doing some reconnaissance on their work culture and employees will make you an informed candidate, ensuring that you make the most of whatever time you get with a recruiter.

Not optimizing a recruiter’s time and attention: Recruiters are very busy people, inundated with hundreds of messages and emails every day, so any opportunity you get to communicate with them should make the best use of both their time and yours. Your communication should always demonstrate professionalism, gratitude, and ambition. If you ask a question such as “Do you have job openings available in my area?”, this tells the recruiter that you did not take the time to look at their job board/job listing. If you didn’t do the work of performing the most preliminary research, then why should they be motivated to do the work for you? A recruiter performs their services for the company they work for, not for you. It is up to you to demonstrate to them that you’re a candidate their employer will praise them for finding.

Ambiguity and large blocks of text: Do your best to minimize the work of a recruiter by being concise and specific. Making their job easier will make you stand out to them in a good way. If you message/email a recruiter a big block of text, they will very likely not even read it. As stated in the previous tips, show the recruiter that you are informed, professional, and grateful for any time they’re able to give you. An example of a useful question to ask would be if they can potentially get you in touch with the person who currently holds the position, so that you can better prepare yourself as a candidate. This alleviates the recruiter from answering questions about the position and shows them that you’re determined and thorough.

Being impatient and aggressive: A fine line exists between being aggressive and being proactive. Crossing this line will not only get you a hard ‘no’, it can also get you blacklisted. Even if a recruiter does not respond to you, always maintain utmost cordiality and professionalism in your follow-ups. You want to stay connected without becoming disruptive or obnoxious. Their boss and client dictate their focus and tasks, not the candidates. They might take some time to get back to you. While it’s certainly okay to politely follow up with them if you haven’t heard back in a few days, multiple calls and emails per day is obnoxious and will not give a good impression.

Being unavailable for contact: Recruiters are evaluated by how fast they can fill open positions. If you only check your email every two weeks instead of daily, you will very likely miss out on an opportunity. If the recruiter can’t reach you to schedule an interview or to deliver an offer, in 20 seconds they’ll be on the phone with the next applicant on their list. With or without you, the train will always depart to get to its destination on time, so it’s up to you to get on before the doors shut. Many job listings receive hundreds of applicants within hours, so not being readily available to take or return a phone call, check your email, sets you up for many missed trains.


Ignoring their feedback: Recruiters possess an abundance of insight and knowledge when it comes to resumes and interview techniques, so don’t take it personally if they give you constructive feedback. Why would you ignore advice directly from the company about how to get hired there? Making the changes they suggest can be the difference between you getting the job and not getting the job. If a recruiter is bothering to give you constructive feedback, be grateful to them for steering you in the right direction. They stand to benefit if they can get you hired, so it’d be in your best interest to heed their advice.

Badmouthing a previous job/employer: Speaking ill of another employer or organization to a recruiter comes off as tacky and reflects poorly on your character. If asked about why you left a previous position, always approach the question with grace. This is probably one of the handful of times where ambiguity and euphemisms are okay to use during the job searching process. A general sentiment that can be used is that you wanted your career to take off in another direction, or that circumstances necessitated you to seek employment with more opportunities for growth, etc.

Telling Them You Are Desperate: While many may think that explaining their situation candidly will garner empathy, admitting that you’ll take any job that comes along is like admitting that you’re not focused or passionate—that you may flake at the last moment. Desperation can easily come off to a recruiter as a sign of instability, which is normally an undesirable trait in a candidate. It also alerts the recruiters that you’re a potential liability—a walking target for those willing to be unethical and take advantage of your desperation.

Dishonesty: While it’s certainly okay and encouraged to polish your accomplishments with the best use of professional language and key search words, dishonesty will obliterate your relationship with a recruiter. Absolutely do not fabricate or misrepresent your work experience on your resume or in any of your communication with a recruiter. With that being said, unless it is asked about directly, you’re not obligated to volunteer things like large work gaps in your resume. However, prepare an answer for these questions in case they do ask.

Openly expressing anger when rejected: At the end of the day, a recruiter is not obligated to offer you a position. As previously stated, they work to please the clients that they work for. You represent a product they are shopping for, and often there are a lot of products to choose from. They must sift through hundreds of applicants, picking out a handful of stand-out potentials to put through the ringer for final determinations. Their job is difficult and time-consuming, so try not to take their rejections personally. Learning to not get attached to any single job listing is a great way to save yourself the emotional exhaustion that can come with job searching. If you maintain decorum and grace, you’re preserving a bridge with that recruiter, which can potentially turn into a future opportunity if you made a positive mark on them. Expressing resentment for not getting picked is a sure-fire way of burning the bridge, closing that door to you indefinitely.


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