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What Most Recruiters Won’t Tell You

Eight recruiters and HR pros share a few “secrets” you’ll probably never hear

Recruiter SecretsThere’s no doubt about  it, looking for a job isn’t easy. One of the most difficult things for job seekers is being left wondering what went wrong. Why didn’t my resume get a response? Why didn’t I move on after my interview? Why didn’t the company hire me?

In an effort to get some insight I asked recruiters to share some reasons why candidates don’t move forward. I asked specifically for things that recruiters can’t or won’t tell candidates during the interview process. I was surprised to get so many frank responses.

While a recruiter, HR professional or hiring manager may not share any of the following reasons with you as a candidate at least you will have a few things to consider. Here is what they had to say when it comes to things recruiters won’t tell you.

David S. Patterson, President, The Kineta Group– Sanford Rose Associates

They found something on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) that was not reflective of the kind of person they claim to be. Maybe it was a guy with a few younger women in a photo that appear excess partying was happening and the guy is interviewing for an executive position. Maybe the recruiter does not want to embarrass the person so says nothing.

They think the person had bad breath, bad odor or generally poor hygiene. Perhaps the recruiter will subtly prepare the candidate for this the next time she or he interviews but for this time just feels awkward sharing this directly.

John Fleischauer, Talent Attraction Manager, Halogen Software

I suck at recruiting and misread your resume or LinkedIn profile before contacting you. I never should have contacted you in the first place because you don’t have what I’m looking for.

You suck at demonstrating your unique value proposition as a candidate. You’re likely capable of doing the job but you didn’t leave me with the confidence that you are the best person for the job.

You are over valuing your transferrable skills, and frankly, you are not worth as much money to me as you are to you.

You have the personality of a bag of hammers.

Stacy Pursell, Search Consultant/Founder, The Pursell Group

We had one candidate who did not get hired because she did not send a hand written thank you note after the interview. Another candidate did send a hand written thank you note which resulted in her getting hired instead of the candidate who did not send one. The hiring manager noticed and commented that if a candidate doesn’t follow up with a thank you note after the interview then that showed a lack of respect and attention to detail on their part.

Sometimes candidates talk negatively about their current employer or past employer or they appear they are running away from a negative situation with their current employer. Hiring managers don’t like that. They want to hire candidates who want to go to something better, not those who are running away from something negative.

Erik Bowitz, Marketing Manager, Resume Genius

Firstly, social media really does matter unfortunately. Even if your profile is private we can usually still see your profile picture, and if it’s not professional it results in a quick involuntary judgment. Try to use a flattering profile picture on your social profiles, as even if they try not to let it, it may affect how an HR professional views you before even meeting you.

Secondly, we know LinkedIn is about 75 percent  B.S. and only 25 percent value. This means all those endorsements from your friends and family for various skills don’t mean anything to us. We pretty much only use LinkedIn to see if we have any friends in common and to confirm the content of your resume.

Lisa McAteer, Recruitment Consultant, McNeill Nakamoto Recruitment Group

We can’t tell you most things, actually. We are in a precarious situation in that if we provide you with negative feedback, we open ourselves up to litigation. If, either following an interview with myself or with a client, you were not selected because you had low energy, were not dressed professionally, did not have clear communication skills, body odor, etc., the most we can ever tell you is that you were not a ‘cultural fit’

I truly want you to succeed. When you do come and meet with me and have low energy, dressed unprofessionally, etc., I am disappointed. When you promise to send me something or amend a document, etc., and then I don’t hear from you for a number of days, I am disappointed. When you show up late for a meeting with my client, it breaks my heart. The world is not out to get you. Your lot in life is rarely worse than others’. This is very much a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Sharon DeLay, SPHR,  Boldly Go HR

A lot of job seekers will shoot off a resume to a recruiter that has no context (typically provided in a cover letter) or a unifying purpose. If a recruiter has to work hard to figure out the position someone might be eligible/applying for, the recruiter simply won’t make the effort. There are too many resumes coming across the recruiter’s desk.

Be aware of your surroundings during an interview. I have Skype interviewed someone and there was so much going on behind the person that I could not hear them or take them too seriously. This included an open window out to a busy city street (so I heard sirens, people yelling, etc.) and someone walking behind the video camera in nothing but a t-shirt and underwear. Recently, I interviewed someone who flushed a toilet while we were talking!

Justin Seymour, Executive Search Consultant, A.I. Partners Executive Search

As a job-seeker, you also have power. A good recruiter understands during this dialog that you’re evaluating them. Job seekers questions should be welcomed and answers forthcoming. The recruiter should be able to provide thorough details about the role, the people involved, and company mission.

Also, the level of intelligence, business acumen, and transparency a recruiter demonstrates is a strong indicator of the hiring company’s values.

Mary Ellen, Career Expert, Monster

Chemistry trumps skills. If a recruiter likes you, they’ll keep looking until they find a job to put you in. If they don’t like you, there’s no certification or specialized degree that can overcome that. So focus on building rapport in the interview, not just running through the laundry list of what makes you the best person for the job.

Assessments and other tests are there to screen you out, not screen you in. At most employers, there’s a minimum threshold below which someone gets cut off of consideration. Scoring higher doesn’t make you more qualified. So don’t stress about these sorts of tests too much. It’s better to direct your energy toward what really matters — building a connection with the recruiter or hiring manager.

About Annette Richmond, MA

Annette Richmond, MA, CARW, CCELW, is a Certified Resume Writer, Certified LinkedIn Profile Writer, and former recruiter. Her career advice has been featured by Huffington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, Business Insider, Monster, Vault, and WSJ. She helps motivated, senior level professionals tell their unique career story. She also serves as executive editor of career-intelligence.com.


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