Recruiters say the darndest things

Fancy a job?If you’re a recruiter and find yourself playing any of the following roles – please stop. Now.

These examples are all ones I have personally experienced over the last few years, sometimes when actively looking for work, sometimes not. And they are the reasons why I resent the entire job application process.

1. The Smooth Talker

I was once represented by a particularly suave recruitment agent who would happily go the extra mile to stroke his candidates’ egos. In my case, it wasn’t really needed. When I at one point said that the client would be “very lucky to have me”, he responded by saying “yes, they would indeed be lucky to have an attractive, tall, blonde Swedish lady on their team.”
It took me several hours to calm down enough to write a response, highlighting the inappropriateness of his comment. The main point I made was that I face enough sexist obstacles as it is, working in a male-dominated industry. I don’t need more rubbish from the people who are supposed to support me and recognise my professional abilities. Am I right?

2. The Gap Filler

Sometimes I have come across roles where I am not a great match to the job profile – a view also shared by the recruiter. However, they would still encourage me to apply “just in case”, which is essentially a waste of my time. Recruiters: We know what you’re doing. You obviously have a star candidate that you want to hard sell to the client by placing them next to sub-spec ones. It gives us a false sense of hope. Don’t do that.

3. The Empty Promiser

Don’t say you will call the next day when you have absolutely no intention of calling the next day. Or the next. Or the one after that. It’s called lying – and it’s not a good look.

4. The Silent Type

Apply for the role. Have the phone briefing. Attend the first interview. Seems positive. Report back to the agent. Plan around a vague date for second interview. Wait. And wait. Vague date passes. Call the agent. No update. Wait. Wait. And wait. Then a call out of the blue: “A second interview tomorrow, can you make it?” Attend the second interview. Seems positive. Report back to the agent. Wait. Wait. Wait. Then an email: “Sorry, you were unsuccessful on this occasion”. No detail, no reason, no feedback. Nothing. (Well – I may have been unsuccessful in my application, but you were unsuccessful in  making me ever want to apply for a role through you again.) Hot tip: If you want candidates to invest their time in the application process, be a decent person and keep them posted on progress and – most importantly – if they fail, let them know why it didn’t work out.

5. The Straw Grasper

There is always that recruiter who mines CVs looking for keywords, such as experience of a particular piece of software, and thinks it’s a good idea to spam the candidate with suggested roles that hinge entirely on that one area. As a marketing manager, I frequently get suggested roles as Salesforce API programmer, Java developer, product engineer and other random stuff – from people who should know better. An agent who gives no consideration to my genuine profile deserves exactly what they get: a fast-track to my email black list.

6. The Mole

We all know this type. Popping up out of nowhere, completely unexpected, some recruiters send contact requests on LinkedIn without an introduction and without any contacts in common. Surely, there must be more effective ways to grow your network than sending random contact requests using the generic LinkedIn message? For me, and for many people like me, this approach generates a swift click on the “Ignore” button.

Now – I’m not a recruiter. Far be it from me to tell you how to do your job. However, being at the receiving end of recruitment efforts over the last few years, I like to think I may have gained be an insight or two that might be useful. You should be aware that every time you make any of the above mistakes, you will end up with one more candidate who a) will never actively choose to work with you again and b) is likely to warn friends and colleagues about engaging with you.

In your own words: Better luck next time!