Posted on 17 March 2009

How to Annoy A Recruiter

frustratedIts not fair, but recruiters pwn you when it comes to getting an interview. Until you’ve moved beyond the screening stage and your recruiter is actively working with you, TREAD CAREFULLY or some of these behaviors might lead to an eternal busy signal when calling your recruiter.

If you want to hurry up and wait, here’s some great ways to skip the line and jump headfirst into the “resume blackhole”:

  1. Blah, blah, blah and don’t respect their time.
    Once you get a meeting with a recruiter, its good to find out if they have time for you, and how much. Then keep to it. That shows respect, and smarts on your part… to juggle a conversation, and exit gracefully when the time is right. If the conversation is going well, but it’s time to leave, simply state something like, “I’d like to continue this, but I know we’re out of time. Should we reschedule?”
  2. Ask for an interview without knowing if there’s even a job open.
    Candidates know the recruiter is their gateway into the company. Coaches and job-hunters tell you to get an interview at all costs, but asking for one before you know there’s even a job can end up killing your chances to get one at all.Remember: The recruiter’s job is not to interview. The recruiter’s job is to find the right person to fill open positions. The interview is a tool in that process to be used with the right people at the right time. Not anytime.
  3. Call back. A lot. A few times everyday works best.
    It’s appropriate to call an office line and then maybe a mobile phone if they didn’t pick up. Leave a courteous message briefly reminding them of who you are and what specific position you’re interested in. Chances are high they know you called, but just can’t get back to you at the moment.  Recruiters have caller ID , too, and a hyper-sensitive awareness of phone-numbers and people (which are some basic DNA characteristics of a recruiter). If you consistently call multiple times a day (especially if you’re as reliable as Old Faithful), your recruiter may begin to find things to be busy with when you call. Or worse, out of nowhere, you’ll get a voicemail they left late at night (on purpose so you wouldn’t be there to answer) saying “Thanks, but no thanks.”Call. Leave a brief, specific message (referring to the exact role you’re interested in ). Possibly email the next day or two days later mentioning that you called a few days before, and asking for an update on the status of your application and/or the specific job you are interested in.  Let them know that, if there is no progress, or if you are no-longer a candidate, it’s OK for them to tell you.
  4. Promise to follow-up if they don’t get back to you.
    Don’t say, “I’ll check back in a few days if I don’t hear from you.”  A busy recruiter will simply say to themself, “OK, great. I don’t have to call you back, let’s see if you follow-through on your promise.” Its not polite to give someone a deadline for no reason at all. Putting them on the hook may just guarantee the phone stays on the hook whenever you call.
  5. Don’t take “no” for an answer.
    When you’re being told a position isn’t right for you, It’s completely fair to ask what was missing from your background or experience to keep you out of the running.  Ask for candid feedback, and request if there’s a seperate set of positions they feel you’d be more qualified for, or  if the things which limited your candidacy this time around can be improved upon for the next time.  Phrasing your questions like, “Is there something in the job requirements I do not meet?” will encourage your recruiter to be open and honest with you, and you’ll likely avoid platitudes like, “well, you’re just not a match” (the recruiter version of “we’re just not that into you”).

    Finally, when the call is complete, you may ask permission to email or call the recruiter if future opportunities arise, if you can connect with them on LinkedIn or another network you both use (LinkedIn recommendations are an excellent “parting gift” to your recruiter, btw), and then graciously thank them for their time and let them off the phone.

You should note that all of these suggestions change when you’ve moved beyond the passive/tense/delicate “screening” process and into the active “interviewing” process . In the latter, all of the above change, except the respect thing. That one seems to stick around for, well, ever.

The summary is to remember that your recruiter is just as interested in finding the right person to fill their jobs as you are in making the right move. Help them help you. Openness and respect mutually in the beginning will pay dividends. Respect them, be low-maintenance, don’t make them work hard for you and, when the timing is right, they will work very hard for you.

Good luck!

P.S. Enjoy a good laugh at other jobseeker’s sakes at Some links may be NSFW. Others may make you roll with laughter.

3 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Jesse Stay Says:

    Robert, yay! You’re back! Welcome back man. Keep up the great posts!

  2. Robert Merrill Says:

    @Jesse thanks a lot, man!

  3. Brian Says:

    Thanks for the great post. As someone who now hires regularly from recruiters, this is a post worth sending to my recruiters to forward to their applicants. Keep up the great work. Great insight! Thanks.

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