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Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You

In full disclosure, the bulk of this article comes from a URL link to a Monster article. Given so much of this is true, it was far too tempting to not add my own comments

If you want a job, you wouldn’t intentionally try to make recruiters hate you. But you’d be surprised at how often an eager job seeker will make an enemy out of the very people they need to impress. Some blunders are merely irritating, while others can make recruiters do a slow burn when they hear your name.

OK, hate is too strong a word in most cases. But if you want to totally blow your chances with recruiters — and, by extension, with the companies they work for — here are six perfect ways to do so.

1. Get Creepily Personal
One Recruiting Consultant recalls a phone interview (that had gone pretty well up to that point) in which the job seeker ended the call by asking her to marry him. “When I told him that was an inappropriate thing to say to a hiring manager for the company, he said, ‘Oh, I thought you were a just a headhunter.’ As if that would have made it all right.”

Although I have not received any marriage proposals, I do find it ‘creepy’ when candidates are superfluous with the compliments on my profile photo…thinning hair and all.

2. Use Cutesy Language, Texting Slang and Dumb Resume Tricks
The gimmicky resume is a pet peeve of many recruiters. “Please do not send a resume inside a shoe, saying you’re looking for ‘a foot in the door,’” says one. Beyond annoying the recruiter (FYI — that glitter you put in your envelope will get you noticed, but will take time to clean up), these tactics make recruiters think you don’t take them — or your job search — seriously.

While I’ve not received resumes in a shoe, the text slang is annoying. While it may save character space, it only makes me wonder if the candidate’s actual spelling skills have also degraded to that level. When I ask for a resume, please don’t send me a link to a download on Google +, a LinkedIn document, or a QR code. Just send it in Word or some format which can easily be opened and accessed by any manager anywhere.

3. Be Rude and Aggressive
Job hunters who use heavy-handed tactics with recruiters, like sending an angry email in all caps after being passed over for a job, won’t impress the recruiter either, says the president and CEO of a career-coaching company in Raleigh, North Carolina. “Some candidates see the recruiter as an antagonist who must be pushed and prodded and bullied to work on their behalf,” he tells Monster.com. “In other cases, they’re frustrated by the job search process and feel the need to take it out on the recruiter.”

While we understand the frustration, this sort of email in CAPS will only earn this type of candidate a designation we call ‘UNKNOWN’. That’s not because we can’t categorize the resume. It’s because we’re not aware of a company to whom we could possibly present such a candidate.

4. Lie
Making up something impressive might get you in the door. But if you’ve grossly inflated your abilities and work history and the employer finds out, you will have burned two bridges, not just one.

“Lying on your resume drives recruiters mad,” says the CEO. “I know people think desperate times call for desperate measures, but the best recruiters are going to do their due diligence and if you’ve misrepresented the dates, times, duties and technical responsibilities, that recruiter will never trust you, and probably won’t call you.”

It’s very ironic that we don’t see resumes highlighting anything less than ‘always achieving plan’. If that were the case, we would never experience an economic downturn. If the recruiter you’re working with knows the industry, be prepared to answer some in-depth questions about your long string of budget busting sales surpluses. If he or she is NOT asking the tough questions, they won’t have the answers when the client asks.

5. Stalk the Recruiter
A suggestion to “stay in touch” doesn’t mean daily or twice-daily follow-ups. “If it’s been a few weeks and you haven’t heard, it doesn’t mean you’ve been forgotten,” one successful recruiting consultant states. A recruiter who thinks you’re a good fit for a position will let you know right away. “Calling them constantly and demanding to be submitted to a company will just make them think you’re desperate and unhinged and a little scary.”

Recruiters have literally thousands of active contacts in their proprietary databases. It’s not possible to remember each name and resume. As a result, we utilize fairly sophisticated systems to help us get back in touch with the right candidates very quickly. We endeavor to keep as many highly qualified candidates as possible ‘top of mind’, but still rely on the database to help proactively and quickly reach out to all candidates. Like the lyrics from the Sugarloaf classic…”don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

6. Act Like You Don’t Care
Sending stock cover letters addressed to “sir” or “madam,” forgetting to change the name of the last recruiter you queried on your cover letter, saying you’ll take any old job and not proofing your correspondence might not make a recruiter hate you. But such sloppiness won’t impress them, either. And they might just take affront at your dismissive attitude.

Many candidates are paying fees to have their resumes ‘blasted’. When I receive a letter in the USPS mailbox addressed to ‘Resident’ or ‘Homeowner’, it’s not going to be taken too seriously. The same is true for an email sent in a similar fashion.

7. Always Be Professional
Employment professionals say that, while one screw-up won’t engender hatred, it might cause the recruiter to relegate you to the NDC list — the list of non-desirable candidates with whom they will not correspond. Some of the worst behaviors — pushiness, stalking, haughtiness — come from job hunters who don’t really understand how a recruiter works. “If candidates would understand that the recruiter’s real clients are the companies with the job openings, not the job seekers, they would approach recruiters with more professionalism.” Even if the recruiter isn’t acting in the most professional or diligent manner, you still need to be professional.

The Golden Rule applies to both sides.

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Greener Grass…

Nobody with any sense of ego, drive, determination or adventure wants to find themselves lamenting missed opportunities to do more, see more, or accomplish more. As recruiters, we find ourselves presenting qualified candidates with professional opportunities which would very likely fulfill their desire to advance their careers,
almost on a daily basis.

For some, the choice is intriguing. The opportunity may be with a larger company with an increase in responsibilities and compensation, or even a once-in-a-lifetime chance to live near in-laws. For others, the choice is rather simple. The new position offers a chance to get back on their feet, feel good about themselves and begin to rebuild the savings and 401k accounts exhausted due to a lengthy bout with the unemployment virus.

Occasionally, we speak with candidates who stumble upon a real but enviable quandary: Will this opportunity lead them to something better than what they already have?

Uncovering this requires actually demonstrating an interest in the candidate's career. One of the very first questions I ask, after I've explained the position, client, location, compensation, advantages, long-term outlook, etc., is "Why would you be interested in this position?" (Note: If this question isn't asked of you at some point very early in the process, it's best to simply hang up. The recruiter is only interested in the fee, not your career. I've run across a recruiter like this myself.)

To be frank, most candidates aren't expecting this question up front in the process. However, it's perhaps one of the most important. It can lead to all sorts of important information about the candidate's current situation. Sometimes, this simple discussion helps them realize what they've achieved, where they are in their career, what real prospects may (or may not) exist, and what their priorities may need to be.

These are my favorite discussions.

To be honest, candidates aren't used to hearing they're already on the greener side of the fence.  If a candidate has been with the same company for many years (despite several rounds of cost-cutting), has been either promoted or moved laterally several times, earns a competitive compensation, has a nice family with kids in a stable
school, lives near relatives, enjoys the employer, likes going to work every day, has some money in a 401k, can speak honestly with the company's owner or senior management, feels quite secure in their position, is asked to train others, participates in company committees or study groups, etc. (you get the picture), the truth is, they are in a very enviable position. 99.999% of today's unemployed, and underemployed (even many employed) would love to trade places.

I tell them that. I tell them to spend more time continuously improving their skills and industry knowledge – making them even more valuable to their employer. I tell them to get their MBA's – if they actually find themselves looking for work, having an MBA plus many years with the same employer is a GREAT thing to have on a resume. I tell them to worry less about endlessly striving for what others appear to have (career-wise) and more on increasing their own value. I tell them many years at one company is much more than the assumption of a long career with a new employer.

Sometimes people need to hear this. We're so pre-conditioned into thinking our careers must always be aggressively moving to the next level in order to be considered successful. Stable and expanding is also successful. It may not sound glamourous, but it is still successful.

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You did what?…#1 Mistake When Searching for a New Career

“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”
― Bill Gates

So, you’ve experienced some success in your current job, perhaps your past several jobs, and are considering career advancement options. Maybe you’ve come to realize your company’s version of a bottleneck is shaped more like a bottle of Gentleman Jack than it is a bottle of Riesling. Perhaps you and your boss are like oil and water, two freight trains heading straight towards each other on the same track, and most certainly should not fold each other’s parachutes before a skydive.

Based on what you’re reading and hearing, the economy seems to be picking up speed. You’ve done OK financially and have put some away for a rainy day. Feeling upbeat, your letter of resignation is merrily, and with very little trepidation, personally delivered to that fat-dumb-and-happy-lazier-than-a-bump-on-a-log-totally-full-of-himself boss.

The first ever-so-slight dose of reality hits when that letter is accepted without any effort to win you back. No matter, you say, he’ll realize what he had in you after next month’s numbers come out.

A nice relaxing celebratory dinner, followed by two weeks (with unused vacation pay) of getting some long-forgotten chores around the house done, catching up on some sleep and finally some relaxing weekends all amount to a smooth transition into ‘career search’ mode. Time lost: 2 weeks. Opportunity cost: $3,000 + (~ $75,000 annually)

OK, time to really dig in. Coffee in hand. PC turned on. What’s next on the list? Update resume. Develop list of contacts. Create target company list. Update LinkedIn profile with good photo. Connect with every recruiter known to man. Reconnect with long-lost colleagues, ‘friends’, and ‘people I’ve done business with’ on LinkedIn. Join LinkedIn groups. View job boards. Submit some resumes. Total time lost: 4 weeks. Opportunity cost: $6,000 +

Phase II tasks start to become clear, maybe. Adjust resume to appeal to either broader or more specific opportunities. How many years to include? Begin to realize how many contacts won’t return the call, don’t remember, or are too busy in their own careers to set time aside to ‘help’. Sign up to an increasing number of job boards and continue to submit resumes. Build a spreadsheet (albeit late) to keep track of resume submittals and the miserable 5% response rate. Wonder why the interviews aren’t coming in fast and furious. Confuse recruiter calls with company interviews. What’s wrong with the resume? Should have completed that MBA. How to explain the 15-year gap between that Associates Degree and today? Am told an AA is not a full degree. ‘Anticipated Graduation Date: December 2018’ doesn’t count. Total time lost: 8 weeks. Opportunity cost: $12,000 +

Finally, a real interview. Haircut, new outfit, wash car, realize exercising these past 8 weeks instead of stress eating would have been a better option. The interview process takes how long? Four weeks? Plus planning and preparing for relocation – that’s another four weeks…if this FIRST interview amounts to a real job offer. Wonder if this is the right career / job choice. Wonder what sort of job will the spouse land. Continue to send out resumes, read email ‘newsletters’ in a feverish attempt to stay current (catch up) on industry events and changes. Total time lost: 16 weeks. Opportunity cost: $24,000 + spouse’s lost wages…if the job works out. Let’s stick with $40,000 total opportunity cost…if this makes it to an acceptable offer, with a good company, in a region that’s NOT more expensive.

How long will it take, assuming a better paying position, to regain those opportunity costs?

As a recruiter, I can vouch for the virtually endless number of scenarios which have, can and could stretch the career search to six months or more. Now there’s a REAL gap on the resume, which will undoubtedly have to be explained on nearly every interview. That’s in addition to answering the question, “Why did you leave your job without one to move into?”.

It’s all well and good to be able to confidently explain that fiscally conservative and wise investment decisions enabled this career search without resorting to bankruptcy. However, how is the question “Why are you interested in this position?” answered without the manager thinking, “This guy just really needs a job after six months.” Whatever the ‘correct’ response is, it will ring hollow when compared to the same response given by a professional seeking a career change or career advancement but elected to stay, deal with, learn from, etc. at their current company.

It’s not a reflection of experience, skill sets, background or education. However, it can quickly become a matter of questioning decision-making abilities.

That’s not a desirable outcome of a ‘career search’.

“The crowning fortune of a man is to be born to some pursuit which finds him employment and happiness, whether it be to make baskets, or broadswords, or canals, or statues, or songs.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Interview Battle: Qualities vs Strengths

“I do not think there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.”
-John D. Rockefeller

Almost certainly, all of us have experienced success if for nothing else but perseverance. We’ve seen something through to the end through thick and thin. Or, we’ve simply persevered longer than our competitor. However, would the quote ring any less true if perseverance were replaced with honesty? What about knowledge, loyalty, passion, or compassion? Even flexibility, kindness, or fortitude?

No doubt these qualities, as well as numerous others, are essential for success on a broader and long-term level. As important as they are, though, can they be quantified? Outside of measuring on some scale of relativity, which varies greatly based on an individual or the situation, they are not quantifiable. They’re valued but can’t be tallied. No manager would decide to hire a candidate perceived to be dishonest, but, would have trouble discerning between multiple ‘honest’ candidates, all other factors being equal.

Therein lies the battle: How is a manager to decide on a candidate when all seem to, or at least claim to, possess the qualities of honesty, flexibility, knowledge, passion, perseverance, etc? Without the requisite strengths, the answer is the manager likely won’t decide based solely on qualities.

Strengths are those quantifiable factors that make a candidate the better choice, the one who will be invited for a personal interview or offered the job. Strengths, correctly described and outlined, differentiate candidates from one another.

John may have 8 years of industry experience, but Jane has 12. Adam has been ranked #1 out of 200 sales professionals four years in a row, while Mary finally achieved the top rank against 40 this year. Quinn’s vendor negotiations cover five states and consistently result in lower costs while Harry holds annual national vendor meetings resulting in rebates of $2MM. Each candidate can legitimately claim their differing experience as a strength while providing the hiring authority with varying and quantifiable points of differentiation. While a manager will certainly consider a candidate’s qualities in the hiring decision, notice that the terms loyalty, flexibility, or even honesty are not included in the strengths and experiences described above.

Consider this simple statement: Strengths are tangible, qualities are intangible. There’s no denying the intangibles are necessary to succeed, but understand the difference when interviewing.

“Our greatest strength as a human race is our ability to acknowledge our differences, our greatest weakness is our failure to embrace them.”-Judith Henderson