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Recruiter Pet Peeves

pet peeves Recruiter Pet Peeves
This month, Tom Musbach, asked the group of staffing professionals who participate in the Yahoo! HotJobs monthly feature, Recruiter Roundtable, about their biggest pet peeve about job seekers today .

The answers revolve around the same theme - lack of preparedness and a poorly targeted job search.

Here's what the recruiters have to say.

The Price of 'Perfection'

My biggest pet peeve is perfect candidates. They only had successes, are perfect and can't see any improvement to make on themselves -- except maybe to "work a little less." People who are too insecure to admit their shortcomings or even their mistakes make me feel that they lack good emotional intelligence. In all the reference checks we reviewed at Checkster, none were 100% positive, so be realistic. If not, you will be seen as either not daring enough to perform difficult things, or stuck in a myopic belief that you are perfect.
-- Yves Lermusi, CEO, Checkster

Clueless Candidates

As a recruiter, there have been countless times when job seekers have asked, "What position is this for?" Job seekers shouldn't just apply to any job. They need to spend their time effectively finding jobs that are a match for their skills and interest.
-- Nga Nguyen, Technology & Operations Group Recruiter at Wells Fargo

Short-Cut Introductions

With more people looking for work in today's economy, I've been seeing an increase in what I call "lazy introductions" come across my desk. It goes something like this: "I'm writing you to introduce myself. I live in New York and I'm looking for a job," and in the signature is a link to a LinkedIn profile or possibly a resume. A brief introduction should come with a background, highlights, and reason for connecting. A job search is a job in itself and requires some personalization and effort for each and every introduction.
-- Lindsay Olson, partner, Paradigm Staffing

Can't Connect the Dots?

My biggest pet peeve is receiving resumes or applications that describe background and work experience wholly unrelated to the position being applied for. Also there is either no supporting material or a generic cover letter that fails to connect the dots between what's on the application and what's in the posted job listing.
-- Noah Apodaca, lead recruiter for staff at the University of California, Irvine

Don't Go Generic

Job seekers hurt their own cause when they don't focus on specific ways they can help potential employers and instead simply mass distribute their resume. Individuals need to show hiring managers what they can do for the organization, not the reverse. Thoroughly research companies where you want to apply, customize your resume and cover letter for each opportunity, and in your communications with employers highlight your accomplishments and skills that demonstrate how you can positively impact the firm's bottom line.
-- DeLynn Senna, executive director of North American permanent placement services, Robert Half International

Photo credit: Zarprey
share save 171 16 Recruiter Pet Peeves

16 Comments - Add yours!

Tatiana (June 9th, 2009)

OMG. I never know why I never get responses back from recuiters. I think I do a little of all the pet peeves of recruiters. I better get back to the drawing board, on paper, because I know in person I’m a good employee catch :) Thanks

Deano (June 10th, 2009)

Some of these peeves are a little ironic – as someone who used to be regularly cold-called by recruiters in better times, I especially laughed at the “generic search” and “don’t know what position” items. I can’t believe how many times a recruiter called me up about a hardcore programming job, when nothing about my resume listed professional programming experience. Just about all of these could be turned on their heads as recruiter complaints just a year or two back.

Maybe if recruiters had injected the concept of personalization back THEN, we’d realize that the same respect would be due once the economy went south for job seekers.

Lindsay Olson (June 11th, 2009)

Deano, the point is that if you are the person looking for a the job then you should be doing everything in your power to present yourself in the best light to a recruiter or potential employer.

As a recruiter, I get resumes all the time from programmers or others who work in a field that has nothing to do with the job and with even a glace at the job description would realize that it’s a PR position and not a ASIC Design Engineer position. It’s a waste of everybody’s time. Certainly, there are as many bad recruiters as great recruiters out there – that goes for any profession and I’m not surprised you’ve received calls from recruiters who knew nothing about your resume. It could be for a variety of reasons – one of which the recruiter knew about your background, but thought perhaps you worked with someone or knew someone who could be a good fit. Most positions are filled through referrals. Other times, a recruiter only has very limited information about your background (no resume) and they call with hopes that you have the experience, but the recruiter doesn’t know until he gets you on the phone and piques your interest about the job enough to get the information he needs to qualify you.

As a job seeker, this stuff matters, and a candidate’s desire to rebel against it doesn’t do him any good in his job search.

Charles (June 12th, 2009)

“What position (or company) is this for?”

I have used that question myself many times. So, I guess that makes me clueless in the eyes of many recruiters. This is actually a pet peeve of mine as a job seeker. So here are a couple of issues for recruiters to consider:

One: You are not the only company that I have applied to recently. So, when you call, please remember that I am not a mind-reader nor am I at home waiting for just YOU to call. Please introduce yourself, your company (and, if applicable, the company that you are recruiting for), and the position that I recently applied for.

Two: Calling me 3-5 weeks after I submitted my resume, do you really think that I have been waiting breathlessly all that timel? A lot of time has past since I submitted my resume to you. Just as recruiters have a pet-peeve about bad introductions from job seekers, the same applies here to recruiters. I don’t know or remember who you are, please remind me. See above about introductions.

Three: So many (some weeks, ALL) of my job applications online are anonymous. So many recruiters seem to forget this when they call the job candidates. I save a PDF file of every job posting that I apply to. I try to bring up the job description when on the phone with the recruiter. So, many times my search using the company name comes up empty. Why? Because the recruiter seems to have forgotten that their posting was anonymous. That’s why I don’t remember the recruiter, the company, or the job title. Again, see above about proper introductions, and this time it might help to mention that the listing was anonymously.

Clear communication from recruiters will provide clear communication from most job seekers. When some recruiters treat every job posting like a cattle run, then the job seekers will respond like they are in a cattle run.

This is all just my two-cents on this one pet-peeve. I agree with Deano above, everyone of these recruiters’ pet-peeves can be turned around and blamed on them as well.

Geoff Webb (June 12th, 2009)

Wow Lindsay,

This conversation really illustrates the point that the new recruitment or recruitment 2.0 is not a transactional recruitment model. We as recruiters expect more from our candidates and likewise candidates expect a strong experience when dealing with recruiters. I think it becomes incumbent on both the recruiter and the jobseeker to up their game, no matter what the current economic circumstance. As a recruiter I seek to grow my community of talent or my candidate pool by making a real connection with my candidates, that can be through ongoing connection via social media or simply picking up the phone and saying hello (depends on the candidate preference). The smart recruiters that I know out there are allready adopting this model.


Elias (June 12th, 2009)

I think all of this depends on how you read it. If you read the recruiter pet peeves here (and job seeker pet peeves elsewhere) with the idea that they are attacking you, it’s going to feel personal and negative. If you look at them as ideas on how to improve what you do (either as a job seeker or as a recruiter), it can be beneficial.

If we all try to work together and understand where the other person is coming from, things just work better.

Feel free to contact me anytime. Thanks!

Elias Cobb
Technical Recruiting Manager
Alumni Consulting Group (blog for job seekers)

Angela (June 12th, 2009)

I am an in-house recruiter for physicians. I recruit only physicians for a hospital that employs 200 M.D.s
I can’t tell you how sloppy and unthoughtful some of these potential candidates are.
I require CV’s with cover letter. Rarely do I ever receive a cover!
I ask for three written references, many times that’s like pulling teeth to get just three!
Oh and did I mention the physician who sent me a thanks but no thanks for our offer?
He wrote “LOL” in his email to me. Its frustrating that even
highly revered members of society don’t take extra steps to “win” the job!

Jocelyn (June 12th, 2009)

I utterly and completely agree with Charles!

William Smith (June 12th, 2009)

As someone who is currently looking for work I can see this from both sides of the table. I know people in the search industry and I have had to screen resumes and interview potential hires and I have pretty much seen what the above recruiters have seen. On the flipside, I do agree with Charles, sometimes recruiters can be their own worst enemy in dealing with potential canididates.

sarah (June 12th, 2009)

Lindsay, 99.9% of the time I am on your side – I find your advice and knowledge such a valuable resource. I was recently on the job hunt, and so I too understand the frustrations that occur regarding this very subject. And I have to say, even here in NYC, I’ve had more bad experiences than good with recruiters who are victims of every crime above — now of course there are always two sides to every story, but knowing I was an incredibly organized, creative, experienced job-seeker, I always found it amazing how clueless some of these recruiters can be! Contacting me with irrelevant jobs, calling me with such urgency and then disappearing after I jump through hoops to provide all the info/fill out the applications/get the references they require…it’s very disheartening to see what I consider “nonconstructive” job seeker advice such as this. That said, Lindsay, I won’t hold it against you — you didn’t write the advice, you were merely the messenger!

Scott Boren (June 12th, 2009)

Here is the real point. There are some number of recruiters who do stupid, rude, crappy things. There are some number of candidates who do stupid, rude, crappy things. Remember all lawyers and carsalesmen suck too. I wonder what the percentage of each is, but it is probably low on both sides. But it is easier to complain about the other guy. Quite making general sweeping statements about any group of people. We need more examples of “this person was great”.

Tech guy (June 14th, 2009)

I’m a developer with over ten years experience and recently laid off. Lately I’ve noticed a lot of recruiters asking for my SS# upfront. I haven’t given it out so i don’t know if it hurt my cause. But I’m shocked that they want this before I even know what company I am being submitted to. Is this normal? I’ve even seen it right on ads. I’ve also had them ask for references before being submitted–recruiters insisting on this. I did it one time and never heard back. Now I insist I want to know who and what the job is before I give out any references.

Lindsay (June 14th, 2009)

Elias, totally agree. I’ve received a ton of pissed off emails from anonymous emails over posting this who are taking these comments personally. It’s important to look at it from both sides. As Sarah says, our industry holds it’s fair share of incompetent recruiters too (as there are lawyers, doctors, real estate agents, marketers, sales people, PR pros, developers, etc, etc, etc.). It’s the same for any profession. I’m sure job seekers can come up with 500 zillion pet peeves they have about experiences with recruiters, HR professionals, and hiring managers. It’s important to see both sides and I think insight like this, even if it doesn’t seem positive, gives a job seeker a look into what the hiring side is expecting from candidates in the process and vice versa.

Tech guy – don’t give out your SSN upfront. You should be in an interview process before that type of information is ever asked of you. Recruiters may insist on references prior to an interview, depending on the company policies and their promises to their client. Sometimes a client wants the firm to check references prior to submitting a candidate, however, sometimes it’s a tactic to get more potential candidates or business. I wouldn’t give out your references before confirming you are being seriously considered for submission for a position.

Anonymous in CA (June 16th, 2009)

I was a recruiter for 7 years before I took the direction towards project management which is what I do now. I agree with the pet peeve about job seekers applying for everything under the sun. However, I myself have been subject to the opposite where the job I applied for was 99% not accurate and the 1% that was true made up the entire job description for the real position the recruiter called me about. It is equally frustrating when companies do not have accurate job descriptions…also extremely risky for eeoc complaints! Now that I know this company’s job descriptions are not accurate, it makes me wonder what else I should be applying to!

Paulina (January 14th, 2010)

I have a question for the recruiters – I have noticed a trend 9 out of 10 times, not receiving follow up phone calls and emails.

The most recent experience was between yesterday and today. I received a phone call from a recruiter yesterday for a position which required 70% travel. I had indicated I would travel 50%. The recruiter wanted to know if this was doable. She indicated my experience was a perfect match and she was interested in moving quickly because they had to fill the position for next week. Because of the increase in travel I wanted a job description, and the two sites I would be traveling to and spending 70% of my time at. She sent me a email with all the information and we were to connect today at 1:30 on the phone to discuss moving forward. I wanted to answer yes with integrity and mean yes. I did not want to pull out at the last moment and leave her hanging.

Well 1:30pm comes and I call and receive voice mail – I leave a message. 2:00pm rolls around and I send the following email ,

Hi ________________
Checking in to see if I misunderstood our conversation yesterday. I called today at 1:30pm and left a message. Are we still connecting today?

I hear nothing all afternoon, remember the appointment was for 1:30pm. At 5:44pm I receive this email.

I’m SO sorry – my afternoon got away from me and there have been some changes with the Training position. We have decided to go another direction with the position and made an offer to a different candidate today. I really appreciate your time and would love to keep your resume on file for any future opportunities if you don’t mind. I will try to give you a call tomorrow during the chaos of prepping for the upcoming class on Monday. 

Let’s stay connected as I would love to network going forward.

Have a great night,

I am a understanding person and with the market as it is I can see how the direction can change. My question is this for the recruiters, is this standard practice? Is this situational? Is this company driven? This is not the first time I have had a recruiter call and then not follow through. It’s been the norm this last year rather then the unusual occurance.

I would like to broaden my perspective on the lack of follow through on promises made by recruiters. Is this the new professional code? I want to understand rather then judge. Your responses are appreciated.


Luci (February 11th, 2010)

Paulina did you ever receive a response? That has happened to me as well. Here is a couple of more questions to add as well…is there any advocacy group out there for the job seekers? My last experience was 2 weeks ago, when I filled out all of this information/forms, asked for me to bring my passport for verification of identification (which they made a copy of and put in my file). I felt so violated when I left their office and too boot I’ve never heard back from them after following up 2 separate times. Good thing I didn’t give them my ss#, which they asked for too (fill out a tax form without even having a job yet???). I now do not want them to have my information in their files A. I do not want to deal with them AT ALL and 2. What happens if my information falls into the wrong hands (identity theft is prevalent).

Don’t these recruiters realize at some point we are going to be placed, somehow, somewhere and would NEVER, EVER recommend their services by the lack of services they provided.

Humbled ~Luci

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