Recruiter Pet Peeves: 12 Mistakes Job Seekers Make

Recruiter Pet Peeves: 12 Mistakes Job Seekers Make

Whether it’s dealing with job seekers who lie on resumes, slow or delayed hiring processes because company leadership is delaying key decisions, or managing employee complaints about top managers, recruiters deal with a lot on a daily basis.

Every job and industry has quirks. Recruiters deal with quirky candidates and other issues every day. They develop pet peeves over time, peeves that cause unnecessary headaches.

What are some top pet peeves within the recruiting industry? Recruiters from across the country discuss below:

Christy Nichols, a Senior Talent Acquisition Consultant, offered these pet peeves:

Picture on Resume
“I often cringe when people put their profile picture on their resume,” says Nichols. “I know that sometimes this is due to cultural trend in countries other than in the U.S., but I often see U.S.-based candidates doing this.”

This opens up a host of issues for recruiters because now the candidate has exposed their gender and their race, says Nichols.

“I don’t really care what a person looks like, I care about their skill and fit for the job I’m trying to fill,” says Nichols. “Keep pictures of any kind off of your resume.”

Candidates Changing Salary Requirements
Another pet peeve is when candidates change their salary requirement at the offer stage, says Nichols.

Most recruiters, Nichols included, document compensation range with the candidate during an initial phone conversation. They pay very close attention to it and make sure the person would fit, otherwise the conversation and recruiting would end.

“It always astounds me that candidates don’t think that I wouldn’t be taking notes and that I’d somehow forget their salary requirements,” says Nichols.  “Not only does it bring up some concerns about trust in the candidate, it puts me in a rather difficult situation with my hiring manager or client. Be transparent at all times with your recruiter – this isn’t a game.”

Desperate Job Seeker Applying for Every Job Out There
When a candidate applies for every single job that a recruiter has available, it makes the candidate appear desperate, says Nichols.

“Because I recruit for a wide spectrum of positions, it doesn’t look good when a candidate applies for a finance Manager role, an IT Architect, a Human Resources Assistant and a Marketing Communications Specialist,” says Nichols. “Besides looking desperate, I now have to look at the resume and explain why that candidate is not a fit for every position that he/she applied for and disposition them for every single job. This is time consuming and frankly, a waste of valuable time.”

A better approach to getting into a company you’re targeting is to do your research, says Nichols. Go to LinkedIn and find the recruiter for the role that you’re interested in and send a well written email introducing yourself.

“The scatter shot application approach just makes a candidate look lazy,” says Nichols.

Lisa Frame-Jacobson, President of Feature Talent Buildersa human resources outsourcing, consulting, talent delivery, search, training, placement and professional coaching firm, shared these pet peeves:

Resumes that Lack Quality and Accomplishments
The bullet points on your resume should not read like a job description, showing only what you were responsible for in your roles, says Frame-Jacobson. They should also include what you accomplished. Lead off each statement with an action word such as: Created, implemented, crafted, directed, managed, inspired, championed.

“Finish each statement with what you accomplished, to demonstrate to future employers what you can do for them,” says Frame-Jacobson.

Candidates Lacking Clarity in their Goals
Recruiters want to know what you want to do in the company. Sometimes it is evident by the role you have applied for, but there are also times when recruiters could be doing an informational interview or they may be considering you for several possible roles.

“Know what you are best at as well as what gives you energy,” says Frame-Jacobson. “Be clear about what you believe you can best do in serving the company and how you would do it.”

Unprepared Interviewees
Do your research on the company and be prepared to answer how you have performed the variety of position responsibilities listed on a position description. Doing this in advance of an actual interview will help you think better on your feet and have well-developed responses to showcase your strengths, says Frame-Jacobson.

Many interviews start with only a 20-30 minute screen, and your ability to concisely answer questions is essential. Try using a 2-minute stop for each question, to help you gauge your ability to get through the volume of questions that may be asked.

Interviewing for a temporary or contract role will often require less time than a full or part-time employment opportunity. When a company is hiring a regular employee, they are often investing more dollars and looking for a long-term fit, thereby screening in more depth to ensure the right fit.

Vague Negotiating
Recruiters want you to be upfront and transparent.

“If possible, throughout the interviewing process and what typically involves multiple conversations, be clear about what you are seeking and know yourself well enough to know what will not work for you,” says Frame-Jacobson.

A recruiter is being measured on their effectiveness in closing deals and they often do not appreciate last minute adds to the negotiation, requiring them added time and having to “save face” with their client or hiring manager. If a win-win outcome cannot be achieved, keep the ending positive and leave room for future contact, as there may be a more ideal role for you right around the corner.

Job seekers should know this: The best recruiters are your advocate as well as towing the line for their company, so treat them like a valued partner and you will likely receive the same in return.

Inefficient Conversations

Be cognizant of the time a recruiter states they have when talking with you. If you can tell they are too rushed and you need some more information before making a decision, ask if they would be willing to schedule an additional 15 minutes to talk through your open items or if you could email them with any outstanding items requiring clarification.

Ideally, you will do this throughout the process, so the offer and acceptance is seamless. However, the offer may not reflect what you expected and a reasonable negotiation is fairly expected.

“I hear this from candidates often and it is important to realize that as businesses fly along at breakneck speed, communications often follow the same flight pattern,” says Frame-Jacobson.

Tony Nelson, President of TBN Consulting, a search firm for direct-hire, contract, and freelance professionals offered these pet peeves:

No Quantifiable Achievements on a Resume
You should have quantifiable achievements noted on your resume, otherwise it just sounds like a job description.  The hiring manager is interested in how well you did your job.

“Use your resume to demonstrate where you excelled at your job to set yourself apart from all the other candidates,” says Nelson.

Not Dressing for Success
You should wear a suit to your interview unless they specifically suggest otherwise. How you dress is one indicator to the hiring manager on how you will represent their company, says Nelson.

Candidates Who Don’t Write Thank You Letters
Job seekers should write a thank you letter that includes a reference to your conversation. “It’s a great opportunity to set yourself apart from the competition,” says Nelson.

Final Thought
“Remember that candidates desire speed to decision and recruiters do too,” says Frame-Jacobson. “However, internal processes including approvals and paperwork, final responses from hiring managers who may be knee-deep in meetings every day, and other internal barriers can cause delays. Be patient and professional, and feel free to ask a recruiter when to anticipate the next contact. You can even go as far as to ask when it would be appropriate to follow up, if you do not hear back. Establishing this commitment is helpful in maintaining positive relations.”

Every recruiter has pet peeves. What are yours?

Written by

Matt Krumrie is a career columnist and professional resume writer who has been providing helpful information and resources for job seekers and employers for 15+ years. Learn more about Krumrie via, connect with him on LinkedIn ( and follow him on Twitter via @MattKrumrie.

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