Recruiter Turnoffs

Avoid These 7 Common Recruiter Pet Peeves

Having good relationships with executive recruiters can play a key role in landing executive-level positions, which are often not advertised and handled exclusively by recruiters. If you understand how they work and for whom they work, executive recruiters can be excellent allies in your search. 

Unfortunately, many job seekers just aren’t sure how to approach recruiters effectively and make missteps that hurt their chances of building good recruiter relationships. Watch out for these 7 common recruiter turnoffs to ensure you’re making the best impression right from the start.

1. Contacting the wrong recruiter. There are two main types of recruiters professionals and executives should know about:

Contingent recruiters, who are nonexclusive, get paid a commission only when they place a candidate and compete with other recruiters, including the company's in-house HR and recruiting team. These are often the type of recruiters that job seekers complain contact them about totally inappropriate positions as they seek to make a placement. Contingent recruiters handle professional, mid-level, and some executive positions.

Retained recruiters (also known as headhunters and executive recruiters), on the other hand, often have exclusivity for a search and are paid by the organization whether a successful placement is made or not. They handle primarily senior-level and executive positions.  Some firms offer both types of search services.

In addition, recruiters are usually specialized by function, industry, or geography. You will definitely not score points if you work in the nonprofit industry and you reach out to firms that specialize in the consumer goods industry. Do your homework and get to know the recruiters that specialize in your field or industry via networking and basic internet research, and then connect with those who are most relevant.

2. Expecting career advice and job placement.  Recruiters work for the hiring organization and look for professionals who have a stable and a clear history of promotion in a particular industry and meet the company’s criteria to a tee. Although many recruiters do provide career advice, they do so when they have time and as a courtesy to who have impressive, relevant backgrounds or have been referred.  However, working with a career coach or counselor can help you determine your goals and get ready to approach recruiters.

3. Not meeting core experience requirements.  To meet their client's specs, executive recruiters are looking for proven executive and industry experience and work to present top-notch candidates who meet at least 80% of the position's core criteria.  Unfortunately, many candidates do not look closely at position descriptions or apply because they know they “can” do the job if given a chance, regardless of whether or not they have a proven track record. Recruiters advise candidates to ask themselves if they really meet the majority of the experience qualifications before contacting them.

4. Lack of clarity on career direction and value proposition. Executive recruiters are bombarded with email from potential candidates. To capture their interest, you and your career documents need to be able to clearly communicate your desired position and the unique value you offer so they can determine if there’s a potential match. So before approaching recruiters,  be ready to concisely share your goals and relevant qualifications and make sure they are highlighted and reinforced on your resume and LinkedIn profile.  

5. Not including most pertinent information concisely. While detailed cover letters can be important in some cases, many recruiters admit that a short email note, with relevant bullets, is all they need to decide to look at the resume, which is the document they evaluate to determine if there’s a fit.  Thus, it's important to include the most critical information in the resume itself and not rely heavily on the cover letter to convey crucial qualification-related information.

In the cover letter, use bullets to explain why you’re looking to change ( without badmouthing your employer, of course); what you have done in your career, including most relevant accomplishments; and what you’re looking for in terms of salary, responsibility, and geography.  Please note that including salary requirements is important when reaching out to executive recruiters so that they know if you’re in the ballpark of what organizations are paying; negotiations will come later when there’s an offer on the table.

6. Not being findable on LinkedIn. Recruiters live on LinkedIn and say the platform is key to building your online brand and being findable. Make sure you have a robust profile that highlights your key qualifications and accomplishments and the common keywords associated with your target position. Also, use the platform to network and share your expertise. Recruiters say that not taking advantage of LinkedIn is a missed opportunity to show how tech-savvy and current you are in today's business environment.

7. Not being visible or known to recruiters before you need a Job. Building your network inside and outside your organization is a crucial career management skill whether or not you are in career transition. And the best way to meet recruiters and get on their radar before you start your job search is organically by attending industry events, actively participating in your professional or industry association, and getting introduced or referred by someone known and respected by the recruiter.

Although working with recruiters is just one strategy to include in a comprehensive job search campaign, having recruiters ( which some experts say handle up to 80% of executive positions depending on the industry and the level ) in your network and on your side can be a major plus and competitive advantage. 


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