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Working with Recruiters: 5 Common Mistakes to Avoid

Working with recruiters can be a huge asset during career moves or to keep a pulse on jobs in your existing market. After all, employers pay handsomely to fill open positions. However, successful placements require effort from both the recruiter and the candidate. These are some common mistakes to avoid for next time.

Not Communicating With Your Recruiter

Make yourself available and be flexible.

As a general rule, don’t wait more than 24 hours to respond to calls or emails. With the inundation of technology these days, there’s no excuse for going MIA.

Staying in contact and remaining flexible helps your recruiter and positions you as a serious candidate for the jobs you really want.

Moreover, don’t say “no” until you understand what you’re saying no to.

Potential candidates often say they’re not interested before even hearing about the opportunity. Just because you’re learning what’s out there doesn’t mean you have to apply.

Follow up after interviews and keep your recruiter in the loop also. Especially if employers start contacting you directly or taking the conversation offline. Note positive signs from your interactions and voice any concerns that come up.

This type of valuable information allows your recruiter to more effectively negotiate your side of the deal. Remember, it’s always better to overshare vs undershare as minor details often kill an otherwise “done” deal.

Lastly, Jerry Maguire had it right when he begged Rod Tidwell to, “Help me…help you!”

Recruiters aren’t dumb - they know candidates evaluate multiple opportunities and often work with other agencies. Just be upfront about it.

Being wishy-washy or less than honest is counterproductive. Especially since working with a recruiter is designed to make the process less stressful.

For example, you may get an offer, but want to hold out for another company in particular. Rather than beating around the bush about it, tell your recruiter and they may be able to assist.

Either by speeding up the process, negotiating a better package or asking for more perks in return.

Now is not the time to be coy.

Lying To Your Recruiter

It may sound silly, but this happens more often than you think. Candidates don’t usually lie maliciously, but it’s a strategy that can backfire nonetheless.

The urge to exaggerate your skills or abilities is tempting, but don’t do it. When (not if) your employer finds out the truth, the damage can be all but impossible to repair.

If not fired immediately you’ll likely be on a very short rope.

No to mention that you tarnish the reputation of the recruiter who recommends you. They’re putting their necks on the line to vouch for you and making them look foolish will not go over well.

Good luck asking for their assistance next time.

Most recruiters agree that lying on your resume drives them crazy. Some job seekers assume that minor exaggerations are “no big deal”, but they’re wrong. Experienced recruiters maintain due diligence about checking employment histories, dates, education, etc.

Especially in smaller niches where recruiters are well connected. Five minutes and a few phone calls are all it takes to uncover the truth.  

If you’ve misrepresented yourself, your abilities, or your experience don’t expect it to be taken lightly.

You’re burning bridges that may haunt you for years to come.

On another note, don’t be embarrassed about blemishes in your background/history either. Like DUIs, legal trouble or problems elsewhere. Employers value transparency and these kinds of incidents can be addressed early in the process (before they become an issue).  

In summary - not accepting a job offer won’t harm the relationship with your recruiter. But lying or blindsiding them definitely will.

Hiding Your Personality (Not Being Genuine)

You should always try to make a great first impression and being true to yourself is a big part of that. As tempting as it may be, don’t become a “yes” candidate during interviews or try too hard to act professionally.

Just be yourself.

Recruiters want to put you in the right position as badly as you want to be there. Getting an accurate representation of your personality and character traits is a proven way to accomplish this.

When you choose to put on a front, this simply can’t happen.

Your efforts may land you a job in the short term, but the position will likely be a poor fit. Especially with the importance company culture has in today’s marketplace.

Along the same lines, saying yes to everything means recruiters are going to bat for you on opportunities you may not really want. It’s not fair to have them do so much of the legwork only to have you turn down the job offer later on.

If there’s one thing that’s for certain, no one likes to waste their time.

Finally, consider meeting your recruiter in person. At a trade show, event, or even out to coffee or lunch. The insight gained from face-to-face conversations trumps a phone call any day.

Thus, allowing recruiters to better present you to employers and make a favorable impression.

Losing Your Cool

No doubt, recruiters love working with candidates who are “hungry” to land their next assignment. But there are limitations.

Don’t let your excitement translate into behavior that becomes rude or aggressive. Drop the swearing (or excessive slang) and be pleasant and professional at all times. Speak to your recruiter the same as you would your new employer.

Also, periodic check-ins are fine, but don’t hound your recruiter endlessly to find out where you stand. Remember, you’re not the only candidate that they’re working with.

Be respectful of their time and they’ll do the same for you. Rest assured that if any news develops you’ll be the first to know.

And if you don’t get the job, don’t take it personally.

Employers make the final decisions on hiring, not recruiters. Usually, a “no” means it wasn’t the right fit anyway. Nonetheless, remain cordial to your recruiter and thank them for their assistance. Doing so greatly increases your chances of being considered next time.  

Lastly, let your recruiter know you're interested in similar opportunities that may come up later. Maintaining good rapport with your recruiter is beneficial in the long run as new positions become available all the time.  

Reach out periodically with a status update and keep yourself top of mind for the next go round.

If You’re Actively Looking, Know What You Want

A common misconception is that a recruiter’s role is to cater to the job seeker, but that’s not exactly true. While reputable firms do look out for their candidates’ best interests, it’s not their job to plan your career path.

You’ll never find the right fit if you don’t know what you want in the first place.

Being content yet open to new possibilities is the ideal situation to be in. As better opportunities often come along that you never even knew existed.

However, if you’re in a spot where you need to make a change immediately (for whatever reason), at least have a general idea of what you’re running towards.

Take some time to think about what you dislike about your current role and what you’d like to see different on your next assignment. Do your homework and research companies you’re interested in - making notes of why you like them and think they would be a good fit.

Reviewing company websites and LinkedIn profiles are great places to start.

Afterward, relay this information to your recruiter. If possible, find an agency that specializes in the type of placements you’re looking for. For example, if you’re an executive in the packaging industry, don’t expect an IT recruiter to understand your needs (or vice versa).

Whomever you choose to work with, be clear about your wants and expectations and let them know up front. The more information recruiters have to go on, the better your chances of finding a match.

Bottom line - recruiters can help you but don’t expect them to be mind readers.


Working with a recruiter is a smart decision when contemplating a career move. Not only can they find great opportunities you may not be aware of, but also advocate on your behalf. However, career success is ultimately still your responsibility.

Being honest about your wants, needs, and qualifications is an important part of the equation. Along with open communication, strong people skills, and a dash of grace should things not go your way.

In the end, making your recruiter’s job easier can lead to a more satisfying and rewarding job search.

And who wouldn’t want that?

Together- We Succeed!

Chase & Associates

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