Ten Things a Recruiter Will Never Tell You
As a former executive recruiter and headhunter, I can tell you there are a lot of industry secrets. Having access to those secrets can make the difference in whether your resume is accepted—or rejected—by top headhunters.
As you focus your job search, here are the top ten things recruiters will never tell you.
- Your cover letter put him off.
You might have been thrilled to find just the right cover letter form in a book of cover letters or computer template. What you don’t realize is that a thousand other people have also found that cover letter—and the recruiter has seen them all. It makes your cover letter look like 150 other letters he has read that morning. And it makes you seem unoriginal, and not a good candidate.
If your cover letter sounds like an exact repeat of your resume, or if it sounds pompous and self-absorbed, your cover letter and resume will be tossed or ignored. A professionally written cover letter can make the best of your accomplishments and give a fresh sound to recruiters, winning their interest.
- Recruiters spend five to ten seconds looking at each resume.
If your resume cannot get his attention in five to ten seconds, it will be passed over.
In an extremely fast-paced environment, high-volume resume reading is required; recruiters are professionally trained to look for certain items. If your resume is not designed to contain what recruiters are looking for, you won’t get a second chance.
- Your resume may be full of hidden or unsuspected red flags.
You think you have a great resume, but there may be red flags you are not even aware of. Here are a few that cause concern for recruiters:
- Too many jobs in a short time = Unstable candidate
- Too many years at the same company/industry = Inflexible to change
- Overqualified = Too expensive or won’t stay long
- Underqualified = Long learning curve
- Too many different types of jobs = Candidate doesn’t know what he wants
A professional resume and cover letter can avoid these misperceptions by guiding the recruiter toward your strongest accomplishments—and away from the red flags.
- Your age is obvious from your resume.
You may think you’ve fooled the recruiter by leaving out your college graduation date, but there are many resume cues that can betray your age. In today’s youth-oriented market, this can lead to a whole series of misconceptions:
- Your industry knowledge is out of date
- You don’t understand current technology
- You won’t be able to work under younger managers
A well-written resume can prove your experience while downplaying your actual age.
- Your resume indicates you are not a good "cultural fit" for his clients.
Your resume reveals more about you than you know. Your personal information or extracurricular activities may actually make a negative impression on recruiters or potential employers. Even the way you phrase your job experience can prove that you don’t belong in his client’s workplace.
This is one area where a strong resume, particularly one written by a professional with past recruiting expertise, can definitely win you the interview. A strong resume allows the recruiter to sell you to his clients with ease.
- The recruiter’s first motivation is earning commissions.
The recruiter’s loyalty is not to you; it is to the companies that pay his commission. Those employers are interested in the bottom line—and so is he. Don’t expect a recruiter to be personally interested in your career goals; he only wants to talk to you if you match the qualifications of the job openings he has to offer.
It is up to YOU to make him understand what a great asset you would be to his clients—and therefore to him as well. A professionally written resume and cover letter will help display your quantifiable accomplishments and marketable skills to your best advantage.
- He doesn’t care why the employer didn’t want you for a second interview.
If the employer isn’t interested in you, then neither is the recruiter. Recruiters don’t feel any obligation to tell you why you didn’t make the cut; he has other jobs to fill and other candidates to fill them. As much as we’d like to think otherwise, recruiters have to focus on jobs that pay them, not on improving your interview techniques.
It pays to work on your interviewing skills well before you get to that stage. A career coach can help you polish those skills. You can’t rely on the recruiter to do that for you.
- He doesn’t care why the employer didn’t make you the offer.
Recruiters don’t want to admit that they knew you were the second choice all along or that the employer was just interviewing you to go through the motions. Maybe the top candidate was even someone else he sent in.
You have to be aware that you are in competition at all times—even with other job seekers your recruiter represents. As such, you have to be prepared to wow the recruiters and employers with a top-notch resume and cover letter, one that will win everyone’s attention, and hone the interview skills that will win you the offer.
- He won’t tell you the real reason the position you want is on hold.
Again, a recruiter’s first loyalty is to the companies that pay his commission. So he is not going to tell you that the employer just ordered a budget cut or that they are having a management crisis. And you will be left to wonder if the company put the job on hold to avoid hiring you.
By honing your interview skills, you will be able to determine those hidden concerns and rely on your own judgment, not your recruiter’s.
- He won’t tell you the true salary range for the position.
For internal, corporate recruiters, it is in their best interest to keep the salary range low. It makes them look good if they can have a positive impact on the bottom line, and what better way to save thousands of dollars than by negotiating low?
For third-party recruiters, their commission is often based on your salary, so they will try to inflate the salary range. This seems like it could work in your benefit—until you find yourself priced out of a job.
You can avoid leaving dollars on the table and avoid pricing yourself out of a job only by learning negotiation skills that can earn you the salary you truly deserve.
Don’t give up on recruiters just because you know these hard facts. Instead, use them to your advantage! Recruiters can actually be your best asset in a job search. Your recruiter can be an incredible ally. Once a recruiter has placed you, you will always have his ear.
In fact, maintaining contact with your recruiter even after you have found a great job can be a good idea. Don’t burn your bridges. Even if the recruiter was rude or didn’t give you as much attention as you would have liked, be businesslike and polite. That same recruiter might be the one to hand you your next job on a silver platter.
Also remember that when you are searching for a career coach, it pays (literally!) to have one who has access to this type of inside knowledge, who has been on both sides of the negotiating table. Only by knowing the pitfalls—and how to avoid them—can you be truly successful in finding the right job at the right salary for you.
- Deborah Walker, CCMC
Resume Writer ~ Career Coach
Find resume and job-search tips in the article archive at www.AlphaAdvantage.com