Are You a Recruiter’s Worst Nightmare?

Most tech pros go out of their way to build effective, long-lasting relationships with third-party recruiters. But there are exceptions: candidates who unknowingly (or perhaps purposely) exhibit attitudes and behaviors that irritate tech hiring managers, derail deals and drive recruiters crazy.

In extreme cases, recruiters may even refuse to represent a prospective candidate who is difficult to work with. That’s a bad position for a tech pro, who generally needs all the allies he or she can get. Check out the following list of behaviors to see if you are guilty of being a nightmare job seeker.

Making Unreasonable Demands

You always want to strike the best possible deal with your target company (by the way, recruiters want that, too). But recruiters say it’s impossible to place a candidate who insists on making over-the-top demands.

“Some tech pros have unrealistic salary expectations or they won’t even consider a position unless they can telecommute or work flexible hours,” explained Kay Durkin, president of Phoenix Partners.

“I know what the market will bear and what clients are willing to pay,” she added. “There’s no point in submitting a candidate unless their salary fits into a client’s pay grade and salary structure.”

Not Being Fully Open and Transparent

Sometimes a candidate mistakenly thinks that being submitted for a position several times improves their chances of getting hired. They fail to realize that some companies automatically disqualify candidates who are “double submitted” for the same position, Durkin noted.

With that in mind, candidates should tell recruiters if they’ve applied to the same position before, especially if it was done through another recruiting agency. “Honesty is important,” Durkin added. “Make your recruiter fully aware of your previous activity so the two of you can decide if it makes sense to submit you for an opportunity.”

Ignoring Job Interview Tips and Advice

An experienced recruiter knows a hiring manager’s hot buttons, as well as the best ways to respond to his or her interview questions. Yet some candidates still insist on going rogue: they ignore their recruiter’s advice and say the wrong things during interviews, or go completely off-topic and ruin their chances.

Who can blame recruiters for getting frustrated under those circumstances? Receiving thorough interview prep that includes insights into the preferences of hiring managers is one of the advantages of working with a third-party recruiter. It’s no wonder that the prospect of such rogue candidates keeps recruiters up at night.

Dragging Your Feet

Recruiters put a lot of effort into taking a job order and finding a suitable candidate. They often refuse to work with candidates who don’t put in the same effort.

“Sometimes I’ll ask a candidate to update their résumé or provide additional details on a project so I can submit him for a position right away,” explained Kristen Stover, recruiting manager for Base36. “But occasionally a candidate stops communicating and I don’t hear back from her for three or four days.”

Being unresponsive extends the hiring process, makes a bad impression, and gives the edge to less-qualified candidates who show more interest in a position.

Not Honoring Commitments

Yes, it’s a candidate’s market at the moment, thanks to a generally low unemployment rate in the tech industry. And because many job candidates are currently employed, the best recruiters try to arrange interviews around your work schedule. Once you’ve committed to a time, however, you need to stick to it.

“You still need to impress the hiring manager and show respect,” Stover advised. “Asking to reschedule an interview after a manager has gone out of his way to accommodate your schedule gives him the impression that you feel entitled or may be difficult to work with.”

Not Treating Recruiters Like Valued Partners

Candidates often complain that recruiters don’t treat them with dignity and respect. But respect is a two-way street: nightmare candidates take recruiters for granted and treat them like subordinates instead of valuable partners.

Remember, recruiters decide who to present for a job (and who not to). They may hold the key to a phenomenal career opportunity. The bottom line is that even highly qualified candidates with hot skillsets can’t afford to alienate anyone.

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4 Responses to “Are You a Recruiter’s Worst Nightmare?”

January 12, 2018 at 5:55 pm, Heid Nyland said:

All of these points are reasonable expectations and basic common sense. If you do any of these things, you won’t get the job you want.
However, the last point; treating recruiters like valued partners, needs clarification. This is a 2-way street. Recruiters need to treat candidates the same way. I can’t begin to count the number of comments and articles on LinkedIn about recruiters not returning calls or emails, even just to say something like “we have not made a decision yet”. If recruiters expect to be treated as a valued partner, candidates are right to expect the same.


April 07, 2018 at 7:01 pm, Tom said:

Absolutely agree. And of course the classic line: “If you haven’t heard back from us by X date, assume you have been unsuccessful.”
I beg your pardon?! I took the time to apply for this job, the least you could do is let me know I haven’t got it. Or maybe I should just cut you off if you send me a job I don’t want?


March 29, 2018 at 1:15 pm, Louis said:

Recruiters are a necessary evil; gatekeepers to employment, whose whims are a game you must learn to play to get at the real decision makers, but let’s not pretend that they do this job for your benefit primarily, as the vast majority see you as a resource that will hopefully contribute to their quarterly bonus. One character placed me at my current job yet 12 months later was trying to poach me away for another job.


March 30, 2018 at 4:16 pm, Barry said:

What a one sided article..
I refuse to use agencies now and research my field to understand who the client is approach them directly and my success rate is much higher than using recruiters. The whole process is irritating especially if you are extremely experienced in your field and know about all the key companies.

What puts me off straight away is the sales call where they try to persuade you client X is a multi national brand with superb opportunities for growth and they are number 1 in this sector and they give out free sweets to their employees and look after their cats and there just couldn’t be anywhere better in the world right now to work.
But you know client X are terrible. They treat their staff like numbers, under pay them, make them work more than their contracted hours through a fear culture and on top of it they’ve had ten CEOs in 5 years and the last two years profits have been down.

You recruiters might understand what an individual HR officer is looking for in a candidate, we the candidates with the experience know all. about tje company you are talking bs about.

Be genuine and be authentic and just talk straight.


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