How Not to Please a Recruiter

For the purpose of this article, “recruiter” refers to anyone with the power to reject or accept your application for a job. So it can mean the person in the company you are applying to, or the recruitment professional working for an agency or a search firm.

Based on years of personal experience doing selection assignments for a wide range of clients, these are my top tips for getting on the wrong side of the recruiter. Do any of these and you damage your image and risk your application going in the trash.

• Reply to an advert with your standard Resume, making no adjustments to reflect how your skills and experience match what the recruiter is looking for

• Don’t bother to write any kind of application in your covering letter or email. “Please find my Resume attached” will do nicely.

• Write a really long and detailed Resume. Include everything anyone could wish to know. Make your recruiter really work to find the important information

• File your Resume with a meaningless title such as “rpg_98300_sep06.doc”. This makes sure the recruiter has to open it in order to give it a meaningful title such as “John Doe resume.doc”

• Be unavailable. Don’t respond in a hurry to his or her emails. Let them wait a couple of days until you can be bothered to check your email.

• Don’t supply a cell phone number. The recruiter will probably enjoy calling your home when you are at work and getting connected to someone who has no idea who is calling or why.

• Keep your cell phone message cheerful and use a joke if you can. Why just give your name and ask the caller to leave a message, when instead you can do your Homer Simpson impersonation, or tell them you emigrated, are in your favourite bar, or have died.

• Be unprepared when you get a recruiter calling you. Talk as though you have forgotten what you applied for or why.

• Interrogate the recruiter about the position, what his or her role is in the selection process, how much the job pays – anything rather than just answer their questions in a positive and upbeat way. When they are calling you to fix an appointment or to give you a short telephone interview, they really enjoy having to answer lots of your questions first.

• Be very fussy about when and where you are prepared to meet. Make any journey sound like you are being asked to walk the Oregon trail without water.