7 Big Recruiter Mistakes

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MistakeThis Week’s Question: Nobody’s perfect — but at least we can learn something from our mistakes. What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever seen a recruiter make (even if that recruiter were you!), and what did you learn from it?

“I believe the biggest mistake a recruiter can make is putting the candidate ill at ease. Interviewing is already stressful for most people, so if you add to that stress by being snobbish or unkind, you won’t get the answers you’re looking for. When you get the candidate to relax and relate to you, they will release the answers you are looking for.

“I tend to include several behavioral questions when I’m interviewing, as I want to see how the candidate will truly react to situations that might present themselves on the job. When candidates are tense, they give canned responses; however, when they’re comfortable with you, they’ll let you know exactly what they will do in situations.

“Don’t make the mistake of being harsh when you interview candidates. Let them know that you’re there to help them put their best feet forward. This will help ensure the interviewing process goes well for the candidate — and for you.”

– Shilonda Downing
Virtual Work Team, LLC 

“The biggest mistake I’ve ever seen a recruiter make is call me to discuss an available role — and halfway through the conversation realize that they were talking about the wrong role.

“What I learned from the recruiter’s experience is that, when you’re contacting countless people on a daily basis, it’s essential to have a solid CRM system in place to keep track of everyone and their relevant details.”

– Joe Escobedo
Marketing Expert

“Back in the bad old days before LinkedIn, I worked with a recruiter on my dream job. The interview went really well — even the CEO stepped in to meet me. So I was shocked the next day when the recruiter told me the company had decided to go forward with someone else.

“Fast-forward three months: I receive a call from the recruiting firm (but not the recruiter with whom I worked) asking me if I were still interested in the position, with a substantial sign-on bonus. Turns out that the recruiter had mixed me up with someone else. Through the recruiter, the company made an offer, and the wrong person showed up for work! The recruiter had been fired (for another mix-up) and taken all his files and deleted all of his emails. The company had received limited contact info; it took them a while to find me. By then, I had another great job, but I always wondered what if that one had worked out …”

– Marilyn Santiesteban
Assistant Director, Career Services
Bush School of Government and Public Service 

“Simply put: not Googling candidates before sending them over.

Dunce“When I was in corporate America, I worked with the same recruiter for years. He’s a great recruiter, and throughout the years he found me some of the best team members I’ve ever worked with.

“In this particular case, I was hiring a financial analyst. The recruiter sent over a handful of his best candidates for me to review. I narrowed down the resumes to my top three candidates. Then, I did a quick Google search. Lo and behold, my number one candidate was a prolific blogger who hated finance and was only doing it until she could figure out how to make a living as a writer. Needless to say, I didn’t bring her in for an interview.

“The recruiter and I had a good laugh. He Googled every candidate after that!”

– Kim Ramirez
Cofounder and CEO
Sixty Vocab 

“I’m not a recruiter, but I was party to a big mistake made by a recruiter. As a lot of contract recruiters do, this one was perusing profiles on LinkedIn and sent me an InMail with her recruiting pitch, flattering me about how great my profile information was and how she wasn’t going to waste my time since she assumed my inbox was overflowing with messages from other recruiters. She supplied the job description for which she was recruiting — a marketing writer position — and asked me to reply if interested.

“Naturally, I was very touched and responded that I would be happy to talk with her about the position. Problem was that, within the hour, I received the exact same pitch — word for word — on my Monster.com profile. Result: I was completely put off by the cut-and-paste approach she was using and felt not so special at all. I told her I didn’t appreciate getting a spam-like job pitch and asked her to take me off her recruiting list.

“The lesson to learn here for any recruiter is not to go over the top in lauding a prospective employee. Write genuine one-off introductory messages to each candidate. Just as any recruiter worth her salt would toss out an obviously template-driven cover letter, so will worthy potential employees recoil from a form LinkedIn message — especially if it purports to be a personal greeting.”

– Derek Handova
Senior B2B Content Marketing Writer for a Wireless Networking Company

“Too often, jobs specifications are so specific that recruiters just match keyword to CV. What about transferable skills? The soft skills, like communication? Eighty percent of any business relationship is communication, but how do you read that skill on a CV?”

– Sydney Hirst
Assistant Account Executive
Uproar PR 

“I am amazed at how often recruiters have explained to me (as a potential candidate for a position) or to my job-seeking clients that they are inclined or not inclined to put my application forward for a position based on an explanation that would violate the basic workplace discrimination laws.

Bars“To provide some context: Title VII is the federal law that prohibits workplace discrimination based on sex, meaning employers are generally not permitted to making hiring decisions based on whether a candidate is a male or a female. The law is also clear that, just as an employer cannot discriminate, an employer cannot retain a recruiter to discriminate on its behalf. Based on this, it is problematic for a recruiter to explain they are confident that a particular female candidate will be welcomed by the employer because [the employer is] looking for a woman, or that a particular candidate will likely not meet the needs of their client based on some other protected class (e.g., age, religion, national origin, etc.).

“Along these same lines, since the ADEA is the federal law that prohibits workplace discrimination against individuals who are 40 years of age or older, it is problematic for a recruiter to tell an older candidate that they are not a match for the position because they ‘do not match the demographic the employer is seeking.’ Conduct such as this can create problems not only for the recruiter, but also for their employer clients.”

– Lori B. Rassas
Employment Attorney/Author

Ask Away is Recruiter.com’s weekly column. Every week, we pose an employment-related question to a group of experts and share their answers. Have a question you’d like to ask the expertsLeave it in the comments, and you might just see it in next week’s Ask Away!

By Matthew Kosinski