What to do When you Work with a Recruiter

Dec 29, 2015

Ten Things NOT to Do When You Work With a Recruiter. You’d have to be crazy to make a recruiter intentionally hate you. When you work with a recruiter, you have to be on your best behavior. He’s the guy who holds your very future in his hands. She’s the gal who can make or break your next career move with a single phone call. Most of all, he’s the one person you need to respect you and understand your needs and desires.

Your recruiter is the last person you want resenting you or dreading to take your calls. But that’s exactly what many job seekers do when they work with a recruiter. Whether it’s inadvertent or intentional, it doesn’t matter because the results are the same.


Keep it super simple. The trick, if you can call it that, is to be professional. Be nice, answer questions directly and follow up on your commitments. However, many job hunters seem to think it’s perfectly okay to act out on a daily basis. Hint: it’s not.

Here are 10 things not to do when you work with a recruiter. If you can relate to any of them, you may need to take a step back and re-evaluate your professionalism, or at least take a refresher on your manners.

  1. Show Your Anger. Being rude or aggressive will only get you in trouble. The recruiter can’t work harder or faster just because you’re yelling. And if angry emails or vocal outbursts are the way you deal with your feelings on a professional level, the recruiter may think twice about putting her reputation on the line for you with an employer. The best way to handle a disagreement is to politely express your dissatisfaction with a situation.

  2. Shrug It Off. On the opposite end of the spectrum, job hunters often believe that when they work with a recruiter, it’s best to be aloof and act like they don’t really care. Writing a “Dear Sir” note to your recruiter instead of using his name is an affront to the person trying to find you work. Even worse is leaving the name of the last recruiter you worked with on a cover letter. This lack of professionalism screams: “I don’t really care.” Showing up late and disheveled is another sure-fire way to project an apathetic attitude.

  3. Pull Childish Pranks. You may think that putting your resume in a shoe to “get your foot in the door” will garner you attention, but in the professional world, that just lets everyone know that you are immature. Take your job-hunting process seriously. Leave the crude or off-color jokes in the car and don’t think that loudness gets you any kind of positive attention.

  4. Misrepresent the Truth. Don’t lie to your recruiter. Lies will come back to bite you (and never in a good way). One tiny falsehood makes people question everything you say. When you work with a recruiter, you can bet he will do his due diligence and find out the whole truth about you, including your past abilities, skills and experience. Getting caught in a lie is a game-changer — nearly impossible to overcome.

  5. Employ Excessive Follow-up. It’s great to show enthusiasm and follow-up when you work with a recruiter. But contacting her 10 times a day can be over the top, bordering on stalking. You’ll make the recruiter a little edgy, thinking you might show up in the parking lot after work. There is no fine line between excitement and desperation. Contacting her once a day is more than sufficient; your recruiter will keep you informed of progress if she’s doing her job well.

  6. Be a No-Show. Some job hunters actually blow off interviews that have been set up by their recruiters. That’s really bad form and will put you in very poor standing with your recruiter. Not only do you compromise his relationship with the employer, but you also risk the justified wrath of the recruiter. He may not be interested in giving you another chance to blow it.

  7. Trash Talk. While recruiters may not be the ones doing the actual hiring, how you speak about past employers makes a powerful statement about your political savvy and maturity. So don’t trash-talk your old boss. Take a page from Olivia Pope and learn how to spin a negative message so the recruiter knows that you can handle yourself in a professional setting.

  8. Blow Off Questions. When you work with a recruiter, he relies on a variety of techniques to get to know you, your strengths, your weaknesses and especially your communication skills. So when you’re asked about your experience in a certain field, don’t blow off the question by saying, “It’s on my resume.” That’s only going to irk the recruiter and get you on her “naughty” list.

  9. Refuse a Task. Granted, it might be a good job market for you right now, but companies are continuing to maintain lean staffs. So when you work with a recruiter, don’t start talking about all the things you won’t do. Get in the recruiter’s and a potential employer’s good graces by letting them know you are flexible and can pitch in to get the job done with the best of them.

  10. Play Games. Come on now; this is the time to put on your grown-up garb and get serious, not the time to play games. If you need a certain salary, say so; don’t wait until you’re in front of a hiring manager and then try to up the ante. And by all means, tell your recruiter if a company has turned you down before. Don’t waste everyone’s time by thinking that if you interview twice, you’ll double your chances of landing the job.

Work with a Recruiter with Integrity

Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.” — W. Clement Stone

Recruiters can be your biggest allies, so remember to say “please” and “thank you.” Unless you’re applying to star in a reality show, maintain a professional attitude at all times and you will find the experience to be both rewarding and meaningful. The relationship with a recruiter can prove to be an important step in your career. We know you don’t want to end up in the hated circular file, so build rapport based on honesty and mutual respect. Your recruiter will work even harder for you — and you might even find the job of your dreams.

About the Author

Charlie Kimmel

As President and CEO, Charlie has dedicated his 25+ year career to executive search at Kimmel & Associates. Charlie began his career at Kimmel & Associates in 1990 as a Recruiter. In 1993, he graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, where he received a BA in History.

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