Don’t Play These Games with Recruiters

Within the hiring process, there are right ways and wrong ways to get noticed by human resources professionals, recruiters, and hiring managers.

I’m sure you’ve read plenty of advice on the right ways to get noticed.

I’d like to share a few “tactics” some job seekers use to get noticed or to impress people that you would be wise NOT to copy.

These “games” severely damage your relationships with recruiters, which is typically not a good long-term strategy.

1. The Fish-for-a-Raise Game

Some applicants only want to get a job offer so they can go back to their current employer to ask for a raise.

There are significant risks associated with trying to leverage an offer for a better salary with your current employer. Your current employer may not counter, and then you may be forced to leave.

Some people turn this into a pattern where they are constantly jumping from employer to employer for a small increase in salary (as opposed to more/new responsibility or personal growth).

I have many clients who are concerned about job-hoppers. If they are looking for long-term employees, as most employers are, they will not interview people with a series of one-year tenures at several companies in the last seven years.

2. The Double-Trouble Game

Some candidates do not tell recruiters they’ve already been submitted by a different recruiter to the same company.

Being submitted twice does not double your chances of getting hired. It only creates confusion for the employer, and makes the recruiter(s) look bad (making for a short relationship with those recruiter).

If you applied on your own a long time ago and never got an answer back from the company, tell the recruiter this. You two may determine it’s time for another try. Your resume could have been lost in the shuffle when you tried on your own.

Just be up front about it, and the right decision can be made.

3. The Location Unknown Game

Some candidates don’t want to be direct about their current location hoping they will be considered for all jobs regardless of locations.

Often employers want to hire locally. Even if you’re willing to cover your own moving expenses, it still may be difficult to interview or get started as fast as the company desires.

Be up front about your current location. Indicate your willingness to move and how quickly you can start. Location may be something the recruiter can help manage for you with their client.

If your location is not shared, the recruiter may feel you are misrepresenting yourself, and they have every right to move on to the next candidate who may be deemed to be more trustworthy since that candidate is honest about his/her location. After all, being trustworthy is a key requirement that all employers are seeking.

4. The Pass the Buck Game

Don’t tell a recruiter you are looking for $50,000 as you start the process, and then ask for more once you reach the offer stage.

Some candidates think once they are granted an interview, they can convince the hiring company they are worth more. There are many circumstances where you will not get more than you originally said. Most of those circumstances are influenced by factors beyond your qualifications such as company budget, established salary curves, and other recent hires’ salaries.

The company will likely go back to the recruiter, and ask why there is a disconnect on salary. The recruiter will have to say that you started out with a lower number. This will quickly lead to the hiring company pulling the plug on you in fear that you’ll be a difficult employee to manage.

The one exception to this rule is if the job responsibilities are far greater than originally described.

However, I would advise that you have an in-depth discussion about this with the recruiter before declaring a new desired salary, and the smartest move is to be honest with the recruiter about the salary you want at the start of your relationship.

5. The Keyword Ghosts Game

The other day, a friend of mine asked if his friend should add keywords to the bottom of his resume in WHITE FONT. People have done this to ensure their resume pops up when a recruiter does a query of their resume database using key words from the job description.

Here’s the problem with this strategy: Most likely, the reader of your resume or the software analyzing your resume will figure out what you’ve done.

  • Database software, like applicant tracking systems, can “see” the white letters, and will flag you as a keyword spammer.
  • Your resume will clearly not have the keywords within the text of the resume.

This is a sure-fire way to get your resume dumped, and potentially have your name added to a list you don’t want to be on.

Why, you ask? Because by doing this, you are basically implying you don’t really have these actual key attributes within your experience. Hiding key words at the bottom of a resume means you had no where to put them within the resume. So, your resume won’t get approved to move forward any way.

Fit the keywords in “naturally” being sure to use the appropriate keywords for that employer. Read Personal SEO for more details.

Bottom Line

There are countless “games” you can play during this process, but the reality is they rarely work and often dismantle a trusting relationship with key decision-makers. Misrepresentation of any kind is a no-no in the job search. Honest communication is the only way to start off on the right foot with a recruiter and hiring company.

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Jeff LipschultzAbout the author…

Job-Hunt’s Working with Recruiters Expert Jeff Lipschultz is a 20+ year veteran in management, hiring, and recruiting of all types of business and technical professionals. He has worked in industries ranging from telecom to transportation to dotcom. Jeff is a founding partner of A-List Solutions, a Dallas-based recruiting and employment consulting company. Learn more about him through his company site Follow Jeff on LinkedIn and on Twitter (@JLipschultz).
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