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How to Scare Recruiters Away (Don't Do This!)

By Jeff Lipschultz

In a job search, recruiters can be one of your best assets. We all know the good ones have relationships with lots of companies who might be hiring in your area of expertise.

The hard part in your relationship with recruiters is that you may not know which recruiters are looking at your resume or LinkedIn profile.

These Mistakes Scare Recruiters Off

You may never get the chance to talk to them if you scare them off. How do you scare them off? Let me share several different ways.

A Horrible Resume

What is “horrible?” I think if you’ve read anything on resume writing, you know the basics about format, level of detail, and grammar/spelling errors.

In addition, these resume mistakes can be sabotaging your job search, too:

  • A bad resume can also include a resume which lacks details or has gaps in employment.
  • Hard to read resumes (which typically have way too much information) make it hard to find the pertinent information related to the job being filled.
  • Recruiters like to see bullet points that highlight the results achieved and tools/knowledge used.

More: How to Manage the Red Flags on Your Resume.

Job Hopping

Keep in mind, loyalty is not really dead. Many employers still want to hire employees long-term, especially smaller companies. They want to get a return on the investment they make in new hires.

Candidates who jump from job to job every year are less attractive than those with three or more years at each job. If you were on a contract (or contract-to-hire that didn’t pan out), you should include that detail on your resume.


Ambivalence or Disinterest

Sometimes when I speak with a candidate, they show no enthusiasm about the opportunity. They don’t ask questions about the company or job. They just want to submit their resume and move on to the next opportunity. I even had one candidate tell me I was wasting his time telling him “too much” about the role. I would think anyone making a career change would want as much information as possible to make a good decision for their future.

Along the same lines, is a lack of response or communication. Some candidates say they’ll get back to me and never do. To me, this indicates they are not interested, and I move on. If you say you’ll get back to someone, don’t expect them to contact you again if you don’t live up to your own words.

Bad Social Media Image

Much has been written about keeping your Social Persona clean. Many hiring managers, HR personnel, and recruiters spot check your Social Media background occasionally.

What you post on Facebook, Instagram, or Linkedin and what you tweet on Twitter can reflect positively or negatively. Always ask yourself what impression a recruiter would have of me if they read my post (i.e. rant about a boss or employer).

A lack of Social Media footprint, mainly LinkedIn, may prompt a question regarding your comfort with current technology or trends.

More: The Impact of Social Media on Recruiters.

Lack of Professionalism

When you meet a recruiter in person, treat them the same as you would a hiring manager at an interview. Dress nicely, be on time, and act professionally. Even if they seem laid-back or even inexperienced, don’t assume anything. They could be very sharp and are good at hiding this to see how you respond.

Personal Agendas

Strong beliefs in the areas of politics, religions, policies and other “debatable topics” have their place in society.  However, they really have no place in the workplace or the hiring process. This includes your LinkedIn profile.

Certainly your Hobbies Section can include any of these things (as long as none are considered antagonistic in the general population).  But, I would not suggest making your beliefs the lead-in of Summary Section. People come to LinkedIn to learn about your professional background first.

Ignoring Advice or Not Following Directions

If a recruiter provides advice about interviewing with a specific company, it’s typically a good idea to follow it. They are sharing this information as a service and aid to you. Most times, this is based on long-term experience in the process or with the hiring company.

Additionally, listen to the recruiter if they ask you to study some material or the company’s web site to learn more and develop questions for the recruiter or company. Not following directions is an indicator that you might do the same once placed at the company. Recruiters do not want to place candidates who eventually do not work out. Don’t give them any reason to think this about you.


Although this also falls under “Lack of Professionalism,” it is worth mentioning separately. If a recruiter senses you are not being honest about your history, abilities, or even current job situation, they will drop the relationship with you very quickly. As I’ve said in many articles before, their reputation is on the line every time they present a candidate to a valued client. Recruiters seldom take risks on people who may tarnish their reputations.

Bottom Line

In the end, most of these fall under one large category: Communications. Good written and verbal communication coupled with thoughtfulness, common sense, and sincerity can go a long way towards getting off on the right foot with recruiters. Give some thought to how you present yourself, and I’m sure you’ll have no scary moments with the recruiting community.

Jeff Lipschultz About 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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