June 12th, 2009
10 Things Recruiters Won’t Tell You (But I Will)

By J.T. O’Donnell

Recruiters have one job: Find the right person for the position. Their performance is evaluated on how efficiently and effectively they match top talent to job requirements. Ironically, in the current economy,recruiters are finding their jobs harder than ever. I’m serious. There’s too much talent for them to weed through. What used to be ‘finding a needle in a haystack’ has now become ‘finding a needle in tenhaystacks.’

As a result, recruiters have to determine a candidate’s marketability much quicker. Translation: candidates must pay even more attention to the power of the first impression factor. People skills, attire, etc. all become more important when competition amongst talent is this fierce. Reality check: Those who are failing to make a good first impression get put in the ‘no’ pile and are never contacted again. So, if you aren’t getting called back by a recruiter after either an in-person meeting or talking by phone, there’s a good chance that, in addition to the fact you didn’t have the right skills, you also might have displayed one or more traits on the ‘I can’t market them’ list. Now, most recruiters won’t tell you what you did wrong. Why? For one reason, they aren’t paid to give you the bad news. Second, they don’t want to burn a bridge. And third, as I mentioned, they just don’t have the time.

And yet, how are you going to fix the problem if you don’t know it exists?

I’ve put together the most common reasons why a recruiter writes a candidate off. You may not like what you read, but the good news is with a little attention and practice, all of them can be improved upon. So, ask yourself, “Am I guilty of the following?”

Top 10 Things A Recruiter Won’t Tell You

  1. Your interview attire is outdated/messy/too tight/too revealing/too flashy.
  2. Your physical appearance is disheveled/outdated/sloppy/smelly/overpowering (i.e. too much perfume).
  3. Your eye contact is weak/shifty/intense.
  4. Your handshake is limp/too forceful/clammy.
  5. You say ah/um/like too much.
  6. You talk too much/use poor grammar/say inappropriate things (i.e. swearing) when you answer interview questions.
  7. You appear overconfident/pushy/self-centered/insecure/aloof/ditzy/scatter-brained/desperate.
  8. You talk too fast/too slow/too loud/too soft.
  9. You giggle/fidget/act awkward/have facial tics/lack expression.
  10. You lack sincerity/self-confidence/clarity/conviction.

So, how do you fix these?

Well, given 93% of communication is non-verbal, I can tell you that many of the negatives above can be improved by focusing on one thing: attitude. If you are angry, fearful, or confused, it’s going to show. You must find a way to feel good about yourself and your ability to contribute. This comes from knowing your strengths and embracing them. It also comes from doing your homework on a company so you can articulate clearly and with enthusiasm why you would be a great fit for the job. I realize this is easier said than done, but it can be done.  Here are a few things I suggest:

I hope I’ve convinced you to take a hard look at the 10 reasons above and to commit to finding a way to improve your first impression factor. It’s your career. Own your actions and take control of your professional development. I promise, recruiters will take notice.

Feel free to share any reasons I missed below. Better still, if you’ve got a resource you’ve used that has helped you get over one or more of  these first impression-busters, please share it below so fellow readers can use it as well.

For more articles of this type from J.T. O’Donnell, see new_header (1):


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One thought on “10 Things Recruiters Won’t Tell You (But I Will)

  1. These are some great pointers. I’ve been recruiting for 15 years at companies like Google, Microsoft, DreamWorks and Ask.com and little things can sometimes make the difference, especially in this economy.

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