TOP 10 WAYS TO RUIN YOUR CHANCES – tips from 30+ years of IT Staffing/Recruiting

1. Keeping some information about your job/life a secret makes you look sneaky

There are times when keeping information discreet from a prospective employer is a good idea and then there are times when you need to put it all on the table.  When working with a recruiter for a job, it will benefit you to NOT hold these things back.  Talk about it with your recruiter and let them be your advisor to help strategize how to present the information and at what time.  Recruiters are highly beneficial in the job search process. They give you an advantage that other job applicants don’t have.  They KNOW the hiring manager who will be reviewing your resume. They know how they operate, their pet peeves, and what the manager really wants from an employee.  Trust your recruiter to help you, and they will trust you in return.  Hiding things about your professional or personal past will only make you look sneaky and hurt you in the end.

2. Being too vague about your skills and experience

You have worked at XYZ Company for 5 years, and yet your resume only has 2 or 3 bullet points describing your experience.  That doesn’t work.  Recruiters (and hiring managers) are not mind readers.  They aren’t going to be able to always know what tools and technology you used to accomplish your tasks at your job.  Being specific and describing not only what your accomplishments are in detail, but also the tools/technology you used to accomplish these tasks is highly important.  Name the software you used, what version, and how you utilized it will greatly increase your chances of being hired.  Not doing so will greatly increase your chances of being passed over for a job you might have been perfect for, but nobody knew it because you were too vague in your description.

3. The recruiter shouldn’t have to do ALL the work for you

Recruiters should not have to re-write your resume or hold your hand through the entire process.  Yes…a good recruiter will be sure to provide you with all the information at their disposal to be certain you are completely informed about the job skills, hiring manager’s personality, interviewing tips, and more, but do your research as well.  Look up the company and find out what they do.  Learn about the other skills the job is looking for but you might not have a lot of experience with.  There is a lot a headhunter will provide to ensure you have the tools you need to be successful, but you must be willing to take this information and tools and put them to effective use for your own success.

4. If you won’t modify your resume to fit the specific job better you look either lazy or you’re wrong candidate for the position

Your general resume was good enough for the recruiter to give you a call and learn more about you.  They know much more about the hiring manager’s needs/desires than what is on paper, and many times they will need you to spend a little time on your resume to “tweak” it a little in order to bring out the particular skills they know you have, but the hiring manager might have a hard time identifying them in the current version of your resume.  Unwillingness to put in the work here is a big “red flag” for headhunters.  This is an important benefit the recruiter is trying to share with you to help YOU.  Ignoring this part of the process will be a sign that they should just move on to the next person that is really serious about getting a new job.

5. If you don’t have the skills for the job don’t apply for the jobrecruiting

I can’t tell you how many times I receive resumes from candidates that have absolutely NOTHING to do with the job they are applying for.  It’s ridiculous.  Don’t send your resume to a job that you clearly do not have the required skills for.  Why waste your time and the time of a recruiter that could really help you if a job that matches your skills is available?  I’ve actually called a few of these people. Mainly to ask what their background and why they applied for this job.  Most common answer is, “I am a fast learner and can pick up any skills very quickly.”  That may be true, but recruiters are paid to find the skills the hiring manager needs now…not to find someone that could be trained.  Hiring managers can find someone to be trained on their own.  If you want to work with a particular recruiter or staffing company call them and ask to talk to the recruiting department.  They may have ajob opening that matches your skills, but applying for one that clearly does not match your skills is just a waste of time.

6. Your online profiles and social media content DO matter and can cost you the job

This is becoming more and more of a problem.  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and various other social networking venues are being looked at by HR and hiring managers before an offer is made.  I have actually had candidates, who were technically great for the job, LOSE the offer because of their Facebook profile and the pictures they had out there online for public view.  I can’t stress this bit of advice enough…keep your personal life PRIVATE online and do NOT post pictures that a potential employer can view.  Create a private profile.  Lock out anyone you don’t know from viewing your pictures.  Good recruiters (and hiring managers) are looking up your online profiles to learn more about your personal life and it can cost you the job if there are things on there that can be considered “less than professional.”

7. Don’t wait until you are out of work to contact a recruiter – be proactive

Fact of life – hiring managers prefer to hire someone that is already gainfully employed.  It’s just the nature of the beast I guess.  Another reason to already be in contact with a trusted recruiter is to keep your resume and skills fresh on their minds.  When a job becomes available that your skills are a great match for, they can call you and tell you about it right away.  You might not be interested at that moment, but don’t wait until you are out of work to keep your options open. You must stay ahead of the competition.  Be pro-active with your resume and job search.  Not only will you be more marketable to a prospective hiring manager, but you won’t have to go through all the preliminary steps with the recruiter before the interview stage.  You’ll already have that out of the way and be that much closer to your new job.

8. Don’t make the headhunter guess what it is you are best at

This is similar to being thorough on your resume descriptions.  Talk with your recruiter about your skills and background to let them know where you excel.  There may be important things you are so used to being part of your daily life at work that you didn’t even think to put them on the resume.  These are things that hiring managers probably won’t assume you’re good at if they aren’t told.  If you don’t tell me what you can do…I don’t know you can.  Help me help you!!

9. Being secretive about your salary or being vague about your total compensation

This is another time waster almost as bad as submitting your resume for a job you clearly don’t have the skills for.  If you need $120,000 per year to consider a new job you need to tell the recruiter this information so they don’t call you for a job paying only $80,000 per year.  You know what your current compensation is and you know what you are really willing to consider.  The recruiter you’re working with needs to know this too in order to make sure you are the right person for the job.  There are a lot of considerations regarding compensation.  Location, benefits, bonuses, and corporate perks all play a part in the final decision to accept a job or not.  The recruiter knows the best ways to negotiate with their hiring managers.  They work with these managers constantly to match skills, compensation, and personality profiles to the job openings.  Hiding your compensation or not being willing to discuss this openly will cause problems in the hiring process and just complicate the situation.  Don’t wait until after weeks of interviewing to deal with an issue that could easily be out of the way before all that time was wasted for all people involved.

10. Constantly calling/harassing your headhunter about feedback

The recruiter is just as anxious to hear feedback on your resume from their hiring manager as you are.  Rest assured that as soon as the recruiter knows something, they are going to call you and talk about it.  Good or bad, they know you need to know.  Same goes for interviewing.  Your recruiter can hardly wait to hear back from the hiring manager about your interview and to talk about the next steps.  Calling them over and over again several times a day is not going to make them get the information any faster for you.  Yes it can be nerve-racking…we know.  Just know your recruiter is actively pursuing this information for you and will certainly call you the moment they know how things went and what next steps need to be taken.  If you are waiting on feedback, I would suggest that calling your recruiter every 48 hours just to “touch base” would be appropriate. Also, if you have had changes in your availability (got another interview or have an offer), then calling to let them know is also an expected professional courtesy.

These things will help you avoid common pitfalls that can ruin your chance of getting the offer and finding your next job.  Keeping your competitive edge in today’s market is crucial, and now that you are aware of many things people do to ruin their own chances you can avoid these things and be at the top of your game.

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