Ways Candidates Annoy Recruiters

Yes, we’ve all seen this topic before but this post will have a tad different spin….I’m bringing this up because spring is around the corner and graduates will soon be sending me inflated resumes along with their egos.

22 page resumes. Oh, they exist, and they are a nightmare. DO NOT send me even a 10 page resume. I will not look at it. 2-3 pages are okay with me, maybe 4 if you have 15+ years of experience. This applies to contractors as well.

Think of a funnel…the summary should be broad enough to strike my interest in reading more details about you. Here’s what I want to see on a technical resume and in this order:

• A 2-4 sentence summary of who you are, where you’ve been, what you’ve done, and why I should continue reading (ideally this is your passion)

• Technical skills broken out by languages, middleware, platforms, databases, etc.

• Your actual work experience. Do not use fancy fonts, lots of bold, borders etc. It’s a nuisance to read. Simple and clean: Job title, Company, Location, Years/Months there, and then a few bullets telling me what you accomplished. I DO NOT need a Hoovers company snapshot or what the project was about (if you’re a contractor).

• Education & Training. If you’re a graduate with no practical experience, put this under the summary. Seems self-explanatory but here it is: Degree, School, Location

DO NOT pay a resume service to do your resume. You are paying for someone to “gussy” it up, and I’ll just tear it down by getting beyond the fancy words and formatting. Remember, simple and clean.

Simple interviewing basics. It’s the year 2007, almost 2008, and I can’t tell you how many candidates of all levels look great on paper, sound great on the phone, and then meet me in person with dirty fingernails or clothes, ripped jeans or t-shirt, and show up late. Remember this: impression management. It really does matter. Unless you have made arrangements to meet with me under certain conditions, as does happen from time to time, you should ALWAYS show up in a suit. Same goes for when you are actually going to the interview. Think of recruiters as “Directors of First Impressions.”

DO NOT ask about salary, telecommuting, flexible hours, etc even on a phone interview. A candidate’s job is to make me want to talk to you. Once that happens, and I think there is a good fit, I’ll present him/her to a client. Then it’s the candidate’s job to make the client want to hire them. Negotiating perks comes later. Make us want you (fancy fonts won’t do it).

Fair market value. I love this one, as do many of my recruiter friends. A candidate who has not done their research on their fair market value is one who is a pain to work with. DO NOT use Salary.com to evaluate where you should come in at a new job. There are WAY too many reasons why, but mostly its false inflation. Many candidates do not know that companies usually pay to the 25th percentile of a salary band. Some might pay to the 50th or even 75th, but those are rare indeed. How companies evaluate pay for a position is based on their compensation philosophy which they will never tell you, let alone me for that matter.

What you should take into consideration is this:

• Cost of living. The coasts pay more because it costs more to live there! This is not rocket science. Don’t expect East Coast rates to apply in the Midwest.

• Your passion. Can you put a price on what you love to do? The answer I usually get from candidates is “the money doesn’t matter if I get to do this or that.”

• Quality of life. New grads don’t worry so much about this but masters level folks usually do. Do you want to kill yourself working 18 hour days and not have a social life so you can work on the next bleeding edge technology (and make really good money) or would you rather work to live?

• Know thyself – your needs and wants. I evaluate candidates for self-awareness and it drives me crazy when a candidate cannot describe themselves in three adjectives (some don’t even know what an adjective is).

• GPA & school reputation. While there is no research that attributes a correlation between GPA/school reputation and work performance, I still get asked by hiring managers for it. Be aware of yours and be prepared to explain discrepancies……which brings me to……

Blacklisted. Yes, it exists, and yes it can happen to you IF you lie, withhold information, inflate experience, or misrepresent yourself in any way to an established recruiter. We have technology that manages “bad” candidates, its called Peoplesoft. You might have heard of it? Any other tracking system can do the same. This is often a hush-hush practice in recruiting, but I do believe its time for candidates to realize that its there and its used.

Ways Candidates Annoy Recruiters

So to close this recruiting rant of ways to annoy recruiters, I hope candidates of all levels take this information to heart and if you have questions, just ask me. I’m happy to help.



Yvonne Catino is an Executive Recruiter for Hudson Global Resources in Minneapolis, MN. She has worked with Fortune 500 clients as well as smaller and mid-size organizations for over 20 years. Currently she is finishing up her doctorate in management. (www.ylcatino.com)

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.


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