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Mistakes Most Job Seekers Make When Working With a Recruiter

Posted On03/20/2017

ContributorNelson Jobs

Whether you are actively seeking a new position or are merely open to hearing about new opportunities, you are not alone. In a global survey by LinkedIn last year, a whopping 90 percent of professionals reported being open to new career options.

A smart way to jump start your career is with the services of a professional recruiter. However, many job seekers unknowingly sabotage their relationship with a recruiter – and therefore their chances of landing a great new job – by making some common blunders.

Here are the top mistakes job seekers make with recruiters and steps you can take to avoid them:

Applying for the same position multiple ways.

Working with a recruiter involves building a business relationship. If you have applied for a position through a recruiter, don’t apply for the same position online, through the mail, or in person.

Since the hiring company trusts the recruiter’s judgment, you will be undermining your credibility by duplicating your application through these other channels. Let the recruiter do his or her job. Don’t let that dissuade you from checking available jobs listings; but remember, having two resumes in the same pile can be more detrimental than beneficial to your chances as an applicant.

Going around the recruiter.

Another way to lose the services of a top recruiter is by circumventing them and contacting the hiring employer directly.

One of the reasons a company hires a recruiter is to avoid a barrage of emails and phone calls about an open position. Hiring managers rely on the staffing company they’ve selected and that company’s recruiters to select the top candidates for the job. Be patient with the process and trust that your recruiter is working for you.

Negotiating the terms of your job offer on your own.

Let’s say your recruiter gives you the good news about a job offer. Now, it’s time to take control of the situation, right? Wrong. Allow your recruiter to negotiate your salary and benefits package for you.

Recruiters know the salaries and benefits that are standard for that employer and industry, and they are well prepared to negotiate the best deal for you. Since hiring companies usually pay professional recruiters a commission based on your pay rate or salary, you can be sure that your recruiter has your best interests in mind. Have a discussion about salary with your recruiter and negotiate with them first so that they can go to bat for you.

Acting as if you don’t care.

It is a competitive job market out there, and one sure way to turn off a recruiter is by not taking the job search seriously. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Make sure your social media presence sends an appropriate message about you.
  • Update your LinkedIn profile.
  • Clean up your resume and include keywords that pertain to your industry and your desired position.
  • Return your recruiter’s phone calls and emails promptly.
  • Be respectful of your recruiter’s time. Calling to “check in” several times a day will not win you any favors.
  • Avoid resume gimmicks. Sending your resume in the form of an infographic, using your own brand icon, or including personal stories or informal language may be big resume mistakes. These gimmicks may not elicit the response you are hoping for.
  • Be polite and send thank-you notes after interviews.


Being dishonest.

It may be tempting to add some extra work history or another degree to your resume, but your recruiter can find out the truth with just a little research.

If a recruiter discovers you have lied about your experience, you will have ended that relationship. Similarly, if a potential employer learns about your choice, you will have lost the opportunity to work at that company. Don’t burn your bridges before they’re built. Honesty is always the best policy when working with a recruiter.

Arriving unprepared for the interview.

You should treat your interview with a recruiter the same as you would any important job interview. Be ready with your updated resume and be prepared to answer some challenging questions about yourself, your experience, and your career goals. Brush up on recent industry news. For example, if you are preparing to meet with an accounting and finance recruiter, make sure you’ve taken a look at the latest stories on Accounting Today. If you’re working with a creative recruiter and are looking for a job in marketing or tech that involves website work, be prepared to talk about responsive website design and the CMS or platform of the prospect employer’s website. Using tools like or ghostery can help to uncover information about the employer’s website and help you prepare.

Research your industry and its current trends then share what you know about the companies for which you would like to work for. Being prepared will help you to avoid awkward interview moments and ace your first impression.

Losing confidence in the process.

Finding the right job takes time. Using a job recruiter is a great step, but it is not a magic formula.

Don’t lose hope if a certain job opportunity does not work out. If you’ve made a good impression, your recruiter will keep you in mind for the next opening. If you have the right skills and the right attitude, a recruiter will want to place you in the perfect job.

As part of this process, be willing to accept your recruiter’s advice on how you present yourself, both online and in person. Remember, a recruiter knows your industry and knows a potential employer’s requirements. Respect your recruiter’s opinion and make any necessary adjustments. When they see that you’re taking their advice to heart, it will win you points as they look for the right fit for your next career move.

Utilizing the services of a top recruiter offers you many professional advantages, including access to “hidden” jobs that have not been advertised. Working with a recruiter, however, is not a one-way street and takes honest effort from all sides. By avoiding these common mistakes, you could be on your way to a new and better position much sooner than you thought.

To maximize your job search opportunities, reach out to Nelson and work with a professional recruiting company. To learn how to best answer the question, “what does a recruiter do?”, keep reading our blog.  For top job prospects in the Bay Area, see our California jobs board.