The biggest mistakes you can make while job hunting, according to recruiters

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Americans are quitting jobs at record rates, meaning the business of hiring is getting more demanding by the day.

Working with a recruiter, whether they’re an employee of one company or work with several clients, can significantly speed up the hiring timeline and give you leverage during the interviewing and negotiating stages. After all, recruiters are incentivized to fill vacancies as fast as possible, says Career Contessa coach Ginny Cheng.

But recruiters tell CNBC Make It that job-seekers tend to make one major mistake when working with them.

According to career coach and resume writer Chelsea Jay, the worst thing a candidate can do is send a message to her saying, “I’ve attached my resume. Can you review it to see if you have any open positions I might be a fit for?”

The problem with this approach is “not being clear on what your direction or intent is,” Jay says. It also puts more work on a recruiter to scan your work experience upon first connecting, “and they have enough work to do,” she adds.

Instead, the best way to reach out to a recruiter is to express what specific job title or role you’re looking for first. Then, provide one or two sentences about why you’re qualified for that work. The most important factors are that you’re clear in your intent and to the point, Jay says.

Cheng agrees, adding that most recruiters approach working with a candidate with a “help me help you” mindset. So while one benefit of working with a recruiter is they might know of opportunities before you do, you should still do your research to understand what kinds of companies they hire for and state the specific type of job you’re hoping to land.

With some online searching, you can determine what departments they recruit for; whether they tend to work with entry-level, managers or more senior-level workers; if they’ve indicated a need for workers with a special certification or skillset; and the salary range or budget they’re working with.

“Recruiters prioritize those who’ve taken time to do that research,” Cheng says.

Even better, she adds, is to see if you already know someone at the company you’re applying to who can refer you to the recruiter, essentially strengthening your candidate profile.

When cold-messaging a recruiter, it’s also helpful to highlight any experience or certifications that prove you’re uniquely qualified to take the job. This essentially tells the recruiter that not only are you serious about landing a job with them, but that the hiring manager will want to get you onboard quickly, too.

Jay offers the example of someone looking for an event-planning job. An initial message to a recruiter might say, “I’m a certified meeting planner and specialize in event management for nonprofits. If you have any event-planning positions available, I’d love to work with you.”

Finally, the last big mistake job-seekers make is passing along a resume with outdated contact information, like their phone number or email address, Jay says. Given today’s pace of hiring, don’t count on a recruiter to get back to you if their call or message goes unreturned.

“Recruiters do get ghosted as well,” Jay says.

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