How to Handle Scary Recruiters

In honor of Halloween, today's post is on the topic of fear. Let's face it—job hunting can be scary! When you are unemployed or seeking to transition into a new field, uncertainty and doubt creep in. It's tough to maintain and project a healthy level of confidence.

Fortunately, you're not alone in your job search. Agencies and third-party recruiters can be an excellent source of support and information—but be careful. Some recruiters are as sweet as candy, while others are more sinister. Here are three scary recruiters to watch out for and what to do if you encounter them.

Scary Recruiter #1:

The Invisible Woman or Man

The Invisible Recruiter seems to vanish at every opportunity. He or she will contact you urgently with a "hot job," but once your resume is submitted, the recruiter no longer returns your calls or responds to emails (see #8 here). Should you end up interviewing at this recruiter's client, feedback will be unlikely. This recruiter is doing the absolute minimum required of his or her position.

How can you improve How to Handle Scary Recruitersan ice-cold relationship with an absent recruiter? First, be respectful of his or her time. When you call or write to check-in, ask for a response only if you have a question or a concern. Know that if there is a job that is a possible match, the recruiter will contact you.

Secondly, ask specifically for what you need. If you went on an interview last week, don't just ask if the recruiter "heard anything back." A yes-or-no question invites a minimal response. Instead, ask what feedback the recruiter can share, and indicate that this will be very helpful to you as you continue your search.

Finally, if you find that the recruiter continues to be aloof and distant, invest minimal time and energy in this resource. Focus your attention on other areas.

Scary Recruiter #2:

The One Who Doesn't Listen

Worse than an invisible recruiter is one who is so fixated on filling jobs that he or she has no regard for your needs and wishes. This is a recruiter who will contact you about a $25/hour job even though your stated minimum is $35/hr. This person undermines his or her credibility by encouraging you to interview for positions in industries you don't like, in roles you aren't comfortable with, and with commutes outside your stated area of preference. This recruiting tactic ranked #3 in a U.S. News & World Report survey of top things job seekers hate about recruiters.

Great recruiters are equally interested in filling their clients' jobs and finding rewarding, meaningful work for their applicants. Whenever recruiters seem more interested in closing a job and less interested in helping you, call them out on it immediately! Ask if they are genuinely interested in helping you. If they say yes, watch closely to see if their subsequent actions reflect your best interests. If not, it's time to move on to another recruiter.

Scary Recruiter #3:

The Disengaged and Insincere Recruiter

The worst of all the scary recruiters is the disengaged recruiter. This is a person who is unhappy in his or her own work, and that the recruiter's clients and applicants are the collateral damage. The disengaged recruiter makes critical mistakes—such as not providing essential information to an applicant going on an interview. While anyone can make an honest mistake, errors are frequent for this person. He or she may also be insincere—delivering the appropriate words at the right times, but without the ring of truth and the reinforcement of follow-through action.

Employee disengagement has deep organizational roots and cannot be remedied from your end. A recruiter who is insincere or disengaged is a direct threat to your professional and financial future and cannot be trusted to represent you effectively in your job search. You may either ask to work with a different recruiter in the same company or else separate entirely from the firm in question.

From Horror Story to Happy Ending

At Menlo Partners, our recruiters are dedicated and committed to assisting our client companies and job seekers in any way we can. We are honest and open in our communication, and we excel at follow-through.


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