Job-Hunting: Are You Scaring Recruiters?

A friend who's a recruiter for an employment agency told me that since Wall Street imploded this fall he has seen an uptick in calls from angry, weepy and desperate-sounding candidates.

"Some will yell that they have to get the job because their mortgage depends on it," he said. "A couple have even cried into the phone and begged me to help them."

I get that people are incredibly stressed (not to mention pissed) about having lost their jobs, and I understand how stiff the competition is to find a new one. I also get that many people now find themselves facing dire financial circumstances and are worried about how they'll pay for health care, feed their families, even keep their homes.

Unfortunately, your recruiter is not your best friend, your bartender or your therapist. Shouting or blubbering to them about the precariousness of your fiscal situation won't help your cause one bit. Instead, it will take you right out of the running for any job openings they have.

After all, if a recruiter thinks that you can't keep it together for a quick 10-minute phone call, how can they recommend you to the clients who are paying them to find top-notch, rock-solid candidates?

Yes, the economic climate and job market are miserable. But that doesn't give us license to throw our professionalism out the window.

And, yes, many recruiters come off like that understanding colleague who's there to help you through this tough job hunt. But that doesn't mean you should let your guard down and treat them like your career counselor or closest confidant.

So let's talk about the six things you should never do when working with recruiters.

Oversharing With a Recruiter

I know what you're thinking: You know how to keep your emotions in check in a professional setting. You would never let your desperation show in front of a recruiter.

But there are other ways that oversharing can underwhelm a recruiter.

"I'm screening a candidate and we get to the point where I ask why he left his position and he starts with, 'Well, I would never say this in an interview, but my boss was a raving lunatic,'" said Lindsay Olson, a partner and recruiter with Paradigm Staffing, a public relations and communications staffing firm in New York.

"I leave the conversation with many doubts the candidate wouldn't find a way to slip a comment or two in during the interview."

In other words, if you wouldn't say it in the actual interview with the employer, don't say it to a recruiter or staffing agency.

Saying You'll 'Take Anything'

"A lot of times when I talk to candidates, they say, 'Oh, I can do anything,'" said Alisha Siecinski, a recruiter with iMatch Technical Services in Seattle.

But no recruiter wants to hear this.

For one thing, "Whether they can do it is very different from have they done it," Siecinski said. "In this market, they might not be able to get a job doing what they want to do if they're better at something else."

For another, you're making the recruiter's job harder. The more specific you and your resume are about the kind of position you're qualified for, the easier it is for a recruiter to sell you to their clients.

Then there's the matter of appearing a bit too eager to interview for a full-time staff position that's a huge demotion and a $25,000 to $50,000 pay cut from your last job.

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