Job-Hunting: Are You Scaring Recruiters?

"That tells me that they're not looking for a long-term job right now and that they might leave when the market gets better," said Rebecca Warriner, owner of Woodland Recruiting in Mercer Island, Wash., which specializes in high-tech positions.

Sending a Relative on Your Behalf

You'd think this one would be a no-brainer, yet several recruiters told me they've heard from spouses or family members who wanted to apply for jobs on their next of kin's behalf.

Just last week, Russ Riendeau, a senior partner at The East Wing Search Group, an executive search firm in Barrington, Ill., received a call from a woman hoping to find a job for her brother-in-law.

When asked why the woman was calling on her in-law's behalf, Riendeau was told:

"Well, I have some time and he's working 12 hours a day and really busy."

Needless to say, Riendeau was unimpressed.

Playing the Diva

Uncooperative candidates aren't doing themselves any favors, especially in this tricky job market.

"I called a candidate one morning to talk with her about a job opening, and she seemed annoyed that I had called," a Chicago recruiter who wanted to remain anonymous told me via e-mail.

"She did not want to talk to me because there was a political press conference on TV that she wanted to watch instead. (It wasn't related to her work.) She told me, 'Face it, history is being made right now.' Too bad the job was being filled right then. I'm happy to call back later if it's a bad time but blowing off a potential job to watch TV? Not the priorities I'm looking for in a candidate."

Likewise, if you're asked to apply for a job via a recruiting firm's Web site or you're asked to do a preliminary phone screen with a recruiter, don't balk or flat-out refuse. In the world of recruiting, both are standard operating procedure. And if you don't play the recruiter's way, they'll just find another candidate who will.

Playing a Stalker

A common complaint I hear people make about recruiters is that they don't get back to candidates in a timely manner, if at all.

"I have been swamped by requests from job seekers for the last 10 weeks," said Woodland's Warriner, who receives dozens of voice mails and hundreds of e-mails from candidates each week. "In this market, candidates should expect the response time to be longer."

That's not to say you have to wait weeks and weeks for the recruiter to contact you. If you've submitted your resume and haven't heard boo, give it a week and then call or e-mail them. If you can't get through, wait another week and try again. And if a recruiter has sent you to interview with one of his or her clients, give it at least two or three days before you inquire about any news.

"Don't be the candidate who calls and hangs up on my voicemail once every five to six minutes for over an hour," said one San Francisco recruiter who wanted to remain anonymous. "My voicemail has caller ID, and I've returned to my desk from a meeting to a mailbox full of these."

Likewise, don't e-mail multiple times a week to ask if any jobs have opened up when the recruiters have already told you that they list all the new openings they get on their Web site.

Some may argue that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. But try to see it from the swamped recruiter's point of view: If you're continuously interrupted by the same person every day for weeks on end, will you be excited to work with them or more inclined to move them to your e-mail blacklist?

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