4 Things Recruiters Say and How to Interpret Them

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iStock_000021872771_Small-622x229If you haven’t had the pleasure of working with a recruiter yet, there’s no doubt you will at some point in your job search. Recruiters help organizations find top talent and, if you’re lucky, help put in you in position to land a job.

In other words, they can be great resources during your job search. Unfortunately, however, they aren’t always completely clear when they communicate with candidates.

As a part of its 2015 Staffing Talent Trends Report survey, LinkedIn asked more than 20,000 respondents what frustrated them about the recruiting process, and one of the biggest issues candidates had was that recruiters don’t always give straight answers. They say one thing, but often mean another — and that’s frustrating.

If you’re searching for jobs, it’s important to understand what recruiters really mean so you’re not left hanging in the wind. Here are four common things say, what they really mean, and how to answer:

1. We’ll keep your resume on file.

What you hear: “We think you have great skills, and we’ll look at your resume each time a similar position becomes available.”

What the recruiter is really saying: “Your resume will stay in our system, but we may never look at it again.”

When recruiters tell you they’ll keep your resume on file, what it often means is your resume will be logged in their system, never to be looked at again. Remember, recruiters deal with hundreds of applications for every job listing they manage, so the odds of them remembering your resume when a new position comes up are very slim.

How to respond: When you hear this, thank the recruiter and ask what other positions they have available now that may be the right fit. If they don’t have any, let them know that you’ll keep an eye on their listings and contact them when similar positions become available.

2. We’ll get back to you either way.

What you hear: “We value your effort, so we won’t leave you hanging.”

What the recruiter is really saying: “If you don’t get the job, you might get a canned rejection email, but no guarantees.”

The reality is, if you didn’t get the job you probably won’t hear back from the recruiter. It’s not that they’re necessarily lying to you when they say this, but recruiters deal with a huge number of candidates on a daily basis and often don’t have time to reach out before moving on to the next candidate search.

How to respond: One of the best ways to ensure you’re not left flapping in the wind is to be proactive. Tell the recruiter you’ll check in next week to see how the process is going and continue to follow up at reasonable intervals until you find out whether or not you got the job.

3. You’re perfect for the job, but we have to finish interviewing other candidates.

What you hear: “We just have to get a few formalities out of the way before we offer you the job.”

What the recruiter is really saying: “We’ve got someone else in mind, but if we can’t close them, you’re the next best thing.”

It’s a recruiter’s job to fill the position. If you’re perfect for the job, then the employer won’t waste time and resources interviewing other people. In this situation, the recruiter is most likely trying to keep you from taking another opportunity in case the employer’s first choice doesn’t take the job.

How to respond: Ask for a specific hiring timeline and keep your options open. Let the recruiter know how interested you are, but that you’re going to continue going on interviews and considering other offers in the meantime. You never know, that may be enough to convince the employer you should be their No. 1.

4. Employees love the company culture.

What you hear: “This is a great place to work, you’ll enjoy it.”

What the recruiter is really saying: “We know how important a ‘cool’ company culture is nowadays…”

Whether the company culture is laid back or high strung, recruiters are going to try to make it a selling point in their pitch to you. The truth is, it may be great. But, those employees the recruiter talked to who said so might just be the hiring manager and upper management who want to get the position filled.

How to respond: Do your homework. Use Glassdoor to read reviews about the company you’re applying to and ask the recruiter questions about telecommuting policies, professional development opportunities, and other specifics about the “cool” company culture to get a more well-rounded picture of the organization’s culture.

What other things do recruiters say that don’t necessarily represent what they mean?


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