The Red Flags to avoid when working with Recruiters

Time to tell you the inside story


Warning message

The subscription service is currently unavailable. Please try again later.

The 11 Red Flags to Avoid when Working with Recruiters

In another BLOG I talk about the different types of Recruiters that can help you in your Job Search. In this BLOG I want to talk to you about “Red Flags”.

What are they, and why and how should you avoid them? Recruiters are important players in your Job Search. They are the gatekeepers to the job, and they can aid you or hinder you.  You need them on your side.  Good recruitment practice is all about judgement and fairness.  A professional Recruiter will assess your application against criteria that have been pre-agreed with their client, and will score it against those of everyone else who has applied or been approached.  They will then overlay this objective approach with an element of judgement based upon their knowledge of their client, and what they have discovered about you in the recruitment process. If you don’t get shortlisted for a role the most common reason will simply be therefore that you have been outscored by other, more suitable applicants.  There’s nothing you can do about that, and nothing to be ashamed of.  Them’s the rules. But Red Flags are avoidable, and if you create too many of them then you only have yourself to blame.

What is a “Red Flag”?

Red Flag is a piece of Recruitment Industry jargon used when there is something about a particular Applicant or a Candidate that indicates to the Recruiter that they are less likely to be placed than another. When you apply for any job, and even when you have been headhunted, you are in competition. Just the other day I read that there are on average 56 applications for every Graduate job being advertised currently; it is far higher than that in the non-graduate workforce.  When I present a shortlist to a client I like there to be at least 4 Candidates. The point is that it is a competition.  Recruiters have to work fast to beat other recruiters to the line and they have targets to meet and sales managers breathing down their necks.  So, if they see something less than perfect in your application and CV or something occurs in their dealings with you that dents their confidence in you then that is a “Red Flag”. One or two Red Flags, and you may get by. Too many, and then it’s game over.

Here are the most common Red Flags that you can and should avoid:

1. Typos and bad grammar.  Faced with a choice between a well-writtten CV and one littered with errors which would you choose for your client?   This Red Flag is so easily avoided.   Use a spellchecker and then ask someone you trust to proof read your application for you.  Or get a nice man to write a Professional CV for you.  Just yesterday I received a CV in which an applicant boasted of their “attenshun to detail”.  Red Flag.

2. A CV that does not match the requirements of the role. I have written previously about Golden Rule #2 of CV Writing; make sure your CV matches the requirements of the job.  If it does not, you are wasting your time because your CV will be one big Red Flag.

3. Not giving the Recruiter the information they need to do their job. Sometimes Recruiters will ask you for information and you may find it difficult to understand why they need it.  In 99% of cases it is because their client has asked them to find out.  By all means ask them why they need to know your inside leg measurement.  But if they give you a sensible explanation then give it to them.  Co-operate.  Not to do so would mean a Red Flag.

4. Keep your appointments. If you agree to talk to the Recruiter at 3 pm on Thursday make sure that you do.  If something comes up send them a text apologising and suggesting alternatives.  If you were a Recruiter would you risk your relationship with your client by introducing them to someone who can’t do something as simple as a keep an appointment?  No: it’s a big old Red Flag.

5. Failing to engage in the process. Work with the Recruiter to make sure that they understand what makes you tick.  Put some energy into the conversations you have with them and show them that you are keen to work with them.  Get them onside.  Recruiters don’t want to work with Candidates who aren’t positive and engaged.  It’s a Red Flag.

6. Not doing what you said you would do when you said you would do it. In our Headhunting business before we put a Candidate forward to a client we take a minimum of 2 peer references.  Just occassionally a Candidate will say that they will email me with the details of a Referee and those details never come.  Red Flag.

7. Going behind the Recruiter’s back. Candidates occasionally think it’s a good wheeze to shortcut the process and go direct to the client after an initial chat with the Recruiter.  This goes under the heading: “How not to make friends and influence people”.  Red thing waving on the end of a stick.

8. Not knowing your stuff. If the job has a technical side to it a good Recruiter will be well briefed, and very often will have come from the same industry.  If she asks you how many spiggots there are in a dobbin you should know. Do your homework.  Not to know is a Red Flag.  There are 5 by the way (spiggots in a dobbin).

9. Talking too much, not talking enough. Candidates who are hard work and need to be interrogated to establish the basics of their job are Red Flagged.  Candidates who drone on endlessly about minutiae are also Red Flagged.  Why would the Recruiter want to subject their client to that?  Enough said.  Or is it?

10. Criticising your employer or other people. This is just bad form and just not cricket.  If you don't play cricket you still should not do it.  Not even baseball players.  Recruiters don’t like it.  Red Flag.

11. Talking in a Patronising manner; being a smart alec.  Don’t do it.  That’s the Recruiter’s job.  

Please feel free to comment below on anything that I have said.  If there is anything on the subject of CVs, Interview technique or job-hunting about which you would like me to BLOG please let me know too. And if you feel like recommending my BLOG to others I would be extremely grateful.


What People Are Saying.

Recommended Products.

Related Articles.

follow us on social media