Red Flags that Recruiters Look For
It's amazing how some candidates present themselves!
Here are some of the reasons why a candidate may be eliminated from consideration.
When a candidate walked into my office wearing a large ‘Porn Star’ belt buckle, he was in-
stantly eliminated from consideration. Make sure you have clothing that’s conservative and
appropriate for interviews, and never wear anything that's revealing or fits poorly. If you’re
applying for a manual labor type of job, then cleaned and pressed jeans and a nice shirt are
appropriate, but never wear a t-shirt. For any position in an office, wear a suit, and here’s a
suggestion: if your budget doesn’t allow for a variety of new clothes, get just one suit--even if
it means going to a thrift store--and wear it to each interview. The suit should be a solid color
(black, navy blue, or dark gray), and you can have several conservative shirts or blouses to
wear with it. And here's a rule of thumb: always dress one to two levels above the position for
which you’re applying. For example, if you’re interviewing for a manager role, dress in attire
appropriate for a Director.
more often than not this is another applicant that’s desperate for a job, hoping to get a few
paychecks while they continue to search for something else
Gaps in Employment Without Legitimate Reasons
There truly are legitimate reasons for gaps in one’s employment history, but if that doesn’t
describe your situation, then all you can do is be honest with the recruiter. If you’ve sincerely
gained some insight into your behavior that has created a less-than-solid work history, you
can share that, but regardless, this can be a difficult challenge to overcome, and one for
which you should do some introspection.
Blames Previous Employers or Co-Workers
A candidate that blames others, more often than not, is a sub-standard candidate. There are
certainly times when a previous employment situation may have been tough and perhaps a
former boss truly was bad, but it’s a pattern of continual blame that’s a red flag. And even in
the case of what was truly a bad employment situation, it’s best to use diplomacy, and not to
Poor Excuses for Leaving Previous Jobs
Just as a police officer has heard every excuse imaginable for why a person is speeding and
shouldn’t get a ticket, we recruiters have heard all the excuses as to why candidates have left
previous jobs, and here’s a common one:
They didn’t pay enough
So what happened? They refused to tell you during the interview what the pay was
going to be, but you accepted the job anyway? How could you not know what the pay
was going to be? (One possible exception to this situation might be a sales job in which
the potential employer inflated the earnings potential.) And it gets better: it’s often a
situation where the person already quit their current job without having another one
lined up--so it’s better to be unemployed? Sounds more like someone that was fired, or
was about to be. By the way, let me share what is perhaps the worst excuse I’ve ever
been told for being fired from a job. A guy applied for a job with me. In our interview I
asked why he had left his previous employment, and he explained that he had a
disagreement with a co-worker. His manager heard this and came over to investigate,
and everyone calmed down for the moment--but when the manager walked away, this
guy actually choked his co-worker. ‘But it was only for ten seconds’ he went on to say.
Are you kidding me? This candidate instantly went into my ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ file.
Lack of Confidence
Unless you'll be in the far corner of a warehouse somewhere and working without people
interaction, your level of self confidence and your ability to interact with others will be a factor
if an employer is considering you for employment. One of the most obvious signs of shyness
or low self confidence is a person's inability to maintain eye contact. If this describes you,
then by all means this is an area in which you need practice, practice, practice! Go to the
grocery or department store and give eye contact to everyone you come in close contact
with. Speak with the cashier, looking them straight in the eye. Put yourself in situations in
which eye contact and interaction are required, and push yourself outside your comfort zone,
despite how awkward or nervous it makes you feel. Do this again and again and again until
you begin to feel comfortable with this type of interaction, and you'll find this critical skill will
prove not only beneficial in your professional life, but in your personal life as well.
Open to Compensation Range
Sometimes candidates will say they don't care what the compensation
is, but this is usually a concern for a recruiter. Have they not deter-
mined what their own worth is? And have they not figured out what their
personal budget is, and so what their required income level would be?
Sounds more like a candidate that’s desperate for a job, and who
would quit the job I'd hire him for as soon as a new one came along.
It’s fine to not have a specific dollar amount pinned down within a range
and to want to negotiate this issue, but to say you don’t care, or that
you don’t have any idea? That’s a whole different story.
Open to Whatever Job is Available
I get the sense that this type of applicant is trying to convey a hard-
working attitude--and that may in fact sometimes be the case—but
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