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Things Recruiters Wish Candidates Knew

What a crazy job market we are currently in!

I just read an article the other day that said since April 2021, 19 million Americans (and counting) have quit their jobs! That’s over 3 million people a month! The Great Resignation/The Turnover Tsunami is disrupting businesses in all industries. In a candidate market, employers are offering crazy benefits, perks, and pay just to attract talent.  

All of that being said, recruiters have been busier than ever. In just 1.5 years recruiters went from being laid off due to COVID shutting down so many businesses to being one of the most in-demand jobs! And because of that, many are working ’round the clock to staff their companies. 

In no particular order, here is a list of things recruiters secretly wish that candidates knew about the job search:

  • We’re busy. Ridiculously busy. Managers want jobs posted, offers written and extended immediately so they don’t lose out on candidates. We’d love to respond to your messages right away, but please don’t get offended if you don’t hear from us for a day or two. You’ll hear from us before too long. 
  • Many of us have goals and metrics we need to hit. While we’d love to hire everyone that applies, our goal is to get the best candidates in front of our hiring managers. We NEED to hire people, so please be patient as we try to hire for the past year and a half to get our company staffed.  
  • Please complete your application, reading all of the instructions and questions to make sure you’re answering the questions properly. Sell yourself by telling us a quick story. If the question is, “Why are you looking for a new job?”, “Yes” isn’t an appropriate answer.  
  • Having a nicely formatted, scannable resume (that is easy to read within 10 seconds) helps us so much. And please make it a PDF. You’d be surprised how many companies and/or ATS (Applicant Tracking System) have issues opening up .doc, .docx, etc. (no need for a cover letter – we know you want a job.)
  • In this crazy labor market, it doesn’t take much to impress us. Just try. Even a little effort will go a long way.
  • If you ghost us, don’t plan on ever having a chance to work at our company ever again. We’ll put notes in our ATS (Applicant Tracking System) that you ghosted us so if you apply again, we’ll see your past interview notes and how you decided to not respond to any of our messages. If you took another offer or are not interested in working for us, just let us know. We’d much rather have you say, “Thanks for your time, but I’ve decided to take another offer.” It’s no big deal. We get it.  
  • If you provide us with an email address or phone number that is incorrect, it’s going to be hard to get a hold of you. It’s also hard to get a hold of you if your VM box isn’t set up, or your mailbox is full. 
  • Having an inappropriate email address doesn’t get you brownie points. If you don’t have a professional email address ( then create one. It takes less than 5 minutes.
  • If you’re actively searching for a new job, answer calls from numbers you don’t recognize, and make sure to check your email (inbox AND your spam/junk folder) every day. Consider your spam/junk folder an extension of your inbox. Recruiters may send you an email (template in our system) with a link to view our calendar to choose a time slot for a phone interview. That email may go in your junk folder. 
  • All communication should be professional (and most of the time use complete sentences.) If I reach out to you to introduce myself, let you know my reason for contacting you (to schedule a phone interview), ask when you’re free to chat with me, and you respond with two words – and you’re not letting me know your availability – that isn’t a good start to our conversation.
  • It drives us nuts when you are actively doing something – anything – while you’re talking to us. Opening and closing cupboards, working on your vehicle in the garage, and walking your dog while it’s windy outside are major distractions.
  • Don’t use speakerphone. Especially driving in the car. We can barely hear you.
  •  On the flip side, there are some responses that will instantly make us want to reject you. Some comments include, “What job did I apply for?” and “What’s this pay – I’m looking for the highest salary.” 
  • Not asking questions, especially after a great phone interview with you, is deflating and upsetting. If you’re truly interested in this opportunity, why aren’t you asking any questions? That’s a red flag. There are dozens and dozens of questions you could ask us. Need help coming up with a list of questions? Check out this blog I wrote recently on questions to ask in an interview.
  • We’re sorry that you received a cold, vague rejection email letting you know that we’re moving forward with another candidate. We typically don’t call to break the bad news (and offer feedback). It’s so quick and easy – it takes seconds to send out multiple rejection emails with the click of a button. Another reason is time. We don’t have time to call dozens and dozens of candidates to let them know why they didn’t get the job.
  • Speaking of rejection – there is a long list of reasons why you are rejected. Many of them are probably not because you weren’t qualified. You may have applied after we offered someone else the job, it may have been an internal promotion, the job may have been closed due to a change in staffing needs.  
  • Cussing – I’m not sure if you think that will fast-track you to an offer, but it won’t.  I know we’re all adults, but please be professional.
  • Listen to your recruiter and follow all directions and instructions to a “T.” If there is a deadline (day, time, whatever) to fill out an online background check questionnaire, take an assessment, go for your whiz quiz (drug screen), etc. don’t wait until the deadline passes to knock it out. There’s a very good reason why they told you to get it done by a specific date and time.
  • If you’re extremely difficult to get a hold of in the interview process, don’t respond to multiple messages (emails, texts, VMs, etc.) that we leave you, and don’t follow through with what you say you’ll do, these are huge red flags and make it easier for us to reject you.
  • If you reek of negativity in all of your conversations, don’t be surprised if you don’t get an offer from us.
  • Want to instantly get rejected for a job? Pull out your phone in the middle of an in-person interview and start texting someone. It’s a good idea to keep your phone in your vehicle.  
  • We love when candidates follow up with us. Email, text, a handwritten card, or a phone call. It doesn’t matter. Just do something. It doesn’t take much effort to send a quick email, text, or a thank you card.

Yes, this is a candidate’s market, but we’re looking for the best candidates to fill our openings. While you may have the upper hand in many situations, we ultimately decide who we want to bring on board. Show us that you’re the best person for the job (and our culture) and you’ll increase your chances of getting a solid offer. And once you get that offer, don’t be afraid to negotiate. If you need negotiation tips check out this blog. I wrote a blog on what you can and can’t negotiate. 

If you are looking in the job market, view our open positions. Follow the tips from this blog to help you get your dream career. Join the JX Family and apply today!

Author: Nick Stafford, Talent Acquisition Lead

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