I recently interviewed executive recruiter Erin Holland-Collins on why some candidates remain unemployed for extended periods. (See my previous post, Is there a reason I’m still unemployed?)

Here are some of Erin’s additional thoughts about what turns recruiters off, as well as tips candidates can use to get an edge.

Erin tells me that 90 to 95 percent of resumes submitted to the applicant tracking system (ATS) are junk submissions. As a result, recruiters have changed their focus and are now recruiting primarily out of LinkedIn and referrals. Seattle is a small town, and it’s key that candidates leave a good footprint to take advantage of these referrals.

Here are behaviors that can prevent you from getting referred to other recruiters.


  • Tell a recruiter you’re interested in interviewing for a position and then change your mind during the process and tell them that you’re really interested in another position.
  • Display low energy, lack of enthusiasm or depression.
  • Say to recruiters that you’ve been out of work too long and desperately need a job.
  • Tell a recruiter that you’re overqualified, but are willing to do the role to pay your bills.
  • Bring your parents to the interview (Generation Y).
  • Bring your spouse to the interview (foreign cultures).
  • Try to go around the recruiter to speak to the hiring manager to inquire about your application status.
  • Challenge recruiters on their decision that you’re not the suitable for the position.
  • Send weekly or daily e-mails asking about the status or checking in to see if there are new roles of interest.
  • Call a recruiter or hiring manager “honey” or “sweetheart.”
  • Hit on the recruiter, or ask him or her out on a date.
  • Treat recruiters as career coaches. That is, don’t send your resume to a recruiter to ask where you might fit or what opportunities are available to you.

Here are tips that can help you establish a positive relationship with the recruiter.


  • Be prepared, prompt and ready to go.
  • Ask questions about the company, position, culture and long-term goals.
  • Have multiple copies of your resume available.
  • Be straight to the point and not too wordy. Practice your answers the night before so you sound polished.
  • Thank the recruiter and the hiring manager – even if you weren’t selected. Chances are you want to keep the door open for additional opportunities.
  • Call the HR department and ask who the recruiter is before submitting an application, so it can be routed to the correct person.
  • Follow up with an e-mail or phone call to see what the recruiter thinks of your qualifications. Even if you’re not selected, this leaves the door open for future opportunities.

Keep these guidelines in mind, and hopefully you can break the unemployment spell and become happily employed for 2011.

Live Seminars in December

The Career Search Excellence seminar is packed with only the hottest tips and tricks for professionals seeking a new opportunity – giving you a competitive edge over the competition. The seminar is free (sponsored) and there are three dates to choose from in December.
  • December 5 (Bellevue, WA)
  • December 8 (Bellevue, WA)
  • December 10 (Bellevue, WA)
Register Now (It's free.)
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