Five Questions Recruiters Won't Answer

Posted: 10/2/2013

By: Elias Cobb, Quantix Recruiting Manager

You know, there are a lot of frustrated job seekers out there who are irritated, even angry, with recruiters and HR. My perspective is one of an agency recruiter, which I have been for over a decade. I'm going to try and answer some of the questions job seekers seem to have and perhaps allay some concerns people have.

1) Why is that job still posted after xx months?

Most likely, the job actually is STILL OPEN. Many times clients will accept resumes for a period of time, then shut off the flow of resumes and begin the interview process. Recruiters still want to get applicants, as there is a good chance that the client won't find the right person in the first round of interviews. Then, we start the process all over again and screen the next crop of qualified candidates.

A second possibility (and many job seekers don't know this) is that the job is still active on some sites without the recruiter's knowledge. When a job is posted to a job board, they broadcast it to their affiliate sites. When the job is removed from the job board, it doesn't always get removed from the hundreds of affiliate sites to which it has been sent.

There's also simple oversight. Sometimes, with as busy as people get, the recruiter may forget to delete a closed job. I know I am guilty of that.

Another possibility is a recruiter padding their database.  Although I have "heard" that people do that, I can honestly say that I don't know any recruiters who actually do it.

2) Do typos and grammatical errors automatically get me rejected?

It depends on the recruiter. Personally, I don't reject anyone with a spelling error or typo on their resume. People are human and mistakes will happen. However, if the whole resume / cover letter are rife with errors, I may move on. A few errors can be corrected and aren't necessarily indicative of a person's attention to detail. Thirty-five errors means that you didn't even proofread your resume once. Make sure that you spellcheck (and do a word search for "manger," please) and proofread your resume before applying.

3) Why doesn't the recruiter / HR person let me know that they got my resume and I'm not in consideration?

We get literally hundreds of applicants. I don't have enough time in my day to respond to everyone and still get my job done. I'm sorry I can't reply to you personally, but it just isn't realistic.

Not to be petty, but do you know how many job seekers I contact and never hear back from? These are people who have recently posted their resume to a job board. I call, email and never hear back. No big deal. Maybe my job wasn't that interesting or maybe they found something else. Or maybe they forgot their resume was still active. I'll call them the next time I have a job.

4) How long do recruiters spend on a resume, really? And why do they focus on keywords so much?

Again, this is a bit of a trick question. I always read the whole, "Recruiters look at your resume for 10 seconds," stat. Sure, if in 10 seconds I can see you live out-of-state or need sponsorship and neither is
being offered, then that's all the time I spend. But if it looks like you have the basic skills, I will probably spend at least a minute or two reading through your most recent positions and looking over your technical summary. At the same time, it is unrealistic to expect recruiters to spend 20 minutes on every resume they get.

As far as keywords go, well, most of us are not technical. You cannot expect us to make deductive leaps that require programming experience to determine your skills. Put the technology terms on your resume!! That way, we can see you've worked with it; then I will contact you and see how much experience you have with those skills.

5) Should I call the recruiter / HR person and ask about my resume or the job?

I say sure! But don't necessarily expect a return call in all cases. I do try and return all phone calls made to me. I don't always get it done. I can tell you who I don't call back - the people who call and
complain and demand to talk to my manager about why I haven't called back. I also don't call back people who are argumentative. Job seekers are supposed to be at their best throughout the interview process. If you are negative and argumentative now, how will you be once you get comfortable with a client?

The bottom line is that recruiters / HR have jobs to do too. We are under deadlines and pressure from our managers to fill the jobs quickly, so we try and move as fast as we can. In the agency world, your pay is tied to how many jobs you fill, so you really have to try and move fast. Time is all we have and we have to use it as wisely as possible.