5 Things You Should NEVER Say To A Recruiter

things you should never say to a recruiter

It's surprisingly common how many of my friends tell me about their run-ins with recruiters and the conversations that go along with it. Many of them would walk into these meetings and spill all the details about their job search on a whim. I'm not just talking about their expectations of the job - I'm talking about information that could negatively impact their leverage with the companies.

They tell them how desperate they are for a job or how flexible they're willing to be when it comes to their salary. This sort of discussion should never be made with a recruiter, who might use this information to boost their own positioning during negotiations. This isn't to say all recruiters are bad or "evil", but remember, recruiters are on the opposite side of the negotiating table, not on your side. They're getting paid by the employer, not you.

Having said that, here are 5 things you should NEVER say to a recruiter!

1. "I have no other job opportunities at the moment"

There is absolutely no reason why you should feel compelled to tell your recruiter that you have no other job opportunities at the moment. This can put you at a disadvantage when handling negotiations with potential companies that want to hire you. By stating that you don't have other job opportunities at the moment, it can imply that you are not good enough at your job to be hired by anyone.

If you end up stating that you're in talks with other companies at the moment and they ask you which one, feel free to sidestep them with a simple statement on the confidentiality of that information and that you'd prefer to keep it that way. Be diplomatic in the way you handle that sentiment. You don't want to be rude to the point where your recruiter stops helping you, but you can't let them bully you.

2. "I will take any job you have"

Being desperate and publicly announcing your desperateness are two entirely different subjects. At no point in your discussions with your recruiter should the sentence "I will take any job you have" come out of your mouth (or your fingers for emails!). This can show your recruiter that you're not enthusiastic about a specific position. Holding out for a position that fits your interests and goals are better than picking up any run-of-the-mill position.

Saying "I will take any job you have" also destroys any negotiating leverage you had. I understand that sometimes, you just have to pay the bills, but you shouldn't have to beg for a job that isn't going to suit you. A successful career should stem from an eagerness to work in your specific industry, not a desperate grab for money.

3."My previous boss was terrible"

If you met someone new at a bar and they started badmouthing their friend to you in every conceivable way, would you feel comfortable getting to know them on a deeper level? No.

So why would this approach work for a recruiter or an employer? Employers will think badly of, and likely never trust, someone who talks about their previous boss in an overly negative light. Answering questions on why you left or are leaving a position is inevitable though, so why not try to remain neutral in your retelling of your experience at that job? Instead of just talking about what you didn't like at your previous company, talk about what that experience taught you, regardless of your departure.

4. "Before we start, what's the salary like?"

There are a lot of different opinions on this one, but I'm in favour of NOT saying this early on during your talks with the recruiter. By asking this, you show that you're only looking at making money, not developing a career. Recruiters usually try to find someone who is both qualified and eager for the job. If you're qualified but you have this attitude of "money comes first", it's going to be an uphill battle when trying to score a lead (recruiters usually agree that you shouldn't talk about money too early).

The arguments that suggest you do say this in the beginning of talks are often concerned about recruiters wasting their time with pointless leads. However, if you've already shared your salary expectations with your recruiter before they started searching for jobs, this should be a non-issue for most effective recruiters.

5. "I'm planning on moving in a year"

There is no benefit to offering up this information to your recruiter. Even if you DO plan on leaving and you're looking for a short-term employment, that doesn't mean you should shoot yourself in the foot before you even start. The reason why you're going through a recruiter is because you are in the process of a job search. This job is the one you'll be working on for the foreseeable future. That is all the information you need to share.

A lot of people think they're being "nice" by informing their recruiter about their future plans, but think of it this way: you must control your career. A company who is planning to fire you will do it in a heartbeat. Make sure you lock down the job for yourself. After that, you can be "nice" to your colleagues and you can make a difference at the company that hires you, even if it is for a short-term duration.

Recruiter stories are a mixed bag of "horror stories" to "fairy god mothers". Having said that, I've been happy with all of the recruiters I've dealt with. The key is to find one that genuinely cares about your goals, but remains professional in their dealings. Finding someone to refer a good recruiter to you is the best way of going about this. Just don't start saying the wrong things when you meet them!

Chris Chu

Freelance writer, passionate about professional and personal development.

4 min read

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