images (10)It’s pretty easy to blame recruiters for the fact that the candidate experience is broken.  After all, we’re pretty easy (and obvious targets) for the many frustrations that come with the work of looking for work.

The thing is, as hard as getting through the hiring process can be as a candidate, getting from application to offer can be just as challenging for the recruiter.

From unresponsive decision makers to unclear feedback, the most common candidate experience complaints often read like a laundry list of the same professional pet pet peeves recruiters have to deal with dozens of times a day across dozens of open positions at a time.

Believe it or not, not all recruiters are evil – in fact, most of us are pretty sympathetic to the challenges and frustrations inherent to the recruiting process.  But while we’re doing our best, but too often, a poor candidate experience is caused by nothing more than, well, poor candidates.

In the first part of this post, I talked about what recruiter experience really looks like, and outlined a few simple things that recruiters REALLY wish candidates would do to help improve the experience for themselves and the recruiters they’re working with.

Click here to check out what those recruiters wish they could actually say to you about your resume, online application, package negotiation and how to respond to recruiters the right way.

In the second part of this post, I’m going to finish off the full cycle by discussing what recruiters REALLY want from candidates when it comes to surviving and successfully navigating interviews and the offer process.

Recruiter Experience & The interview

recruiter experience interviewsThere are some truly epic fails I’ve seen during interviews that are truly spectacular, but if you’re not completely oblivious or a complete idiot, than these tips should really be no brainers.

While I wish these truths were self-evident, you’d be surprised at how frequently these fundamentals get f-ed up.

First, be on time.  Hell, be early, even.  No one’s really going to mind you showing up and sweating it out in the waiting room.

But if you call me 15 minutes before the interview is about to start to let me know that you are a) lost OR b) stuck in traffic, you might as well not bother showing up at all.

See, there’s this thing called GPS, along with a multitude of mapping sites that should keep this kind of thing from happening.  Of course, this call also must mean you ignored the part of the e-mail I sent you with a link from Google that shows you how to get here.

I just don’t buy it.  You do live here, right? You’ve already told me you don’t need relo, which must mean that you’re already in the city where you’re going to interview with me.  If you’re like most of my candidates, you already have a job and a commute, which means there’s no excuse for not knowing traffic patterns, road conditions or how to punch an address into an app, even.

Sure, accidents happen, but if you plan accordingly, you’ll be able to at least make the meeting my hiring manager and me are have committed to on our calendars.

Next, make sure you know how to dress for the interview – and don’t always assume you’re going to need a necktie or nice dress for professional protocol.  Most recruiters will tell you before you come in, but if they don’t, make sure you ASK me what is appropriate.

Seriously.  Ask.

Different companies have different expectations.  Google, for instance, interviews people in a t-shirt and jeans – Accenture, maybe not so much.  In fact, for those guys, better make sure that knot is a Double Windsor or don’t bother.  But seriously – never assume anything.  Because you know what they say when you assume things.

Only this time, you’re really only making an ass out of yourself.

I’ve got other candidates on my list if you don’t work out.  Or, for that matter, walk in late.

Recruiter Experience & The Casper Effect

casper-the-friendly-ghost-christmas-5This is my most hated (not sure if ‘favorite’ is the appropriate word for something I completely hate) professional pet peeve.  And by now, you know I’ve got a lot of those.

But while this one isn’t overly common in the corporate world, it still happens.

The Casper Effect is when a candidate becomes a ghost, disappearing entirely.  I can’t get ahold of you on any of the addresses or numbers you gave me, even though you confirmed an interview on them earlier.

Then, you decide to no show.  Why?  Why, freaking, why in the world would any candidate ever think that this is a good idea?  I mean, we’re halfway home on this thing by now – you’re already interviewing, for crying out loud.

I thought you really liked me – I really liked you before all this went down.  Now you’re a literal ghost.  I call, I e-mail, I freaking stalk you on social, and nothing.  This is by far, the worst thing you can do to a recruiter – not to mention your own professional reputation and prospects.

First, you make me look bad to my hiring manager and my boss.  I have no idea why I would be blamed for YOU not showing up, but guess what?  Like most things, I’m the whipping boy on this one, and I am NOT going to forget this.  You go ghost, you’re dead to me, and no matter where I’m working, I see your name, I’m never calling you again.  Recruiters have a tendency to move on quickly, but we always remember to hold a grudge when this kind of thing goes down.

And make sure the rest of our clients and colleagues know to avoid you, too. Being a ghost will haunt you – how’s that for full transparency?

Recruiter Experience & The Offer

bbb8ca95ed9ceb3132f3c0cd137e9743We’re finally there.  Can you believe it?  We’ve survived our journey together, and it’s reached a fruitful and successful end.  I’m going to make give you an offer, and given the fact that we’ve already talked about being upfront with your compensation expectations, I expect this part of the process is going to be nothing more than a mere formality.  I mean, I’ve gotten your feedback after the interview, asked you what you thought, and you couldn’t have been more excited about the role, the company and how you fit in.

Then, BOOM!!!

Suddenly, you want more.  You want more money, more PTO, or to be the only employee at the company with the special dispensation to take off every other Friday because you volunteer somewhere, but failed to mention any of this before.

Seriously, people.  These are things you should have brought up during our initial conversation, since I asked you about them directly.  When I inquired if you had a vacation coming up I needed to know about or for you to confirm your current and expected compensation package, you might have said something before we reached this part of the process.  THAT’S when these things get discussed – it’s kind of the entire point of a prescreen, since on paper or on your profile you match the position I’m recruiting for.

But if you think that by waiting until you’re the final candidate before bringing up these demands, you’ve got me over a barrel, think again.  You don’t – and never will – have the upper hand once the process proceeds to the offer stage.  Sure, you’re the first choice, but if we’re past interviews, then you should know that you’re not the only option, either.

You might have emerged as the favorite, but that doesn’t mean that by pulling this kind of stunt, you can’t just as easily be booted out in favor of others, who, by the way, have gone through the same process.  They’re more likely to accept an offer.  And be happy for it.  Oh, and by the way?  I have access to the hiring manager – and they trust me.  By doing this, you’re making me violate that trust – and more than likely have me tell you to pound sand.

So, my search isn’t going back to square one, but yours sure is.  So have fun in the wonderful world of unemployment or the crap job you were trying to escape from in the first place, and off you go.  Best of luck – but just like the Caspers of the world of work, I’m never going to forget you.

In fact, Dante should have made a special circle in hell just for candidates like you, but since he didn’t, I’ll do the best I can to make you feel eternally damned – at least if you’re trying to get a job with me or anyone in my network.

Recruiter Experience: In The End

I wrote this post from the perspective of a corporate recruiter, because that’s what I do, and that’s what I’ve experienced.  Based on the comments I got on last week’s post, and my own conversations with colleagues over the years, I think most recruiters would agree that this is a pretty good list.

Let’s face it: there’s probably a ton of things that candidates could do better.  There’s probably an even longer list of stuff you can do to piss off recruiters.  But even with a two-part post, I could only really scratch the surface.  And since this is my blog, I think it’s a pretty good list.

But feel free to leave a comment and let me know what I missed or any advice you’d add that you think candidates should know about Recruiter Experience.  In fact, I’d encourage it – and would love to see some comments from my colleagues.

But this post was written for candidates, and I want to hear from you guys, too.  So, candidates, if you could please start abiding by these simple guidelines during your job search, then you’ll probably have a better candidate experience – and a more successful job search.

Keep this list in mind, share with your friends, and start making our Recruiter Experience better, too.  You’ll be amazed at how many recruiters and employers will return the favor when it comes to your candidate experience.

Trust me when I tell you that we’re just as excited for the day these candidate worst practices disappear as you are to land that next great gig.  So make sure none of the above happens again.  You’ll make a lot of recruiters very happy.  And unlike following these rules, that’s not an easy thing to do.  #truestory

Derek ZellerAbout the Author:
 Derek Zeller draws from over 16 years in the recruiting industry. The last 11 years he has been involved with federal government recruiting specializing within the cleared Intel space under OFCCP compliancy. Currently, he is the corporate manager for Advanced Resource Technology, Inc. He has experience with both third party agency and in-house recruiting for multiple disciplines and technologies. Using out-of-the-box tactics and strategies to identify and engage talent, he has had significant experience in building referral and social media programs, the implementation of Applicant Tracking Systems, technology evaluation, and the development of sourcing, employment branding, military and college recruiting strategies.

You can read his thoughts on or or his own site  Derek currently lives in the DC area.

Follow Derek on Twitter @Derdiver or connect with him on LinkedIn.


By Derek Zeller

Derek Zeller draws from over 20 years in the recruiting industry, and he currently is the Director of Recruiting Solutions and Channels with Engage Talent. The last 16 years he has been involved with federal government recruiting specializing within the cleared IT space under OFCCP compliancy. He has experience with both third party agency and in-house recruiting for multiple disciplines. Using out-of-the-box tactics and strategies to identify and engage talent, he has had significant experience in building referral and social media programs, the implementation of Applicant Tracking Systems, technology evaluation, and the development of sourcing, employment branding, and military and college recruiting strategies. Derek currently lives in the Portland, Oregon area. Follow Derek on Twitter @Derdiver or connect with him on LinkedIn.