5 Recruiter Red Flags To Watch Out For

Jun 10, 2022

If you’re on the lookout for a new role, you might already know just how much work the whole job-hunt process is! Sometimes it feels like a full-time job in itself, between finding jobs that suit your skillset, researching the company to make sure they match your ethos, and then filling in applications, polishing your CV and doing interviews. So it’s no surprise that lots of job seekers choose to make things a bit easier and work with a recruiter. Their job is to listen to what you’re looking for and find roles that fit, essentially becoming matchmakers between you and the new company. It’s a good system and one that’s seen thousands of people move to new roles every year.

The problem is, there are some negative stereotypes out there about recruiters. As in almost every industry, a few bad apples have given us a bit of a reputation, and many people are a bit hesitant about working with a recruiter because of it. So today we wanted to ease your mind a little by giving you the best protection against bad recruiters that you can get – information. Specifically, which red flags to look out for, and knowing when to move away from them.

They Talk More Than They Listen

You know the old adage about having two ears and one mouth, so you should use them in that order? A bad recruiter doesn’t understand what that means. A recruiter’s job is to get to know you, your skills, your attitude, what you want from your career and your story so far. Otherwise, how could we know which job roles would be perfect for you? This generally involves a lot of listening and not a lot of talking on our part.

If the recruiter in front of you is more interested in talking about their experience and process, only asking you basic things about your job search like the title and salary you’re looking for, it’s a very big red flag. This kind of recruiter isn’t going to know enough about you to put you forward to the right companies, to tell your story and paint you in a good light, or to answer any questions prospective employers might have about you.

Thankfully, this is a red flag you can see from the start, and you can walk away from this recruiter right away without investing any more of your valuable time.

They Call You About Jobs You Don’t Want

Once they know what kind of jobs you’re looking for, your recruiter should only be calling you about jobs that fit the bill (unless you’ve asked them to send you everything they find). There may be the odd ‘left field’ job they send you to consider if they feel it’s a good fit, but generally any opportunities a recruiter sends you should be targeted to your ideal career progression. If they’re calling you for jobs you have absolutely no interest in, it’s a big sign that they don’t really care, and weren’t willing to put the effort into getting to know you. It also means they don’t respect your time, as it’s their job to sort through the pile of jobs to find the right fit! Move on from this recruiter quickly and find one that will respect what you’re looking for.

You’re Put Forward For Jobs Without Consent And Bullied Into Interviews

This sounds extreme, but sadly we’ve seen it happen more than once. Because many recruiters don’t get paid until they present a candidate for an interview (or until a candidate is hired), they submit the profile of every candidate on their books to every job role, without their knowledge or consent. It’s a ‘throw it all at the wall and see what sticks’ kind of equation, but you’re the thing they’re throwing. If the company decide they want to interview you, they will often pressure you to interview for the job regardless of if you want it or not.

It’s an incredibly selfish approach to recruitment and not one we condone at all. If you’re only finding out about a role because the recruiter wants you to interview, or you feel pressured into interviewing for a job you don’t want, it’s time to walk away and find another recruiter. They don’t care about you, they’re just looking out for themselves.

It’s worth noting here that a good recruiter will sometimes urge you to interview for a position you’re not 100% sold on simply because they know it’s a good match, and that it suits your needs in ways you might not realise. This is different from pressuring you into an interview you know isn’t a good fit, or bullying you about going for interviews!

They Ask The Same Questions

99% of the information a recruiter needs can be gained in the first briefing meeting, and a good recruiter will take lots of notes and gather lots of information about you then. But recruiters do meet a lot of people every day, so it can be hard to keep every single detail in their heads, so some information might fall through the cracks every now and then. In that situation, they may call you for clarification, but it won’t happen often.

With bad recruiters, they may not have gathered all the information they need to begin with, they may have not taken good enough notes, or they may not be organised enough to keep them in one place. Or they might not be that interested or invested in you, so haven’t bothered retaining the information. All of which means they will be calling you regularly to ask the same questions over and over again. Not only is this a frustrating waste of your time, but it shows that they aren’t paying attention to you or what you need, and it’s time to move on.

You Can’t Contact Them

Being a recruiter is an extremely busy job, and there are often a lot of things to juggle. So it’s not uncommon for recruiters to miss the odd phone call. But a good recruiter will call you back when they’re free and chat through your questions, concerns or post-interview feelings. They will be generally responsive to emails and phone calls, and you know if you send them a message they will get back to you.

If you only hear from your recruiter when they want to talk, that’s cause for concern. If, no matter how much you call, leave messages and send emails you can’t get hold of them, and they will only call you when they need something – it’s probably time to walk away.