Red Flags

In the Recruiting profession, there are several things which set off our warning flags about a candidate.  In many cases, these red flags pan out to be very accurate, but in some cases, they do not.  Knowing what these are will help you to avoid them.

•    Who Are Your References? – When you provide references, at least 1 (ideally 2) should be a supervisor. If you can’t give a supervisor, you should explain that when you provide the references.  It’s your job as a professional to keep in touch with your former supervisors.

•    Reference Response Time – References for stellar candidates normally get back to us very quickly, regardless of how busy they are. No response or slow response is a bad sign. Make sure you have vetted out your references. Ask them to decline if they will not be able to give you a positive one.

•   Bad Job Histories – even if it’s been a string of bad luck (a la Lay Offs), be prepared for people to be concerned that you are not a star player.  Go so far as to bring letters of recommendations from your supervisors from the last few companies.   If explanations of a bad job history are vague, warning lights go off.  Also be aware that there is a generational difference in definition for “good job history”. For people in their 30s and under, two to three years per position is a long time. For people over 40, that’s job hopping.

•    Slow Response – Respond to emails and messages the same day, even if it’s only to say you are swamped and will send a more complete response later.  This especially holds true if someone is doing you a favor (setting up a gratis introduction, reviewing a resume for you, etc). Very poor form to not respond immediately.

•   Doing What You Say You Will Do – If you commit to an interview, never blow it off or cancel last minute unless there is an extreme emergency (and in that case, don’t assume that if you leave a recruiter a voicemail that you have done enough. Make sure you get a human on the phone that will ensure the company knows you can’t show.) Period.  If you promise to get back to someone by a certain time, do it. Period.  If you don’t do what you say you will do, all bets are off, and you will lose the support of an agency representing you. Period.

•    Post Interview Etiquette– Send thank you emails the same day that you interviewed, and make sure there are no typos.

•    Your Public Face – make sure your cell phone outgoing music/message are professional.  In fact, probably best to take off any music call tones (the ones that play instead of the phone ringing). Ditto for blogs, MySpace, Facebook. In fact, for all the networking sites, be sure your profile is private. Google yourself and make sure no skeletons appear.

•    Grooming – seems obvious to most, but make sure that you show up to an interview a bit early, wear a suit (and tie for a man), unless you were instructed to go casual, take out your nose ring, make sure you have showered, shaved, brushed your hair. It is fine to ask a company or recruiter what you should wear if you are not sure. You don’t want to dress in something that is under- or over-kill.

By Janine Davis – Director of Operational Strategy

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