What Your Recruiter Says (and What They Really Mean)

What Your Recruiter Says (and What They Really Mean)

Job hunting is a lot like dating. It’s socially awkward, full of rejection, and sometimes, people say they’re going to call you, and then leave you sitting by the phone like a rejected prom date. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the recruiter-candidate relationship.

Sometimes, you just need a recruiter-to-job-seeker dictionary, to translate what you’re hearing into actual English.

What Your Recruiter Really Means

Here’s what your recruiter really means, when she says the following things:

What she says: We’ll keep your resume on file.”

What she means: “We will technically hold onto your resume, by which I mean that it will exist in our system, where no one will ever look at it again.”

Your resume is as safe as the Ark at the end of the Raiders, buried in a warehouse, far from prying human eyes. Sure, there’s a small possibility that it will come up during a search, but more likely, it’ll stay where it is – hidden in plain sight.

This is important to know, because sometimes, in the interests of not acting like a stalker, a candidate will refrain from applying again for a different position at the same company. After all, the recruiter said their resume was on file, right?

Wrong. If you see an opening that genuinely interests you, and for which you’re qualified, apply. If nothing else, it’ll get your resume to the top of the stack.

What she says: “I’ve got the perfect job for you.”

What she means: “I have a job I need to fill.”

There’s no such thing as the perfect job, just as there’s no such thing as the perfect candidate. Recruiting is about fit, not perfection.

More charitably, we can also view it this way: the recruiter wants to connect you with a job, and hopes you’ll be excited about it. Just don’t take it personally if you don’t feel a connection to the gig.

What she says: “The hiring manager went in a different direction.”

What she means: “The hiring manager wanted to hire someone else – no real direction necessary or implied.”

This is one of those vague statements that can keep a job seeker up at night, especially when the job hunt isn’t going so great. What does direction mean? Are you hopelessly underqualified for all decent jobs? Is your interview outfit horrifying beyond belief? Worst of all, could it be that they … just don’t like you?

Don’t let your mind run away with itself. This statement is really just a nice way to say that the hiring manager picked another candidate, no more and no less. They might have hired someone internally or decided that they wanted skillset A instead of skillset B. No matter the exact reason, the fact remains that it doesn’t necessarily reflect on you or your qualifications.

What she says: “I’ll contact you, regardless.”

What she means: “I really mean to contact you, but I might forget.” Or possibly: “I don’t know how to get you out of my office, and am using the same lines I used to use when I was dating.”

Everyone’s busy. Most people have good intentions. Recruiters mean to keep people informed, but sometimes, it doesn’t pan out.

Don’t be afraid to follow up after an interview. In fact, the best approach is to ask about timeframes at the end of the interview itself, so that you’ll know when to expect a call – or when to drop the recruiter a line to inquire.

Just don’t overdo it. One or two follow-up emails or messages is fine; more than that, and you’re headed into stalker territory. Remember that ultimately the recruiter is hoping to find someone who is not only qualified, but a good fit for the culture, too. Unless you’re applying for a high-pressure sales position, she probably won’t look favorably on a candidate who follows up too aggressively. No one wants to work with someone who’s always trying to sell them something.

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  • November 21, 2020