“Where are you working now?”
That line alone is innocent. However when it’s asked after you very well know that your resume’s sitting someone on that person’s computer, it is maddening.
So, why does it happen? Why does it sometimes feel like recruiters go out of their way to make the interview process harder?
The good news is that they don’t. I can promise you that nine out of 10 don’t do anything with the intention of making you frustrated. Which brings me to my next point (and really the point of this entire article)—that behind every annoying move is a legitimate reason.
Let me explain:
1. Here’s Why They Ask for Additional Copies of Your Resume After You Already Sent Them
Before I becoming a recruiter, I just about lost my mind anytime I was asked to send an “updated” resume.
“I sent this application to you three days ago,” I’d think to myself. “My resume is not going to be much different now!”
However, once I was on the other side of the table, I learned why this happened. And it’s actually good news for you because I typically only asked when I wanted to pass it along to the hiring manager. You see, most hiring managers I worked with preferred hard copies. So while I figured this would inconvenience the candidate, I also knew it would move the process along more quickly for them. (OK, I also didn’t always want to dig through my inbox to find it, if we’re being completely honest.)
2. Here’s Why They Don’t Provide Follow-up When it Was Promised
I used to lean on my “unforgiving” calendar as an excuse for not providing next steps to applicants in a timely fashion. But it wasn’t just that. Putting together next steps in an interview often involves coordinating lots of schedules and discussing a few things about the candidate (for example, what to do if the person’s awesome, but seeking a higher salary than what was originally budgeted for).
That doesn’t mean you’re stuck sitting at home, just waiting. If a recruiter goes silent for a couple weeks, don’t be afraid to send an email to check in. But instead of placing blame, ask additional questions related to the job. Let’s say you’re interviewing for a marketing role, you might say something like this:
“Hope you’ve been well! I did some research on using GIFs in marketing tweets after our interview and was curious to hear if your team has experimented with them as well.”
Nothing makes a recruiter feel guilty—and follow up faster—than a candidate who’s on top of his game.
3. Here’s Why They Reschedule Your Interview at the Last Minute
The unfortunate truth is that while recruiters coordinate the interview process, there’s only so much they can control. Sometimes the hiring manager gets pulled into a last-minute meeting. Other times, an interviewer comes down with a cold. Sometimes things just come up, right? The only problem is that the person it impacts most is you.
If (or, when) this happens to you, don’t default to moving mountains to reschedule your interview with a recruiter.
Take an honest look at your calendar and if their proposed time doesn’t work for you, let them know that and offer a couple alternative times that you are available.
(And if they can’t make it work, this is probably a good sign that they’re a bit too disorganized.)
4. Here’s Why They Don’t Understand the Role You’re Interviewing For
There were countless times when a candidate asked me a question about the job they were up for that I simply could not answer. I knew how frustrating it was for them, but at the same time, there were little nuances of many gigs that I did not understand myself—which led me responding often with, “That’s something you should feel more than welcome to ask the hiring manager.”
I’ve given you a little bit of freedom to call out recruiters on their nonsense to this point, but here’s where I think it’s worth cutting them some slack. Of course, if someone clearly tries to make something up, go ahead and roll your eyes as hard as you want.
But if someone is honest with you and says they don’t have that information, don’t worry—you’ll meet with plenty of other people on the team who will know the answers.
Job hunting can be incredibly frustrating—I know. I’m telling you that as someone who’s been on both sides of the process. However sometimes, having a little insight into what’s going on can be incredibly helpful.
So I’ll leave you with my number one tip for getting through this with your sanity intact: Remember that recruiters are people, too. And just like any other person you know, they’re not perfect. That doesn’t excuse them, but it might make the annoying moments easier to deal with.
Photo of recruiter courtesy of julief514/Getty Images.
Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow. He has spent the majority of his career in talent management, including a stint as a full-cycle recruiter and hiring manager. In addition to the career advice he contributes to The Muse, he also writes test prep and higher education marketing content for The Economist. Say hi on Twitter @rich_moy or follow his blog.More from this Author