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Four Don'ts When Dealing With Corporate Recruiters

What's the first step to getting a job interview? Getting past the recruiter.

Recruiters are usually your first contact with a potential employer. And they often decide whether your resume lands on the hiring manager's desk or in a far-off filing cabinet.

While it's important to know the basics of what recruiters do, you also need to know what they DON'T do. After all, you don't want an inappropriate request to ruin your chances for an interview.

Here are four things you shouldn't ask of a recruiter.

Don't Be Overly Friendly

Sure, recruiters are usually warm, friendly and helpful. After all, it's their job to put you at ease and guide you through the hiring process. But they're professional colleagues, and it's crucial that you never forget it.

Think of the recruiter as a respected coworker and treat them accordingly. Be friendly, but not overly casual or familiar. It's wise to keep personal conversations, jokes and physical contact to a minimum.

After a tough interview with a hiring manager, you may be relived to see a recruiter's smiling face. Don't be tempted to let your guard down though; you're still "on," even if the interview has ended.

A useful rule of thumb: Don't say or do anything in front of a recruiter that you wouldn't say or do in front of your boss (or your mother).

Don't Expect Career Coaching

The recruiter's goal is not to help you get a job. It's to help you navigate the hiring process at one specific company.

Recruiters aren't career coaches. It's not appropriate to ask them to help you craft your cover letter, edit your resume or plan your career path.

You can ask questions about the company or industry in general, but try to relate your questions to the job you're being considered for. And save your best, most thoughtful questions for the hiring manager -- that's who you need to impress most.



Don't Ask for Insider Information

There's only one job candidate you really need to worry about: You.

Though it may be hard to resist, don't ask about who you're up against for a job. Recruiters generally won't share information about other candidates. And asking for specific details about the competition makes you look insecure in your own skills.

However, questions about the hiring process or the position itself are fair game. Here are a few questions you can feel comfortable asking:

  • Are you still interviewing candidates?
  • How large is the current pool of candidates?
  • How would you describe the ideal candidate for the job?
  • Is there anything I can do to make myself a stronger candidate?

The best way to get an edge on the competition? Make yourself a more competitive candidate.

Don't Request Special Treatment

Although you may wish you were, you're probably not the only candidate for the job.

And, while recruiters are often happy to help, their aim is not to be your advocate to the hiring manager. Their aim is to fill a position.

Never ask a recruiter to put in a good word for you with the hiring manager. If they think you're a strong candidate, they'll probably sing your praises anyway.

Also, don't ask them to relay a message to the hiring manager for you. Instead of saying, "Tell So-and-So it was very nice to meet him ...," send a thank you note.

Taking the initiative and speaking for yourself shows the hiring manager that you're capable, confident and conscientious.

Remember, if you treat the recruiter well, chances are they'll treat you the same way.