Candidate advice: 10 bad habits your recruiter wants you to avoid

Content Team

Everyone wants to highlight their best qualities and skill set when they apply for a job.

Sometimes, however, candidates rush through the process, trying to get out as many applications as possible.

You may not know that this is a formula for making errors or a bad first impression, writes Marc Rodgers, who is a senior bilingual recruiter for Hudson RPO client GSK.

Discover what you can do differently to improve the chances of your application being successful.

Have you ever wondered about the pet peeves of recruiters and hiring managers? Not only that, but have you actually considered how setting off one of these little irks could affect your application?

Great candidates will benefit from becoming aware of such factors, and adjusting their strategy accordingly.

I’ve compiled a list of 10 bad habits that can seriously bug recruiters — even to the point of an application being rejected.

Some of the items that I will review in this article may seem a little petty, but does that really matter if the end result is that someone else’s CV or resume is chosen over yours?

Marc Rodgers
Marc Rodgers is a senior bilingual recruiter for Hudson RPO client GSK. In this post, he reveals 10 habits candidates should avoid.

Keep recruiters happy by avoiding these 10 bad habits

In no particular order, here’s a list that was compiled from some of my colleagues and the hiring managers with whom I have worked over the past decade.

And yes, many are actually mine.

10 bad candidate habits

1. Using italic font. The people looking at your resume may have to read many of them during a single sitting.

Italic/Script/Forte are hard on the eyes and this may result in a tired reader not having the patience to read your whole resume.

2. Not putting your phone number and e-mail address on the masthead. There are times when a resume is so good, that a recruiter/hiring manger may want to immediately pick up the phone to schedule a phone interview or a face-to-face meeting. If your phone number and e-mail address aren’t there, the recruiter needs to look up your application in their application software to find this information.

This may seem a little petty, but consider if the reader has a similarly good resume from someone else, with all of the contact information, and the recruiter only has time to see one person this week.

Do you want to risk the chance that your resume may get put aside?

I am aware that some candidates withhold the information from the actual resume, so that it can’t be misused by anyone that may see the resume on someone’s desk, etc. Nonetheless, this practice may prove a disadvantage to the candidate, if a highly suitable role arises.

3. Using generic cover letters. This is one of my personal pet peeves. It is quite easy to spot someone who is using the same generic cover letter for multiple applications.

If a person cannot put in the effort to tailor a letter to my specific job, why would I want to risk hiring them?

4. Applying for anything and everything. People who apply for multiple jobs in a short period of weeks, very quickly earn a reputation as someone who does not take the time to really consider if they are a good fit for the job.

Many applicant tracking systems (ATS) have the ability to show how many jobs a candidate has applied for at the recruiter’s or hiring manager’s company.

There is nothing wrong with applying multiple times, if you really are a good fit.

Conversely, I once had an applicant who had applied to 17 jobs in a year, most with different skill sets and educational requirements. Now, that’s problematic!

Amy Hilliard and Jeremiah Stone working
Recruiters can spot when a candidate seems to be applying for ‘anything and everything’. This approach isn’t likely to succeed, so be focused.

5. Using capital letters for your entire name. This isn’t a biggy, but with some some kinds of software, when it comes time to hire you, the HR and Payroll departments will need to manually change your name so that it doesn’t stay capitalized.

If I am in the process of hiring someone whose name is all capitalized, I actually manually fix it so that HR and Payroll don’t have to do the extra work. Ideally, the candidate uses the correct styling, from the start.

6. Saving your resume file as “my_latest_ resume”. If you want to make life easier for the recruiter and for yourself, save your file as “your name” + “company name”.

This way, you know what version of your resume was sent to a job posting. The recruiter or hiring manager can then easily find your file on their computer.

7. Spelling and grammatical errors. Some hiring managers will refuse to consider candidates who have errors on their resume.

Before sending it, slowly proofread your resume. Even better, have someone else look as well.

8. Listing places you have worked, without indicating the dates. Recruiters and hiring managers like to get a feel for how long you have been at each company. How often do you change jobs? If you do not include the dates, you risk not being considered for roles.

9. Having a resume that is not in sync with your LinkedIn profile. When a company receives your resume, they may check it against LinkedIn or perhaps another resume of yours that the recruiter found online.

If something doesn’t match up, your candidacy may be rejected. Dates are a good example of where consistency is expected.

10. Sending a negative letter in response to receiving a rejection letter. It’s a very competitive job market. For some job postings, I may receive 200 to 300 resumes in 10 days. So, even if you were a fair match for the job that you applied for, the recruiter may have received quite a few that were a close fit, perhaps even closer than yours.

I don’t often receive a negative e-mail in response to rejecting someone’s candidacy, but if that does happen, I may flag it as a poor fit for our company’s values and behaviours.

Our company makes an effort to contact all candidates who make it to the interview stage, so thankfully it is quite rare for us to receive a negative response to a rejection letter.

3 insider tips for becoming a successful candidate

You may be left wondering what it is you can and should do, in order to move your application to the top of the pile.

Based on experience, these are some good practices that will help you stand out from the crowd:

1. Take your time applying to job postings. To really shine, you should budget spending at least one hour per application.

two coworkers in discussion
Recruiters want great candidates to succeed in the application process. Follow their advice.

2. Ensure your CV or resume contains keywords. These keywords should match some of the words that appear in the job description.

3. Highlight why you are a good fit within the cover letter. To successfully accomplish this, start by reviewing the company’s website. Learn what their history and goals are. Then, in your cover letter, be really clear about how your goals and background align with the company’s direction.

Remember, at every step, recruiters want you to succeed! If you are not successful after an interview, or in another stage of the process, try to identify what you could have done differently. Then, let that insight guide your future steps. Success is not far away. To get there faster, always work on building positive relationships in your network, and continually growing it, to help achieve your goals.

Looking for more candidate advice? Be sure to read our recommendations for coping with interview nerves.

Hudson RPO

Content Team

The Hudson RPO Content Team is made up of experts within the Talent Acquisition industry across the Americas, EMEA and APAC regions. They provide educational and critical business insights in the form of research reports, articles, news, videos, podcasts, and more. The team ensures high-quality content that helps all readers make talent decisions with confidence.

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