Recruiters see their fair share of ill-prepared job seekers who make countless inexcusable mistakes. From the people who dress way too casual for an interview (no, board shorts and cutoffs aren’t okay) to those who show up way too early for an interview (two hours just isn’t necessary), they’ve seen it all.
Beyond the interview no-shows, what really grinds their gears? Job seekers beware: here are 10 pet peeves that drive recruiters up a wall. What other annoyances can you add to this list, all you recruiters out there?
1. Spelling errors
Spelling errors on resumes and cover letters are perhaps the most common offense. To avoid these mistakes, use spell check, read your words out loud and have a second person edit your documents. Corporate recruiter John W. has seen the title Manager spelled “Manger” on a number of resumes. (Clearly, attention to detail wasn’t one of the past job requirements.)
2. No company knowledge
Spending time prior to an interview learning a bit about a company is a must. With the Internet right there in the palm of a job seeker’s hand, it’s easy to learn about brands, products and recent news. Talent acquisition manager Denise C.’s biggest pet peeve is when she asks the question, “What do you know about our company?” and she gets the deer-in-the-headlights look. Worse yet is when the candidate turns the question around and asks what she can tell them instead.
3. Rude responses
Courtney R., a talent acquisition manager, detests when candidates respond inappropriately after being told they are no longer being considered for a given role. Remember, if you learn you’re not getting an offer, say thank you and be grateful. Furthermore, you never know when you’ll talk to a recruiter again; chances are good that they’ll remember your rude response.
4. Generic resume titles
Human resource guru Jessica A. notes that far too often candidates simply title their resume as “resume” rather than using their name. “Do you know how many files titled ‘resume’ I have in my downloads?” she asks. Remember to add your first and last name to ensure you don’t get lost in the clutter.
5. Missing information
Talent development manager Candy W. finds that far too many candidates call and leave her a phone message inquiring about a position, but fail to leave their name or contact info for a return call. Or if they do, they mumble and do not speak clearly. Make a good impression by being enthusiastic, professional and thorough when leaving phone messages.
6. Ignoring directions
Remember: what is on a job ad isn’t a suggestion. Vice president Melanie F. says, “When the job ad says ‘no phone calls please,’ don’t call to follow up on the status of your application. Recruiters like candidates who can follow directions!”
7. Empty-handed interviews
Strategic recruitment consultant Lori R.’s big pet peeve is when candidates come empty handed to an interview, without a pen, paper or any intention to take notes. Candidates should make a good impression by coming prepared and at least looking like they’re interested enough to jot a few things down.
8. College ignorance is not bliss
“They [students] have taken ‘unpreparedness’ to a new level,” says director of talent acquisition Derek C. “They show up dressed as though they just left the gym, greasy hair and flip flops, and they give you the line about not knowing there was a career fair today. But they still want to chat. Then when they have some interest in the role you have open, they whip out a resume on good paper. I always say, ‘I thought you didn’t know there was a career fair’, and sheepishly they will reply that they went to the on-campus print center to get their resume.
9. Wrong resume objective
Lindsey K., who works in HR, dislikes when a candidate’s resume objective statement says something completely unrelated to the job he or she applied for. “If your resume says you want to be a shop mechanic, why did you just waste your time and mine applying for our sales opening?” she says.
10. Asking for directions
“My pet peeve is when candidates ask for specific directions or where they should park when they come for an interview,” says talent director Jennifer T. “We provide detailed information in our reminder emails and we are always open to helping our candidates have a great experience, but it makes me wonder how resourceful, capable and technologically competent the person is if they can’t find their way to an interview!”
For more pitfalls to avoid in interviews, check out our blog post The bad, the ugly and the bizarre things people do in interviews.