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What Recruiters Are REALLY Thinking (but won’t tell you)

Many people say they WISH they knew what happened after they sent their resume off into the abyss… also known as the online application.    Here are the top things mentioned when I asked a few of my recruiting colleagues:

  •  Make my job easy – I want to hire you as much as you want to be hired.  The sooner I fill the job, the better.

Every second counts to a busy recruiter or hiring manager.  I am likely trying to fill 20 jobs right now, with 200 applicants for each position, so I don’t have time to spend more than 5 seconds on your resume. You can significantly increase your odds of making it through the initial screening by targeting your resume (that means showing me how you fit THIS job, not just any job).

If I’m hiring for a chemical engineer, I don’t care that you were a waiter 15 years ago (sorry, nothing personal).  I only care what makes you a good chemical engineer NOW, so show me – and be specific please. And PS, little things like saving the file as your name (not the company name) can save me time and increase the likelihood that I will call you!


  •  Ditch the canned answers you’ve read in interview or cover letter books – we’ve heard all that stuff and can see through it in a second.

The odds are pretty likely that if you found an awesome form for a cover letter in a book, that at least 50 other people have also found that same form.  And nothing will weed you out quicker in the application process than submitting a resume OR cover letter that the recruiter feels like they’ve already read.  Be you – be unique – tell YOUR story.  Same with interviews…. the old weakness of “I work too much” or “I am a perfectionist” – sorry, that has been taken by the 4235 people in front of you already.  Please don’t use these type of answers!  Be you!

But – please don’t mistake my advice … you SHOULD do your research, prepare for interviews, and prepare a well written resume and cover letter.  There are a lot of great books out there to guide you along the way.  Just don’t copy them word for word – get some ideas and then make them your own.  Be you!


  • If you haven’t researched the job, the company, and maybe even ME, then you likely aren’t going to be hired.

Um yes, I’m serious.  If we call you for a phone interview and you don’t remember applying, or you have to ask what the job was that you applied for – you’re probably done right then.  I know you’re likely applying for several jobs, but I want to feel like this is the ONLY one you want.   So please make it easy on us and do your research BEFORE you apply.  Show your excitement for this job and the company during the interview.  Know where the company is going and where we have been (you can likely find this on the website).  And then…. when the recruiter calls, you’ll be completely ready even for an on-the-spot phone interview.


  • Don’t take it personal if you don’t hear back after applying for a job.

Remember what I said about the 20+ jobs and more than 200 applicants PER job?  Yup, we’re super busy, and really only get paid when we fill the job. So if you’re not right, we might not even have time to let you know that.  Or why.  Sorry, I’m not saying this is the right way to treat applicants (I personally advise employers to get back to all applicants whenever possible), but it’s just the fact of life.  Maybe they ended up hiring internally and didn’t even look through the applicants.  Or maybe the job ended up being filled by the Senior VP’s neighbor who he recommended for the job.  Either way, it very likely has nothing to do with you at all, so don’t take it personal.

Instead of making the process about you and your needs, focus on what you have to offer the potential employer.  Focus on what problems you can help them solve.  And if you don’t hear back, just keep on moving.  Revisit your resume if you’re not hearing back from several jobs, as that may be an indication that your resume could use some work.

And most important – keep your head up.  Be confident in what you have to offer, and seek out opportunities which are a good match, not just a job you “could” do!  Now – off you go – take this advice and run, but don’t tell anyone that you heard all these secrets from me.   🙂   Happy job hunting.


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