The one sentence that makes recruiters think you’re overly desperate

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It’s one of the hardest things to do: being unemployed and desperate for a job yet appearing self-assured and not overly needy. Unfortunately, pulling off the “con” is as important as it is difficult, and not just in interviews with hiring managers. You need to keep your guard up with recruiters, too.

In the three-and-a-half years I spent as a recruiter, there was only one main reason to not send over a candidate’s resume when they had all the pre-requisite skills needed for the job: if you thought they were going to make you look bad. You must remember, a recruiter’s reputation is built through the people who they submit. Poor-performing candidates tend to be represented by poor-performing recruiters who miss certain tells. That’s just a fact. And it goes for internal and third-party recruiters. Outside headhunters don’t get paid when their candidates flop; internal ones eventually get fired.

One of the main reasons to steer clear of a candidate is if you don’t, for whatever reason, feel you can trust them (this goes both ways, obviously). The other is if they appear broken, for lack of a better term.

Candidates who have been beaten down by a lengthy job search and who are outwardly frustrated and cynical fail in interviews more often than they succeed. Put yourself in the shoes of a hiring manager. You’d want someone who exudes confidence too, especially on Wall Street.

It’s therefore recommended to bring your A-game in every aspect of the hiring process, even during a chat with an internal or third-party recruiter. Attitude is the key, obviously, but there are also a few red flags that recruiters look for. Talking about how difficult you find the market and how much trouble you’ve had landing a job, for starters. Even if it’s true and more than understandable, which right now it likely is, every employer wants people who appear wanted.

But perhaps the biggest, most obvious tell is one particular sentence, usually offered after a recruiter asks what a candidate’s looking for. “At this point I’m willing to…”

It doesn’t matter how the sentence finishes – drive 140 miles to work, move to North Dakota, take a 200% pay cut. The sentence not only reeksof desperation, it also makes recruiters and hiring managers fear the long-term future. What happens when the market improves, or if another opportunity pops up a month later? At “that point,” you’re likely to move on, leaving recruiters (who wouldn’t get their full fee) and hiring managers with egg on their face.

There’s obviously nothing wrong with taking something that is otherwise beneath you, even if it is just for the short-term. Just don’t vocalize it to those on the other side of the hiring desk.

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