Recruiter pet peeves: What not to do when applying for your next tech gig

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Published on Apr. 05, 2017
Recruiter pet peeves: What not to do when applying for your next tech gig

In the era of formatted resumes, creative applications and varied opinions, one of the most challenging parts of job searching is figuring out whether you should stick to the classic application and interview standards, or if taking a more personal approach would be better.

After all, recruiters and hiring managers are all different — what one person expects from candidates might seem superfluous to another. But there are some things that drive recruiters crazy, no matter who they are: here are some pet peeves to keep in mind when applying for your next job.



For Return Path’s recruiting coordinator Matthew Linkemeyer, it’s all about the details.

What are your top pet peeves, and why do they bother you?

Poorly formatted resumes bother me because they are hard to read. I try to read every resume submitted for a position in full. Having a resume that is easy to digest is key since some positions can have upwards of 200-plus applicants. I think candidates suddenly being non-responsive is one of every recruiters' pet peeves. Nothing is worse than identifying a good candidate and then they turn into a ghost.

What’s something that bothers you that most recruiters don’t really care about?

My personal pet peeve is definitely candidate names being in all caps or all lowercase. Even though it doesn't tell me if a candidate is qualified or not, I still like to see a candidate submit their name properly. It's one of those things that makes me scream on the inside.

What is a common recruiter pet peeve that doesn’t upset you as much?

I don't really mind pictures on resumes. Not because I like to see a picture included, but because I subconsciously ignore them. Return Path offers unconscious bias training where I have been taught how to block out information that could create any type of inclination during the hiring process.  




At Xpanxion, senior recruiter Tyler Clay pays attention to a candidate’s respect for his time.

What are your top three pet peeves, and why do they bother you? What can candidates do differently?

I believe candidates put in a lot of time and effort to personalize their resumes and make them look sharp. It’s a pet peeve when I see one come through that is a text only file or is a standard template with no formatting. Ultimately I would never reject someone for submitting a resume through a platform like this. But it certainly makes a candidate stand out when they put in the extra effort to go to the company website and apply with their custom formatted resume.

It’s a pet peeve as a recruiter when you hear two different answers to questions. That is, if I ask a candidate if they have a location preference and am told they are open to any location, but later they request to work remotely, that is frustrating. Transparency as early in the process is as important to the recruiter as it is to the candidate. You will also see this occasionally with notice period, salary and other items.

It’s a pet peeve to go through the interview process with a candidate, make them an offer, and have them ask to wait to make a decision on the offer until they finish the process with other companies. This shows a disinterest in the position and doesn’t start the relationship off on the right foot. I recommend that the candidate work with the recruiter after each stage of the process to ensure that the position is something they are ready to accept, if they were made an offer with the previously agreed-upon terms.




Allie Britman, Fanatics’ senior technical recruiter, thinks some candidates ought to mind their manners.

What are your top pet peeves? What should candidates do differently?

Being rude/aggressive/not writing thank yous: We had a fairly senior level candidate interview for a developer role, and, after he left, everyone involved in the interview said he was “mean” and “more than a little scary.” Not a good way to come across — especially in an interview! Always send a thank you email; even if you don’t plan on taking the job, it’s the right thing to do. Try and be cordial, even if the interview isn’t going well. Sending me a nasty email if you haven’t received your feedback in what you consider a timely fashion isn’t okay, either. Yes, waiting too long to hear isn’t fair, but sometimes it takes a bit to get all people involved in the interview to share their feedback.

Everyone will say this, but bad mouthing your previous employers: You never know who is connected. I knew someone who had a candidate bad mouth an interviewer's friend to her in the interview process. Be smart; it’s a small world, especially here in Colorado! Even if you are leaving the worst job in the history of jobs, be diplomatic.

Taking a counter/interview to be able to get an offer: Never mind that studies show that employees who take counter offers tend to leave anyway (sometimes not on their own). You should be able to get a raise based on your merit in your current position, not on what another company offers you. I had a candidate go through a six-month interview process simply to get a counter offer from her current company. Wasted multiple people’s time, and eventually ended up leaving her company.

What’s a pet peeve that’s tailored to you, specifically?

Since Fanatics is the largest e-commerce platform for licensed sports merchandise in the U.S., we are surrounded by “sports things” daily. Now, not everyone likes sports, and that’s okay!

We have video games and board game nights and employees who joke about “sports ball.” Our office-wide fantasy football league had participants use data science strategies and other forms of predictive analysis. You don’t have to like sports to work here! However, I have had candidates say, “Ugh, I hate sports. I think it’s a waste of time. Football is for Neanderthals,” or worse.

It’s fine if you don’t like “sports ball,” and it’s okay to say “it’s not my thing,” but don’t talk down on our clients (and our employees. And people in general!)

What's something you know bothers other recruiters, but doesn't bother you?

Candidates lying, or exaggerating the truth. I am from the East Coast — I guess I can just read through it!



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