Put your best foot forward. How many times have you heard that popular refrain? Too many to count. However, when it comes to the job search process, many job seekers think that this advice only applies during the scheduled phone calls, interviews, and interactions with the hiring manager and your potential team. After all, isn’t the recruiter just the go-between, the person who arranges interviews and leases between candidate and boss? Wrong. The recruiter is a stakeholder and is an integral part of the hiring process. To overlook or underestimate his or her influence is a big mistake.
Every interaction with a potential employer should not only be professional and also dictate that you are purposeful and thoughtful about everything you say. Whether it’s just a quick text through Canvas or a phone call to discuss salary expectation, choose your words wisely to ensure your own success.
Here are six phrases that you should never say to a recruiter if you want a competitive job offer.
“I’ll Take Anything (Any Role At Your Company)”
Much like dating, the smell of desperation in the job search can be palpable. Whether the bills are piling up, your current gig is an absolute dead end, or whether this is your dream company, avoid telling a recruiter that you’ll “take anything” for a few key reasons:
- You’re selling yourself and your skills short. You are talented, smart, and can contribute greatly.
- You appear uninformed. Recruiters want well-researched, highly engaged, informed candidates to apply for jobs. This statement makes you appear as though you haven’t thought out the decision to apply to the company, or do not know how your career goals align with their objectives.
- You are signaling that you will settle. Continuing with the dating analogy, job seekers who appear “thirsty” or desperate won’t command the attention or best treatment.
“Sure, That Sounds Like A Good Salary”
Never settle for the opening salary offer. Never. “A salary negotiation is a collaboration, and a key ingredient of a successful collaboration is good communication,” says Josh Doody, author of Fearless Salary Negotiation. “You’ll often get a job offer that seems really appealing, and it might be far more than you expected. Your instinct in that case might be to just accept the offer because it’s so good.”
However, you should be prepared to negotiate your salary and know how much you could earn given your skills, education, and location by using Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth personal salary calculator.
Instead of blindly accepting their offer, do your research. Then, Doody says, “formulate a counteroffer to see how much you can improve it. The negotiation should end with the company saying “Yes” to you. Once they say “Yes” to you, or you run out of things to ask for, then you are finished negotiating.”
“My Previous Company Was Horrible”
Complaining about your last company is a big no-no. Barring some really unique circumstance, griping about your former boss, colleagues, or work environment can be detrimental to your interview process as well as your professional reputation.
Instead of making such a blunt statement, critically evaluate how you have navigated challenges on the job. Share with the recruiter how you have coped and actually thrived in spite of less than ideal circumstances. Just remember, trash talking is a no-no.
“My Former Boss Won’t Give Me A Good Recommendation Because He/She Was Threatened By Me”
While there may be truth to this statement, save it for your friends over drinks. Do not share this with a recruiter. When asked for a list of recommendations, rarely will a recruiter counter your list with a comment like, “Why didn’t you include your last boss?” References and recommendations should come from people who can speak to your accomplishments, successes, and positive work experiences. Glowing recommendations are a big part of putting your best foot forward.
However, recruiters aren’t likely to care about the less than savory relationship you had with your former boss. Nix the gossip. Offer up the best recommendations you can, and if you are questioned about the absence of your most recent boss in that bunch, simply reply, “The group of people I provided are best suited to speak to my accomplishments, work ethic, and abilities. I think they’ll provide you with a 360-degree view of why I’d be an excellent fit for this role.”
“I Know My Interview Is Today, But Can We Reschedule?”
Unless there has been a death in the family or a critical emergency, canceling an interview on the day of is tantamount to saying “I don’t really want this job and I don’t respect you or your time.”
If you need to adjust the time or you’re running late, be transparent. “Being late to an interview with no explanation or without emailing or calling ahead to say they are running late will knock out 99% of interviewees,” says Jamie Hichens, senior manager of talent acquisition at Glassdoor. “At the very least, if you’re running late, call and offer an ETA, an explanation, or an offer to reschedule. And remember to apologize for the inconvenience.”
“It’s Been 3 Weeks Since I Applied, I Thought My Application Had Fallen Into The Black Hole”
Depending on the size of the company, job applications can receive hundreds or thousands of resumes per position. And while recruiters try to respond to everyone, sometimes it’s harder than job seekers may think. That’s no reason to be curt with a recruiter or make a passive-aggressive comment like this. Use your time with a recruiter wisely by focusing on the role, the company and your unique fit for both. Don’t waste time or diminish your chances of a positive interview experience by making snarky comments.
There are a few ways you can avoid the black hole. “With the increased use of online applicant tracking systems even among smaller companies, it means the recruiter or hiring manager may not see your resume unless you use just the right keywords,” says Mikaela Kiner, founder/CEO of UniquelyHR. “Referrals [also] increase the likelihood that a recruiter will see your resume. If you don’t have a personal connection, use social media to find out who does. Don’t be embarrassed to ask someone to make an introduction on your behalf, people do this all the time. If you’re uncomfortable asking for favors, include an easy way for them to say no, like, ‘If you’re not comfortable connecting me, I completely understand.'”