Recruiters are on your side. They’re out to help you, not exploit you, and they can be powerful allies during your job search process. But while you make yourself available to them and answer their questions promptly, it’s important to remember that you aren’t paying them—they’re working for their employer clients, not you. It’s their job to help their clients fill open positions as efficiently as possible, so when they have to choose between the needs of a client and a candidate, the candidate is likely to take second place. Generally, recruiters are diplomatic, respectful, kind, and pleasant to interact with.
But sometimes—there’s no harm in admitting it—they’ll tell a few white lies. If you hear any of these remarks from a recruiter, read between the lines and know what action to take (or not take) as a result.
- “I’ll keep you in mind if anything similar comes up.”
Usually recruiters start the search process over again from the beginning with each new position, so if this one wasn’t a match, don’t expect to be the first name on the list for the next opportunity. Your resume will stay in the recruiter’s database, but chances are she’ll forget about you when this interaction ends. Don’t take it personally. Again, this is really just a recruiter’s diplomatic way of saying goodbye.
- You: “What’s the salary for this position?” The recruiter: “That will depend on the experience of the candidate.” You: “Well, my preferred salary range is…”
Chances are, the salary for the position is fixed. But the recruiter will say it isn’t so you can be the one to open the negotiation, not him. Once you state the number you’re looking for, he can compare that number to the offered salary and either close down the exchange at that point or keep it open based on how closely the two numbers match. Recruiters can’t (at least they shouldn’t) ask you directly for your previous salary, and they like to let the candidate be the one to determine if the salary is worth negotiating. The best way to do this is to let you speak first.
- You: “Can I ask you where you found my name and contact information?” Recruiter: “A mutual contact handed them to me, but they asked me to keep their name confidential.”
This sounds nice. It makes a candidate feel personally known and connected, and it also makes the recruiter sound socially savvy. But this probably never happened. Chances are, your resume landed in a vast database after you posted it on a national job board. The recruiter searched the database with keywords involving the geographic area or job title for the position. The same keyword search may also have called up your profile on a site like LinkedIn.
- “We’ll contact you even if you aren’t a match.”
There’s no real benefit in contacting you if you aren’t a match, so this probably won’t happen. You may or may not receive a short, generic email with a few promises to keep you in mind for the next opportunity. But don’t be upset if the line of communication simply falls silent. And no matter what happens, don’t wait by the phone or put your job search on hold while you anticipate a response. Just keep moving forward.
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