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5 Things Never to Say to a Recruiter

Updated on July 18, 2011


Besides the typical, “no brainer” things most of us would never say to a recruiter or hiring manager, here are a few phrases that will be sure to have your resume thrown in the trash. With so much competition out there in a world wrecked with unemployment, you must be on you’re 'A-Game' to get noticed, or to be considered. Take it from me – a recruiter!

“I’m really no good with computers”

In this day in age, computers are an active part of most positions, in some form or another. No recruiter or hiring manager wants to hear that you have no technical skills, much less that you are highlighting your weaknesses, and not your strengths. Only share the weaknesses if asked. And even then, be careful what you say. No one wants to hear that you’re late every day, or that you can’t stand authority. Pick more subtle weaknesses – or weaknesses that actually play to your strengths. Sneaky phrases like “I tend to be too hard on myself” show that while that could be considered a fault, it really shows that you are a perfectionist and want the best of yourself. Another good one? “I’m a bit anal.” This can be a fault too, but really shows that you like things done in the best and fastest way possible. Best practice? Just keep your flaws to yourself unless asked.

“I was fired”

Unless specifically asked why you left a certain position, never give this virtuous bit of information up. Companies usually don’t hire people that other companies have disposed of for true cause. Being laid off is a different story. Obviously that runs rampant in our country currently, anyway. But being fired shows you did something wrong – maybe you were a poor performer, or maybe you violated a policy. Either way, companies don’t want to pick up someone who was fired, in fear that they may be a problem for them, as well.

“I quit”

Again, unless specifically asked why you left a certain position, never give this one up either. And even then, if you must, using the word “quit” isn’t typically the best lingo to spew. Instead, try saying something like, “I resigned my position due to recent organizational changes that left me unsure of my future or growth with the company.” That sounds much more professional than saying “I quit because I didn’t like my boss.” No one wants to hear that one either – don’t ever give up information that you didn’t get along with someone. Red flag.

“I’ll take any position you have”

While some might think this shows dedication to want to do any and everything the company has to offer, this actually shows desperation, and uncertainty on what you want. You should already know what you’re good at, and what you’re interested in doing. That should narrow you down to a few different departments or fields, in which you’ll target. Telling your recruiter you’re up for any opening they have just shows that you want a job. Get in line – so do hundreds of thousands of other people in the country. Your recruiter will want to know what you’re good at, and what you’re interested in. You should know this too; and if you don’t, another red flag.

“I will not disclose my current salary”

This is not helpful to a recruiter, and it also puts a sour taste in their mouth. Recruiters talk salaries all day long – whether it’s with candidates, hiring managers, or their HR team. They will not be doing anything inappropriate with your salary – this is what they do for a living! They are asking what you’re currently making because it is an important question in regards to you being in the range for the pay or not. No one is going to ask you “how much do you want to make?” DUH. I’d like to make six figures! They don’t care what you want to make. They care what you’re currently making, or what you were most recently making, if you are unemployed. They will usually never tell you the range of pay for the position. And don’t ask. If you tell them you’re at 50k, and the position pays between 45k and 55k, you’re a candidate. If you tell them you’re at 50k, and the position pays 30k, you will most likely be overqualified, or require a higher salary than the company can pay you for that job. If you tell them you’re at 50k, and the position pays between 80k and 100k, you can still be a candidate, but if given the job, you will most likely get the lowest number in the range, because you’d be getting such an increase in pay. But hey, this is still a MAJOR increase! Not disclosing this information makes this conversation awkward and difficult to get around. Your recruiter will just call the next person in line that is happy to share any information you might need. Just share what you make.


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    • Ashley Gray profile image

      Ashley Gray 6 years ago from Colorado

      You would be stunned at some of the things people say! I recruit for a large corporation and talk to tons of people each day - I've definitely heard some crazy things! Ha! Thanks for reading!

    • cashmere profile image

      cashmere 6 years ago from India

      Good ones. Although I cant believe anyone would say that they were fired to a potential employer :)

    • Ashley Gray profile image

      Ashley Gray 6 years ago from Colorado

      Midasfx, this is great! You are spot on with "leaving the door open." This allows for you to be in the "gray" and not say yes, or no. And saying "I quit" is never a good thing. It happens all too often to me as I'm talking to candidates. Usually they are just trying to be honest, and don't realize that it sounds negative. Spinning these situations into something positive is a great idea. I would never encourage anyone to LIE to a recruiter or hiring manager, but sometimes leaving certain info out (unless otherwise asked), is always best. :) Thanks for the comment!!

    • Midasfx profile image

      Midasfx 6 years ago

      It's sometimes hard to catch yourself from saying some of these potentially harmful things. Always think and rephrase it intelligently.

      If they ask you a hard straight question like, " How would you feel about taking on more responsibility? " And you definitely don't want more responsibility. Answer with an optimistic " It's definitely possible " (Which leaves the door open, but doesn't give any yes or no, but it sounds like a yes!)

      Also, instead of saying I quit. Turn it into a positive thing, " There was an amazing opportunity I couldn't pass up!" I said this one time and my intense interview got sidetracked for about 15 minutes talking about surfing! Needless to say, I got a call the next morning.

      Hope this helps ^_^