Recruiting Uncategorized

Red flags in recruiting


Anyone who has spent any time recruiting knows how discouraging it can be. Some days I feel like I will never fill my requisitions.  Doesn’t anyone stay at a job longer than two years anymore? What happened to proof reading your resume?  When you look at hundreds of resumes on a regular basis it is easy to become very adept at finding the red flags.  On one hand, this is your job as a recruiter, but on the other hand, you don’t want to over screen, either.  Here are some of the common red flags and when they matter:

Job hopping
Maybe I’m getting old, but I am definitely seeing a trend with the emerging workforce and a lack of longevity at their positions.  Back in ‘the day’, transferring from job to job labeled one as a ‘hopper’, which was undesirable and indicated a lack of loyalty and lack of patience.  That may or may not still be the case, but it is also the norm – like it or not.  If you are hiring someone who has graduated college in the last five years it is highly unlikely they have or will settle down at one company and earn their way up the ladder.

Gaps can be a red flag, and they can also be a sign of a crazy economy.  They can also mean a situational life event.  Significant gaps used to mean that someone was either unemployable or had left work to become a parent and was re-entering a workforce that had passed them by.  This is not necessarily as big an issue anymore.  There have been massive layoffs and great candidates have been jobless for lengthy periods of time.  As well, staying home with the kids is not as isolating in this day and age as it used to be so don’t assume a mother re-entering the workforce needs substantial retraining.  These are definitely points of clarification, but not deal breakers.

Cannot give you specific examples
This is more of a deal breaker, in my experience.  If a candidate has said in their resume or cover letter that they are a skilled change agent, and cannot give me a specific example of a change they have implemented, guess what? I’m suspicious.  When I ask them for an example and they use third person “you just do this,” instead of “I did that” I doubt they actually did what they are claiming.  That’s why I love behavioral interviewing.

Is not open to feedback
I have recruited for clients who are pretty easygoing about resumes and I’ve also recruited for clients who are sticklers.  If a candidate gives me a resume that is formatted incorrectly, or has typos, there is no way the sticklers will accept the candidate so I usually end up asking the candidate to fix up their resume.  If they refuse to do so, it’s usually a good indicator that this is not a great fit.

More than one communication problem or unprofessional communication in setting up interview
Maybe it’s not fair, but I’ve been doing this long enough to say with some confidence that if there are glitches in the interview or onboarding process, it’s usually not going to work out.  Sure, Murphy’s Law may occasionally be in effect, but for the most part, if someone can’t manage to get the interview time right, they will probably not end up being your superstar.

Overly concerned with themselves
I’ve actually interviewed candidates who interrupt my opening sentence to demand information about the salary, or hours or working conditions. Usually when this happens, I end the interview pretty quickly.  If the candidate did want to contribute and bring skills and innovation to the organization they hid it too well for me to be excited about presenting them.  

By Carrie Maldonado

Carrie Maldonado, is an organizational development consultant, author, and speaker. Carrie's eclectic mix of professional interests include writing, speaking, coaching, and consulting on topics ranging from organizational behavior management to spiritual transformation in and out of the workplace. Carrie lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her patient and long-suffering husband and their three children.

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