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How not to behave when you’re looking for a new job!

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How not to behave when you’re looking for a new job!

All too often we see and hear of candidates who believe that, because they are the ones looking for the job, they have the right to make demands of their recruiter and display poor etiquette when it comes to responding to interview requests, providing cover letters, and checking in on their progress.

As a recruiter ourselves, we are here to tell you EXACTLY what a bad candidate looks like, and how to make sure that you never become that candidate who recruiters will avoid (because we all know at least one!)

What does a bad candidate look like?

If you’re looking for a job in the marketing or sales industry, you will already be familiar with this process. Every time we talk about a group of people as a target audience or a target group, whether it be a group of candidates or a specific group of recruiting companies or industry organisations, we create a virtual mock-up of who that target is and what they look like.

So, what does a bad candidate look like?

For starters, physically they can take on any shape, any gender, any age, and any skillset. 

People often believe that the older a candidate is, the more demanding and confident they are – and so the harder they are to work with. But that is certainly not the case in today’s recruiting industry, with many younger candidates coming in all guns blazing with a certain degree of expectation, only to find that their limited professional experiences do not sit them very high up the ladder at all. 

A bad candidate is someone who is:

  • Over-confident, with little to show for it on their CV and in their previous experiences.
  • Someone who does not prioritise the process, and who recruiters constantly have to chase for cover letters and responses. 
  • An individual who only has bad things to say about past employers and previous opportunities. This shows a lack of respect and accountability. 
  • Someone who is demanding of a recruiter’s time, particularly when they have done little to earn it. 
  • Individuals who are only concerned with themselves and who seem unable to see the bigger picture of belonging to a team or working under a company name. If they haven’t put any effort into considering their ideal company environment or team structure, this is likely to be a red flag when it comes to their ability to contribute to a team. 
  • Someone who is driven by unrealistic expectations and who is unwilling to relent on any of their requirements. 

Because the thing is, as recruiters, candidates need to learn to trust in our expertise and our experience – and understand that we have seen it all before (and much more besides). But as recruiters, how do we communicate that to the candidate?

How to make sure that you don’t become “the bad candidate”

As soon as you become what we refer to as “the bad candidate” in the eyes of a recruiting firm, you will start to find that recruiters aren’t so quick to put you forward for roles – not for lack of trying to get you a job, but simply because they know how you will respond to roles that aren’t exactly what you say you are looking for. 

A bad candidate is someone who is closed in their approach to the process, and who goes in with a single-minded idea as to what they want to do and, crucially, how much they should be paid to do it. 

If you want to be a successful candidate, here are some of the things you should take note of and try to do in your approach and progression through the recruitment process:

  • Listen to your recruiting agent and take their advice with regards to updating and upgrading your CV, elevating the standard of your cover letter, and transferring your skills to show your adaptability in other roles. This is particularly crucial at the moment in the post-pandemic recruitment world, as roles are few and far between, and tend to be concentrated in a set number of relevant industries. 
  • Be open to roles outside of those that you considered yourself. Remember that the recruiter has been in the business for a long time and so knows what kind of skills different industries and recruiting agencies are looking for. Take their advice – you never know, you might end up in a career you love but which you never even considered before!
  • Don’t treat your recruiter badly. You wouldn’t believe how closely linked the entire industry around recruitment is, and so if you are known as a “bad candidate” by one agency then that news will spread to others at the click of a button. 

The difference between a bad candidate and a strong-willed individual

Of course, there is nothing wrong with knowing what you want and knowing where your career is going. Being strong-willed is an admirable trait and is one which will serve you well as you move through the recruitment process in search of your ideal job.

The one thing which will transform a strong-willed individual into a bad candidate, however, is attitude. No matter how confident you are in your ability and skillset, be open to the recruitment process and respectful of the effort and industry experience that your recruiter is bringing to the table. 


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Apr 21, 2022

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