We spend a lot of time talking about what recruiters should be looking for when evaluating job applicants. However, as any hiring manager who has suffered through an egregiously bad hire will tell you, one oft-overlooked, equally important aspect of sourcing top talent involves not looking for indications that a candidate is right for the job, but instead looking for signs that a candidate is a poor fit.


Let’s count down five red flags that all recruiters should be aware of during the talent search.
1. A “One Size Fits All” Approach

Any desirable candidate should be keenly aware of the importance of targeting his application for the job at hand. With an abundance of information on employers, jobs, and corporate culture saturating the internet, failure to apply directly to a position — including everything from using a generic salutation on a cover letter to listing mismatched skills on a resume — demonstrates indifference, lack of initiative, or worse….both.

2. Chronological Chaos

While functional resumes are appropriate in a narrow number of cases, they set off alarm bells for most recruiters. Why? Because they suggest a cover-up for a spotty or insufficient job history. The simplest way to tell if there’s indeed fire where there’s smoke? Check references to confirm that dates are legitimate and to verify adequate experience and work history.

3. Incommunicado Candidates

While it’s the recruiter’s job to minimize delays as much as possible, even the most seamless recruitment process can be stalled by stops and starts. However, if you find yourself repeatedly playing phone tag or dealing with unanswered emails while attempting to make contact with a candidate, it may be a sign that he/she is simply not interested. Conversely, a candidate who wants a job will take a responsive, proactive approach in an effort to move the process forward.

4. Vague Verbiage

Terms like “participated in” and “familiar with” are ambiguous — often by design. Rather than indicating in-depth knowledge in a particular area, these imprecise expressions suggest cursory or tangential involvement prompting the savvy recruiter to wonder whether the candidate actually made a meaningful contribution, or was simply present during pivotal initiatives.

5. Personal Matters

While employers seek well-rounded, versatile candidates, they’re not looking for employees for whom work holds up the bottom of a very long list of hobbies and other outside interests. An extensive account of personal activities not only takes the focus out of the workplace, but may also signify an attempt to cover up a lack of relevant experience.

While these red flags alone may not be reason enough to discount a candidate, they’re certainly cause for circumspection. Because while everyone makes mistakes, some make more than others. Avoiding adding the latter to your workforce can help you assemble the most promising, productive team.

To leverage your recruiters and employees’ personal networks to reach potential candidates faster, watch this video on how WittyParrot can help.

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