Main image of article 8 Things You Should Never Tell a Tech Recruiter

While transparency between candidates and recruiters is essential for a successful hiring process, there are a few things that tech recruiters definitely don't want to hear.

For instance, badmouthing a former manager or admitting that you’re overwhelmed by job interviews are bound to make a negative impression on recruiters. Plus, some things (such as religious beliefs or political opinions) aren’t relevant to your job hunt and are better left unsaid.

Since highly competent tech recruiters can provide access to unadvertised jobs and elusive hiring managers, here are a few things you shouldn’t mention if you want to keep them on your side.

“My current salary is [X].”

There are lots of reasons why you don’t want to disclose what you’re currently making or even your salary expectations to a recruiter, especially right off the bat.

For instance, quoting a salary requirement that's too low can make it more difficult to negotiate a higher salary later when you find out what the job entails. “You shouldn’t discuss salary until you fully understand the expectations, the role and the responsibilities of the position,” advised Dalena Bradley, job interview coach and career marketing specialist.

Plus, revealing your current salary can make it difficult to break the cycle of being underpaid. That’s why many state and local governments have adopted laws and regulations that prohibit employers and recruiters from requesting salary information.

“I just can’t seem to get a job.”

Even though it’s normal to experience rejection during a job search, you don’t want to share anything with a recruiter that may cause them to doubt your abilities or wonder why everyone seems to be passing on you, noted Will Thomson, president and founder of Bulls Eye Recruiting.

You don’t need to be completely forthcoming about how things are going.

If you are struggling to find a job after being laid off, you should talk about the things that put your recent experiences in a positive light, Thomson advised. For instance, focus on the fact that you’ve used your free time to learn new skills, get a certification or travel. It’s a recruiter’s job to put the best candidates forward, so you don’t want to come off as stagnant or unmotivated to improve.

“I haven’t researched the company because I’m slammed with interviews.”

While its good to be in demand, recruiters are wary of candidates that appear to be “window shopping” or checking out the market to negotiate a counteroffer.

Defining your career goals and priorities before you contact a recruiter will allow you to narrow down your search, manage your activities and jump on an offer when the right opportunity comes along.

“I’ll give you a detailed description of my experience with a similar project.”

It can be easy to ramble or take a deep dive into the technical details about a project or provide an overview of your entire career when you’re trying to impress a recruiter or highlight work experience that is similar to a job requirement. But it’s also your job to keep a recruiter or hiring manager engaged. How?

Offer just a brief two-to-three-minute overview of what the project was about, the tools you used, and the steps you took to overcome obstacles and achieve results.

Give the listener a chance to interact and ask follow-up questions. Remember, research shows that people can only focus on something for a few minutes. So keep your project descriptions concise, relevant and interesting by providing a glimpse into your personality.

“I’m really not good at [X].”

Everyone has weaknesses or things they can do better, but the way you talk about a weakness or mistake can reveal a lot about your personality, desire and ability to improve. Explain that you are aware of a particular error or shortcoming, then quickly pivot to what you’ve learned and the steps you’ve taken to improve.

“I’m open to considering onsite roles.”

You need to be as specific as possible about the number of days you are willing to work onsite before you accept an interview.

Know your limits, because not all companies and managers are open to remote or hybrid work, and you may not have the option of choosing which days you prefer to come into the office. There’s no point in wasting everyone’s time.

By the way, you don’t need to share personal details as justification for your schedule preferences. Simply say that you’re more productive working from home or that remote work helps you balance work with your personal responsibilities… and leave it at that.

“I’m an expert with all of these tools and technologies.”

Overestimating or exaggerating your technical abilities is a red flag.

Low performers have a tendency to give overly positive assessments of their abilities and see themselves as more skilled than they actually are. Worse, their misrepresentations are often exposed during a technical interview or assessment, which makes everyone look bad.

No one expects you to know everything, Thomson noted. Being open and honest about what you know and how you approach learning new things on the job fosters trust and improves your chances of passing a technical evaluation. From there, you could very well land an offer.

“My last company had a toxic work environment.”

Complaining about your previous boss or co-workers is another red flag that may cause recruiters to consider other candidates.

“Recruiters worry that you will bring that negative energy with you,” Bradley said. If you’re angry or frustrated about being laid off, purge those negative vibes before you start searching for a new job.