By now, we should all know that it’s dangerous to lie on a resume. But you know what? In the job search conversation between employers and candidates, a bit of fibbing sometimes happens on the employer side, too.
Often, there’s no ill will intended. While there are a few bad apples in the bunch (as with the rest of humanity), most recruiters and HR folks are motivated by the desire to put the right people into the jobs they have to fill. The trouble is that overwork and overly large candidate pools can thwart good intentions -- so those little white lies meant to spare a job seeker’s feelings end up not doing the candidate any favors.
We asked some recruiting experts to name the biggest lies recruiters tell, so you can spot the untruths and be ready to deal with them.
1. “We’ll keep you in mind for future opportunities.”
Recruiters meet a lot of people. And most of them have huge candidate databases. Often when they speak this untruth, they mean it: They are keeping your resume on file. Just know that they’re doing so in a gigantic filing cabinet, and that out of sight often means out of mind.
How to Handle: Don’t assume that “no” means “never.” Once you’ve started a conversation with a recruiter, don’t let the conversation end just because you’re not offered one job. Stay in touch via professional networking sites, and stay abreast of goings-on at the company so you can be aware of opportunities before they’re posted.
Just remember that there’s a fine line between “staying in touch” and “stalking.” So contact the recruiter only when you have a genuine reason to do so. And as with all professional contacts, don’t just look for favors to ask -- also look for ways to be of service.
2. “Salary depends on experience.”
Usually, the company has a ballpark figure in mind. If a recruiter asks for your salary requirements or expectations, he’s trying to see whether you’re in that ballpark.
How to Handle: In general, it’s better to wait until a job offer is on the table before moving onto salary negotiations -- but recruiters sometimes use salary requirements as a way to thin out the candidate pool.
In this case, your best defense is having done thorough research. Make sure you know what’s competitive for the position, the industry and the region, combined with what’s appropriate for someone with your background. That way, you can answer the question in terms of what your research has uncovered (not in terms of what your specific needs are), and then you can add something like, “But of course a conversation about salary makes more sense when we’re discussing a job offer.” Don’t lowball your number, but perhaps let the recruiter know that you’ll weigh nonsalary compensation (vacation days and other perks, for example) with the actual salary offer.
3. “You’ll hear from us either way.”
The truth is that you might never hear -- or you might not hear when you expect to. The reasons vary, but a lack of communication after an interview can indicate indecisiveness on the part of the hiring team.
How to Handle: Tackle this lie pre-emptively. Always leave a job interview knowing when you can expect to hear from the hirers. That way, you won’t torture yourself wondering whether it’s too soon to call them back. If they say they’ll get back to you by next Friday and they don’t, send a friendly email to check in. You can even use this check-in email as a chance to continue selling yourself as a candidate. If you’ve had any further thoughts about issues raised in the interview, now is a great time to touch on them again. If they need more time, give it to them -- but be firm and friendly about following up.
As for a company that never follows up with you after an interview -- even to say “no thank you” -- that could be a sign that something is wrong at the company. Smart employers know that treating candidates as well as customers is the right way to do business.
4. “We aren’t finished interviewing yet."
Sometimes this is true. Sometimes this means you're the company's "Plan B" candidate. But this statement makes it sound as if the company has at least settled on a solid group of contenders, and that's not always the case. Sometimes recruiters use this line as a stalling tactic when they’re still looking for someone more perfect than anyone in their current candidate pool.
How to Handle: Look at this statement as an opportunity to prove yourself. If your post-interview wait time is being extended because the hiring team is “reviewing other candidates,” ask questions like, “Do you have any specific questions or concerns about my ability to handle any aspect of the job? I’d love to address them and demonstrate that I’m the perfect candidate.”
Every interaction with a recruiter or hiring manager is an opportunity to persuade them that you’re the right person for the job. If you’re getting mixed messages, asking direct questions and staying focused will help you understand what’s really going on.