Six annoying things recruiters say

Always being told you’re overqualified? It might not mean what you think…

Whether it’s in a job description, at an interview, or during a follow-up phone call or email, the messages recruiters send can often seem like generic stock phrases. But instead of writing them off completely, why not try and dig deeper and find out what they really mean?

To help reassure you, here are six of the most annoying things recruiters say, and what they actually might mean:


‘You’re overqualified for this position…’

What the candidate hears: ‘We’d rather find someone we can pay less to do the same job’

What the recruiter actually means: ‘We want to make sure this job is enough for you’

Although this may seem like a negative accusation, that’s not always the case.

The employer just wants you to convince them that you’ve really considered the role – and that don’t see it as a step down in your career.

To help convince them, talk about what really interests you about the company, along with your career goals, and show you’ve done your research and know what the job entails.

Then, you can turn being seen as overqualified, into being a keen, enthusiastic candidate with a range of skills and experience to offer.


‘You’re underqualified for this position…’

What the candidate hears: ‘We expect you to have gained experience without any experience’

What the recruiter actually means: ‘Prove to us that you’re not’

AKA, the phrase that everyone without a long history of relevant work experience hates to hear.

Luckily, it’s also a great chance to prove the interviewer wrong.

Instead of focusing on the areas you’re lacking experience in, refer the interviewer’s attention to your strong points. Because showing confidence in your abilities to do the job can make all the difference when it comes to whether an employer will consider you or not.

And never be tempted to apologise. Sorrys should strictly be reserved for accidental tripping and falling scenarios.


 ‘We’ll keep your CV on record for future roles…’

What the candidate hears: ‘We’re never going to look at your CV again’ 

What the recruiter actually means: ‘We’ll get back in touch if a suitable vacancy comes up. But we can’t guarantee it will happen’

After hearing this, you’re probably left wondering whether they’re telling the truth, or they’re just trying to spare your feelings.

Chances are, it could be a bit of both. And although they probably will keep your CV for future reference, this doesn’t mean that another relevant job will ever come up. It also doesn’t mean that they’ll keep it on record forever.

You’ll just have to secretly hope the person they hired instead of you turns out to be terrible (no hard feelings though, obvs).


‘We’ve got a few more interviews left…’

What the candidate hears: ‘We’ll have forgotten about you by the end of the week’ 

What the recruiter actually means: ‘We want to let you know when you’re likely to hear back’

Competition is scary – and knowing you’re up against a lot of other candidates can make you feel like you have no chance of standing out.

But in reality, this statement isn’t meant to scare you. The interviewer is simply keeping you informed on what the next steps are, and letting you know when you’re likely to hear back (which is likely to be when they’ve finished interviewing).

So instead of giving up hope because you were the first to be interviewed, concentrate on how you can stay fresh in their minds. Following up afterwards is a good place to start…


‘We work hard, but we also play hard’ (AKA #casualfridays)

What the candidate hears: ‘We’re trying so hard to convince you that we aren’t dull’

What the recruiter actually means: ‘We have a sociable workplace culture’

This phrase could make you think a few things.

One being that they don’t have a lot to offer in terms of the role, so they’re distracting your attention, and another being that they’re just keen on getting you on board so they’re overcompensating.

OR, they could just genuinely be trying to tell you that they’re a sociable workplace – and want to know if that works for you.

And although somewhere where people use hashtags in speech might not be everyone’s idea of a great place to work, at least their openness gives you a better idea of what working there will really be like.


‘We have an exciting new opportunity…’

What a candidate hears: ‘We have no idea if this opportunity is right for you. But it’s worth a shot’

What the recruiter actually means: ‘We want to learn more about you’

Commonly seen in generic emails from recruiters, this expression often leads to immediate dismissal. And as stock phrases go, it’s up there with the worst.

Not only is it vague and rarely combined with information of what the job actually is, it’s also not very personal. But just because the email doesn’t give anything away, this doesn’t mean the recruiter doesn’t have a job in mind for you.

The idea is to grab your attention so they can actually speak to you, then they’ll be able to learn more about what you actually want and can give you suitable options.

So don’t be too quick to judge, and find out what the job is before you instantly dismiss it.


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