Tales of Ghost(ing), Making Your Recruiter See Red, and More Haunting Mistakes

Posted by Ashley Jones

Not all frightening tales have to do with goblins and ghouls. Sometimes real-life blunders that hinder your job search are the scariest of all. Don’t be the villain in your own story. Heed the warnings in these five job search cautionary tales shared by recruiters on our security cleared jobs podcast to avoid mistakes that will haunt you.

A Ghostly Phone Call Never Forgotten

Our first tale comes from Jess Mathias, Director of Talent Acquisition at Core4ce. She cautions job seekers to be respectful of recruiters, as she still can’t shake one of the first phone calls in her recruiting career. She was interviewing someone for a help desk position (in which phone skills are very important) when they suddenly stopped talking to her for about five minutes. It turns out the person simply stepped away from the phone when her grandchildren came in from school. She didn’t ask Jess to hold on or let her know what was happening, she just ghosted her mid phone call.

When the candidate was notified that they didn’t get the job, “I promptly got a phone call back, yelling at me asking me why,” said Jess. “And I used that opportunity to say, if you’re looking for a phone call-based job, don’t stop talking to me. Give me a heads up.”

Things happen, especially in this day and age where so many interviews are taking place remotely. Doorbells ring and dogs bark, but there’s a right and wrong way to respond to distractions that are out of your control. Acknowledge them, apologize for the interruption, and move forward. Or if something truly requires your immediate attention, be upfront about it with your interviewer and arrange to call them back when you’re able to give them your full attention.

Don’t risk a bad impression when it comes to your job search. Jess admits, “that was a big one I’ll never forget. Definitely being rude with a recruiter won’t get you anywhere. We’ve got memories like elephants.”

Hear more from Jess’ podcast appearance here >>

Resume Mistakes That Make Recruiters See Red

There are a lot of resources to help you avoid common resume mistakes. From spelling and grammar errors, to tiny font sizes that are headache inducing, you’ve likely heard most of the do’s and don’ts. But are you aware of something simple you might be doing that can trigger an immediate negative response?

Meg Duba shared on her podcast episode that “we should normalize keeping colors off of resumes, particularly red. I don’t know what it is about red, but when someone uses bright red, as soon as I open it, I get this little twinge of pain behind my eyes. There’s some sort of psychological connection that induces anger.”

So be warned, ditch red fonts if you don’t want to risk irritating your recruiter. Meg shared that on a busy week, recruiters may be looking at 1,000 resumes. They want to see bite-sized bullets that have white space, not giant paragraphs. It’s easier for the eye to read and comprehend. So be sure to pay attention to your formatting, and as we learned, avoid red.

Find more tips from Meg’s episode here >>

Stop Your Feathered Friend from Upstaging You

Molly O’Boyle, Project Manager with Talent Acquisition Operations at OBXtek brings us our next cautionary tale. When you’re participating in a video interview, you should dress the part and find a quiet location, but Molly knows there a little more to it than that.

During a video interview on a virtual job fair platform, Molly was talking with a candidate when all of a sudden, she heard a bird chirping. The woman said, “that’s just my parrot.” A moment later the parrot flew right onto her shoulder! “So for the rest of the call, I just kind of looked at the bird,” admits Molly. “I was directing conversation to her, of course, but it was kind of distracting. So if she was really truly looking for a quality conversation, she should have secured her bird.”

Most recruiters understand that you can’t always control everything around you. Since COVID and the uptick in virtual interviews, we’ve all become more understanding and compassionate about disruptions. But the bottom line is you don’t want to give your interviewer a reason to be distracted. You want them focused on what you can bring to their organization, not the parrot on your shoulder.

Listen to more insights from Molly here >>

Don’t Let Lingo Curse Communication

Our next story comes from Taryn Lazroff, Lead Intelligence Recruiter with Noblis. Taryn knows from experience just how much military lingo can get in the way of recruiters and candidates understanding one another. When Taryn started out recruiting, she wasn’t aware of all the differences in military lingo and language that can cause misunderstandings, which lead to an awkward conversation with a candidate.

When her manager asked her to reach out to a candidate “currently in theater,” Taryn though to herself, “I took theater at Ohio State. I’m going to have something in common with him. I am going to sell this so hard and rock it.” Unfortunately, “in theater” means something very different in military speak, so Taryn’s conversation didn’t exactly go as she had anticipated.

A lot of transitioning military personnel “don’t understand that the people reading their resumes might not have served – or even if they did serve, it may have been in a different branch, and they don’t understand this language,” says Taryn. “Recruiters and hiring managers who are very busy, might just push that to the side and move on to the next one. They’re not gonna take the time to research what it means and translate it.” So take the time to demilitarize your resume and translate any lingo into civilian terms.

Learn more from Taryn here >>

What’s That Lurking Behind You?!

Our final story is perhaps the most shocking, and brought to you by Darrell Eplee, the Senior Talent Acquisition Manager in the Cyber & Intelligence Business Unit at Jacobs. At a previous company, Darrell was conducting a video interview with a candidate and the hiring manager.

Everybody had their video on and you could tell the candidate was in his bedroom,” said Darrell. “As the interview was progressing, we started noticing there was somebody in the bed. Towards the end of it, his girlfriend actually stood up, and she wasn’t dressed appropriately for the interview.”

Not much needs to be said – we can likely all agree that a bedroom setting topped with a scantily clad visitor is not professional by any means. Darrell reminds us, “You’ve got to be aware of your surroundings when you turn on the camera.”

Hear more from Darrell here >>

Let these five tales be warnings, and not visions of mistakes you too will make. Find more articles on job search tips and tricks here to ensure your job search survives and thrives!


  • Ashley Jones

    Ashley Jones is ClearedJobs.Net's blog Editor and a cleared job search expert, dedicated to helping security-cleared job seekers and employers navigate job search and recruitment challenges. With in-depth experience assisting cleared job seekers and transitioning military personnel at in-person and virtual Cleared Job Fairs and military base hiring events, Ashley has a deep understanding of the unique needs of the cleared community. She is also the Editor of ClearedJobs.Net's job search podcast, Security Cleared Jobs: Who's Hiring & How.

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This entry was posted on Monday, October 24, 2022 6:19 pm

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