10 Biggest Job Secrets Most Recruiters Won’t Tell You

Working with a job recruiter is a good way to land a new position, but there might be a few things you need to know that they won’t tell you.

young black man in a job interview
Updated May 28, 2024
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Finding a new job can be hard, but you might be making mistakes that are making it even more difficult.

There are things recruiters won’t tell you that will make them reject your resume or not grant you an interview. Or maybe you already accepted an offer but could have negotiated a better salary to help boost your bank account.

Whatever the case, here are a few secrets that job recruiters don't often reveal to help you stand out from the crowd.

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They’re waiting on their first choice

Liubomir/Adobe sad woman looking at phone screen

It can be difficult to wait around and get an answer from a recruiter about whether a company is going to help you make more money by offering you a job.

You may even wonder why they’re dragging their feet when you felt so good about the interview process.

But the truth is that you may be their second choice. It’s not a bad position to be in — after all, they could’ve rejected you outright. You may still have a chance if you find yourself in this boat.

They just didn’t like you

LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/Adobe multicultural businesswomen holding laptop and documents in office

You may go in with the best of intentions when discussing your latest work and your previous experience. These qualities can be great assets when it comes to what you could do in the position.

But you’ll also be working with people in the office on a personal level. So you may end up getting rejected because they don’t see you fitting in with the culture or your potential co-workers.

The job was filled internally

Mediteraneo/Adobe man having first working day getting acquainted with colleagues

Companies may already have a candidate in mind for the position before they even ask you to come in for an interview.

Your potential boss may already be mentoring someone internally to take over the job or are more familiar with the work of an internal employee who understands the culture and business.

The good news is that the company may still want you to come in for an interview to talk to you and could remember you for a later opening.

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Your social media posts sunk you

Aleksei/Adobe social media apps

You may like to joke around with friends on social media or post pictures when you’re out having a good time, but your friends aren’t the only ones looking at your latest posts.

A recruiter could be checking out your online history as well to see what kind of potential employee you might be, and they may not be impressed.

Recruiters may be in the dark too

Mariia Korneeva/Adobe manager looking at many different cv resume

A recruiter may work hard to get your resume in front of the right people or get you into an interview with a client. Many earn a bonus by finding potential candidates or getting you the job.

If a company decides to go with another candidate, they may not tell you why and they may not tell the recruiter why either.

It can be difficult to walk away without an answer or any feedback to work with but know that the recruiter may also be in the dark.

You could’ve asked for a higher salary

kerkezz/Adobe young woman doing a job interview

You may be worried that asking for a high salary may be a bad thing and will make you look appealing to potential employers. But asking for a good salary is not a bad thing, and you may just be able to get it.

If you’re negotiating a salary, it may be a good idea to talk to a recruiter as well as others in the field. See what they consider a fair rate and how much you can negotiate to land the salary you want and get ahead financially.

The company isn’t doing well

rh2010/Adobe team leader quarreling with employees

A company may need a recruiter to find good candidates for open positions. But they may also use a recruiter to cover up issues with excessive departures due to bad working conditions or financial issues.

Do your research before you accept an interview from a recruiter to make sure you have a clear understanding of the business. Find out what’s going on behind the scenes that inspired them to open the position.

You’re a freelancer


Freelance work may be a good way to take on new projects from different clients while building a portfolio on your schedule. Some companies, however, may see freelancing as a decision you had to make because you couldn’t land a full-time position.

If you’re worried about getting a full-time job after freelancing, consider looking for full-time work with one of your clients.

You can also build up your references with different clients to put your best self forward when you get to that portion of your interview process.

Your references weren’t great

auremar/Adobe young woman working in office

If you get far enough along in the process, you may have a potential employer ask you for references.

It’s a good idea to have a list of cultivated references prepared and make sure they are aware that they could be asked about your work.

It’s also a good idea to know what you’re references are going to say. You may want to talk to them before you give recruiters their information to see if you’re on the same page and if they’re still willing to be a reference.

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They talked to references you didn’t list

wichayada/Adobe iPhone 6S with LinkedIn application on the screen

Recruiters may be well-connected in your particular field, or some might even reach out through LinkedIn or other networking sites to people you may work with at your current office.

So while you may have glowing official references, your current co-workers may not feel the same way about your work. Always put your best foot forward in your office regardless of whether you’re going to use a person as a reference or not.

You may be surprised how a little extra leg work at your current job could help you land a new job at a new company.

Bottom line

insta_photos/Adobe job interview between businessman hr director and female applicant

Update your resume regularly so you’re prepared for any potential job opportunities that come around. And don’t forget to add keywords that will catch the eye of a recruiter.

It may also be a good idea to create a budget so you know how much money to ask for if you want to stop living paycheck to paycheck.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen

Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.