10 Important Details Your Recruiter MUST Know!

In my nearly two decades as a Professional Recruiter, I have recruited for more than one thousand positions and worked with many more candidates in order to successfully fill these roles. Through these interview processes, I have been able to draw commonality among the deals that fell apart. Many of these failed interview processes should have never even started. There are certainly unforeseen issues that arise which are completely out of anyone’s control. On the company side, positions are put on hold due to a change in business conditions, an internal candidate may surface, or a company may restructure and decide to redistribute the duties of the role. On the candidate side, someone actively interviewing could receive an unexpected promotion or a different job offer, experience a personal change like a relocation, or previous issues with their employer may be satisfied. These unforeseen situations are uncontrollable and all parties just have to accept them and move on. Significant time and resources go into interviewing and out of respect for the process all parties should strive to communicate any important information in advance of spending time. The Company that is hiring generally communicates as much critical information as possible in advance of any interviews to narrow down the pool of candidates. It is imperative that The Recruiter and The Candidate exchange all important information in advance of any interviews as well.

The Recruiter and The Candidate bear the most responsibility to share critical details that could potentially derail an interview process. These are pieces of information that The Candidate knows with strong certainty NOW that will likely prevent a job opportunity from working out. While The Recruiter should address these items with The Candidate before presenting his/her resume to any Company, things sometimes slip through the cracks. Some Recruiters may be looking for the path of least resistance and just gloss over general topics to get an interview on the calendar BUT others just may not have the experience to address these topics in advance. Candidates should be conscious of any current details that could cause them to turn down a position and be sure to share those with The Recruiter immediately whether they are prompted to or not. Candidates generally are far less experienced with the interview process than The Recruiter but at the end of the day it’s a team effort and no one wants to waste time on an interview that never had a chance. The 10 Important Details Your Recruiter MUST Know will ensure that there are no controllable surprises in an interview process that could have been avoided. As long as The Company knows that these details are attached to a Candidate, everyone is moving forward with eyes wide open.

The 10 Important Details Your Recruiter MUST Know!

1. Total Current Compensation and Benefits Package

This topic has become controversial since my original publication in 2016, as many states have made it illegal for a recruiter or company to ask a candidate’s current compensation details. While protecting this information is intended to create salary equality, it is not necessarily conducive to an efficient process as compensation details often remain anonymous until the offer phase after many steps of interviewing. A candidate may elect, on their own free will, to offer this information early in a process which MAY ultimately save all parties time if requirements do not match. At the end of the day, the budget is the budget for a role and does not change because a candidate currently earns more than what is offered.

If a Candidate is comfortable disclosing compensation information, it is critical that The Recruiter understands the total compensation and benefits package…do not leave out any detail that holds value. The Candidate should not assume that any part of the current package is standard. I’ve watched processes fall apart quickly when a Candidate is astonished that 5 weeks vacation and 2 days a week working from home is not the industry standard (obviously the Pandemic has softened this Work From Home topic). Sometimes a discussion about your total compensation package can even help you realize that the grass is not always greener. A Recruiter can shed a lot of light on how your deal stacks up against the rest of the market and you may save everyone a lot of time when you realize you already have your best deal.

2. Upcoming Bonus

During 1st Quarter, many Candidates anticipate incentive/performance bonuses but these could be paid out at different times of the year depending on company and type of position. With very high demand for talent, many hiring companies are flexible on start date OR may be willing to help with these pending bonuses in some way to expedite timing. It is critical to share the timing of this bonus and the amount of the bonus (if comfortable doing so) with your Recruiter during your initial conversation as this could be a total deal killer. The Company should be aware of your timing and the bonus amount you are anticipating so they can understand how to work with you as a candidate. If you are willing to forgo this bonus for the right opportunity make that clear as well so it doesn’t knock you out of the process due to the perceived delay or the need for a large sign-on.

 3. Owe Money Back for Tuition Reimbursement or Sign-On

Employee attraction and retention are increasingly important in this candidate short market. It is very common that candidates enter the job search with a certain amount of Tuition Reimbursement they are “on the hook” for or they might be working off a sign-on bonus that was used to attract them to the company. Often there is a reason bigger than money if a candidate is looking during this period (i.e. A public accountant just doesn’t want to do another busy season) and they are willing to absorb this debt for the right opportunity. It is important that your recruiter knows about this so you can collectively decide how to present this liability to The Company. If you need help paying this back, The Company needs to know about this before you go in for an interview as it could be a deal killer for them. If it’s not a deal killer, they will greatly appreciate your transparency.

4. Retention Bonus

Merger and Acquisition activity has really been picking up and with company acquisitions come retention bonuses. Candidates who are important to the integration are often offered healthy bonuses to stay with a company through a period of time. Many candidates look at these as golden handcuffs if they are going to ultimately lose their positions but if a retention bonus is lucrative enough it will prevent a candidate from leaving until that retention period is honored. Regardless of whether the candidate will forgo the Retention Bonus or not, the Recruiter must know about this and take it into account for each prospective interview process.

5. Other Companies You are Interviewing With and Offers You are Close to

It is important for your Recruiter to understand your competitive interview landscape.  A Recruiter can encourage a Company to speed up interview processes in order to stay competitive with other viable opportunities. In addition, competition generally works in the Candidate’s favor when it comes to multiple job offers. Recruiters are also very aware of the market and may have valuable information to help you compare opportunities based on what is important to you. Even if you suspect bias from your recruiter, it’s always good to hear a market expert’s opinion to trigger further research on your end.

6. What is The Bottom Line Offer You Will Consider (The “Buy It Now” Price)

The Candidate should not play coy when discussing the compensation package it will take to accept a job offer. Some candidates feel it is to their advantage to play close to the vest and they do not answer with definitive terms. Companies do not like hearing from a Recruiter that they are not sure what it will take to land the candidate they want and often get a bad taste for that Candidate. Candidates who are reasonable, descript and clear have the best shot at landing the deal they want. Companies like a “Buy It Now” price and will often pay a bit more to eliminate back and forth and the administrative headaches that come with revisions and additional sign-offs.

7. Are you Driven by Quality of Life or Climbing the Ladder

It is a good idea for The Candidate to give The Recruiter a general idea of what they are looking for in their career currently and what they are looking for over the long-term. The Recruiter generally has a good understanding of the environment a company offers and will understand whether or not it will cater to your personal preferences. This small piece of information can prevent culture shock down the line.

8. Are you Committed to Completing A Project or Deadline

Many Candidates start into a job search not realizing how quickly the process can move. If you are in the middle of a large project or have some sort of busy season requirement that prohibits an exit before a certain date, be clear about the earliest start date you can commit to.  The Recruiter will often check in about positions in the interim in case something has changed OR they may have a client who is flexible on start date. There is no sense interviewing for a Company who wants someone to start in 2 weeks (which includes most active positions) if you cannot start for 2 months. The Recruiter will present this start date up front when making introductions which may rule some interviews out but will ensure if a candidate is interviewed that the start date could work for all parties.

9. Vacation Longer Than 1 Week

Everyone takes vacation and most companies provide 2-3 weeks of vacation as part of a candidate’s benefit package. If a Candidate plans to take a vacation longer than 1 week in the first 6 months, the candidate should be sure to inform the Recruiter. Any vacation inside of 6 months is helpful to know about, however, a 2 or 3 week vacation is critical information as The Company needs to consider this when evaluating candidates. There could be certain deadlines or policies that conflict with a substantial vacation. Even if a company is very flexible with this sort of thing, it feels a little sneaky to spring a 3 week European vacation on them after the offer is extended.

10. Work From Home

Work From Home was hardly a topic when I published this article in 2016…Wow how times have changed. Nearly every company will have a permanently altered Work From Home policy after the pandemic completely subsides. Some companies will still have a 5 day per week in office culture, while others may no longer even have office space. It is critical to share your preferences and requirements for Work From Home with your recruiter to ensure culture and lifestyle fit.


Written by Brian Piotrowski, Founder & Head of Recruiting, Legacy Search Advisors BPiotrowski@TheLegacySearch.com