The 7 Words That Turn Candidates Off!

Communication is a tricky thing. It’s so easy to turn off another party by simply using just one wrong word, especially when you’re trying to build a relationship with a candidate you potentially want to hire.

I think there are some words and phrases that have a high probability of turning off a candidate to want to come work for your organization. I speak to students a few times a year about interviewing and I tell them something similar, which is what you say can automatically make a hiring manager not want to hire you!

Think about being an interview and the candidate starts to tell you why they’re no longer working for ACME Inc. “Oh, you know it was just a ‘misunderstanding’, I can explain…”

“Misunderstanding” is a killer word to use while interviewing! It wasn’t a misunderstanding! You got fired! The ‘misunderstanding’ is you not understanding the crap you were doing was wrong! 

So, what are the 7 Deadly Words you should never use as a recruiter? Don’t use these:

-“Layoff” – It doesn’t matter how you use it. Even, ‘we’ve never had a layoff!’ “Layoff” isn’t a positive word to someone looking to come to work for you, so why would you even add it to the conversation!

-“Might” – Great candidates want black and white, not gray. “Might” is gray. Well, we might be adding that tech but I don’t know. Instead, use “I’m not sure, let me check for you because I want to get you the truth.  Add

-“Maybe” – See above.

-“Unstable” – You know what’s unstable? Nothing good, that’s what! If something isn’t good, don’t hide behind a word that makes people guess how bad it might be, because they’ll usually assume it’s worse than it really is!

-“Legally” – “Legally” is never followed by something positive! “Legally, we would love to give you a $25K sign-on bonus, but…” It’s always followed by something that makes you uncomfortable. When trying to get someone interested in your organization and job, don’t add “Legally” to the conversation!

-“Temporarily” – This is another unsettling word for candidates. “Temporarily” we’ll have to have you work out of the Nashville office, but no worries, you’ll be Austin soon enough! Um, no.

-“Fluid” – Well, that’s a great question, right now it’s a fluid situation, we’re hoping that hiring you will help clarify it! Well, isn’t that comforting… Add: “Up in the air” to this category!

We use many of these words because we don’t want to tell the candidate the truth. We think telling them exactly what’s wrong with our organization, the position, our culture, will drive them away. So, we wordsmith them to death!

The reality is most candidates will actually love the honesty and tend to believe they can be the one to come in and make it better. We all want to be the knight on the white horse. Candidates are no different.

Tell them the truth and you’ll end up with better hires and higher retention!

For more by Tim Sackett please visit

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Why am I being ‘ghosted’ after I interview?

Dear Timmy,

I recently applied for a position that I’m perfect for! A recruiter from the company contacted me and scheduled me for an interview with the manager. I went, the interview was a little over an hour and it went great! I immediately followed up with an email to the recruiter and the manager thanking them, but since then I’ve heard nothing and it’s been weeks. I’ve sent follow-up emails to both the recruiter and the manager and I’ve got no reply.

What should I do? Why do companies do this to candidates? I would rather they just tell me they aren’t interested than have them say nothing at all!

The Ghost Candidate

Dear Ghost,

There are a number of reasons that recruiters and hiring managers ghost candidates and none of them are good! Here’s a short-list of some of these reasons:

– They hated you and hope you go away when they ghost you because conflict is uncomfortable.

– They like you, but not as much as another candidate they’re trying to talk into the job, but want to leave you on the back burner, but they’re idiots and don’t know how to do this properly.

– They decided to promote someone internally and they don’t care about candidate experience enough to tell you they went another direction.

– They have a completely broken recruitment process and might still be going through it believing you’re just as happy as a pig in shi…

– They think they communicated to you electronically to bug off through their ATS, but they haven’t audited the process to know this isn’t working.

– The recruiter got fired and no one picked up the process.

I would love to tell you that ghosting candidates are a rare thing, but it’s not! It happens all the time! There is never a reason to ghost a candidate, ever! Sometimes I believe candidates get ghosted by recruiters because hiring managers don’t give feedback, but that still isn’t an excuse I would accept, at least tell the candidate that!

Look, I’ve ghosted people. At conference cocktail parties, I’ve been known to ghost my way right back up to my room and go to sleep! When it comes to candidates, I don’t ghost! I would rather tell them the truth so they don’t keep coming back around unless I want them to come back around.

I think most recruiters ghost candidates because they’re over their head in the amount of work they have, and they mean to get back to people, but just don’t have the time. When you’re in the firefighting mode you tend to only communicate with the candidates you want, not the ones you don’t. Is this good practice? Heck, no! But when you’re fighting fires, you do what you have to do to stay alive.

What would I do, if I was you? 

Here are a few ideas to try if you really want to know the truth:

1. Send a handwritten letter to the CEO of the company briefly explaining your experience and what outcome you would like.

2. Go on Twitter and in 280 characters send a shot across the bow! “XYZ Co. I interviewed 2 weeks ago and still haven’t heard anything! Can you help me!?” (Will work on Facebook & IG as well!)

3. Write a post about your experience on LinkedIn and tag the recruiter and the recruiter’s boss.

4. Take the hint and go find a company who truly values you and your talent! If the organization and this manager will treat candidates like this, imagine how you’ll be treated as an employee?

For more by Tim Sackett visit

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What if instead of paying your university or trade school tuition, you paid them shares of your future self in the form of “Income Sharing“? That’s what some schools have been toying around with:

“The Lambda School teaches information technology skills online, and it charges zero tuition and offers stipends to select students. The deal is that students pay back 17 percent of their income from the first two years of work, if earnings exceed $50,000 a year, with a maximum payment of $30,000. Students who don’t find jobs at that income level don’t pay anything. Students may also opt to pay $20,000 in tuition upfront and keep their future income.

There are reportedly about 1,300 students enrolled, and the company has raised almost $50 million. The early job placement record is impressive; 86 percent of graduates have jobs within 180 days of finishing the program, at a median starting salary of $60,000. It is too early to judge results — how would these students have fared without Lambda or in a less strong job market? — but this kind of effort is an economist’s dream come true.”The barrier for most people getting into the field they want is education and the cost of education. Are you willing to bet on yourself?The entire concept is fascinating to me. It makes me think about how you value yourself. What are you really worth?

Let’s say each of us was separated into 100 shares of theoretical stock.

What would your stock be valued at certain times in your life?

Would you be willing to sell a share or two or more at certain periods to help you pay for certain things at that time, or even use that money you got in return to purchase other shares of other people you believe will have higher value down the road?

The big question is what do you really get in owning stock in a certain individual?

What if it was a portion of their earnings forever?

Each time this individual earns money and let’s say you own one share, you would get 1/100th of there earnings until they die or you sell their share to someone else, or they buy their share back. All of this helps you understand how to value yourselfI get asked almost weekly by folks who want to be consultants how much per hour should they charge? I don’t really have an answer because each of us has a different value and we all value the work we do differently. For a friend, my hourly rate might be $0, or some work I don’t really want to do that hourly rate might be $1,000 per hour.

I’m not sure what my stock value is currently, but I know it’s way higher than when I was in college believing I was going to start a career as a teacher. When I was twenty I would have sold shares of myself fairly cheaply and someone would have made out really well. What do you think your current share price is?

For more articles by Tim Sackett visit

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Bad Hires Worse!

If I could take all of my life, leadership and HR education and boil it down to this one piece of advice, it would be this:


In HR we love to talk about our hiring and screening processes, and how we “only” hire the best talent, but in the end we, more times than not, we leave the final decision on who to hire to the person who will be responsible to supervise the person being hired. The Hiring Manager.

I don’t know about all of you, but in my stops across corporate America, all of my hiring managers haven’t been “A” players, many have been “B” players and a good handful of “C” players.  Yet, in almost all of those stops, we (I) didn’t stop bad hiring managers from hiring when the need came.  Sure I would try to influence more with my struggling managers, be more involved but they still ultimately had to make a decision that they had to live with.

I know I’m not the only one it happens every single day.  Everyday we allow bad hiring managers to make talent decisions in our organizations, just as we are making plans to move the bad manager off the bus.   It’s not an easy change to make in your organization.  It’s something that has to come from the top.  But, if you are serious about making a positive impact on talent in your organization you can not allow bad managers to make talent decisions.

They have to know, through performance management, that:

1. You’re bad (and need fixing or moving);

2. You no longer have the ability to make hiring decisions. 

That is when you hit your High Potential manager succession list and tap on some shoulders.  “Hey, Mrs. Hi-Po, guess what we need your help with some interviewing and selection decisions.”  It sends a clear and direct message to your organization we won’t hire worse.

Remember, this isn’t just an operational issue it happens at all levels, in all departments.  Sometimes the hardest thing to do is look in the mirror at our own departments.  If you have bad talent in HR, don’t allow them to hire (“but it’s different we’re in HR, we know better!”) No you don’t, stop it.   Bad hires worse over and over and over.

Bad needs to hire worse, they’re desperate, they’ll do anything to protect themselves, they make bad decisions, they are Bad.  We/HR own this.  We have the ability and influence to stop it.  No executive is going to tell you “No” when you suggest we stop allowing our bad managers the ability to make hiring decisions, in fact, they’ll probably hug you.

It’s a regret I have in my career and something I will change moving forward.  If it happens again, I won’t allow it.  I vow from this day forward, I will never allow a bad hiring manager to make a hiring decision, at least not without a fight!

For more articles by Tim Sackett visit

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The Single Greatest Trait An HR Pro Can Have

HR 101.

If there is one thing I could give a new HR Pro it would be this simple advice: No matter how prepared you think you are, you really only need to prepare yourself, for one thing.

What’s that ‘one’ thing?

You’re going to be surprised in your career with some stuff!

You don’t really get judged on your daily stuff.  Let’s face it, 99.9% of the time that goes off without a hitch.  You get judged on how you handle surprises.

Surprises make and break great HR Pro careers.

There’s really only one way to prepare for surprises.  You need to expect that a surprise will always happen. That one employee you can’t lose or the entire project will blow up, be prepared to lose them.  Talk about it, plan for it, and basically come to grips that it will happen.  Then it will happen, and you’ll be the only one not surprised by it.

The best HR Pros I’ve worked with had this one common trait, they were unshakeable when surprised. Almost like they expected it.

They say the best things happen unexpectedly.. So…. Surprise!

For more articles by Tim Sackett please visit

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5 Things to Remember When Recruiting New Grads

What a wonderful time of the year — flowers are blooming, the grass is turning green, and new college grads have sprung! Lucky for these new grads, they’ve graduated during a great economic time. The job market is hot, unemployment is low, and according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers Job Outlook 2019 Spring Update, employers plan to hire 10.7% more Class of 2019 graduates than they did from the Class of 2018.

The challenge for employers now is to attract and retain this fresh group of talent. Below are a few things for employers to keep in mind when looking to hire new grads.

1. They are entry-level

Don’t overlook their resume based on natural bias for experienced candidates. Look to see what jobs or internships that they held while they were in school, what groups they were involved in, and what projects that they worked on. These will be indicators of their work ethic and skills while their specific knowledge comes from their education.

2. Relax on the requirements

If you want to attract new college grads, the list of requirements for the entry-level job will need to change. Only list a few of the absolute must have requirements and relax on the things that can be easily taught. Instead, list some of the transferable skills that are needed for the position.

3. Have a job portal specifically for new grads

Show new grads that there is a place for them at your organization by having a portal specific for new and recent grads on your career site. This is a great way to kick off a great candidate experience with your organization.

4. You need to interview them differently

Because new grads lack direct work experience, hiring managers will need to perform behavior based interviewing techniques to identify transferable skills.

5. Provide training and mentoring

Having a strong training and mentoring program for new hires is very important to new grads. They’re not going to walk into the office and be an instant pro, and you shouldn’t expect them too. Be prepared to mold them into your ideal employee.

Happy Hiring!

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Giving Feedback to Recruiters

Recruiters and hiring managers have long had a history of a relationship in need of improvement. A major area that they can improve on is communication. Communication, just like it does in any other relationship, plays a vital role between the hiring manager and the recruiter. Specifically, a needed aspect of communication between the two is feedback from hiring managers to recruiters. 

Why Feedback Matters

Feedback between hiring managers and recruiters is crucial because it shows that the hiring manager is actually engaged in the hiring process. If they’re not providing feedback, then it brings recruiters to question whether they’re even reviewing the resumes. Is the position a need or a want for the hiring manager? What is their urgency-level on filling it? They may tell recruiters that it’s an urgent need, but if their actions do not back that up and they can’t give them feedback, then it’s probably time for the recruiter to call BS.

Giving feedback also helps the recruiters know if they’re on the right track or not. Sure, job descriptions and intake meetings are a starting point for recruiters to get an idea, but sometimes the important skill sets for a position evolve over time with the issues the manager is facing day-to-day. When this happens, a one-on-one meeting with them is needed to review what recruiters should be sourcing for. It’s okay if requirements have changed, but they then need to be redefined and both parties need to agree that moving forward those are what will be looked for. Hiring managers will also need to give feedback on candidates received to make sure that recruiters are hitting the mark and to find out where they can improve. Until the manager starts giving specific feedback, they are going to see more of the same types of applicants, wasting both parties time.

Some organizations don’t like to give feedback because they’re very sensitive to the legal ramifications if something is communicated poorly. The truth is, there is nothing wrong with giving feedback as long as you’re not breaking an actual law and discriminating against people. The recruiters need those specifics to zero in on what is going to work, so it’s important to be candid with them. They can manage delivering feedback to candidates to avoid any repercussions. Giving objective and specific feedback allows the recruiter to take it and retool their search and screening process. This really pays off in the long run because over time, the recruiter will understand the manager and get really good at knowing what they want. What used to take 20 applicants to hit the mark will take 10 or even 5 in a short amount of time.

How To Ensure Feedback is Given and Received

Weekly Meetings:

Both parties can set aside time a week or two after the intake meeting that both parties commit to. This will be the time when candidates are discussed and feedback is provided. If people are not identified to move forward in the process at that time, then the feedback can be used to source new ones and the follow up meeting the next week will be more productive. These meetings should not take long as long as both parties come prepared.

Listen and Ask Questions

Good recruiters are excellent listeners and ask probing questions. If you are meeting with a manager to go over candidates, then you better be actively listening and not wasting their time. If you need clarification or have an idea, then ask the probing questions. You might find a different set of criteria to search with by asking the right questions since you are not the expert in that field.


Managers need to respect the recruiters and the candidates time and vice versa. We all want to get the position filled quickly, so start with a level of respect between all parties that will allow that to happen.

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Expanding Your Talent Pool

Nearly 700,000 people (1 in 3 adults) are released from prison each year. These are people with criminal records that have served their time and yet as employers, we are often quick re-sentence them by locking them out of the job market even though we are facing a human capitol crisis.

Why is this?

Part of our human flaw is being stubborn, hypocritical, and close minded. We often believe what we want and nobody can change our minds. We think that we (ourselves) can change, but others cannot. Think about it, are you the same person that you were in high school? What about in college or when you first started your career? You probably would answer that you’ve changed over the years. Most of us like to think that we’ve changed for the better.

However, when it comes to those that that we didn’t like in school, we often believe that they are incapable of change. They are the same person now that they were then. The same goes for our beliefs of individuals with criminal records. They did something wrong and therefore they are incapable of change.

But that’s a load of crap.

Yes, these people have made a mistake or two and it’s recorded on paper. But, that shouldn’t stop them from getting a second chance. An important part of life is learning from our mistakes and moving forward. However, it’s hard to move forward when the door to opportunities are constantly being slammed in your face. This is why so many educated and highly-skilled workers with criminal records are ending up in low-skill, underpaying positions. Shutting them out of the job market due to their record is only holding real talent back from the potential value that they could bring to your organization and re-sentencing those that have already served their sentence.

In this tight labor market, we shouldn’t be shutting out perfectly qualified candidates. We should be inviting them in to expand our talent pool. And chances are, this exiled talent pool will be so grateful for opportunities that they will become some of the best, hardest working and most dedicated employees that you have. It’s up to us to provide them with an equal opportunity to flourish. To give second chances that can change lives.

So, what will you do?

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Stop Hiring for a Culture “Fit”

Company culture is all the buzz. We’ve learned that culture weighs heavily on a candidate’s decision to apply to a job and to accept an offer. Companies have worked hard in the past few years to really improve and nurture their culture to be a part of their attractive talent brand.

The problem is that with this new and improved fostered culture, employers now tend to hire employees based on whether or not they feel the candidate is a culture fit. Of course, other factors such as their ability to do the job and learn new things play into their hiring decision as well. However, it’s not rare when making hiring decisions to hear a manager say something like, “Yeah, Susie was qualified for the job and interviewed great, but I think that Kevin is a better culture fit so we are going to extend him an offer”.

Hiring based on culture fit has given employers a new excuse to turn away candidates that would be a great addition to their team just because they are different then their typical hire.

A cultural fit is often seen as someone who thinks the same as everyone else on the team, comes from a similar background, and shares similar experiences. This leads to a major issue: the lack of diversity.

The solution? Hire for a cultural addition, not a “fit”. Look for someone that brings something unique to the team. Someone with different skills and knowledge. Someone with a different mindset. Someone that comes from a different background. Someone with different life experiences.

The more people you hire that make culture additions, the more diverse your organization becomes. As everyone knows by now, diverse companies see an increase in applicants, an improved retention rate, more innovation and creativity, and increased revenue.

So, whats stopping you from adding more diversity through culture additions?

Diversity matters. Diversity is good. Don’t be afraid to shake things up in your organization by embracing new faces that challenge the norm.

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Everyone Wants a Talent Brand That Candidates Love, But…

Everyone wants a talent brand that candidates will love, but almost no Talent Acquisition function is actually willing to love those same candidates back!

You get this, right!?

Do you know why you love certain brands? It’s usually a combination of an experience you had with that brand. You loved their product or service, how they/it made you feel, how you were treated, etc. The brand made you feel like you were apart of it. That it ‘loved’ you, just even a little.

We all want to have these amazing talent brands (employment brands), but part of having that amazing brand is you have to actually truly like the candidates who are reaching out to you. This is the single biggest struggle most organizations have with establishing a real Talent Brand. We want candidates to love us, but we don’t want to love them in return!

In fact, we don’t even really want to be friends with them! Or at least that’s how we act! Most TA shops treat candidates like they’re the enemy. Very similar to how celebrities treat the media. Love us! But, we’re going to act as you annoy us! Um, what!? This is about 90% of TA shops, and they’re completely flabbergasted when the data says candidates think they’re crap!

So, you want a Talent Brand candidates will love? Try doing some of this:

1. Change your internal TA culture to start believing candidates are our friend, not the enemy! Without these wonderful candidates, we don’t have jobs! We need you!

2. Do not allow your recruiters to talk negatively about candidates. This is really hard. It’s the teacher’s lounge mentality. Well, we’re behind locked doors they don’t know what we say. It’s not about what you say, it’s about the mentality of us vs. them you’re allowing in your shop!

3. Treat your candidates like you treat your hiring managers. Unless you also treat your hiring managers like crap, then don’t do that.

4. Invite random candidates in to talk to your team about their experience, especially those who didn’t get hired. This will really open eyes.

5. Don’t allow your team to use the excuse “we don’t have time”. Nothing is more important than communicating with candidates. Nothing. It’s really your only job. Stop doing everything else, except this. Then you’ll have time.

The reality is, it’s much easier to love a brand when you believe they love you back.

This post was written and published by Tim Sackett on October 1, 2018 for The Tim Sackett Project.

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