4 Things That Could Scare Off a Potential Employer


We all know the process of finding a job is daunting, not to mention time consuming and oftentimes stressful. It’s a roller coaster of emotions. You’re on a high when you land a first-round interview but then you’re anxiously awaiting word on whether you advance to the next round or not.

Most of the interview process is out of your hands, for better or for worse. But what you can control are your actions. Certain things are bound to be a turnoff for employers, so if you want to up your chances of landing your dream job, steer clear of these common mistakes job seekers make.

Failing to Listen

The best thing you can do, especially when applying for a job, is to read and reread the instructions given to you. Yes, this applies to lots of situations in life, but an employer is judging you from the minute you hit “send” on your application. If you mistitled the email or didn’t send all of the requested materials, they will likely discount you right away. What you’re saying, without actually saying it, is that you can’t follow instructions or listen to what’s asked of you.

Potential employers, especially potential managers, want to hire someone who can take direction well and execute it with minimal oversight. Of course, mistakes happen and there is a learning curve to any position. But failing to heed simple directions like what to title an email, when to follow up or how to get in contact with them again is a big red flag to employers.

Appearing Unprofessional

These days everyone has an online presence whether you want one or not. It’s important to make sure yours is something you’re proud of and furthermore, are OK with a future boss seeing. First, start with the things you can control. Make sure your email address isn’t leftover from middle school when having “x’s” and “o’s” were all the rage. In that same vein, use a professional photo when needed. This doesn’t need to be a headshot necessarily, but make sure it reflects the person you want an employer to see.

Your communication style goes into your professional appearance, too. Address your emails, don’t use slang and ensure your grammar and spelling are accurate before firing off a follow-up note.

Speaking Ill of Others

During the interview process, you’ll likely be asked about your previous (or current) employer. While it’s clear that you’re looking for a new job for a reason, bad-mouthing the company, your boss or a co-worker isn’t a good look. It just signals to a potential employer that you get disgruntled, you’re hard to please or a plethora of other things.

You’re not going to get along with everyone but keep your opinions to yourself. There are other ways to express your reasoning for leaving a company or seeking a new position, so spin your answer into a positive. This could sound something like: “I’m no longer challenged in my current position and there aren’t adequate growth opportunities at my employer.” Or, “I’m looking for a company that prioritizes flexible work schedules and has a culture of learning and development.” Think about the real, raw reason you want to leave and soften it when talking to potential employers.

Changing Your Tune

When you find yourself at the offer stage of the interview process, you will likely want to (and should!) negotiate. But, ensure you stay in line with the scope of the position and salary range you gave at the very beginning of the process.

An employer will expect you to counter a job offer. But when a candidate comes back asking for thousands of dollars more than the original number they gave and an entirely different job title, it’s not only confusing but a sign that you weren’t on the same page during the interview process. If you aren’t able to work together during the interview process, how are you supposed to work together long-term?

So, next time you’re interviewing for a new job, leave these four behaviors behind. You can thank us when you land the job.

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