4 Hiring Experts Share: 9 Reasons Why We Dismiss Potential Candidates

We have all read countless articles during the job search process to help us avoid potential pitfalls as we enter this stressful time. Are you sending out tens or hundreds of resumes and aren’t landing a single interview or even a polite email back? What could possibly be going wrong that is preventing hiring managers from reaching out to you?

We consulted with 4 hiring experts to ask them why they overlook candidates and what can be done differently to make your application SHINE.


Danica Kombol Hiring ExpertDanica Kombol of Everywhere Agency, a social media and influencer marketing agency, shared her take on this with the following candidate no-nos:  

Stock responses

Stock responses to a job opportunity are a big turn-off. We’re a creative agency so we look for individuals who have done their research and show they know something about our company.

Lack of passion

Candidates have to have some experience or show some passion for our industry. Even if they’ve worked in a different field, their resume has to somehow show they are passionate about our field.

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Alyssa Magid Hiring ExpertAlyssa Magid, Director of Virtual Assistant Israel, shares her top three resume don’ts:

Using an AOL email address

This shows the candidate is simply out of touch with the current online world. Sorry, AOL, I loved you as a pre-teen!

Listing Microsoft Office or “Internet” as a skill

These are givens for anyone applying for a job nowadays, along with being able to read and use a calculator.

Resumes are written in paragraph form

Bullets are so important in a resume. A candidate has 5 seconds of my attention, they should do their utmost to ensure that their key skills and experience stand out. Well-written bullets also show the candidate’s ability to communicate efficiently and effectively.

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Christy Hopkins Hiring Expert

Christy Hopkins, Human Resources consultant and writer at  Fit Small Business, shares her biggest candidate pet peeves with us:  

References to the Wrong Company

I would estimate 5-10% of the resumes or cover letters I read have the wrong company listed in them, such as “I would love to work at ABC Company”… when they are applying to ‘EFG Business’. This shows me that the candidate is blanket applying to anything that pops up and is not even taking the time to edit 1-2 lines in their cover letter and/or resume before applying- not a good sign.

Money, Honey

When a candidate puts salary requirements in the initial email exchange about a potential phone interview, it tends to turn a sour note with myself and my clients (I usually work with small businesses & startups). The wording is the biggest issue, i.e. “I will only consider roles of $80K and above” versus “Due to commitments in my life and my salary history, I am ideally seeking $80K or above”. The 2nd statement sounds normal, reasonable, and makes sense. (Advice: Read what you write in your applications aloud to avoid things like this.)

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Lauren McAdams Hiring Expert

If you have managed to enter the interview phase Lauren McAdams of Resume Companion felt inclined to add:

Speaking badly about their current job or previous employers

The absolute worst thing a candidate can do in an interview is to speak poorly of a previous employer – and it happens all the time. Don’t get me wrong, oftentimes candidates have legitimate bad experiences with past jobs. Still, there are two sides to every story, and an interviewer simply doesn’t know you well enough to determine whether or not you’re telling the whole truth. They could come to the conclusion that you are a hard-to-work-with employee, and that if they ran into problems with you, you’d speak the same way about them as you do about your last company.

They don’t bring a pen

This is more of a personal pet peeve, but when I talk about it with hiring managers they seem to agree – never forget to bring your own pen. It’s a tiny detail, but one of those details that shouldn’t be overlooked in a professional setting like a job interview. If you haven’t thought ahead enough to bring a pen should you need it, are you going to catch the more important details when you’re on the job? While I’ve probably broken this rule for exceptionally good interviewees, it certainly is a tick in the “negatives” column. Always bring a pen.

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So there you have it, the top 9 reasons why HR and hiring professionals dismiss candidates. We truly hope that it gives you some clarity and direction in your current job hunt. Good luck!