Job Seekers Beware! Five Things That Can Scare Hiring Managers Away


The thought of looking for a new architecture, engineering, or construction job might seem scary. After all, it can be a tedious, time consuming and nerve-racking process. However job seekers often forget to consider how they could be thwarting their own efforts. Just as they are evaluating potential employers, hiring managers are trying to find the best candidate for their open positions. The last thing job seekers want, is to scare a hiring manager away.

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Five Things That Can Scare Away Hiring Managers

While there are a lot of things that may cause doubt in the eyes of hiring managers, certain actions or choices are treated as red flags almost every time. To reduce risk and make the best impression, candidates should avoid making the following five mistakes throughout their job search.

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1. Not Following Instructions

Whether a candidate refrained from providing requested information, forgot to bring an important document to an interview or failed to complete a required follow-up step, not following a hiring manager’s instructions is a surefire way to scare them off. It suggests you lack attention to detail or have a tendency towards complacency. They may also fear that you simply did not bother to read the instructions carefully, choosing to rush through the process only partially informed.

Not following instructions will leave a negative impression on the hiring manager. If you are applying to a job, take the time to review any and all instructions thoroughly, both before you begin and right before you submit the materials. Additionally, take notes if a hiring manager makes a verbal request during an interview.

2. Being Too Aggressive

When you are following up on an application or interview, there is a fine line between seeming enthusiastic and coming off as aggressive. For example, if you send the hiring manager an email the day after the closing date for applications to check in, your actions are likely appropriate. However, if you send an email every day, beginning the day after you sent your resume, that is not going to help you land the job.

Most hiring managers will communicate with your regularly if you are a strong candidate for the role. Touching base once a week is typically okay. Similarly, if the hiring manager said they would call on Thursday, and you have not heard from them by Friday, dropping a line on Monday should also be fine. However, if your actions border on badgering, you are more likely to be seen as desperate than enthusiastic.

Related Content: How Soon is “Too Soon” to Follow-Up After an Interview

3. Applying to Every Opening

Even if you are incredibly interested in a specific company, applying to every vacancy that you even slightly qualify for is not the way to land a job with that business. Unless all of the openings are in the same specialty or are at least closely aligned, your exuberance may make it seem like you do not actually know what you want or that you are desperately trying to land any job you possibly can.

If you have a preferred employer in mind, try to limit yourself to applying to one or two roles at a time, focusing on those that genuinely match your skills and capabilities. Should those not pan out, try to get feedback regarding why you were not seen as an ideal candidate, and use that information to increase your odds of being selected in the future.

4. Badmouthing Former Employers

Speaking negatively of your former employer (or coworkers) is always a red flag in the eyes of hiring managers. Whether you do so during the interview, on your publicly accessible social media page or in your cover letter, hiring managers will notice. They will more than likely become concerned that you will speak similarly of them in the future.

When discussing your previous employers, focus on being professional. It is better to be diplomatic and controlled than risk badmouthing them. Refrain from posting anything negative online, as hiring managers will undoubtedly review a candidate’s online presence. Even use caution when posting anonymous reviews. While it’s less likely to be traced back to you, it’s not worth the risk.

5. Discussing Sensitive Topics

Hiring managers do their homework. They almost always check candidates’ social media profiles and they ask plenty of questions throughout the screening process. If they look online and find posts, friends, or affiliations that relate to a sensitive topic, or you divulge details regarding a topic that you shouldn’t (e.g. private information about a previous employer) they may hesitate to hire you.

Before you apply for a job, thoroughly scrub your public social media profiles for any content that may be questionable. This can include your own posts and pictures, as well as anything you have liked, shared, or commented on. You may want to review the members of your network, especially if any of the organizations or persons are controversial. Review the privacy settings of your social media accounts, ensuring any non-professional profiles are set to private.

During the interview process, keep it professional and avoid discussion of sensitive topics. Regardless of whether it’s about something extremely personal, about someone you both know in the industry or regarding previous employer’s trade secrets, keep private information to yourself. Best case scenario, you may be perceived as a gossiper. Worst case, you could get into trouble for disclosing corporate information.

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