Job Seekers, what turns you off immediately?

Yesterday marked my six month anniversary at my new job, and I got to thinking about how as a job seeker there’s a ton of information out there from HR-types that tells you what sort of things on your resume and cover letter get you immediately round-filed, but I don’t recall anything telling potential employers what causes talented people to decide their open positions aren’t worth applying to. You know, other than advertising for people to model or work from home on Craigslist.

So I ask you, when you were looking for a job, what sort of things were red flags for you?

Me: [ul]
[li]Not having an address - be it a mailing address or an e-mail address - kept me from applying to those jobs 100% of the time. I hate making phone calls and never liked a job description that only gave you the option of contacting them by phone enough to do it.[/li][li]And over the years I learned not to bother with jobs that didn’t give you an inkling about the salary. After applying to a few when I was young, I realized that if they completely hid it, it’s because they weren’t planning to pay the person they hired crap.[/li]

Job postings without a clearly stated location (City AND State for the US) irk me. No, I don’t want to look up where East Podunk State College is located to know if I am interested in applying.

ETA: Job postings that are just the job title + a link to the job posting on the hiring institution’s website. Stop being too lazy to at least give a short description of the job & the type of candidate you’re looking for!

ETA2: Spelling or grammar errors will prevent me from applying. (does it make me sound less snobby if I tell you I work in higher ed? :slight_smile: )

Back when I was fresh out of college and didn’t know any better, I called in response to a job ad seeking recent grads, any major, must be U.S. citizens. I was pretty pissed off to discover it was for the Navy; I wouldn’t have wasted my time.

What the darn job is actually about. Lets say I love the outdoors and am a peacenick hippy. A job as a database guru for some national forest managing the kola population? I could get into that. A database guru for the evil department of defense? Not so much.

If a job application has a complex proprietary form, I’ll be grumpy. This is especially true if you want a lot of essays or short answers on an initial app. I’ll gladly write you an essay after the first round, but I’m not keep to spend a couple hours on an application that is statistically most likely to never been seen. Let me enter my vitals, send a resume, and then you see if you want to know more about me.`

I’ll get turned off if a job lists absurdly high qualifications or improbable experiences. I often see entry level jobs that want stuff like “Must be fluent in Pashtun and Hausa, with six years of experience implementing programs combining malaria prevention through interpretive dance programs with micro finance to Roma children with multi drug resistant TB. At least four years working in an active conflict zone excluding Iraq and Afghanistan. MA in health related field, MD preferred. $32,000.”

Mmmhmm. Good luck with that.

Jobs where you call in and they immediately schedule you to join a group interview, but are cagey on what they’ll be talking about or what they expect you to do in the job.

  1. No benefits.
  2. Less than full-time.
  3. Forcing me to put a salary number before they make the first offer–if I can’t write “negotiable” or “0” in that space, the application ends there.
  4. Personality tests. I won’t take them. Actually ran into one the last time I applied for a job. AT A BANK which pays quite a bit more than minimum wage. Personality tests are for minimum-wage-slaves, and I’m not desperate enough for work to sink to that level.
  1. Vague promises that sound even remotely Nigerian Scammer-ish.
  2. Temp to perm (aka ‘Charmin’ positions)
  3. Email address doesn’t match name of person in the letter.
  4. Telephone pre-Interviewer couldn’t pronounce sentences/words in a way that could be understood without constantly asking them to repeat themselves.
  5. You’ll be working for Top Shelf Inc, but employed/paid/indentured to Fly-By-Night-Grifter-Staffing.
  6. You must buy our benefits at “The Company Store”…
  7. Broken application website that nobody gives a damn about fixing.
  8. Interview (aka Lost Personal Day) at some full of themselves hiring outfit before you set foot in the clients doorway.
  9. Must provide an email address to see the application site. (I actually feel pretty bad for anyone whose email is “”.)
  10. Any type of commission/sales/marketing position mis-labeled as a salaried position. (I’ll actually take time out of my day to report each and every one of those that I see as a scam to CB or Monster)

Only sorta related but funny. I knew someone once sending out resumes left and right. They were quit socially clueless. I had to tell them their email address was bascially slang for mother of blowjobs at X .


and this:

To which I’ll add:

a) “Headhunters” that don’t know diddly squat about the job except what’s on the form or screen in front of them, and don’t understand the words printed there, either, and therefore:

*HEADHUNTER: I have an open position for a candidate who breathes air. I see your resume and you look like a good candidate. Tell me, can you breathe air?

ME: I can breathe most standard terresrial mixtures and close approximations as long as you’re upwards of 10% O[sub]2[/sub] at sea level or equivalent. I can breathe damn near anything noncaustic for short durations.

HEADHUNTER: I need to ask you: can you beathe air?*
b) Application web sites that will not parse your resume nor let you say “see resume” but instead want you to essentially manually type in a comprehensive job and educational experience compendium. Especially if every answer MUST be one that they’ve already got in their dropdown menu of possibilities and your school / companies / etc aren’t in them.

Ughh, head hunters or clueless HR staff. I applied for a job once and one of the requirements was a degree in one of the physical sciences. Apparently physics isn’t one of them.

Without a doubt it’s having to fill out long & tedious applications with the names of every job and supervisor you’ve had since the beginning of time. Just let me post a cv and resume.

You didn’t ask about interviews, but I’ll include my interviewing pet peeves anyway:

-Making a candidate wait for a long time (more than 5-10 mins) is rude. If the candidate is expected to show up on time, so should you.

-Have a list of questions ready for the candidate, but don’t just go down them like an HR laundry list. The best interviews are more like two-way conversations.

-If you say you’ll get back to the candidate within a certain amount of time, please do it. Nothing worse than being left hanging.

From this morning’s dredging of the job listings: “Windows Server 2008 administration: 5 years”

Yesterday: “Quallity Analyst Job - Sacramento, CA, US”

Basically, if whoever is posting the job doesn’t go out of his or her way to convince me that they’re not all a bunch of morons, I’m not reading the job posting.

I’m with Ethilrist – job descriptions which make it clear they have no idea what they’re talking about: “10 years of social media experience!” Really?

Any kind of mislead on the compensation. I saw one ad that offered $40 an hour for tour guides. Not “up to” or “approximately,” just a flat-out $40 an hour pay rate. Extremely skeptical but curious, I sent an inquiry email, and they sent me materials explaining that it was actually minimum wage, but you get to $40 an hour in tips… if you’re good. Fer crissakes, if you can’t just be honest in your freaking ad, what else are you going to be weaselly about? Whether or not you really think you owe me a paycheck in exchange for working? How hard is it to say “base pay plus tips”?

I’ve also seen ads which want a whole laundry list of senior level marketing skills, for $10 an hour. I’ve seen projects posted on the likes of eLance and Guru, posted as a flat fee, but when you take the scope of the project into consideration, worked out to maybe a couple bucks an hour. Good luck with that.

Think how much it can buy you in India

Any job that won’t just take your resume, but makes you re-enter every damned bit of your work and educational experience in absurdly tiny little boxes.

Employers who won’t just tell you they’re not hiring, but instead say they’re “keeping resumes on file” - and then want you to spend a couple hours filling out a form like the one mentioned above.

I might get some flack for this, but when I’ve been in job-hunting mode my spirit flags a little when a company I’m applying to prominently advertises their commitment to affirmative action. In good times I can be philosophical or ambivalent on the issue, but when I’ve really needed a job…well, I can still feel ambivalent about it on a larger scale, but on a personal level I find it dispiriting.

  1. For programming jobs, you sometimes get ads where they want someone who’s a guru in some new system and a guru in some old system and there are mentions of needing to hit the ground running, or words to that effect.
    Even if I did consider myself a guru in two systems, I wouldn’t apply for these: it implies bad things about the code base and the management of.

  2. Where I have the post code (zip) I’ll check it out on street view. e.g. I got invited for an interview a couple of days ago, but I rejected it because it was a dreary industrial estate in the middle of nowhere (yes I’m aware that google maps is not an up-to-date image).

When an interviewer can’t tell me exactly what my job will entail, and keeps talking around my specific questions in vague terms. One of my biggest pet peeves in employment is a lack of clear expectations, and if they aren’t clear during the interview, I doubt they’ll be clear after I’m hired.

I once applied for a job that wanted me to sign a medical release form entitling them to view my medical records. Uh, no.

At my University, there’s always SOME company or another who, given the flyer is at a university, are presumably trolling for recent graduates with ridiculous requirements like:

Must be proficient and have done significant, non-trivial applications and projects using PhP, Ruby, Python, Scheme, SQL, Java, C#, C++, Objective C, HTML, CSS, and Prolog.”

Sometimes they’ll even have some weird curveball in there like “Ideally also proficient in Windows Powershell as well as comfortable working on Oracle Solaris and OS/2 Warp systems” or something.

My guess is that some HR guy went to “list of programming languages” at Wikipedia or something. That or they really only need Ruby, CSS, and HTML and then added the other stuff with “Ha! This will scare off the deadbeat slackers!”

even sven, FWIW, job postings that are as specific as the one you described tend to be that way because the agency or company has already identified a candidate, they just can’t offer the job formally until the job has been advertised to the general public. Basically, they make the job requirements so specific that there is one and only one person on Earth who has those qualifications, and barring some miracle, no one else will have them. It’s stupid and a waste of everyone’s time and money, but it has to be done.

My big turn-off is blind ads, where you send your resume to a box at the newspaper. If the company advertising a position has to hide its identity, it’s probably not a company I’d want to work for for any reason.