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Five on Friday: Job dealbreakers

Five on Friday: Job dealbreakers

Welcome to Five on Friday, a round-up of views on a theme. Today we look at the reasons people don’t get hired: whether it’s the graphic design candidate who uses Comic Sans, or the poor speller who was rejected for the proofreading job. Don’t laugh, though, not all dealbreakers are this obvious.

Most of us are familiar, even comfortable, with rejection. I once went for a marketing job straight out of university and the recruiter asked me why I thought I’d be good for the role. The question stumped me. Eventually I said, “Because I’m good at communication” but the damage had been done. Everything about my answer said the complete opposite. Lesson learnt.

There are many job dealbreakers that candidates need to be aware of before they show up for an interview, or even apply for a role. Some will be more obvious than others and some can even be a little unfair.

1. You don’t tick all the boxes
Do you meet all the required criteria? If the answer is ‘no’, then don’t be surprised that you were knocked back. Organisations go to the trouble of specifying criteria in their positions vacant ad for a reason. If the ad asks for at least five years experience and you’re a new graduate with no experience, you’re just wasting their time (and it’s probably bad karma).

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened a cover letter that states deficiencies upfront—‘I know I don’t have a portfolio like you asked…’—immediate no. Some organisations might not even honour these applications with a formal knockback.

2. ‘You’re just not quite what we’re looking for’
So not ticking all the boxes is a pretty straightforward dealbreaker, especially when it comes to legal requirements for organisations (for example a Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety is often a minimum legal requirement for safety roles).

There are, however, more ambiguous reasons why a company won’t hire you. Most of the time it’s not that you wouldn’t do all right in the role but that another candidate may just be better suited. Sometimes it’s about cultural fit, which can be a little subjective.

Pity the man with the face tattoo who just doesn’t understand why the childcare centre won’t call him back.

unemployed man with a face tattoo

3. Consistency is all I ask!
Do you have holes in your résumé? Have you had lots of short-term jobs, in different roles across different industries? Did you say you could use [insert software program here] but can’t answer a simple question on how the tool functions? Do you remember what’s in your CV?

There are plenty of reasons why you might have a patchy résumé and you should be prepared to articulate them when asked. Don’t make excuses, explain. Consistency is key here; if at any time you are inconsistent about your past, or there’s a mismatch between what you say you can do and what’s evident when you’re in a job interview (or undergoing an aptitude test) then it’s a dealbreaker.

4. Social media profile
In the old days, potential employers would call up your referees. Today, many still do that but they also use your social media profile/s as a kind of reference as well. A study conducted by Jobvite shows how your profile can affect your chances depending on how well behaved you are… or not.

5. …or anything on the internet about you
Use a search engine and type in your name. What comes up on the first few pages? The vitriolic poem you wrote when you were a 15-year-old anarchist? Your volunteer stint at the local animal shelter? A news item about that time you set fire to the family home? Be aware of what potential employers might find and see if you can push the good stuff to the top with savvy search engine optimisation. This is one of the times I envy my friends with very common names.

Have a great weekend and if you’re in ACT, NSW or South Australia enjoy your extra day off.


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