How To Turn Recruiters Off

Frustrated recruiter

Top 5 Ways to Scare Away Recruiters

By Vinda Rao

Today we released the results of a survey that defines the top five candidate behaviors that scare away recruiters and other factors that negatively impact a job seeker’s chance of landing a job. The anonymous survey of 1,500 recruiters and hiring managers revealed that applying to irrelevant jobs topped the list of pet peeves for recruiters.

Thirty percent of recruiters noted that their biggest turnoff was candidates who apply to irrelevant jobs (jobs for which they are clearly unqualified), with 43 percent of respondents indicating that they would go so far as to “blacklist” such candidates and suppress their names from resume searches.

The additional top four negative candidate behaviors were:

  • Exaggerating qualifications on their resume – 21 percent of recruiters say it’s a big pet peeve
  • Focusing on salary above all other job factors – 15 percent don’t want to work with candidates who think that salary is the most important factor in a new job
  • Responding to a job posting that is way beyond their level of experience – 13 percent of recruiters indicate these unrealistic applications waste their time
  • Calling/emailing more than once a week for status updates – 11 percent do not want to hear from candidates that often, unless actively discussing a specific opportunity

“Some job candidates have no idea how their own behaviors can be a total turnoff to the recruiters who are trying to help them,” said Art Papas, founder and CEO of Bullhorn. “The findings of our survey will hopefully not only help job seekers get inside the heads of recruiters to be able to better position themselves, but also help make the job of a recruiter a lot easier.”

Recruiters disclose which attributes would set a candidate apart

We also asked recruiters to disclose which attributes would set a candidate apart from another candidate with a similar background and qualifications. The survey found:

  • Fifty-seven percent of recruiters would strongly factor in a candidate’s personality fit with the hiring company
  • Nearly 50 percent said “how well they present themselves in interviews” would be a big differentiator
  • Thirty-two percent thought the names of companies where a candidate worked previously could give them a leg up
  • Twenty-nine percent thought being referred by a friend or colleague would carry a lot of weight

Interestingly, fewer than four percent say that “the name of the school they attended” will help truly differentiate a candidate.

Another red flag for recruiters are gaps in employment. If the dates of employment and education don’t line up properly in a candidate’s resume, 89 percent of recruiters will assume he or she was unemployed during those gaps. Forty-seven percent of recruiters associate the title “self-employed” with being unemployed. And 42 percent of recruiters think that “independent consultants” are actually unemployed.

Some additional recommendations for candidates out of the survey findings include:

  • Don’t disguise enthusiasm: Fewer than five percent of recruiters said that “sounding and acting desperate to get a job” was their number one negative candidate behavior.
  • Don’t stress, social media rating systems won’t hold you back: Of 663 respondents who recruit for the marketing/PR/social media industries, less than seven percent say they consider candidates’ Klout scores in deciding whether to pursue them as prospects.
  • Be personable: When given a choice between “someone who is socially awkward and unexpressive with a genius IQ” and “someone who is highly sociable and collaborative with an average IQ,” nearly 95 percent of recruiters chose the latter.


About Us

Need a Job? Browse through all our current Job Vacancies online now. is a free online job posting site for employers to post jobs for free. Job seekers using the site can find all the best jobs in South Africa.

Remember that companies do post new jobs every day, so set up job alerts to be notified of any current job postings in South Africa. To search through all our current online job postings go here
As a jobseeker, you may register your Register your CV free. We have thousands of registered employer accounts who do not actively post online job vacancies but do search job seeker CVs and contact them directly.

If you are a recruiter or a company looking to fill a position, you may post jobs for free on our free online job posting site. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.

If this was helpful, you may also find these articles useful.

Cover Letter Tips & Advice

7 Mistakes First Time Job Seekers Make

How to make a good impression, during a job interview

Advice for writing a professional CV

Help! I need a job but don’t have experience

Get work experience in these 5 ways

What to do if you’ve just graduated from university.

Follow us: