6 reasons you may be getting disqualified from jobs when applying

Posted May 30, 2016

The majority of applicants to a small business get disqualified immediately. There are lots of reasons to disqualify an applicant before even looking at their resume. Make sure you are not making any of these six critical mistakes when applying. (Deseret Photo)

Are you getting disqualified from jobs when applying but you don’t know why? I’m here to try to help you understand why you may not be getting your dream job, or even getting the opportunity to interview.

There are certain things that cause me to immediately disqualify an applicant from the hiring process. Some are disqualified during the application process, while others get eliminated during the interview phase.

Below are six reasons you may be getting disqualified from a job; if you are violating any of these, fix them immediately.

No LinkedIn profile or a weak profile

It doesn’t matter whether you like social media or not; it is actually important in the business world. Of particular importance to small businesses is the social platform LinkedIn.

If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, you are disqualified. If you don’t have a picture on your profile, you are eliminated.

You need to think of LinkedIn as your online resume. I am much more interested in an applicant's LinkedIn profile than a resume.

I then look at how complete their profile is. Do they share relevant information? How many connections do they have? Do they have good recommendations? Is their work history up to date?

If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, get signed up and make sure to add a picture and then optimize your LinkedIn profile.

Old-school and unprofessional email addresses

I’m not ashamed to admit that I disqualify candidates that have unprofessional email providers or email addresses. So what are disqualifying email providers? For me that is Hotmail and AOL. Hotmail and AOL are known to have a lot of scammers/bots associated with the messages. Stick to an e-mail provider that has some great security measures like Gmail or Outlook.

Another thing I look at is the email address itself. If your email address is you are getting deleted. This e-mail is unprofessional and completely inappropriate. As an owner, my thoughts are whether or not you’re going to be a liability. Would you be making co-workers uncomfortable, would there be problems with sexual harassment? There’s really no way to know, because we’ve never met before and the resume in front of me, along with the e-mail address is my first impression of your personality.

You can’t go wrong with a professional Gmail address. There are plenty of good e-mail addresses out there that you can associate your name with. If you’re going to have a name like John Smith it can be fun. Mix up numbers like It’s still simple enough to understand it’s you, and doesn’t raise a flag as to your integrity.

A generic cover letter

In all of our job advertisements I specifically state:

“Please do not send us a generic cover letter; chances are we won’t read your resume.

This doesn’t mean that I won’t look at your resume. Do I state this because I am arrogant? No, I state this because generic cover letters are boring. They also show that you don’t care enough about this job to take five minutes out of your day to do some research on the company and job you are applying for and tailor your cover to them.

Give me a good example of how your experience can help our company, what you bring to the job and how it’s applicable to our business, or even what you understand about our company.

People that write good cover letters tailored to the specific job and company increase their chances of getting to the interview phase.

No research done on the business before the interview

Here is a simple, yet super effective interview question we ask:

“So tell us what you know about us and our business?”

If you haven’t done any research on us we know instantly; we can see it based on your body language after we ask this question.

So where should you be doing research on these businesses and people that are interviewing you? You should Google the interviewees and the business. You should look on LinkedIn at personal profiles and the business page. Lastly, you should look on the company’s Web page itself. Peruse the Web page in detail and especially the about us page. You should learn a great deal about the business, what it does and what is important to the business.

See what good information you can dig up on the company and people that are interviewing you. Any little detailed tid-bit you can work in will help.

Looking through the potential co-workers’ profiles, looking through the job description, understanding the company and its culture can all be great clues as to whether you’d even enjoy working for the company. If you’re not going to fit in, it’s not worth either of our time to sit through interviews, fill out paperwork or do training.

When we ask a candidate what they know about our business and they answer with: “Well I know you run an outsourced bookkeeping services company,” they don’t get the job.

Not challenging themselves

I like candidates with big aspirations who like to be challenged. So when you get asked the old question (because you know it’s coming): Where do you see yourself in five years?

Go big! Also, tell the truth. If you are applying for a bookkeeper position with us and you tell us that in five years you want to be a bookkeeper, it’s going to be a no go from us.

I like dreamers. I like people who challenge themselves. I like people with a vision.

Inability to have a conversation

All this social media stuff out there has made us, well, kind of unsocial. If you can’t carry on a normal conversation, most businesses won’t hire you.

But why not? If you aren’t comfortable socializing …

  1. You won’t fit in with your co-workers.
  2. You can’t talk to clients.
Business is about sales. We sell the company image through ourselves to potential clients every day. We also have to retain our current customers. It only takes one employee to tarnish the reputation of a company, whereas it will take many to build it back up.

You spend a heck of a lot of time with your co-workers, so they are going to want someone who is easy to talk to.

That doesn’t mean you have to be a very talkative or even social person. All I’m saying is that if you can’t have a regular conversation without it being awkward, I think that may be a disqualifying event.

If you have a hard time carrying on a good conversation, go to a bunch of business networking events. That is a great way to learn how to talk to other business people.

I would love to hear your thoughts. What other reasons cause you to disqualify applicants that they may not be thinking about?


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