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10 Things That Turn Employers Off

Want that job? Be sure to steer clear of these 10 major turn-offs.

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1. Long, rambling CVs.


Your potential employer is probably a very busy person - they won't have time to read your life story, so be sure to keep your CV short and snappy.

So how long should a CV be, exactly? Science recruitment specialists Hyper Recruitment Solutions recommend a maximum of 2-3 pages: "Venturing onto a fourth or even fifth page is a rookie CV mistake, and employers will get the impression that you are disorganised and tend to ramble on."

2. Empty clichés and buzzwords.


Your CV and cover letter should trumpet your abilities and expertise, but don't fall into the trap of listing clichéd 'skills' without expanding on any of them. Everyone says they're 'proactive' and 'dynamic', but these claims are virtually meaningless without examples to back them up.

"There's nothing wrong with saying you have 'good people management skills'," say veteran recruiters Michael Page, citing another common cliché, "but don't leave it there; briefly state a time in a previous role when using those skills added something to the business. Always back it up with real-life evidence."

3. Unprofessional email addresses.


This is a really obvious rule, but people still break it. When you apply for a job, you need to convey a professional image, and an email address like '' completely undercuts that.

Create a new email account if you have to, preferably using your real name rather than a silly nickname.

4. Stock cover letters.


If you're applying for lots of different jobs, you might be tempted to write a 'stock' cover letter and send the same thing to every company you contact.

This is a bad idea. Most employers will notice your copy/paste job, and they'll think you have no specific interest in the role they're offering.

The career experts at recommend thinking about it from the employer's point of view. "First imagine a somewhat bland, generic letter that reads like it's been used over and over again. Now imagine a cover letter that addresses exactly what it is about your particular job opening that excites the candidate. Which approach do you think will land the interview?"

5. Spelling mistakes and bad grammar.


'Check your spelling' is another obvious rule that nevertheless gets broken all the time. Spelling and grammar errors look terrible on a job application, especially if the job in question involves some kind of writing.

Once you've finished writing your CV or cover letter, you absolutely MUST give it a proper read-through to make sure everything is spelled and punctuated correctly. Then give it a second read-through, just to be sure. Then give it to a well-read friend and ask them to point out any mistakes you've missed.

6. Showing up late.


So you applied for a job, avoided all of the pitfalls listed above, and landed an interview. Great work! Now make sure you get there on time - after all, if you're late for the job interview, it stands to reason that you'll be late for the job.

It's very difficult to recover from a late arrival, no matter how well the interview itself goes. Be sure to plan your journey in advance and set out with plenty of time to spare. If you're delayed by circumstances beyond your control, have the courtesy to call the interviewer and let them know why you're running late.

7. Poor personal hygiene.


Would you hire a candidate who smelled bad or looked like they hadn't washed for a few days? Neither would most employers.

Interviewers aren't just being judgemental when they reject a candidate because of their poor personal hygiene. According to interview advice website What Will They Ask?, there are genuine business reasons for doing this: "If you don't care much for your own body then you won't care much about the work you are doing. The interviewer will also be concerned that you would be unappealing to clients and therefore unable to perform certain roles."

8. The same old answers they've heard a million times before.


There are some questions that you expect to hear at almost every job interview you attend. 'What makes you right for this job?' 'Where do you see yourself in five years' time?' 'What's your greatest weakness?'

The worst thing you can do when asked any of these questions is respond with a clichéd answer that doesn't say anything about you. It's good to prepare answers for the most common interview questions, but Hyper Recruitment Solutions' advice is to "try and think of unique answers. Your potential employer will most likely ask every candidate these questions, and may therefore have heard many of the same answers over and over again." Aim to give an answer that really distinguishes you from the competition!

9. Complaining about your current job.


'Why are you leaving your current job?' is another common question, but it's sometimes better to bend the truth a little when you answer this one. Perhaps you're leaving because your boss is always yelling at you, or because your colleagues are a flock of incompetents. That's fine - but keep it to yourself. You don't want the interviewer to suspect that you're a serial moaner, or worse still, that you're actually the source of the problems you're describing.

"Never complain about your current employer," advise the gurus at Michael Page, "no matter how despotic or ineffectual they are. Badmouthing won't reflect well on you."

10. Leaving without asking any questions of your own.


It's always a relief when the interviewer asks if you have any questions for them. This usually signals that the interview is almost over - all that's left to do is wrap it up and leave with a polite smile and a handshake, right?

Well, not quite. Many employers will be disappointed if you fail to ask any questions of your own; according to, "having no questions indicates that you are not interested." So make sure you arrive with a couple of insightful, informed questions that will leave your potential employer with a great impression of you.

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