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Biggest Turn Offs for Talent Teams

man and woman sitting at an office table smiling

Writing this article was no easy feat, as it delves into a topic that many talent specialists were hesitant to address openly. However, we were fortunate to have Alex Ganyukov, the Director of Talent Acquisition at Billie, former Head of Talent Acquisition at AutoScout24 and former Recruitment Manager at Google, who fearlessly tackled the question of what truly turns off talent teams. A massive thank you to Alex for sharing some incredible insights that will undoubtedly help job seekers both today and in the future.

In this article, we aim to provide clear direction on what can turn off talent teams during the resume review and interview stages. Additionally, we will conclude with a standout piece of advice that, if implemented, can significantly boost your chances of success in today's job market.


Turn Offs from Resumes

Mistakes, Misspellings, Errors, and Format:

Your resume is your first point of contact with a potential employer, and making a good impression is vital. Typos, grammatical errors, and poor formatting can leave a negative impression on recruiters both internal and external.

Sharing a document filled with mistakes sends a powerful message to everyone involved in the hiring process. It reflects poorly on your attention to detail and raises concerns about your ability to perform quality checks in your day-to-day work.

As Alex explained, you wouldn’t turn up to an interview in dirty trainers and a shirt stained with mustard so why would you present your professional resume in a way that sends the same message.

To avoid this turn off:

Ensure your resume is error-free and well-organised. Use spell-check tools and proofread your document multiple times. Seek feedback from friends or family to catch any overlooked mistakes.

Preview Before Submitting: If you are using an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), preview your resume to ensure it appears correctly. ATS-friendly formatting increases your chances of passing through the initial screening process.

Tell Your Story: Your resume should tell a compelling story of your skills and experiences. Tailor it to match the job you're applying for, highlighting relevant accomplishments and achievements. Allow the recruitment team to gauge the core information quickly but have the desire to speak with you to learn more.


Readability and Document Saving:

Alex mentioned that recruiters will usually review numerous resumes daily and often switch between vacancies that require different skills. Therefore, having an easy-to-read document will make their job more manageable giving you the chance of progression.

To make your resume reader-friendly:

One-Way Interaction: Make sure your resume is easy to scan quickly. Use bullet points and concise sentences to present your information effectively. This is your only chance to show the recruitment team that you are a good match unless you have a reference into the company.

File Format Matters: Save your resume as a PDF to ensure its formatting remains consistent across different devices and operating systems and please save it as something relevant not FirstName124(FinalFinal2))


Applying for Relevant Roles:

When it comes to applying for roles within the same organisation, sending out a generic resume that does not align with your skills is a significant turn off for talent teams. It's essential to keep in mind that team members communicate, and if the company uses an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), all your past applications and notes will be stored on the system within the designated period (GDPR dependent).

This approach raises a red flag for talent teams as it indicates a lack of ability to accurately assess your own skill level. For instance, if you are a PHP Developer, applying for Junior, Senior, and Lead positions simultaneously sends mixed signals about your expertise and level of experience.

It's crucial to demonstrate your understanding of your own qualifications and apply for roles that truly match your skills and experience level. This targeted approach will positively impact your standing with talent teams and increase your chances of securing the right position within the team.

To avoid this:

Target Your Applications: Tailor your resume and cover letter for each job application to showcase your qualifications for the specific role.

Quality over Quantity: Instead of mass-applying to various jobs, focus on fewer positions that genuinely match your skills and interests. There could be a case that you could match say a development role or a Scrum Master role, in this scenario apply for both but express in each application your interest in the other and why.

This approach demonstrates your ability to evaluate your fit with the company and the role.


Be Wary of Auto-Applying AI Tools:

While auto-applying AI tools may seem convenient, they can have their faults. Talent teams and HR systems can detect automated applications, and it may result in your application being blocked. Always apply manually and personalise your application to increase your chances of being noticed.


Turn Offs from Interviews

Lack of Preparation:

Alex reiterated a common sentiment shared by many professionals, and it's a point that deserves emphasis. Showing up to an interview without any knowledge about the role or the company is a significant turn off for interviewers. It reflects poorly on the candidate's preparedness and demonstrates a lack of respect for the interviewer's time and the potential opportunity.

While you don't need to be an expert on every detail of the job opening or the company, having a basic understanding of both is essential. Information that can easily be found on the company's website should be part of your knowledge. This demonstrates genuine interest and investment in the interview process, making a positive impression on the interviewer and increasing your chances of progressing further in the hiring process.

To avoid this:

Do Your Homework: Research the company's products, services, values, and recent achievements. Understanding the company's mission and culture will enable you to tailor your answers and demonstrate your interest.

Articulate the Basics: As mentioned even if you don’t know everything share what you know openly and wait to be corrected or receive confirmation. Tackle this head on to show you have taken time to at least try and learn ahead of the interview.


Unprepared with Questions

A sure-fire way to seem disengaged or uninterested as Alex highlighted was by not preparing probing and thought-provoking questions.

To make a positive impression:

Prepare Deep Questions: Before the interview, think of insightful questions that show your genuine interest in the company and the role. Questions that you know wont organically be answered or the person you are speaking with, in this case the talent team are primed to answer above anyone else.

Lead with questions: While not a common practice, Alex is a big advocate of applicants who take the initiative to lead with questions to delve deeper into the role, company, and opportunity right from the start. This proactive approach is highly appreciated by interviewers, as it allows them to quickly focus on essential areas and minimises wasted time for everyone involved.

Take Notes: Ask for permission to take notes and refer to them during the interview to set the scene and showcase your preparation. Alex specifically mentioned that someone who openly wants to take notes for him is someone who is looking to reflect on the interview, and this is a positive sign.


Communication about Interview Attendance:

Failing to inform the hiring team if you cannot attend an interview is a sign of disrespect for their time and effort. Be courteous and let them know in advance if you cannot make it.


Stand Out Advice for Job Seekers Today

Alex mentioned in today's job market, companies are focusing on hiring quality over quantity. Job seekers need to understand that the hiring process may take longer, and decisions are more deliberate. To increase your chances of success:

Do Your Research: Thoroughly research each company you apply to and customise your applications accordingly. Tailor your resume, cover letter, and interview answers to showcase your skills and alignment with the company's values.

Learn from your mistakes and use each rejection as motivation to head into the next process with more intent, learning from the past.


Navigating the job market is tough. Job searching has changed drastically in the past 12 months alone, but being aware of what turns off talent teams and taking steps to avoid them can improve your job search success. Once again, a big thank you Alex and if you feel what has been shared could be beneficial to someone else in your network, feel free to share this with them so we can collectively bring simplicity to the chaos of recruitment.


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