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Shifting Trends: What Disqualifies Applicants

June 8, 2015

By: Terri Williams

No one is perfect, but when applicants are searching for a job, they need to be as flawless as humanly possible. For example, just one resume mistake can land a candidate’s application documents - and career aspirations – in the shredder. Its important to know what kind of things will get your resume noticed in a good way as well as bad.

Resume Mistakes

According to a recent Accountemps survey of more than 300 senior managers, 63% said just one or two resume mistakes was enough to disqualify a job applicant. Specifically, 17% said one mistake would cause them not to consider a job applicant, and 46% said two mistakes was the magic disqualifying number.

Ironically, when the survey was conducted in 2006, a whopping 84% of senior managers felt one or two resume mistakes was a deal breaker. Back then, 47% would pass on a candidate with one error, and 37% would not hire an applicant with two resume mistakes. While senior managers are more lenient than they were nearly a decade ago, it’s clear that they don’t take resume mistakes lightly.

The survey also revealed some of the actual resume mistakes collected by Robert Half International, the parent company of Accountemps:

  • “GPA: 94 percent.”
  • “Objective: IT Professional. I can fix your CPs.”
  • “Education: I’m graduating this Maybe.”
  • “Work History: My last employer fried me for no reason.”
  • “Education: Earned a diploma from a very repudiated college.”
  • “Hobbies: My three biggest hobbies are cars, racquetball, golf and reading.”
  • “Referees available upon request.”
  • “Job Duties: I assassinate drivers their new hours of service.”

Applicant Traits

Another interview trend for 2015 includes changing attitudes regarding the most important traits that hiring managers consider when making hiring decisions. And although resume mistakes may doom a potential candidate, a survey by Instructure revealed that only 4% rate the applicant’s interview performance as the most important trait.

The survey of 750 managers in various industries stated that the following traits are more important when determining if an applicant will be successful:

88% Work ethic

70% Teamwork

64% Professionalism

60% Time management

60% Critical-thinking and problem-solving

60% Interpersonal communication

40% Technical/trade skills

Many students – and their parents - think attending a prominent school can boost the chances of landing a good job, but according to the study, only 4% of respondents consider a prestigious school as the most important attribute.

Soft skills are more important than hard skills - especially in entry-level applicants - because companies realize that they can train employees in hard skills. Soft skills include such attributes as leadership, communication, etiquette, and the ability to work well with others. Hard skills are based on the job description and can be measured and qualified. Depending on the job, hard skills may include knowledge and skills in such areas as accounting, web design, engineering, and nursing.


Another shifting attitude is the stigma attached to job-hopping, which is the practice of moving from one job to another every few years. Additional research from Accountemps reveals that hiring managers are less likely to view job-hopping as a reason to disqualify a candidate. For one reason, the job market has been turbulent in the past few years, so potential employers understand that an applicant might have been laid off and took a series of jobs to make ends meet.

Hiring managers are also more lenient if applicants can demonstrate that they gained knowledge and experience while they were changing jobs. However, companies are wary of applicants who job-hopped primarily to earn a higher salary, because this could be a recurring employment theme.


Soft Skills are just as important than Hard Skills in this day and age. Check out our previously recorded webinar on Soft Skills to learn more about the advantages of having them.

Terri Williams

Terri Williams began writing professionally in 1997, working with a large nonprofit organization. Her business, education, and lifestyle articles have appeared in various online publications including Yahoo, USA Today, The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News & World Report University Directory, The San Francisco Chronicle, and the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago. Williams has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

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