I just had a long conversation with Nina from HR here at Workopolis about the surprising number of times candidates who’ve passed all of the hurdles to stand out as the first choice for a hiring manager still wreck their own chances of getting hired in the very last steps of the recruitment process.

There are two key learnings here.


Even once your resume has wowed an employer, you’ve aced several rounds of interviews and been asked how soon you can start, it’s not a sure thing. Don’t stop job hunting until you’ve actually signed the contract.


Don’t do one of these five things that cause employers to change their minds about you.

Pretending to have education that you don’t. Employers can and do check the facts that you’ve listed on your resume. One of the most common lies that candidates tell is about exaggerating their level of education.

Most often this is in claiming to have finished degrees that they only partially made it through. We’ve also had people claim to have attended schools they never went to at all. And we had one candidate here who went so far as to have produced a fake diploma from a school in another country. That took a little longer to check, but it still cost him the job in the end.

Lying about your work history. Even those companies that have strict policies on giving references will still confirm to a future employer whether or not you worked there, as well as what your job title and salary range was. Even if you can do the job you’re applying for, if you’ve lied about those things it calls your integrity into question. Employers aren’t going to hire someone they don’t trust so lying at the outset will get your offer tossed.

Poor choice of references. Because many companies are reluctant to give negative references – even about candidates that they had to fire for cause – for fear of lawsuits, employers are now listening for coded messages in everything a reference says.

If your references sound at all hesitant about you, it can be taken as a red flag. Make sure you pick the people you’ve worked with in the past who are really in your camp and are willing to speak enthusiastically about you and your work.

Digital dirt. Hiring managers will Google you, and they will look up your social media profiles. More than half say they have changed their mind about hiring a candidate just because of something they’ve found out about them online. Most commonly these would include posts with inappropriate pictures, drinking or drug use, poor communication skills, bashing previous employers, facts that contradict your resume, etc.

Clean up your online act, and manage your privacy settings carefully.

Inflexible negotiations. Over-entitlement can be a job killer. If you are too demanding in negotiating the details of your contract or unrealistic in your salary expectations, an employer can simply walk away from the deal.

Do your research, find out the market value for your skills and experience, and calculate what the added perks a company offers are really worth. It’s a good idea to negotiate your job offer, but it’s important to be smart about it.

It’s not even always about the money. At this point you’re still in the process of establishing a relationship with your future employer, coming across as difficult and demanding can cause them to rethink their choice.

Peter Harris
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