15 Personal Brand Turnoffs When Hiring a New Employee


What is a major personal brand turnoff when hiring new employees and why?

The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

1. Talking Too Much

“If someone is more interested in talking than they are in listening, that’s a turnoff. Potential employees should be open to hearing about the company’s expectations and goals, as well as talking about their own skills and experience.”

Simon Casuto, eLearning Mind

2. Wearing Inappropriate Attire

“We’re really not asking for much in the startup scene — casual or business casual is the norm, with suits only required at very formal events or meetings. When a potential new hire can’t even get this one right — they dress sloppy, look haphazard — it’s a bad sign. If you don’t pay attention to the details of how you look, how can you fine-tune the details of the job I’m supposed to give you?”

Jared BrownHubstaff

3. Using the Incorrect Tense on LinkedIn Profiles

“For whatever reason, my biggest pet peeve is people whose LinkedIn profiles are in the third person. “John is a marketing visionary….” Dude, we know you wrote this profile. You’re not Richard Branson. It feels extremely pompous.”

Adam Stillman, SparkReel

4. Uptalking

“Uptalk is that appalling and flat out annoying increase in pitch at the END of a sentence that shrinks your confidence and authority. It makes firm statements sound like questions. We deal with hard-charging entrepreneurs, some double the age of my staff, and uptalk is one sure way to make yourself seem small and lacking authority.”

Beck Bamberger, BAM Communications

5. Showing Up Too Early

“We’ve heard the mantra “if I’m not early, I’m late,” but showing up more than 10 minutes early is at least as bad as (if not worse than) showing up late in the eyes of a busy entrepreneur. If I set an interview for 10:00, that means that I have planned my morning around that interviewee showing up at 10:00. If he/she shows up at 9:00, it only shows that the person is unable to follow instructions.”

Alisha Navarro, 2 Hounds Design

6. Lacking Curiosity

“Curiosity killed the cat, not the new employee. One of the biggest determinants of success we see in new employees is an unquenchable thirst to learn about our company, industry and customers.”

Avery Fisher, Remedify

7. Lacking Self-Motivation and Drive

“Many times an employee is going to have questions or hit walls — they need to be able to figure a lot out themselves and/or get to a point where they can ask a solid question to get proper help. Asking too many questions or forcing a micro-management situation is good for no one, and being a little self-sufficient is helpful all around — it also lets management know they can take on bigger challenges.”

Chuck Reynolds, Vuurr

8. Being Too Rigid in Their Ways

“If their general demeanor is not coachable, you know they will be stubborn. For example: If I say, “We use Gmail as our main communication platform. Have you used that before?,” and they say, “Oh, I only use Outlook,” you should get a taste of how that person will accept change.”

Ryan Shank, Mhelpdesk

9. Stressing Self-Promotion Over the Team’s Success

“While it’s an admittedly fine line to walk, I am immediately turned off when a prospect is in such heavy self-promotion mode that they don’t highlight their place within the team and their team’s ultimate success as opposed to just their own. It just reminds me that if they join our team, their advancement will reign supreme over concern for our company’s progress. So, we’re not for them.”

Kofi Kankam, Admit.me

10. Sharing TMI on Social Media

“Everyone has hilarious, silly, or slightly risqué photos and status updates on their own social media, and that’s ok — but if I can Google you and see all that without having to connect first, it’s a problem. Especially for marketing or sales, I want to hire someone who understands the difference between sharing drunk photos with their friends and inadvertently sharing them with business contacts.”

Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com

11. Showing Up Late

“Being late. Don’t ever be late to an interview. After that, I could name 10 things that don’t work for us, especially in this new tech age where everyone is on their phone or checking their phone, etc. Main point: stay focused on why you came to interview, why you want to work here, what you can offer us.”

Mark Samuel, Fitmark

12. Ripping on Previous Employers

“Too often someone comes in for an interview and takes to discrediting or ripping on a previous employer for a variety of reasons. Not sure if they think I’ll be impressed or think they were too amazing for that previous employer, but it only makes me think, “What will they say about me?” Don’t do it. Even if it ended badly, say nice things or say nothing at all.”

Andrew Howlett, Rain

13. Using Clichés

“Applicants who have clichés or worn-out idioms in their résumés and cover letters seem uncreative and unoriginal. In the startup industry, the best companies have the most innovative, top-tier employees. The best way to show me that you have the capacity to be new and inventive is to simply write and speak clearly without relying on crutches like clichés or idioms.”

Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep

14. Agreeing With Everything You Say

“Most people that will agree with everything you say don’t have a firm foundation of beliefs or a backbone. They are likely just trying to tell you what you want to hear so they can get what they want, which is a big red flag for the reality of their personal commitment to yourteam and helping the company achieve its goals. If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything.”

Andy Karuza, SpotSurvey

15. Being a Know-It-All

“The person who admits and is open to what they don’t know is one who we are always looking for. They are the ones that will grow into the best of employees.”

Cameron Gawley, BuzzShift