Candidates need to be careful before sending blind resumes to job postings online. If the company’s boundaries are crossed, the candidate can become blacklisted and lose the chance of ever being considered for employment with that company.

Blacklisting is very similar to what you might do with your phone’s caller ID. Caller ID allows you to decide which calls to accept and which to send to voicemail. With some advanced phone systems, you can actually block certain phone numbers altogether. Company’s applicant tracking systems (ATS) today allow the employers to document applicant behavior and therefore decide which resumes to review and which to ignore permanently.

What are the main reasons an employer would blacklist a job candidate? In my interviews with local and national employers, I was able to categorize three primary areas where blacklisting takes place: resume submissions, candidate profiling and HR transgressions.

Resume submissions

Resume mismatch. If the resume you send an employer doesn’t match the details found on your previous resumes you’ve submitted to the same company — going back seven years — you can get flagged in the ATS. Some companies reject your application at this point altogether, while other companies might require HR intervention.

Doesn’t meet employer’s needs. If your resume doesn’t meet the needs of the employer, you’ll typically get rejected for consideration with that opportunity. If your resume consistently doesn’t meet the employer’s requirements, you can get blacklisted. Resume review is done either by a human being or the company’s hiring management system (HMS).

Too many submissions. Slightly different from the above, if you apply to too many roles at once — mostly nonrelated roles — you’ll be seen as a desperate job seeker looking for a job vs. choosing a good career. While in times of desperation, employers have hired candidates just looking for work, HR studies and experience show that these employees are hard to motivate and tend to leave the organization once they find a better role. Therefore, some companies have decided to blacklist these candidates.

Candidate profiling

Is the candidate telling the truth? If the dates of employment, job titles, education or former employers found on your resume don’t match what you have listed on sites such as LinkedIn, you’ll be flagged in the ATS. The thought behind this is that candidates tend to lie privately — say on their resume — and tend to be more honest online — where the former employer can see their qualifications.

Inappropriate behavior. It’s amazing how much companies can learn about a prospective candidate by looking them up on Google, Twitter or Facebook. A large financial firm in the Seattle area blacklisted a prospective financial analyst by seeing a pattern of drunken photos of the applicant on Facebook. Other things to watch for are badmouthing your former employer, sharing confidential data, sharing inappropriate photos, constant ranting or engaging in matters that are not aligned with the culture of your prospective employer.

Can the candidate meet the business needs? In the event of a server crashing, a system-engineering candidate living 25-plus miles away would not be able to respond right away. Zillowing the candidate’s address (found on most resumes) will allow HR professionals to make decisions that are location-dependent. Other uses of Zillow are for relocation purposes. Candidates who have just purchased a home are unwilling to relocate since they’re probably upside down on their mortgage, however the candidate who has lived in the same home for 15-plus years has good equity and is more likely to relocate.

HR transgressions

Interested in money only. Some candidates are quick to ask the recruiter about salary and benefits. These candidates are flagged as “money only.” Research has shown that candidates interested in money only later become too hard to motivate. Candidates have to be cautious when talking about the compensation package too early in the process.

Failing the phone-screen. If you’re unable to answer a good portion of the technical interview, you’ll get flagged as unqualified. This could mean the end of your interviewing experience with that company. If a recruiter gets you an interview for a job for which you’re not qualified, you might want to turn down the opportunity prior to the interview to save your chance for a better chance in the future.

Rejecting an offer of employment. If you turn down an accepted offer in favor of another position and later change your mind, most likely you’ll be blacklisted. Companies spend a lot of time and money interviewing candidates and don’t want candidates who are not decisive early on in the process.

The above list is not meant to be comprehensive, but instead is a guide to the thought-processes companies go through when sorting through applicants. Before sending in an application, make sure to review the list above and use good judgment because we live in a very small town.

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18 Responses to Blacklisting: Why they’re never going to hire you

  1. Roxan Park says:

    This article is spot on! Although the internet job search is one of the least effective job search methods, it continues to be the primary method most job seekers are using.

    This article points out many of the pit falls of the online job search that has been a factor in creating an epidemic of long term unemployment due to of lack of effective job search methodology. Job search in today’s world requires strategy, preferably one that involves appropriate networking. Please stop the insanity; if what you have been doing isn’t working, try something else. Get Richard Bolles book, “The Job Seeker’s Survival Guide” and see what you can do differently to get the results that you are looking for.

  2. Vicky Karen says:

    Ms. Park, avoid wordiness and overwriting….”Although the internet job search is one of the least effective job search methods, it continues to be the primary method most job seekers use…….”

  3. Nicole says:

    Vicky Karen is sassy!

  4. juwan says:

    Resume mismatch? What if you have new information to put on your resume?

  5. The Raging Scotsman says:

    The gist of this article is to ‘behave yourself’ as it we are bad children, and should be ‘seen and not heard’ which is a bunch of rubbish. While it is asininely unwise to openly advertise your failings on social media, “engaging in matters that are not aligned with the culture of your prospective employer” and where you live, along with the fact that ‘every job is temporary’ (from, are indications that have little bearing on whether you are going to be hired. What has more bearing than anything in regards to getting hired can be ranked in the following order of importance: who you know, what you know, how others (former employers, colleagues) rate what you know, and whether you are a ‘good fit’ for the organization in terms of personality. Anything and everything else is of secondary importance. You are a product to a company, a product which is expected to produce profits without regard to any human value you may actually have. Once you get that through your head, then you realize that selling ‘you’ is all it’s about. Study the masters of selling, and emulate their successes.
    At this point, however, you may find that you would be better served opening your own firm…unless of course you ENJOY being regarded as a commodity, something to be used, then discarded when no longer profitable to the firm. Such a servile attitude is what this article is suggesting you adopt, and I take great offense to that idea.

  6. RHS1991 says:

    This is just sad. Apply to much? No job. Apply to little? No job. Change or omit resume info at a later date? No job.

    Pretty soon it’ll be: have a video of cute kittens on your youtube? No job.

  7. Shrek says:

    Any chance of getting lists of organizations that practice various forms of blacklisting? I’d like to blacklist them!

  8. M says:

    In response to “This article points out many of the pit falls of the online job search that has been a factor in creating an epidemic of long term unemployment…”

    I would like to point out that when I apply for unemployment, I am required to complete 3 job searches each week. This is why companies are flooded with resumes. I am told to network etc. and that the Internet generates only 10% of viable leads. However, applying for jobs over the internet or via email is the most trusted avenue that “proves” that I have satisfied the UI requirements.

    So now what??

  9. Mike says:

    Ms. Karen, avoid condescension and unsolicited advice. I would much rather work with someone who is verbose than one who is as rude and presumptuous as you. Do you really feel that it is your place to put down someone whose only intent was starting a positive conversation?

  10. "Bob" says:

    Don’t forget another pitfall: DON’T be over 50 years old!

  11. Mike, this little loop has become quite humorous. Ms. Karen was simply pointing out that Ms. Park was using Paul’s blog to further her own internet ranking by overusing her own branding keywords “job search” “job seek.”

  12. Charles says:

    Aren’t a lot of the blacklisting methods/processes mentioned in this article illegal? If so, then wouldn’t putting that info in an applicant tracking system or using a software-based processes to “blacklist” put that company at risk of lawsuits? I see a class-action lawsuit on the horzion over these techniques, and I’m even not a lawyer.

  13. Ryan says:

    This article is full of useful info. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Susan Wills says:

    Re: Illegal blacklisting. I was blacklisted from Microsoft (obviously) after I successfully nailed them for firing me while being pregnant, on a legal FMLA leave ordered by my doc to try and save the baby. They then denied they fired me and on and on and a milion lawyers later, we won. Less obvious is that I found out by accident that I was blacklisted by Boeing, one of my regular contract employers and a former FTE employer. I was stunned as I had a contract offer, then the recruiter said she got a strange email, then said I was blacklisted, Since I had not broken any of their rules, had had no complaints against me on the last contract, etc. and had a letter from the last Boeing contract stating I was eligible to work anywhere in the company this was news to me. The recruiter told me as a courtesy. I called the ethics person where I had worked and she never returned my call. My guess is that several of us were being horrendously harassed by a married male perm, I was dragged through the HR mud even though I wasn’t perm, to give information about this man, forced to, then my life was made a living misery because of that. At no time did I ever even complain about him, a hiring manager basically recruited me to try and get rid of this problem perm. So about 3 female contractors lost their jobs for a Boeing clean-up and are blacklisted for like. I found out from other people that it happens alot, behind peoples backs for no reason that they list in the contract. Just because a manager doesn’t like you. The contracting company that promised to stick up for me and go to bat for me and my rights (Chipton Ross) caved into nothing. To this day, it still stands and I have never been told why.

    T-Mobile, somewhere I have worked twice and left in good stead, blacklisted me because too many recruiters copied my resume from the internet and submitted me for jobs without me knowing it. Finally one of the real recruiters I was working with told me. I tried to get it turned around to no avail.

    Blacklist is illegal in this country. Period. Companies who practice this stand to lose big as well as recruiters who talk amongst themselves. 3 times I have received accidentally, feeding frenzy emails from recruiters who in one situation, was talking about me with other recruiters, and twice, denying other candidates a chance at a job due to sharing gossip between recruiters. More illegal and dangerous behavior. They had been talking with me about jobs, doing too many things at once, then accidentally cced me and I got all the mail. For the two others, I emailed them their death sentences so they would have the option to sue the recruiting companies.

    Blacklisting can bring suffering and financial death to innocent people. I know.

  15. Victoria says:

    Thanks for the insight. Frankly, the entire process is designed to weed out, rather than include folks. So as much as we might dislike this, knowledge is power.

  16. Glenda says:

    How can you do a proactive search to find out if and who has blacklisted you as a jobseeker? Are there any forms to fill out? Approximate cost, if any? Is an attorney necessary, or only if you choose to file suit and it is demanded in discovery? Any other useful information would be most helpful.

  17. Shrek says:

    When I was a hiring manager I came to realize that it was rare to find a recruiter that really understood the jobs they were recruiting for and generally were not very people savvy either. They were excellent at screening candidates for failing to format resumes to their liking or not having the correct “key” words in their application. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the depth of knowledge to understand transferable skills or that there were other terms that accurately described many responsibilities and skills. I found they frequently screened out good to excellent candidates. It strikes me that this blacklisting is just another way to avoid actually having to gather information and think. So blacklisting does not surprise me as it simplifies the recruiter’s job. When there is an overabundance of labor compared to jobs it is much easier to get away with this kind of performance. I’m not sure it’s illegal, but in light of the recent IRS scandal I think most people would agree that it smells bad and few companies would like to be known for this kind of discrimination.

  18. […] Anderson, “Blacklisting: Why They’re Never Going to Hire You,” (ProLango), [online] 2011, (Accessed 29 January 2014). 3. S. Choney, “New State Laws Ban Employers from Getting Your […]