6 Ways Companies Drive Job Applicants Crazy

I’m job searching again and encountering things companies do to complicate and frustrate the application process. Not all employers are guilty, but many partake in these hiring faux pas.

1. They never get back to us. It’s now common not to hear back from a company after applying. OK, we’re used to that. With hundreds of applicants for each position nowadays, it’s understandable that we might not hear back unless we follow up. What’s most aggravating is speaking with someone at the company, who says “we’ll let you know either way” and never hearing back. Please, get back to job applicants whenever possible.

Mistake in job ad

This is an excerpt from an actual job ad. Most people would rather just get paid.

2. They have errors in their job posts. It’s endlessly frustrating having to prove yourself to a company that leaves spelling and grammar mistakes in its job description. Companies (rightfully) fault job seekers for similar resume and cover letter errors; give what you expect to receive. I just saw a job ad that read; Income: Consummate with ability. Yikes! I’m assuming, but hopefully they just misspelled “commensurate.” (Read my post on unintentional obscenity to prevent this kind of mistake!) Misspellings and grammatical inaccuracies are bad for business in any document.

3. Online job applications that outdo the government’s. Have you ever applied for a government job? If not, you don’t know what you’re missing. You have to upload a resume and fill out an extensive online application, as well as agree to background checks, drug testing and giving up your first-born child. Whatever, we expect that from the government. The problem is: Everyone’s doing it! For a lot of companies, you have to create an account with username and password, even though you’ll probably never use it again. OK, fine. You upload a resume (now you can even use your LinkedIn account profile – awesome!) OK, whew, that was easy and relatively painless. You click next, expecting a “Thank you for applying” message, just to see a blank form asking for your education. Hmm – OK, that’s not so bad. Maybe that’s just in case you didn’t put it on your resume. Next. Nope! Now you see a daunting screen with blank fields requiring you fill out everything about your work experience. What!? Why did you have to submit a resume, then!? The government compares your resume to your online profile to locate discrepancies. Is that what these companies are doing? I submitted an online application that not only required my pay for each position, but the exact (to the day) start and end dates of my previous positions. Even the government only requires the month and year.

4. They require multiple interviews. I once had two phone interviews and three in-person interviews for one position – that I didn’t get. That’s an extreme example, but hiring managers are now requiring phone interviews and more than one in-person interview for positions. High unemployment rates have created a job-search imbalance, and due to too many applicants, an increase in power or both, companies are putting potential employees through the ringer. We know businesses want to find the right candidate, but an over-extensive hiring process is exhausting for everyone – especially candidates with full-time jobs, who need to finagle time off for every interview.

5. They have hidden expectations. Companies want job applicants to follow up with them at every step of the way to prove you’re really interested. Companies don’t want you to contact them after applying because they get too many applicants. What’s a job seeker to do? Read any two job-hunting articles and they’ll tell you different things. Oh, and be sure to include as much as possible on your resume because managers want to see a diverse background. But don’t put anything on your resume that doesn’t apply to the position you’re going for – managers don’t like that. I’ve run into all of these contradicting scenarios and more. I still don’t know what to do. These preferences are subjective, and there’s no way for applicants to know what each company is looking for. Companies: State your expectations so you don’t get annoyed with whatever job applicants do or don’t do.

6. They want salary requirements without divulging the range they’re offering. Come on, company execs, you know you’re playing dirty with this one! This is another example of the post-recession power struggle. It’s great to ask for salary expectations so nobody’s time is wasted, but play fair.

Hiring managers, I know us job seekers do things that drive you crazy, too, but please keep this list in mind the next time you’re going through the hiring process to make both of our lives easier. What are your job-candidate grievances or ways that your company does it right?

Job seekers, I know there are more than just five ways companies drive us crazy! What are some others? Please, share them and your advice in the comments below.

Tracy Mallette is the founder of Content Newsroom, a website dedicated to helping you get more customers through the quality content that your website visitors deserve and Google demands. A journalist turned Internet marketer, Tracy uses her writing and editing skills to help B2B and B2C businesses succeed with content marketing. She has done work for Content Marketing Institute, SuccessWorks SEO Copywriting, Brookstone and more, and has contributed to Kapost, ISOOSI and other industry-leading blogs.

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9 thoughts on “6 Ways Companies Drive Job Applicants Crazy

  1. Absolutely correct, Tracy. Every job description wants “attention to detail, a multi-tasker, ability to focus, and meets deadlines.” I’ve taken to sending resumes saying I miss every detail, can only handle one task at a time, have ADD, and complete the work within a week or two of when it’s due. Companies have no idea how many bright, hard-working people they are passing on. The cost is far greater than the bottom line.

    • I love the “ability to focus” along with “multi-tasker”. Well, employers, which do you want?! I guess they want someone to give undivided attention to each task that the employee is doing simultaneously.

  2. Thanks, Barry! Those job description cliches are pretty funny. Of course, I use them in my applications since that’s what companies are looking for. I like your idea, though! I should start saying I’m a big-picture oriented single-tasker.

  3. Amen. But it gets worse: recently I interviewed in Burlington and talked to three people for an hour-and-a-half, and no one could tell me how much the job paid! They also couldn’t show me the work they did because “it’s proprietary to our clients.” The HR guy never got back to me with the details I asked for, so it was the equivalent of a one-way mirror.

    Today there is damned little reciprocity in the interview process, partially because it’s a buyer’s market and partially because so many powerless newbs now do interviewing. A big waste of time all around. And to all you would-be employers: don’t post a hyperbolic wish list for some godlike creative genius who can do everything in eight languages, then hide behind “competitive salary.” If someone simply said, “Average agency seeks average copywriter for average salary,” they’d stand out like a beacon.

    • Thanks for sharing, Jo! A company not being able to show you the work they do is a new one to me. How can a company expect you to take a job if you don’t know the kind of work you’ll be doing?

      I wonder if the lack of reciprocity due to “powerless newbs” is really a tactic to avoid sharing information. HR reps always ask me what my range is during phone interviews. When I reply by asking them the range they’re offering for the position, they say they don’t have access to that information. Someone who has that information should be the one interviewing, or that person should provide salary information to the interviewer.

      I love those comically excessive job descriptions. Maybe businesses are adapting to a higher job-applicant pool by putting impossible expectations out there, but applicants have adapted, too, by applying for jobs they “aren’t qualified” for because they know the company won’t actually find its apotheosized candidate.

      • After a layoff, the jobs counselor assigned to me as part of my severance coached me to say “Open” when queried about salary. Supposedly, the first one to state a number loses in this process. But this is real life, and they control the job. So you have to answer. Especially since automated application engines now make it a requirement just to complete the submission.

        Re. job descriptions, my wife used to say that academic practice in university postings was to rig the process by painstakingly tailoring the description to mirror the insider they *really* wanted to hire. Nowadays I suspect it’s just a combination of ego and too many people eager to justify their existence.

  4. This list is absolutely the bee’s knees. I’ve been out of steady work since July 2013, and the most frustrating thing is seeing unrealistic expectations listed with the “competitive salary” statement at the bottom. I’m wondering if any employers actually believe there are a lot of people truly happy to work 15-18 hour days, in a “fast-paced, multi-tasking” environment and still able to provide high-quality, detail-oriented work? Oh, and for a few dollars above the poverty line? I’m in the SF bay area and there are companies that offer $11/hour as “competitive” for someone with a bachelor’s degree.

    • Thanks for contributing, jennibee! I’m sorry your job hunt has lasted so long and that it’s been such a difficult process. I’m shocked that a company in the SF Bay Area wouldn’t account for the cost of living. That’s outrageous. I hope you find a great job soon at a company that deserves and respects you.