Applying for jobs is no fun, especially given our current economic climate. Why? Because if you’re looking for work, you’re either (1) unemployed, (2) unhappy in your current position, or (3) self-employed and panicking because something happened that dried up your main source of income (not that I would know personally or anything).
None of those situations are a cause for celebration, but the process of finding, applying to, and interviewing for jobs can kill the hopes of even the most optimistic job seekers. WHY does it have to be so complicated to find a place to work? Seriously, if you know, please fill me in.
Anyway, here are 10 things I despise when it comes to job searching, coming from my perspective as a searcher AND as a former manager:
Vague Job Listings
“We are looking for a motivated professional who is capable of performing a multitude of tasks as part of a multidisciplinary team in a fast-paced environment.” WHAT THE HELL IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN? I wish that, just one time, a company would tell the truth: “You’re going to sit at a computer all day and input information into spreadsheets. You’ll also have to answer phone calls, and you’ll drive to our other office all the time because no one else wants to do it.”
I will never understand why it’s necessary to input all the information from my resume onto a separate form. Can’t hiring managers just look at my resume, or is that too much to ask? And those online import tools NEVER work – I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve almost submitted an application under the name “July 2008” because the importer put everything in the wrong place. And does a potential employer really need to know the full address of my old high school? Are they planning to send a Christmas card?
If employers want cover letters, they really need to tell applicants who will receive them. “To Whom It May Concern” is just awkward, and I really don’t think I should have to comb the internet to figure out the name of the hiring manager. If you’re looking for evidence of my research skills, just say so and I’ll start googling. Otherwise, is it necessary for me to spend time constructing a second resume in prose form? One that will likely never be read?
Ambiguous Updates, or Lack Thereof
It would be really awesome if companies told applicants what would happen next. “We’ll take applications until April 20th, then we’ll start calling people for interviews. If you don’t hear from us by the 8th, you weren’t selected for an interview. Don’t call or email us because that will automatically mark your application for the trash.” Wouldn’t that be better than, “Your application has been received,” followed by tons of people sitting around waiting for months? Even a form email stating that the position was filled would help.
Is it just me, or are job interviews the most pointless, fake experiences on the planet? You wear clothes you normally wouldn’t wear (unless you’re interviewing for a job at a bank or something). You give rehearsed answers to stupid questions like, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” or “Give us an example of a time when you overcame adversity.” You only see the side of the company they want you to see, and unless you’re a complete failure as an adult, that’s all the company gets from you.
Why can’t job interviews be real? I’d much rather someone stick me at a desk and say, “Here – type this letter while I watch,” than ask me if I’d be comfortable working at a computer. I’d much prefer being interrogated about whether I’ve ever showed up to work drunk to taking a “personality test.” JUST ASK ME THE QUESTIONS AND I WILL BE HONEST!
If the application doesn’t contain X and Y buzzwords, toss it. If the person has had more than 4 jobs in 4 years, toss it. If the person graduated from State University instead of Expensive University, toss it. What’s up with that? Seems to me a company could save a lot of time and energy by being upfront about what type of candidate they want. Personally, I’d rather save MY time and energy if some element of my past automatically excludes me.
I know employers are required to post a job externally before they can fill it internally. I know they usually interview outside applicants “just to be sure.” But if you know you’re probably going to hire Leslie from Accounting, tell me that when you call so I know whether I should bother interviewing. “We have an internal candidate, but we’re interested in talking to others as well. Do you still want to schedule an interview?” Many people would say yes, but I wouldn’t. And I wouldn’t be mad about it, either. I’d be glad I could move on with my life.
Potential Employers Who Snoop
Have you seen this new thing where employers are asking for social media logins and passwords on job applications? Oh yes, if I want to work for minimum wage, I have to allow someone to access my Facebook and Twitter accounts – not just look at them, but go through anything from my private messages to my photos. Because clearly the things I do on my own time are relevant to the job. I could understand slightly more if I was going to run for President or some other really important job, but when the only jobs in my area are for truck drivers or tobacco workers, I’m not sure why it’s important for someone to read my Facebook
Conversations About Salary
There’s nothing I hate more than seeing “desired salary” on a job application. Everyone knows that the first person to come forward with a number loses. I also hate being asked about salary in an interview. Here’s a thought: What if interviewers said, out loud, what the pay range is and where they would start a person with your qualifications? That’s what I used to do when I interviewed people, and it was great. If the pay was too low, I didn’t go through the trouble of extending an offer (the pay was fixed, so I couldn’t negotiate). If the person seemed okay with the pay, I could get him/her drug tested and scheduled for orientation.
Status: Floating in the Abyss
The absolute worst part of searching for work is applying or interviewing, then hearing…. nothing. Your calls or emails aren’t returned, the position is still listed (or worse, re-listed), and you have no clue what went wrong. You don’t know whether to reapply in case your application was lost (since you never heard anything) or take it as a sign that you suck and no one wants to hire you. Or, even more stress-inducing, you have a great interview and the person says they’ll let you know something. BUT THEY DON’T LET YOU KNOW ANYTHING. Would it kill the person to send a quick email or something?
Job Searching Sucks!
I’ll probably never get an interview after this post, but I just can’t take it anymore. Was there ever a time when people could just apply for jobs and be hired without jumping through 500 flaming hoops? Things are bad enough right now for people in need of work – I think it’s time companies stopped making it so difficult for qualified people to get a job. I’ve only scratched the surface of the issues, but is it any wonder people think companies don’t really want to hire people?
Okay, stepping off my soapbox. What do you think? Am I being a drama queen? Do you perceive the same kinds of issues when it comes to finding a job? Got any interview horror stories?