Top 10 Most Annoying Things for Job-Seekers
[Updated, December 2013 ...]
It’s that time of the year when everywhere you look there are “Top 10” lists. Top news events of the year, top songs, top movies, top TV shows, top most interesting celebrities, etc. So, I thought it would be an appropriate time to roll out my own Top 10 list – The Top 10 Most Annoying Things for Job-Seekers!
Now if you’ve been following my blog and reading my many postings with advice for job-seekers, you might have picked up on the fact that I’m generally a positive, optimistic person. I try to give encouragement and helpful advice to everyone, and I’ve certainly preached about the importance of maintaining a positive attitude. [See “The Power of a Positive Attitude.”] However, we all need to vent from time to time. So for now, I’d like to take a moment and reflect on all those annoying things that almost all job-seekers have experienced in today’s challenging market that simply tick us off! So, here it is – in no particular order …
TOP 10 MOST ANNOYING THINGS FOR JOB-SEEKERS:
10. People who don’t return voicemail messages.
I can understand not returning emails … some people are overwhelmed with hundreds of emails each day, and simply cannot answer every one. But voicemail messages? I’m sorry, but I have NO patience for people who don’t return calls. As a recruiter, I always made it my rule to return every phone message I got within 24 hours. In my experience, I’d only get one phone message for every 100+ emails – an unfortunate sign of the times. It’s so easy to hit “send” and so hard to pick up the phone and actually try talking to someone! Anyone who makes the effort to call me deserves a response. To do otherwise is just rude. I expect the same professional courtesy from the people that I call and leave messages for, as well.
9. Job postings that don’t identify the company.
I would never apply to a job if I didn’t even know the company’s name. What if it’s a place I’ve already applied and/or interviewed? What if it’s a place that I’ve heard bad things about and would not want to work for? What if I’ve actually already worked there?! Many 3rd-party recruiters call potential candidates and refuse to reveal their clients’ identities. If it’s actually a rare “confidential” search dictated by the client, OK … but usually recruiters are just afraid the candidate will do an end-run around them and apply directly to the company (which, by the way, is a very stupid move for any candidate!) In my many years in the staffing industry working as a contingency recruiter, I always told potential candidates what company I was searching for – preferring an up-front and honest approach with full disclosure of the pros and cons of each opportunity. I found most people to be professional and trustworthy with regard to this issue, and I almost never got burned doing business that way.
8. Lengthy online applications that must be filled out before you can submit your résumé to a job posting.
I often get the feeling that those online applications are designed to be an easy way for some HR person to screen people out. And they take SO long to fill out!!! I expect to be asked to fill out a complete application after I’ve been identified by the company as potential fit. But do I really need to spend an hour filling out their form just so I can get in line with hundreds of other anonymous online applicants?
I’m sorry … I know there are probably Twitter fans out there. I’m actually a very tech-savvy person who loves all the latest toys, gizmos, gadgets and technology in general. I’ve configured and repaired computers and networks, designed websites and complex databases, I blog, and I make extensive use of LinkedIn, Facebook and other Social Media to great advantage for both personal and professional purposes. But I’ve tried Twitter several times, and I just don’t see it being a useful tool for job-seeking. In fact, it seems like a supreme waste of time to me! I have yet to find a hidden job opportunity using “Twitter Search” that I couldn’t have found just as easily using Google, Indeed.com, or any number of other standard search engines or job boards. And broadcasting quick short bursts of text? Is that really necessary? Have you seen that TV commercial where the father uses his cell phone to Tweet to his family that he’s sitting on his lounge chair on the porch, while his kids are standing right next to him? To me, that perfectly captures the absurdity of Twitter! I’m sure that Twitter deserves a place somewhere in the short attention span of our thumb-typing, text-message-obsessed world. However, I happen to believe that those 140-character messages filled with lazily abbreviated catch-phrases and fractured contractions have contributed to the rapid decline in the writing skills of an entire generation of its users (IMHO LOL!) The English language has never looked worse.
6. Mass “Networking Events.”
Those big events (usually held at hotels or bars) are attended mostly by other job-seekers. Networking with other job-seekers, while sometimes fun, is often a huge waste of time. It’s much more productive to spend your time networking with people specific to your industry niche who can connect you with actual decision-makers in your target companies. [See “Looking for Networking in All the Wrong Places.”]
5. Takers who don’t give back.
I’m talking about job-seekers who set up so-called networking meetings with you, and then ask for your help without any attempt at giving something back. Too many people don’t understand that networking needs to be a 2-way street to be effective. [See “The Art of Giving: the Key to Effective Networking.”]
4. Companies who post jobs, and then don’t even acknowledge receiving your résumé after you apply.
In the Recruiting world, we often refer to this as sending your résumé into the “Black Hole of HR.” Now if a company sends an automated “canned email” response saying they’ve received a person’s résumé, I realize that it generally means nothing … but at least the applicant knows they received it! Most online submissions go totally unanswered. That’s why savvy job searchers do not rely on simply applying to online job postings, but rather spend most of their time networking, finding ways to go around HR, and talking with actual decision-makers at their target companies.
3. No follow-up from a company after you’ve been interviewed.
It’s one thing to be ignored by a company after you’ve sent in your résumé. But if they actually called you and interviewed you by phone or in person – they should pay you the simple courtesy of a follow-up. I’ve heard so many terrible stories from candidates who had multiple interviews with high-level decision-makers at companies who indicated that they were the top candidate, and they were close to making an offer … and then …. NOTHING! No follow-ups, no emails, no calls, no returned messages – just silence. That’s simply an insult! If they decided to hire someone else – or no one at all – then say so! Saying nothing is beyond unprofessional. It’s just plain rude and obnoxious.
2. Companies who ask for your complete salary history and salary requirements before interviewing you.
Sooner or later this issue comes up in every interview process. I have my own opinions on how to deal with those salary questions, and I’ve written extensively on this topic. [See “Answering the Dreaded Salary Question.”] But does it have to come up BEFORE they interview you? Do they have to know your salary history and requirements BEFORE they even look at your résumé?
1. Companies who practice age discrimination.
What a world we live in, where younger less experienced people are preferred by so many companies over people who have the proven success and the seasoned experience, knowledge and accumulated wisdom that only comes with years of hard work. My first posting on this topic seemed to have hit a raw nerve – that blog logged several thousand hits and well over 100 comments in just the first few days, provoking quite a lively discussion. [See “Age Discrimination: Secret Conversations Revealed.”]
So there you have it. Having vented, I know I feel better now! I’m sure I’ve left out other common annoyances that could easily have made this list. (The countless emails I’ve received over the years with “work-at-home” opportunities or invitations to sell insurance come to mind!) I welcome any suggestions for additions to this list in the comments section below. And if you are looking for a more uplifting and positive sounding list, then I suggest you read “Top 10 Most Helpful Things for Job-Seekers.”