When you’re looking for a job, you hear a lot about what you should or shouldn’t do. For instance, everybody advises not wasting a recruiter’s time by failing to prepare for an interview. But in reality, applying for a job can be a huge waste of time for a job candidate who doesn’t get the job, particularly when they dearly need one.
In a perfect world, it would be nice if recruiters were always mindful of the time and effort it takes to apply for a job and prepare for an interview. Until then, we’ve conducted an informal poll that allowed some recent job seekers to air their grievances about employers and the job search process. Here’s what bugging them.
Recruiters Who Don’t Follow Up
By far, the biggest pet peeve mentioned by job seekers is when recruiters don’t follow up, especially after initially showing interest.
There are numerous stories about long interviews that went exceedingly well and left the job candidate with the impression that the job was theirs, only to never hear from the employer again.
Theo, a social worker, was recently up for big job that was down to himself and someone else. After days with no word from the employer, he eventually learned through a friend working on the project that the job was shelved indefinitely.
Similarly Renee, a copywriter, once went on an interview that lasted for nearly two hours. “I felt as if the director and I really hit it off,” she said. “When she arranged for me to have a follow-up interview with her staff, I felt fairly certain I had the job.”
But after a week had passed with no word from the director, Renee began to have second thoughts. When she finally followed-up, she received a response from the human resources manager saying that they went “in another direction.”
“It’s understandable that the director, or even the human resources manager may be too busy to follow-up with every applicant. But in my case, I knew I was a finalist for the job,” she laments. “How hard could it have been to send a quick email saying, ‘Sorry to have taken your time and thank you for your interest?’”
Recruiters Who Waste Your Time
Another common complaint is recruiters who aren’t considerate of your time, either by stringing you along for a job or salary that never materializes, drawing out the interview process, or simply being unorganized.
Steve, a creative development director, was recently scheduled for an interview at a major university in Boston, only to learn the night before that it had been rescheduled for the following week.
“I go to the interview and get ushered into a conference room by an administrator, who leaves me there for 25-30 minutes,” he says. “Finally, the administrator returns and says the interviewer has scheduled a phone meeting during our interview time and has no idea who I am! This is someone who made the call HERSELF for me to come in a second time.”
Even those with years of experience aren’t exempt. When Jen, who works in post-production, interviewed for a job at a well-known media conglomerate, she was given the runaround.
“They brought me in for the first interview with (a junior associate),” she recalls. “I asked them about the salary and they didn’t know the answer.”
After a second interview, this time with the director, Jen asked about the salary again, which turned out to be an entry-level salary for a senior managerial position.
“I already had experience working for them before doing almost the exact same job, for much more money,” she said. “I was insulted and couldn’t believe they had wasted my time for all that.”
Recruiters Requesting Work Before You’ve Got a Job
Sometimes potential clients and employers ask for all sorts of preliminary work before awarding a job – things to help them decide if you’re the right person for the job. Graphic designers, in particular, are frequently asked to create “comps” for a project before being hired.
While it’s perfectly acceptable to request compensation for this preliminary work, in reality many entry-level candidates feel as if they have no choice and that they’ll lose out on the position if they don’t accommodate the client.
When Mike, a creative director, was working as a freelance consultant, he was asked by a staffing agent to provide all manner of work to try and land jobs including creative briefs, outlines, and “big ideas.”
“This happened twice, when I did the work and the job never came through,” he said. Finally, when the agent asked him for work a third time, Mike refused unless he was paid. To Mike’s surprise, the client agreed.
“I thought the agency was there to advocate for me, but I was wrong,” he said. “If you don’t advocate for yourself, no one else will.”
Here are some other common job search pet peeves:
• Recruiters who provide inadequate information about the job.
• Recruiters who don’t do their homework about YOU before an interview.
• Recruiters who won’t tell you why you didn’t get the job.
• Employers who write vague and excessively long job descriptions that say nothing.
• Employers who advertise when they know they’re hiring internally.
• Employers who are just collecting resumes.
• Employers who tell you you’re over-qualified.