by Meridith Levinson

Job Search: 10 Things That Annoy Job Seekers the Most

Nov 07, 20115 mins
CareersIT Jobs

The following 10 frustrations that job seekers encounter during their searches make them want to scream. What annoyances would you add to this list?

Let’s play a quick word association game: What words come to your mind when you hear the term job search? The words that come to my mind are frustrating, discouraging, hopeful and relentless. 


There is no question that searching for a new job can be tedious and unforgiving. Making matters worse are the many annoyances job seekers inevitably encounter as they apply and interview for jobs. Job seekers I’ve interviewed over the years for stories on have told me about the frustrations they’ve met in their searches that have made them want to scream. Here’s a list of the top 10, in no particular order.

1. Not hearing back from employers. Job seekers do not expect to hear back immediately from recruiters, HR personnel and hiring managers after they apply for a job. They understand that a single job opening can attract hundreds of applicants, and they realize that hiring managers can’t possibly respond to each job seeker. Nevertheless, the black hole is irksome.

2. Hiring managers who go dark on them. More annoying than not hearing from anyone after applying for a job are hiring managers who express interest in job seekers, only to suddenly disappear. Job seekers have told me stories of hiring managers who’ve called them in response to their resumes, all excited about their work experience. The job seekers have what they think are good phone interviews—or even face-to-face interviews—but then the hiring managers drop off the face of the earth, never to call them again.

3. Fake job ads. Job seekers have told me that some companies seem to post the same job every quarter. They’ve tried applying for these jobs, but their applications go nowhere. They suspect these jobs are fake, and in some cases they’ve been able to verify through people in their networks who work for these firms that the jobs in fact do not exist. They suspect companies post fake job ads to project the image that they’re hiring and thriving in a bad economy.

4. Super-specific job requirements. The job market has grown so competitive that job seekers seem to have to be a perfect match for a job. Being a smart, resourceful Jack-of-all-trades is no longer enough to get a job. You must possess the exact experience a company seeks. This makes the job search even harder.

5. Kludgy recruiting software. Many employers have implemented talent management systems so that job seekers can search and apply for jobs online. Unfortunately, not all employers have customized these systems. The result for job seekers is a lot of wasted time and frustration. For example, a job seeker in New Jersey told me about a technology company based in the Garden State that had a talent management system which forced job seekers to search for jobs with the company in every city in N.J. because the company hadn’t customized the software to only list the three New Jersey cities in which it operated.

6. Hearing about talent shortages. Despite millions of talented professionals remaining unemployed, companies continue to complain that they can’t find the workers they need. When unemployed job seekers hear about these perceived talent shortages, they tell me they want to stand up, wave their arms and shout, “I’m here! I’m right here! Hire me!” 

7. News of an improving job market. The market for IT jobs has been improving since the beginning of 2011. While job seekers are ultimately glad to hear that jobs are available, it does make it harder to bear when they can’t get a job.

8. The question, How come you’ve been out of work so long? What bothers job seekers about this question is the implicit accusation that they’re either not searching hard enough or that they’re simply damaged goods. When recruiters and hiring managers ask job seekers who’ve been out of work for a year or more why they’ve been out of work so long, job seekers tell me that they want to fire back, “Are you aware that we’ve been in a global economic recession since 2008?”

9. Hiring managers who assume job seekers won’t be happy taking a step down. I’ve talked with many IT job seekers who’ve been out of work for a year or more and who would gladly take a lower-level position to get back to work. They say they don’t care that they would have to take a pay cut; they just want to work again. But employers are reluctant to hire them because hiring managers fear these professionals won’t be satisfied in a lower-level role and will quickly hop to a higher-level, higher paying job. These job seekers would like to tell reluctant hiring managers, “You don’t know what it’s like to be unemployed for a length of time. Having a lower-level job and a smaller paycheck is a heck of a lot better than no job and no paycheck.”

10. Needing to dumb down their resumes and LinkedIn profiles. IT executives have told me that they have had to dumb down their resumes to get jobs. One CIO who also has sales, marketing and operations experience told me that several recruiters told him to take his CIO work off of his resume so as not to scare away potential employers, who may see “CIO” and think “This person will spend too much money and be hard to manage.”

When IT professionals are told to dumb down their resumes, a little part of them dies inside. After all, they take pride in their work and to not highlight the big projects on which they staked their careers or the thousands of dollars they saved previous employers seems counter-intuitive.

Job seekers: What other annoyances would you add to this list? Which one of these 10 annoyances bugs you the most?