10 Things I Hate About Looking for Jobs

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?

Cover Letters

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!

Unwritten Rules

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.

Internal Candidates

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 wall timeline.

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?


10 Things I Hate About Looking for Jobs — 69 Comments

  1. Yes! This is exactly what is so frustrating about searching for a job. I’ve been especially aggravated lately on how much time it takes to do an application because of #2 on your list. Seriously?!? Do these people need to take up so much of my time when chances are they aren’t going to be interested in me anyway?

    • I’m the same way. I wish there was a quick “introductory application” you could fill out, then if they were interested you could spend the time to fill out the real one. Would be much easier!

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  3. Agreed! Job searching is the worst… I’m hoping I don’t have to do it again for awhile, or that when I do, I’ll be the “internal candidate” getting in the way of everyone else.

    • I got to be the internal candidate once. Knocked out a guy who was pretty much guaranteed to get the job, and I felt bad. Especially once I started and the job sucked - I should have let him have it!

  4. I LOVE IT!! You said exactly what I was thinking when I was job hunting. I hope you don’t mind but I linked this post on my blog (not that I have many readers).

  5. You are NOT being a drama queen, because I hate hate hate hate hate job searching. Okay, now maybe I’m being a drama queen but I don’t care. I would rather carve my eyes out with a spork than job search. I’ve done soooo much of it over the past year, and it’s torture .

  6. Pretty sure the horror of job searching is what keeps me in my terrible job. Searching is worse than what I’m dealing with. That seems unfair somehow.

    • I worked a job I despised for two years for the same reason. I did interview a few times, but I never found anything that wasn’t just as bad as what I was already doing.

  7. Job seraching was horrible so if you are being a drama queen that means I was being a drama queen as well. I hated writing thank you emails and letters and then not hearing about the fact that someone was hired until I noticed that the advertisement went down.

    • Thank you letters are the worst. I always do them, because people say you should, but then when I don’t hear anything, it’s like, did I not use nice enough stationery? Is my handwriting too sloppy? Drives me insane.

  8. I understand having more complex hiring requirements for some career positions, but the crap you have to go through for part-time work is ridiculous. I think resume’s should be the standard because they would actually show if you are competent enough to write a small paper about yourself. And yes, after the first interview, you should be told when to expect further correspondence. And I HATE that you cannot ask how much money you will be making - if they don’t advertise it then whoever is hiring needs to present that information in the first interview.

    • I agree re: pay. It’s unfair to make someone jump through a bunch of hoops without telling them how they’ll be compensated. I remember going through multiple interviews for a job that only paid $30k a year, and I was making about $42k at the time. Total waste!

  9. I’ve always wanted to fill out a bunch of applications just as a social experiment and list “desired salary” as “$2.5 million per year, negotiable.” I mean, that’s really my desired salary and I’m willing to negotiate, so it’s not a lie. I assume their counter would be “$0, negotiable,” in which case I’d offer to meet in the middle… :)

    Easy to do if you’re not actually searching for a job though. If I were searching I’d focus on working connections through people I knew instead of filling out applications. It seems like a pretty rough process to be doing applications.

    There’s also a growing trend to AVOID social media checks apparently. I guess there are a growing number of lawsuits by people who are ready to be hired and the company requests logins and then decides not to hire the person. If most of the things on their facebook page are things that show they have a “trait” that’s protected so they sue because they claim the only reason they aren’t being hired is because of that trait.

    • I might start doing that! It’s not like I’m getting any response to my applications anyway, so maybe some eye-popping figure like that would at least get their attention.

  10. Oh my gosh this brings back bad memories of my job hunt when I first graduated in 2009. It was a full-time job itself just looking for one. You had to spend money by paying for parking, using up all of your minutes on phone interviews, wasting gas by driving far for interviews, and all that fun stuff. I must have gone to 15 interviews, and 90% of those interviews were for jobs I didn’t even want. It was just that I was trying to get a job. It’s a lot of work and it sucks feeling judged by people. It took an toll on me emotionally too since you are always up and down with your feelings.

    Great post!

    • I was lucky to graduate in 2006, when jobs were everywhere and it was pretty easy to be hired. It still took me 6 months to find a job, but I only interviewed 3 or 4 times before I got one. It’s a whole different universe now!

  11. Okay wait wait. I’ve heard about companies checking social network profiles of job candidates on the sly, but asking for LOGIN details point-blank as a requirement for the JOB??? That CANNOT be legal!! How can they do that? I smell a Supreme Court case in the next 3-5 years. Maybe sooner. Unreal.

    • Even Facebook is throwing a fit about it because it violates their TOS - you aren’t supposed to let other people log into your account. I definitely think there will be some kind of legal ramifications, and there should be.

  12. One wy around these issues is networking. You bypass most of the game playing and you are in a much better position.

    • See, I think the opposite. To me, getting a job just because you know someone is a bigger game than trying to get one on your own merits. I don’t want to be hired because of who I know; I want to be hired because of what I can do!

  13. My favorite thing to see on an application is “solves complex problems”. WTF does that mean? I work in computers all day, so what seems trivial to me seems like rocket science to non-computer people.

    • Hahahaha, I’ve seen that before. Right up there with “ensures day to day operation.” I wish I could take a class on deciphering job descriptions - would be like learning a foreign language!

  14. I hate vague job postings, too. A friend of mine just quit a TERRIBLE job and when they posted it, I wanted to tell them that they should have put, “must be able to sit at the desk without a break for at least four hours at a time - and don’t even think about potty breaks.”

    One thing that I can say about cover letters (from the hiring perspective) is that if used effectively, it gives us an idea of why you are applying for a specific job. As an example, I’m in the process of hiring a part time employee. What I want them to tell me in that cover letter is that they are looking for part time employment for a specific reason and not just so that they can get a foot in the door.

    Updates, or lack thereof. I hate that, too. When I applied with my current employer there was a four month wait before I even got called for the interview. Another month before I was offered the job. It’s red tape for the most part. It takes an ungodly amount of time to hire someone here. Post the job, has to be open for a set amount of time. Then HR has to send the log in information so that we can print the applications. Go through them and select who you want to interview. Submit list of names you’d like to interview. Wait for approval of list of names. Submit reasons why certain other people didn’t get chosen for interview. Give each applicant a rating on a scale of 1-5 as to how qualified they are for the job. Finally get approval TO DO THE INTERVIEW. Call applicants to schedule interviews. Do interviews. Decide on the candidate. Submit name of candidate for approval. Wait. Get approval to offer job to candidate. Pray like there’s no tomorrow that candidate didn’t get another job during this whole process and call and actually offer the job to the chosen candidate. Trust me, it’s frustrating from the hiring end, too.

    Internal candidates: wow. This is a terrible fact where I work. All areas are guilty of this. However, I will say that one time we had an internal candidate that seemed like a shoe-in for the position and she didn’t get it. We had someone come in and knock our socks off in the interview and we couldn’t imagine not hiring her.

    Interviews. Yep, they stink most of the time. It seems like most people who are doing interviews aren’t trained properly on how to do them. I usually try to ask the person what their favorite parts of their last few jobs were. Then I ask them what their least favorite parts were. I want to know if they are going to love coming to work or hate it. I’ll be honest with them if what they said they hate is what we’re looking for someone to do.

    Sorry - didn’t mean to write a novel in the comment section. It’s that silly HR degree coming through. :)

    • Oh no, don’t apologize! That’s good information, and I will totally remember your HR background so I can bug you for tips!

      Cover letters bother me because companies never TELL the applicants what they want to know. If they mentioned, “Tell us why you’re qualified for the position, your availability, and your reasons for applying,” it would be a lot easier to include the things they want. But I know that’s like asking for the moon!

  15. I hate it when job postings don’t list the agency that is hiring and instead just put a P.O box or a newspaper id # or use a hiring agency. Why would I want to waste my time applying to a mystery company?!

  16. Wow! This really hits home for me. I was unemployed last year and struggled for a while to find a job. It was exhausting, expensive (sunk deeper into debt) and depressing. ‘Was finally hired right before Thanksgiving and am now frantically looking again because my job is in education. So come mid June I will no longer have a job and will not know about next school year until August!! In addition, as far as interviews they are totally ridiculous in many cases. I had an interview that was conducted by two people and they/it were terrible. I kept saying to myself during the interview “I really hope they don’t hire me because I don’t think I want this job!” AND I was desperate for employment! I found out later the person they chose was totally inept at meeting the expectations. The process usually sucks and I agree with your thoughts on the subject.

    • I’ve always been glad I don’t work in the school system.. My brother-in-law is a teacher and my sister is a librarian - luckily he’s a football coach, so his jobs are relatively secure, but my sister has been stuck in that summer limbo for the past few years. I don’t think I could handle the stress!

  17. I agree with all of these points! When I was looking for a job, I just assumed that I’d send out hundreds of resumes, fill out hundreds of pointless applications, tailor my cover letter to hundreds of different companies…and then never hear back from the majority. It’s a really stupid system, in my opinion.

    • Agreed. There really needs to be a better way… I can’t even find many jobs to apply for, but I’d like to think it wasn’t a TOTAL waste of my time when I do apply for one. Yet I send in my stuff, I’m well qualified, and I hear nothing. Sigh.

  18. Interviews are like first dates. Dress up pretty, smile and flirt a bit, pretend to be extremely interested in everything they say, and hope they call you afterward.

  19. How about paying going to a “job fair” driving down there, getting a sitter, paying $3.00 for most companies at the job fair to tell you to apply online? Well why did i come here then?

  20. I agree with all of the above. But…. I would love to apply for a job. But alas those days for me are over. Okay I run two very busy small businesses. But sometimes I think wouldn’t it be nice if I could just throw in the towel and work for the man. Then I wake up in the morning and the first thing I do is rotate my ankles and pray for no charlie horse. Then my wrists and pray I have no horrible pain. Next I open a close my hands slowly and see which fingers will lock or not bend. This will determine how long it will take my to brush my teeth and hair. I pray to be presentable my 10 a.m. and it is getting harder. Okay so this prevents any early morning job. Maybe I could start at noon? I am still employable. Yeah and today I sewed about $100.00 worth of product by 4:30 I left for the studio late and I could not start the truck because I could not turn over the key. Husband had to come out and start it for me. Oh yeah I am employable alright. I just really don’t want to be disabled or even take out a disability. Be grateful you can still look at an employer and be employed.

    • I feel for you, Kim. I know it must suck to have physical health issues getting in the way when you want to work. I admire you for striving to keep going, but I also think there is no shame in drawing disability for those who actually need it!

  21. The last job interview I went to was a group interview. All of us (4) were given an item and advised to sell it. But we could make stuff up like the object was a secret rocket-ship. I did really well because for the first time an interview played to my strengths. But I thought it was a strange way to do interviews. Because after the group interview the only other contact was a 12min over the phone interview. o.O??

    • That’s pretty weird, but I’m so glad to read that you got the job! Actually, I think I would like an interview where I got to do something instead of just answering questions. Not a formal presentation, necessarily, because that’s a little nerve-wracking, but something like selling a rocket ship would be pretty awesome.

  22. Drama Queen! :) kidding I cant really relate as last time I interviewed was when I got out of the marine corps back in ’88 I think. I interviewed for 2 jobs and got them. first one was an entry level low on the totem pole. Second was a bit better for a technician position. I was then recruited for the next company and was with them for 20+ years till I went on my own.

    I was a manager and a department head at that company and had to do interviews and hiring and I can honestly say I never asked those dorky questions.

    Now self employed I do dread having to re enter the job market and there are times I fear that I would have to. Hoping neither of us does!

  23. I absolutely hate those automated form systems that try to plug in your resume. I used to work at a place called Major Greenhouses (family owned, by a guy who’s last name is Major). Those systems always enter it that I was a Major at a company called Greenhouses. Really? Oh yeah, after I had a military rank at “Greenhouses,” maybe I could have been a “The”?

  24. I hate those bots that search for keywords more than anything. I’d love to see a study of their (in)effectiveness. Ridiculous!!!! And I agree, if the employers were more specific, they wouldn’t get thousands of unqualified applicants & then have to come up with a bot.

    • Exactly! I think it would save everyone a LOT of time if they were very specific. “We want 3 years of experience in X. If you have 2 years, we might consider you, but don’t apply if you have less than that.” That would be SO helpful!!!

  25. Andrea, you always crack me up! “Are they going to send my high school a Christmas card?!” Haha - such a great point! I also hate when they don’t tell you “to whom” you are writing the covor letter - can’t they be a little friendlier? Good luck on the job search!

  26. Thank you for changing the comments form!!! I can comment now during the day:).

    I’ve been laid off twice in my post-college life and thrust into job-searching…and yes, it stinks. Even finding jobs that seem suitable and aren’t for selling insurance was difficult for me to do those two times.

    Good luck with everything! What sort of position are you seeking?

    • I’m looking for anything at this point. Considering the fact that I got an email from CareerBuilder titled “new jobs in your area” and the spot for listings was blank, I can’t afford to be too picky!

  27. I love this list. I loathe job searching and interviewing. As others have said networking is the best way to do it. It seems more and more companies these days, you have to know someone to even get looked at as a candidate.

    • I think that can be true, depending on the field. I know people in just about every agency within 75 miles, but other people do too since we’ve all worked together on various things. So it was never really an advantage for me unless one of my good friends was doing the hiring.

  28. You’re so not being a drama queen!

    I have to say I agree with everything you’ve listed. As an external recruiter/headhunter, I HATE, HATE, HATE last minute internal candidates. It’s a waste time and I don’t see why companies post externally before posting and exhausting internal options.

    I’m also embarrassed to say that I rarely read cover letter, I want to get to the meat AKA the resume.

    The potential employers who snoop is something I recently heard about and can’t believe is happening. Outrageous!

    Interview horrors? You probably meant from the interviewee’s perspective, but I’ll give you the other side… I had an interview last week where the candidate brought his 6-year-old daughter and another one who swore through the entire interview.

    • I remember getting a resume one time where the guy had an entire page dedicated to the things he liked doing with his kids. And while I can appreciate a dad who enjoys Legos and playing in the sandbox, I never did figure out how it was supposed to relate to the position. I also interviewed a guy I REALLY liked, only to have him ask me at the end, “Does it matter that I’m in DUI classes right now?” Um, yes….

  29. Excellent points.

    Our DS1 recently got a job with a bank and he went through an exhaustive selection procedure. At the final interview, where he was one of 6 out of about 100, he was asked if he had any questions and he asked a brilliant one - he asked the interviewer what did he like about working in this particular bank. What are the pluses and minuses.

    Because a job interview is a two-way process - you also need to see whether this employer is worth working for.

    • I totally agree! It’s really hard to get a feel for a company based on an interview where they ask all the questions. I usually ask why the position is vacant - not that I really expect an honest answer, but I figure it’s worth a shot.

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  31. It’s been interesting for me to go from job-hunting, to being in a position now where I (occasionally) interview people. When there are a bunch of applications, it sucks, but we’re looking for reasons to weed people out - so stuff like typos or incorrect grammar become reasons not to even give someone an interview.

    All that being said, we want every person who walks through the door to be It - the perfect candidate. Otherwise, we’d have to keep looking! So, I think if applicants can harness that and make themselves appear as It, that would go a long way to convincing the interviewers!

    • Oh, I ALWAYS weeded people out based on grammar and spelling. To me, that’s just common sense - if that’s the best presentation you’ve got, I don’t want to hire you. Even someone who can’t spell for shit could get people to proofread a resume first.

      Re: the perfect candidate, I think it’s hard for people to appear that way in interviews when the listings are so vague. If I knew what companies were looking for, I’d be much better able to pretend to be what they want. :)

  32. I agree about interviews. Some of the questions are predictable, and silly. My daughter went for an interview a few weeks ago, and when she came home she went through some of the questions she got asked. One was, “Where do you see yourself three years from now?” I immediately said “Sat in your seat.” and my daughter said to me, “yes, although I gave a different answer, and my interviewer said my answer should have been exactly that.” How did I know? The question, and ‘correct’ answer were predictable.

    • That question in particular drives me insane. I know I’m supposed to say, “I see myself here, working my ass off for this company for the same pay I was hired in at!” but how do I know that before I’ve even been hired? It’s not like that answer guarantees that people will stay. I think it would be better if they asked, “What would we need to do to keep you from quitting after 3 months?”

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  35. It’s been such a long time since I’ve been on a job interview. Thank Goodness!
    I remember one particular application I filled out back in the 80′s. I was applying for an office job with a national discount store chain. (not Wal-Mart) There were several pages of health-related questions. Every disease/condition known to humankind was listed. I was supposed to put a check mark next to all those that afflicted me!
    The really icky questions were sexual in nature. What forms of birth control had I used? Had I ever had a miscarriage or abortion? WTF!?! Was I applying to work in a brothel? I didn’t answer any of the health-related questions. Maybe that’s why I was never called for an interview? ;o)

    • Really? How did they get away with questions like that? Can questions like those be asked now in job application forms do you know? Here in the UK they would be considered obtrusive, and in fact probably illegal.

  36. Hi Geoff! I don’t know how they got away with the questions because they were breaking federal laws by asking them. Those questions are still illegal today.

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