Job Seekers' Top 5 Complaints About Employers

Frustration with employers who treat applicants poorly is building.


As the recession drags on, and many job seekers see their time out of work grow longer and longer, frustration is building over employers who treat applicants poorly. Here are job seekers' five biggest complaints about how employers handle the hiring process:

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1. Not responding to their applications, even after an interview. Most job seekers put significant time and effort into preparing for a job interview--reading up on the company and industry; practicing answers to interview questions; thinking about how they could best offer something of value. They may take a day off work and spend time and money traveling to the interview. But when the interview is over, they often never hear from the employer again.

Post-interview silence from employers is callous and dismissive and lacks any appreciation for the fact that the candidate is anxiously waiting for an answer, any answer, long after a decision has been made. It's just not that hard to send a quick E-mail, even a form letter, letting candidates know they're no longer under consideration. Employers owe interviewees a response, period.

[See 5 ways job seekers sabotage themselves.]

2. Refusing to discuss their budgeted salary range. Employers are notorious for insisting that candidates name their salary requirements up front, while refusing to discuss what they expect to pay. And yet they do have a budgeted range; they're just hoping to lowball the candidate, and candidates know this. Employers shouldn't demand salary requirements from candidates if they're not willing to share the range they plan to pay, too.

3. Forcing candidates to use convoluted and time consuming application systems. More and more employers are switching to automated online application systems that require candidates to type in each portion of their resume in tiny chunks. While this may make things easier on the employer's side, they're alienating candidates and even driving away the best ones before the company ever knows who they are.

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4. Having no consideration for candidates' time, but disqualifying them for the same behavior. If a candidate arrives a half hour late for an interview, that's understandably a huge strike against her--and often a deal-breaker. But employers routinely make candidates wait long past an interview's scheduled time. Worst, they schedule phone interviews that never happen, leaving the candidate waiting by the phone for no reason at all. If a candidate missed a scheduled phone interview? Checkmate. But employers do it all the time.

5. Not updating candidates when timelines change. It's agonizing to be told you'll hear back from an employer by a certain date, only to have that date come and go with no word. Good candidates want to work in a culture where people do what they say they're going to do or update you accordingly. In the hiring process, this is about simple respect.

Employers may be getting away with this behavior now because of the economy, but candidates have long memories. When the job market picks back up, companies that treat candidates with respect are going to be the employers of choice.

Alison Green writes the popular Ask a Manager blog, where she dispenses advice on career, job search, and management issues. She's also the author of Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Leader's Guide to Getting Results and former chief of staff of a successful nonprofit organization, where she oversaw day-to-day staff management, hiring, firing, and employee development. She now teaches other managers how to manage for results.


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