Why Is Finding a Job So Hard and Frustrating These Days?

job search books

Who said a job search would be fun? | John Moore/Getty Images

No one ever said searching for a new job would be fun, but does it have to be this annoying? Seven out of 10 people said they found at least some aspect of the job search frustrating, a Gallup poll found. Job seekers reported getting exasperated — and sometimes demoralized — by a lack of communication from employers, difficulty getting in touch with people actually making hiring decisions, complicated applications, and other features of the modern-day job search.

Workers don’t have a ton of leverage when it comes to dealing with the exhausting process of finding a new job. Usually it’s either play along or be unemployed. But that doesn’t mean you can’t vent a little. Raise your hand if you’ve ever experienced one of these 10 incredibly frustrating things about looking for a job.

1. Crazy-long applications

People hate the online job-search process. Three-quarters of people surveyed in 2016 by recruiting company randrr said they found online job-search technology frustrating. Especially annoying are ridiculously long job applications. Data show more than half of applicants get so fed up with retyping all the information from their resume and filling in the details of their high school education and salary history that they give up entirely.

“I seriously believe they do that to weed out the people who have issues with doing pointless, redundant tasks (aka what you will be doing at most jobs),” one person vented in this Reddit thread on job search pet peeves.

Next: Are you a purple squirrel?

2. Super-picky employers

"why should i hire you" sign

Employers are looking for perfect candidates. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Are you a purple squirrel? This is the term employers and recruiters use to describe their fantasy candidate for a job — the one who ticks every single box on the increasingly long list of qualities an employer wants to see in an employee. The only problem? She probably doesn’t exist. Yet companies sometimes waste tons of time looking for that mythical perfect employee, rejecting good candidates in the process.

“Even a resurrected Jesus wouldn’t be hired because, even though he can perform miracles, he had trouble with the law at one time and he’s way over 50 now, plus that beard isn’t to corporate standards,” one person told Today.

Next: Did you even read my resume?

3. Getting recruited for a job that’s not right for you at all

businessman shouting on the phone with gesture on the car

Annoying recruiters are a pet peeve for many job seekers. | iStock.com/Tomwang112

Getting recruited for a job seems great, until you realize the recruiter has no idea who you are, what you do, and what you want out of your career. These bad recruiters haven’t bothered to read your resume and will try to sell you on a job that is in no way a match for your skills or salary goals. Worst, they always seem to call at the most inconvenient times.

“IT worker here. I’m annoyed at the recruiters who call me right at dinnertime (always at dinnertime) with job offers that aren’t even remotely close to anything I’d be interested in, nor have any kind of competitive salary. No matter how many I tell to take me off their lists, there’s always more that spring up,” one job seeker on Reddit complained.

Next: Meddling friends and family

4. The ‘helpful’ friend

people looking for a job at a job fair

People attend a job fair. | John Moore/Getty Images

Clueless friends and family might try to help you out in your job search by sharing antiquated advice (“just get out there and pound the pavement”) or forwarding you ads for jobs you’d never in a million years want. These people might have good intentions, but dealing with them can get on your last nerve.

Take this job seeker who shared his top job-search annoyance on Quora: “Having my mother email me links to jobs that are nothing like what I’m searching for, not in my field of expertise, and in general, bothering me by worrying that I’ll starve by tomorrow. (She seriously sent me a link to an open position for a dentist! And another for a licensed psychologist! I worked for an insurance company in the finance department!)”

Next: The dreaded personality assessment

5. Personality tests

Failed test

Many applicants had personality tests. | iStock.com/Tupungato

As many as 60% of job applicants are now asked to take personality tests or workplace assessments at some point during the hiring process, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. But these lengthy quizzes are often a source of anxiety and confusion for job seekers, who aren’t sure whether replying “true” or “false” to a statement, such as “People often expect too much of me,” will help or hurt their job chances. Worse, these tests might not even do what they claim.

“A lot of these tests that measure aspects of personality don’t measure things that are particularly job-related,” Susan J. Stabile, a professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law, told ABC News.

Next: The con artist 

6. Job scams

woman using cellphone

Some job ads really are too good to be true. | iStock.com/diego_cervo

Most people can spot glaringly fake job ads. (“Make millions on the internet without leaving your home!”) But not every scam is so obvious, and job seekers who aren’t careful can waste time applying to jobs that don’t really exist. At best, that’s a major annoyance. At worst, you could actually lose money.

Take this scam one savvy job seeker almost fell for. He interviewed for a legit-sounding contract job doing social media work for a law firm. But eventually the “interviewer” started pressing him to share bank account information, so he could supposedly get paid. The job seeker smelled a rat and didn’t get taken in, but it was a close call.

Ads suggesting you can make big money doing at-home data entry, processing rebates, or stuffing envelopes are also likely scams, according to FlexJobs. Especially note whether the posting is light on details and you have to pay money to someone to get the gig.

Next: Surprise! We’re not really hiring.

7. Jobs that don’t exist

Man applying for job on internet with coffee on table

Not every job you apply for actually exists. | iStock.com/Rawpixel

Not every fake job is an outright scam. Sometimes, recruiters advertise for positions that don’t really exist, so they can gather resumes for when they do have jobs to fill. Employers might also post fake ads to get a sense of what kinds of candidates are out there. Sometimes, rules require a job to be publicly posted, even though it’s all but guaranteed to go to a pre-selected internal candidate. Unsurprisingly, many job seekers find this practice dishonest.

“Staffing agencies are notorious for posting boilerplate ads for jobs that don’t really exist to build a database of candidates who they might call on in the future. Agencies defend this by saying that they fill jobs that are similar to the ones advertised all the time — but many job seekers are frustrated when they arrive for an interview, only to discover that there’s no job to be had,” HR expert Alison Green wrote for U.S. News & World Report.

Next: Trying to keep your job search a secret 

8. Sneaking around

Job interview written on calendar

Sneaking out early to go to a job interview can be stressful. | iStock.com

If you’ve ever searched for a new position while you’re currently employed, you’re familiar with the stealth job hunt. You don’t spend time on job boards at work, you’re careful about whom you tell about your search, and you make sure to stay on top of all your duties at your current job.

But every secret job search requires a certain amount of deception. Constantly sneaking out to your car to take calls from employers, telling your boss you have yet another dentist appointment, and changing into your interview clothes in a Starbucks bathroom to avoid tipping off your employer can get pretty annoying.

“My last job search, I was leaving a very oversharing type of environment where explaining to everyone why you needed a personal day was the norm,” said one commenter on Ask a Manager. “I had to lie through my teeth. And I was interviewing in a different state, so I was a paranoid mess while in the airport!”

Next: “What would you do if you found a penguin in the freezer?” and other dumb interview questions 

9. Dumb interview questions

candidate in a job interview

Silly interview questions turn off job seekers. | iStock.com

What candidate hasn’t inwardly rolled their eyes at dumb or crazy job interview questions, such as “Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck, or 100 duck-sized horses?” or “How many basketballs would fit in this room?” (Those are actual interview questions candidates at Whole Foods Market and Delta Airlines were asked, according to Glassdoor.)

These quirky questions purport to gauge your problem-solving ability or creativity. But in reality, they’re just a silly waste of time. Research has found these pointless puzzle questions discourage and frustrate qualified job seekers. When confronted with a question they see as irrelevant, they might take themselves out of the running for a job. And they might even badmouth the company to their friends.

Next: Employers who never get back to you

10. Getting ghosted after an interview

young female worried by what she sees on cell phone

Many job seekers are confused when they never hear back after an interview. | iStock.com/nandyphotos

Spending a ton of time on a job application only to hear crickets is annoying. But most job seekers realize they can’t expect a reply to every resume they send out. Far more frustrating is getting ghosted after a job interview. This ultra-rude practice is getting more common, according to CNBC, and job seekers aren’t happy about it.

“I’ve had a couple situations in which I did a full-day visit to a potential employer, met with over 15 different people, and then never heard back,” said a commenter on Ask a Manager. “In one case, I followed up months later to ask what the update was, and I heard something like ‘You were in our top three, but we decided to go with someone else.’ Really? You couldn’t let the other two people know they didn’t make the cut?”

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