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Five Things Job Seekers Hate While Job Hunting in Corporate America

I went to college on the promise that by earning my degree, I’d have access to world-changing jobs that would pay handsomely. Since graduating college, my net worth has been negative, and I don’t even have a mortgage. Another naive sucker who fell for the American Dream. Nothing more than another mid-thirty something crippled by debt, two once in a lifetime financial crises, Mother Nature’s anger, and a worldwide pandemic. The only thing missing is a World War, which seems closer than it ever has been, at least in my lifetime.

The best thing to do in these trying times is to earn money. I can produce. I need to. Existence is expensive. Inflation is worse. But as I struggle to find work in my career field, the one I have a degree in, I’ve accepted how terribly awful the whole process of finding a job is.

I understand the old motto, “take a job, any job” and the fact I’m being incredibly stubborn by trying to find a job in my career field, but I spent a lot of money on that degree, it should provide me with something. Maybe?  Why would I go to college to take jobs that don’t require a college degree? Seems like a waste of money. Or entitlement, by those who “paid their dues” to get “where they are.”

Now, back to looking for work in our post-pandemic world. It’s always been terrible. Here’s a piece of paper, hire me. This is an entry level job but requires four years of experience. Unpaid internships. How much will you sacrifice to make it big? It all seems a bit shallow and disadvantageous. The whole job searching process is stacked against job seekers. 

Here’s how:

Application Process 

Why are employers allowed to waste hours of our time?  For the privilege of earning a paycheck? I can’t even count the number of applications I’ve spent hours on to not even hear a “no thank you.” I’ve spent time on personality tests, writing tests, certifications, and never even heard back from employers. Let me tell you the joy that brought to my ego. I’m not alone in feeling this job hopelessness, either. It needs to change. 

Every job application that has an autofill resume, attach a resume, and then requires candidates to fill out forms and retype their resume should be banned from being able to hire anyone. It’s usually major corporations that require this because they know people will do it for a shot to work at a prestigious company. How bad do you want the job, Brian? Are you willing to type out your resume three times? Willing to write for us for free as a test, which we will use but not compensate you for whether or not we hire you?

I’m not that desperate. 

At least not yet. 

Poverty is a hell of a motivator. Makes for obedient employees, too. These unpaid tasks push out the “lazy” and the “critical thinkers.” This may be done on purpose.  No shade to the people who answer employer questions on job applications, I’ve been there, it’s shameful and unnecessary behavior by employers. 

Hidden Fees

In our world, especially in the corporate world, everyone is a brand. Or trying to be. Think of yourself as a business is what people in suits and on TV say. How would you present yourself? What are your hobbies? What do you post online? What are your views? What do you read? Where do you invest? It’s exhausting. But there is genius in it. If I am going to turn myself into a brand, I’m going to double down on it. No more wasting time and money on interviews that lead nowhere. It’s a bad investment, and quite costly when all added up. 

Look at this job-hunting checklist:

  • Spending time creating/editing a resume
  • Writing and/or editing a tailored cover letter
  • Paying a service to review your resume and critique your cover letter
  • Researching the company, and or, who you are interviewing with before applying to ensure in your resume and letter you let the company know you read their stuff
  • Preparing for interviews
  • Ironing interview clothes, buying makeup, getting a fresh haircut, etc. to ensure you look your best
  • Online interviews (anywhere from 1 to 8)
  • Writing test, certification, or other pre-hiring screenings
  • Driving to an in-person interview (gas/mileage/tolls)
  • Parking cost (if in a city)
  • Hours traveling and interviewing

Spending hours and thirty bucks for parking and tolls for an interview for a well-paying job in the city is an affordable expense for some, but not everyone. What if the person applying for said job is unemployed? Thirty dollars could be a water bill or groceries.

Imagine doing that checklist, only to have the company go in another direction. It’s demoralizing. But what choice do job seekers have? None. Fall in line. Older generations went through this, new ones have to suffer through it, too.

A company shouldn’t be allowed to make potential employees do a bunch of tricks before getting a treat, I mean paycheck. If a job requires more than two interviews, pre-hiring tests, or travel/parking costs, the employer should pay for the job candidate’s time and expenses. Woah. No. That job seeker is asking the employer for a job. The job candidate should be willing to do whatever it takes to get the job. Impress the employer. Jump through the hoops. Stand out. It’s a weird power dynamic. I consider myself a sexually enlightened person but submitting to outdated corporate processes isn’t my kink.

Endless Interviews

Endless interviews are becoming the norm, especially in the Zoom world. If a business can’t figure out if they want to hire someone after two interviews, don’t hire them. Full stop. I’ve met entire teams, made and performed presentations, and interviewed in person more than five times only to be told that I didn’t get the job. It’s a pretty inhumane way to treat a human. 

If a company complains that there are no good workers, I assure you that 100% of the time it’s a bad company with impossible demands or expectations from employees. There are ALWAYS people willing to work. Every job I apply to on LinkedIn shows the amount of candidates applying for the position. It’s always in the thousands. 

Nobody Wants to Pay

Corporations are making record profits. Productivity has been at an all-time high. Salaries have been stagnant for fifty years. Americans can’t afford food and bills. What’s the point of working sixty hours a week if the paycheck doesn’t even cover the cost of living?

The whole “nobody wants to work” is a corporate tagline peddled by cost-saving businessmen and parroted by journalists. People want to work, but job seekers would rather struggle than be paid pennies on the dollar.

Some employers don’t even list salaries on job postings and require candidates to provide salary requirements. This allows employers to hire the lowest bidder or a combination of a low salary and relevant experience. It’s disgusting. Every job should be required to post the job salary. If you’re playing “cheap labor roulette” I hope you always get what you pay for.

Lack of Human Decency 

I applied for a remote job and after three Zoom interviews was asked to come in for an in-person interview. By this point, I still hadn’t been told the salary despite asking what it was during every interview. When I asked why I needed to come in for an interview I was told “the company never hired anyone we didn’t meet in person.” I once again (via email) asked what the salary was and was told “we could discuss it in person.” I ghosted that job. It wasn’t the right thing to do, but I refused to waste any more time. It felt gross. Slimy. Better to say nothing than to emotionally respond to some corporate clown. 

Why can employers play these games with no consequences? Oh right. Because I need some of their money. And the best way to do that is to show blind loyalty and sacrifice. Take the games and mistreatment, just find a way to get paid. 

Another job disqualified me from employment and chose another candidate because “We went with someone we’ve worked with before. She is familiar with the brand. In fact, she was the second employee I hired, but she left the company during a move. As for additional feedback, if you really wanted the job, you would have sent a ‘Thank You Email’ within 24 hours of our interview. It’s common practice.”

So, this company posted a job that I had no shot at getting, but still drug me through the interview process and kicked me in the nuts with a snarky critique? Cool.

At least the company informed me of the hiring decision. Responding to people who aren’t hired should be mandatory for employers. Send a canned email, at the very least. If someone is applying to work at your company, they either really need money or like what they saw/read about your business. Maybe both. If you’ve done phone screenings or interviews, you better be upfront, honest, responsive, and decent to people. These people gave you their time and effort. They deserve to hear from you. Even those you don’t hire. One of my favorite quotes is from Samuel Johnson, who said: “The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.” 

What Can We Do?

Any job that requires a test or anything outside of two interviews, should compensate applicants for their time. Money is the only thing that matters in this world, and I’m sick of businesses being able to use job seekers’ free time to fund their own corporate version of The Hunger Games. If traveling is required for an interview, employers should front that cost. Tolls, parking, and time. Why is someone needing money spending their money before being hired by a company? This forces desperate people to make sacrifices, like skipping meals, just for an interview. Just because it’s the way things work, doesn’t mean it’s right. We need to give the power back to the job seekers. 

The problem with this is that people will always be willing to sacrifice and jump through endless hoops for a chance at paycheck. I’ve done it, and if things get much worse, I’ll do it again. But I shouldn’t have to. No one should. 

If you are actively seeking a job, Lyft, is offering people who are going to job interviews, work, or trainings free rides. It’s a new partnership with Indeed, Goodwill®, and United Way, Lyft aimed to help struggling Americans improve their income. It’s a great program, and awesome to see major corporations providing a solution to help the common American, but we still need further protection of our time and money.

Published inBlogSurviving America as a Millennial

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