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Candidate complaints: The biggest mistakes employers make when trying to hire

In a tight labour market, where employers compete for scarce talent, companies can't afford to lose out on potential hires by driving candidates away with annoying hiring practices. But according to a new survey of thousands of job seekers, that is exactly what many organizations are doing.

Those are the results of a study conducted by the teams at Adzuna and OnePoll, who questioned over 2,000 people who had recently looked for work about their experiences. The findings shed some light on what it is like to find a new job right now.

On average, the survey participants said that they took about four hours to prepare each job application they submitted. One third of these job applications – 33 percent – resulted in interviews with the target employer.

Three quarters – 75 percent – of participants were unhappy with the process. Respondents said that they found looking for a job stressful and overly time-consuming. Among their most bothersome issues were the interview process taking an inordinate amount of time and misleading or missing information in the job postings.

Here is a closer look at how companies often hurt their brands in the eyes of potential candidates during the recruitment process.

Candidates' biggest pet peeves on the job hunt

Lack of clarity in the job description. Candidates want to know upfront when they apply what the details of the role are and how much it pays. While job seekers want to know the workplace location and employee benefit plans, it is the lack of transparency about salary that is a particularly irksome issue for most. Imagine taking the time to apply for a job, going through the lengthy interview process, and only finding out when you are finally selected to receive an offer that it doesn't pay enough to be worth your time.

That very scenario has happened to the majority of the survey participants, with 54 percent revealing that they have turned down a job offer when they discovered that the salary did not meet their expectations. Nearly a third of job seekers – 32 percent – suspect that the company is hiding something if they do not include the salary in the job description.

Salary transparency can help both job seekers and employers avoid wasting time. If the wages for a role are public, then companies can be assured from the outset that all candidates who apply will be willing to work for the salary provided. The team here at asked over 2,000 adults, "Do you think employers should be required to disclose salary ranges in job descriptions?"

Eighty-one percent of survey participants answered yes. Seventy-eight percent of people told us that salary clarity would positively impact their job-searching experience. You can download our full report on salary transparency.

Being turned down due to a lack of experience. Job seekers expressed frustration with being told by employers that they would not be hired because they did not have enough experience to do the job at the interview stage. This means that the employer had already reviewed their resume and therefore seen their years of experience before inviting them in for an interview.

See: How to land the job when you don't have all qualifications.

If there was a deal-breaker to their being hired in their work history, candidates wonder, why were they put through the stress and pressure of a job interview? Similarly, candidates report being told that they are overqualified for a role at a job interview – after the employer has already reviewed their resume.

The interview process goes on for too long. If employers don't want to lose out on great candidates, they will need to act faster. The job seekers surveyed said that from phone screening to virtual interview to in-person meeting, the job interview process can lag on over multiple weeks or even months. That is a long time to leave a potential new hire in limbo waiting to find out if they will actually get the job or not. Many will move on to other opportunities while the process drags on.

Another pet peeve of job seekers is not hearing back from the employer at all. While it might not be practical to send a personal reply to every job applicant, those candidates who were interviewed deserve to hear back from employers – even if they aren't ultimately selected for the role. It's only polite to respond to someone who took the time to meet with you and let them off the hook.

While ghosting candidates is rude, far worse is the rising trend of ghost jobs appearing on the market. These are online postings for jobs that either don't exist or aren't actually hiring candidates at the moment.

A different survey of job seekers found even more practices employers use in their recruitment efforts that turn candidates off. These include using job titles such as "rock star," "ninja," and "guru," describing the company culture as "fun" or "a family," and including the phrases "fast-paced environment" or "work hard, play hard."

In labour shortage conditions, it is more important than ever for companies to project a positive employer brand in order to convince candidates to work for them over rival organizations. This means paying attention to feedback from job seekers on their experiences. Candidates want salary information upfront, clear and accurate job descriptions and titles, a shorter interviewing process, and a response one way or the other after their job interviews. In short: keep it simple, professional, and polite.

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