Millennial Job Seekers to Employers: 10 Top Job Search Pet Peeves

Without a doubt, Gen Y now has tons of experience when it comes to job searching.

We digest, blog about and focus on our experiences with potential employers until we know exactly what we could have done differently – or, in some cases, what the recruiter could have done differently to improve the candidate experience.

The YouTern team compiled an open letter to employers hiring the best and brightest Millennials… directly from those Gen Y job seekers… to point out just what we think of the current recruitment process.

Here are ten real life examples from Millennials immersed in a sometimes frustrating job search. We hope this feedback will help:

Brittany Richter (@BElizabeth8602): I think that one of the biggest problems that we face is being up against the stereotypes of being a member of Gen Y. Carefully crafting your resume and preparing thoroughly for the interview can help to show that you are a hard worker who is willing to put in the time and effort it takes to succeed. Also showing that some of these “stereotypes,” like being “plugged in” and “connected,” can be used in productive ways to the company’s advantage.

Isa Adney (@IsaAdney): My pet peeve is when jobs do not tell you when the job closes or post the salary. The unknown can be torture when the process is long.

Bryce Christiansen (@BryceChr): I always hate it when job ads don’t list a suggested salary range. When I made my last career move, it was much easier knowing ahead of time what the salary would be. It’s a lot of work to make a good first impression, only to find out that the compensation level isn’t what you expected.

Kyle Henderick (@KHenderick): My biggest frustration with recruiters is when they don’t do their homework on recruits. It starts with a non-personalized message and ends up in either the job being a bad fit or the recruit not being qualified for the position. Either way, it leads to false hope and wasted time for both parties simply because the recruiter was too lazy to spend a little more time on initial research.

Huong Vo (@Huongie113): I hate it when I don’t receive some kind of confirmation that the recruiter received my application. There’s a difference in the computer receiving my application and a real live person receiving it. A phone call or an email would be nice – especially if I’ve applied to over 50 positions. A phone call or email saying I did NOT get the job would be nice too. I don’t like having hope in something when it’s not there. Just tell me so I can move on and keep applying to other positions. Don’t hold back!

Scott Keenan (@ScottKeenan27): Inefficient recruitment systems I am REQUIRED to fill out to apply. If I have to fill them out, you have to keep them up to date.

Chanelle Schneider (@WriterChanelle): My pet peeve, and, I think, even recruiters would agree, is that the length of the recruitment process can be taxing. Sometimes great candidates are lost to other employers as a result of this process.

Abby Goetsch (@AbbyGoetsch): Recently, I received an email from one of my top internship company prospects asking if I was available for an interview next week. Since it was out of town, I sent an email back asking what kind of interview it would be (in person, Skype, phone) and the email I received didn’t answer my question. I want to make sure a future employer takes the time to answer all of my questions, and most importantly, gives me the feeling that I am a strong asset to the company and my work is going to be appreciated!

Nailah Ali (@Nailah_Ali): The biggest issue I’m dealing with is attempting to find a PAID internship. I know it’s normally not appropriate to bring up the question of wages during an interview, but as a senior preparing to graduate in a month, I’m broke. I’m broke and in seeking summer employment, I want to focus most of my energy into that internship and building my personal brand and professional network. It’s difficult to do that when you’re working at an internship that’s unpaid, and are forced to work a job to keep the bills paid.

Julie Feinerman (@JFeinerman): My biggest pet peeve throughout the employment process so far is not hearing back from an employer after an interview. There were times where I’ve waited 2 weeks to hear from an employer after thinking I had a great interview and they never got back to me. At that point, I would have gladly welcomed one of those impersonal automated emails just for the sake of knowing and being able to put it behind me.

Gen Y – let’s hear from you! What would you add to this list? Let us know your experiences in the job hunt!



About the Author: Erica Roberts graduated from Oregon State University in 2011 with a B.S. in Marketing. She is an avid reader and writer, and is extremely passionate about social media. Erica currently holds several part time marketing positions, including a social media internship with YouTern, and is searching for a full time career. Connect with Erica on LinkedIn and Twitter.



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  • Tom Bolt

    Thanks, Erika. I hope you get a lot of others volunteering their pet peeves. From the recruiter perspective, we usually don’t get enough specific feedback to make a comment. Most of these pet peeves are symptoms of a deeper problem in some companies and reflect a culture that is probably not employee friendly if they are this careless about potential employees. There is much being done on all fronts to improve the candidate experience, but it will be a problem as long as there are those who only give lip service to improving an ongoing situation.

    As you already know, I challenge the perpetuation of generational stereotypes any chance I get. I would not be me if I did not add the comment that these pet peeves are not a unique issue with Millennial job seekers. You could substitute female, African-American, GLBT, veterans or any of the groups that receive their share of discriminatory treatment by employers. Keep doing what you are doing because if we can eliminate any hint of generational bias then we may have a shot at fixing the rest. There is a problem…we can’t ignore it…but it is a people problem.  

    • Thanks for the feedback, Tom. I hope that just one employer will see this post and take a harder look at their own process. And I agree with you – this absolutely is a human problem, and maybe if Gen Y works to bring more attention to the issue, other groups will benefit. 

  • Great job Erica,

    I hope recruiters and hiring managers read this and think about handling some of these pet peeves.

    Like Tom said, it would be good for not just the millennials but almost any group.


  • Erica! I love this post! Let me add mine…

    Eric Woodard (@EricWoodard:disqus ): Thank you for considering me for a position, I’m grateful for your time. If I’m not a good fit for you, what can I do to help you find the right person?

    ….if I let that sentiment come through during my job search, do you think I would stand out from all the others? I bet I would. Brittany might give me some competition, but I’d have the others licked.

    I know you understand what I’m getting at…this is a TOUGH attitude to maintain after months of job hunting. But, I would humbly suggest that is the smart play.

    If you’re job hunting, let everybody else express frustration while you focus on what you can do for a potential employer.

    Do a lot of recruiters and interviewers suck? Absolutely. Is it fair? Nope. But…a lot of people in the working world suck and a lot of things are unfair. If you realize that and neutralize it with value and gratitude, you win.

    • Love that, Eric! Thank you! GREAT advice – it does no good to bring up an issue but then do nothing to combat it… or at the very least, realize that sometimes things just don’t go your way, and maybe later on they will. 

  •  As someone who has sat on both sides of the interviewing desk I’d like to respond to a few of the Pet Peeves.

    Salary – Very rarely will salary be listed for a position.  Most positions have a range and not everyone will bring the same skills and experiences to the table.  I would be comfortable waiting until the second interview to ask about compensation.  The recruiter will either say “ Where do you need to be to make this work” or “Do you have any questions?”.  If you have work experience I would say “ I’m currently making X amount and am looking to get Y for a new position”.  If you aren’t working you should know how much you need to meet your expenses.  I would also talk with your placement office to see what pay ranges people are getting for similar roles.  Your network should always include people who are ahead of you in their career path so that you can reach out to them and see what is a reasonable amount.  Also, you don’t have to accept their first offer.  They won’t double their initial amount but 5 – 10 % increase wouldn’t be out of line.

    Not hearing back from an application is a total pain but with many job postings receiving 1000’s of applications you might never hear from a recruiter.  Not hearing back after an interview is just plain wrong.  But it does happen.  I would ask in the interview what the timeline is for hearing about the next step.  If you don’t hear back in that time frame I would consider it ok to contact the recruiter.  If you don’t hear back from them just assume that you didn’t get the position.  If the process got delayed and they come back to you at later date you can always accept the position then.  I would also keep looking at other opportunities the whole time.  I’ve gotten job offers in June for positions that start in August and when August arrived the job/contract had been cancelled.  My thought is that until the first paycheck clears I don’t consider it a done deal.

    Looking for a job is a total pain in the butt and all too often you will end up with something that isn’t what you really wanted and / or doesn’t pay enough.  When this happens I would recommend that you slowly make your job into the job you want.  In addition to your regular work take on small tasks that appeal to you and try to steer your career in that direction.  A second job might also be a necessity just to get by so try to find one that is closer to the ideal position and try to grow that into a full-time position that is closer to your ideal.

    • Thank you so much for the tips! They were all really helpful, and I know the contributors to this post will appreciate your feedback. 

    • I agree, I don’t expect every job to have a specific salary, but a range would be nice.  I’ve applied for jobs that were grossly underpaying what the average was for the position and had to wait till I had taken time off work and made other big sacrifices to find out.

  • Love this post, Erica… well done. I’m enjoying reading the comments, too. 

    I agree about the “fair” issues, and that we must rise above obstacles. However, I feel VERY strongly that the companies that listen to the input provided, instead of just taking a “that’s just the way it is attitude”, will place themselves in a much better position to hire the best talent. For all of us, the candidate experience must improve — and we have to start somewhere.

  • Ben

    *sigh*. I am gona get a lot of flak for this.
    Based what I’ve read, I see lots of whiners and I wouldn’t hire any of you. If I ever behave like anyone of you, then I won’t even be able to pass the HR drones.
    Having been on both side, I can tell you that the primary task of a hiring manager is to find out if your skill and behavior fits with the organization and the position. Often times a hiring manager would pick someone whom the skill is not quite there, but they think the candidate is trainable. The last thing they want is someone while does not require training, but has problems with everyone behavior wise. A hiring manager does not like risking hiring people who would have problems later on.
    Now let’s address each of the “pet peeves”:
    1. If I get you correctly (since I had to guess, I recommend you take some comm/writting classes), your pet peeve is most of time people see gen y as someone who can’t write well and using social media while working, therefore unproductive. First, regardless which gen you are writting skill is a demonstration of your verbal communication skill. Since the hiring/HR manager don’t know you and they are taking a risk just to hire you, they wanted to know if can you communicate. The resume/cover letter happends to be one way to judge if you can communicate well. I’ve written and seen my share of resumes. I can tell you that some resumes are just well, trash it goes. So triple check your spelling, grammer and everything else. Write the resume in such a way that is easy for the recruiter to read and even ask questions during the interview. Have someone else read it and critique it. As for using social media, this is kind of tricky. It all depends on how you are using it. Internet aint free, someone has to pay for the connection and so is your work time pay. The company is paying for all that. So you need to demonstrate how your social media activity help the company make money. If you can do that, no one would have a problem. If you are just using it to check on your friends and finding where is the next party on facebook, then how is this going to benifit the company?
    2. As a hiring manager, he/she does not have to tell anyone if the job has been closed or post salary. Why? It is because they are also budget constrainted and they never stop looking for candidates due to attrition. You just don’t know when someone is going to leave or when hiring will resume. Now, given that, this is where network comes in. In the age of “social media”, use LinkedIn and other job sites like Dice/Monster and so on to find out the average salary looks like so you can ask for it. If you don’t like it, you can always walk out. It is all about negotiation. Don’t forget your school career placement office can also provide you with a ton of information. Regardless which gen you are, networking, may it be in person or virtual, will help you find out who is hiring. Don’t rely just on the “want ads” and don’t expect job just all of sudden falls into your lap just because you are a cool person and it is expected.
    3. See #2. In the age of internet, you can always find that information. Dice/Monster and trade journals I subscribe always ask for salary information in survays. Don’t forget your school’s career center. I remember my school’s career center directory would ask new grads how much salary was offered by the company and would shake anyone’s hands who was offered 40k or more right off the bat. Scool wants to boast that they have students making money after graduating and they would always know which company pays better and which does not. BTW, don’t be afraid to walk out if the salary is not what you expected. I know of a friend who turned down a job simply because he couldn’t live off that salary and instead, he decided to do more job search and evenaully found one he could accept. Look, hiring/working for someone is a two way street, you should always ask yourself can I live with this kind of salary and what is the outlook of the company before deciding if the company is a good fit for you too.
    4. Guess what, welcome to the real world. A typical recruiter does not have the time for each of the candiates. As an interviewer/hiring manager, I got my regular work to do and on top of that I am supposed to spend time learning about you? Even a HR dorne who doesn’t understand about the techincal aspect of the position got other work to do and spending time on you is not important. If I start trying to get to know all the candidates, I would never get my own work done. Instead, it is your job to make sure the position is a good fit. It’s a two way street. This reminds me of a quote. “You own your own career”. A recruiter is not your parents and it is your own responsibility to get to know more about the company and the position during your research and face to face interview. You are an adult now, act like one.
    5. This reminded me of a time where I didn’t get a call back. I decided to call the manager and got a real good lesson. I even asked him why he would not send a simple e-mail saying I didn’t get hired. He told me that there are tons of candidates, if a recruiter had to spend even 1 minute to respond, he/she may never get the work done much less their own regular work. Again, regardless which gen you are, if you don’t hear back from the hiring manager, call them up. Tell them you are still interested. The reason you may not get a call may due to budget and host of other reasons. However, if you spend the time, you never know. What you are doing is passive by just sending out resumes and hoping to get a bite. You expect a job just fall into your lap and this goes to show me that if I hire you, you would expcet things to be done for you instead of being an asset and proactive. You reminde me of a quote “Become genuinely interested in other people.” By that I mean, if you are not interested in check with the recruiter, the recruiter would just assume you are not interested in the job or anything the company has to offer.
    6. Duh! Let me point out the obvious. The recruiter is not your parents. You own your own career. Therefore, if you want a job, then fill out the forms and keep them updated. It may be “inefficient”, however they are other job seekers that has to do the same thing. Keep everything up-to-date and fill out all the REQUIRED forms. If you don’t want to work or be hired, then don’t. If you don’t like it, hey there are other candidate that will take the job by filling out the “inefficient” form. Here is a quote for you “Do or Do not, there is no try”. Quite whinning and get hired.
    7. Man, this kind of comment showed me that you are a self centered person. As an someone who has on the side of the recruiting/interviewer I DO NOT AGREE with you. Hey, it is also taxing for me too. I had to spend time prepping for the requisition since I gota pitch my manager why I should get an extra head, asking others if they have time to do the interview and not to mention prepping for the interview question myself. On top of that, I got my regular work to do. This comment just show me that you are not a team player and you only look at your own self interest. As I said before, part of the hiring a candidate is not just about a candidate’s skill, it is also about a candidate’s behavior. That’s why during interview there will always be techincall and behavioral questions. Again, regardless of which gen you are, this kind of behavior, ask yourself, would you want to work with yourself given your own attitude?
    8. *sigh*, can you come in for an interview or not? There are other candidates out there, if you can’t you can’t. If you don’t want to just because you had to drive/out of town, then don’t. Regardless of which gen you are, when someone asks you if you are avaialble for an interview, your question should be when and where (phone or face to face). This is because there are other candidates and also your attitude is just appalling. You want companies to “take the time to answer all your question”? Just who the hell you think you are? You don’t think other people’s time are important only yours? You want people to do this and that for you, was that it? Why should anyone hire you? I would hire someone with a positive attitude and lesser skill over someone who has great skill, but crappy attitude. You are like a little kid throwing a temper tantrum just because you don’t want to go to the interview so you use execues. If you want to have a feeling of being a strong player, then act like an adult by showing up and give ’em the best interview and show them that your skill is a benifit to the company, not the other way around!
    9. Look, in a bad economy, interns are at the bottom of the totem poll. You mentioned you want to build up a personal brand and expirence. Guess what, regardless of whatever gen you are, the reality is you are not the first, nor the last of having such a problem. You just have to suck it up or get another part time job to pay the bills or move back with your parents. Also consider the place of the internship. I remember one of my career advisor told us that in bad economy time, consider doing volunteering work for a charitable foundatation for free. This allows building personal brand, networking and expirence. When the economy recovers, you will have the expirence to show you can do the work. Besides, by doing charitable work, you also demonstarte you like to help people in need. Companies likes to show the image of helping people in need and given your work with a charitable organization, it helps the company’s image. So when economy becomes better, who do you think the company would like to hire first when they see you having been doing volunteering work?

    10. See #5. If you waited two weeks, most likely, the job is gone or the hiring manager has already forgotten you. Look, you are not the only candidate for the job and there are others. You should have called them back and send them a thank you note after the interview. Ping them a week after if you don’t hear back. During the interview always remember the recruiter’s name and e-mail/phone number. The hiring manager is not gona waste his/her time answering you back. If you are not hired, they don’t need to even bother answering you. That is just reality, quite worrying about it and move on to the next job interview. You need to be proactive and call or move on instead of hoping and waiting. By the way, your behavior is too passive, you need to be proactive if you want the job.

    • Thank you for the constructive criticism, Ben. 

    • Thanks Ben for commenting on each of our thoughts. 

      I’m well aware of how to find what salaries are typical for a position, however, that doesn’t mean every company pays the same way.  Like you said, many companies pay well under what the averages are or what the school tells you to expect. 

      When I was playing the job search game, I spent dozens of hours applying, regardless of whether they shared salary ranges or not.  But for those that did share that information, it was much more appreciated.  I knew what I was getting into and time was much better spent on both sides.

      I didn’t waste applying for a job that wouldn’t meet my needs, and the employer didn’t get a bunch of applicants that were looking for something in a different range.

      That was all I was trying to get across.  Sorry if it upset you.

      As a blogger myself, I read thousands of comments, and I think it’s fair for me to give you a little constructive criticism myself.

      It’s a little harsh that you would say, “I wouldn’t hire any of you” based on a two sentence opinion we are sharing. I don’t know about the others, but I didn’t share my pet peeve because I wanted to get hired, I shared it because I wanted to provide insight into what about job searching bothers this generation. 

      It’s okay to disagree, but do so respectfully next time. 


    • kylehenderick

      Hi Ben,

      While I appreciate your candid feedback here, I have to disagree with your thoughts here. Especially #4 since that relates to my comment :).

      When you say ‘I got my regular work to do and on top of that I am supposed to spend time learning about you’ or ‘If I start trying to get to know all the candidates, I would never get my own work done.’ I think you completely misunderstand going the extra mile or solid account management/customer service principals here and what I truly think is missing in the recruiting industry. While I understand your concern as we are all busy, I have never understood why a recruiter would send be 8-10 jobs of which 2 are relevant. Is it too much to ask to look over my resume as research? Small start-ups like Dream Champs are looking to innovate/change this and I believe their efforts is where the industry is going.

      Thanks again for you feedback and constructive criticism. We will have to agree to disagree here on what I feel the recruiting industry should really be about and is currently lacking. I understand the pile of resumes you have to go through and realize the extra time and effort what we are requesting would take, sorry it is not worth your time. 


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  • Fennec Fox

    Boy do I have some pet peeves:

    1- Logins not working: I have to change my password every time I log in on one site.

    2- Application software not working: some of my applications were labeled incomplete because the system failed to upload my file WHEN IT SAID IT WAS UPLOADED AND RECEIVED!!

    3- Related to the first two is that tech support SUCKS!

    4- mandatory résumé builders: nothing sucks more then having to rebuild a resume because HR is too picky to let you upload the one you spent hours or days building.

    5- no follow up options: all the postings ever have are generic contact info. How the hell is anyone supposed to contact a SPECIFIC person if none is listed.

    6- discrimination: try getting a job as a senior, an atheist, or as a long term unemployed person. Sad that we must pay the price due to the ignorance and stupidity as well as the intolerance of some HR persons. Take a hint: if we did not want to work, we would not apply for the job.

    7- Severe lack of entry level positions.

    8- unsolicited calls for borderline fake jobs: legally real but the cost of driving to work and the fact that it is all commission based means that pay is not certain. Hell I would be grateful to make minimum wage at this point.

    Telemarketers: get a call thinking it is an employer offering me an interview and it turns out to be a…

    I swear to god that I get bad headaches and I literally take Advil pills after each application. This BS will drive me to drinking… or suicide.