Are You Giving Employers a Headache? Here Are Their Top Frustrations When Hiring…

You take a deep breath, say a little prayer, and hit the “send” button. Out goes your job application, delivering your cover letter and resume to your (hopefully) future employer.  Whew!  But now you wait!  For the next few days, you’ll check your email obsessively and keep hoping for a call from an unknown number.

After finding what you think is the perfect job, nothing fully prepares you for the disappointment of an automated, impersonal email letting you know that the company will not be proceeding with your application. Or worse – you hear………. crickets! 

What happened? Your application may have looked perfect in your eyes but it could be something different for an employer.  Let’s take a peek behind the secret curtain – and tell you what employers really think about applications – and why they reject them.

A recent poll conducted by My Business, Australia’s pre-eminent small business digital platform, took a look into what gives employers the biggest headaches when it comes to hiring. Their findings might give you some tips as to why you’re not getting past the post.

Here are the 5 job seeker behaviours that employers find most frustrating:

Applying indiscriminately for jobs that don’t match your skills and experience

24.8% employers said their number one frustration was being spammed by unqualified or unsuitably-skilled candidates.  Make sure you demonstrate at least 90% of the key selection criteria required for the job you’re applying for. If you are missing the required experience by only a small margin, try highlighting your achievements instead.  Make sure your cover letter presents a great case for why the employer should still consider you. 

If you’re way too under-qualified for the job, you’re probably best not to waste your time applying.  Your time is better spent elsewhere.

Sending generic job applications that don’t address the selection criteria

The second biggest source of irritation for employers is when the applicant doesn’t address the actual criteria asked for. Once your resume makes it in front of the eyes of a potential employer, you want it to shout, “I’m the right person for this job!” If you’re qualified, but the employer can’t immediately tell, they’re going to toss your resume aside in favour of one from someone whose suitability jumps off the page.

This means you can’t submit the same resume and cover letter for every job you apply. That’s the kiss of death. Since each position will list different requirements, each application you submit should highlight experience and accomplishments specific to the job. So, take a look at the job description and the company’s website and do some general industry research to determine how to present yourself as the perfect fit.

Failing to follow specific instructions

You know how you tell someone to turn right and they immediately turn left? *eyeroll* Same thing here. Employers will toss your application straight in the trash if you can’t follow simple instructions.

Yes, the job application process can be tedious and time-consuming but if your dream job requires you to submit a cover letter, resume and video profile make sure you do all three! Failing to follow instructions is one of the quickest ways to ensure you end up in the NO pile.

Sending an email with the wrong subject line or neglecting to include a required element of the application may seem like trivial to you. Employers, however, see this as a red flag. To them, this comes across as warning signs that you’re either blindly applying to jobs (without actually looking at the application requirements), or that you lack attention to detail, something your future employer is probably not willing to risk.

Presenting your credentials unprofessionally

Employers hate seeing applications – CVs and cover letters – with typos, grammatical errors and incomplete and/or incomprehensible sentences, yet almost 50% of job applications contain them.

Make sure that you get on the shortlist by ensuring that your application is error free.

Proofread, proofread, proofread. If spelling and grammar are not your strong suits invest in a spelling/grammar checker. We highly recommend Grammerly, a handy, free tool that you may want to bookmark or download their free browser extension.  Alternatively, have a friend or a family member read through your CV and cover letter. Or print it and read it aloud yourself – it makes the mistakes more obvious. 

Putting the effort in to make sure your application is error free and well-formed shows employers that you can communicate well and that you take pride in your work.

Stretching or obscuring the truth on job applications

It’s fine to add a little sparkle to your application to present the best version of yourself but avoid going overboard. If you do, it’s very likely you’ll get caught.  That’s not only embarassing, it can also hurt your future job prospects.  Make sure that all details in your application will stand up to any verification and reference checks. Most employers conduct reference and background checks before hiring and if the facts don’t add up, you probably won’t get the job. 

If you apply for jobs that are a good fit, you won’t have to fabricate facts.  Your true credentials will speak for themselves. Remember, honesty is always the best policy. 


  • Theresa Aukusitino

    Thank you so much and yes I will appreciate the great info will incorporate in future resume

    • Rameet Singh
      Rameet Singh

      Hi Theresa,

      Glad you enjoyed reading the blog and have taken into consideration our suggestions, I’m sure incorporating them in your job search efforts will bring you the desired results.

      All the best.

  • Robyn

    Thank you so much, for pointing out the obvious. I will be sure to take all this information on board in my next application.

    • Matt Jepson
      Matt Jepson

      Hi Robyn,

      I’m pleased you found the post informative and I hope that your future applications are successful.

      Good luck

  • Brendon Harding

    Some good info and tips in there. But while I’ve made sure I’ve done the majority listed over the past few years I am still struggling to find any work. I’ve applied for many yet have only had 3 unsuccessful (2 recently now I’m not studying) interviews.

    Do you have any tips or info for someone like myself who hasn’t ever had any paid employment? At most I’ve had one day of paid work off work experience a few years ago at a local slot car shop and am currently volunteering in a local aircraft museums cafe taking customer orders, cleaning/washing and shelf stacking. I’ve found these ‘skills’ I have aren’t really helping that much, maybe they need to be highlighted more I’m not sure.

    Thanks for any help, I really appreciate it!

    • Matt Jepson
      Matt Jepson

      Hi Brendon,

      I understand your frustration in looking for a job when you feel like you haven’t had a chance to develop enough experience. However, it sounds like your current position at the museum is an excellent place to develop skills. If you are already volunteering at a cafe and have already got some experience, then I would suggest applying at local cafes around you. It might not be what you want in the long term but it would allow you to get paid, get some experience working, and develop skills that you can use at other jobs. You may already have some of the key things employers are looking for which would mean you don’t need to be trained as much as somebody else.

      Working with customers in any position allows you to develop some great soft skills. Soft skills such as communicating, problem solving, and a customer service attitude are often highly valued by employers. It sounds like to me that you are already developing some key soft skills and like you said, you might need to rethink how you are presenting them in your CV. Customer service and communication skills are the same no matter where you work. Emphasise that and how your skills can help the employer. We have some other articles on soft skills if you want to find out more.

      Good luck with your job search. Don’t undersell yourself Brendon, you’ve already started gaining experience – you just need to make sure you emphasise that when you approach an employer.

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