Job-seeker Becky Cole has skipped second interviews or canceled when a would-be employer wasted her time or was condescending during an initial meeting.
"How I respond depends on the person. If they have made an effort to be a human being during the interview, I will email to cancel and let them know why I don't plan to show up," says Cole, who has been looking for a job as a technical writer in the St. Paul, Minnesota, area since January.
Applicants may also be burned out by the increasing demands and low chances of success in job searches since the recession.
A job posting for the lighting company Lumitec required applicants to write a cover letter that included five attributes that made them good candidates for a technical position. Many highly qualified candidates didn't take the time to comply, probably because they were applying for a number of jobs at once, says John Kujawa, president of the Delray Beach, Florida-based company.
"They had so many things to go after, and every one of those is a long shot," he says.
Job postings probably turn some applicants off rather than inspire them to put their best foot forward, says Melissa Trocko, a managing director at human resources provider Insperity.
"All these job ads, thousands of them, say, 'I need this skill and that skill and that many years of experience,'" Trocko says. "There's nothing exciting in them about the job."
But she agrees many job seekers don't make much of an effort.
"They're probably applying for jobs while at work, not reading the job postings, not following all the rules," Trocko says.
Glenn Boehmer deals with that problem as he sifts through resumes. People apply for jobs at his printing business they're not qualified for.
"We can get 40 responses, but rarely do I have one that's specifically what we're looking for," says Boehmer, owner of Sentinel Printing in Hempstead, New York.
Perhaps most frustrating are candidates who accept jobs and then change their minds.
One day before a new staffer was supposed to start at Erika Flora's technology consulting company, Beyond 20, he sent an email saying he'd taken another job. The work she'd put into the selection process, including four rounds of interviews, was wasted.
But Flora, whose company has offices in Washington, D.C., Phoenix and San Diego, is philosophical.
"I'm glad we found out. He didn't have much integrity," she says.
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