I was looking around in my home directory and found a file from 2013. That was the year that I finished my MBA, and I was applying for new jobs — and judging by the content of the file, I was thoroughly frustrated with many companies’ job application websites. Here’s the list of annoyances I catalogued in that file.

Unhelpful error messages:

  • I filled out an application, attached my resume and cover letter, and clicked Submit. Result: “Server error. Contact the service desk.”
  • I filled out and submitted an application, and a popup dialog informed me that “Only a-z, A-Z and 0-9 are allowed.” It would’ve been helpful to tell me which of the many fields it was referring to.

Asking you to provide superfluous information:

  • “Please choose a username.” Why not just use the email address that I already provided?
  • “Two phone numbers are required.” How many people actually have two phone numbers?
  • “Create a unique identifier, for example the last four digits of your phone number followed by your zip code.” I imagine I could go to any major metropolitan area and find at least two people who have the same “unique” combination. Why can’t the email address I already provided serve as a unique identifier?

Not understanding that answering a question a certain way precludes you from answering a follow-up question:

  • “May we contact this employer? (Yes/No)” Since it was asking about my current employer, I selected “No” and left the contact information blank. Result: “Contact Name and Contact Phone are required.”
  • “Is this your current employer? (required)” I selected “Yes.” Result: “Reason for leaving” was required.

Asking you to provide the same information twice:

  • “Type or paste your resume in the space below (required).” Then, five screens later: “Attach your resume (required).”

And finally, this oddly worded question:

  • “To get an understanding of your salary expectations, I need to know what salary you are targeting for a new position. Some examples: My current rate is… / My last salary was… / I won’t work for less than… I need to understand if our expectations with respect to compensation are aligned before we move forward.”

I’m not sure why they wrote such a long, casually worded sentence when they could’ve just written “salary requirements.” It sounds like someone was dictating the question, and it was copied into the application verbatim.