Thankfully I am retired and don't have to worry about this any more.

When googling on a different subject I came across the following

Animal Vacancies - 14 urgent openings. No timewasters!

The link is no longer operative but it is a very common phrase used in small-ads.

Why do employers use this phrase? Do timewasters know that they are timewasters? Or, if they are deliberate timewasters surely they will not be deterred.

Has anyone here ever used that phrase? Did it achieve anything?

Update: 18 Sep 2015 - in response to the following comment

It sounds like an impolite version of "serious inquiries only" – Dan Pichelman

I'd like to ask about this as well. Does this 'polite' version achieve anything useful? Does the phrase stop frivolous or unsuitable applications?

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    It's a lousy ad no matter how you slice it; "animal vacancies" is supremely uninformative, and is going to draw lots of inquiries from the wrong people, I.e. "timewasters". Don't compound the problem, fix it. – keshlam Sep 18 '15 at 18:23
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    I have never seen that phrase in an ad, but I know I would not apply if I saw it because it indicates the company is very unprofessional and that will carry over to pay and benefits and how you are treated on a day-to-day basis.This basically says my employees are going to be treated like furniture. – HLGEM Sep 18 '15 at 18:31
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    "no timewasters!" is a common phrase in job ads? – Brandin Sep 18 '15 at 18:36
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    It sounds like an impolite version of "serious inquiries only" – Dan Pichelman Sep 18 '15 at 18:52
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    I'll be honest- I usually apply to anything that says "no timewasters" for the irony. – Anonymoot Sep 18 '15 at 20:15

I can't imagine that it would achieve anything. After all, who goes to a job interview with the idea that they are completely unsuitable but they just were bored and they want to mess with you? (unless you are @Studoko, in which case the phrase would be counterproductive :)

Most timewasters happen when people are not good at self evaluation, and those people wouldn't even realize the phrase applied to them.

Or when the job requirements are not clearly enough defined. Far better to be more specific on what factors would cause them to be timewasters (like "no red heads" "no bald guys" "no people who can't read", etc) If you haven't got the space to actually explain what you want, resign time to being wasted (yours and theirs).

  • spot on, I've seen plenty show up to interviews totally unsuitable, unprepared and unqualified for the position, I doubt they'd be deterred by that statement on an ad. – Kilisi Sep 18 '15 at 21:28
  • UI says you have to apply to 2 jobs per week. In the past, I have applied for a position as a surgeon even though I have no medical degree. It would be concerning if I had been invited in for an interview, but if I had and declined then UI would have a reason to cut me off. – emory Sep 20 '15 at 8:17
  • Here's the way I see it. If I get a job offer from a job that I don't want (I never have but I suppose it could happen) and I was worried about that UI rule (and yes, I have been) I would be upfront with the folks making me the offer and tell them I would not be a good fit. If they insist on offering me the job and even go so far as threatening to tattle to unemployment, that just means you will just be getting paid while you continue your job search. It's a feature, not a bug :) – Francine DeGrood Taylor Sep 21 '15 at 17:42

I suspect these phrases are a kind of trick, a bit like "limited time offers" that seem to have been available for years. By suggesting that they are expecting to be flooded with responses from people who aren't prepared to take the process seriously or put in the effort required to land the job, they make the job sound more alluring. Oooh, you are supposed to think, what is this mysterious animal vacancy that is hard to land and that everyone will want to vaguely try for in a non serious timewasting way? Maybe I want it too!

There's a good chance that there is in fact no job, just an application process that somehow makes money for the placer of the small ad. You might need to pay some sort of application fee, or get photos taken that the ad-placer can co-ordinate for $100 or so, or work a free day doing deliveries or other odd jobs as a test, and these are the things that the ad is actually trying to solicit. People who balk at them will be called time wasters or reminded that only serious enquiries were requested.

Your smart move is to snort with laughter and move on.

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    That's a plausible and worrying answer. A friend's daughter studied for several years, got a degree, took up unpaid work at an animal sanctuary and after doing that for a year and getting good references was unable to get a job in the field. She has now given up her ambition and works (successfully it must be said) in supermarket management. She tells me there are long waiting lists, especially of young women in their early twenties, who would like to work with animals. Presumably a scam such as the one you describe would be designed specifically to appeal to this market. – chasly - supports Monica Sep 20 '15 at 10:39

Both "no timewasters" and "serious inquiries only" essentially say

If you contact me, I'm gonna assume your not worth my time unless you prove it.

If you're a scammer, this is the type of person you can fleece. Most people have gotten wise to job scams, so if you write up a professional looking job posting, you're likely to get professionals applying. A professional is going to hang up the moment they have to pay a $100 application fee or some other non-sense. The scammer doesn't want professionals who have heard of this one before, he needs naive and desperate people who don't have the experience to know not to pay to get hired.

The scammer could make his application look really unprofessional, but that would cause problems when he tries to sell the business as legitimate to his marks. So the scammer takes the stance of every caller must prove (by paying an application fee or buying a do-hicky) they are worth the scammers time.

NOTE: I'm focusing on the scam angle due to the number of times I've seen these words following "Secret Shopper" jobs.


Asking for "serious inquiries only" is a waste of time. I helped with the hiring process at my previous job. We regularly received resumes along the lines of "I've been a salesman all my life, but I've always wanted to be a rocket scientist." (My employer was a company of rocket scientists.)

A couple of people had to waste their time filtering out those non-serious inquiries. Asking for serious inquiries didn't help; those salesmen who had always wanted to be rocket scientists were quite serious in their minds when they asked us to give them a job. Every once in a while those filterers would send the best of the best (or worst of the worst) such applications around, for laughs.


The only time I believe anything along the lines of "serious inquiries only" applies is for sale of high end items.

For example, a Ferrari salesman would certainly not want to deal with people who not only couldn't afford to buy the car but honestly wouldn't even try. You know, those people that just wanted to sit in a Ferrari because they thought that would be a fun way to spend a few hours on a Saturday.

In regards to job hunting, I don't see that it has a useful place. The statement attempts to say "we're serious about hiring people right now so you should be too!" in order to underscore the previous adjective of "urgent".

On the other hand filling low (or no) skilled jobs is often a difficult task. People schedule interviews, then no show. People show up to the interviews, are offered a job, then no show. Sometimes they even make it to the first week and simply stop coming in. At some point a hiring manager might feel the need to say "listen, if you aren't serious about a job please move along" - unfortunately, it's just the nature of the business of hiring people.

  • Yes. Clearly these managers have experienced time-wasters in the past and want to avoid them in the future. Part of my question was to see if anyone would admit to using these expressions and, perhaps more importantly:- "If you did use something like this, did it actually reduce the numbers of time-wasters?" If the technique actually works then maybe it's a useful strategy after all. – chasly - supports Monica Sep 19 '15 at 12:23

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