Job hunting in the information age - ugh!

It’s been over 12 years since I applied for a professional position, and don’t get me wrong, I am glad to say goodbye to watermarked cotton fiber paper resumes sent in physical envelopes. But holy crap, is it tedious to apply to some outfits online. I’m currently working on an application that requires me to upload a resume and cover letter, but also demands that I painstakingly recreate my resume through their handy 152-step process, with additional requirements such as delineating my education down to the number of credit hours I completed at each school!

It’s hard enough to work on a decent resume and craft a cover letter for each individual job. When I have to commit hours to filling in online forms as well, for a job that (let’s face it) I have a very low chance of even getting an interview for, it’s rather disheartening. It makes me want to avoid shooting for the stars and simply apply for things I’m clearly overqualified for, so I’m not wasting my time.

I’m lucky I have a spouse earning plenty of money to run our household, because I can’t imagine how frustrating and scary it would be to have to deal with all this rigamarole when you’re trying to find something to pay the bills and buy groceries!

I have heard that some companies, to limit the hundreds of applications per positions that they get, make the process intentionally difficult and time-consuming. The idea being that this way they will get only the most dedicated applicants; I think that really means they get only the most desperate candidates, while qualified candidates go elsewhere.

That, and many online job applications are, unfortunately, resume black holes that you never hear back from :frowning: I have sometimes thought that (in the “there should be a law!” sense, not that there should actually be a law) companies should be required to respond to each resume, even if it’s a form “decline”, at least so people aren’t left waiting and wondering.

I had two friends looking for work recently. One friend meticulously followed all the steps and took her time writing thoughtful relevant cover letters for everything she applied for. The other friend didn’t really need a new job and was just curious how she’d do. She applied mostly through LinkedIn’s job search tool and completely ignored the employer’s instructions - she sent her resume as a PDF and never included a cover letter, even if they explicitly asked.

Friend #2 got a half dozen interviews and took a great offer after just a month or two. My first friend had almost no interviews and never managed to leave her job, even though she actually hates the job and would love to leave.

I wouldn’t put too terribly much weight on a sample size of two but I found it an interesting observation.

I hear ya. I’ve been applying to at least two jobs a week since June, and those online forms are annoying. Especially annoying are the ones that pull information from your resume and try to plug it into the form…but get every bit of information wrong, so you have to go back and correct it all.

I would be curious what those two resumes look like and what fields they are in. If, for example, they were both salespeople and Friend 1 has “Sales of $20,000” on her resume while Friend 2 has “Sales of $20,000,000” on her resume, I bet Friend 2 would get a lot more interviews than Friend 1 no matter what they did.

If I can pile on - Taleo is the worst.
If I see Taleo I know I’m immediately not interested in the position because the hiring manager is a fucking douche and I expect the rest of the asshole at the company are as well.

Talk about making you jump through hoops - it tries to parse your resume and does such a shitty job that it takes 90 minutes to correct all the fuck-ups this piece of shit software makes before it looks anything like your resume.

I have suspicion that yellowjacketcoder is right, they make it as painful as possible to see just how bad you want to work for them.

I hear your pain. I went through a job search last spring, and there are some miserable web sites out there.

If it helps, the place with the absolute WORST website was the offer I ended up taking. I came very close to not applying there because their web site was so bad. The rest of the company, though, was great, and they know they need to update the application website. So sometimes it does work out.

I have not been on the market for a while, but I recall thinking the same thing when I was applying for jobs a few years ago. I also recall some of them indicated something along the lines of “You can upload your MS Word resume here, OR fill out our handy-dandy form…”

I am not sure if some of these websites offer you that “or” statement any more.

The worst is getting to step 19 out of 20, running into a glitch, losing the previous 19 steps of information, and having to start over. Been there, done that.

Some of them are so redundant. You upload your resume, fill in an application portion, go to another part of a different page, fill out work experience, submit that, then it wants work history, then submit that, then it asks more information, it’s like a loop, you get lost in frustration. I submitted a resume for CVS and got so frustrated. I eventually finished, ended with a test of some sort, got confirmation at the end and then got an e-mail saying, “Please complete your application.” Are you serious…

I had a problem like that when applying for independent Blue Cross coverage some 10 years ago. Except it wasn’t 20 steps, it was more like 400.

EDIT: And worse, I was unable to start over, because my partially-completed application had marked my Social Security Number as “in process” and as such I couldn’t create a new registration with the same SSN.

I don’t know what is like now, but I wanted to check and see what jobs where available for a friend of mine. Turned out they wouldn’t show what jobs were available unless you filled out an application. It started out something like part 1 of 8, then part 8 turned into part 1 of 10, and it went on and on. I was just making up information and never did get to the job listings. They asked for just about everything including SSN.

I’ve just started to go through this process, since in was laid off in November. So far it’s kind of discouraging.

It depends strongly on who is going to look at the resume. If HR is screening, maybe they use credit hours and stuff to sort. I don’t know how our employment site works very well, but when I see stuff from it I just see resumes. We have a different route for new college grads, and I just see resumes from there also. That’s plenty for me.

I’m with yellowjacketcoder - good content in the resume beats cover letters and formatting all the time. (Except for misspellings and stuff that indicates laziness.) The formatting of the resumes I get is often munged by our system - but I don’t care a bit.

I’ll repeat what I always say - if you can find an in to a company, using any sort of connections, you will be way ahead. I don’t think anyone wants to look through piles of resumes. Anyone who has done her homework, is really interested, and who give me a good story about ability to do the job is going ahead of all of the resumes in the stack, assuming I have an opening.

I got my current job because my neighbor was friends with an HR guy who worked with a director who was looking for someone just like me. I think I sent my resume, but my resume had nothing to do with it. And after I took this one I got offered a job from a colleague - but it was too late.

I know, I know. It is too hard. HR will be pissed. etc., etc., etc.

What a perfect application process for them. If you are hiring for a position where you will get shat on by the company, why not have a similar application process?
SSN in an application form - screw that.

I knew someone who was an HR director who hated, hated, hated online resumes. Before the internet you’d have to do everything on paper and physically mail out your resume, and that was a significant outlay of time and a little outlay of money. You’d have to want the job quite a bit to bother with it.

Now? Every damn person under the sun applies for jobs at his company no matter whether they’re qualified or not. I saw a bit of this myself when I was hiring manager for a position under me earlier this year. More than half of the applications were written by applicants who had clearly not read the job description. Because part of the job description included the magic word “research”, we had doctors and scientists applying to the job boasting of their great skills in biomedical and genetic research. Well, great, that’s really going to help you in an entry-level sales analysis job, guys. We even had a currently-employed attorney with 10 years’ experience apply for the darn job because “I really want to work for your company!” I mean, if you’re willing to take probably a 70% pay cut… Like I say, these were not illiterate, dumbass people who were desperately trying to find any job above Wal-Mart greeter–these were experienced professionals who were applying for an entry-level job because, well, they could. Search on the internet for a job description which contains the words you’re looking for, upload your cover letter and resume, cut and paste your past employment and education details, click a few buttons, and you’ve just applied for a job in 5 minutes. We ended up with over 60 people applying for our position and our HR department told me that was lower than what they expected.

So, yeah, I think the internet has really messed up the job hiring process. I can tell you that it certainly isn’t any faster on the HR end, and considering the number of applications that now have to be waded through I think it’s actually slowed down the hiring process. I don’t think we’ll ever get the genie back into the bottle, but I really appreciated the days when you had to physically send out a big envelope with your cover letter, resume, and other forms. It did make you think more carefully about the job you were applying for and whether you’d want the job even if you did get it.

I can tell you the reasons for this. First. on-line applications means that tons of people not even remotely qualified for a job apply. You hear people who say they send out 500 resumes complaining about not hearing back. That’s because we get swamped.

Second, since on-line resumes go to lots of places in a company, there isn’t any point where everyone says there is no match and a rejection letter is written.

Third, they fired lots of HR people so there isn’t enough staff to cover everyone.

When I started at Bell Labs we had 3 HR people doing recruiting and recruiting support for a center of about 500 people. Now I suspect there would be less than one, and she is busy arranging travel for people we interview. Back then everyone got a thanks but no thanks letter. Not now.
It’s all about driving out costs. Applicants suffer.

I hear you. I mean, I understand when they’re inundated it can be difficult. But it sucks to be in limbo. As a matter of fact, I just got a very nice, brief form letter saying I didn’t get a job, and I appreciate it immensely. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just some closure is nice.

I know - don’t they say that some huge percentage of jobs are filled through networks, rather than ads? It makes sense. Unfortunately, I only have so many connections!

To be fair, plenty of companies put out ridiculous qualification demands that they don’t really expect for the job. In one memorable instance, my husband came across an ad requiring 5 years of Java experience - in 1997. So of course that breeds a lot of applications by the “obviously unqualified” because we never know what the *real *requirements are, and what is aspirational hoo-ha or an effort to keep out the riff raff.

I just got a new job. I didn’t take any of those too seriously; if a website wanted to parse my resume incorrectly I didn’t bother correcting it. I figure that whoever implemented the use of taleo should be inconvenienced by its idiosyncrasies and develop their own workaround, not me.

The job I ultimately accepted provided me with a copy of their taleo report to transfer employment dates and whatnot to their own official in-house application. It was pretty messed up, but it had a printed copy of my attached resume at the end.

The only thing I really did was highlight obvious keywords from an individual job posting and revise my work experience to include their phrasing before attaching a resume.

FWIW I drive a truck and truckers are in demand. Professional or academic employers might be more uptight about perfect applications instead of pragmatism.

That’s why you make connections. Right now new graduates are in high demand, but at times they weren’t. In my field we hire nationally. I’m reasonably visible in my field, but no one ever sends me an email saying they’d like to talk about what I do or what my company does. I might figure out right away that this is a ploy to eventually ask about jobs but that would be okay, since it shows a lot more initiative than sending out lots of resumes.

Hell, lots of dopers do lots of things. Search for keyswords in your area and see if you can find a Doper who works in the same area you do. A bit after the bubble I connected a Doper working in my area with a friend also working in my area - and a job resulted. If we had openings I would have been happy to help directly.

Not all fields and jobs are amenable to this strategy, but it increases the odds a lot.

I don’t know if it still happens, but at one time a lot of openings were fakes, done in support of someone you hired applying for a visa. You could recognize them by a truly bizarre mix of requirements designed to match the background of the person. And sometimes the people who write the requirements have no clue, and the managers who should have a clue don’t bother to review them.