Are online job applications driving people insane? Or just driving them away from jobs they can do?
When PBS NewsHour‘s Paul Solman reported on America’s biggest job killer — the automated job applicant sorter — he asked me what I think about this practice. And what do you think I said?
Is the Ask The Headhunter approach to job search the most encouraging advice for a human? Paul Solman says it’s “perhaps more practical than relaying on cyberspace in 2012.”
INVITATION: Want to be on PBS NewsHour? (You can use a screen name, of course!) As part of this PBS project, I’m taking questions from viewers! Submit questions on the Ask The Headhunter Q&A feature on PBS NewsHour. I intend to answer every question submitted on the PBS website! Please post questions on the comments section. The more questions you post, the more Q&A ATH columns will appear on NewsHour! Keep ‘em coming!
Online Job Application Forms:
Automating failure for employers and job hunters alike
- Human judgment is eliminated from the process.
- Human review is done only after the software rejects some of the best candidates.
- The “out of the box creative thinking” companies claim they want is weeded out automatically. If you don’t fill out a “required” box, your creative thinking is rejected. The employer gets only applicants who perfunctorily follow all the rules. Rules that don’t work well at all. (Hell of a company to work for, that processes applicants like hamburger meat.)
- Online forms encourage anyone and everyone to apply — employers have turned the recruitment process into a literal crapshoot. Like the New York Lotto commercials say, “You can’t win if you don’t play!” Employers and their personnel jockeys have turned hiring into cheesy gambling. And then they complain they get too many applicants! That’s why they need software to sort them!
- That online form? It’s connected to an online job description. This is where an employer throws in the kitchen sink. They ask for everything, and if you lack anything on the list, you’re out. And the employer loses — because while you may lack one or two “qualifications,” you’re a fast learner who will get rejected. Meanwhile, you could be learning the job while the employer complains of the “talent shortage” and the job goes begging while the board of directors wonders why profits are down.(How’s that meatgrinder-worth of metaphors? Hamburger. Crapshoot. Gambling. The Lotto. Cheesy. Kitchen Sink. Works just like the job boards! “It’s in there!” And employers can’t find it!)
That’s how many Americans are looking for work.
That’s how many jobs are vacant in America. Do the math. What do Human Resources executives call that 4:1 advantage that employers enjoy in the market? A talent shortage! Give us all a break!
Q: If employers can’t hire who they need while there’s more talent on the street than ever in history, what are they doing wrong?
A: Processing applicants like hamburger meat. No one in HR ever touches the applicants. The grinder does it all. And HR won’t hire the product of that process. It’s icky.
I could rant all day. Online job applications are keeping America unemployed while Human Resources wonks are crying there’s a “talent shortage.” Meanwhile, the best talent is talking to managers who have time to hire the best.
What’s the solution for the job hunter?
Don’t fill out online forms. Call the employer. Tell them you want to stand out, so you’d like to discuss your qualifications on the phone — and if they don’t have time, you’ll go talk to one of their competitors that does. Then find one. I guarantee you — there are savvy hiring managers that talk to job hunters because they know the best hires come from trusted referrals.
Your challenge is to meet people who do business with that manager and to get introduced. Oh — did I tell you that just as there’s no magic pill (job boards?) for employers, there’s no magic pill for job hunters. You have to do the hard work of getting close to the manager that will hire you.
And job boards ain’t it.
If you’re new to Ask The Headhunter, learning how to enter a manager’s circle of friends is what we talk about here all the time. Check the postings on this blog — we tackle real problems faced by real job hunters — and visit the hundreds of how-to articles on asktheheadhunter.com. Don’t miss the special article I wrote for PBS: Six Secrets to Beat The Job Market.