Looking for a job sucks. I’m not the first person to complain about this. Even once you’ve finally found something somewhat close to what you’re looking for, the dreaded online application process can be even worse. I don’t know if anyone has ever exclaimed, “I love applying for jobs anonymously online. I find the process completely satisfying and I really feel like I’m being considered.”
There’s nothing worse than having to type out your biggest weakness or your ideal customer service experience. I understand that these are somewhat standard questions, but what kind of response is being sought? I can imagine how uniform those answers must be. Employers, if you’re looking for creative answers, please ask creative questions.
And when I say creative, I don’t mean those double-edged questions, like “While at work, do you ever find your attention drifting or lose focus?” Obviously an ideal employee (read: robot) would answer “Never” to this, while only the most brain-dead lunkhead would say “Very Often.” Are employers asking you to lie, or hoping to catch you lying? Imaginary survey says everyone and their mother just writes “Occasionally.”
Another big issue with internet applications is lack of personal interaction. When I was 16, you put on a button-up shirt, some dress slacks and your confident face. You walked up to store managers, offered your hand and asked for a job. Now, at 22, I haven’t met a single person my resumé has been passed off to. Most of my applications are done online. Supplementary and secondary questioning is done online. Preliminary interviews are done over the phone, and then, finally, if you’re lucky, there will be the first round of multiple in-person interviews.
I wish that were an exaggeration. It can take two weeks or more from your application to your first day. For someone who might be low on rent money and needs to start their job as soon as possible, this can be a painstaking process. It’s so dragged out that I’d almost argue we should get application pay while we wait to hear if we’re good enough to stock these companies’ shelves or serve their customers.
Traditional interviewing skills are much more important to good hiring than being able to fill out an exam. The importance of a good first impression and firm handshake is becoming a lost pleasantry. Having a competent hiring manager who knows what to look for is also going to help a company more than investing in an automated application system. Posting jobs online is fine, but asking people to fill out a questionnaire with irrelevant and pointless questions wastes everyone’s time. It also underscores the fact that most retail employees are just interchangeable drones — doesn’t everyone who works at Abercrombie & Fitch or Hot Topic look the same?
This whole process also hurts employers. Applicants often have to apply for multiple jobs at the same time. When one employer takes weeks to respond, they’re likely to miss out on potentially awesome employees like myself and the thousands of other new grads in this country. Why can’t employers call applicants shortly after their application is received to let them know whether the company is hiring or not, or whether or not they are being considered for the position? This way, the applicant doesn’t have to wait for a call. If they are kept waiting too long, another business could snatch them up.
Employers, decide soon. Decide well.