Friday, April 22, 2011

Why Online Job Applications are so Tedious, and Why it Benefits the Serious Job-hunter

Why is applying for a job online such a tedious chore?  When job-hunting online, you might be able to apply for 3 or 4 jobs per hour in a process that includes finding available jobs, accessing the applications, completing them (which usually includes crafting a cover letter), and submitting them with your resume. This can quickly become frustrating as you answer the same questions over and over again, often providing information that’s already on the resume you’re planning to submit.

Back in the Day . . .

While networking has always been one of the leading ways to fill jobs, the “formal” approach adopted by most employers was to publish their jobs in print media, usually newspapers.  Candidates would mail their resumes and cover letters to those jobs they seemed suited for.  As Internet use became more prevalent, more job ads included email addresses, and employers began to post job vacancies online.

Suddenly, the task of distributing resumes became simplicity itself.  All it took was the click of a mouse to deposit a resume and cover letter in an employer’s emailbox. This ease of distribution was quickly exploited, though, by applicants who took a shotgun approach to job-hunting, sending resumes to every email address they found in job ads. What they didn’t consider was that their resumes had company – hundreds or even thousands of other resumes. Employers who previously had received a hundred or so hard copy resumes in a week were facing that same amount and more daily via email.

Problems . . . and a Solution

The use of email was intended to streamline the recruiting process, but it quickly became a burden.  The shotgunners were indiscriminate, often unqualified for the jobs they applied to. Employers often spent hours transferring information into spreadsheets or databases.  Some candidates provided irrelevant information, others provided too little. And when employers routinely opened email attachments of all sorts, their systems were vulnerable to hacking or destruction by vindictive disappointed applicants.

In response, employers started looking for ways to qualify applicants so they’d only have to review applications from credible candidates, and online programs were developed to meet these needs. Job applications can be customized for each job and candidates must take the time to complete them, a process that casual candidates generally avoid. The benefit to employers is that although there will be fewer applications, most will be from serious candidates, in a uniform format that facilitates comparing and ranking applications.

Serious applicants will recognize this as a blessing as well.  They know that the casual candidates have exempted themselves from the process. They also know that some of those who actually complete the online process will feel frustrated by the time required to complete them, and that frustration will show in the application. Prudent candidates, then, will actually spend more time on these online applications, making certain they’re accurately completed, provide all the information requested, and pass a spellcheck review.

- Dale

After a long career in Human Resources that included reviewing thousands of hard-copy and emailed resumes, Dale is currently a business consultant and writer in Metropolitan Atlanta.

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