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Ask Slashdot: Why Are Online Job Applications So Badly Designed? 278

Posted by timothy
from the no-one-asked-jakob-nielsen dept.
First time accepted submitter GreyViking (3606993) writes Over the past few years, I've witnessed a variety of my intelligent but largely non-technical nearest-and-dearest struggling to complete online job applications. The majority of these online forms are multiple screens long, and because they're invariably HTTPS, they'll time out after a finite time which isn't always made known to the user. Some sites actively disable back/forward buttons but many don't, and text that's sometime taken a lot of effort to compile, cut and paste can be lost. And did I mention text input boxes that are too small? Sometimes it seems that the biggest obstacle to getting a job can be being able to conquer the online application, and really, there has to be a better way: but what is it?
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Ask Slashdot: Why Are Online Job Applications So Badly Designed?

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  • Did you RTFM?

  • by Scottingham (2036128) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @12:25PM (#47655649)
    ..seems to be online forms in general. Considering how disparate various forms and their submission mechanisms are I think the only course of action would have to be at the browser level. Perhaps some automatic usage of the LocalStorage api to store text typed into these fields. Though that might lead to some security concerns. Perhaps recalling that cached data requires some form of user authentication for the browser itself (which isn't a bad idea in general).

    I dunno, just spitballin' here...
    • by buchner.johannes (1139593) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @12:30PM (#47655695) Homepage Journal

      This addon is a life-safer, for lost text input: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-... [mozilla.org]

    • Always use command-click when submitting a form, or whatever the key combination is to create a new window or tab. (might be shift-click, or control-click ... or right click, and select from the menu)

      I admit, this won't always work in the 'one page' applications built exclusively in JavaScript, but when it does, it means that the failure page is in a new window, and you can go back to copy & paste the content after you re-authenticate.

      Some of the nastier JavaScript 'enhanced' forms will try to make cal

    • My leading unfavorite is the field validity check that starts out by preventing you from submitting a page because you're missing the "I have read the terms and conditions..." When you check the box and click Submit again, you find it has cleared several fill-in fields of vital info that you're now going to have to retype, including that credit card security code field that you have to dig into your wallet all over again for.

  • Pete and Repeat (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @12:27PM (#47655665)

    What annoys me the most is they ask you to upload your resume... and then ask you to fill out a million fields with the exact same information that's already on your resume.

    • by bobbied (2522392) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @12:41PM (#47655843)

      I further hate it when they insist on "plain text" for the resume too. For crying out loud, I spent hours trying to cram my 20+ years onto two pages and when I dump it to plain text it turns into like 5 pages of disjointed text. I get the problem with MS Office macros being dangerous, but plain text?

      My advice to these sites is.... At least accept PDF or XPS versions of any document that's formatted like a Resume.

      • Re:Pete and Repeat (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @12:57PM (#47655985)

        I further hate it when they insist on "plain text" for the resume too..... At least accept PDF or XPS versions of any document that's formatted like a Resume.

        You seem to be confused. Your resume is being read by a Perl script, not a human. If your resume does not include certain keywords, a human will never see it.

        • by bobbied (2522392)

          There is that.... I guess I need a plain text resume that has every keyword I can conceivably claim, which is a lot of them...

          Problem with that is, I've been on more than one interview where the interviewer had the plain text resume and nothing else.... What to do..

          • by nblender (741424)

            I was recently given a resume to review prior to interviewing the candidate... The resume was chock full of keywords... ie: on one job, it was clear they'd used ssh as part of some administrative interface they'd built... He included keywords: "Openssh", "Blowfish", "RSA", "DSA", "Public Key", etc ... The resume was 9 pages long and most of it was useless keywords... Clearly intended to bypass automated resume filters... When it came to the interview, I found myself less than impressed with the candidate so

            • If you're going to put something on your resume, you had better damn well know about it.

              There's a bit of a problem there, given the automated scans and everything.

              For example, HR people will do things like filtering out resumes that don't include "Cisco". They might not actually have Cisco equipment, or even if they do, it might not be a vital part of the job. Regardless, Their system is just set up to filter out anything that doesn't include "Cisco". Now, you're a network tech that isn't very experienced with Cisco, but you've done a little work on Cisco equipment here and there, and you

              • by spatley (191233)

                There is absolutely a way to get all the keywords you want onto a resume for the Perl engine and also be honest to a human reader

                You could have a section at the end of the resume labeled "keywords" and then put categories in for you proficiency level: guru keywords, master keywords, apprentice keywords and newbie keywords. or any other such arrangement.

                I have spent years as a hiring manager and I would be quite impressed if such completeness and honesty showed on a resume.

          • Challenge the interviewer to a truing test!
            Or present yourself as an Eliza!
            'Why are you insisting on my C# skills, what does it bother you? Why lets not talk about my other skills? Hm? Hmmmmm?"

      • by div_2n (525075)

        Most employers only care what you've done in the last 7 years. Outside of that window, it's generally assumed that either A. The skills/tech are no longer relevant or B. If you haven't used it in the last 7 years, you probably don't remember it well enough to be relevant anyway.

        Tweak your resume to highlight your skills and experience that are relevant to the job posting. Don't include anything that isn't directly related or completely awesome. I mean REALLY awesome. Like you won a prestigious award kind of

        • by bobbied (2522392)

          Good advice. I've been whittling it down to the point where much of my employment history before 2000 is limited to position, company, and dates while moving all relevant "what I have experience with" to a master list of keywords. It's proven effective this way. Still, it's hard to fit everything on two pages after 20+ years. Where I'm pretty sure knowing "VULCAN" and "ATLAS" isn't going to help me today, being able to do C and shell programming might.... What to do.

          When I have the time, I generally l

        • That is exactly how I approach Y2K and Euro currency conversion problems, the odd and random PL/1 and Assembler question also fits into it.

          Oh ... you mean I should not apply to those jobs as I did not do anything related the last 7 years? WTF, now I'm unemployed forever !!!

      • I got contacted by a Wells Fargo recruiter once and they asked me to fill out an application, so I filled out an application and eagerly awaited a potential interview but when I heard back they told me the hiring manager was very interested in me and wanted me to go back to their HR portal, or whatever it was, and upload a resumé in Word format on top of all the tons of information I already filled out so I did as instructed but their upload form would always fail and give me an internal server error 5

  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @12:28PM (#47655675) Homepage
    Instead, they use them to show that they are willing to accept anyone - black, white, male, female, etc.

    Real jobs don't come from HR. They come from business contacts.

    • by bobbied (2522392) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @12:52PM (#47655935)

      Real jobs don't come from HR. They come from business contacts.

      Actually, this is NOT true all the time. In fact, a any job you get from a corporation of any kind of size, you are going though HR and the only thing your contact can buy you is priority treatment (getting put top on the stack) and possibly having an advocate with the hiring manager. My last 3 jobs which cover the last 15 years of my life all came via HR and not direct contacts. In fact, most of my jobs came though the HR process and didn't involve an insider at all.

      That"s not to say that jobs don"t come from referrals and business contacts, for small companies, they often do. It's just a function of what kind of company we are talking about. The bigger they are, the more likely HR is going to be in firm control of the initial vetting of possible candidates and having an inside contact is much less valuable. But in the small company, where they don't have an HR department., contacts are the only route to get in. So it just depends on what kind of company you are looking for.

      • by pla (258480)
        the only thing your contact can buy you is priority treatment (getting put top on the stack) and possibly having an advocate with the hiring manager.

        While technically true, that alone means the difference between at least having a shot at getting the job, or getting lost in the stack of 400 applicants.

        Yes, HR always has and always will count as the single biggest obstacle to getting the right people in the right seats; but having an inside "champion" always has and always will count as the single best
        • by bobbied (2522392)

          I won't argue that having an insider isn't invaluable, I'm just saying that having an insider is not the only way to get a job. Some of us can get though the HR wickets, though the interviews and actually get a job without needing inside help, and I'm living proof. Out of the 9 jobs I've had since college, only 2 ever involved an insider. Maybe that says something about me, but that's another topic...

      • by nblender (741424)

        In my experience, this is not true. For 3 of the large corporations (1000+ employees) I've worked for, a senior director wanted to hire me and we negotiated my rate/salary/etc. He told someone in HR to hire me and I dictated my terms. When HR balked, I received a call from the senior director, re-iterated my terms, and then promptly received a followup call from HR agreeing to my terms.

        • by bobbied (2522392)

          I guess it deepens on who you know. I've only been hired by an insider at small companies where HR didn't exist myself. With my personality, I don't tend to stand out in the crowd, nor do I tend to network all that well, being a scary tall guy who doesn't smile much. It's a skill I should have worked on a lot more when I was younger, could have paid off, but I'm trying to teach myself some new tricks in the closing years here....

          • by nblender (741424)

            I don't interview well but I never really have to interview... Open Source cred goes a long way...

      • Real jobs don't come from HR. They come from business contacts.

        Actually, this is NOT true all the time.

        By any chance, do you work in HR? Exactly ZERO jobs "come from HR." Without a business need for a hire, there is no job. HR is the cadre of paper-pushers who stand in the way of getting a job, and make it impossible for teams to hire the people they actually need by enforcing meaningless, arcane, and bureaucratic "best practices" which also happen to enshrine the HR people themselves into unfirable, key-man positions. Their function is (literally) to prevent applicants from connecting with hiring managers--this is the exact opposite of what you should be trying to achieve. Until you're talking to the hiring manager, directly, and have permission to contact her directly after the fact with any followups, you're not a real candidate for a job. If HR can arbitrarily cut off your contact with the hiring manager (because you can only go "through HR") you're not a candidate--you're a person whose application is being used to justify the payment of salaries to HR people because otherwise "Who will deal with all these applicants?"

        In fact, a any job you get from a corporation of any kind of size, you are going though HR and the only thing your contact can buy you is priority treatment (getting put top on the stack) and possibly having an advocate with the hiring manager.

        It really depends on the company. Most organizations I know/have interviewed at intentionally recruit via third parties and "fix it on the back end" with HR because before they started doing so the HR "screener" disqualified all the good candidates and sent up clunkers with no employment "gaps," but no real achievements, either.

        My last 3 jobs which cover the last 15 years of my life all came via HR and not direct contacts. In fact, most of my jobs came though the HR process and didn't involve an insider at all.

        How many applications did you fill out to get those three jobs? 10? 50? 100? 1,000? 10,000? In the same 15 years, I've gotten six jobs. Five of them were recruiters, referrals, or placements. Only one involved "going in the front door" and that job paid the least of all the jobs, had the worst benefits, the longest hours, zero advancement opportunities, and generally sucked donkey-ass. And as for applications: I haven't filled one out since I started working with recruiters exclusively. "Fill out an application" is the same as being told "We'll call you"--it's a euphemism for "you aren't going to be hired."

        Since I stopped doing the "front door" my salary has quadrupled (granted, I've also added a great skillset in the intervening 14.5 years,) my working hours are sane, and permit working remotely when going to the office is inconvenient. That "front-door" gig? If there was enough snow to make going to work dangerous, but the roads were open, you have to go or use a vacation day. Literally every job I've ever had has been better than the "front door" place. But I also spend less time interviewing and filling out pointless paperwork (that you'll have to fill out again when hired, because they can't just "type in what you put on your application" in your new hire paperwork, of course.

        The bigger they are, the more likely HR is going to be in firm control of the initial vetting of possible candidates and having an inside contact is much less valuable. But in the small company, where they don't have an HR department., contacts are the only route to get in. So it just depends on what kind of company you are looking for.

        Here's my advice, do with it what you will: If you're trying to get a job and the HR department is so "firmly in control" of hiring that they have total trump over every hiring decision run away as fast as you can. Don't walk--RUN AWAY AS FAST AS YOU CAN. Why? Besides the nightmare of getting yourself hired, every time your team has an opening

      • by Ryanrule (1657199)

        No, untrue.

        If you are worth it, they will pass you to hr for a minute for a rubber stamp.

  • ... there has to be a better way: but what is it?

    The first step would be for the job application site to ask their users and listen to the comments about the site.

    You know, just like Dice listens to all our comments about beta...

  • Maybe they're just weeding out the people who don't want the job bad enough to complete their terrible application system.

    • by freeze128 (544774)
      Conversely, why are the text fields too small? Would you want to hire anyone whose browser size is 640x480 for a technical job? What is this, 1994?
  • The reentering of resume information is ridiculous.

    What if there was a common XML format that represented your resume? You created this using a desktop GUI and just upload the resume.xml to potential employees.

  • ... applictions (on-line or otherwise) are just the first step in filtering out the riff-raff. So they don't get as much attention as the follow up interview.

  • Applications and confidentials are usually built by people who don't have a clue. That's the norm these days and you should know that by now. The non-sense I've seen in the last 15 years in this area is bizar beyond words, both in type and amount, and I'm sure every slashdotter here has an evening full of stories to contribute on that subject.

    I personally wouldn't even fill out such an application. If I can't talk to the team beforehand to evaluate - for both sides - that an application would make sense, I

  • Online job applications are designed to make it as easy as possible for employers to trim the list of applicants quickly. There are a lot of people looking for not-a-lot of jobs. The logic here is that if someone can't fill out the application correctly they probably wouldn't be a very good fit for the job.

    Now, whether or not that logic is valid is another question to ask.
  • 2 reasons:

    1. because they aren't designed to be easy for YOU, they're designed to be easy for HR to put in a database.

    and relatedly,

    2. because applying for jobs online can't be too easy because otherwise the signal-to-noise ratio suffers.

    • by bobbied (2522392)

      3. Because programmers usually make horrible GUI designers and nobody is thinking "work flow" for the perspective employee.

      Just consider it your initial indoctrination into the inane filling out of forms, diversity training and yearly "performance review" processes designed by the legal staff in HR department.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        I used to hate performance reviews, then about 13 years ago I got a manager who taught me how to properly do them. Now I always get the highest ratings.
        basically, it's become a glitch I can manipulate to get the maximum raise each year.

  • Virtually every written form I've had to fill in has sucked just as badly. None of them provide enough space for the information asked. Even with things like phone numbers they won't give you enough room. They also force you to incorrectly summarize things, such as education. Do you have a masters, bachelor's degree, or high school diploma? Check one. It's ridiculous, but so far I've only ever had to fill them out AFTER I've gone for an interview and they only want them for their HR files.

  • Human Resources (Score:5, Insightful)

    by globaljustin (574257) <justinglobal@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @12:36PM (#47655775) Homepage Journal

    the problem is HR

    the *concept* of an online job application is fairly simple from a coding perspective...making some kind of form requires some choices but this is basic stuff

    the systemic issue is with the people who define the parameters for the information...the HR people

    HR is usually full of people making decisions that affect whole systems they have no understanding of and have no way of receiving feedback systemically to improve, part of the general problem in US biz structure

    applying for a job is excruciating in the US today...it's just layers and layers of bad management

    • by geek (5680)

      My wife works in HR and I'm finishing off the HR section of my MBA. It's not HR that does this. The HR people have an HRIS system that includes the ability to do forms etc. The managers are the ones that create the forms and guidlines, HR just shuffles the papers around. HR takes the blame because they are the face of the mess but in reality it's middle managers, or in my company they are called "talent managers" who have their heads so firmly up their asses that they convolute everything to the point even

  • If it was so simple to send applications everywhere, people would. It doesn't cost them anything, but it costs you time and/or money to have someone process them. If you make them jump through a few hoops, you'll at least filter away some of the worst spammers who can't be arsed unless they can email their generic application letter and CV. If it's a job you genuinely want, what's taking 5-10 minutes out your day to apply? Personally I've spent much longer tuning my application and CV to show I've read the

  • Blame HR ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @12:37PM (#47655787) Homepage

    Online job application systems aren't intended to find good candidates.

    They're designed to allow HR and recruiters to select the specific set of buzzwords they're looking for but have no understanding of, all while doing the minimum amount of work and the least amount of understanding.

    You don't really think HR reads and is capable of evaluating all of those resumes, do you?

    • How do the Recruiters/Agents submit their chosen candidate applications to HR? What value are Agents adding in the process to earn on average 1/3 of the fees paid by the client, for the contracted I.T. worker? Isn't it perhaps worth the effort to avoid recruiters at all costs and try to reach HR directly, using their broken application form process no matter how bad it is, because that directly broken process is preferable to involving Recruiters?

      p.s. Aren't the bulk of jobs advertised on Dice from these Ag

    • They're designed to allow HR and recruiters to select the specific set of buzzwords they're looking for but have no understanding of, all while doing the minimum amount of work and the least amount of understanding.

      The bolded statement sums it up. These application systems are intended to offload as much data entry work onto the candidate as possible. From the company's perspective, why should they pay HR to do data entry when they can get the candidates to do it for free?
  • It simply doesn't matter. The job applications process doesn't affect corporate branding and is intended - primarily - to weed through a huge number of candidates and reject the vast majority of them. There's simply no value to spending time making these systems good. One might say they even serve to weed out people not dedicated enough to deal with the bullshit.

    The one exception is if you are web shop looking for developers. Then your application process better be flawless or you're going to attract so

    • There's simply no value to spending time making these systems good.

      Apparently someone still sees value in spending a lot of time making all the overly complex multi-page forms and user account systems for the current systems.

    • by j-beda (85386)

      There's simply no value to spending time making these systems good. One might say they even serve to weed out people not dedicated enough to deal with the bullshit.

      The difficulty is a feature. I doubt it is done by design, but probably has developed so in an evolutionary manner. A lower level job opening, with minimal qualifications, is potentially available to millions of applicants. If they all applied you could never decide on the best applicants. Most such positions would best be filled (from the employer's point of view at least) by someone who is dedicated enough to show up for their shifts, follow directions, and persist in the face of minor difficulties. Appli

  • Why Are Online Job Applications So Badly Designed?

    Um... Because, while not rocket science, good software and human-interface design is often hard?

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Um... Because, while not rocket science, good software and human-interface design is often hard?

      With the corollary that most organizations don't see it as a value proposition, and just want it up and running as quickly as possible.

      So you get a half-assed solution due to minimum resources thrown at it, and a low perceived ROI.

      If your first interaction with a company is a shitty, poorly designed tool which makes no sense -- you can bet there will be numerous others within the company.

      I have often found the pr

  • by Ryanrule (1657199) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @12:42PM (#47655855)

    HR is the problem.
    Totally useless dept set up to provide jobs for airhead daughters of executives 50 years ago.
    Now it shits all over everything.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      I've worked with too many good HR people to agree with that.
      HR knows the rules of how things function. HR can help you if you have an issue. I've gone to HR and said 'My dad is sick, whats the best way for me to take time off? and they know the federal rules I would ahve had no clue about.

      I've work with bad HR as well, where they have no power, can't really help any one, and just hand out paychecks.

      BTW- executive don't need HR to get people they want hired, hired. You're whole assertions is flawed.

  • A lot of companies use Oracle E-Business Suite as their HR and/or payroll system. An EBS module is iRecruitment, which includes candidate web application capabilities.

    Pretty much everything this article highlights as wrong with modern recruitment sites applies to iRecruitment. Even by EBS standards it's a horrific unusable mess and Oracle would do the world a favour if they deleted the code base and demanded all their customers remove the binaries.

  • If you are dealing with online job apps you have already lost.

    Over my 35 year technical career I've never found it necessary to use one of these.

  • I've always wondered why so many places expect you to fill out lengthy form fields when most applicants are going to be rejected anyway. Why have them enter their address and schools they attended and other minutiae that isn't needed to weed out candidates. I don't even understand why you always have to supply your race, disability, and veteran status in the US if all you're effectively doing is submitting a resume rather than formally applying for the position.

    All they need is name, email, phone, and a res

  • Perhaps by design they make the application difficult. It's tough, it's demanding, it's the hardest thing you will ever do. But if you have the perseverance, the skill to do it, then maybe you are worthy to join.
  • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @12:59PM (#47656011) Homepage Journal

    The majority of these online forms are multiple screens long, and because they're invariably HTTPS, they'll time out after a finite time which isn't always made known to the user.

    You realize that normal forms only open a connection to the HTTP{,S} server when you click the "Submit" button, right? You can sit there for infinite time because there's no open connection to time out until such time as you request it. What you're seeing is a combination of client- and server-side timers that have nothing whatsoever to do with the transport you'll be using to upload your information. And yeah, I'd mildly prefer my HR information to be encrypted en route, TYVM.

    • Likely you never used a form or multiple form survey your parent is talking about?

      It happens always that at some point you say next and it redirects you to the log in page and your work is gone.

      Worst thing I once had was that it simply continued to the next page and there was a small notice (which I did not see) at the top of the page "you are not logged on" ... 2 or 3 hours filling forms for nothing.

      The company even called me 4 weeks later telling me I have to fill out the form, I told them I did ... they

      • Likely you never used a form or multiple form survey your parent is talking about?

        Perhaps not; I just write this stuff for a living.

        It happens always that at some point you say next and it redirects you to the log in page and your work is gone.

        As I said: "What you're seeing is a combination of client- and server-side timers that have nothing whatsoever to do with the transport you'll be using to upload your information."

        It has zero to do with HTTPS and everything to do with the webapp having a line of code somewhere like if((current_time()-last_posted_time)>900){logout();}.

  • Those are often driven by HR policies / databases / data retention policies / privacy policies.

    There's a local company that asks a more fundamental question, which is "How can you help us?" This must, however, require a person to sit and read through every submission. To avoid spamming them, the entirety of their application form is:
    Name:
    Email:
    Website:
    Phone:
    "How can you help us?" <== text box for free form entry. You could paste in a resume link, github, etc.

    This approach seems more interesting.

  • also poor questions / choices and feilds where they don't tell you what data format they want the info in.

    What about questions where they say have you worked with A, B, C, D, E, F. Yes / no with out putting each one on it's own line.

    Questions that have no room other then yes / no that you have to lie to pass / both yes and no do not fit you.

    Basic yes / no questions that have the number of years and skill level for each that is a poor fit questions like do you have a car. Or things like do you do have X cer

  • All to often, in business (of all types), the whole concept of designing something to be useful/usable is ignored, overlooked, and generally considered a waste of time. When presented with the idea of 1 hours to throw a crappy form together, or 1 day to lay it out properly (size text fields accordingly, put things in a logical order, set up server sessions to save data between pages, add decent validation, etc), most people at the management level will choose quick and cheap any day of the week. They don'
  • Here is what I have done in the past. I call them. I tell them I do not want to waste their time or mine. e.g. I tell them what I want to earn and if that is in scope of what they are willing to negotiate about. Or where the company is located or something else I did not pick up from their job at and that I know somebody from HR will be able to answer.

    I then also tell them my mini-resume (Last or current company, when I could be available) in 10 to 15 seconds and ask them if they are still interested in rec

    • by jandrese (485)
      In some ways getting a job is like dating. If you are beautiful you can skip a lot of the bullshit.

      Basically, Step 0: Be an expert at an in-demand technology. Step 1: Don't not be an expert at an in-demand technology.
  • I'm going to have to go with the same answer I give at most project post-mortems when asked the question "What was the root cause of our problems?"

    "Lax hiring practices."

  • They're like that because they work "well enough".
  • I have filled out some applications that if the start date and end date of different jobs overlap, it kicks it out and doesn't allow it. Some people work more than one job at a time, I have one job that I had over five years, and periodically took on other side jobs for extra. It is impossible for me to list those side jobs on such applications, Or, if I do, I no longer have one job that lasts five years. Then they ask me to attest that the information is complete and accurate and that I've listed all jobs

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Wrap them all up under 'consulting. So you were 'Consulting' for 5 years. Then in the body list consulting, with each place under it.

      That's what I do.

  • ~ Here's what I think of your form, Ms. HR Rep! (attach screenshot with dickbutt drawn on form with MS Paint) (send)

    ~ (bing) You stood up to us. That was the test. Congratulations, your hired.

    .
  • I am on expert on my field, with a CV longer than my arm, and some interesting technologies under my belt. I am not actively looking for a job. If someone calls me and ask me to fill up a form, I would say "next!".
  • You've demonstrated you have no problems making stuff up about things you clearly know little about - possibly these forms are designed to weed out such people?

    The job positions do get filled at some point I assume, so there are people who can manage to work out how to fill out a form and jump through the hoops, Losing the few good potential employees who don't bother from the pool is probably worth eliminating the huge numbers of terrible employees who can't work it out.

    • is probably worth eliminating the huge numbers of terrible employees who can't work it out.

      Maybe it's like making pre-meds take organic chem. It's not very useful to them as a physician (c.f. biochem), but if you can't make it through organic chem you're never going to make it through med school. It's a well-known 'weed class'.

      If you combine this with the fact that most high-level employees don't come through the front door, it starts to make some sense.

      And, yeah, Layer6/7 confusion isn't the best way to

  • Because ninety percent of everything is crap. [wikipedia.org] This is not limited to job applications.

    I was signing up for an online service just this morning. The page made no mention of password requirements anywhere, nor did it have a colorful JavaScript "weak/OK/strong" indicator, which is pretty standard and I'm sure can be done with a line or two of jquery. It's not an essential account so I used a simple password -- just a series of lowercase letters. I clicked submit, then got a message that my password must have a

  • I certainly understand the frustration with filling in an online application, but if that's the biggest obstacle to getting the job, it's not that great of a job. Look at the fields required, copy them over to a text file, take your sweet time filling out the responses, and the online part can be a quick copy/paste. It's not that hard. Sure, find better ways to do it, but don't pretend it's this insurmountable challenge.
  • Simple - there's a lack of competition. It's the same reason renewing your driver's license or passport or whatever sucks, they're the sole vendor, so there's little incentive for them to make it easy or convenient.

    Also, it cuts down on spam. If it's hard to apply, then only the most enthusiastic applications will do it - or so one line of thinking goes. (That can backfire; talented and in-demand applicants might not find it worth their time to bother.)

    • by geekoid (135745)

      I would say:
      then only the most desperate applications will do it

      I have never waited longer then 15 minute at a DMV to get my DL renewed. Well, not since the 80's.

  • It's because the company broke one of three rules you should never break. Specifically, they let a web designer design their web site or in this case, their job application form.

    In an effort to show how relevant they are, how edgy and cool they can be, web designers will throw everything they have at what should be simple projects when in reality, all they need is the kitchen sink.

    No point having something simple when you can make it as complex and convoluted as possible. After all, this form isn't about

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @01:46PM (#47656477) Homepage Journal

    they are designed by HR.
    HR doesn't know jack about interface design.
    HR gets the cheapest person they can because it isn't considered critical.
    Web entry forms are usually farmed out to people just getting into the industry.
    No one has to learn engineering techniques to become 'qualified' to write software.

  • HR? What HR? (Score:4, Informative)

    by sehryan (412731) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @01:51PM (#47656533)

    I find it humorous that most of the comments are decrying the "HR" departments, when in reality a number of businesses using applicant tracking platforms are small business and do not really have any HR department to speak of.

    They (and I, as I am a small business owner myself) use them so that I can 1. have one place that IS NOT my inbox to manage candidates, and 2. I can ensure that I am getting consistent info across all candidates.

    And while I do not ask people to upload a resume and then fill out previous work experience fields, I can understand the necessity for such things, so that the small business owner can quickly scan over each applicant quickly, rather than trying to decode various resume layouts.

    Because at the end of the day, my time is valuable, and any system that let's me spend less time doing things is going to be a boon to me, even if the downside is that I lose an applicant here and there in the process.

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by wierd_w (1375923)

      What I find distasteful, is the inherent duplicity involved with "My time is valuable" when uttered in this context.

      For every minute you "avoid wasting", you force how many other people to waste how many of their minutes? How much MORE valuable is YOUR time, to THEIRS?

      How do you justify this disparity?

      More poignantly, how do you justify this, when parsing technology exists in such a fashion as to allow automatic population of your presented high-level form that YOU read, without forcibly requiring your app

      • by ttucker (2884057)

        How much MORE valuable is YOUR time, to THEIRS?

        They want the job, so in this case sehryan's time is immeasurably more important in the relationship. Perhaps when the economy changes, and there are less applicants than positions, things will need to change.

      • by sehryan (412731)

        How much MORE valuable is YOUR time, to THEIRS?

        Let's evaluate this from the perspective of my business, since that is the thing that they and I have in common:

        I am evaluating applicants, interviewing candidates, managing current employees, creating advertising, managing customer relationships, running payroll, keeping up with inventory, updating the books, and the 100s of other things that I do on a day-to-day basis to ensure that this business continues to exist. These tasks take 8-10 hours a day, sometimes 7 days a week.

        They are applying for a job usi

  • Invariably, hospital application forms make a big deal out of what high school you went to, what type of diploma it was, what your high school GPA was, and whether you can drive to work. It's inappropriate for people with advanced degrees.

  • and text that's sometime taken a lot of effort to compile, cut and paste can be lost

    Install the Lazarus plugin and you'll never have this kind of problem again, whether it is a job application form or any other form for that matter.

  • Most web sites are badly designed, why should online applications be any different? I swear site designers never actually use the sites they design.

  • by ttucker (2884057) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @02:17PM (#47656771)
    If you can not put up with a BS online job application from Target, how could you ever possibly work for Target?!? Supposedly the best way to get hired, is to answer all of the questions as if you were Ned Flanders. Hard working and honest, but not too ambitious, compliant.
  • by netsavior (627338) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @02:21PM (#47656819)
    Applicant Tracking System - This is the buzzword for an "apply online" type thing. I work for one of the big ones.

    Here are some excuses
    1) Employers can get sued if it isn't done a certain way. All of the laws are based on horrible paper applications.
    2) Employers are scared of "the cloud" so you have to fill out a new application every time you apply to a new job even though the last 10 places you applied were using the same software
    3) The perspective employees "candidates" are not the customer, the HR Director is the customer.
    4) Statistically, longer, harder application processes result in higher employee retention rates.

    that last one is a big one. My software can do all kinds of pre-employment testing for all kinds of things... skills, personality, mental alertness, etc.
    The longer the testing process, the more "candidates" quit before completing. HOWEVER, the longer the testing process, the more likely an employee will be successful at their job.... To put it frankly, if you will wade through the shit to get hired, you will wade through it to stay employed. It doesn't even statistically matter what the results of the test were. Simply testing for anything at all will reduce employee turnover. The same can be said for unwieldy applications. If a candidate is not serious about filling out an application, they will not be serious about work either.

    That said... I promise our applications are better than most, at least our javascript works, and progress is automatically saved... Still it all sucks (blame the lawyers), we just try to suck less.
    • by ruir (2709173)
      And if you give me shit, I will walk away. If your process is tuned to target sheep, sheep will do it. Sheep in, sheep out? ;)
  • The old world job applications were not designed to let you highlight your skills or paste specific sections of your resume. The text boxes were built too small, and it was intentional. That’s because the objective of the old world job application was not to learn about your skills and competencies. To put it bluntly, they were designed to see how well you follow written instructions.

    The technology we have now was inconceivable when these old job applications were created, but the objective of the app

  • by ID000001 (753578) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @02:49PM (#47657041)
    The ability to catch up with technology and protocol is directly proportional to how forward thinking the practice is. You are not going to see a witch doctor with a carefully created and compliance list of potions. Similarly, you are not going to get an HR department to care about technology enough to build a compliance website.

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