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

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the no-one-asked-jakob-nielsen dept.

Security 278

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?

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Instructions (2)

psybre (921148) | about 6 months ago | (#47655615)

Did you RTFM?

Hello, IT... (0)

CaptSlaq (1491233) | about 6 months ago | (#47655641)

Did you try turning it off and on again?

No relationship between online app & getting a (1)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about 6 months ago | (#47655711)

There is no relationship between an online job application and getting a job.

Online job applications are neglected because no one needs 10,000 online forms filled out for 1 job.

The larger problem.. (2)

Scottingham (2036128) | about 6 months ago | (#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...

Re:The larger problem.. (4, Interesting)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | about 6 months ago | (#47655695)

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

Re:The larger problem.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47656203)

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

Actually it seems that add-on is getting out of date.

This one appears to be better maintained and thus more up to date, properly supporting the newest versions of Firefox.


Re:The larger problem.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47655783)

Safari actually already does that - push back, then forwards, and your form will remain filled in.

command-click when submitting (2)

oneiros27 (46144) | about 6 months ago | (#47656247)

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 callbacks as you're typing, and when THOSE time out, they redraw the screen and you lose everything ... but luckily, in the case of HR applications, most of those were written 10+ years ago and never updated.

Better way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47655651)

In principle these things are not bad, but in practice, as you have found, the result can be crap. You would think some of the best and worst of web 2.0 interfaces could come together to fix this entirely... autosave similar to the GMail interface, and infinite scrolling of the entire application process to not require going between multiple pages.

Contact Us (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47655655)

Look for the contact us, use it, ask for an application to be mailed (or e-mailed), fill it out, send it back.

Online forms are generally designed and built by the lowest-bidder who promptly closes up shop after a project is completed, I wouldn't expect much from them.

Re:Contact Us (4, Insightful)

killkillkill (884238) | about 6 months ago | (#47656095)

If they won't mail it, assume the company tries to force every employee into a rigid structure where you will not be free to operate in the manner that best suites you. Your day-to-day work life will be subject to procedures as frustrating as the online form and endless TPS reports.

HTTPS has nothing to do with timeouts (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47655657)

I hope you're not applying for anything related to the web.

Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47655661)

You would expect that you are not being phished?

Pete and Repeat (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#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.

Re:Pete and Repeat (3, Funny)

bobbied (2522392) | about 6 months ago | (#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 (5, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 6 months ago | (#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.

Re:Pete and Repeat (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 6 months ago | (#47656105)

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..

Re:Pete and Repeat (2)

nblender (741424) | about 6 months ago | (#47656251)

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 I started asking technical questions about Blowfish, RSA, DSA, and he clearly didn't know anything about them. If you're going to put something on your resume, you had better damn well know about it.

He was not hired.

Frankly, I'm not sure I know how to get a job these days... I'm fortunate to have work come looking for me these days.

Re:Pete and Repeat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47656131)

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.

Oh, I thought it was a plain old cgi-bin BASH script that piped your resume to /dev/null if you name doesn't show up on a list over card carrying GOP or NRA members.

Re:Pete and Repeat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47656025)

some unsolicited advice... a resume is 1 page long. nobody cares if you did stuff for 20 years if you can't distill the essence to fit in that 1 page
after the first half of the page, nobody is really reading it.

so... make the top half of the page say something useful.

if you look like a good candidate, you can talk about the rest in an interview

Re:Pete and Repeat (1)

powerlord (28156) | about 6 months ago | (#47656053)

Really depends how much experience you have. If you've been one place for 20 years, yeah, sure. If you've been 5, with different responsibilities and in different areas, no.

Re:Pete and Repeat (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47656239)

your resume goes through (at least) 3 layers before someone technical sees it.

#1. automated scraping script. if it can't parse the resume, you get rejected.
#2. keyword search performed by HR. if you don't have _ALL_ the keywords for that position, you get rejected. even if they are looking for a microcontroller developer and the lead developer said "basic html/css familiarity would be nice".
#3. HR review. they will be looking for employment length & gaps. If you worked at one place for 20 years, you are probably "less agile" (too old), haven't been keeping up with new tech, and will lose points. If you worked at a place for less than 2 years, you're a job hopper and lose points. what's that gap between job #3 & job #4? more than 3 months? minus points. worked overseas? unless that language/culture is in the keywords, minus points because they can't verify it.

and don't forget, there's a big point loss if you are currently unemployed, that means nobody else wants you.

don't try to argue the rationality of the above, i'm not the god of HR. I just worked for IT at a recruiting company.

Re:Pete and Repeat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47656265)

It depends on the job market. If you are applying for a position in a really hot sector, you should definitely limit yourself to 1 page - no one doing hiring will have the time to scour a three or four page CV when it is one of 100 they got that day. On the other hand, if it is not a hot sector or you have a broad amount of experience that you are tailoring to a specific opening, like say a project coordinator for a non-profit, then feel free to provide detail in depth. Outside of the tech industry, which has some of the stupidest hiring practices ever known, in the traditional job market there is no reason to interview someone unless they are already considered to be a strong candidate.

Re:Pete and Repeat (1)

div_2n (525075) | about 6 months ago | (#47656197)

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 awesome.

Most resumes I've seen that are excessively long would be less than 2 pages following this design regardless of the formatting unless you used gigantic fonts.

Re:Pete and Repeat (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 6 months ago | (#47656301)

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 like to tailor my resume for the position I'm applying for. For that reason I have about 3 basic resumes, one slanted more towards firmware/hardware, one for system integration and one that's pure software engineering and start from there.

Re:Pete and Repeat (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47656257)

Want a job? Jump through the hoops. Whiners don't tend to last long around here, so, if you are going to whine about the application form then we don't want you on our team anyway.

Also, we like web-savvy people who can overcome challenges like text boxes that are too small or the possibility that your work might be lost, so the problems with the forms are actually part of the evaluation process.

Get used to it.

Parse!Fields! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47655671)

Upload resume. Parse $Fields. Eye-ball check and correct. Submit. Done.

Because they don't use them to get employees. (4, Insightful)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 6 months ago | (#47655675)

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.

Re:Because they don't use them to get employees. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47655877)

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.

This. Online application forms are just there to fill up some check-boxes on the Gov required EOE reports.

Re:Because they don't use them to get employees. (3, Insightful)

bobbied (2522392) | about 6 months ago | (#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.

Re:Because they don't use them to get employees. (1)

pla (258480) | about 6 months ago | (#47656019)

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 shot at getting the right people despite HR's best efforts.

Re:Because they don't use them to get employees. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47656141)

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.

Those 400 applicants are only the small fraction that didn't get automatically filtered out. I think our prospects would be a lot better if we went back to the days of walking in and asking for an application at the front desk. There would be no more illusion that you will always be able to find the perfect candidate that needs no training what so ever.

Re:Because they don't use them to get employees. (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 6 months ago | (#47656223)

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...

Re:Because they don't use them to get employees. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47656103)

Companies big and small, I only managed to land one job out of the last six in 10 years (give me a break I did a lot of startups) without an insider of some kind, contract recruiters with established relationships included. Even with the one I did get into on my own, I took a class at their office that gave me a leg up in understanding what they did and how they opperate. Seeing how the vetting process works for online applications, there is a large amount of luck involved in landing a job this way. Raw talent only gets you the last 10% of the way.

Re:Because they don't use them to get employees. (1)

nblender (741424) | about 6 months ago | (#47656283)

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.

Step 1: Ask and listen! (2)

stderr_dk (902007) | about 6 months ago | (#47655679)

... 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...

As designed - like other multiple choice tests. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47655681)

Like other multiple choice tests the time limit is designed to try and make you pick choices quickly. That they aren't informed or that someone is cargo cult culture copying a design that is 'good' doesn't mean that it isn't the intended format of the test.

I argue that a lot of these tests aren't that useful aside from figuring out who takes tests well. Doing a better job likely requires far more resources than they're willing to expend.

Maybe if all workers received benefits, even if pro-rated, there'd be more incentive for full time (>=32H ) jobs and value in retaining trained known quantity workers.

Just a friendly reminder (1)

hillbluffer (1684134) | about 6 months ago | (#47655685)

Of the corporate owner, Dice.com; their online applications are surely WELL designed...

how many hairs on your butt devolution continues (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47655689)

'no hymen no wedding',,, zionic nazi book of death & debt.... we love you /./censors

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=5523975&cid=47655413 phlame on

pardon the interruption then,, some bugs;; Due to excessive bad posting from this IP or Subnet, anonymous comment posting has temporarily been disabled. You can still login to post. However, if bad posting continues from your IP or Subnet that privilege could be revoked as well. If it's you, consider this a chance to sit in the timeout corner or login and improve your posting. If it's someone else, this is a chance to hunt them down (&/or demonize them....) based on speculation of ill intent... peace out /. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m39DWVFK-Bw

talk about terror??? some of us are shaving with pliers now?... https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=wmd+morgellons+weather

the stuff we come up with? based on our never ending WMD on credit fictional deity holycost inspired spiritual bankruptcy malady;

bogus to begin with then there's http://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=5517341&cid=47646895 media censorship & vandalism i can access from my pocket gadget?

all things being equitable.. any notion of real justice is based entirely on mercy, the centerpeace of momkind's heartfelt connection with creation

being spiritually & creatively merciful with each other takes out the (media/fear) drama of the always violent hateful fear & loathing punishment features. are we not each our very own reward? punish as we would wish to be punished? WMD on credit 'weather' is not punishment enough? http://www.globalresearch.ca/weather-warfare-beware-the-us-military-s-experiments-with-climatic-warfare/7561

fortunately over time the truth prevails.... see you there

Don't even bother (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47655701)

Job apps are designed to create searchable text for HR. Real people glance at resumes.

Re:Don't even bother (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 6 months ago | (#47656015)

Bad advice. If you are really looking for a job, getting your name and specs searchable and in front of as many hiring managers as you can is only going to be a help.

Now, I can tell you that companies that do this may not be the kind of place you want to work, but if the goal is to get a job, you need to get your name out there. Do be warned though, filling out the online searchable stuff on "job boards" (who shall remain nameless) should be done carefully to avoid ID theft and they are going to generate a lot of garbage contacts from head hunters.

Dedicated candidates (1)

penguinoid (724646) | about 6 months ago | (#47655703)

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

Re:Dedicated candidates (1)

psyhofreak (795109) | about 6 months ago | (#47655851)

I like this answer, for it's cheerful optimism, but I've worked in too many corporate settings to believe that anyone in the typical HR department is clever enough to be that devious.

Probably they are that bad because the systems only have to be good enough that people can occasionally successfully submit an application. HR is a cost center in most companies, and spending money to get a less sucky website will not immediately pay off. After all, the people wasting all their time fighting with that website by definition are not being paid for their time.

Standardize (1)

AaronLS (1804210) | about 6 months ago | (#47655705)

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.

Re:Standardize (1)

OverlordQ (264228) | about 6 months ago | (#47655743)

There is, pretty useless though. Older versions of the spec were so vague it was implemented differently by different companies which completely broke any concept of a 'standard'.

Re: Standardize (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47655947)

JobPosting microdata format does exactly this.

If only more job websites supported the format.

Re:Standardize (1)

SpzToid (869795) | about 6 months ago | (#47656117)

In an attempt to deliver per your specification, please check this out: http://schema.org/JobPosting [schema.org]

How about capitalization? (1)

See Attached (1269764) | about 6 months ago | (#47655713)

On my Android, the first letter of every word gets capitalized on many sites .. Whats up with that? Is that client side or server side nonsense?

Re:How about capitalization? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47655797)

>On my Android...

Well, there's your problem.

Re: How about capitalization? (1)

Jakeula (1427201) | about 6 months ago | (#47655937)

That's client side.

Because ... (1)

PPH (736903) | about 6 months ago | (#47655729)

... 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.

Shower Thought (1)

DoomSprinkles (1933266) | about 6 months ago | (#47655733)

Maybe being able to get through an application form on a webpage is the first test that weeds out the incompetent.

Duh ... because they're speced and designed by HR? (1)

Qbertino (265505) | about 6 months ago | (#47655735)

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 don't even bother. And a short 2-liner E-Mail is enough to lead up to such a phonecall.

My 2 cents.

It's supply and demand, stupid (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 6 months ago | (#47655749)

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)

Triv (181010) | about 6 months ago | (#47655757)

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.

Re:2 reasons (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 6 months ago | (#47656059)

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.

No better than written forms (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about 6 months ago | (#47655763)

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 (4, Insightful)

globaljustin (574257) | about 6 months ago | (#47655775)

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

Re:Human Resources (2)

geek (5680) | about 6 months ago | (#47655875)

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 HR can't stand them.

Re:Human Resources (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47656213)

In my experience "talent managers" always work for HR. I have never seen this as a separate department.

Anti-resume spam filter (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 6 months ago | (#47655777)

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 advertisement and made a good effort to show what skills I have that's particularly relevant to that job. I suppose if I was out of a job it's different, but I don't need to carpet bomb the market. I look for jobs I'd really like and make a few, but serious efforts.

Use Dice.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47655781)

Having developed /. Beta, Dice is experienced in designing the world's most innovative websites.

Blame HR ... (3, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 6 months ago | (#47655787)

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?

Re:Blame HR ...(what about the Recruiters/Agents?) (1)

SpzToid (869795) | about 6 months ago | (#47656023)

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 Agents/Recruiters, in which case has Dice ruined itself chasing the low-hanging fruit?

A common problem in B2B, but solved (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47655801)

This is a recurring problem when making software, especially business-to-business.

The problems are invisible to the managers of the company buying the software, because THEY are not the ones finally using it. They are probably not even aware that they can influence its usability (by providing usability requirements), or use it as a criteria when deciding what solution to buy.

Thus, they exert no economic pressure on the providers of said software. These providers, in turn, somewhat fall into the same trap - they never see the problems themselves since they are B2B. The struggles of their users affects their bottom line way less than, say, an e-commerce site, and they do not sell to their users anyway, they sell to an intermediary.

This is a solved problem - use a user-centered design process, iterate over mock-up prototypes, and do a usability test of the final product.

The ones who are hurt by this is, in the end, the companies looking to hire, but they won't ever realize the problem lies with bad usability of their recruitment software.

Because it's unimportant (1)

reanjr (588767) | about 6 months ago | (#47655807)

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 some pretty terrible applicants.

Re:Because it's unimportant (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 6 months ago | (#47655899)

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.

This is a Dice.com site, right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47655811)

This really does sound like a push for dice. At the very least, they should be listening and require their clients to use a dice supplied application system. This would make it possible to pull profile info directly and eliminate redundant entry between applications.

For sites not using dice or monster...get with the program. If the application process is robust and cost effective, it would solve a lot of problems.

It's part of the screening process (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47655839)

There is no pressure to make the process simply-- if you could not figure out how to apply for the job but hundreds of other people could, then maybe you're not the sharpest tool in the shed.

Why fix something that screens out those who lack effort or intelligence?

Why? (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 6 months ago | (#47655841)

Why Are Online Job Applications So Badly Designed?

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

Re:Why? (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about 6 months ago | (#47656037)

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 processes and tools used by the HR and Finance people are the most arcane, pointless, and quite often useless tools you can imagine -- and they're curated by people who are rigid, inflexible, and can't grasp when their tool is inadequate for the job.

I have seen lots of tools which do not actually cover the breadth of the reality for which they're used. Something is either an apple or an orange, but you've got a coconut in your hand, and the system doesn't know anything about coconuts, and the people who run it don't care about coconuts. The coconut is your damned problem.

They just keep acting like their system is useful and mandatory.

And then it gets really fun when you need to use several useless tools to enter the same information so that another department can get it the way they insist on it.

My wife enters her time into no less than 4 different tracking systems, all used by different departments for different purposes.

Because nobody cares.. (1)

Codeyman (1098807) | about 6 months ago | (#47655853)

People just got to XYZ's job portal to apply for job, they don't rate or complain about the product. The job portal doesn't generate any revenue. Nobody says that they are not going to join/interview for a job at XYZ because their online job portal sucks. There is no competition in the space at all. Why would the portals be any better?

HR (2)

Ryanrule (1657199) | about 6 months ago | (#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.

Oracle iRecruitment (1)

Cederic (9623) | about 6 months ago | (#47655881)

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.

It's mostly stylistic decisions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47655889)

Basically for input it helps to do small things, round the edges of the box by 0.25ex, set font size correctly at 1rem, ensure it has padding of 0.25ex, width of 10em, and also make sure it has a hover (generally transform:scale(1.05) ) ensure it has a focus, ensure it has a default when not hovered or focused. However these types of things are NOT part of asp.net and are not taught very much in schools (teachers teach, none of mine ever actually designed a website before taking my money thats for sure). It really has to be a passion that goes beyond asperger syndrom like repetition and into creation and detail, which quite frankly these companies don't care about.

It's also a giant red flag that the company does not aspire to quality but to a baseline function that's 'just enough' sort of like atari did when they released E.T. if they cannot get basic logistics like hiring together then you should realistically know to keep a super careful eye on your paycheck. Also expect them to do ridiculous little stupid things like put you outside in hot sun for hours on end without sunglasses, proper clothing, water, or sunscreen etc.

Organizations NEED a whole lot of people and most people just don't get to that baseline calmness required to truly carefully artistically create a thing, these people must be quarantined from the creatives because they WILL disrupt such a delicate process. Since this is not part of the 'we are a giant team and must be personally and physically close to each other' its never actually done and so the process is tedious frustrating and full of failures that were pushed into half assed function to git 'er done.

Online Job Apps (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 6 months ago | (#47655909)

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.

Dont forget (1)

Tyrannicsupremacy (1354431) | about 6 months ago | (#47655915)

The ones that make you sign up for whatever business partnership network the company is a part of, and then require passwords/login info even more secure than an online banking authentication. As if it wasnt enough of a hassle trying to remember every nationwide site you've made an account on just to apply to their local branch job, now you've got to remember obscure passwords that go beyond your usual low-importance group of repeat passwords. Honestly, is someone REALLY so desperate to get a job that they'd take their chances brute-forcing my password in order to impersonate me just to get their foot in the door for an interview? Being forced to use uppercase, lowercase, AND a symbol that isnt dash, underscore or period is breathtakingly shitty. Especially since the position was just shipping/receiving clerk.

Useless forms (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 6 months ago | (#47655921)

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 resume/CV. The rest can be pulled out with software that scans for relevant info.

How to improve upon applications: Gamification (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47655949)

1. Link to Facebook, etc. for the basics.
2. Play a game to test skills qualifications

like the Marines? (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | about 6 months ago | (#47655957)

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.

Re:like the Marines? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47656165)

Some definitely do that, like a certain Midwestern software company that makes you write a poem as part of the job application. I applied for an internship with that company years ago, and at the very last step of the application, I got a 500 Internal Server Error message. At that point, I decided that a software company that couldn't build a working job application wasn't worth working for, so I applied elsewhere.

I'm faced with this right now... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47655961)

I work at a fairly large business that wants to add online application capability to its website. We have the in-house expertise to design a fantastic experience to applicants. Instead, we're going to go with the lowest bidder that can put a check next to a list of bullet points we provide. Later on it will cost us applicants and data management in the hundreds of thousands, but today it will be cheap.

Race to the bottom isn't just for Walmart customers.

HTTPS - lolwut? (2)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 6 months ago | (#47656011)

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.

Perhaps less is more? (1)

Hollinger (16202) | about 6 months ago | (#47656017)

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:
"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.

You are missing the point. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47656033)

The object is to relieve HR of responsibility and accountability. The gullible - and here I include upper management along with job seekers - believe the system was designed to match skills with positions, or, alternatively, to provide an unbroken stream of labor matching business needs. Those are only secondary considerations. "But the computer says there are no qualified candidates! And computers are never wrong!" And HR doesn't need to spend so much time reading resumes or doing interviews. Plus it helps when you hire that H-1B engineer since HR can demonstrate that they tried to find someone in US but couldn't.

It's just another scam.

also poor questions / choices and feilds where the (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 6 months ago | (#47656043)

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 certification.

Skills Matrix's that have lists of old stuff / the same thing listed 3-4 with small name changes / poorly named ones as well.

UI/UX is an after-thought (1)

james_van (2241758) | about 6 months ago | (#47656055)

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't care one bit how things look or work, as long as it doesn't affect them.

Never used one (1)

houghi (78078) | about 6 months ago | (#47656061)

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 receiving my CV. If yes, I get the email adress.

To me this has several advantages. First they can easily say no if e.g. my asking price is too high. No need to waste time. The second is that you get a better treatment that others who just send it in, because there already was a contact. This means when they look at your CV they will remember that you already past the first test (otherwise they would have saidf they were not interested.
As you have spoken to the person who handles them and often send it to them personally, it will be read.

And again, if they say no on the phone, I thank them for being honest and not wasting either of our time. When I say no, I also tell them the reason (e.g. not the specific job I was looking for) and on various occasions was invited for another job opening that was not even online (and in 2 cases known by anybody but the manager and HR)

Sending CVs is not only what you you write in them. The main thing is that it is being read. That is however only the first step. The second is on getting an interview.

Has it happend that they said "Fill out the form!"? Yes. Not often and what I said I would decline of working with them. My explanation was that I was looking for a company that has a more personal aproach to people and still thanked them for their time.

Obviously looking for a job is selling yourself and as each person is different, what works great for one might completely not work for the other. In the end it is about both you and the company finding a common ground to work together

Re:Never used one (1)

jandrese (485) | about 6 months ago | (#47656291)

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.

That's an easy one (1)

Minwee (522556) | about 6 months ago | (#47656089)

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."

Well enough. (1)

Raven42rac (448205) | about 6 months ago | (#47656129)

They're like that because they work "well enough".

Worst Is When They Don't Allow Overlapping Jobs (1)

Little Brother (122447) | about 6 months ago | (#47656133)

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 I've had in the last 10 years.

This form is too hard! (1)

RevWaldo (1186281) | about 6 months ago | (#47656151)

~ 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.


You must be kidding (1)

ruir (2709173) | about 6 months ago | (#47656227)

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!".

because they're invariably HTTPS, they'll time out (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 6 months ago | (#47656237)

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.

No great mystery (1)

sootman (158191) | about 6 months ago | (#47656263)

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 number. I added a number, clicked submit, and was told that I need a special character. I added one, clicked submit again, and this time the message was that it must contain both upper- and lowercase letters. Fourth time was the charm. :-\

Conquering the application?! (1)

bazmonkey (555276) | about 6 months ago | (#47656295)

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.

Most of them don't actually want to hire people. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47656317)

After a lot of job seeking online, I came to the conclusion 99.9% of online job listings were just for show. The companies needed proof that no American was qualified for their position, so they could hire on a VISA at a much cheaper salary. Making your online applications shoddy and hard to fill helps that little cheat come into play.

HR doesn't want to hire Americans, they want to show no Americans are available meeting the qualifications.

Process more important than results (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47656331)

In general, the hiring PROCESS has become an end in itself with HR departments and outsourced resume collecting. The process has become the be-all and end-all focus of HR. They'd rather follow their process than hire great people. The HR department has no stake in the outcome. They are paid to implement a process. At some point, this will catch up to these companies, but probably not for a long time.

From an HR system developer (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47656335)

As someone who has worked in the area for almost 20 years:

1) As the original author of one of these systems, I can only tell you how we got here. In one word: age.

The system was written in the late '90s and has had a lot of hands in it since. We are very responsive to customer requests, and so the application has gotten more and more complex over the years. Schedule pressure and entry level programmers resulted in some bad code. A lot of the usability issues are due to code rot and a UI that was designed even before CSS was useful. We were writing for IE 4 and NS 3, both of which were very buggy and required a lot of workarounds.

Our system is driven by requests from customers (i.e. employers), not applicants. So much of the usability improvements we make are oriented towards the administrative UI. I think that is a problem we need to fix.

Don't get me wrong. We have a good product and most of our customers love us, but we definitely pay for our code's age. In the last few years we have been doing heavy refactoring and are getting it up to modern standards. We can't do a complete rewrite because so many features have been heaped on it over the years, it would not be economically feasible for a company our size.

2) Also, I've seen a lot of companies try to implement their own HR systems. Often they've done it with in-house resources. Of course, the result is often a mess, with lots of bugs and vulnerabilities. I've seen it done well, but only when they contracted out most of the work or threw a ton of money at it. These home-grown systems are often replaced by our product which is usually a huge improvement.

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