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

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

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  • 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 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.

  • Human Resources (Score:5, Insightful)

    by globaljustin (574257) <> 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's just layers and layers of bad management

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Re:Contact Us (Score:5, Insightful)

    by killkillkill (884238) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @01:09PM (#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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @04:11PM (#47657693)

    You're right that it is a general problem.

    My solution: I don't even type stuff into the online forms if it is of any decent length (more than a short paragraph). I type it all in outside programs and then cut-and-paste it in. I save the file if I'm working on it over significant time. Stupid way to do it? You bet. But having lost stuff in poorly-designed forms due to timeout, clearing after some kind of entry error, back-arrow not restoring already-entered data, etc., it's not worth the risk unless I've used the site before and know its quirks or its reliability.

    Bad design that should be fixed? Hell yes. But if it's a site you have no control over, what's to be done? I suppose you could complain, but for sites such as job applications that might not send the right message.

    Sometimes I've wondered if overcoming the quirks of a badly-designed website is some kind of screening test for applicants.

In practice, failures in system development, like unemployment in Russia, happens a lot despite official propaganda to the contrary. -- Paul Licker