The hiring process has evolved from a simple person-to-person interaction to a nationwide user testing experience with automated, electronic job application software designed to search and delete prospective job seekers with simplicity and ease. Gone are the days when a personal referral from an associate guaranteed an interview. Now, a referral means an endorsement on an electronic application where job applicators endorse each other with the push of a keyboard key.
The Hiring Process: Step One
The "hiring process" is excruciating. The hiring process has always been difficult even during less trying times; however, now, with automation and the increase of software development packages that created electronic job boards complete with electronic job alerts, we have managed to further complicate this hiring process and de-energize the motivated job-seeker as well. We have perpetuated the downsized economy through sophisticated software designed to thwart rather than simplify the process of connecting job-seeker with job-giver.
Press Enter and Wait
We turn-keyed what was previously a simple meet-and-greet into a full-fledged full-time exercise in data entry. Endless hours have been consumed while we anxiously enter our private and confidential information information into electronically formatted documents for international distribution through a world-wide-web to electronically network with "prospective employers."
Prospective Employers are Elusive
Prospect employers are elusive. The requirements required to simply apply for a job with a two-page, typewritten resume, now requires extensive experience completing online job applications in our attempts to leap and bound with electronic efficiency.
Now, instead of simply attaching an electronic resume to an electronic email application system, we must first learn several different software applications to create multiple user accounts in addition to completing a positive personality profile in order to more efficiently and effectively participate in the electronic hiring process . The process is exhausting.
Hiring Process Thoroughly Automated
The hiring process is now thoroughly automated and systemized to the point of creating job-hunting fatigue. We further systematized the process and wrote the software to maintain the rules. What was once promised to be a faster and better method of introducing the job-seeker to the job-giver, only proved to be an excruciating electronic process requiring more patience than any job-seeker bought to possess.
As a 30-year veteran in the software development industry, there was a time when my skills were considered valuable. Now, with just a quick-read of a job description, it looks, I am no longer even qualified to perform data entry – and I can type 90 wpm with a 2% error rate.
I know my typewriting score because sometime during the 1980s, I was tested by a newly developed software application that monitored my keyboard skills. I was required to take this simple test when I applied for a job as a technical writer. I had not applied for a job as a typist or even a data entry operator; however, as part of the hiring process I was required to take a typing test before I could interview with the recruiter. So I took the test.
Typing Test Completed
After completing the typing test, I was informed of my score by the receptionist and, therefore, permitted to enter the office of the recruiter for the scheduled interview. This completed Step 2 of the hiring process.
My typing score was acceptable and, therefore, allowed me access to the closed-door session where I was then questioned about my experience using WordPerfect and, the newly released competitor, "MicroSoft" Word text processing software application. This was before Microsoft downsized the "s" in their corporate name and changed the spelling to "Microsoft." This was also at a time when Bill Gates wore long-hair and looked like a hippie. Bill Gates grow up to look like a yuppie. Nonetheless, my typing ability is not the problem. The problem, it looks, is that I no longer have "current 'experience in whatever position I apply for and, therefore, disqualified due to longevity.
My typing skills have improved through the years, however. I can now compose almost as fast as I can type. I can type almost as fast as I can talk. I learned how to blog. I hope my journalism professors are impressed. I did read the chapter in the textbook about journalism ethics and do try to keep pace but, hey, what else am I going to do while I wait for an automated emailed reply to my online job inquiry?
Automated Email Reply Message
The automated emailed reply may or may not arrive in my electronic inbox. If it does, however, I no longer read every word; instead, I promptly move it to one of my electronic folders to be saved for possible return due to the off-chance that someone may later contact me about a job I applied for three months ago.
For those occasions when I do receive an automated emailed reply, the response is rapid.
Many of these online answers to my online job inquiry arrive within seconds after submission. The software application that receives my online job application quickly responds to the news about my availability in the job market and sends a reply upon receipt of my electronic resume or electronic job application form. Faster processing does not guarantee better results.
Upon arrival in my electronic inbox, the automated emailed reply typically assures me that the company received my resume or that I have completed all of the tasks required by the online job application form. Each automated emailed reply typically contains a paragraph or two informing me about their "firing policies" and, thus, the "next step" in the "hiring process."
The Electronic Job Application Form: Next Step
The next step in the hiring process always requires more time and more information from me than the first step did. The next step always takes longer than the first step. The next step is usually a requirement that I provide more information to the prospective employer and, thereby, inform the prospective employer about everything about me that I have learned or may have accomplished since kindergarten – in 400 words or less.
The next step is always more complicated, time consuming and undeniably tedious. The next step can take up to 30 minutes of more of my time only for me to discover how many remaining steps there might be. This is always exciting to know. Sometimes there can be 15 or so more steps to perform during each phase of the hiring process.
Do Not Reply Email Addresses
In addition, these types of automated emailed replies to my job inquiry typically arrive with a "no-reply" email address. This is always an encouraging sign also. These "no-reply" email addresses further complicate the hiring process while simultaneously preventing the job-seeker from bothering the prospective employer. Acts of enthusiasm really are not welcomed by the prospective employer. Employers really do not want job-seekers to display acts that show enthusiasm or eagerness. Prospective employers, or the middle-man software that represents them, simply wants my resume in their database so that they can sell other companies on the size of their database compared to someone else's database so that they appear bigger and better to prospective employers who may or may not need to hire a qualified person to perform menial tasks for small wages. Bigger is always better in the eyes of the beholder.
Odds Always Favor the House
The prospective employer always has the upper-hand also. The prospective employer, like anyone with gold in their pocket, can compel the prospective job candidate to perform the next step in the hiring process by merely suggesting that one can not win if one does not play. Job-hunting is similar to gambling. The odds always favor the house.
In order to move forward in the hiring process, the job-seeker must perform the required tasks to gain favor with each new and exciting software application. The job candidate must perform the next step in the hiring process before the job candidate will be allowed to perform the next step. The next step is always a critical step with promises that this might be the last step in the hiring process.
The next step always requires that the job-candidate devote more time by spending approximately one to two hours per job by entering additional personal data, employment history and other critical information into yet another customized database in search of the "finished" button and, therefore , be permitted to submit the electronic information for further processing and keyword verification. Many of these same software applications do not permit me to copy and paste my information into the appropriate box, however. This would be too easy. Most of these types of databases require that I straight-type-text it too; adding additional time and stress to my already wear work load.
More Information Required
For those job-seekers seeking technical writing jobs, the hiring process is further complicated with additional requests for more information and threats of discontinuance if the job candidate is not forthcoming with the appropriate documentation. If the job-seeker happens to be searching for "web-content 'writing jobs, the hiring company will request a few samples of previously written work so that they can compare one person's blog to someone else's blog in order to determine whether the blog is original, creative and can pass a "Copyscape" test and, therefore, determine whether the writer is qualified to ghostwrite short blogs about the benefits of vitamin supplements as part of our "no drugs" social campaign.
Then, to add insult to injury, the hiring company offers to pay one penny a word to any ghostwriter worth their salt as though this is a salary worth competing for. But, no, this is not enough, the hiring company will often require potential job-seekers to take a writing test or submit some personal essay telling them why we are the "best one for the job." These types of writing samples are typically required to be about 500 words or less. Writers are supposedly to be concise.
Then, to make matters even worse, some companies require that I include three personal and professional references before they even read my resume or scheduled an interview. My personal and professional references do not have time for them either – some of them still have jobs and, therefore, do not need to waste their time speaking on the telephone to a job recruiter on someone else's behalf. Time is money to them too.
Social Security Number Required
Many companies even go so far as to require my social security number to be entered in the proper field before the software will permit me to move to the next task in the hiring process and, therefore, permit me to enter even more data that no one will likely read. The form must be properly filled-out, however, according to some undisclosed field requirement or to meet Boolean expectations. Rules are rules. The rules are now automated too.
Built Own Website
In response to what I now know to be the never-ending hiring process, I have since built my own website. I originally created my own website to have a place to store and display my "electronic portfolio" so that I would have prepared with a complete library of writing samples to show prospective employers. I wanted to be ready. I had been developing internal websites for major corporations before HTML was a buzz word and before anyone knew what a WYSIWYG is or what GUI meant – so this was a reliably easy task. I just had to experiment with three or four different free websites before I found a template and webhost that would suit my needs. This took several months of online activity. Grace be to WordPress.
Once I had a new website, the next step in the job-hunting process was to add content. To solve this problem, I searched through my electronic filing cabinet on my C: drive to retrieve previously written work that was in electronic format. I also needed work that I owned the copyright to. I needed samples that were not included in some contractual obligations with a previous employer as part of a confidentiality or nondisclosure employment agreement.
C: Drive Search for Sample Work
The search of my C: drive explained in some leftover academic papers that even professors find boring so, of course, these papers needed rewritten to conform to a different set of writing styles that would be consumed by consumers who are more accustom to AP and not APA guidelines. So, I had to rewrite many of my previously written papers just so that I could post them on my website to show that I did know how to write or, at least, type. I had to make sure that each comma did not conflict with the recommended use of a semicolon. Each word had to be read and, sometimes, re-read to ensure accuracy and authenticity. Details are important.
In a rush to respond to the latest job posting, I subsequently returned to my standard two-page resume prepared to attach it with a moment's notice. I downsized my resume by reverting to the two-page version versus the ten-page curriculum vitae I had been using while attending graduate school working towards completion of a master's degree and to show prospective employers that, although still unemployed, I had still maintained a positive attitude and remained productive while simultaneously working towards upgrading my marketability in the current job market. Recruiters often failed to read this portion of my resume, however, and frequently asked what I have been doing all of these years. They seldom read my entire resume to locate the section about my education and, then, did not know the answer prior to asking the question.
My resume was previously written to be read by a human and not just another software application designed to weed-out the deadwood by performing keyword searches and matches. In addition, I returned to using my standard two-page resume by choosing the one I wrote for human consumption because, as a writer, my resume is also suppose to reflect my skills as a person who can translate complex subject-matter into an easy -to-read format that even a sixth-grader could understand. I wanted something simple.
But, no, my resume still got lost in the data that no one ever mines for anyway. Or, if it is read by a recruiter, the recruiter simply scans the information in search of someone who is "more suited" or someone who is a "better fit" so that they can "move forward" in the "hiring process" without including me. This decision is frequently made by a recruiter who seldom even knows what a technical writer does, but if the resume does not contain the exact keywords for the recruiter to mix-and-match with the current job requisite form sitting in their electronic inbox, the recruiter will quickly discard my resume in preference for the next resume. Production levels are measured according to the number of resumes a recruiter can discard per hour. Keywords hold the key.
Software restrictions also prompted me from submitting the lengthier curriculum vitae I had been using in preference of the typical, two-page resume. Beside, I now have trouble keeping track of how many pages my resume is suppose to be or how many bytes are allowed before before I am considered wordy or too extravagant with memory. So, I downsized my resume to comply with the business rules in order to continue to submit online applications for storage in an unknown web-based application that someone else can search and retire in hopes that someone might actually read my resume and, therefore, maybe make me a job offer – provided I complete the online job-application and each step in the hiring process. Provisions; provisions.
So, after spending many months and, now, many years trying to keep track of which qualifications I had that most suited the current prospective employer, I returned to using my standard resume. I did add color, however, for the eye-catching flare that is suppose to show someone that I also know how to use the latest version of Microsoft Word.
Multi-tasking while Job Hunting
Then, while I waited for the next automated emailed reply to arrive in my electronic inbox, I wrote.
Three months later, I noticed that I had been spending more time writing than completing online job applications. I had begun writing and submitting magazine articles as another job-hunting strategy to "gain exposure" and show-off my typing skills. I also wanted more content for my website figuring that quantity was now more important than quality. I also considered this a better use of my time than waiting for some potential employer to make me a job offer. Beside, as an experienced multi-tasker, I already knew how to keep two Windows open while I try to close one door.
Then, after the publication of over 30 magazine articles with one online magazine company, I started applying for jobs as a web-content writer. I was ready. My website is now filled with articles and blogs. So, I took another step and compiled a book. I have since published two books. Each is now available in either eBook or printed format and available online through an online eStore. I stayed current with the times.
Submit Online Profiles
So, now, instead of submitting online resumes, I submit online author profiles. By this time next year, I might learn a little more about SEO and online marketing and, then, maybe sell a book to a potential reader of nonfiction.