I spent Sunday, as I usually do, wrestling with the ever proliferating hell of online job application interfaces. It seems that every newspaper, recruiting company, and mid-to-large-sized business in the country now has an online job application procedure that lurks behind the simple classified ad or job listing.

This is highly attractive to the organizations, naturally. I suspect that it may also act as a barrier to entry: For example, one of the online applications I worked on today had over one thousand self-evaluations of skill-level that were requested.

I have heard horror stories of how today’s response rate is the inverse of what it was last year: if we ran an ad in early 2001, I was lucky to get more than twenty responses to it; today in Seattle, I understand it’s not uncommon to get a thousand or more responses to a position announcement.

Nontheless, I suspect that the effect of all this detailed, fragmented information is actually not good for the organizations which are requesting it. The primary reason it’s problematic has to to with long-term personal-information management problems. When MyTemps is purchased by TodaysUnderpaid.com, which records should be retained? Did the applicants at MyTemps know that they were also making their information available to TodaysUnderpaid.com? Of course not. Is there long-term liability exposure in such situations? Of course.

The ideal soution would be for both MyTemps and TodaysUnderpaid to read and write data from and to a central repository, much in the manner of the failed Microsoft .NET initiative I referred to a couple days ago. The problem here, as there, is that each corporate concern equates data with revenue, and in particular exclusive data, probably inaccurately. Nonetheless, contracts are written based upon this assumption.

Additionally, privacy legislation emphasizes the importance of protecting your organizations’ data stores.

Naturally, if you’re bought, you can basically ignore the privacy regs and apply a wholly new privacy policy to the data by fiat. In fact, I predict we’ll see this used as a deliberate strategy in the next few years – a two-part business, in which a new brand is erected with great customer relations and emphasis on service with the goal of developing a large and loyal customer base. Then, once this organization has significant customer lists, it will be bought and stripped with the lists as a primary asset. Hm, actually I bet that this has occured to M&A people concerning both Apple and more particularly Amazon.

Wait! I’ve wandered afield. My point is, online job hunting is clearly becoming much less effective from the perspective of the prospective employee because of the proliferation of detailed profile requests. I wonder if XNS.org has considered designing and implementing an XML-based professional profiling system? There’s even possible monetary benefit to the individual participant in such a system.

2 thoughts on “Online Job Hunting

  1. Maybe Online Job Applications should be replaced with Online Job Interest Notifications. Something you can fill out in less than 15 minutes with the hope of an acknowledgement that somebody received it. Then if they are truely interested, they should put you through a formal application process. The idea is not to waste time for you or me. Some other time wasters is the time it take to load a page. I use a dial up line and the large pages to process on some application forms just slows the whole process down. XML style Applications and Resumes could be generated by a program to control the XML output. You could then upload the XML to a conforming website and have them extract the necessary data. The style of XML could be limited to basic information, or more advanced, or most detailed depending on the stage of your job interest. Sounds great, but this level of standardization isn’t here yet. http://higherdiversity.com used to have an XML resume. I also remember reading about XML formats for recruiters which they want to know way too much about you in too much detail. HR doesn’t need much, only to know if it is a match. The HM might need more detail, but he can get all that he needs from the recruiter also. There is lots of rooms to streamline this whole process.

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