It’s getting to the point where the only people who get jobs are people who (a) already have a job; and (b) already have a nicely bubbling career on the fire.
I say this because I read and/or hear of more and more reasons – no, sorry, these are excuses – companies are using to reduce the flood of applications coming through their doors.
These HR “experts” don’t have time to really look at each application, but they don’t want to miss a good candidate, either – supposedly.
So rather than toss out four out of every five applications randomly – toss, toss, toss, toss, keep; toss, toss, toss, toss, keep – they come up with notions that give them the illusion that they are actually analyzing before they toss.
But in reality, they’re just tossing under a different – and much more discriminatory – form of randomness. They are using these notions to justify the fact that they simply want to make their own jobs easier. And they don’t particularly care if they miss out on some really good candidates. They just change the definition of “really good candidates” to fit their new tossing criteria.
How do they justify tossing out an application? Let me count the ways.
No college degree. For several decades now, a college degree has been a requirement for lots of jobs that never required it before. Administrative assistants – who used to be called secretaries – are a case in point. Please don’t tell me the job requires college-level skills; it doesn’t. An admin assistant is still a secretary; it’s just been redefined and renamed to fit the new restriction. And that new restriction eliminates 72 percent of the adult population in this country. Toss!
Salary too high. Asking for a salary history, salaries in your online application, or salary range you would accept have long been ways for some companies to screen out applicants and/or pay them less than they’re worth. Salary history higher than the company wants to pay? You won’t have a chance to say you’ll accept less – you’re already tossed!
But with the advent of online applications, there are so many more possibilities! Why, automated “bots” could screen out – toss! – lots of bothersome paperwork.
Application does not have the right buzzwords. The reason every single job-search workshop tells you to adapt your resume to each job posting is so your resume will include many of the same buzzwords listed in the job requirements. An automated bot could do a quick search for matches. Not enough keywords? Toss!
Too many jobs in the last five years. You can craft the perfect resume and cover letter highlighting your skills and minimizing recent job hopping, but when you fire up the online applications, guess what: they want dates. What do they do with those dates? I got a clue on one unusual online application, where I was actually asked how many jobs I’ve had in the last five years. We can all guess which the answers they’re looking for – and which answers will get you tossed!
Too few jobs in the last five years. Whether you just graduated from high school or college, or you’ve been out of the workforce for a year or more, you’re in trouble with the automated and human screeners. Toss!
Put automated systems together with five applicants for every job opening, and you have counts of up to 1,000 applications per opening, and ever more creative criteria for tossing them.
No job with the same/similar title. You can forget about that “do what you love” career change advocated in What Color Is Your Parachute. If you haven’t done the job recently, you’re out. Toss!
Too old. The Great Recession has hit older workers hardest, and though it’s against the law to discriminate based on age, the practice is entrenched. So, if your employment history goes back too far – those darn dates again – ding, you’re tossed!
No “social media” skills. See “Too old,” above. Better be on LinkedIn. Better post a young-looking photo on LinkedIn. Better show those darn dates in your LinkedIn profile. Oh, you don’t? Tossed!
Bad credit. Some companies are running credit reports along with background checks on applicants. Got some black marks on your credit record? Toss!
And now, the newest, most egregious tosser of all:
Unemployed. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently issued a press release about the growing trend of legal (so far) discrimination, as exemplified by an Atlanta recruiter for Sony, which openly advertised for “employed applicants only.” This one doesn’t even pretend to have reasoning behind it: there is no reason, except to reduce that load of applications the HR staff has go through. It’s a no-brainer. With 10 percent unemployment rates, that’s an easy 10 percent reduction of your workload. Toss! Toss! Toss! Toss! Toss! Toss! Toss! Toss! Toss! Toss!
Even if you make it past all these screenings – or find a way around them – you can find yourself nailed by them in an interview. A colleague lost out when the CEO discovered, during the final interview, that she wasn’t currently working. (Unemployed? Toss!). And, in a new twist, several people I know have been questioned about their stated willingness to commute – which in one case was a distance well within the metro area’s current commute zone.
I’d love to find some HR association slip up and put this stuff online, on a public page, rather than hiding it behind a membership login. More likely, what they say are “best practices” are not what they do in practice.
Then again, sometimes it seems like they’re making it up as they go along – at our expense.