Why Applying for Jobs Will Still Suck in 2016

We’re days away from 2016 and like most people I’ve begun making a list of goals for the upcoming year. One goal is to find full-time, meaningful work, that takes advantage of my skill set. A skill set that I’ve been carefully tuning over the past few months. But with all the attention towards making myself a desirable candidate I forgot one thing…applying for jobs still sucks.
Over the weekend I decided to visit LinkedIn, “The” professional social network. One that I use, just not that often. In fact, outside of the job search and accepting friend requests I’m hardly on the site. But that’s the beauty of LinkedIn, you don’t have to be on the site 24/7 to get the benefit of membership. The job search, which is the feature I utilize the most, tailors job inquires based on your profile. Since my profile leans towards Instructional Design and Social Media, my job search would look quite different from someone whose speciality is bio-engineering. But even with a custom job search and the option to become more visible to recruiters, the act of applying for a job is something that still lives in a time where AOL and Geosites were the go to places on the net.

If you’ve ever applied for a job online, which at this point is damn near everyone, you’ve probably noticed that the web address for the site you applied on was similar to “company.taleo.net”. It’s the common thread and source of the ‘suckage’ of online applications. You see, the taelo platform is an Oracle product. And like most people you probably don’t know what it is that Oracle does–hell neither do I. I do know they supply companies with enterprise software and they created the programming language Java (and those horrible pop-up updates) but that’s about it. They are the ‘mysterious shadow company’ of the tech scene and Taleo is the the shining beacon of their evil ploy to make applying for online jobs terrible. Taleo, like most enterprise software, is offered as a SAAS(software-as-a-service) platform. So companies like Dell or Google, would sign up for the service and have their own portal for online job postings and applications. But Taleo isn’t the online platform, some companies, like Google have their own platform for job opportunities, but no matter what platform it still sucks. And here’s 3 reasons why.

1) Design

In a world where flat design and Google’s material UI reign supreme you would think that whoever designs these job management platforms would have been dragged out the back door of the company and shot. From a visual standpoint, job platforms are god-awful. Nothing but black words on a white background with tons of drop-down menus. Which is surprising given how much emphasis is placed on design. We live in an age where products live or die based on design choices, and anytime a user has to click more than 3 times, you begin to have a problem. And while merits of different design philosophies are debated and tested in the wild, the world of online job applications continues to be left behind. For many, navigating a company’s postings is a chore, and often confusing depending on the person sitting in front of the computer screen.

2) Account Management

And while we designers debate the merits of design, consumers have begun to latch on to the idea of the single-sign on. This is when you use one login for multiple platforms. Like when you use your Facebook account to log into Spotify. For many this is a Godsend. No more jumbling accounts and trying to remember passwords. For others it’s a security nightmare, jeopardize one account and you have access to an entire suite of information. The jury is still out on single-sign on, but one thing is for sure, you can see the benefit of having a central base of commands for managing applications. LinkedIn has made some strides in this arena with their Job Search. Certain companies allow you to apply for jobs within LinkedIn. Applying for a job within the social networks ties your profile to an application. The HR rep can view your application and respond all within one application, which is easier for the consumer. But not every opportunity can be applied within LinkedIn. Instead you must venture to the land of Taleo, where you will create multiple accounts with the same information. Now you must create a profile, upload a resume and cover letter, and fill in any missing information. Repeat ad nauseam and you’re left trying to manage hundreds of profiles, all containing valuable information for an account you were only going to use once. It’s a headache, and while it might benefit the company to have potential hires have accounts, it in no way benefits you.

3) The Inside Track

And then you have the ugly truth–Applying for jobs online is a crapshoot. It’s just like signing up for an Adidas Yeezy raffle. You know good and damn well you aren’t going to get the shoe but you still try anyway. You waste some time(and in some instances money) on a raffle ticket for something that thousands of people are competing for as well. Not only that, but the people who know the store owner or manager have direct access to get the shoe. The same goes for jobs, most times it’s the person who knew someone in HR who got the job–the friend of a friend. Applying for a job online is all semantics. The company gets to say it reached out to potential candidates and you get to feel good inside knowing that you tried. Because you know if 100+ people apply for one job and there is only one HR person in charge of hiring people the first thing the person is going to ask is if anyone in the company knows someone that would be ideal for the job. Those are the people moving to the front of the line. While the rest of us camp out in hopes for at least a callback…hell even an email.

Wrap Up

Although technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, some industries, like Talent Management(an Oracle label), continue to be left behind. Poor design choices and UI choices make job applications harder than it should be. Factor in the management of multiple accounts across different company portals and you have a recipe for disaster. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Following in the footsteps of LinkedIn, applying for a job online can be as simple as a 1-button click with 1 account that you use for applying for jobs. I understand that companies need to make sure that they have the most accurate data for hiring the best talent, but what good is all that talent if the best talent never finishes the application because of terrible design?