How job sites annoy me… let me count the ways

We welcome you to the land of the shadow people. (courtesy of

We welcome you to the land of the shadow people. (courtesy of

Job sites annoy me. It admittedly doesn’t take much, given my current unemployed state. I’ve yet to encounter one that provides the ideal job search experience, if something so oxymoronic even exists. Every job site, from the all-encompassing (Monster, HotJobs), to the industry-specific (American Marketing Association, Media Bistro), to the company-specific (Joe’s Burritos and Plumbing Supplies International, Inc., Fred’s Pornographic Balloon Animals, LLC), has problems. Some are barely speed bumps on the endless road to not getting a job, and some are more like cement dividers piled high and connected to multiple nuclear devices that detonate and wipe out an entire city when breached. In other words, they’re impassable, at least until Jerry Bruckheimer makes a movie about finding work in a jobless post-recession recovery. Given that a job site’s purpose is to display job openings and attract users – essentially market the company to applicants who may become employees or customers – the problems are all inexcusable. Here is but a sampling, presented in my own top-secret order that I will carry with me to the grave, watery or otherwise.

Sites display an alphabetical list of all the countries in the world, from which the applicant chooses his home country. The US is near the bottom, though it likely provides most of the applicants, at least for domestic jobs. Afghanistan is at the top, though it’s citizens likely have more pressing issues, such as staying alive. Really, is it so hard to list the US first? It would save 99.98% of the 10,000 applicants vying for that one assistant coffee getter opening five precious seconds. That’s time that could be spent perfecting the art of tearing open multiple sugar packets at once. This minor oversight shows a lack of forethought and care, which will manifest itself in more significant ways elsewhere.

Sites often require way more detail than necessary. The exact dates I was in school or previously employed, down to the day, can’t possibly matter. That I graduated college on May 5, 1994 won’t be of any use until I’m famous and the subject of a question in Trivial Pursuit: The 21st Century Underachiever Edition. Maybe I can also find out the weather for that Spring day in Lancaster, PA, when my career began, or the addresses of the barns that the Amish raised before working in the fields and churning butter. There’s plenty of useless facts out there. Exact dates don’t add anything to the conversation. (Norm: “Can I have a job?” Company: “No.”) Wouldn’t “May, 1994” suffice, or even just “1994?”

Sites often require a home phone number as part of my contact info. I have a cell phone, but no home phone, like 20% of the population. It’s easy enough to simply fill in the field with my cell number. That mythological call would get to me either way… no harm, no foul. But stay with me on this one. I apply to many media and marketing companies and departments. They market to users via many channels, including wireless. It seems like they should understand enough about their business to recognize this disconnect and do something about it. After all, the lines of communication between corporate departments are always wide open. More likely with small problems like this is that they just don’t care.

Job sites sometimes don’t work on Firefox, my web browser of choice. The last time I checked, Firefox had a 25% usage share; one quarter of the people online are using it. Is any company so amazingly fantastically stupendously awesome that it can afford to risk missing 25% of the potential applicants for a job? Those missed users may even be a tad more Internet savvy than the average job seeker, given that the Firefox is open source and not standard on new computers. This shortcoming speaks volumes about a company, and none of it’s good.

Job sites often bombard me with useless information, before, during or after my resume submission. One site routinely serves me with a “get your degree online” ad before letting me apply for a job or even see the description. This marketing message might show better results if linked to certain types of jobs. It’s called targeting. They probably teach it at the schools being marketed. Online education is a valuable service, and some people will want more information. But serving this ad repeatedly, to everybody, does more to drive users from the site than it does to endear them to a service. I personally have stopped using the offending site.

More infuriating still are the sites that sell off my information to spammers, who then bombard me with travel deals and Viagra ads. The spam arrives in my otherwise pristine inbox within minutes of uploading a resume. It can’t be a coincidence. Or maybe the site just knows that I always crave a trip to The Bahamas or a four-hour erection ending in blindness and heart attack right after combing the Internet for jobs. Can’t these sites just pretend that they have my best interests in mind, even though they don’t? There are plenty of ways to make a buck without selling my personal information.

And the grand poobah of all job site annoyances… THEY DON’T WORK! Job sites aren’t my only means of attack, but I use them probably more than necessary. And the results are, at best, pretty damn sucky. They’re overrun with garbage, hucksters and, sadly, deserving candidates like me who just want to work. But there’s always the outside chance that my resume, submitted online, will find its way back to me in the form of a job. I’m not counting on it. But at this point in my unemployment, I can’t afford to not try.

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  1. Catherine wrote:

    I so enjoy reading your blog….and FEEL your pain. Just got done with another useless job site. They are so frustrating and after spending a great deal of time applying, only to have limited success…ugh. You would think these HR experts would get it.

    It was refreshing to read your post today cuz I was about to hurl my laptop after the last one that would NOT even allow me to upload my resume…only to put employer’s name, contact info with salary info (well, that would put me in the reject pile immediately with what jobs are paying today!)

    There has to be a better way. Thanks for all the humor you share during these stressful times!!

    Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 10:07 am | Permalink
  2. Norm wrote:

    Catherine–I routinely go through the whole process of submitting my info only to have the website dump me out right at the end. This post is only a partial list. There is plenty more that annoys the crap out of me. I just didn’t think people would sit through another 2000 words. I’ll have to revisit the subject again when I need to vent.

    Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 7:00 pm | Permalink
  3. Marge Geneverra wrote:

    Here a tip for those job sites.

    Get a Firefox identity manager, like Roboform. Set up 2 identities. Use a real one to automatically fill in all those forms that the sites ask for over and over again. Use a fake one to fill in all the ads for “get your degree” places. If everyone filled in that stuff with fake information, job sites would stop using them. Fight spam with spam.

    I have no solution to all of the scammers that seem to get addresses from job sites. Careerbuilder is by far the worst in that category.

    Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 6:52 pm | Permalink
  4. Norm wrote:

    Marge–I’m going to try Roboform now… great idea. Thanks for the heads up.

    Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 7:01 pm | Permalink
  5. Miriam wrote:

    Great post! I too hate “United States” being on the bottom of the list, and how they have to provide drop-down menus for every little thing because they don’t think we’re smart enough to be able to spell out our countries, states and cities on our own.

    I also hate how I have to go through page after page of dozens of job title classifications to indicate what type of job I want to apply for. First, despite the huge number of job titles listed, none of them ever fit what I’m applying for and second, why do they need the job code when I’m already indicating which job I’m applying for when I hit the “apply for this job” button?

    And why do we have to free form type everything we’ve ever done since we graduated from high school, only to come across the “upload resume” button one hour later on the last screen? Also, they shouldn’t be asking 90% of those questions until they’re ready to make a serious offer.

    I think the justification is that HR wants all of this information so they can find the “perfect” candidate! There’s no such thing as the “perfect” candidate! At one company I worked for in the late 1980’s, when HR had to wade through hundreds of resumes, they would grab a stack at random and see if they could whittle it down to a few decent-sounding candidates. If none of them panned out, then they’d grab another stack of resumes and start the process again. However, most of the time they found an acceptable candidate in the first pass. They weren’t obsessed about evaluating each and every resume that came across their desks.

    And why do we go through all of this? Because we feel guilty that we’re not doing everything we possibly can to get a job if we don’t.

    Friday, September 25, 2009 at 5:01 pm | Permalink
  6. Dana wrote:

    You are hilarious! Really, I stumbled upon your blog and was encouraged to start my own. Job sites are the absolute worst and I’m not quite sure on what the solution to that problem is. I’m in the television industry and finding something the conventional way is impossible, this is like starting from scratch. Thanks for the inspiration… we’ll make it!

    Monday, September 28, 2009 at 5:50 pm | Permalink
  7. Norm wrote:

    Thanks, Dana. I was poking around your blog a few nights ago actually. Stick with it, because it may open up some doors you didn’t know were there. In the meantime, try not to get frustrated with the job search. I came from the music industry, which is only “hiring” college interns these days.

    Monday, September 28, 2009 at 6:02 pm | Permalink
  8. @larryheard wrote:

    You guys got that right, job boards suck. Why not try checking your own social network and ask around. Most job post you’re looking for can be found through social media. And oh, thanks for the roboform, just made an order.

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 7:06 am | Permalink
  9. JS wrote:

    I have been reluctantly perusing the online job boards since 2004. They weren’t very promising then, but at least you were able to find a couple of legitimate jobs between all the muck.

    Now, as the recession gets worse, these job boards get bombarded with so much poison that it’s too hard to differentiate what is a legitimate job and a scam. Sadly, 90% of them are scams, and I don’t even bother with them anymore. They are a complete waste of time.

    Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. fight_ageism (patricia sahertian) on Friday, September 25, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    @JoblessandLess really liked your post about job sites and the frustration they present

  2. […] How job sites annoy me… let me count the ways | Jobless and Less […]