On inequity in job applications
April 21, 2016 9:36 PM   Subscribe

 
Employers not paying the proper amount of respect towards applicants is just plain bad business.

In most businesses, the largest non-inventory expense the company has is payroll. Hiring someone is ridiculously expensive - you have to pay for the hiring process (which can easily take 4 to 5 people, even in a highly efficient business), the onboarding costs (employees are not productive for some amount of time post-hire), their salary/wages for the entire time they are at the company, the costs to cover for them when they leave and/or are not able to work, etc. Hiring someone is generally the biggest investment in the company's future that an "average" employee is part of.

I've worked at places that'll hire someone based on a badly-run interview with mixed feedback. If that person stays two years at a salary of $100,000, that's easily a cost of $500,000 to the company with all costs burdened. Those same places would never allow you to, say, buy $500,000 worth of office equipment without a proper bidding process, approvals all over the place, and a concerted effort to get the best deal possible.

Why do we treat people worse than office chairs?
posted by saeculorum at 10:05 PM on April 21, 2016 [18 favorites]


Knock it off with the automatic eliminators
*cough* *cough* *USAJobs*

Protip: Don't use software to automatically disqualify resumes from your pool.

If you are applying to a place that you think might use this kind of software, attach the original job posting to the end of your resume prefaced by "For your reference, this is the job posting that I am responding to:"

You'll match all of the keywords, and a human will be forced to read your resumé.

Yes. The federal government does this. The Obama administration supposedly tried to put a stop to it, but there has been disappointingly little improvement. This is a batshit insane way to hire people, and yet we keep doing it.
posted by schmod at 10:32 PM on April 21, 2016 [89 favorites]


schmod: wait, really? That'd work? HMM

According to the reponses to my Ask Metafilter question, software like this is considered "helpful" and "feature not bug" because apparently it weeds out people who are "serial applicants" and thus are apparently not serious about joining the company. Never mind that people are being forced to apply to a zillion jobs a day (especially for things like unemployment benefits) and don't have the time to spend hours on special-snowflake applications for companies that haven't demonstrated why they should be So Special.
posted by divabat at 10:40 PM on April 21, 2016 [12 favorites]


I really hate special-snowflake application processes. I don't have time to input my resume, piece by obnoxious piece, into your database. I don't have time to create another stupid login and password. Just accept emailed resumes/CVs and cover letters. It might take a little longer to deal with but making the process long and obnoxious reduces the number of applicants you get. And I think it cuts out as many strong applications as weak ones - the people with the most going for them probably have the least time to deal with that bullshit.

Also, stop being so afraid to interview people out of state. Skype still exists, you know.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:53 PM on April 21, 2016 [28 favorites]


apparently not serious about joining the company

Spud
posted by flabdablet at 10:54 PM on April 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


piece by obnoxious piece, into your database

Ugh. Now that I've been on the other side of the table, I still don't understand why many companies still do this.

As a programmer, I.... get the desire to have structured data. I've also never seen a HR department actually use it.
posted by schmod at 11:00 PM on April 21, 2016 [8 favorites]


My favourite hiring practice, and I say this semi sarcastically, (and this isn't uncommon) was where a company had 4,000 applicants for 40 positions, and they gathered 120 of the "best" applicants from various disciplines (engineering, accounting, marketing, computer science, etc) in a hunger games style arena and made us fight till the death work in groups of 10 to complete competitive tasks against other groups while grim faced psychological evaluators waited in the shadows scribbling arcane notes about our "performance" into their notepads. Nothing quite like staring your literal competition in the eye while engaging them in a battle of wits only neither of you quite know what metric you're being evaluated on.

Basically TLDR hiring is extremely hard, the more human element you utilize the more unconscious bias you introduce to the system, but computer algorithms that sort out 4,000 resumes by keywords, educational attainment and typos aren't actually better either.

My reckoning is that if you want to hire a diverse workforce, you need diverse management to begin with, not fancy metrics or credos. You can't tell a 90% white male management team to "ensure equality" while hiring, that just doesn't work. It might be a two step process, where you create your diverse team first, then focus on identifying quality.
posted by xdvesper at 11:23 PM on April 21, 2016 [6 favorites]


My favourite hiring practice, and I say this semi sarcastically, (and this isn't uncommon) was where a company had 4,000 applicants for 40 positions, and they gathered 120 of the "best" applicants from various disciplines (engineering, accounting, marketing, computer science, etc) in a hunger games style arena and made us fight till the death work in groups of 10 to complete competitive tasks against other groups while grim faced psychological evaluators waited in the shadows scribbling arcane notes about our "performance" into their notepads. Nothing quite like staring your literal competition in the eye while engaging them in a battle of wits only neither of you quite know what metric you're being evaluated on.

Oh, wow. I'm surprised you put up with that. Unless the job was spectacular or I was extremely desperate, I would have pretty much laughed in their face and walked out. You know a company like that will be god-awful to work for.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:32 PM on April 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


the people with the most going for them probably have the least time to deal with that bullshit.

There is a not-inconsiderable slice of management theory that says a company doesn't want the people with the most going for them, because they're more likely to get hired away by someone else at some point, and how many geniuses do you really need anyway?
posted by Etrigan at 11:51 PM on April 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


xdvesper: that's how the Kaospilots admissions weekends work and they're awful. You might get lucky and get a group that's super cool, or you might end up with a group of dudebros who take up all the conversation and then blame YOU for being overbearing because you're a woman with an opinion. When the last school rejected me saying "you would be the perfect catalyst but we think people would ostracize you because they aren't willing to be confronted", coming from the school whose ENTIRE philosophy is about "creating change" and "confronting the comfortable" blah blah, I knew I was done.
posted by divabat at 11:58 PM on April 21, 2016 [12 favorites]


I once participated in an "agile" mass interview process for a tech company that split everyone into little groups and had minders take notes as we did these little toy exercises. I did this as an experiment more so than as a real applicant and found it completely ridiculous. I had no idea whether I was doing well or not and can't imagine that 5 or 10 minutes' worth of watching us do this was particularly informative on their end either. Garbage in, garbage out. I bet they do great at buzzword bingo but their actual work product is awful.
posted by axiom at 1:15 AM on April 22, 2016



I've worked at places that'll hire someone based on a badly-run interview with mixed feedback. If that person stays two years at a salary of $100,000, that's easily a cost of $500,000 to the company with all costs burdened. Those same places would never allow you to, say, buy $500,000 worth of office equipment without a proper bidding process, approvals all over the place, and a concerted effort to get the best deal possible.

Why do we treat people worse than office chairs?


Because that's treating people better than office chairs.

(I'm being very literal. Office chairs will not walk away and be another butt's seat.)
posted by effugas at 2:20 AM on April 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


I haven't been able to read the piece yet.. but what an awful name that is: "Nonprofits With Balls".. is there any explanation as to why they would choose such a skeevy hideoua name for themselves?
posted by Philby at 2:56 AM on April 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


Philby: This gets answered in the About page:
You may be thinking, “Why ‘Nonprofit with Balls’? Isn’t that sexist?! Why not ‘Nonprofit with Balls and Ovaries,’ you sexy sexist pig?!” The title comes from an experience he had, described here. Please read that entire post before writing him an angry email. Also, it refers to all the balls that we nonprofit professionals have to juggle: clients, board, staff, volunteers, funders, auditors, payrolls, budgets, cashflows, trainings, annual events, etc. We are all knee-deep in balls. We have balls coming at us from every direction. Sometimes we “drop the ball,” but no worries, since there is never a shortage of balls in this line of work.
The "here" link leads to a story that includes riffs on "play ball" and "drop the ball" and other ball-related puns.
posted by divabat at 3:15 AM on April 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


Ugh, I feel so much shame. I do #6 all the time. I will stop from this point forward.
posted by archimago at 3:53 AM on April 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Just accept emailed resumes/CVs and cover letters. It might take a little longer to deal with but making the process long and obnoxious reduces the number of applicants you get.

I am not in HR but I interpret those kinds of processes as deliberate ways to reduce the number of applicants. Like I said in response to divabat's AskMe that was linked above, I'd guess that each online application I have done has taken me at least two to four hours with all the reentry and reformatting required -- and that time goes up with each step of the process as you move through. Having a convoluted process seems to be meant as a sorting mechanism, though one that is in tension with other organizational goals including diversity, attracting the best candidates, and so on.

Back to the posted articles, overall I liked his list of suggested improvements. As an applicant, I would love more transparency about salary and I really appreciate it when places list a target or range for a position. And I definitely agree that in general, not just on the non-profit side, too much is made of formal qualifications -- there are a lot of jobs that should be advertised as needing a degree or an equivalent level of demonstrated experience. Degrees are used as an effective crude filter but there must be smarter ways to filter out unqualified people.

Having been on the hiring side a number of times, though, it is odd how many applicants you get that are clearly not qualified or even genuinely interested. Some of that is from unemployment rules that mandate that people apply for a certain number of jobs as a condition of receiving assistance, but it seems more widespread than that, perhaps as an indicator of economic malaise and desperation? Someone I know who does a lot of hiring for engineering and ecology positions says they have mostly stopped advertising and posting jobs because the ratio of qualified to unqualified applicants has gotten so low in the last few years, and instead they are relying almost entirely on word of mouth and personal recruiting. That is getting them a much better pool of applicants, but there are also a set of predictable results, like almost zero diversity, because the new hires come out of the same social circles as the current employees.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:04 AM on April 22, 2016 [9 favorites]


Oh, the fill-in-applications that want your resume as well... those are annoying.

schmod, I'm torn between never telling anyone your strategy (to increase my own odds) and telling everyone (in hopes employers are inundated with them and are forced to abandon those autorejection systems). Maybe the latter... after I get that job.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 4:30 AM on April 22, 2016


I'd guess that each online application I have done has taken me at least two to four hours with all the reentry and reformatting required

What's the reentry for? If it's for keyword searching, are there not tools that can search through any sort of text?
posted by divabat at 4:31 AM on April 22, 2016


I just spent a year looking for library jobs (which are sometimes nonprofits, and sometimes government jobs, but definitely overlap with nonprofit hiring and administration). It was terrible. And I know the library job market is terrible, but I'm not somebody fresh out of school with no experience - I've been working in busy and diverse urban public library systems for ten years.

We have an over-reliance on formal education
If you want to step into some kind of library technology role without a formal degree, good luck, no matter what kind of "I built a computer from parts, I use Linux on my home computer, I can build a web page from the ground up if it's not too fancy" spiel you can do.

We have myriad gate-keeping factors
My favorite recent example is the application page for a certain urban public library that asked me which state I got my undergraduate degree in. Out of the 50 US states. I did not get my undergrad degree in the US. Eventually I gave up and put Montreal, CA on the application, but I didn't get a call back about the job. Back when I was in library school and applying for jobs, I'd have to put the phone numbers of all the jobs I'd had within the last five years. Two of those were Japanese phone numbers, so not only did they not fit in the application form, but if you were to actually call up the number, you'd have a hell of a time getting someone to speak English to you. These were required fields in the application form, that didn't let you proceed if you didn't put in all the required information, or that said very sternly that it was illegal and fraudulent to leave off any job you'd had in the last five years.

I wonder how many jobs I lost because I said "yes" to the "have you ever been fired" question. (It was Wendy's. It was a long time ago.)

We focus too much on the short-term
Library job ads ask you for knowledge of a specific brand of Integrated Library System all the time. These things are proprietary and very expensive so the only way to get this experience is to work in a place that uses that specific ILS. It only takes a couple of hours to start finding your way around an ILS! I can see using it as a tie-breaker between two very qualified applicants - but otherwise, just assume you can train a person.
posted by Jeanne at 4:37 AM on April 22, 2016 [11 favorites]


Jeanne: I'd had similar experiences too - jobs in different countries, some with organisations that don't exist anymore (yay Australian art scene! -_-), places that pay honorariums or flat fees, differing currencies (this was especially agonizing when I was jobhunting in the US because my Australian pay made me look too expensive even though it was pretty much entry-level). All of that frustration led me to write one of those Falsehoods Programmers Believe lists about job apps.
posted by divabat at 4:41 AM on April 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


What's the reentry for? If it's for keyword searching, are there not tools that can search through any sort of text?

Maybe so they can do searches limited to certain areas (like in education versus in experience)? Really, I think it is just a time-consuming barrier, similar to Metafilter charging $5, meant to produce a speedbump and filter out people who are not committed.

For example, in the application process I just went through, I submitted a resume, then had to put all the information into their online form, later had to reenter it all into a pdf application form, and finally (unless there is yet another step forthcoming, which wouldn't surprise me) reenter most of the same information into a pdf HR form. So that is four separate times, all with the same information, and each one taking at least an hour. For me it is a mild inconvenience, but for someone with more time pressures or fewer resources it might be a barrier.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:50 AM on April 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


Dip Flash: ohhhhh I misunderstood you, I thought you were saying that the people on the HR side have to do all the reentry, which seemed mega pointless to me!
posted by divabat at 4:52 AM on April 22, 2016


Well, looking at things from the other side (not in HR, but involved in hiring for my functional role), I understand how annoying and time-consuming online applications are, but being able to filter on certain criteria is pretty essential to our hiring process. It's just not practical to have entirely unfiltered resume screening given that we get something like 5000 applications for a position. Getting eyeballs on every single resume we get is basically impossible. Those of you against online applications should know that the processes they are replacing were not much fairer, and in many cases you were probably more likely to get stuck "at the bottom of the pile", even if you were a qualified candidate. You would get 5000 applications for a position, randomly pick 500 to review by hand, and the other 4500 candidates were basically unlucky. At least now there's some method to the madness.
posted by peacheater at 5:00 AM on April 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


But can't the tools for keyword searching and such be adapted for use with prewritten resumes & cover letters? Are entire new time-consuming systems (that don't always work very well for experiences like Jeanne's) actually all that helpful, or are they just replicating the same problems you were trying to solve the first time? Except now you can blame technology or blame people for not catering enough to technology?
posted by divabat at 5:03 AM on April 22, 2016 [6 favorites]


I just went through an extensive months-long job search. I sent out about 200 resumes over 4 months. 100% online, and most of them had online applications instead of just "email your resume and cover to X." It always felt like an exercise in patience and detail to be allowed to "upload your resume info into this form" and then have to spend an hour reformatting it because it didn't use line breaks or any other formatting in the transfer. It really did feel like a weeding out process for people who didn't want to put in the time. And there were definitely days where after spending 4 hours doing that, I just didn't apply for another job because I just couldn't do it one more time on that day.
posted by archimago at 5:10 AM on April 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


It's just not practical to have entirely unfiltered resume screening given that we get something like 5000 applications for a position.

No offense, but what industry is this? This number sounds preposterously high to me.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:15 AM on April 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


Online processes could stop one illegal practice immediately--requiring at the very beginning of the process to list high school graduation date. If that's not a screen based on age, I don't know what is.
posted by etaoin at 5:20 AM on April 22, 2016 [13 favorites]


This is an excellent article -- and definitely hits how even the non-profit world can have serious class & gender biases in their hiring practices.

As for the formal education thing: he's not suggesting that you hire professors or librarians with no training.

But if you were hiring for someone to run a drop-in for street involved youth, would you exclude someone with years of experience with that population just because they don't have an MSW? (Or maybe even a high school diploma).

Or even if you're hiring an office manager, would you exclude someone with no university degree but experience running offices?

Even in the non-profit world that works with more marginalized populations, there has been an increasing emphasis on accreditation - which has excluded people with experience but less education - and that discriminates against older workers, and people from lower income backgrounds, especially (in my region) a lot of talented and experienced black women.

As for not asking salary history: Hallelujah! what a way to perpetuate an injustice. I recently low balled my own salary/wage request, because I was desparate and coming off minimum wage. Fortunately, my boss is a very thoughtful person, and up'd it by another third.
posted by jb at 5:28 AM on April 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


There are at least a couple reasons why pdf resumes are not a great source of text data for screening: 1) Because of all the formatting in the pdf, conversion to text results in a lot of garbage characters and weird line breaks. It's not the greatest source of data. 2) People don't necessarily include the info you want in a resume so if you want to screen on something it's better to ask a question about it.

Finally, I think the hiring folks are well aware about issues with diversity in hiring. They do make a great effort to increase this in many ways. For example, we directly interview candidates nominated by a black professional association in our field. Despite being a technical field our hiring ratios are close to 50-50 men and women. And we're also good at pulling in career changers from other fields with unconventional backgrounds.
posted by peacheater at 5:29 AM on April 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's just not practical to have entirely unfiltered resume screening given that we get something like 5000 applications for a position.

No offense, but what industry is this? This number sounds preposterously high to me.

Actuarial. We really do get close to that number of applicants for a single job posting. There's more than one entry-level slot though (maybe 25-30).
posted by peacheater at 5:34 AM on April 22, 2016


As an addendum to asking high school graduation date-- also stop asking for college graduation date. Successful applicants can have the job if they can prove it with transcripts or a diploma at the same time they bring in their legal-to-work documents. Asking for the date right off the bat is just age discrimination.
posted by blnkfrnk at 6:13 AM on April 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


Number 7 kills me every time. I have years of extensive experience, some college, but that apparently spells "idiot" on CVs for me.
posted by Kitteh at 6:44 AM on April 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I am a hiring manager for a software development team. I am totally on board with many of the things expressed in that article, and have been doing things like dropping formal educational requirements and not using 'requirements' language for the last three years. I try not to drag out the process and have a soft goal in my head to close the loop on a candidate's application within a month after submission (I am 50/50 on this record, 75/25 at 6 weeks) I try to write back to every candidate who I turn down after I screen them (pre-screen rejections get a template with one of the canned reasons why they didn't make the cut; 1st - 3rd round rejections get an email with offer for phone call; finalist rejections get a phone call, especially if it's a situation of "I can't hire you now, but I'd love to chat again in a year if we have a new position and if you're still/back on the market.")

I'll be frank. It takes a lot of fucking time. I do this because it's humane and it is right, but I also know that I won't have time to do this and support my staff as fully as I can while it's happening. Fortunately, the teams that I work with are relatively independent and can cruise along while we're in recruiting mode. I'm not whining about the time that it takes, because I believe that taking the time to hire the right people is one of the most important things a manager can do, but just offering some perspective on why it's not all heartless grinding of cogs in the machine. I will easily get 100+ applicants for an open dev position, and it would be an absolute nightmare to manage all of that just based on email threads, and workflow software is essential just to continue tracking who is in what phase of the process. Sharing interview questions with other interviewers is totally essential. Having panel debriefs about candidates is important for interrogating peers on their biases, and being able to do fair comparisons, but you can't do it effectively if you don't batch candidates, and you can't batch candidates effectively if you don't have some kind of workflow.

I'm sympathetic to all of the experiences in this thread about shitty and obtuse job application software, but I feel that the solution to that is to make the software more tolerant of variance and easier to use -- not doing away with it altogether.
posted by bl1nk at 7:34 AM on April 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


No offense, but what industry is this? This number sounds preposterously high to me.

For federal court clerking jobs that use the mass application system (some don't, and end up with even more impenetrable networks of internal referral), you will easily get a thousand applications for two to four slots. It is just not possible to give even the most superficial consideration to every resume while still continuing to, you know, give thoughtful consideration to individual defendants' sentencing, and there's no way you wouldn't be applying something very close to the same filter, just manually. I would imagine that most entry-level jobs on USAJobs have the same problem.
posted by praemunire at 7:37 AM on April 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


I hear you, Kitteh. I'm apparently not qualified anymore for the job I spent 15 years doing, because I got hired by a company to do the job halfway through my degree.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 8:24 AM on April 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


USAJOBs, hahahahahahaha. What a craphole (and I say this as someone who has had a federal job in the past and wouldn't mind another, but that $#%@ website ... sometimes I think they made it a PITA expressly to deter applicants. As if the process itself weren't deterrent enough.)

A common variation on the tactic mentioned by schmod is to make your resume as a Microsoft Word document, c/p in the entire job ad, turn the text white so it doesn't look like you've copied it in, then send in that resume.

Obviously, a segment of HR has caught on. No word on how it affects your candidacy, but I imagine people figure being eliminated by HR is superior to being eliminated by an algorithm.

(Disclaimer: I did NOT do this on my last federal application. Nor have I ever. I also have not heard back one way or the other. Ask me again in six months.)
posted by aperturescientist at 8:39 AM on April 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


Nonprofits with Balls is still a tacky name, imo. Sounds like the dudebros pulled it out of the hat, then retrofitted an explanation of what it's supposed to mean.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:56 AM on April 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


Oh, hey, I have a pretty stupid story about #9.

I had had three rounds of interviews at a really large company, and I got a call asking for a fourth, which we scheduled for a Friday afternoon. I was getting a little impatient (I wasn't desperate for a new job at the time) and I had plans right after, so I showed up in my weekend clothes and told them they'd already seen all of my professional interview outfits and I had places to be and beers to drink, so they needed to make up their minds because I wasn't going to keep coming in for a hundred different interviews.

They did. They offered me the job early the next week, I accepted, and started shortly thereafter.

Then, quite some time later, I was in my office at that job when I got a call offering me the job I thought I was working already.

After quite a bit of mutual confusion, we figured out that I had been interviewing for two different positions in different departments, so the job I had was one in which I had shown up in my party girl clothes to the second interview and told them to get their shit sorted.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:27 AM on April 22, 2016 [23 favorites]


Also, start announcing salary ranges, if you want to get applicants. I'm not applying to have your shitty nonprofit jobs, because you don't say what the hell you're expecting is the salary range, and I know from experience that half of you are assuming I'm gonna be eating peanuts.
posted by corb at 9:45 AM on April 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


While it's good to have an automated reply that the application is in the system, I would also like some confirmation on whether or not an actual human has looked at my application, ideally with an explanation if they are not offering an interview. The vast majority of applications I have submitted have just disappeared into the void, so I have no idea if I have some red flag or if I just keep running into hiring managers who randomly drop half the applications because they refuse to work with unlucky people.
posted by ckape at 9:58 AM on April 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


The last time I applied for a federal job, after 6 months, the only response I got was 6-months later in the form of an all-caps email sent at 3AM from "OFFICE OF HUMAN CAPITAL" that had a terse body that said something to the effect of "YOUR APPLICATION STATUS HAS BEEN AUTOMATICALLY UPDATED TO: REJECT;UNQUALIFIED."

Really makes me want to apply for other federal jobs in the future. Sounds like a great place to work.
posted by schmod at 9:59 AM on April 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


"OFFICE OF HUMAN CAPITAL"

My boss (private industry, but mostly government clients) referred to "new resources who need training" recently, and I nearly vomited at my desk.
posted by Etrigan at 10:24 AM on April 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


But can't the tools for keyword searching and such be adapted for use with prewritten resumes & cover letters?

To a degree, yes; but literally everyone has their own personal resume layout, which makes automated extraction difficult.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 11:12 AM on April 22, 2016


Nonprofits with Balls is still a tacky name, imo. Sounds like the dudebros pulled it out of the hat, then retrofitted an explanation of what it's supposed to mean.

Vu Le is pretty much the opposite of a dudebro. He writes A LOT, and very well, about equity and inclusion in the non-profit sector. The blog is really popular with people in that sector concerned about those things. I like his blog because he doesn't pull punches - he really cares about the sector, but he also really wants to make it better.
posted by lunasol at 11:23 AM on April 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


Be that as it may, he kinda fucked up with that name. If it requires a pages-long explanation of "No, that's not really what it means...", then it's probably a bad idea from the jump.
posted by Etrigan at 11:28 AM on April 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


I generally agreed with everything EXCEPT being lenient about hiring people who make typos. Because I spend so much time fixing my coworkers' mistakes, typos, misspellings, and "oopseys" (spelled like that) and I seriously wonder how the heck they got hired when they do that all the time. And they are native English speakers, so that's not an excuse. If accuracy is a factor in your job, then by god, nitpick away on that one. If you don't care if people can't spell or write, then I guess it's fine to accept then.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:49 AM on April 22, 2016 [6 favorites]


So I saw Nonprofits With Balls and thought, OMG, this must be a BS-free zone, what a great and ballsy name! So I say it's brilliance, not a fuck-up. YMMV
posted by Bella Donna at 12:10 PM on April 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh, and people, keep promises you made. I once did an interview process where up front I was told what steps would be taken. Interview person A, interview person B, if they feel you would do for the job you do test X, do test Y. Pass them you get an offer.

So, I do interview A and B. I got told they want me, so do the tests and we're set.

I do the tests. Then I get a call that I passed the tests, but, ehm, this other division would very much like to talk to you first.

Nope. If you start breaking promises THAT soon in our relation, I cannot and will not trust you. So, send me an offer first, and then I'll come in and see if that other division is interesting or not.

Never got a reply to that, so I guess me not accepting any bs was a deal breaker for them.

Yes, sogeti, I am looking at you.
posted by DreamerFi at 2:11 PM on April 22, 2016


I generally agreed with everything EXCEPT being lenient about hiring people who make typos.

Unfortunately, the same sort of portals that automagically reject applicants on the basis of missing keywords also have a tendency to mangle resumes. I am extremely hesitant to judge an applicant's writing on the basis of any piece of writing they didn't hand me.

Hiring software introduces obstacles that skew employers' ability to judge a candidate correctly, which costs employers good people and costs good people jobs. People who know how to game the system -- and, man, I am looking at you so hard, USAJobs -- get those jobs, and maybe they're the right people and maybe they aren't. I get why employers want this software. They think it will make their jobs easier. It does. But it also makes them do their jobs a whole lot worse. Maybe it would make more sense to just hire more people into HR and let software do what it's good at, which is something other than judging the value of human beings.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:44 PM on April 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


The last time I applied for a federal job, after 6 months, the only response I got was 6-months later in the form of an all-caps email sent at 3AM from "OFFICE OF HUMAN CAPITAL" that had a terse body that said something to the effect of "YOUR APPLICATION STATUS HAS BEEN AUTOMATICALLY UPDATED TO: REJECT;UNQUALIFIED."

This is like a communication in a dystopian novel, when you open the letter to find out that you have been fired from your job on the cleaning crew at the rodent feedlot, you have lost your bed in the mass dormitory and your ration card cancelled, and your citizenship status has been downgraded to: REJECT;UNQUALIFIED.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:52 PM on April 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


Urgh I hate the ones where your resume goes into the void and you never know if you got in or not! I had a job app where it seemed like it was going In The Void, but then after months of nothing, I got an interview. Then after months of more nothing, another interview. And now it's nearly been a year and I'm in another country so clearly I didn't get the job but I never got a rejection either.

I've also gotten rejections in less than 24 hours, which makes me think "there's no way you read my application that fast". And one place promised they'd let me know by a certain date, but it would mean leaving the job I already had, and I had to bug them all day before I got a delayed email saying "we went with someone else".

("We went with someone else" and other non-descript rejections are the bane of my existence. Especially when they say "but you were awesome!". Like OK if I was that awesome why didn't I get the job then!?)
posted by divabat at 4:24 PM on April 22, 2016


I've also gotten rejections in less than 24 hours, which makes me think "there's no way you read my application that fast".

I assume some of these are "token obligatory" job postings. The hiring managers already know in their minds who they are going to hire, and the candidate is all lined up and pretty much ready to go. However, they have to comply with some internal or external rule that says ALL jobs have to be posted externally. This sucks and is such a waste of everyone's time.
posted by cynical pinnacle at 5:00 PM on April 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


"We went with someone else" and other non-descript rejections are the bane of my existence.

You will never get a good reason for a rejection - primarily, it's a potential legal risk to the company. Also, most employers goal is not to hire the most-qualified employee (really), it's to hire the person best-suited for the job. Surprisingly often, that means someone who would be just barely qualified for the position rather than someone who is overly qualified for the position and would be overpaid and bored in the role.
posted by saeculorum at 5:12 PM on April 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


Being unemployed is more boring than being in a role I'm slightly more qualified for :P

And it's funny you say that you'll never get a good rejection reason, because so much advice regarding jobhunting bugs you to find the actual reason you got rejected. I've had friends tell me to push for an answer and don't believe me when I say that's not always helpful!
posted by divabat at 5:21 PM on April 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I've been on the "obligatory interview" when they interviewed two people and I didn't know the other one was already slotted for the job. I felt so stoopid when I found that out. Now I'm hearing that I may end up on the other side of this--they want to transfer me but probably can't do it without opening the job to "everyone." Makes me feel bad for everyone else, but at the same time, who knows, maybe someone WILL be better than me at my entire career specialty....?
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:33 PM on April 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


...it is odd how many applicants you get that are clearly not qualified or even genuinely interested. Some of that is from unemployment rules that mandate that people apply for a certain number of jobs as a condition of receiving assistance...

An unconditional basic income would go a long way toward solving this problem.
posted by velvet winter at 10:02 PM on April 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I've been on the "obligatory interview" when they interviewed two people and I didn't know the other one was already slotted for the job. I felt so stoopid when I found that out. Now I'm hearing that I may end up on the other side of this--they want to transfer me but probably can't do it without opening the job to "everyone." Makes me feel bad for everyone else, but at the same time, who knows, maybe someone WILL be better than me at my entire career specialty....?

I've twice been on the second side of that, where they were required to advertise the position and interview other applicants but the decision to hire me was already settled. I didn't like knowing that people were wasting their time with the applications and interviews, but there was nothing I could do about it other than feel guilty. I always wonder now when I see a position advertised if this is the situation or not, because usually there is no way to know unless you have a contact on the inside.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:22 AM on April 23, 2016


When I see a job posting that seems like it has weirdly specific requirements, especially when taken in combination, it throws up my "token obligatory job posting" red flag. I mean, there is a 1 in a 3,000,000,000 chance that the pool of job applicants a company is looking for is proficient at using a highly specialised named industry software for exactly 4 years, has exactly 12 years of industry experience, AND also has experience with a long string of specifically-listed industry job processes and terminology. These are listed as requirements or "strongly preferred". Of all the dehumanising things that looking for a job entails, this is one of those that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Please, just quit pretending that you're actually open to hiring people other than the one specific person you already have in mind.
posted by cynical pinnacle at 5:57 AM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


saeculorum, maybe I'm missing something but I don't understand how a $50k/yr position could cost $500k over two years. Unless there are multiple people whose only job is to spend months filling this one position.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 2:08 AM on April 24, 2016


maybe I'm missing something but I don't understand how a $50k/yr position could cost $500k over two years

I should have clarified $100K salary/year, not $100K salary over two years - your interpretation is reasonable, albeit not what I was going for.

In my industry (high tech engineering), the fully burdened rate (salary plus benefits plus support labor) for an engineer can easily approach $175-$200/hour. I used a very low estimate ($125/hour) because the math was easier.

In general for all professional industries, the salary of an employee is only a small fraction (generally less than 50%) of their total cost to the company. People are really expensive. When you start to see the amount of money supporting a business that employees don't generally see, it becomes more obvious why businesses are so reluctant to hire people. I view that conclusion a bit differently, which is that if you are going to hire someone, you should put as much effort as possible into doing it right.

When I see a job posting that seems like it has weirdly specific requirements, especially when taken in combination

They are making a job requisition for person they want to give an H1B visa to. The government requires that no citizen/resident can fill the position by showing an open requisition that hasn't been filled with available candidates. The overly specific job requisition fulfills the requirement. For some reason the government thinks that all job descriptions only include the absolutely necessary skills an employee would need to have.
posted by saeculorum at 9:20 AM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


As someone who has tried (and failed) to get a job that would sponsor a H1B, I don't understand how the last part of saeculorum's comment works. How do you even get their attention in the first place to get them to write a posting just for you? How do you even broach the need for a visa so early on when that can be an automatic disqualification?
posted by divabat at 4:39 PM on April 24, 2016


As someone who has tried (and failed) to get a job that would sponsor a H1B, I don't understand how the last part of saeculorum's comment works. How do you even get their attention in the first place to get them to write a posting just for you? How do you even broach the need for a visa so early on when that can be an automatic disqualification?

It's the other way around. If I am an employer and I want to hire a specific person through the H1B process, one part of that is having a very focused job ad for which there will not be other qualified candidates.

The part you are asking about would have already happened and the employer has decided to hire this person, so the job ad is just a step along the way. The initial contact could have come in any way, from an internship to a recruiter to a personal contact (friend or relative of a current employee, say). The decision to hire comes first, and then the visa support comes after. Not many companies have the experience or interest in taking the visa process on. Tech companies do it a lot, some universities will, and big multinationals deal with it at least for internal transfers if not outside hires, but most employers would see it as a no-go.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:37 PM on April 24, 2016


as an H1B holder and someone in queue for a Green Card, my experience is similar to what Dip Flash has described. The first thing to do is to get a company to offer you a job knowing that they're taking on this paperwork burden, but you're usually getting that job offer through the company's standard process -- which is to write an ad, post it, collect resumes, etc.

The H1B and Green Card specify an entire separate and painful level of bureaucracy on top of this where the employer has to provision paperwork proving that the job has been posted for specific period of time, received a specific number of applications from American citizens, and also prove that the job that they are recruiting for is paying a wage commensurate with what the Department of Labor expects the wage to be (sometimes even before the job is allowed to be posted). Having to do all of this paperwork before posting the job is onerous and expensive, so what happens is that companies will often just post the job with their regular channels, and if they find a candidate who they do really want, and it turns out that candidate happens to need an H1B, they go through a whole _extra_ round of fake hiring to collect the necessary paperwork to satisfy the government. It's stupid, but it's also a perfect example of how a bunch of regulations with a certain intention create a completely perverse but logical set of actions.
posted by bl1nk at 6:26 PM on April 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


corb: Also, start announcing salary ranges, if you want to get applicants. I'm not applying to have your shitty nonprofit jobs, because you don't say what the hell you're expecting is the salary range, and I know from experience that half of you are assuming I'm gonna be eating peanuts.

Yep, this is important in every field. I've applied for jobs specifically because of what they paid, which would be more than I'd have expected based on the job. I've also not applied for jobs that sounded very advanced because they didn't seem to pay commensurate for what they wanted. Now, how does that go if you hide the salary range? I never apply to job A because I assume the pay isn't enough, and I apply to job B and either waste my time applying to a position I wouldn't have taken anyway or waste everyone's time rejecting the position at some later time in the process when they finally tell me what the position pays. Everyone loses!

This drives me freaking crazy. The interview I've had for the most advanced position I've ever interviewed for didn't even tell me at the interview stage what it paid. I didn't get an offer, so I still have no idea what it actually did pay, but I'd believe anywhere between $35k-65k. That is an important distinction.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:29 PM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


I've also not applied for jobs that sounded very advanced because they didn't seem to pay commensurate for what they wanted.

Just a couple of months ago I passed on applying to a job that otherwise looked great -- company with a great reputation, good colleagues, and so on -- because they included a salary range that was about $30k below where it should have been. I don't know if they had an applicant in mind and put in an artificially low range to discourage applicants, or if they simply pay that much below the normal range, but it was for me a good thing that they included the information at the front end rather than wasting everyone's time by revealing at the end. I'd be perfectly willing to take a salary hit for the right opportunity, and have done so before, but there is a difference between that and signing up for a situation where you are grossly underpaid as a matter of policy.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:51 AM on April 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have been interviewed for those jobs where the postings were weirdly specific, designed for them to hire the person they already knew they wanted. And then got hired, not for that job, but for the next job. At which point the weirdly specific requirements were tailor-made to describe me! I think some bosses just don't want to commit to the hiring process until they know who they expect to get in the end; they are always picking from the pool of people who interviewed for prior jobs.
posted by elizilla at 8:51 AM on April 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


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