Applying for Jobs Online, or Codifying the Employer Advantage

This isn't me.

This isn't me.

Applying for a job has gotten worse, even as it has gotten easier.

It used to be that you could send in a résumé. It would be reviewed, probably discarded, and you’re off to the next one. Your sum effort was modifying the cover letter and putting it in the mail. If they liked what they saw, you would be asked more questions, and the conversation would get fruitful for both parties.

I’ve read a number of articles on what information to share up front and what to hold back for these more fruitful conversations. Don’t reveal your age. Don’t tell them your salary requirements. Make them provide the range they are looking for first. Don’t burn out your references by having a lot of people call them.

Now you apply online. You would think this would simplify the process.

Not so much.

All of the information you’re supposed to save for negotiations is now required just to get your résumé in the door. You have to reveal your graduation dates (which give away your age) and salary requirement (one number, not a range). You also have to provide references, which used to be the last thing before an offer was made. And you have to provide the salaries from your last three jobs, which gives enormous leverage to the hirer.

If you decide to hold any of this back, you cannot apply. You cannot proceed. You just can't. Computers are impervious to your preferences. Your application is incomplete and the hiring manager will never, ever see your résumé.

So you fight the urge to fight the system, invest a lot of time to manually enter all this information, and then you don't hear back. Maybe they're calling your old boss. Maybe they've excluded you for your salary requirements. Maybe they think you’re too old. But they probably just looked at the resume, decided it wasn’t a fit, and moved on.

And you’ve spent a lot of time sending a lot of personal information out into the world.