I like to think that I do a fairly insightful job of exploring issues affecting the young unemployed. By this I mean I complain routinely about every grievance my jobless state yields. Back when I still looking at job’s that required college degrees, I complained about long response times and writing cover letters. Now I’m applying at everything from Safeway to security guard, which means I have an entire new crop of complications to draw my ire. Today’s hot topic: the online application.
First of all, online applications in general seem to be more intensive. Classic paper aps (a dying breed) are always Dragnet: Just the facts. And if you don’t like a question (like a request for your social security number) you can leave it blank, or write a note in the margins. Not so with the online ap. Before you even get to any information you have to go through a series of disclosures, agreements, releases and “I understand” clauses. Then you actually get to the application part of it, which varies from site to site. I’ve found US Bank to be the best for this. You can create a profile one time, and then you then affirm and submit to every job at any location you choose afterwards. Everywhere else, you are forced to fill out the entire application for every position at every location at which you apply, and if you are applying at a corporate retailer, law of averages dictates you blanket a region. Luckily my trusty Mac remembers what I write in a blank space, so if I fill out more than one application for a store, I simply press down arrow and Safari pastes whatever I previously wrote in that space before, making this portion bearable. This brings us to our nemesis: Kronos.
Kronos Incorporated, and more specifically its subsidiary Unicru, designs software for HR departments. This software ostensibly screens candidates for personality and attentiveness. However, the questions are prosaic, repetitive and obnoxious, and they are obsessed with the ascocial. Example: “You don’t like to meet to new people.” You can then select if you 1)Strongly Disagree 2) Disagree 3) Agree 4) Strongly Agree. Plausible. But this is followed by: “You don’t know what to say when meet new people.” Well, sometimes. “You are unsure of yourself with new people.” 2) Disagree. I’m more unsure of them. Then we segue into downright misanthropy. “People do a lot of things that make you mad.” 2) Disagree. I don’t pay attention. “Many people cannot be trusted.” I wouldn’t know I don’t get out often. “You ignore people you don’t like.” 1) Strongly Disagree. I avoid them entirely. “People are often mean to you. 3) Agree. Ashley’s been a little abusive lately. “Slow-moving people make you impatient.” 2) Disagree. I am a slow-mover. “People do a lot of things that make you mad.” 2) Disagree. Really just a few, certain things. Bumperstickers and unattributed quotations come to mind. “There are people you really can’t stand.” 4) Strongly Agree. Isn’t this true for everyone expect Golden Retrievers?
As far as functionality, the questionnaire might thwart Theodore Kacynski tripping on sodium pentathol. Other than that, any person with faculty enough to type in a Web site can anticipate the desired answer. But with 25 pages of questions on average per application, the real challenge is tedium. And as I said if you are truly trying to get hired, you have to fill out aps for multiple positions at multiple locations. Which means the real challenge is tedium. Filling out the same questions over and over for hours on end, your eyes glaze over and you click bubbles instinctively and not selectively. (This is how I once responded “Daily,” when one quiz asked me how often I “use hard drugs like cocaine, amphetamines, speed and LSD immediately before or during a work shift.”) I expect the people truly handicapped by this mess are not the degenerates but the honest ones trying hardest to find jobs.
And that’s just a description of the standard questionnaire. Most will also have a voluntary addendum asking if you come from families that receive AFDC or TANF. Or if you receive supplemental social security.Or food stamps. Ethnicity? Exact age? What’s your military record? How about your families criminal record? It turns out that if you do well on your questionnaire in your Lowe’s application, they ask you to fill out a secondary questionnaire. At first I thought perhaps I would finally get to some substantial material, but it turned out to be 12 more pages of identical drivel. And this does not mean you get a job, or even an interview. It’s just so they can really be sure you’re willing to jump through hoops if they do have an opening ever.
That’s perhaps the back-breaker in all of this. After all this work–Unicru estimates 45 minutes per application–you don’t have any idea if the location is even hiring, or has any plans. It’s all shooting in the dark. “This is a fair practice.” 1) Strongly Disagree. “You have to play along to get a job.” 5) Bleh.