I have about thirty minutes before I have to make a dash for the bus so I decided to jot down some thoughts about job hunting real quick; specifically about my biggest pet peeve with the whole system: job applications.
The whole process of filling out applications (whether paper or online) is so. frickin. tedious. There should be one application that you can just copy and hand in. It’s not like most applications change format from employer to employer anyway. They’re all basically set up the same way.
The first page is always basic information: Name, address, phone number etc etc. After that it’s education, with a small section for any awards, honors, or positions held during your educational career. After that is employment history, usually about four or five sections are alloted for this with “Attach Resume If Desired” written along the top.
Now let’s pause here and talk about this. If I have taken out the time to write, re-write, edit and update a resume, the employment history section should be optional. Everyone knows how hard it is to condense years of work experience into a few blurbs, so why should we go through all that trouble only to have to write it out again on an application. And while we’re on the topic of employment history, “Professional References”. Who the hell keeps in touch with former co-workers that well that they can be used as references? I don’t. I barely keep in touch with co-workers while I’m working with them. Plus, most of my co-workers were high school and college students like I was when I was working, that means what phone numbers I might have had for them, probably are no longer the right ones. And provided I could remember their last names (I’m lucky to remember their first), trying to figure out what their new contact information is would be like trying picking a needle from a haystack…and even more difficult if they moved out of the state. All the googling in the world won’t help if you can’t even remember their name.
Back to the application process.
After Employment history is the ubiquitous, and frustratingly vague, “Tell us something about yourself” section. I always want to answer this with “Well, what do you want to know?” Of course I could write a heavily abridged version of my life story, or I could simply say “I’m broke, up to my elbows in debt from college, and in desperate need of employment. Therefore, I’d like to humbly implore you to hire me so I don’t have to start looking for a bankruptcy lawyer before I turn thirty. Please and thank you.” Part of me wants to write “If you have to ask, you’ll never know.” But I can’t see that as being a way to win many friends in the HR department.
Following along there they ask you what hours you would like to work, usually by giving you a list of days with check boxes marked “Morning”, “Afternoon”,”Evening”, and “Nights”. These are also rather vague. As a stay at home mom my morning usually starts around 9am (or at least that’s the time when I most resemble a human being), so I doubt they really mean that. Afternoon is fairly self-explanatory, and doesn’t require much clarification. However “evening” does. How do you judge the beginnings and ends of the evening? If afternoon shifts start around noon, then an evening shift couldn’t possibly start until at least 6 or 7pm, otherwise you’ll be changing shifts after only a few hours. And let’s be perfectly honest, no matter what the season or time of year, 8pm is considered night time. So you have an evening shift that starts at 6 and gets off at 8. Not very sensible. I much prefer it when they have boxes where you can fill in your available times. That’s much more helpful, especially when you have a family and need to be home at a certain time.
Next up comes the “Have you ever been convicted of a crime, not counting minor traffic violations or non-violent misdemeanors?” Which is followed by the parenthetical statement “Felony convictions will not result in an immediate rejection of your application.” or something equally false. Let’s be honest. If convicted felons could find actual jobs once they got out, the recidivism rate wouldn’t be half of what it is. Most find getting gainful employment impossible; in fact, if you have a drug felony on your sheet, you can’t even get a federal student loan to go back to school. So much for rehabilitation in an effort to prevent repeat offenders huh? They always put this question as far to the end of the application as they possibly can, as though it weren’t relevant in their application process. But, you know, it must be, because they went through the trouble of putting it on the application at all.
Finally, well almost, comes the question that irks me the most: “Can we check your credit score along with your criminal record?” What the hell does my credit have to do with whether or not I am capable of doing the bloody job I’m applying for? You want to know what my credit looks like, ask me! I print out a copy of my credit report every year in hopes that that year will be the year that I get it all handled and taken care of. I’ll be glad to supply you with a copy all your own. Then you can see, for yourself, that my credit is crap and I need a job to take care of these debts.
After this you just sign on the dotted line “swearing” that everything you’ve said is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And that any misrepresentation can lead to a rejection of your application and/or the loss of employment if you have been hired. Personally I’d like to think that if I was smart enough to con a HR person into believing that I really am all about team work and working as a cohesive group with my workmates then I not only deserve my job, I deserve a promotion, because I couldn’t tell that lie straight faced if I wanted to.
All that said…I’m off to pound some pavement, and pick up a few applications.