The "Joys" of the Online Job Hunt

Like a large percentage of the world, I've been on the hunt for a job off and on (mostly on, sadly) over the last few years. Like a large percentage of the world, I've predominantly been doing my hunt online. While searching for a job online is definitely more convenient than the pavement-pounding approach of yesteryear, like any hunt it is not without its own particular pratfalls and traps. I've decided to take a break from the frustration of experiencing those little traps firsthand while I stretch my writerly muscles and share a few of them that I find the most annoying with you. And while I'm sure there are far more than the ones I'm about to present, here for your reading pleasure I give you six "joys" of the online job hunt.

And for the record, every single example or situation mentioned here is something I was lucky enough to experience firsthand...

1.) Nesting Doll Syndrome
Inevitably, your job hunt starts on one of those delightful websites dedicated to helping people find a job online. For the sake of the innocent, I won't name any names.  The first thing they have you do is enter your name and e-mail address and pick and password and all that good stuff, and then they ask you to upload the resume you'd like to use. Fine and dandy. Then, once that uploads, they take you through pages and pages of of forms where they ask you to enter your work experience and education... all the stuff you just uploaded on your resume. Okay, fine, roll with it, right? Now you're ready to start your job search. After you go through a few more of the joys I'll mention in a minute, you've found a job you want to apply for. Ideally, you can just click "apply" and the job site your on will send the resume you uploaded. Often, however, companies don't want that and you have to go to their website to apply. Once there, you have to enter your name and e-mail address and a password to join their site, and then you have to upload a resume that they give you the option to parse to fill out the forms they'll have you fill out; sadly though, because resumes are all different, it invariably parses incorrectly and you have to go through all those forms yourself anyway. Sound familiar? Now sometimes, a job posting isn't actually posted by the company hiring, it's posted by a third party company, so when you click "apply" and the job site your on doesn't automatically apply you, you're taken to that third party's site where you have to enter your name and e-mail and create a password and upload a resume just so you can be taken to the actual hiring company's website so you can wash, rinse, repeat, etc... There's nothing like spending over half an hour on just one job because you're trapped in a never-ending Russian nesting doll of resumes and forms.

Yes, I had to use a Star Wars example.

2.) Fun with Search Filters
Let's backtrack a little bit. After you've opened the first nesting doll and have entered all your info on the job site you're using, it's time to actually find jobs! So you click "search" and find yourself presented with all these helpful search filters. You can search for specific keywords, enter a specific city to search in, refine your results to within a certain distance from that city. It's all very helpful... in theory. Less so in practice when, for example, you search for customer service positions with a five-mile radius of New York City and are presented with a result like "Airport Vehicle Technician, Buffalo."

I mean, I don't want to be picky or anything, but that's a hell of a commute, not to mention a stretch of the idea of "customer service." So be aware, not everything in this job hunt is as it seems.

3.) Sleight of Hand Scam
Speaking of things not being what they seem, not every job listing you see is actually a job. Some of them are applications not for a job but for a job placement service or a temp agency. And that's fine, I don't at all mean to badmouth those entities. Temping has been very good to me over the last few years, especially Adecco, and I'm very grateful to them. But that's not the only type of post that isn't necessarily a job. You'll find some that say they want to hire you for a security guard job, for example, but what they really want is to help you get licensed to become a security guard by charging you more money than the licenses actually cost, followed up by the vague promise of helping you get placed once your licensed. They might also offer to sell you a bridge in Brooklyn, too.  Another little trick of misdirection that runs rampant are the job posts that promise "flexible hours, minimal supervision, competitive salary for employees willing to train for leadership and excel." You know what most of those are? Door-to-door office supplies sales scams that require ten hour days, five days a week with no overtime because there's no salary at all because it's all commission-based. Let me let that sink a minute. And yes, I know this to be true because I trained for a job like that for two days before they explained all the fine print details about pay, like how it takes at least a month after a sale for you to be paid for it and if the customer returns anything you lose that money so you never have any solid idea of when you're getting paid or how much. Thank you, no. Now obviously, not every post that uses the phrases I mentioned above is a scam. But be on the lookout. And if something sounds fishy, Google it; odds are someone else has experienced it and posted about it. Like me!

4.) The Entry-Level/Experience Equation
I had come up with a whole mathematical equation to illustrate what has become my biggest pet peeves about job posts lately, but as I suck at math and can't figure out how to make a "not-equal" sign appear, I'm going to let this handy picture take care of my next point for me:

Seems kind of self-explanatory, doesn't it? But if you go through enough posts on a job site, you'll see a disturbing number of them claim to be for entry-level positions while requiring two to three to as many as ten years of experience. I've actually seen that, ten years of experience for an entry-level position.

Clearly it's going to take someone smarter than me to explain that one.

5.) Waiting for Godot: The Career Edition!
So here you are; you've successfully navigated all the prior traps and pratfalls of online job-hunting and you've applied to dozens of jobs. Here's a cold fact you need to be prepared for:

You will never hear from 99% of those companies again.

I'm not just saying they aren't going to hire you. I'm saying you'll never get any other kind of correspondence from them again. Period. Because of the sheer number of applicants most posts receive, the majority of companies only contact the people they want to interview and don't bother with rejection notices or anything. So unless they're interested, you're just in limbo. Occasionally you'll get a rejection notice, where they patronizingly tell you they're keeping your resume on file in case a position opens up that you're a match for... the rejection letter equivalent of "it's not you, it's me." Which brings us to...

6.) Haven't I Seen You Here Before? which you find out out it really wasn't them, it was you all along, because a week or two later that same company has posted about that same position again. Hurts, doesn't it? Don't worry, this is where you have to remember that online job-hunting is like online dating: they're both hard and full of scams, false advertisers,and things that are too good to be true, but with persistence and dedication, there's somebody... or in this case, something... for everybody!