Making the first other step; online job application sytems all SUCK

A major hurdle to my getting to Japan this autumn is saving up money. While I’ve saved up more than half of what I’d like to, I won’t quite meet my “comfortable” goal. That is, able to live in Japan comfortably without penny pinching while I’m over there. I’ve been telling myself and others for a few months now that I plan to look for a part-time job. But that’s just it–I’ve been talking about it and not doing it. I’ve taken the first step. I applied at a few different places last night.

Since coming back from Japan in 2010, I’ve applied to many, many different places online. And almost every single online application is NOT foreign country friendly. Even Taleo, an online job application and recruitment tool, is horrible about it. Let’s go over the problems I (and I’m sure countless other people in the world) have faced:

  • Inability to list work experience in a foreign country. I have experience working in Japan. I want to list that, but these online forms rarely allow me to enter in a foreign address. When it asks state, and I can’t write in “Yamaguchi” instead of choosing from a dropdown of all 50 states, that’s a pain. You force me to lie. Then you ask for a phone number that must be in xxx-xxx-xxxx format. Again, you’re going to force me to lie. My work phone number doesn’t fit that format.
  • Asking for previous job experience, regardless of place. One of the systems I used last night asked me if I had previous work experience. I said yes. I filled out the most recent place of employment. It asked if I had more. I said yes. I repeated this until I had three previous employers… and then I was forced on to the next section. But wait, I have more relevant experience! Why won’t you let me list it?!
  • Limiting the input fields. You ask me to copy/paste my resume, but after (and only after) I’ve copy and pasted it do you tell me there’s a character limit, and I’m over it by 1,000 characters. Or how about when you ask for my previous employer’s name, and then only let me type 20 characters? Or what about when you ask how my previous experience can be directly applied, and then you only let me enter 80 characters?
  • Inability to bookmark job listings. It’s not uncommon I come across a job listing, and for whatever reason I’m unable to apply for it right then. Well, I want to bookmark it. Later on, I open the bookmark and it turns out the listing can’t be accessed from that link anymore. It’s session specific and my cookie expired. Why do you all want to make it so hard for people to apply to your open positions?

These are just a few of the problems I’ve come across with online application systems. To go with the bad (ever implementation I’ve seen and used of Taleo is awful and every employer should halt its use of it immediately), there are some good ones. Starbucks’ actually has a really nice, easy to use system. And.. uh.. that’s all that comes to mind at the moment.

So, Starbucks, if for some reason coffee stops working out for you, consider going into online HR tools.

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