Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Looking for a job

As part of the terms of Missouri's unemployment insurance, I am required to apply for at least 3 jobs a week. Thankfully, being a computer geek, I can do this from the comfort of my own home. I just go to CareerBuilder, where I've uploaded my resume already, and look at the jobs listed there. I can often "quick apply" for a job - since I've already uploaded my resume, all I have to do is click on the "quick apply" button and off I go. Sometimes I'll write a cover letter to go with it, but I'm really not sure if the cover letter does any good - these recruiters are receiving hundreds and hundreds of resumes for these positions, and it seems to me that while a cover letter might get read, more often than not they'll just skip over the cover letter entirely and glance at the resume, looking for a reason to rule it out.

Then there are the jobs that I can't "quick apply" for. These are generally the jobs that have set up some kind of pre-screening process to rule out unqualified applicants. Sometimes this is fairly painless. In these cases, I just answer a few questions about my background, upload my resume, and I'm done. Then there are the sites where it takes a good twenty minutes to apply for a job. A good example of this is KU Med.

I have to assume that whoever built KU Med's application portal was guided by some rules on the hiring of medical staff like doctors and nurses. Since patients' lives potentially depend upon these people, it makes sense that they would be screened very rigorously. Then there's me. I applied for a network administrator position there. Yes, there would certainly be consequences if I didn't do my job well, even somewhat severe consequences, but people's lives? Hardly. This would be a position with no direct patient contact - no patient interaction whatsoever, as I see it - yet I had to go through a long and involved application process.

For one thing, I had to list where I'd lived for the past seven years. Now, if I were having patient contact, I could understand that - you wouldn't want to risk bringing a potential carrier of some nasty disease into contact with folk whose immune systems are already weak. But a computer geek? Seems a bit excessive. None the less, I dutifully listed my whereabouts for the past seven years. I just thank the gods they didn't want addresses.

For another, they wanted ten years of employment history, and explanations of gaps in unemployment. This I don't understand at all. My resume, right now, contains my work history from May 2003 until January 2008. May 2003 was when I got my first programming job - prior to that, I did a lot of dialup tech support and a bit of general onsite helpdesk-type stuff. I also worked at Papa John's for a while slinging pizza and in the College of Charleston (my alma mater) computer lab. I don't feel that I gained much valuable experience at those jobs, just the dough to pay the bills. That, and the fact that the specific dates are pretty murky in my memory, is why I don't list them on my resume. But apparently they want to know all of this.

They finally did give me a place to copy/paste my resume. Except that it didn't work. There was just a vast blank space where a text area (also a vast blank space, but one you can type in) should have been. I was able to spell-check this vast blank space, though, and I was pleased to discover that I hadn't misspelled a single bit of all that nothing.

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