Why Is Getting Hired So Hard?

I meet a lot of people in my line of work who are out of work or working part-time in jobs they never thought they’d be in at this point in their lives who can’t understand why it’s so hard to get a decent paying job. What exactly is going on when every day I can go on any number of job websites and see that there are literally over 1,000 jobs listed daily that employers seemingly can’t fill?

There would appear to be a disconnect between the number of jobs being posted, and the number of people who are saying they can’t find a job.

There is a shift of late that is gaining more and more momentum with some employers which is to demand applicants apply online, and in that process, create a profile specifically for a single company and then take a 60 – 80 questionnaire. What’s up with that? Seems to me that what’s really going on is that employers have found a new way to restrict themselves to a narrow group of people who in the end are really not the best candidates for the job which is ironic considering this isn’t the intent of the employers in the first place.

I sat with someone recently who on the surface appeared to meet the requirements of an employer extremely well. The job was a position working as a Cashier in a national pet supply chain of retail stores. The job posting called for experience operating a cash register, friendliness, speed and accuracy processing check-out items, and sometimes assisting customers find items they couldn’t locate on their own. Fair enough.

Between us, we crafted a resume and cover letter that responded to each job requirement, and if I do say so myself, the person not only looked great on paper, but the job was one well within her ability to perform and also seemed to suit her personality having a love for animals. Now this job as a Cashier isn’t one of high social status, wouldn’t mean lifetime financial freedom, but would be a perfect fit for her given her circumstances. Like I said, so far so good.

In order to apply for this position however, the next step wasn’t just to upload the cover letter and resume or even to visit the store and drop it off in person. No, no, no. The next step was to hit the enticing button on the monitor named appropriately, “Apply now”. By clicking on this button, we were taken to a screen where we had to create first an online profile. It started with coming up with a unique username and password which would only be valid on this company website. Really? Her unique birth name wouldn’t suffice? But okay, no problem.

Once past the username and password, there were more fields in which to enter personal information; information that was all included on the resume she was attempting to submit. Interestingly she had been reticent to add her home address on her resume but eventually consented to do so, and it was when completing this process on the screen that I pointed out they would have had it anyway unless she abandoned the application process.

So after this personal information was all submitted to the site which promised security, confidentiality and not to share this information with any other source, the real fun began. We were seamlessly now at the first stage of a questionnaire with no idea of the number of questions we would be asked to complete, no hint of total pages to move past, just a list of questions. Turns out there were 70 questions in total although they weren’t numbered. No interview on a face-to-face basis ever asks 70 questions, but apparently this company feels 70 questions are required. But required to accomplish what?

My Cashier applicant was growing mildly frustrated with the process, and between the two of us, I think it was me more than her that was growing impatient. Once we had finished with the questions, we landed on a page where we could upload a resume with a click and we did so. There was no place for the inclusion of a cover letter; and while the cover letter in my opinion was essential in introducing her and her fit, the employer had no wish to receive one and that is their prerogative.

I sat there after she left and thought about the process, the questions themselves and who would complete or abandon the entire process given the people I know. It strikes me that the people who will complete such long application processes may be people who have all the time in the world at their disposal, who are patient, computer literate, can move a mouse to click relentlessly from button to button, screen to screen. It rules out people who may be go-getters, energetic, and those who are great at being a Cashier ironically, but not 100% familiar with a computer-generated application process.

So employers are going to end up interviewing people who may have poor people skills, but are great on computers and very methodical. Wouldn’t they be better interviewing people who have great interpersonal skills, a smile, and who instinctively know to welcome people back to the store? Maybe these long processes are why employers say they can’t find the right people, and people complain they can’t find a job.



2 thoughts on “Why Is Getting Hired So Hard?

  1. This sounds as though the application procedure was created by an autonomous HR department with no line manager input. One more bit of evidence that HR should not be more than minimally involved in hiring since the often don’t know how to find the right employees.


  2. brilliant. I hope HR leaders take notice and soon realise that the very systems they created as value adds for them are now coming full circle to haunt them and hit their own delivery qualities. Guess they missed the ‘Human’ dimension in ‘HR’ and only focused on ‘Resource’…


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