Thursday, August 16, 2012

Three Things I Learned From My First Online Job Application

Kerry Hannon

I applied for a job this week–online.
In full-disclosure, it wasn’t for myself. If you’ve been reading Second Verseregularly, you’ll have discovered in my column 10 Things to Do When You Lose Your Job that my husband’s documentary unit was whacked at CNN, and he’s snooping around for a potential  full-time gig to replace it.
Last week, he did start at a temporary contract job. Pay is good. Work is challenging. Hurray for freelance.
As I wrote a while back in this column, Why Temporary Work is Worth It, I’m a huge fan of contract work when you’re in between full-time positions. You might even discover, as I did, that it’s exactly what’s best for your temperament and desire for flexibility in your work schedule.
But I digress. A broadcast job popped up on myLinkedIn page as a job I might be interested in. Well, not me, but I thought it might be a cool one for my husband. It was a slightly new direction, but certainly one he had the chops for. Plus, it involved traveling to shoots to direct and supervise, something he loves to do.
He shrugged when I mentioned it to him, but the employer is a big player in the media industry, so I told him I was going to apply for the job for him. I had a copy of his current resume on my computer’s desktop, and I knew a little bit after 20 years ofmarriage, about his background.
I had never completed an online job application. Please excuse my naivete, but here’s what I found out.
1. Job description and skills required: Everything… and the kitchen sink. Seriously, Superman would be at loose ends here. I was confident my husband could rise to the occasion should he be summoned forth to interview.
Second, experience needed…well, it should be a dead giveaway when they say five to seven years.
He has more than 30. But I plowed on. There aren’t many jobs posted that require decades of experience. That’s one that comes in through a personal network, am I right? But, whatever, as my nephews and nieces say, let’s keep rolling.
The key responsibilities-writing, producing, communicating ideas, managing “high priority” budget projects, good verbal and written communication skills, and presentation skills, and plays nicely with others. OK, I made the last one up.
But the list went on and on. I loved this one: “The ability to multitask and work effectively under changing priorities and daily time constraints is required.”
And the  icing: The candidate must be “highly creative.” Well, who in the world doesn’t think they’re amazingly creative?
I felt emboldened when I read at the end of the posting that the employer was an equal opportunity one. Phew. Age should not be an issue here.
I clicked to the company’s web site to apply online. A respectable 73 other people had already done so, I read on my screen. I wasn’t the only one who found this job intriguing.
2. They don’t say what the job pays, but you must reveal your salary history. I had to fill-in where he went to college and when he graduated, list some jobs, and his starting pay and ending pay.
What the heck? What business is it of theirs what his last annual salary was? He probably never even told his mother. Do you tell  your best friends? And if you didn’t fill this valuable salary information in the blank, then you could not pass go. No, it wasn’t as extreme as go directly to jail, as you might in Monopoly.
Does everyone have to do this when they apply online? Is this how the game is played? As I wrote last week in my column Nonprofits are Hiring, jobseekers complained to that employers didn’t disclose what the pay was, so they were in the dark when applying.

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