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It is better
to not be on
the web than
to be on and
not know why

John Sumser

is more
it seems.
John Gall


The Electronic Recruiting News is a Free Daily Newsletter For Recruiters, HR Managers, Advertising Agencies and Clasified Advertising Operations

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(April 15, 2003) -
-  We got a note recently from someone who applied for a job at the Motorola website. It's a pretty standard corporate offering (all of the pages seem to display) and it was relatively quick to navigate. While there was little in the way of insight offered about the jobs at Motorola, at least the adjacent advertising didn't distract from the process.

After you cut and paste your resume into the online application, there is a nice little motivator that says:

If you pasted in a current resume above, you may leave Section 3 blank. However, this information will help speed your Resume/CV along.

It's a thoughtful way of saying "we couldn't afford the technology required to parse this information." And, that's okay, really. Not all companies are big enough to afford the standards of the very largest firms. The prospective employee is asked to fill in a series of familiar blanks... start date, end date, company, title and so on.

The nit-picky little problem came in that same section. Our friend, who cares deeply about her personal information, is currently working as a nurse in another big company. She hasn't quit, she's just looking. So, when she went to add data about her current job, she obviously wanted to enter the phrase "present" in the end date block.

The system won't accept it.

She worried about it enough to contact us. Some folks are like that. You probably want your nurses to care about things like that. In fact, you'd worry if you thought that your nurses found it 'normal' to enter suspect data about dates and times. (That's how bad hospital problems begin!) We agreed with her view that this little point told her an awful lot about the culture she was considering joining.

We know that more than a few folks will roll their eyes over this one. From an HR perspective (or the vantage point of someone who is trying to fill a resume database, this is a nonsense idea.) We expect mail that says, roughly, "anyone who can't figure that question out needs a brain transplant."

And that's the heart of the problem.

Job hunters are not seasoned HR professionals. They are not familiar with all of the various ways that data can be manipulated. They don't understand even the most fundamental concepts in our world. They understand their world, not ours.

Of all of the companies in the world, Motorola is one of the few that ought to get the concept. Our friend ultimately did not apply because she found too much discrepancy between the recent "Malcolm Baldridge Award" (for quality processes) and an online application that created imprecise data. She smelled something fishy.

The tiniest little details of our online offerings are the things that drive our Employment Brands. Getting those little things perfect is a critical part of making sure that we are delivering the right impressions.

We want to be clear about one thing. Deciding to position an application this way because you hope to harvest decision makers who are not afraid of 'rounding errors' can be a good thing. The web offers plenty of opportunities to subtly screen candidates in this way. Although we think that driving precise nurses away while rewarding those who are willing to make rounding errors is probably a bad thing, Motorola could well have intentionally decided to emphasize the imprecise nature of their culture. We doubt it.

The upshot? Online offering are packed with meaning beyond the wildest dreams of the people who create them. The reason we started Candidate Voice is to try to make this clearer and bring it under control.

John Sumser

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Materials written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
Mill Valley, CA 94941

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         Materials written
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         © TwoColorHat.
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