Confessions of a Job Search Website Employer

By: Joel Walsh

You'll be shocked when you learn what I found out when I posted a job as an employer on a job search website. Find out the tactics to get the attention of an employer like me amid a sea of job search website applications.

Hi, I'm the one sabotaging your online job search. On several job search websites, I've posted a job only to waste hundreds of applicants' time in the process. Each one of those hundreds was hoping to get the job, each applying in good faith, assuming that they had a chance--that at least one of the hundreds of them who applied would get the job.

In fact, I ended up not selecting any of the applicants for the job, even though a number of them seem quite well qualified based on their resumes and carefully crafted letters. I didn't even write any of them to tell them they hadn't gotten the job.

In the end, I went with someone recommended to me by a colleague.

Job Search Engine Sites' Inner Workings Exposed

Why would I cruelly toy with these eager online job searchers' emotions? Why do people like me make an already impersonal online job application process even more inhuman? Actually, when you look at job search websites from the employer's point of view, a few things become clear:

  • Job search websites trigger an overwhelming tidal wave of applications. In one day my email Inbox got well over 100 applications. In fact, I had to pull the plug on the job posting when it became clear I would be drowning in applications.
  • Most applications submitted on a job search site read like they've been plagiarized from a job-hunting manual. One after another cover letter--from the applicants who bothered to include a cover letter--looked like they could have been submitted in response to any job opening in the US, from burger flipper to rocket scientist. Every applicant had goals of advancement and a desire to find an outlet for their talents. Very, very few bothered to make the link between these goals and desires and a job at my website copywriting firm.
  • Most applicants on job search websites are not even remotely qualified. I not only got fiction writers and poets applying for my copywriting position; a few computer programmers and graphic designers applied as well. After all, why not? All they had to do was hit "send." Let the poor slob on the other end figure out if their qualifications match the position. Please, before you hit "send," remember that the poor slob you're making work for just might have better things to do. At least remember that eventually the owners of the website may catch up with you and throw you off the site for behavior that is, essentially, spamming.

Job Searches Drowning in a Sea of Applications

As you can see, you really are competing against hundreds of other applicants for every open position. That is, if you're lucky, you'll be competing against hundreds of other applicants.

If you're not lucky, your application can easily get lost in a sea of faceless applications before anyone even looks at it long enough for you to be in competition for anything.

The problem isn't so much that you have such great competition, but that you have such awful competition.

If someone on the other end even does look at your application, how likely is it that they will be looking at it with a fresh eye, excited at the possibility of a great hire?

Job search websites make it hard to distinguish yourself.

You're just a series of filled-in form fields and rows of text. On most sites, you can't even adjust the font of your resume.

Your job website application may disappear into the ether unread--and you'll never find out.

With a hundred applications per day, it's very easy for an email Inbox to go over quota and bounce a few, or for a few sheets of printouts to fly into the recycling bin prematurely. Most job search sites make it difficult or impossible to track the status of an application beyond confirming that it was entered into the system.

In short, when it comes to job search websites, hard work and persistence pay off. You have to cast a lot of lines very well before you even get a bite. Often it isn't so much the best worker who gets the job, but the person most skilled at navigating the application process.

The good news is that if you learn to approach the job search website process from the point of view of making life easier for a potential employer, you'll have an enormous advantage over other applicants. When you start thinking about the person on the other side of the "submit" button, you'll see potential flaws in your application that never would have appeared to you otherwise: how you can make your cover letter more concise and to-the-point, or how you could remove irrelevant time-wasting factoids from your resume.


Joel Walsh is a writer for business websites who regularly contributes to Job Search Adviser: http://job-search-adviser.net. Joel has written a cheat sheet with concrete tips for making your online job site application noticed by employers. Read the job search website cheat sheet here: Job Search Website Application Cheat Sheet:http://www.job-search-adviser.net/articles/00002h-Job-Search-Website-Application-Cheat-Sheet.htm