Monday, November 1, 2010

The Second Annual "I Hate Online Job Applications" Post

Because people were not hostile to the idea, and some people seemed genuinely curious about why I hate online job applications, here is your second annual post about why I hate online job applications.

1. The applications seemed better this year than last. There was more variation in the template or whatever, and I spent less time typing my CV over and over into the same text-boxes and forms.

2. Nevertheless, I became irate several times during the process. "FUCK YOU, [school at which I desperately want to work]!!!!!," I shouted.

3. It took a really long time for me to complete them. It took just as long to do the online applications as it did to complete the snail-mail applications. But since I was doing a bunch of snail-mail applications anyway, it would have been quicker to just do them all that way.

4. So, part of it is that it's really annoying to have two completely different procedures. And it adds an unnecessary layer of complexity to my mail-merge documents.

5. It is also more work for my references. As I understand it, many schools who conduct online applications contact your references directly to ask them to upload their letters themselves. This seems to me to be unnecessarily annoying to the people who have agreed to write letters on my behalf.

6. As someone mentioned in comments somewhere (I am too lazy to find the reference in order to give due credit to the anonymous commenter who mentioned it. plus, the world series is about to start), it is annoying when there are arbitrary limits on the size of the files. I have a huge number of teaching evaluations. Although the file is large, it is not giant. Nevertheless, I had to spend some time resizing the file. Luckily for the search committee, this makes the document less readable.

7. As someone else mentioned in comments somewhere (again, too lazy), it is also annoying to stitch a bunch of files together so that this one search committee can.... Um.... I don't know what the point of that is. It seems like it would make things tougher on them, since it would be harder to tell where in my one or two PDFs my writing sample is. Or my teaching statement. Or whatever.

8. As I said last year, I believe in online applications. They are the future; snail mail is the past. But we can do better than this. There should be a central website, managed by some organization who plays roughly the role of the APA but which does it with competence, to which we would upload our documents. We would then specify which documents were to go where. This one-at-a-time bullshit is for the birds.

--Mr. Zero


zombie said...

I appreciate the considerable savings in postage, and the ability to get the application in under the wire. The mail is both expensive and very slow in the anonymous country in which I am currently working.

Other than that, it is really more work to do the online applications because (a) I have to convert my letter to a pdf and (b) I have to fill out the stupid online application form.

And indeed, it's annoying when they contact your references. I applied for 2 positions at the same school, and had to write to my letter writers to warn them that they were getting two different requests for letters from the same school, and apologize for not being able to upload my letters myself.

Twas me who complained about the file size restrictions. Lame. If you're gonna go high tech, go all the way high tech.

I love Interfolio, however. Quick, easy, convenient. Maybe I could get a job there. Hey Interfolio! Call me!

Verification word: logie. How I feel right now, after 34 applications.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the suggestion of the APA taking charge of a central jobs submission database is a good idea. I think the main problem, other than the absolute hilarity that would result given their GeoCities' website, is that such a service would be expensive; this is what Interfolio does, and for such services Interfolio charges a fee.

Mr. Zero said...

I did not suggest that the APA take charge of any database. I suggested that an organization like the APA but competent take charge of it.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused about the concern re: online application systems contacting your referees. Why not just use the proxy email address that Interfolio provides (assuming you use Interfolio), instead of giving their actual email addresses?

Also, I've found that this year, my switch to Google Chrome has the added benefit of saving and completing all of those identical online forms. If you haven't switched yet, it's one more reason to do so.

Anonymous said...

I sit on Online applications with my royal turd-cutter...esp the ones for jobs I'm not really interested in anyway.

Sebastian Lutz said...

I'm not sure that it needs an organization to centralize the application process. At the moment, it is such a pain because the universities demand different files in different shapes and sizes, and they have different websites where one has to fill in information by hand.

If universities could just agree on one maximal set of documents and one maximal set of information, things would be easier: Each university could choose the documents they need from the maximal set of documents. And one could write one text file with all the information of the maximal set of information (e.g., name = {Something something}, 1st_university = {Something something}, etc.) that one uploads wholesale; the website could then pick the fields the university needs.

Note that this can be set up by one single university, and could be picked up by others, without some concerted action.

Word verification: hydra, like the never-ending form fields.

Anonymous said...

I don't see why anyone who uses Interfolio would bother listing the emails for references for online applications. Just send the letters from Interfolio, then your letters writers won't be bothered more than once.

I send my letters by Interfolio regardless of the application method (paper or online).

Anonymous said...

As somebody writing rec. letters, I haven't found doing them on-line difficult at all. Most of the time, it only involves:

--Getting an e-mail from the school with a clickable link (with lots of funky characters, some sort of auto-generated thingee).

--Clicking on the link

--Clicking on an "upload letter" button.

--broswing your computer for your rec letter and double-clicking on it.

--[optional] clicking on a button to view your letter as uploaded, to make sure it looks right.

Takes about 2 minutes.

Asstro said...

Difficult? No. Time consuming and pain-in-the-Asstro? Yes.

Do that for 50 applications and it gets a little tiresome.

Use Interfolio.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused about these online applications that y'all are using. I've applied to more jobs than I ever thought I would in the past three years, many of which are online. Many of those obviously use the same software, since all the boxes are the same and the order in which they are asked is the same. But in all of that I have never come across an online application that requires either that the cv be typed in to a new box or that the files be converted to pdfs. I've seen them where I could input the material into a text box and where I could upload pdfs but never where I had to. Are y'all over complicating this?

zombie said...

I don't use Word, and the options are typically Word, pdf, or copy/paste. So I use pdfs. It's not hard to convert to pdfs. It just takes a little extra time. It's less time than it would take me to print the document for snail mail, to be sure. Multiplied over 40+ applications, it starts to add up. But for me at least, that payment in time saves me a lot of money in postage, so it's a decent trade-off.
It's the filling out of the form that's a PITA, since my address, email, degrees, etc are all on my CV already. And I have to fill out the same damn form for every application. And create a login/password/security question. THAT strikes me as something that should only have to be done once, since it is pretty obvious that everybody is using the same software. It makes sense to me that all of that could be done once, I could upload my documents once, I could login and send my documents to the school (with my customized cover letter) and it would save me a fair amount of time on every application.

Yeah, I guess I could have used the Interfolio email address when I was asked to input my reference info, but I didn't know how, and when I tried to look it up, couldn't find it. Half an hour of digging around the Interfolio website and I located it. So now I know.

Xenophon said...

The software that most people use is probably hosted locally, so University of North Dakota can't access data on the servers run by the University of South Dakota. I agree it would be easier if the company that writes the software would just set up a clearing house, but then there would be security concerns, and they'd set it up in a way that didn't make any sense and we'd be cursing at our computers even more than normal.

As for pdfs, the software converts Word to pdf, and if you've played with your margins or used exotic fonts (e.g., if you work in Chinese philosophy), etc. then their system will fuck everything up. So I typically convert it all myself so that I know what it'll look like when people read it. It makes the candidate look like an idiot when the software puts the signature line on another page.

Oh, maybe someone could provide a brief tutorial on how to get the Interfolio email trick to work? I think I'm smart enough to figure it out, but it might take me more than a half hour. Thanks

zombie said...


Xenophon said...


Thanks. I'll check it out.

Jr TT said...

Here's a new blog I recently discovered; this post shows that there is some hope for some of you:

Anonymous said...

these friggin online apps are shit!!!

Anonymous said...

Yes I scream FU!!!! And make noises like a wounded animal.

The thing is: we have interfolio, give us an email address and we mail mail you the shit.

In any case we are all over qualified teaching undergraduates and we can all do it well, just fracking send us a job offer after we graduate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!