From the Salt Mines: Reasons to Hate Online Job Applications (by Sasha) A few months back, I was helping an unemployed plumber with his online job application. When I asked him for his password to the employment site, he replied, “bite me.” Unfazed, I moved the keyboard toward him and said, “okay then, you type it in yourself.” “No,” he said. “You do it.  My password is ‘bite me;’ I figured I wouldn’t forget it because that’s the way I feel each time I have to fill-out an application online.”

I told him I understood completely, and that it made no sense to have the unemployed jump through so many hoops for some very ordinary jobs.

“Yes it does,” he said. “That way, when we give up, do it wrong, or don’t bother, it’s our fault. It’s like there’s a conspiracy out there to screw us, man!”




As director of the Human Resources Department, I’ve called this meeting because we have an emergency on our hands.

Plainly stated, for every job advertisement we place, we receive on average 125 applications.

People, this is taking up too much manpower, therefore based on the best practices of HR departments throughout the country, we will manage this problem by following a new strategic plan.

To wit, effective immediately we will implement three policies.

First, all applications must be completed online and all documents submitted electronically.

Q:  All? How about say for groundskeepers and maintenance?

A:  All.

Q:  But typing and computer literacy are not skills required for doing those jobs.

A.  Hmmm. Let’s agree that to hold them to the same standard we’d hold ourselves is to treat them fairly and equally.

Next, we will erase all contact information for this department from any eternal site; No more phone calls, emails, or heaven forbid, texts from external applicants. And as backup, we’ll put someone at the front desk who will deny anyone who comes in access to HR without a verified appointment.

Q: But then how would applicants ask us questions?

A:  Pay attention! That’s the point. We don’t have time to hold their hands! Make them figure it out!

Finally, our software will be upgraded to provide applicants with new challenges; we will add questions that are irrelevant but with spaces that can’t be left blank, we will have the system reject any phone number that doesn’t contain two hyphens, and we will discourage the casual applicant by demanding their social security number upfront.

Q:  How about ask them to click on buttons that don’t exist?

Q:  Or could we also log them out automatically after just 30 minutes.

Brilliant ideas team! Now you’re getting into the spirit of this meeting. Other suggestions?

Q: What if we list in the job description every conceivable responsibility the new job holder will have and ask them to document how they meet every single one?

Q: Oh, oh, I’ve got one: our software could upload the applicant’s resume then cannibalize it to fill out the application form automatically but incoherently.

Q:  I’ve heard that other firms apply algorithms to each application to pre-screen for the presence of keywords and then automatically reject all the others.

Q:  We could require them to download the latest versions Acrobat or QuickTime before they apply.

Q:  Wait, but what if they can’t because they don’t own the computer? Oh, I get it, that’s the point.

These are great ideas, people, just email me the details later today.

Q:  Perhaps if we took down the ads for the jobs that have already been filled we’d have less applicants?

This is not, I repeat NOT, in keeping with “best practices.” It would be far too time consuming to take down every position when we fill it. What next? Would you have us thank applicants for applying or inform them when they are no longer being considered? For heaven’s sake, people, let’s stay on track here. 

(Someone else enters….)  Excuse me…I hate to interrupt, but the toilet is overflowing in the Executive bathroom.

So call the company plumber! Now!

I did; but he told me that for this job to be considered, I had to apply


And I have to use his password.

Which is?

Bite Me.





3 thoughts on “From the Salt Mines: Reasons to Hate Online Job Applications (by Sasha)”

  1. Heard about a major corporation (but one with a smiley-face, presenting itself as hip, sympathetic, etc.) that includes in job rejection e-mails a link allowing applicants to comment on their application experience–apparently with desire to enhance the whole rejection experience.


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