What's worse, applying for jobs or not having one?
November 21, 2010 12:57 PM   Subscribe

Online job application hell: they're all horrible, is there another way?

When looking for jobs, it gets so draining when every single company wants you to fill out this long, complicated, online form. It ends up taking 30 min to 1 hour for some. And that's not including the time I like to put in to personalize my letters and explanations and things. There has GOT to be a better way! Maybe something like Last Pass exists for this purpose. Are there any good ideas or solutions out there? Help!
posted by hipersons to Work & Money (11 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Not if you want to get hired. We have one of those "long complicated online forms" specifically so I don't have to interview 75 people for each position. The form helps because it means I can quickly toss 80% of the applications because the person didn't bother to fill them out in their entirety or obviously cut and pasted largely irrelevant answers and letters from another job applications.

If two hours of your time is too much to take applying for a job, you do not want that job enough for anyone to hire you to do it. End of story.
posted by fshgrl at 1:07 PM on November 21, 2010 [6 favorites]

On the university campus where I work, I saw signs advertising something they called "the common app for jobs", or something like that. I can't find the web page, but somebody's working on this.

(Whether this is a good idea or not, I don't know.)
posted by madcaptenor at 1:09 PM on November 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

You'll pretty much always have to do it.

Of course, if you can manage to find the supervisor and somehow get a physical copy of your resume on their desk then you can skip that process. The only way it's worked for me so far is if I actually know someone at the company beforehand.

Try cold-calling and cold-emailing the companies. It can't hurt.
posted by just.good.enough at 1:20 PM on November 21, 2010

fshgrl, just.good.enough, and everyone else:
Yes, the form has its purpose.
Yes, job applicants can come off as being lazy.
Yes, I know we all have to suck it up and do it.
Yes, I know if you want a job you've gotta be willing to put in some effort.
I don't have a problem with any of the statements above.

The answer I am looking for is a solution to making the process of filling them out easier.

Please, don't hijack my question. Thanks!
posted by hipersons at 1:23 PM on November 21, 2010

I'm not hijacking your thread, I'm telling you that if you use something like a common app to fill in forms for multiple jobs it is Very Obvious to the person reading your application and they will toss it. I read so many applications that I can tell in about 5 seconds if the person is doing something like that.
posted by fshgrl at 1:41 PM on November 21, 2010 [6 favorites]

If most of the forms ask for the same information, but in different orders of things (name, SSN, college, high school, etc.), then have all that info in a word or text doc that you can just cut and paste from. If you make sure everything in that doc is spelled/formatted correctly, then you won't need to worry about fat-fingering something when you're typing the info into the form.

Or is that not what you're looking for, exactly? Apologies if I've misunderstood.
posted by rtha at 1:42 PM on November 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Roboform! You can create a profile with your standard info - name, address, credit card for online purchases, etc. - but you can also add your own custom items. I've never used it for job applications, but I don't see why you couldn't add a field for education or references or whatever common thing is asked for in an application.

The downside is if Roboform's field name doesn't exactly match the form's field name, that field won't get filled in, but at least in that case, you can open Roboform's profile and copy/paste the relevant info.

Good luck in your job search!
posted by SuperSquirrel at 1:45 PM on November 21, 2010 [5 favorites]

fshgrl, I imagine that hipersons is looking for an automatic way of filling in the very common fields like the jobs he/she has held, and dates, and titles, and names of references, etc. The basic stuff that every application asks for, not the questions that a company might ask that are specific to the position.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 1:48 PM on November 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you have a Mac and you've filled yourself out in the Address Book, for a lot of forms Safari will fill out alot of your contact info after you type your first name and tab to the next field.

There's a safari for the PC, so you could download it and give it a try.
posted by theNeutral at 2:03 PM on November 21, 2010

I totally understand your frustration and haven't found a magic bullet. A lot of the application apps are just terrible. What I've done is created a text file with the elements of my resume broken into chunks that I can paste into the forms faster than keying everything in each time. Also, some browsers have autofill forms which will pre-populate common fields. Safari's autofill can be hit or miss just as some site's resume import wizards. But it is still a really manual process.

fshgrl, is right: a lot of employers make the online app process to weed people out. To HR departments the byzantine application apps are a feature, not a bug.
posted by birdherder at 2:03 PM on November 21, 2010

Siding with SuperSquirrel-AI Roboform does everything but do your dishes. At the least you get the basics filled out-name, address etc, then you can add fields to more conform to the type of job you are applying for. I've been using since it went Beta, and bought it-been the best app for every blank field.

If two hours of your time is too much to take applying for a job, you do not want that job enough for anyone to hire you to do it. End of story.

Puh on not copying and pasting, nobody ever calls you back anyway in this economy.

posted by ~Sushma~ at 2:38 PM on November 21, 2010

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