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Examine the expectations and inferences underlying selected job positions. Consider timely topics in career preparation and the struggle for fulfilling employment. Analyze what could be improved in either situation. If this blog reminds you too much of work, then peruse my namesake blog for lighter fare.

Fuck UWM and all universities! UW-Milwaukee and their brethren are mediocre. Click banner ads on ClixSense instead; it's a better use of time than a college education in the UW System.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Pet-Sitting Racket Requires Dogwalkers To Be On-Call Saints with Character References; Easily Irritated Need Not Apply

Found on 01-10-2017 at URL:

Get Paid to Play with Animals! (Madison)

Compensation: up to $14 hourly

Employment type: part-time

Established and well-loved pet sitting company, is seeking exceptional pet sitters and dog walkers to add to our staff.

Please note: We will be accepting applications until we find the right staff, so if you are viewing this posting weeks after it's been published, please contact us as we may still need more staff members! Our clients are mainly based in downtown/central and west Madison.

Pet Sitting Position:

Flexible schedule on an "as-needed basis." You'll provide feeding, walking, plant watering, and mail pickup while clients are traveling; visits are 1-2 visits per day for 3-14 days.

Visits for dogs are between 7-9 am and 6-8 pm; visit times for cats are more flexible and are usually once daily. This job is perfect for someone who wants to supplement his/her income before and after a full-time job.

Requirements for the Pet Sitter position:

- You have a car with insurance, and a smartphone.

- You can commit to working with us until at least June 2017.

- You love all kinds of animals.

- You are available for both morning and evening visits.

- You can work at least 2 of the 3 major winter holidays:

Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's (Don't worry; you'll be able to have a holiday too, and you'll be paid more per visit during this time.)

- You can pass a criminal / background check.

Dog Walking Position:

Walkers needed weekend mornings/afternoons, and Monday/Friday 10am - 1pm. You will provide exercise, potty breaks, and playtime for dogs on a regular basis. This is a part-time position with 2-3 walks per shift.

As your business increases and you become established, more walks will become available. Great potential for growth! Requirements for the Dog Walking position:

-You have a car with insurance, and a smartphone.

-You LOVE dogs big and small.

-You enjoy working outdoors.

-You can work with us until at least June 2017. The pets will want to develop a long-term relationship with you. -You are available for the days/hours listed above.

-You can easily pass a criminal/background check.

Hours/Pay rate: You will be paid per visit and can make up to $14 per hour.

Please email us and put the position you are applying for in your subject line.

Please include your location, and in 50 words or less, explain why you would be the perfect person for this job. Attaching your resume and a cover letter is strongly encouraged.

Wow! A comprehensive background check and prior-employment verification are needed before one can hold leashes for this unnamed "pet-sitting company." And then, you have to be the company's [mother dog] (pun intentional), being on-call (which is what "as-needed" -really- means).

Oh, and you only get one holiday, because [screw] you, dog lovers! We'll exploit your loyalty!! (Bleed for the dogs, you mongrel!!!)

Less facetiously: It sounds like the proprietor is a real cur to be around. I mean -really- anal-retentive and intrusive, much like the -worst- of the apartment landlords.

But digging into the applicant requirements, unanswered questions arise about the selection process:

1) How is anyone -other- than a teenager or retired person going to get hired?

Because let's acknowledge the habitual age discrimination at hand, in that you won't see a jobless college grad being offered any job of this sort, knowing even the less-security-intensive "teenager jobs," such as waiter, are often withheld from the desperate, job-seeking degree holder (and not for lack of the grad's effort).

2) By what test is one evaluated for personality-job fit?

I reckon that anyone who is slow to emotionally respond -- or responds with an exaggerated expression -- when the hiring manager greets him or her will probably be deemed "sociopathic" and thereby mentally dismissed before the first interview question is asked.

But again, most people old enough to have -already become cynical- probably won't be invited to interview! (There's that dreaded age discrimination again, surmountable only if you come across as a loving grandparent who "lives to help others.")

3) I wonder how the hiring manager measures "love" of dogs?

Whatever the case, I don't give a damn: I friggin' -hate- house pets, especially those whose owners love them more than they love people.

It seems this gratuitous favor towards animals is the mentality of the pet-setting company owner. It is the most plausible explanation for why s/he proposes guidelines for screening people, but seemingly lets -literally any- dog be cared for, no matter how dangerous -it- might be to the human caretaker!

Why not subject the dogs-to-be-walked to the -same- intensive background check and character scrutiny as the people who will be walking them?

Because the owner holds humans to a double-standard!

S/he distrusts others, possibly due to previously-suffered -trauma.- (Now -that's- a word you cannot say directly in the Disqus section of Wisconsin Public Radio, because it triggers the auto-moderation comment filter.)

Whether or not you believe the Judeo-Christian Creation Story (as I do; see *Rant*), it is indisputable that animals can be as mean as people!

All higher-order primates, including humans, exhibit a rich variety of violent passions, both vengeful and merciful. However...

...While chimpanzees might have limited capacity for memory, by which to develop notions of love and revenge, humans are the only creations who can create a near-infinite array of communications and cultures. This connects us to the spiritual realm because we've the free will that exemplifies the soul!

[*Rant against those who say, "People are just another animal!"]

1) We have a soul, with free will; whereas (non-human) animals do not have any genuine choice, only instinct.

2) We are made in God's physical image, with a neurological functioning that uniquely positions us to adapt our environment to -ourselves- like no other creature on Earth!

And if you fancifully think, "Non-human animals cannot hate, so they're morally superior to humans," then you're incorrect: Upbringing -can- make a domesticated animal misanthropic; and feral animals often exhibit territorial behavior extending -beyond the bounds- in which the animal was reared. And while one could argue this means animals do -not- respect property rights, which makes them disrespectful [and hateful] of those who have equal, or better, claim to that territory, the premise can be more easily summarized as: Barbarism is the state of nature!


So, why my disdain for dogs?

I remember when living with my 'rents, when stuck in dead-end manual labor -after- graduating with my master's degree in public administration (not a degree in manual labor), they had this yappy dog whose two purposes in life amounted to:

1) Making as much noise as possible, thereby necessitating I wear ear mufflers when visiting; and

2) Making as much a mess as possible, thereby ensuring their home smells like a sewer, even when it's scrubbed spotless.

While counting the days until I could afford my own place, I relished the Conan-the-Barbarian fantasy wherein I would /slice/ the condemned canine's cranium clean-off!

And dye the lawn crimson with its effluent fluid, lest the blood seal-in the stench from its prior messes... Peace at last!

Oh, but the dog wasn't -my- property, so I had to let the damned thing bark, sh*t, and p*ss -without- any consent to correct it.

Whoa! Is that a vicious streak you're seeing? Such violent prose and brute philosophy!

Let's just say that in AJV Blog's off-time, this writer has gained much more "life experience," and is taking it upon himself to disabuse readers of naive notions about how the world is presented -- nay, marketed! -- to them.

As for the 50-words-or-fewer statement of qualifications, here's what I imagine -brutally honest- letter of interest would say:

"Dear Pet-Sitter-in-Chief: I love dogs so much, that I volunteer every weekend at the pound! And when the animal shelter tries to euthanize the dogs, I try to sneak them out the back door. (And get yelled at, but you know, I can't help it that I love dogs!) And I'd love to spend all my spare time caring for -- no, loving -- our customers' dogs, because I'm a loser -- excuse, me dog-lover -- with no life beyond dog-rearing!"

*Blech!* What an awful letter of interest; and yet, it -probably is- what the pet-sitting company's manager is looking for in an applicant: Naive, friendless, and easily exploited.

Anyway, pet-sitting would be a -nightmare job from Hell- for Yours Truly, so I'm glad to have -nothing- to do with dogs nowadays!

*SHA-HEM-PHOR-ASCH* (Or so the dog-killing cultists are alleged to say.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

AJV Blog Reboots After Two Years' Dormancy

Yes! The rumors that this blog remained online "for a reason" were indeed correct: The Absurd Job Vacancies Blog is back!

To maximize creative freedom, I -won't- stick a regular posting schedule -- but -will- post spontaneously, when the zeitgeist of inspiration hits. (Those spur-of-the-moment reviews make for the best, due to the passion, circumspection, and provocative ideas that emerge.)

My next post will be within a week -- maybe sooner!

In the meantime, read some back-issues of AJV Blog, starting with the very first review.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Why There's Only One Post in 2015

...Because blogging doesn't pay the bills. But watch out: AJV Blog will be back, stronger and more insightful than ever, in 2016!

In the meantime, check out the Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.) page, which answers questions of Absurd Job Vacancies (AJV) Blog's past, present, and future.

This F.A.Q. is accessible from each blog node via the tab array, which is below the blog logo and above the article body.

Make certain to "follow" this blog (if logged into your Google account) and/or to subscribe to the RSS feed to receive email notification or text alert when an update arises.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Interviews, Insults, and Interruptions

(Un-)Funny Job Interview Dialogue (Dark Humor)

Interviewer: Why do you want to leave your current position?

Interviewee: Being a professional job interviewee doesn’t pay too well.

Interviewer: What a shame -- it really is your calling!

Interviewer: What happened to your business?

Interviewee: I’m good at what I do -- but had to close my business for lack of selling ability.

Interviewer: You ain’t selling yourself too well, either!

Interviewer: Why don’t you want to be self-employed anymore?

Interviewee: Because I’m a [techie | artisan | craftsman], not a salesman.

Interviewer: And a p*$$ p00r job interviewer!

Interviewer: Why don’t you [earn another degree | go back to school | further your education]?

Interviewee: Because I don’t want to get burnt again, investing time and money but without a job to show for it.

Interviewer: That’s the most intelligent thing you’ve said during the entire interview!

Interviewer: Why should I [hire | choose | waste another breath on] you?

Interviewee: I’ll make you more money than the other candidates for this position.

Interviewer: Prove it! And I ain’t giving you the chance to -- good-bye!

Bonus: Job Interview Interruption Comic!

Hand-drawn cartoon about a job interview question - hilarity ensures!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Hiring Managers Should Read the Bloody Employment Applications!

I mean “bloody” in the British sense of exasperated emphasis, of generic intensification. The discerning reader will therefore realize the employment applications to which I refer contain no more DNA than O.J. Simpson's scarf. (You know, an item of clothing he didn't wear on June 12, 1994.)

My call to action is for those conducting the job interviews to actually read the employment application of the candidate s/he wants to interview so as to comprehend whether that applicant has prior experience doing a similar job. Otherwise, the receptionist might play the role of “interview coordinator” without being qualified to do so.

To elaborate on this distinction: No one should be an interview coordinator unless s/he also participates in conducting the interview! As a corollary, no hiring manager should ever leave the examination of a job application to the interview coordinator alone, for chances are that an underling would judge too permissively, only to waste everyone’s resources.

Would you let your receptionist schedule an interview between an unqualified applicant and the more discerning interviewer, without the interview agent or hiring manager first setting strict guidelines on must-have work experience for each type of position?

Land’s End is one of the organizations that apparently would call in an unqualified applicant to interview for a position s/he clearly has no prior experience doing. In my defense, I had applied for a customer service job, NOT a production position!

The next time a company offers to interview me for a position different than what I had applied for, I will require the receptionist to explain why the interview team wants to examine my qualifications for a job that my employment history shows I’ve never done.

Land’s End isn’t known as a “train to hire” organization; they only want those who’ve done similar work elsewhere. So why bother speaking with an inexperienced person, other than to be entertained with how he addresses his inexperience?

You goons in human resources get paid no matter how much time you waste interviewing throwaway candidates, but the candidates are not reimbursed for their time. “It’s such a privilege to walk into your office!” If you believe that line, then you have no grasp of sarcasm.

“I want to work here because I believe in your products and because there is room for professional development.” By such an individual have those words never been spoken more ironically! Here’s why:

I’ve read many complaints about the consistency of Land’s End products, and even your “best qualified” customer care agents anger buyers and lose potential repeat customers. Employee turnover plagues warehouse and office alike, for you expect so much from employees in return for so little.

They have only themselves to blame for fueling such a hyperactive pace of work. Rather than wasting time with candidates for warehouse worker who had applied for customer service positions without any warehouse production experience, they could use the time saved to roll up their sleeves and sling boxes themselves!

Oh, wait -- they aren’t “best qualified” for that! But they are well qualified for being paid to waste time.

If you’re that hard-up for actual workers, as opposed to the plentiful talkie-talkies in human resources, then hire more people to make the pace of work more manageable. The cost savings of worker retention will outweigh, within 3 years, the brief hike in total compensation resulting from the slightly higher headcount.

A person with simple, effective ideas like the one above evidently has no place in Land’s End. I’ve no reason to ever apply again. Never again shall I condign to touch your filthy, gilt doorknobs; nor shall I deign to handle your shallow, ill-fitting merchandise!

Statement of Withdrawal

Hi, [name redacted]!

I understand it is customary to send a thank-you note after interviewing. But more than thanking you for the privilege of walking into the Land's End headquarters, I must reiterate that every worker starts somewhere.

And if the office workers at Land's End generally started as warehouse associate - having tested their physical stamina and sense of urgency via trial by fire - then all the more so I can do the job.

I can imagine myself picking orders with the same speed and accuracy as someone from the front office; not necessarily any better, but certainly not any worse.

Certain people have been occupationally bred to be the ultimate order picker and therefore work in the warehouse for many years instead of segueing into clerical work. These appear to be the "best qualified" candidates to which you referred during our interview.

Although my work history does not evince such a thoroughbred approach to being raised as a manual laborer, I bet no one else in the [redacted] area does the wrist exercises that I do! (It's a highly unorthodox, self-made program but effective for building stamina.)

The physical fitness aspect alone puts me in the second tier of candidates in terms of, "Could the person do the job reasonably well?"

All that needs to happen now is for at least one of the best-qualified candidates - those with more experience - to turn down an employment offer at Land's End to make way for me. I'm fully aware of Land's End turnover issues, so that is to my advantage.

Granted, all the best-qualified candidates could find work elsewhere before accepting offers from you, but that doesn't mean you would budge. In fact, you're probably feeling disgusted that I wrote this ponderous email, so I withdraw from the applicant pool.

If prior production experience is what you're looking for, then you could have read my employment application that I had completed during the Open House.

But as it stands, you decided to waste your time and mine by ignoring my intent to work as Customer Care Associate, opting instead to see what ridiculous answer I'd give for production experience regarding Warehouse Associate - knowing fully well from my job application and résumé that I lack such experience!

So if you feel over-worked, then you have only yourself to blame for interviewing non-candidates for positions incompatible with their work history. Look at the employment application first! Why bother interviewing inexperienced applicants?

"Good luck" finding decent people.



Monday, July 21, 2014

Job Seeker Feedback Website Flops at Launch, Found Wanting for Functionality

While advocating against universities in a LinkedIn group for students and recent graduates, I happened upon a solicitation from an Internet startup called “Job Seeker Feedback,” also known herein as “N00bs with B00bs!” Why the blatantly misogynistic designation? Read on to find out how that West Coast crew earned such an ignominious moniker!

Its spokesperson, Tamlin Tromp, was “recruiting” -- more like requesting -- those who are searching for employment to join a research program that would evaluate the experiences of job seekers during their interactions with various employment applications. Monitoring and real-time Q & A would be conducted by Internet survey (with or without webcam), telephone conversation, and/or on-site observation.

Ever alert to emerging trends in the staffing industry, I entered my bid for starring in a focus group pertaining to the user experience of Job Application Systems (JAS), which are also known as Employment Applicant Tracking Systems (EATS) -- the latter term of which is especially apropos, considering how those online software apps tend to swallow applications without recourse!

There exist, however, myriad issues within the Job Seeker Feedback (JSF) evaluation model:

1) The primary problem is attracting professionals. Due to human nature, those who’ve struggled in the job market -- and therefore have scores to settle with the employment process as a whole -- will self-select more often than those who are content with their ability to find jobs. This will over-represent disgruntled job seekers in the JSF studies!

To wit: The reimbursement to focus group participants is a mere $50 gift card to Amazon, for those who travel to the on-site evaluation center. The interviewing location is kept secret until those selected for a study are given confidential directions. The remuneration to those completing a remote survey is nil. Considering the median time of a professional, white-collar worker exceeds $20 hourly, how few will deign to travel on-site and/or complete a remote evaluation of several hours -- for what amounts to less than $20 hourly?

The administrative owner of the Job Seeker Feedback website is privately registered via P.O. Box at the New Dream Network, LLC web host in Brea, California. The natural tendency would therefore be to over-sample Californians. Surely, those who live outside a normal commuting distance should at least have their travel expenses reimbursed!

One solution is to pay for qualified members of the labor force to take a “business trip.” This option would be more palatable to white-collar workers than to blue-collar workers: The former would be able to claim “professional development” expenditures and be paid on company time, whereas the others would predominantly be forced to either go on their time and dime or to not participate.

This would provide a counter-measure to the leftward skew of the respondent sample among occupations and income levels of job seekers. But knowing the geographic dispersion necessary to sample in-person EATS users from around the United States, I’d venture the Job Seeker Feedback crew rents time slots from Prometric and other testing centers, thereby limiting their on-site studies to major metropolitan areas.

Although the most intensive Job Seeker Feedback studies exclude most rural members of the labor force, that isn’t much of an impediment if enough country dwellers have a webcam so the JSF folk can monitor them -- when the NSA isn’t hogging the live feed! Then again, I’ll pass on that proposition!

Public eyes are watching you! They see your every move, baby! (Hall and Oates parody)

2) A compounding problem for Job Seeker Feedback is their horrible website. If you disbelieve me, then my annotated screen captures shall disabuse you of any contrary notions!

Exhibit 1: Cookie Cutter Home Page, Riddled with Errors!

The Job Seeker Feedback home page looks very generic and contains inconsistencies in capitalization and grammar.

Exhibit 2: Angst-Ridden Selfies of Staff on a Bad Hair Day!

The expressions on the visages of Job Seeker Feedback staff reveal traces of anxiety and doubt.

Exhibit 3: Awkward, Bumbling Unique Selling Proposition (USP)!

The Job Seeker Feedback overview page contains glaring grammatical gaffes that elicit great guffaws of, 'Good grief!'

Exhibit 4: Inappropriate Use of Latin to Obscure Incompetence!

Lingua 'Job Seeker Feedback F.A.Q.' discrepare contra sensus hominis laboris captare.

Exhibit 5: Demonstration of Primary Selling Point is Glitch-Ridden!

The Job Seeker Feedback staff don't know how to get their 'quick tests' running!

Exhibit 6: Refusal and/or Inability to Learn or Adapt!

The Job Seeker Feedback staff are rather resistant to constructive criticism!

Amicus Curie 1: Constructive Criticism!

A feedback group for those seeking jobs as budget and policy analyst? Perish the thought!

Amicus Curie 2: Confirmation of Received Suggestion!

Aspiring budget and policy analysts - including self-employed BPAs - do not qualify for a job seekers' focus group. Because New Dream, LLC is only the hosting service, any content, errors, and omissions are solely the fault of the Job Seeker Feedback staff. Who are they? Espy them below -- exposed for what they are!

Interactive Supplement 1: Monstrous Job Seeker Feedback Staff!

Job Seeker Feedback user experience (UX) crew, with aliases.

3) Finally, an obstinate refusal to acknowledge or utilize meta feedback is counter-intuitive for a firm called Job Seeker Feedback! If universities purport to teach one main idea -- besides the unquestioning embrace of diversity, except for those of confrontational personalities -- it is: Always learn what you can from everyone you meet!

Unfortunately for JSF, failure to grasp that concept means innumerable lessons are lost. Recounted below are verbatim messages that I sent directly to the JSF spokesperson. These demonstrate due diligence on my behalf to whip the Job Seeker Feedback project into shape.

Ultimately, those whom JSF interviews are best positioned to mention my article to staff, for the benefit of their eventual elucidation and a possible salvaging of what is presently a doomed endeavor (for the reasons thus described).

RE: Jobseekerfeedback (in response to the namesake LinkedIn group thread by The Tromp)
On 06/07/14 7:20 PM, Joseph Ohler, Jr. wrote to Tamlin Tromp:

I'm LOL’ing about all those who posted, “I’m interested!” without actually following the link and registering through the Job Seeker Feedback website. That probably explains why they're having a tough time!

As for me, it's been 4 years since I’ve had anything worth putting on a résumé -- I’m not counting Pizza Hut waiter or my 2-day stint working on an assembly line, where I developed tendonosis and was never placed again -- because no one wants to know me well enough to prep an employer for my application. That’s why it's always, “Who's this guy? We'll hire the person we know.”

I don’t need to be a mind reader to understand that goes on! And among the current cohort of graduates, those who did stay in touch with me don’t want to cash in their political chips on my behalf. Who knows what they say about me behind my back...

If you haven’t punched your monitor while reading about my situation, then you have more patience than most people I meet. They’re like, “Good luck!” and I'm like, “Enjoy your meaningless existence!”

Seriously, a lot of homeless people would do the jobs of employed people even better, but they don't “fit the mold.” They don’t make people feel “warm and fuzzy” inside, as the salespeople of finest fakery are wont to do.

Although I’m not homeless, that is not through my personal achievement but through the graciousness of family. The biggest opportunity right now is to draw upon my one clear strength: an ability to write in a manner both eloquent and primal.

At this point, I would feign consideration for your interests and ask, “How are you doing?” -- but I already know the stock response you'd give, being unable to emotionally commit to the hardships of the long-term unemployed, of the demimondaine who are an interpersonal half-world away.

When someone says, “I’m busy!” I then tell them, “I’m busier than you -- but at least you get paid!” That is an appropriate response to a bunch of smug, arrogant jerks who just happen to have a job.

Someone paid $50,000 might only be worth a tenth of that in actual, practical value. And many are virtually worthless from a human sense; even wicked people are nice to friends.

Who is nice to strangers? Do you refrain from slanting your eyes and wrinkling your nose when visiting the “off-putting” cousin of your husband on his uncle and aunt’s middle-of-nowhere manor?

If I had been in some office saying this, then I would have been escorted away by the second paragraph. But because this is the Internet and therefore a free speech forum, I spoke my mind to influence how you see the world.

Heed my words, Tromperoo, or Job Seeker Feedback shall remain mired in mediocrity!

10 days of silence transpired, during which I endeavored on miscellaneous tasks, one of which was the analysis of the many shortcomings shown in Tamlin’s terrible site.

I then sent a follow-up message on the morning of June 15th to give JSF staff -- not Joint Strike Fighter, but the Tromp and Troupe™ web crew ample time for fair rebuttal.

Because they declined to utilize this opportunity, I reiterated my findings directly to the PR pitchwoman who had been dispatched to various LinkedIn groups.

Your Funny Job Seeker Feedback Website
On 06/17/14 12:58 PM, Joseph Ohler, Jr. wrote to Tamlin Tromp:

Because you LIE on your “contact us” page by saying, “We respond within 48 hours, even on weekends!” -- I hereby re-send my June 15th message directly to bypass the webmaster:

I notice you use WordPress. In my experience, WP makes the customization process overly complicated because the bootstrap forces a bunch of includes to check each other for certain settings, and one wrench in the works grinds the site to a halt.

What should be easy tasks -- such as embedding “quick test” apps -- become a convoluted task of troubleshooting each component in the WP include hierarchy. Also, the sheer number of includes doubles the load time over a non-WP infrastructure that would be merely coded from scratch and then FTP’ed onto the server.

You end up spending more time removing fragile "features" from WP to prevent glitches than you do on getting the practice tests live -- not that the latter matters, unless considered by ATS designers alongside the non-practice feedback you receive.

(The practice tests might not be compensated, but they may be considered as part of the overall data picture for job application developers.)

In my “arrogance,” here are three unsolicited pieces of advice:

1) Although it's too early in the site's life to justify a migration from WP onto a platform-less “lean” infrastructure, fewer includes mean a better time for everyone involved.

In the meantime, append the text “(under development)” to the line, “Take one of your quick online tests” beneath the third icon on your home page. No one wants to waste his or her time clicking through to the page and waiting for it to load -- only to find there are no practice tests to take!

2) Your FAQ page is entirely in Latin and does not appear to actually address the subject matter of the questions in the headings when translated.

3) Your expectations page has minor typos that nonetheless have easy, one-minute fixes:

A) Insert the word “at” so that the fourth sentence reads, “You will be asked to look at a website or complete...”

B) Under the header “How to become a tester,” replace the comma with a semicolon, as in “Don’t be nervous; your perspective…” and “...plan for plenty of time to get there; late participants can be sent home.”

C) Stop the sentence altogether at “...late participants can be sent home.” If they are late, then the qualifier “if they are late” is redundant and therefore wasted space.

Let me know when you want more free advice, as I enjoy what I do.


I am now the registered owner of Although you will obviously pay more for it -- purchasing from me -- than what GoDaddy would charge, that is the price you pay for such incompetent planning on your behalf!

But you probably won’t bother buying the .net domain I hold, for your .com equivalent is already failing. “Good luck” in your future employment endeavors!

So much is wrong with the website, one can easily understand why the site founders are “entrepreneurs by necessity.” Even worse, as shown above: The founders are non-responsive to constructive criticism -- kind of reminds me of Honelife!

But whereas Honelife had a fairly experienced middle manager as a co-founder alongside a semi-proficient web developer, Job Seeker Feedback website is run by -- dare I say it again? -- n00bs with b00bs!

And that, appropriately enough, is just like a human resources department hiring candidates for unfamiliar positions; those which none in the selection committee ever worked but for a day, let alone long enough to grasp what is needed to play to the strengths of an already strong candidate. It would be like a political science graduate recruiting for engineering firms.

Closer to home for many readers, the HR hacks behind are akin to a visibly out-of-shape HR assistant claiming to be a better judge of a potential laborer’s on-the-job durability than the man who has trained his wrists with over 500 repetitions of weighted wrist exercises, every 3 days (to allow for muscle cells to regrow and thereby prevent injury), in preparation for such an opportunity.

It’s one thing to be written off by an expert who has been responsible for not only hiring organization-wide but also worked in most positions for which s/he hires. But it’s unacceptable to be dismissed by amateurs who proclaim each other to be “experts,” when their CVs are more transparent than the paper on which they’re written!

Job Seeker Feedback cannot bear to interview me, for I already know more -- than those pretenders! -- about the various Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) implemented throughout most national and many regional organizations. To wit: Chew on my Taleo Universal Profile (TUP) ATS review! A team of 4 has not yet produced what I have in solitaire.

Conclusion: The folks at Job Seeker Feedback are unlikely to respond to you, so don’t bother. The only thing they’re good for, as of this writing, is for an elaborate laugh -- such as what I’ve provided today.

Yet, I’ve published this article with the intent of creating public pressure against the misguided precepts and flawed implementation underlying the Job Seeker Feedback business model. Spread this information far and wide via strategic social sharing and indiscriminate word of mouth!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Job Application Fee: A Game-Changing Tool for Winnowing to the Winners

Problem Statement

After carefully reading the requirements and duties of the position, some job seekers may apply for a position in which they could potentially learn all relevant duties but have only performed a few of those in actuality. In turn, this lower end of the applicant pool tends to think, "Hey, my chances are 1 in 100 if I apply and 0 in 100 if I don't, so I'll apply despite an unknown number of more experienced people going up against me."

The over-optimistic job seeker hopes, “Although there are probably dozens of more experienced applicants, their communication skills might be inadequate to describe their experience in the best way compared to the talking points demanded by the scoring rubric. Who knows? Given the minimal opportunity cost, I may as well pursue this position.”

Presuming a telephone interview takes around 20 minutes and post-interview notes by the phone screener require another 10, each interviewee occupies at least half an hour of paid personnel time. Double or triple this cost, depending on how many interview panelists are involved. I made a cost matrix to illustrate just how expensive it is to interview first-rounders:

Number of InterviewersInterviewer WageNumber of ApplicantsTime per ApplicantTotal Cost
1$15/hour1001/2 hour$750
2$15/hour1001/2 hour$1,500
3$15/hour1001/2 hour$2,250
1$20/hour1001/2 hour$1,000
2$20/hour1001/2 hour$2,000
3$20/hour1001/2 hour$3,000
1$15/hour1001 hour$1,500
2$15/hour1001 hour$3,000
3$15/hour1001 hour$4,500
1$20/hour1001 hour$2,000
2$20/hour1001 hour$4,000
3$20/hour1001 hour$6,000

NOTES: To calculate the cost of 200, 300, or N applicants in each scenario, multiply the Total Cost by 2, 3, or (N/100). I included 1 hour as a potential time per applicant to account for capitalized expenses of pre-interview screening exercises such as iCIMS (cheat sheet accessible on the top-right tab of this blog), as firms spend time and money to maintain the online functionality of such stratagems, if not administer them in person. Also, temp agencies process a bunch of paperwork for each temp, whether ultimately hired or not, so this must be accounted for. Continuing forth:

On the job seeker’s end, a face-to-face interview costs more time and perhaps a comparable amount of money when you account for gasoline; the risk of running off the road in frustration over a slow, lengthy drive in unfamiliar territory; and the stress of a commute just for a glorified game of chance -- “maybe” getting that job.

[Optional Rant: Show]

NOTE: Thinking and acting, “That job is mine!” doesn’t work, either. None of the thousands of job coaches who have lived ever figured this out! Willpower means nothing without proper instrumentation. Does visualizing yourself breathing easily while you’re drowning make you capable of breathing underwater? NO!!!

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Thankfully for job applicants, organizations are increasingly using phone interviews to identify who gets a second-round interview face-to-face. Although a telephone screen isn’t costly for the job candidate, the pre-screening tests of psychological exam and “common sense” customer service skills costs money due to the license paid to administer online these test batteries.

Anyone who’s worked in a call center at any time in the last five years can tell you about the computerized simulation that serves as a litmus test for who gets to reiterate their résumé to an actual human -- albeit one lacking humanity, as HR personnel are wont to check theirs at the door when entering the office every day.

Thankfully for job applicants, organizations are increasingly using phone interviews to identify who gets a second-round interview face-to-face. Although a telephone screen isn’t costly for the job candidate, the pre-screening tests of psychological exam and “common sense” customer service skills costs money due to the license paid to administer online these test batteries.

Anyone who’s worked in a call center at any time in the last five years can tell you about the computerized simulation that serves as a litmus test for who gets to reiterate their resume to an actual human -- albeit one lacking humanity, as HR personnel are wont to check theirs at the door when entering the office every day.

All things considered, it’s more surprising an algorithm hasn’t been patented to weigh candidates against organizational biases and then auto-pick by experience. Then again, clever people such as I could ascertain how to “game” the system by trial and error, so an anthropomorphic watchdog remains necessary.

Have you ever heard of computers pulling off a conspiracy to keep someone unemployed for so long? It’s because computers aren’t biased against an individual’s very existence -- unless so programmed by decision makers!

Too Many Jobbers in the Tournament of Champions

The most extreme examples of people having no chance to actually be selected -- yet, nonetheless offered a half hour of well-paid staffing personnel time for an interview -- are found in publicly funded state agencies and state universities. Although I’ve never been interviewed for a federal or municipal job, I’ve had dozens of first-round interviews for various positions at universities and in state agencies.

But given the lack of a second-round interview after so many tries, it should be quite evident to someone who sees my name pop up again and again in the ATS -- with the same work history, due to the glass ceiling of quasi-relevant, semi-credible “self-employment” -- that an easy time-saving measure would be to do as the private companies do: Send the template “thank you for applying, but…” rejection email a few minutes after receiving my application, as nothing has changed, and no amount of job interviews will change anything.

However, agency regulations prohibit the human resources department from refusing to interview any applicant who minimally qualifies for the position, such as by a score of 70 percent or greater on the civil service exam. Some will protest, “70 points do not mean 70 percentage points,” but I’ve never seen a maximum score higher or lower than 100. Ergo, N points implies “N out of 100,” which means “N percent.”

There is only so much utility to the job candidate that may be gained from facing the same first-round interview questions over and over again. On the bright side, I’ve slogged through enough such inquiries to understand the question clusters that are asked of each policy analyst position in the State of Wisconsin government and can therefore advise accordingly as an unofficial expert on the subject.

Then, you wonder why the UW-Madison College of Agriculture and Life Science (CALS) interviews the 17th-ranked candidate on their “civil exam,” which is merely an applicant’s own written comparison of how their work history demonstrates the skills and abilities called for in the position description.

Again, the job candidate can benefit by knowing his or her rank in terms of experience, something which the State of Wisconsin actually deigns to disclose! (That is quite refreshing, although I’d like to know who I beat in the qualifying round for “Top 10” and who the nine other finalists are. Networking, you know? Not to make them unavailable for interviews or anything.)

So, what’s the big deal?

Opportunity Costs Aplenty

Because of the aforementioned low opportunity cost of trying for the brass ring, the barely-qualified-to-work-at-all candidate is given as much first-round consideration -- and man hours of processing interview notes and scheduling emails -- as the ones who actually have prior experience that will get them into the second round of interviews.

Allowing these minimally qualified individuals to interview is a waste of resources because they are not selected vis-à-vis the more qualified applicants, due to having never been hired for those positions that could potentially involve the duties necessary to qualify into the presently desired employment.

There’s even more cost to the interviewers when written essays are scored in a highly regulated fashion prior to commencement of first-round interviews. And while no real “cheat sheet” or “brain dump” exists for a given Wisc.Jobs civil exam, it would be mighty helpful to know which positions track well into the ones advertised. For example, which jobs best prepare a candidate to be a serious contender for Level 1 University Services Associate?

It pays $14 hourly and seems to be the most entry-level position -- even lower than the $15 hourly University Services Program Associate (note the USPA vs. USA designation) -- but there aren’t any obvious stepping-stone opportunities listed, such as $10 hourly office positions, on Wisc.Jobs.

“Good luck” interviewing an incumbent for a potential revelation. Informational interviews are increasingly difficult to get as you get older because people just don’t trust career-curious guys in their early-to-mid adulthood. Maybe when you’re old enough, you can pull off a grandfatherly vibe to loose their lips, but it is always a tough sell. It’s not like you can just walk into ShopKo and talk yourself into a job! (One woman at a job center claimed to have done this, but then why was she hanging out in a job center? I smell a twinset-wearing rat!)

Working in government doesn’t mean a person is public about his or her work history; in fact, most seem to be embarrassed by it, much as they would hide a tumor! I am happy to say that I’m proud of my work and proclaim my employment history wherever possible. Ninnies need not apply when they’re up against me in the candidate selection process!

[Optional Rant: Show]

Good luck trying to weasel that information out of the minds of HR. They “cannot disclose because it would give an unfair advantage” and, “We cannot identify which positions the chosen candidate held previously because it would violate applicant confidentiality.”

The right to keep private one’s trade secrets for getting a particular job apparently supersedes the whole “atmosphere of learning” -- the latter just isn’t important to the university when you’re trying to persuade them to pay you a salary instead of you paying them tuition!

Universities are so selfish, that I refuse to donate even if I somehow end up earning a lot of money. I’ll invest in blue-chip stocks and advertise against universities generally -- but promote a university? Not unless they pay me good money to do so!

And yet, universities are similarly bound by civil service exam guidelines for most of their non-student positions. Obligated to interview all who surpass the minimum threshold -- but by which regulations?

No one seems to know. The closest I got was a red herring, when “LVT” in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at UW-Madison blamed my February 2013 non-selection for Level 2 Financial Specialist on the 2011 budget reconciliation bill, claiming the position remained vacant after interviews of multiple candidates.

“It was Governor Walker’s fault!” Yeah, right -- and every executive officer in the United Council of UW Students is always “in a meeting” and can therefore never discuss policy over the phone. LIES!!!

Having read the entire JSR1-2011 legislation -- something I highly doubt LVT did, as hearsay seems to be her preferred method of learning about issues -- I pressed her for further details. LVT then copped out by saying, “I don’t know specifically. I’d have to ask my steward, but she’s busy.” Another lie! How wonderfully poor of an example set by UW staff.

But in the cynical minds of many HR henchfolk, it would be a greater evil to let me enjoy the fruits of professional employment, so the end justifies their means. Whatever they can legally do to ensure I’m never hired, is precisely what they will do.

And lest none dare call it conspiracy, what is to stop the following scenario? “Welcome to our HR Conference of Evil. Your job is to prevent Joe Ohler from getting any job, even the LTE laborer ones. If he rises to prominence, then our status shall be jeopardized.” [In unison] “Yes, master!”

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Half-Baked Decisions Waste Dough

Now the same under-qualified guy, having accrued perhaps another half year as self-employed policy analyst, recurs in your ATS. If you’re in the private sector, then you say, “Hey, I recognize him. He has nothing to offer, despite his claims. Next!”

If you’re in the HR department of a municipality, then you say, “I don’t recognize him, so we can’t trust him. Let’s get one of the children of the Common Council members to fill this position.”

If you’re using the federal ATS, then you don’t say anything because an algorithm scores résumés and determines which are “most qualified.”

But if you’re in the HR department for a state agency or for a business unit within a UW System campus, then you say, “His name gives me pause, but he qualifies minimally, so we’re obligated to ask him whether he wants to interview.”

I applied for LTE agency positions but was never granted a first interview. This most evidently is because those rely upon a different type of confidential evaluation and not upon the “write essays about your job history”-type civil exams used for permanent state-funded positions.

Although 4 LTE vacancies were posted, I was not interviewed for any. Nonetheless, some mirth is appropriate to cleave the clouds of job seekers’ gloom: Read my cover letter for fraud investigator!

I’ve devised the perfect solution to the dilemma of when less-than-best-qualified people -- who are no good at getting any job experience involving the duties of the jobs for which they apply -- come knocking at your door at an organization where your operating rules prohibit an instant write-off of such folk:

Why not a “candidate consideration” fee to absorb some of the cost?

The Penultimate Solution to Undesirable Job Candidates

Barring an applicant altogether would be the last resort; discrimination complaints could be costly, even if you prohibit someone based on “poor organizational fit.” And how do you know for certain, without granting another first-round interview for a future vacancy, whether the candidate who was merely minimally qualified last time has not become the best qualified in the interim?

Rather than risk a move that critics might call discriminatory, you should charge an employment application fee to every applicant for a given position! Make this a universal policy to minimize the chances someone could claim discrimination based on anything other than skills and job experience (which are associated with income, but not to the point of “disparate impact”). Why not raise the stakes by assessing a fee every time someone wants to be considered for a job?

Let’s face it: White-collar employers already discriminate against blue-collar workers for not having relevant experience, so additional discrimination based on inadequate income to afford a bunch of job applications won’t really harm applicants as much as it would help organizations recoup recruitment costs.

It’s really no crueler than not hiring someone who drove 100 miles for a job interview; and human resources personnel are already divorced from their humanity anyway; so why not give this policy a whirl?

Although the amount levied would depend on the compensation and duties of the vacancy, such an additional investment on behalf of applicants would further force candidates to prioritize which positions they pursue. The partially qualified candidate will not even bother this time if s/he is low on cash and doesn’t already know someone in the organization advertising the job.

Internship Surcharge and Job Placement Fee as Business Model

More profitable than an unpaid intern, one who pays your organization on a daily basis for work experience is definitely a way to boost your company’s bottom line -- or to offset public expenditures if you’re a government agency. The applicant pays for his or her own background check in addition to the daily pay-to-work fee; I explain in the section “Benefit to the Candidate” why a job seeker would do this.

Insurance costing you $50 a day for an untested temp or idiosyncratic intern? Charge $100 per day, to cover the daily insurance premium, in addition to the candidate paying the entire cost of the background check ($15 for the State Department of Justice report and $X for any other credential checks). In other words: Organizations have more to gain financially from my proposition than they would lose, both in the short-term and long-term time horizons.

What about protecting against people who hate your organization, such as irate interviewees who were not hired? The job experience placement fee / internship surcharge would be sufficiently expensive to cover the cost of liability insurance, dispute remediation, and/or conflict resolution for if / when your existing employees find the intern to be annoying and file a grievance. And if your employees find the pay-to-work person intolerable, then you can dismiss him or her without a refund.

Require every paying intern or pay-to-work temp to pass a pat-down inspection and bag / briefcase search for weapons whenever entering the building. Most big firms have security guards for this purpose, and the worst that can happen is that a very strong temp hurls a desk at someone or dumps a cup of restroom juice into the water cooler.

Benefit to the Candidate

A vacancy isn’t really an opportunity if you’re one of the last people one imagines when thinking “ideal person to fill this job,” so save your hard-earned dough -- obviously earned at some palooka job, due to your inability to get anything better, despite your yeas of tertiary education, student government budget work, and other accolades -- and write another blog post in the time it would have taken you to perfect another résumé and cover letter. You’ll have more to show for it!

It is only fitting that I first proposed companies begin charging a job application fee. It takes someone who’s interacted with literally hundreds of organizations’ candidate selection processes to understand how badly such a fee is needed before you'll see fewer people pressing their luck with so many opportunities!

I also recommended organizations charge interns and potential employees for the privilege of working there, as the value of on-the-job experience could potentially outweigh the application fee presuming the company lets the person observe and question others in the job instead of just being stuck in the peanut gallery.

Conclusion: We Have a Winner!

I cannot over-emphasize the utility of the position-oriented or department-specific job application fee or candidate consideration surcharge. Under the status quo, it seems many organizations spend way too much time inviting marginally qualified candidates, only for both sides to be disappointed. Why?

The job application fee would provide incentive for a candidate in low demand by the labor market to decline consideration. Candidates in high demand from the labor market are more likely to forgo an opportunity, irrespective of an application fee, because they're just that skilled at making the right connections at the right time.

The present tendency, without charging the fee, is to end up with even more minimally qualified job candidates than you would if you were to charge a job application fee; the surcharge moderates this “natural” imbalance.

Remember the cost table from the start of this article? Here is a net revenue table demonstrating the fiscal benefit of a candidate consideration fee / internship surcharge / pay-to-work fee / whatever you want to call it your organization:

Cumulative Search
Cost (All Candidates
Number of ApplicantsDaily Fee per ApplicantDays on JobApplicant RevenueProfit

As calculated above, the break-even fee in the minimum-recruiting cost scenario would be around $75. But that’s if you have enough applicants paying the fee; a smaller applicant pool might be charged more to compensate with larger margins for the smaller volume.

Even if the prospect of a consideration fee scares away some candidates, these are unlikely to be the best qualified; those who are doing well in their careers would think nothing of plunking down a Benjamin or two for a chance at higher earnings in a better job.

And there you have it: I have solved a problem for human resources! Call me a corporate hero.