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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.

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Sunday, January 6, 2013

“Taleo Universal” Applicant Tracking System is Unqualified to Assist Job Applicants

While applying at a corporate job board yesterday, the website redirected from its namesake corporate domain to the dreaded TALent Exchange Online (TALEO) applicant tracking system (ATS). However, this page offered a new option for 2013: the “Taleo Universal” job applicant data repository.

I was initially intrigued that one of the Big Three ATS providers (the others being “Brass Ring” and “Kenexa”) would finally issue an app which permits central importation of data into all the subdomains of that ATS. After all, the prevention of mass resume blasts was one of the reasons why different firms licensed applicant dropboxes (databases consisting of user-created records) at different subdomains within the same ATS provider rather than host their repositories within a single, collective database.

What motive did Taleo have in making it easier for applicants to distribute their data to its client companies? One would presume additional profit, although there is no charge to use Taleo Universal; perhaps the aggregate characteristics of applicants are disclosed to marketing partners, although the end-user license agreement (EULA) explicitly states the personally identifying information of applicants will not be shared with anyone outside the human resources (HR) department at the organization(s) applied to.

Could a potential motive have been mercy towards those applicants who spend hours re-typing or re-pasting information into the same ATS form at different companies? If so, then the program’s implementation would never imply this!

Taleo Universal is an abominable abortion of an application -- read on to learn why. The program’s execution obscures any magnanimous intent so as to effectively mock the applicant as he or she ends up correcting mistakes caused by an extremely error-prone upload resume function. One is better off manually typing or pasting into each data field because at least you see everything as it happens rather than have to check for data transposed during the upload.

The job vacancy website of the company to which I was applying redirected me this log-in page:

That is a screen capture of when I logged back in after an unfortunate ejection -- more on the reason for that as we read on. I should note that if you enter "" into your browser, then it redirects to the error page here. Clicking “sign up” takes you to the namesake screen:

When you pass the sign-up page, you will be directed to either:

  1. A "prop" creation screen if you signed in at the main page; or
  2. The “resume upload” screen if you signed up at a third party’s redirection page (omitting the “prop” page).

Because I found this page only after attempting (and finally swearing off) the rest of the data population process, I chose a deprecating term which aptly describes the "Taleo Universal" application. There is only one "prop," or searchable hashtag of up to 32 characters, allowed per user to describe the (theoretically only) position sought.

You progress to the “resume upload” page after passing the “prop” screen. If you are redirected past the page without creating your tag and later want to create a “prop” hashtag (however unlikely after reading this review), then sign in here. Conversely, if you are stuck on the “prop” page and want to skip creating a hashtag, then click here.

The “resume upload” screen follows and is where Taleo Universal really falls apart. Whether you upload your resume like I initially did or paste your entire resume into the text area like I did the second try, the data will be scrambled into a nonsensical order (at least in the eyes of the human reader). Also, notice the Gumby knockoff hoisting that barbell -- the weight is probably inflatable.

The message atop the next screen is a flat-out lie: you’re not “almost done” because either Taleo Universal scrambled your data upon form population or you’ve skipped the resume upload and are manually entering your myriad data. Whereas the prior screens took perhaps three minutes tops if you’re not making screen captures, this data review screen will take the average applicant at least fifteen minutes.

A few minutes passed as I marveled at the jumbled data and made screen captures of the mess. I then left the swapped data in the fields (all mandatory, of course) so that I could save the session to have enough time to correct the data.

So what you do you think my resume looked like before upload? Below are screen captures of my data before importation:

The data being shuffled among random fields like a roulette wheel wasn’t bad enough; the race against the clock to fix the data before my session timed out brought my attention to another SUBSTANTIAL problem! Notice the lack of a normal “save” button which lets you remain on the page; the only button is “save and continue,” which is VERY problematic because it immediately submits your data to the third-party dropbox (of the organization to which you are applying)! The courteous ATS provides such a button or at least a lengthy time (twenty minutes) to expiration because session timeouts are common when using secured data entry forms.

Taleo Universal rudely provides neither by having only a de facto submit button and a session timeout period of no longer than ten minutes. This forces a situation of three choices:
  1. Type like a secretary on speed, rapidly tabbing between your word processing document resume and the applicant form to verify at a glance the snippets you enter match those on your resume, occasionally copying and pasting into lengthier data fields such as those asking for job accomplishments;
  2. Take your time to double-check for completeness, accuracy, and absence of typos, thereby guaranteeing a session timeout; or
  3. Treat yourself with dignity by doing yourself the favor of skipping this crummy excuse of an ATS and telling your acquaintances why they should avoid Taleo Universal.

After the above experiences, I chose Option Three.

I do have a few additional screens for informational purposes: the screen below is the Taleo Universal home page. It goes by “Talent Exchange” here and by “Universal Profile” on some third-party websites which redirect to this domain, but they’re all Taleo Universal, much like each country has multiple names (“Old Scratch,” “Krampus,” etc.) for its concept of a devil.

Did you notice how all the people waiting in line inside that home page graphic are identical, even with the same haircut and dark cyan hue? All except for the green guy -- in the first panel of the graphic on the "promote yourself" page, he looks like a disingenuous @$$#ole politically sanitized stooge, just like the hacks misguided developers who programmed that horrible, horrible "Taleo Universal" program!

You are better served by an ATS which has a "populate profile with LinkedIn" function, which works ten times better and debuted almost a year prior to Taleo Universal. I could write another blog post about how flawlessly LinkedIn ports your information to those Applicant Tracking Systems which allow it, but "flawless" is all that needs to be said. Compare the "import LinkedIn profile data" function to a different algorithm of directly uploading or parsing a text area of pasted resume, and most readers will agree.

At this rate, Taleo Universal will become notorious for being less wanted than an unqualified job applicant. Much like the aforementioned job seeker, Taleo Universal sends an email begging for validation:

I have not and will not click! The only way Taleo Universal could be worse is by including an overlay menu to mess up the tab order, or the sequence in which focus is passed among elements on a web page when the visitor presses the “tab” key. That sequence is usually the order in which elements are output onto the web page. I always test tab order when reviewing an ATS because it is critical for individuals who either find themselves without a mouse or otherwise have limited arm mobility and hence utilize a keyboard almost exclusively.

Web developers sometimes change x-y coordinates and layer order via directional and “z-index” style sheet modifications. It is important they also change the “tab-index” property to reflect this updated position so that users are not subjected to warping a screen or two away from the next logical tab destination. Therefore, the addition of such a broken tab order would expedite Taleo Universal’s descent to the all-time bottom of ATS programs.

Beyond its Universal program, Taleo could further stick it to job applicants by partnering with McAfee Antivirus! Such an unholy alliance could function like this: McAfee surreptitiously installs into the user’s browser as part of the Taleo user agreement such that refusal to install McAfee constitutes refusal to scan uploaded documents or manually entered data, thereby disqualifying the applicant who refuses such installation as part of the EULA. Taleo-McAfee would be a truly treacherous, terrible twosome!

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