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Employment, Interviewing, Job Hunt

Honest Advice Series: Avoiding the white hole when applying

Within the theory of general relativity there is a theoretical entity called a “white hole.”  A white hole is differentiated from a black hole in that nothing can enter from the outside but particles of light and matter can escape.  In this respect it is the opposite of  a black hole where particles of light and matter may enter from the outside, but nothing can ever escape.  A white hole is a useful reference when discussing seemingly insurmountable problems simply because people often forget about them, preferring instead to simply reference black holes for everything.

As a case in point, I recently(ish) heard some one advise a hopeful candidate to not bother with throwing their resume “into the black hole” that is the primary corporate recruiting website of  a large software corporation.  Granted they may have been actually referring to a hole in the ground of indeterminate depth, but that doesn’t bear at all on my point so I will simply ignore that and other possible interpretations.  See how it works when you’re a blogger?  In this world I’m all sorts of witty, mainly because I get to ignore that which makes me seem loutish.

In my witty world where I also have a flying pony named Sir Muffintoes which I use for commuting to and from work, it occurred to me the corporate career website was not a black hole out of which everything enters the corporation and nothing exits.  Rather it is the reverse.  A wealth of information about a company is regularly spewed out of the corporate career website on a regular basis.  You can find all sorts of fun information if you know where and how to look.  For instance, if you see a particular team has a lot of open requests for new hires you can safely assume either this team is expanding their charter scope/vision or they recently laid off a lot of people and are looking to replace them quickly.  You now have some “insider information” to use when scanning industry trade publications, discussion groups, and other online information sources.  If you target that group, at worst you will discover what’s called a “disgruntled ex employee” who will probably be more than happy to trade all the bad information they’ve been storing up for a few kind words and possibly a latte.  At best you will find out the group has been experiencing rapid growth or a sudden injection of capital and exposure from the corporation, meaning it will more than likely be a little chaotic with new spaces you can stake out as your domain without fear of getting into a turf war with an already entrenched five year veteran.  In short, any information you can pull from sources other than press releases, corporate communications, and paid for reviews is endlessly useful … and corporate career websites are chock full of information.

The one thing they are not good at (in well known and/or large companies) is getting you noticed by anyone in human resources or recruiting.  I’ve never seen it personally, but I have it on good authority from a person I’ll call “Rose O’Sharon” the company she (or he, because there’s nothing wrong with that … really) works for receives an average of 1,000 resumes a day submitted through their corporate career website.  Granted that’s for several hundred open positions but that’s still an awfully large herd in which to have your horns gleam in the sun.  Rose also informed me because of this bull load, almost every resume submitted is sent straight to an automated parsing engine which sucks all information it things is pertinent out of your resume and stores it in a massive database.  The recruiters and HR folk all subscribe to a feed which sends them little love notes if the system detects a bull with Java coding skills, SOAP experience, or possibly black spots.  Rose then calls up the entry in their system and checks to make sure it really is Java coding experience and not work history at the Java Bean during college.  Rose then scans the entry and if s/he likes what s/he sees, then s/he will pull a copy of the actual resume to review.  If the system can get the number down to 10 a day, Rose is happy.

Now I notice from my vantage on the back of Sir Muffintoes you are holding up a finger and proclaiming, “A ha!  Rose said ‘almost all’ the resumes were sent to the system.  What happens to the ones that aren’t?”

Good catch, my little rapscallions.  Some of the resumes are refused out of hand for reasons ranging from language usage to something called “black balling” where a person is barred from applying to a company for a period of several months to forever.  But there are a magical few, rare in nature, who are submitted directly to a human.  The problem you face is you will not know which of these positions do that when you apply, so its like purchasing a lottery ticket in the hopes of paying off the loan shark.  Sure, it may happen.  Just don’t be on my couch later when there’s a loud knock on the door.

There is a proper way to submit yourself through the corporate website, however.  The correct manner is after you’ve been requested to do so  by the recruiter or hiring manager directly.  Oftentimes they’ll even go so far as to ask you for the confirmation number so they can pull your account up.  Why do they do this?  Because the system has more of a tendency to miss sending them good candidates than it does sending them bad ones.  They’re designed to weed out resumes and not find good candidates, so in this respect they succeed admirably these days.  Of course even if you are a perfect candidate, you have about a 98 in 100 chance of being ignored by the system.  So the recruiter/HR representative asks you to apply and send them the confirmation number.

So how do you get to the recruiter or HR rep in the first place if you don’t go through the website?

That’s the next entry in this series.  The next one’s all about how there is no shame in asking everyone you know if they can help you, even if you haven’t talked to them in years or may have possibly given them a rash the last time you met.

I’m thinking of calling it, “Employee referral bonuses can erase a lot of resentment.”  It’s a working title.


About cowboytesting

Hi. My name is Curtis S, and I'm a tester.


3 thoughts on “Honest Advice Series: Avoiding the white hole when applying

  1. nice info 🙂


    Posted by ontohod | July 29, 2010, 2:30 am
  2. Informative and reads like a fairy tale. Sir Muffintoes and rapscallions were personal favourites of mine 🙂


    Posted by Brian Walsh | August 2, 2010, 4:27 pm
  3. Referral bonus, finders fee, kickback 🙂 All good instruments for getting your CV noticed!


    Posted by Survivor | August 4, 2010, 12:21 pm

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