Wednesday, June 04, 2008

More About Online Job Applications

Robert from Randolph commented on the Job Application post from May 5. I was adding a follow-up comment when I realized that it would be better to create another post.

Robert's comment:

"I've noticed an increasing number of patrons who want to fill out an online job application, but their computer skills are often minimal at best. I'm wondering if we could offer a computer class at Central once a month that would help people with the online job application process?"

First, I appreciate the comment and would like to see more from everyone.

We offered a class called Job Searching on the Web. We set up monthly classes, recruited trainers, distributed flyers, and we could only get one or two people in a class (and canceled others due to lack of registration). And the few people that did attend already had the skills necessary to fill out an application. Their questions were more focused on the entire job searching process (not necessarily technically-related). Meanwhile, we have people banging the door down in order to register for our existing classes. Therefore, I removed the class from the rotation so that we could continue to focus on the existing classes.

Why did this class fail? Unfortunately, the online job application is one of those customer needs that is immediate and fleeting. Also, as the previous post pointed out, if someone cannot fill out a job application, then it suggests a larger lack of computer skills that needs to be addressed appropriately.

The online job application requires basic computer knowledge (filling out text boxes, using drop-down menus, etc.), basic internet skills (entering a URL, following links, not getting overwhelmed by the Web environment, etc.), as well as Email skills. All of these skills are addressed in our existing classes. If a customer went through our entire class program, I have no doubt that they would be able to fill out an online job application. But one class will not successfully address the issue at hand.

I believe the online job application is the single most important battleground inside the Digital Divide, which exists partly due to lack of desire to cross the divide. Nothing else has continually pushed unwilling participants into the online world. As stated in the previous post, I think that some companies use it as an unofficial screening process. If you do not know how to fill out an online job application, then they probably do not want to interview you. If that is not the case, then these companies will need to find out ways to simplify their online job application process so that first time computer users have equal access.

1 comment:

Robert said...

Thanks for your reply, Kevin. I was thinking we had offered such a class in the past, but couldn't remember for sure.

I agree with your comments about the online job application process. Similar to a credit report, looking up bank account information, or checking on the status of an IRS refund, it forces people into an online environment. I'm sure many companies use it as a filter to screen applicants, and it probably reduces the costs of the hiring process.