Even It Up!

Shifting the balance for jobseekers

Online applications: another jobseeker barrier/filter

with 3 comments

Even It Up! had a very interesting conversation with a sympathetic supporter yesterday.  He was telling us about his son who is studying to be an engineer, and is currently doing a nightfill job at a Coles supermarket.  In order to get the job, his son had to complete a “one size fits all” online application that included an aptitude test.  Bearing in mind that job was for nightfill (opening boxes and stacking shelves) our supporter was bamboozled at the sort of high level, cognitive questions that were asked, for example:

  • What is the square root of X divided by Y times Z?
  • If X was travelling to Y at Z km per hour, how long would it take to get there?
  • Label the contents of a cell

The son ended up (quite rightly) in the top 97% of applicants, but was only offered a position filling shelves.  Interestingly, other nightfill staff  are studying to be doctors, lawyers, geneticists, robotic engineers etc.  Our supporter contends that Coles hires them because they are reliable and they want the work (which is fine), but wants to know why smart people are not channelled into more appropriate “knowledge” work within the company?

He also asks the question why more unskilled people aren’t applying for these sorts of  manual/service-type jobs, and he came up with the “because they have to apply online” answer.  Immediately, those who are not cognitively up to scratch (in the eyes of the organisation), or don’t have internet access, or whose first language is not English, are filtered out by the technology.   It’s discrimination, but in a very covert manner, because overt discrimination (as we all know) is illegal.

Barriers, obstacles, filters, discrimination: the job market is in a less than satisfactory state.  And yet the government (and opposition) keeps talking jobs, jobs, jobs.  Clearly, no one has had the conversation with business.

Written by evenitup

April 22, 2009 at 9:57 am

3 Responses

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  1. […] What everyone should know about online job applications […]

  2. I’ve always considered aptitude testing to be one of the most insidious “short-cuts” that employers take in the recruitment process. Even when they are specifically tailored by a competent professional for a particular position they are still likely to exclude applicants that are ideal for the position; let alone when they are a “one size fits all” half-arsed solution as this aptitude test clearly was.

    The end result is that good applicants who are well matched for the job are not even given the chance to show that they will fit in well with the culture of the organisation and add value to it – not because they interview poorly, not even because their written communication skills are inadequate, but simply because they fail a test that is poorly designed and not suited to the position being filled.

    Damon Schultz

    April 22, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    • Damon, we couldn’t agree more! And don’t get us started on interviews (although we have blogged about it, more needs to be said).


      April 22, 2009 at 4:18 pm

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