Culture Fail

By Tom Baker

CFOnlineApplicationSomeone once said to me, “The only thing worse than having a job is not having one.” Or was it the other way around? Who knows. What I do know is this: job hunting can be a pretty soul-crushing experience. I’m in my early 30s, but even I remember back when the process involved pounding the pavement, filling out paper forms, and handing them to the guy or gal that would hopefully be interviewing you within a week’s time. Sure, you had to dress up and be on your best behavior, but it was largely a human experience. A lot has changed, however… possibly a lot more than you realize.

It’s been over a decade since business establishments started outsourcing their application process, driving many to use the Internet—or worse, the dreaded Kiosk—to dump the best of themselves into. These come complete with tests designed to make sure you’re a corporate lemming and lover of all things authority. Often terribly constructed, they tend to use vague phrases with terms such as “self-sufficient” in them that make it damn near impossible to derive even the simplest context from it. Is self-sufficiency good, or is it bad because it doesn’t suggest you’re a team player? Who the hell knows. And worse yet, the entire concept and approach really doesn’t end up testing anything aside from a person’s capacity to lie. Tell me, how does this help businesses tell the difference between a perfect candidate and a terrible one?

One place I applied to took this dysfunction to a new level, and it is right here in Corvallis. I won’t name them because I don’t believe anyone local is actually responsible, but wow. Mind blown. In addition to the lemming test I just described, their online application included a sort of faux IQ quiz with semi-advanced mathematics and language content. None of it was difficult, however the web application itself was on the fritz and so quite a few of the answers were scrambled, making it impossible to answer the questions. Whatever, right? Just take it again? Apparently that would make far too much sense.

In response to my application I was told that my score was too low to be considered hirable, and that nothing could be done about it even though the application itself was broken. Although I have been unable to get a coherent response from their corporate contacts, it seems safe to say that there’s some kind of window that must pass before I can apply again—which I won’t be doing, regardless.

Like so many others, in this case I was beyond overqualified for the simple position I had a go at. But qualifications are no longer the cake, but just the icing on it. The cake is the blind-as-a-bat tests previously mentioned. These businesses have effectively made it standard practice to take the most human part of their organization and squeeze every last drop of humanity out of it. Management can no longer select their staff. Attitude, personality, and work ethic are ghosts.

We’ve become a country where those of us old enough to remember long for the days when cronyism was the biggest affront to our ability to step up to the plate and let our worth be measured by someone who regularly combs their hair. Isn’t it totally sick to think of THAT as “the good times?”

And there’s not even a plate to step up to anymore. Just a half-assed plinko game where your chances are only increased by being totally full of toilet fudge.