In this vast, new digital age, we have seen many advances in the human condition, for both good and ill. We have resources literally at our fingertips, and our connection with the rest of the world is only limited by how quickly we can type information, a limitation which, according to some futurists, we will have surpassed within the next 30 years as our minds may become directly connected with this stream of information. As fantastic as this all may seem, does it really make our lives easier or are the physical relationships we forge still irreplaceable?
Let’s analyze this question by asking another: What do you think is the best way to apply for a job? We all have different answers, but chances are they are all unified by a common thread: initially getting in contact with the employer either directly or through an advocate. This could be by means of emailing an inquiry, directly going to the business, making a phone call, or asking an acquaintance that works for the company to pass your resume on or to set up contact with their boss. Chances are that all of these steps require you, the prospective job seeker, to put your best foot forward and give the employer a good first impression, something to help you stand out among the rest. Even if you are not granted an interview or if you do not get the position, you had some kind of memorable impact. This increases your chances of consideration for another position that may open up later, assuming you actually did leave a good first impression.
That being said, what would you imagine is the worst way to apply for a job? The first thing I think of is the Internet application process. This way of applying for a job essentially flies in the face of the above mentioned method. You usually don’t have any direct contact with the employer or hiring manager, it’s very impersonal, and in many cases you do not even have the name of the person who is hiring (such as in university level research positions). Even when writing a cover letter, your personal selling statement, you do not even have someone to address it to. What does all of this mean? You can apply to literally dozens of different positions in a few mere hours, a feat that would have been impossible 10 years ago. This also means that you have no way to follow-up on an application or have any sort of contact with the employer. While this certainly does improve the efficiency of submitting applications and for employer review, does it not also destroy the efficiency of the hiring process? Is it not crippling to consider people based solely on a piece of digitized paper, upon which anything within reason could be written and truths stretched exponentially, before even meeting them or having personal contact with them? This leaves the job seeker at a huge disadvantage by eliminating the one thing that allows them to stand out among everyone else: their personality.
This is all based on my own experiences and observations in the job market. Obviously, not all cases are going to be the same and I do not know what the norm is in terms of outcomes when applying for jobs online. What I have noticed, though, is that whenever I have applied for a job at either a university or hospital, I have always heard the same thing: “Go online and submit your application.”