From career fair to the apply online fair

Photo by Monica Jamison

Every year, students across the nation, myself included, attend a career fair to talk to a company recruiter in hopes to land an internship, co-op or even a full-time job. After waiting in line, sometimes upwards of thirty minutes, we do not always hear what we want to hear. “Sorry we are not interested in your major … your GPA is not high enough … you do not have the skills we are looking for,” and my personal favorite, “apply online.”

Those words can tear a student down in an instant. You mean to tell me that I wasted all that time for you to tell me, “Thank you for your interest in our company. However we are not accepting resumes and you can apply online.” Who are we to blame for this? Sure we can blame the company for not having the respect to actually interact with students and act like they really care. We can also blame those eco-friendly, “save the Earth,” “don’t waste paper” people. I blame Tim Berners-Lee and his invention of the World Wide Web.

I love Netflix and the Internet in general, but when it comes to getting a job, I feel the Internet has gotten in the way. I want employers to get to know me and interact with me rather than my name just being some ID number in a database.

When applying for a job through a submission form, the company only lets you tell them what they want to hear. Never have I had applied for job online and the employer say, “Tell us about yourself.” These online applications lack the ability for a company to connect with you as a potential employee. If I have a question about what a certain job entails or if a company provides a living stipend for internships, I am not able to ask them. And does a company really even know who you are if you do not qualify for a position? You fill out a form and a computer program sees you have no previous job experience. So you get an email saying, “After careful consideration of all information you provided, you were not selected at this time.” In person I can hand a recruiter a resume, and maybe only they only pretend to be interested in me, but at least I can walk away somewhat prideful knowing that my name has been seen by that company.

Now let’s say you are lucky enough to get an interview. The Internet has also ruined those, and I’m not talking about the two-way interviews over Skype. I’m talking about the interviews where a question pops up on screen, you have fifteen seconds to think about it and another fifteen seconds to video record yourself answering the question. If that doesn’t sound bad, try answering “On a scale of 1 to 10, how weird would you consider yourself?” Yes, this was a real question that I’ve been asked before. The Internet has brought about great things, but I believe it is hindering many people’s abilities to get a job. Let’s bring back the days of recruiters accepting resumes and companies conducting real, in-person interviews.