Finding a job in the digital age

by Lori Bashian 0

Finding a job as a college student is more difficult as the Internet continues to take over. College students living in Santa Clarita are struggling to make good first impressions and navigating the greater amount of competition that comes with positions being advertised over the Internet. Many are wondering if the new way of doing things is efficient or not.

Employers looking for new hires use the Internet as a way to quickly sift through resumes, looking for experience relating to the job. Some interviews even take place online now. This process can weed out potential employees who may not be as qualified for the job but are better suited. Without meeting applicants face to face it is harder to see their personalities and decide who is a better fit.

According to a New York Times article about finding a job in the digital age, employers are increasingly turning toward the use of algorithms and systems searching for certain key words in resumes submitted online.

“I must have submitted around 25 applications online when I was looking for a job,” said Lusy Tarakchyan, a COC student. “Most of the time I didn’t even get an email back and I feel like no one ever saw my application.”

While the internet is a good place for businesses to advertise their search for new employees, with 34% of job seekers in 2015 utilizing online resources in their job search according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, it is impossible to assess personality online.

Applicant Tracking Systems are used to sift through applicants, as stated in a Forbes article written in 2014, and is said that these systems cannot differentiate between a slacker and a hard worker unless these two individuals worked the same job at the same time. The point is also made that these systems cannot show what the individual learned while doing the job but only focuses on tasks and duties.

College of the Canyons student Bashir Alsarhan disagrees with that idea and believes this system is the quickest and most efficient way for employers to find suitable candidates and prevents miscommunications from occurring.

“I think finding a job online or applying for it is very efficient since the corporation can handle many applications,” said Alsarhan. “Searching for a specific trait or character within an online application is much easier since people can have software developed where they select certain traits or characters that suit an individual, which I think is easier than going through hundreds of paper applications.”

Another student Tonga Vaka agrees with the Forbes article, explaining that while Applicant Trakin Systems are good tools to use when searching for specific traits they aren’t good for future employees because they don’t get a vibe of the place they might work.

“It’s easier because you can think about what you want your future employer to look at but you don’t get to meet the manager, you don’t get a feeling of what the work environment is,” said Vaka.

Local business owner Alex Kozlovsky, who refers to himself as Chief Smile Officer of the Menchie’s in Valencia Gateway Village, agrees that meeting applicants in person is the best way to determine their eligibility as an employee, but also provided an employer’s viewpoint on the online system.

When asked about what happens to applications once submitted he reached into his pocket and showed me his phone. In just two days he had received ten applications through the online application system and several emails from personal email accounts inquiring about a job.

“For last month we got 53 applications in one month. On Saturday I got five because everyone is getting ready for summertime so I can’t possibly look at all those explained Kozlovsky. “As a business owner you have no time to thank everyone for their submission unless you have an auto reply which also becomes very impersonal.”

Vaka says this is the companies fault and they should be better prepared for the large amounts of applications they will be receiving considering the position is widely advertised due to the internet.

“That’s also on them because of course you are going to get so many more applications because it is online,” said Vaka. “Anybody can do it from anywhere, from every area and since there aren’t that many full time jobs, and part-time jobs are scarce, you are going to get a lot of applications.”

Kozlovsky added that an employer is not always hiring which may also be why the applicants are not receiving responses. When he is prepared to hire he sends out invitations for interview to every applicant who applied since the last time he hired new employees, however every business owner has a different system.

Some business owners conduct interviews through Skype. College of the Canyons student Kazia Doros experienced a Skype interview and felt it was a poor way to conduct an interview and meet the employers.

“I like being interviewed in person better because I feel like they can see your personality more and if you’re a good candidate,” explained Doros. “I feel like it is not as personal if it’s online.”

“I don’t think that they copy a real interview because much of the body language is lost during the Skype interview, therefore I do not think that it is an efficient way to conduct official business,” stated Alsarhan.

When speaking with Kozlovsky I mentioned my own trials when it came to finding a part-time job. I had even applied to a few Menchie’s locations throughout Santa Clarita and San Fernando, and explained to him my frustrations with the online application system. Success in my pursuit for a job was only met when I filled out the application in person and was able to mingle with the owner.

While Kozlovsky defended the new system he also agreed that the old fashioned tricks still work and making an effort to meet face to face before the interview will definitely give someone a leg up.

“There are certain people that come in and are like ‘hi I know you ask us to apply online, I wanted to drop off my resume and meet you’ and they plant that seed,” he explained. “That definitely gives them an edge up.”

He spoke specifically about a girl who knew there was an opening at Menchie’s who took the time to drop off her resume in person and was hired.

“She had actually applied a month ago and never heard back, so she came in and she had this big smile on her face and her energy was everything that I look for in a Mench,” said Kozlovsky. “I was so taken by that experience and it was just perfect timing.”

There are many things college students can include in their resumes to help them be unique. In an age where the initial steps are taking place over the internet a good resume is the only way to stand out amongst the rest. Following the directions the employer has posted online is also a way to ensure you have a better chance of being chosen.

In Kozlovsky’s opinion it is in these aspects where the online forum is beneficial towards job seekers. Just like Alsarhan stated above, following the directions allows for the employer to find traits and characteristics suited for the job.

“Take the time, make your resumes pop. There are some people who hand in resumes that don’t even have their GPA on them,” said Kozlovsky.  “Don’t have spelling mistakes (and) follow the directions from the emails inviting you to interviews. That’s actually more convenient I think to apply online and not have to ‘pound the pavement.’”

There are some people, such as Vaka, that disagree and believe this system is less convenient and causes more frustration. She detailed her experience applying for a position at Walgreens online and the website was malfunctioning. A simple task took much longer to complete and became much more complicated.

“I was trying to apply for a job at Walgreens and they had a specific site where we had to put our application through and depending on what internet user you have it won’t actually go through,” she explained. “I’d have to actually talk to the manager to see if my application went through. I had to do it three times.”

Overall many students disliked the idea of the initial steps of the hiring process taking place online. Menchie’s owner Alex Kozlovsky likes the new system and thinks it makes it easier for both the applicant and the employer.

“I think as a first tool it is really helpful,” said Alsarhan. “If indeed they like the person that is applying online, I think that a follow up interview is necessary because some people might be introverts and not extroverts.”

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