Corporate Websites for Recruiting #1

There have been several stories recently about corporations using their own Web site for recruiting and relying less and less on recruiters and job boards, e.g.,, July 16, 2009: Using Career Sites To Create A Positive Candidate Experience and The Wall Street Journal, July 16, 2009: Beyond Job Boards: Targeting the Source

Many corporate Web sites offer both full time salaried employment and consulting assignments. I therefore occasionally explore corporate Web sites for companies that are working in areas that fit my experience and interests. The path through most sites is the same for full time and contract employees so my comments, unless noted otherwise apply to both.

One of the things that most corporate sites have in common is their declaration that they are looking for “creative and innovative” employees, or words to that effect. If that is true, wouldn’t you expect them to provide for some creative and innovative elements in the employment process? Here’s a recent illustration.

Creation and Innovation Corporation (CIC) [name changed to protect my future job opportunities] allows an applicant to upload five files consisting of cover letters and resumes. Five stars for that. Anyone who is creative probably has more than one strong suite and more than one way of talking about themselves.

BUT! Each file is limited to 500 KB. The applicant only learns about the limitation when they attempt to upload a larger file. There is a long, long pause and then an error message that says the limit is 500 KB per file.

I am now about three quarters of the way through the applications process. What am I supposed to do? Stop and do a real-time rewrite of my cover letter just to fit this limitation?

What kind of creativity is management expecting when they impose limits based on static text files sizes in an era of dynamic graphic online content? In my cover letter I use two text clouds to draw some distinctions between the recently was environment and the evolving into environment and the changing mix of skills and experience that will require—a mix that is of course more like what I have to offer. That small shift from pure text to limited graphic creativity moved my cover letter to 507 KB. “We’re sorry but that is a bit too much creativity and innovation for us.” Really?

I will be a bit generous because I know this company, respect them, and would like to work there. So let’s assume they don’t want their computer full of magnum opuses submitted by candidates. How about an option to post a URL for material on the candidate’s site? CIC can view it online and, if appropriate, download it. Now a candidate can submit a slightly bigger cover letter with just a bit of creativity in it, some examples of their work they are proud of that may be of interest to the hiring manager, a video on You-tube,  a magnum opus that would probably be a disqualifying bit of overkill, or …

First of all, the candidate would have an opportunity to demonstrate some creativity, not just write about it in a plain text format. Second, CIC could see how well the candidate handles a bit of creative freedom; hiring managers all know that creative people without self discipline can be a pain. Third, CIC could demonstrate that its actions are consistent with its words and they really are interested in creative applicants.

A note to all head’s of HR, before you rely on your corporate Web site to attract candidates, make sure it will attract the type of candidates you say you want. Don’t just look at a print out. Use it. The 500 KB limitation only shows up when someone demonstrates a little too much creativity. Do that and find a couple of 20 somethings who are looking for a job and have them try it. Tell them you will give them $100 for every thing that does not work the way it should and $10 for everything that is annoying. Money well spent.

PS My solution? I created a Word file with a link to a Word version of my cover letter on the Internet and uploaded the linking file.

PPS I attempted to update the version of my resume on their site. Nothing happened. Tried that a couple of time. Accidentally bumped my mouse, page scrolled up and there was a “Do your really want to update this file?” I have a laptop with a standard 14″ screen. A critical part of the page was below what was visible on my screen. Who knows what would have appended with a net-book or other smaller screened computer?

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