Letter to a Young, Unemployed Artist - Taleo & the HR Armies

Part One
Part Two

This is were we part ways and I would hate myself for not leaving you with tangible, street-smart advice. You patiently sat through my would-be motivational spiels about your fate, it's only normal I leave you with an appropriate tool to defend yourself.

You will face several enemies during this crusade. People who don't care, who don't want you to succeed and who will go through a surprising amount of effort to convince you that mediocrity is all you should expect from existence. But all these people, as ill-intentioned and defeatist as they are, won't equal the power of your true enemy, Taleo.

Ever wondered how the incompetent, power-hungry jerk landed this management gig at your old job? It probably went like this : the crazy person pumped her resume into Taleo, wrote a borderline megalomaniac cover letter raining with superlatives and law of averages washed the jerk into a bored, equally incompetent HR person browsing the cursed software on the other end, like the raging seas.

You will quickly learn how to spot Taleo, but if you're unsure at first, take a peek at the URL while you're filling the long, intricate forms. If a company uses it, you will see the cursed word in the link. You might also see this somewhere on the page. Trying to beat it is a waste of your precious time. First, it eliminates resumes based on strange, arbitrary details like having the dates you worked written left of your job experience. Also, there is an insane level of customization possible for keywords. So the odds are stacked against you unless you know exactly what the Taleo user will program for keywords on that particular day. For example, the odds that someone writes "I'm a crazy, result-driven and very good with sales" for an copywriter job are very low.

Understand this. Taleo doesn't exist to hire the utmost competent people or to make companies better. No, it merely exists to save time and reduce a thousand resumes slush pile to a more presentable ten or twenty. The only people who clearly benefit from its usage are those in the HR department. Most of them have objectives and quotas to fill, that trigger bonuses and these savages will back up at nothing to achieve them. They will steamroll you for their annual 1K December bonus. Their personalities range from terrible to insane.

I suggest you avoid Taleo altogether. The only thing this software is good for is dooming your day, one hour at the time. Over a hundred resumes, I had a whopping zero percent of response and if you ever were contacted by a company using Taleo, without having an internal referral, call it luck. The last place you want your resume to end up is there or in an HR person's hands. So don't use it and maybe low-volume of applications will kill the minotaur one day. There is no time-efficient countermeasure, but there is a tool you can use : LinkedIn

Don't apply to jobs there or contact people directly using the site, but instead use it to find out who's the director of the department you want to work for. They are the ones taking the decisions, so if you introduce yourself politely and efficiently to them, you will multiply your chances to AT LEAST get called for a face-to-face interview. I got my job by emailing my resume to the agency directly and my eventual director picked it up. She is a woman with keen eye for detail and remembered I expressed my willingness to work for the company even when there weren't available positions. Find who's in charge and speak with them directly. Worst-case scenario, they will hand your resume to HR and say: "Call this person back." The ball will then be in your court.

So go forth, young artist. You decided to chase a better life, so it's on you to make it happen. So don't lose north and don't fall into time-consuming traps like Taleo and the HR labyrinth. I have faith in you. As David Foster Wallace once said to young artists himself: I wish you way more than luck.


I'm a pop culture blogger and author living in Montreal, Canada with my better half Josie and my dog Scarlett. I am a proud member of author collective Zelmer Pulp and have about a dozen of short stories published to my resume.

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