Search Something: The Rejection Robots

The automated rejection email.  You know, the one that goes something like this:

Thank you for your interest in [insert job title here], but it has been determined that your resumé does not display the minimum qualifications for this job.

Yeah, that email.  If you’re like most poor job seekers these days, you’ve probably seen so many versions of such rejection that it doesn’t even phase you anymore.  And if you apply for jobs like a robot [“submit resumé” *click* “submit resumé” *click*], you probably don’t even remember submitting yourself for consideration.

Hey, it’s okay.  You can admit it because the resumé you submitted in a robotic-like trance was probably screened by an actual robot (or computer, if it makes you feel better to think of it that way).

If you’re shocked by this, I suspect you haven’t been job hunting for very long (or you’re just very unobservant) because it’s pretty common knowledge that many companies use a resumé screening service to help narrow down the field of applicants.  Heck, some job postings actually state, “[Company X] uses a resumé skill-matching process to determine eligibility.”  In other words, “[Company X] scans your resumé into a computer to see how many buzzwords match the minimum qualifications listed in the job description.”

I mean, it’s understandable.  What company would pay an employee to spend hours manually sorting through hundreds of resumés when a computer can help do the same job in half the time?  Companies like efficiency, and computers are certainly efficient.

But as a job applicant, this all seems kind of depressing when you think about it, right?  Your potential for a particular opening is not judged by a cognizant human being, but by a robot that may or may not know there are synonyms for the buzzword “organization.”  So, your chances for an interview are dashed because you don’t know how to play the semantics game.  Darn robots, they always win.

Now, before you go and take your frustration out on those old-school computer chess games (because you know how to beat those robots, damn it!), stop.  Let’s think about it.  Would you rather be rejected largely by a nameless, faceless computer, or by a rational human being who has judged you unfit for the job?

This probably seems like a stupid question.  Duh!  Of course you want a real person to look at your resumé!  That means your qualifications are being given the time of day, and not being electronically tossed aside by a computer in 0.03 seconds.  That makes your efforts worthwhile.  Or does it?  Does it really give you comfort that an actual human being has decided you’re not good enough for the job?  Does it really give you comfort that an actual human being has potentially rejected you because of biases, biases that a computer cannot inflict?

I don’t know.  At this point, I think I’d rather be overlooked by a stupid computer that is as automated as the rejection responses, rather than a foolish employee.  I mean, how does a computer know if I have the necessary skills for the job?  It just sits in one spot all day, and can’t think for itself.  (Err…I guess that last point is debatable).

Or maybe I’ve just become delusional about this process? Hmmm.

I guess I’ll just have to ponder this some more after my next rejection email.

– l  xo


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