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Job seekers may have to jump through hoops to find work

Employers can be very choosy. • With about six unemployed people for every posted job, hirers have the luxury of large — and often quite talented — applicant pools. • And, boy, is that frustrating the applicants.

In the quest to find the perfect hire, many employers are putting candidates through hours, days or even weeks of tests, interviews, presentations and tryouts.

Many job hunters feel caught in an endless cycle of investing time, sometimes money and always hope, only to be rejected again.

And, after all that, they often find that, if the job was filled at all, it went to an internal candidate.

Pam Sexton said she had what basically amounted to a full-time job for three weeks — applying for a job at the University of Phoenix. The process was all very professional, she said, but it swallowed an incredible amount of her time and energy.

She filled out an application and a more in-depth questionnaire, had a phone interview, sent her college transcripts, gave a sample teaching presentation, participated in a group exercise and had face-to-face interviews.

But, once again, after seven months of similar processes and "so many blood tests, drug tests, personality tests," she said she has jumped through lots of hoops to no avail.

Rachelle Rand, who has been looking for work since December, applied for a business school position at Grantham University. She, too, said the process was professional but time-consuming.

Her first hourlong interview was on the phone, with four people participating. Her second round, a week later, took all day: She said she interviewed with about 20 people back-to-back.

She learned within days (a much-appreciated quick response) that she didn't get the job. Later, she read on the institution's Web site that the job went to an internal candidate — someone she'd met in her interviews.

Fair enough. But Rand, like many applicants who spend extended time and emotional effort on job applications, feels drained.

"I did a lot of preparation for the interviews and research prior to both interviews," Rand said. "I gave them suggestions on improvement, issues with the school and multiple people took notes on my discussion."

Only a fly on the wall would know if any of Rand's ideas were or will be adopted. But her experience points out why some job applicants are frustrated: They don't think it's fair that companies may be getting their ideas for free.

Mostly, though, unemployed job hunters are simply getting worn down by the lengthy application process, which also involves e-mails, thank-you notes, revised cover letters and resumes to fit each position.

Yes, it's an employer's job market. And, yes, it's right to hire the right person and avoid hiring mistakes.

Gordon Bonnes understands that, even after he came in No. 2 for a much-desired position.

His job-finding effort started with two telephone interviews from Kansas City before the target company flew him to the Minneapolis job site. There, he had four interviews.

A week later, the company flew him to Boston for six consecutive 45-minute interviews at the company's headquarters. A seventh interview followed by phone.

"I applaud the company for caring about how you interact with the people you would be working with," Bonnes said, "But 13 interviews may have been overboard. Maybe there could have been a group interview to catch several at once."

Job applicants also are being asked to submit to handwriting analysis, standardized personality assessments and mock work situations.

Some application processes have stretched out so long and dug so deep — financially and emotionally — that many are struggling to keep their spirits up.

Even those who recite the mantra that "each 'no' gets me closer to 'yes' " are feeling the strain.

Job seekers may have to jump through hoops to find work 11/07/09 [Last modified: Friday, November 6, 2009 5:23pm]
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