How Taleo, and other job application/listing sites, suck. A place of retreat for the job hunter. Got a tip? Send it to

Monday, December 24, 2007

The devil's log in and more sobering thoughts

You're at this blog because your heart sinks just as much as mine does when we see this:

Oh a fun time awaits let me tell you!

Of course one of the reasons why this login screen is so frustrating is that it's so familiar. You've been to this screen dozens of times, but you don't necessarily know if you have been to *this* one. Have I applied for this company before? What username could I have used? This particularly login screen implies I could have used my email address as a username. Did I?

Taleo profiles are unique to the individual company, not to all Taleo companies. More on that later, but it's terribly frustrating, particularly if it's been years since I've applied for a job with this company.

So I might try a few username/password combinations before giving up and clicking on forgotten user name.

Taleo tries to be helpful in its usual not very helpful Taleo way. It's giving you a big hint--email address is the best way because you can enter just the email and get a successful result.

But you have to be careful, as far as I can tell, if you enter in data into other fields in addition to email, and those fields are wrong or don't parse well, then you will not be successful at getting the user name returned.

That's not exactly spelled out here. Names can change, but addresses do a lot...I have no idea which address I may or may not have been at when I last applied for a job with this company. Nor do I know how strict Taleo parses addresses--is 500 North 7th St. the same as 500 N. Seventh Street? Who knows?

You could just create a new profile with a different email address--which is a silly solution, but it does work.

It would be wonderful if Taleo offered one profile that could be used to apply for jobs at any company which uses Taleo. If that's not possible, it would be downright awesome if I could log into a Taleo company profile and import data that I have already entered in to another Taleo company profile. Either would provide the type of convenience that would make me happily accept the crappy interface, technical issues and strange consistencies of Taleo.

But here's the rather sobering thought I had in the shower today: HR departments are notoriously staffed by fools who use odd rules to filter out job applicants (I can't necessarily blame them, because of how many applications they get.)

One of those rules may be something like "no more than two jobs in the previous five years."

I realized today that the Taleo software may very well allow for that type of filtering--all the work an applicant put into getting their stuff online and a Taleo filter immediately removes it from the applicant queue. A human doesn't even get to see the application--which is a shame because that applicant may have just the right resume or cover letter in spite of not meeting some random little rule.

It wouldn't surprise me if the system worked that way--after all, Taleo works for *them* and not *us*. However, if we knew the most common filtering, we could possibly outsmart the software and get through to a human. And if that's the case, this blog has a purpose that I had not previously envisioned.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Suckage on a non-Taleo website

Today's job search frustration is brought to you by Brassring, which I have found to be marginally better than Taleo's offering.

Which is not to say that it doesn't have its own lake of suck. Let's examine it:

Time Warner uses Brassring. When I get to the career search for the US, I get this:

*Sigh* A minor irritation to be sure. It's probably a minor oversight, but it's the type of thing that a less tech-savvy person would be really concerned about. (Although IE doesn't throw up the same error message, and I guess less tech-savvy people are more likely to be using that browser instead of Mozilla, but I digress.)

So here's the search screen...

...all I really want is all the jobs available in New York, New York, so it looks like the thing I want to do is go through the list..

Well you get the idea. It's pretty painful to scroll through hundreds of entries in a really small scroll box. It's true, Time Warner has an unusually large quantity of locations, but at least the geniuses at Taleo have figured out how to refine searches down easier. (Since the box is so small, the scroll bar on the side does three things--it brings you all the way to the top, all the way to to bottom, and some place in the middle that inevitably will be wrong.)

Wow, there are a lot of cities in Kentucky.

What Taleo really sucks at

So I'm looking for jobs at the Chase site. I'm squinting hard at the initial results...

Now I need to figure out how to narrow the search to jobs available just in New York, New York.

In case you can't read the words at the top telling you how to do this...

"To narrow your search by Job or Location, you must choose an item in the list, click Refine, and then click the Search button at the bottom of the Search Controls to see the results."

After clicking all sorts of different things, what you're supposed to do is click on the link that says "Job Search." (The directions are actually telling you how to execute the search after you successfully click on "Job Search." Funny, that's the easy part, the hard part was opening up the refine search tool. Why am I being given directions to do the easy thing with a tool I can't figure out how to open up? Meh.)

I guess it should be more obvious. "Job Search" has a tiny little arrow next to it that is to pointing right and not down, a clear indicator that I needed to select "Job Search" to...oh who am I kidding? It sucks.

But I click anyway, and I'm given the following:

I think I can make sense of this. I'll look for something "Admin/Secretarial" in New York, New York. To do that, I'll select "Admin/Secretarial" in the United States and press refine.

As you can see, I'm not in sub-categories of "Admin/Secretarial." Well, you can't see that, because there's no indication in the search box that I'm now one level into that category. (It sort of indicates changes the word "category" to "function" but it really should be clearer--like it is in the location search box.)

We won't indicate a particular function, and just search for New York, New...

Shit. Well, that's probably not Taleo's fault, that's the bank's. Just to make sure I get everything, I'll cmd-select all three (yes, I will accept a job in North America.)

I press refine let the page update, and realize nothing happens. In my mind, refine should be updating the results in the list all along, but it doesn't. I guess that's ok, although the page shouldn't allow me to choose "refine" if it's not going to do anything (since I'm at as fully refined category wise as I can be.) So then I press search.

Well that looks good, I'll select the first job and see what it's all about.


Meh. Let's read about the other jobs in the list...I'll press the back button to go back to the list...

"No no no" you're supposed to use the really small link at the bottom of the page that says "Return to the job list."

Let me tell you something. Every other major website has figured out how to avoid this error message. Try it--search on ebay, amazon--all of them allow you to use the back button to return to the search list. It's easy, it's fun, it's also the web standard, and the one that we the internet generation, are so used to using.

Do I get frustrated getting this message over and over again because I can't learn a lesson quickly? No. My problem is that I have used thousands of webpages which all function in the exact same way (allowing me to go back to the search results) and for some reason this lame website always throws up this meaningless error message (although it does, to its credit, work, if I bother to press ok.)

This is what I mean by a strange consistency of Taleo. Why do I have to press a special link to return to the search results when the natural thing is just to go back?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Roots that lead nowhere

As far as I can tell, companies which use Taleo don't actually maintain the servers which we use to submit our applications. These servers are maintained by Taleo as indicated by the root URL when applying for a job: (Like for Chase.)

Ahh, that makes life easy. When I need to return to a job site (to edit an app, find more jobs, or whatever) it seems that I should just be able to go directly to the root site, login, apply.

Alas, this is often not the case, for reasons that I truly don't understand, the root address typically does nothing. sort of takes me where I want to be. The front page is this rather obtuse page that is mostly for internal HR people with only one link for job applicants.

(Getting here is weird incidentally, the URL flips several times and Firefox goes through a bunch of weird data sessions.)

To be fair, each company sets up Taleo to their inscrutable preferences. takes you nowhere--their jobsite seems to plug the Taleo feed into a frame on their website.

The effect is terrible for what it's worth. On Firefox (note I originally said "Mozilla" when I meant Firefox) it looks like this:

It does look slightly, but not significantly better in IE.

(I believe, though I suspect many will disagree, that any professional corporate site that doesn't work well in all the major browsers is amateurish.)

Today's completely amusing experience comes from going directly to After 3 URL redirects, I'm presented with the following:

Whereas I said before I find sites that don't work well in all browsers amateurish, I find sites that require me to turn off my pop up blocker unforgivably bad. (I have encountered other job sites that require this and undoubtedly they'll be shamed on here as well.)

Since the root site is more oriented towards HR and not the candidates, I can only conclude that there are HR people everywhere frustrated by the sillyness of not having pop-up blockers because they have to use this crappy system. (It seems this problem only occurs in previous versions of Taleo.)

Going back to the original situation, what happens when you press ok?

Splendid. I really appreciate the null email address and the completely bizarre error message language (request corrupted during transmission? Huh? These are all good quality zeros and ones I'm sending...)

This is not the first time on a Taleo site I've been told to re-open my session. I'm not sure what that means in terms of a page on a browser. I know it doesn't mean restart my browser (but, alas, the less tech savvy might do that to the demise of their spare time) but does it mean simply refresh the page? How about re-log in to the site? If that were the case, why doesn't it just give me the damn link to re-log in?

Welcome, now please re-enter all your information all over again

You've arrived at this blog because you either searched for the term Taleo or you actually put two and two together and searched for "Taleo Sucks."

The point of this blog is a place to air out bad corporate job sites. Taleo appears to be market leader of this mediocrity--supplying an outsource job listing/application system that is used by quite a lot of companies.

Undoubtedly it's a great tool for companies who get reams and of well-filtered data after we, the job applicants, fight with the site and its strange consistencies.

Unfortunately, I have understood that telling the potential employer that their job site sucks is a less than effective approach (though, trust me, I have.) And so far, when I've had technical issues with a Taleo site, my attempts to get customer service have been entirely unsuccessful (and they were sincere technical issues and not just me telling them how thoroughly they screw the pooch raw.)

So, fellow job candidate, come to this site and rant with me. It's not just anti-Taleo, feel free to discuss the lameness of any job site.

And if you really want, we can also talk about the good some sites do.