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

Friday, August 28, 2009

Exploring SAP. Not sweet at all.

Well I had a little period of unjustifiable job applying, and the results of that is some new usability annoyances, my gift to you, loyal readers.

The first starts off with a Taleo complaint. Keep in mind, I'm not sure if this issue is caused by Taleo, or the hiring company, who has not well-configured its setup.

This comes from the initial Taleo page for a random company (it's actually Kroll, but that's important here.)

The fact that I can immediately begin searching for jobs by narrowing my search down to jobs in Burlington, Vermont implies to me that there are jobs available in Burlington, Vermont.

There aren't any. In fact, they only have jobs in probably 3-4 cities in the nation, meaning that just about any city you choose in that list will lead to no results (or jobs which have no particular geographic location.)

Definitely not a user-friendly or logical outcome. If there are no jobs in that location, please don't allow me to search for it.

My next series of complaints come from some sort of SAP system, as used by the airline Jetblue.

The little calendar pop-up is often a welcome when making airline reservations. I can hone in on a date by looking at the month and such.

It makes little sense here, because often times I don't know the exact date work started or ended. I don't think the employer really cares either. Worse, my instinct was to use the calendar, until I needed to enter in a date for 2007, and the only way to get back to 2007 was to go back one month at a time (clicking for each month on the back arrow.) I quickly gave up on that and entered the date (well, a date) in the box.

Which brings me back to something I've complained about before. Pull down boxes for countries. Completely unnecessary: they slow the job-seeker down annoyingly to find a particular country. Look, if the job seeker worked in that country, they can likely spell the country in an open form-field.

This particular list does not have "United States" as the top listing. While I'm not suggesting that USA need appear at the top of all these lists, given the fact that this is an American company and mostly Americans will be applying, there's no reason why all these job seekers have to scroll all the way down the damn list.

But I am grateful that they did have the Heard and McDonald Islands in their job list, because you never know who will need to note that a job they had was on one of two uninhabited, barren Antarctic islands.

Did I mention they're uninhabited? As in no people. No population. None.

When entering experience, this system wants you to categorize the industry that you had the job in. I hate doing these things, because the categories are often not particularly standardized. (Example: Most of the time "Human Resources" is a top level category. On this site, it falls under "Other Services" which is where I think "Real Estate" should fit.)

Incidentally, I found the listing of jobs on the Jetblue site unreadable in Firefox and Chrome. Not pleased.

I'm going to continue picking on SAP, and for good reason. Their error messages are fabulous:

This is basically a session time out on the First Energy HR site. SAP continues to deliver some of the worst error messages ever.

Let's go back to the main site so I can get a session working, and start looking at jobs:

It's not very obvious how you're supposed to just browse for jobs. You can do so just by pressing the "Start" button, which I guess is searching for jobs with no criteria selected, as indicated by the fact that the three boxes have a field highlighted which is blank. I'm sure this was put together by some very bright database-head, but it's unintuitive and stupid.

Now here are my results:

This page is so unintuitive and badly setup, it makes me cry. I can feel my blood pressure rise, and I don't even eat that much salt.

First of all, it's not obvious that there are more jobs which are available, but I can't see. Each job is a "row" and 15 rows are displayed, so there are six more jobs which aren't being shown. I could figure that out by counting the rows displayed, and seeing that there are six missing, or I could figure that out by the three yellow buttons at the bottom (which are, in order, next row, next page and last row...I'm sure you didn't need me to explain that because it's patently obvious based on their design.)

I don't know why it says "row 1 of 21" because no row (or job...why don't they just fucking call it a "job"?) is actually selected.

I know why they won't call it a job, because it's some lame database that's been hacked together to work as an HR application system.

Since the jobs aren't numbered, it's not obvious where I am in the list, unless I figure out that "row 2 of 21" indicates that job 2 is the first job listed at the top of the page, and that 1 job from the top isn't dispayed, and 5 others are not shown from the bottom of the list. I don't know why I am given buttons to advance by pages, because it's not particularly obvious that this system thinks of things in terms of pages of 15, since it's so damn fascinated by rows. (And how would I know that pages are broken down in sets of 15 rows without actually counting the rows? And at what point would I give up on First Energy when I realize I'm counting jobs on a page in order to figure out their damn system?)

As readers of this blog know, I like to go ahead and open a job I'm interested in in a new tab on my browser. So my natural inclination is to right click on the job...

Grr. Apparently it won't let me do that because I'm contained in some sort of database hell within my browser. So I'm given two options, one to close...well, honestly, I don't know, and
the second to get help on the field I clicked on.

Since the first one doesn't seem to toggle anything, I'll try the second.

Ahh. Yes, now that is helpful.

I might complain a lot about Taleo, but at least they've got a usability designer somewhere. This system was put together by a database nerd and that's it. It's truly awful.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Oracle's lousy error messages and just overall weirdness

Today's rant has to do with Oracle's strange job application software system, and the fact that I've found it notoriously unreliable.

I have fought with this system when applying for jobs with Huntington Bank and Dish Network (applying for a job with the latter was nothing short of a 2 hour fight with the worst system ever made.)

Now to be fair, I can't tell if a lot of the error messages I encounter with this system is the fault of the company who uses it and doesn't do a very good job at setting it up. Of course, based on the problems I've experienced with it, that implies to me that setting it up is a straight up nightmare.

This system likes to throw up really awesome error messages. Best in the industry. Ellison should be proud.

I think I was trying to change my address in my profile when this occurred:

In fact, doing anything with this system today resulted in this error message:

Persistence pays off with this system. If you get that error message, just try over and over again. It'll work eventually.

Actually this wasn't a bad day with this system, I had worst days with this system, including:

And if you were bold enough to find out what the exception details'd get:

Oh man! Does that clear things up!

In fact, this one day, I found a diagnostics page in my Huntingon profile. Maybe I wasn't supposed to see this information. I can only wonder for whom this type of information is useful, because, while I'm not a computer science guy, it seems like this page isn't helpful diagnosing anything at all.

Going back to error messages though, one day I got this one:

That was encountered one day on the Dish Network/Echostar page. You know, if my login isn't associated with a person, with what is it associated?

I know I've complained before about hiring sites that require pop-up blocker to be turned off. other site in the world requires me to have pop-up blocker off. If your site does, you've made it wrong. I turn off pop-up blocker so rarely that I don't remember how to do it.

This gets me into one of the odder aspects of Oracle's system.

It's cute you enter in the state two letter abbreviation, then you press the flashlight, and...voila! The system adds the correct state under the field so you know that it knows that VT stands for "Vermont." See? No confusion...umm...I guess I don't really know what the purpose of this is, but it's a completely unnecessary step.

Now in this next error message, this completely unnecessary step prevented me from moving on.

In the state section, I knew that the computer was looking for one of 50 state abbreviation codes. In the "status" section I didn't know what it was looking for, but I could see that it most definitely wasn't liking the word "Graduated" as indicated by the suck-ass error message I received. However, I had no idea what terminology it was looking for instead, because pressing the flashlight all on its own without anything in the field wouldn't return to me a list of possible entries. (Don't ask me how I figured this problem out, I don't remember.)

The Oracle system doesn't like to tell you requirements before you encounter them. For instance, setting up a password for the login....

Ok. That was the first time I was told I needed a number in the password. Ok. No big deal, it's like, such an important login man, that I need to have the a number in the password. Ok, so I'll add a number and try again...

Oh! Apparently I need to have an upper case character in my password, at least, that's what was defined by whoever thought that my password needed to be really strong to protect my resume, but didn't bother creating a proper error message for it...or even explaining it to me from the get-go. That's ok, I'll add an uppercase character and then I should be...

Really Dish Network? No repeating characters? It's not like repeating characters all on their own make the password easier to guess at, not that it matters because this password is protecting absolutely nothing of consequence.

So there ya go...three pointless, completely different error messages about password strength. Impressive, huh?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Oops. Taleo was suddenly more useful than normal, at least in the wrong way

A fellow job searcher wrote in to say....

"I've been unemployed since Oct 2008 so I've had to use Taleo to submit my resume for many different positions. So this morning I start my job search from my daily email alerts. I see a position I may qualify for so I click on the link and start the process of submitting my application through Taleo, but it won't let me. What's up with that? My first thought is the company must have pulled the position, lots of that going nowadays fer sure, so I'll search for other openings within that particular company.

I start searching for the openings and realize I've found a bit of a bug in the Taleo system.............

What's the bug you ask?

I'm logged in under someone else's profile!!!

Damned right skippy, I'm looking at Mr. so & so personal profile, resume and have the ability to retract submissions for the position!!!

Now this is a bit peculiar. I wonder how many people have viewed my personal and private information? Since we're obviously competing for the same positions have they retracted my resume submissions in a hope of narrowing the candidate pool?

Wanna see screen shots?"

Why I love screenshots! I like to mangle them and insert them awkwardly into the blog here.

Eh, it's not very interesting really. The screenshots aren't easy to share because they contain personal information about the guy whose profile showed up randomly when the job-seeker clicked on the job.

He adds that...


I called Taleo, was put on hold and transferred around a couple of times with the front line drones who didn't care about my concerns. The last person I spoke with basically blamed me for the issue, said it must have been something wrong with my computer."

Well that was less than helpful considering the fact that this is a security issue regarding the Taleo software. Being able to log in to a random profile on accident is, umm, a no-no.

Having said that, if someone with Taleo contact me, I'll forward the images on so that you could take care of this issue properly. I'll even update the page to show you care. :-)

UPDATE--they cared. An email was received and the information forwarded on. Thank you.