Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Dealing with bureaucracy, disappointment, and file conversion.

Today was one of those days that can just take the wind out of your sails if you let it. This morning I found the perfect job, and I spent over half the day jumping through all sorts of hoops just so I could apply for the job only to be told that the position was no longer available.

I got up this morning ready to go so I dove right into the listings at the WorkSource site (Washington State's employment resources service) Right off the bat I found a job that was perfect for me! It was a perfect fit for my skills, it was in a perfect location, it had everything! But there were a few hitches.

The first hitch was that the employer wasn't listed which meant that I could not apply at the employer's site, but instead I had to apply directly through WorkSource just to get a referral for the position. The second hitch was that one of the requirements the job was for a BS in Computer Sciences. Now in the past I have come across other listings that either required a CS degree or equivalent work experience, but I didn't see the latter option for this position so I decided to check with WorkSource to see if equivalent work experience would be acceptable for this position.

I made a call into WorkSource and was told it would be best for me to come down and check with one of the recruitment specialists at WorkSource to see if I even qualify for the job. I wasn't all that thrilled about having to go down to the local WorkSource office then wait who knows how long, and deal with whatever bureaucracy just to be told whether or not I even qualified for this job, but I really wanted this job so I bit the bullet and drove down to the local office.

I went through the process of signing up to see a recruitment specialist, and then waited for almost an hour until one was available. Now the recruitment specialist I met was a great person to deal with. Not only were they very nice to talk to, but they were also very encouraging. After talking with me for a bit, and then taking a look at my resume the specialist determined that I my education and background were perfect for the position. They told me that the position was for another government agency (which shall remain nameless) and, then set up a referral for me and told me how to apply.

After thanking the specialist I drove home feeling really good about this job, and my future. Once I returned home I powered up my computer, and went directly to the agencies site. I didn't see any option to log in and submit my resume, but I did find a general HR email address, and a link for the application forms. I polished up my cover later, and tweaked it to perfection, and then downloaded the application forms which were a total of eight pages in Adobe .pdf format.

Virtually everyone who has filled out an employment application dreads having to fill in all that information in by hand. I think most would agree we would feel more comfortable being able to edit application forms with an editor such as Word, and not have to worry about our hand writing. At least this is the case with me. I don't have any way to convert .pdf formatted documents to a format such as Word's .doc format which I can then edit. I've gone through this before, but never had any luck finding a format converter that worked, so I just manually filled out the documents. Given that this application was eight pages in length, and the my hand writing pretty much sucks, I decided to once again search around for a .pdf to .doc conversion application. After trying three different "free" applications that either didn't work, or only allowed me to convert three of the eight pages plus leave a watermark across the converted text I gave up.

Since I was only submitting my resume for consideration, and not at the stage where I was actually applying for the job, I decided that maybe I should call the HR Department for this agency and see if I really need to fill the out application forms at this time. So I muddled through the telephone answering system several times just to get the correct telephone number. I dialed the number in hopes that the person on the other end would tell me that I didn't have to fill out the forms at this stage, but instead I was hit with the bombshell. The person who answered the telephone asked me for what position I was applying for, and when I told them they told me that the position had been filled over a week ago.

Needless to say I was a more then a little crushed by the experience. I had spent half of my day hopeful that I would be able to apply for a fantastic job, jumped through all the hoops, only to be told the position no longer was available. Talk about a gut punch!

Now I am not upset with anyone at WorkSource or the other agency. I just wish that they had communicated between each other a little better because not only did I waste half a day applying for a position that didn't exist, but I also wasted resources such as gas and paper. While I am down about all of this, I am not going to let this experience keep me down. I am going to take what I can from the experience and move forward. On the upside, I met a great recruitment specialist at WorkSource who now has my resume, and since I had the email address for the other agency I went ahead and emailed my cover letter and resume to them. Who knows, maybe they may take a look at it, and keep me in mind for a future opportunity.

The one thing that I am a really miffed about is that Adobe doesn't offer a low cost product to convert .pdfs into other formats. The "standard" version of Adobe Acrobat is something around $250 which unemployed people like me cannot afford. Now I understand why companies and agencies place their online applications forms in .pdf format, and I understand Adobe needs to make a buck, but you would think that given the current economic climate that Adobe might want to offer a low cost tool for converting .pdfs to .doc format. Even if the license for the application was valid for only six to twelve months, and afterwards the application would be disabled, a low cost conversion tool that actually worked would be a great benefit for many of use who are unemployed and have to deal with application forms that are in .pdf format. Maybe someone from Adobe's product development group might read this and consider the idea. If that happened then my day wouldn't be a complete wash.

Well that's enough for now. I am going to take the rest of the night off and watch "The Big Lebowski" because the Dude abides, and I love his style :)

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