Saturday, 24 April 2010

Cost Cutting Deprives Job Candidates A Fair Chance

There’s nothing currently I welcome more than to hear from a company that I’ve applied for a job with. It’s often nice to know that they’ve taken time and effort to at least read my application, and at best consider me for their role. Unfortunately it’s very rare that this happens. I find it incredibly annoying that I spend so much time and effort completing job applications, and writing cover letters to accompany my CV only to never receive even an acknowledgement that my application has even been received. In my opinion that's rude, and it’s unprofessional.

Of course, that’s not to say that I always agree with companies that send me letters of rejection either. Due to the amount of applications I’m completing recently it unfortunately means that I receive rejection letters on a daily basis; on my desk I have two from yesterday, and in my email account I have five on the front page from the past week. Obviously I believe I was a suitable candidate for each of these positions, or I wouldn’t have applied, but I can also accept that the may have been stronger candidates than myself.

What I can’t accept though, is the rejection I recieved from PC World.

The application itself took almost an hour to complete. It was a frustrating, gritty, and prolonged process. This was mainly due to 6 long and arduous pages of questionnaires and personality tests in a tick box format. You know the type I mean; strongly agree, agree, slightly agree, slightly disagree, disagree, strongly disagree, none of which suit the answer you wish to give. All that was left after that were a few details that needed filling in; previous employment, contact details etc. Those details were presented in such a way that it seemed like a formality as I’d got so far, so imagine my surprise when I checked my emails and saw this sitting there:

Dear Craig

Re: part time Sales Customer Advisors

Many thanks for your application for the above position.

Unfortunately, your skills and experience do not seem to be a strong match for this role. I regret to inform you that we won’t be taking your application any further on this occasion.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your interest in joining the team and for the time you’ve taken with your application. Please do not respond to this email as we are unable to reply to it.


PC World is part of Dixons Stores Group international Plc, one of Europe’s largest specialist electrical retailers. Our businesses also include, Currys, Pixmania,, Tech Guys, Dixons Travel and DSGi Business. We have retail and e-tail stores spanning 28 countries, employ over 40,000 people and more than 100 million customers shop in-store and on-line with us every year.

This reply was received within minutes (probably less!) of submitting my application for the vacancy. Considering that this application actually took me close to an hour to complete, how on earth someone at PC World was able to read my application form in that space of time and make a formal judgement on me and my suitability for the role actually beggars belief. That someone must be quite inept to believe that I don’t have the ‘skills and experience’ for the role bearing in mind that I have spent over 5 years within a retail environment, experience of targeted sales, and a vast amount of knowledge and experience using computers and other relevant technology. You’d think that’s pretty much everything you need to be a ‘part time Sales Customer Adviser’ at PC World.

Of course, that assumption has a massive flaw; maybe that someone was, ironically, a computer program; one that scanned my application and rapidly decided against offering me an interview at PC World.

Upon doing some research, I’ve fond that PC World (and many other recruiters) use an online recruitment program provided by changeworknow. These guys are apparently “specialists in online resourcing” who “reduce recruitment spend overall” for companies. Here’s a paragraph from their website:

Driving up quality, driving down admin

Our approach to high volume recruitment maximises the use of criteria based questionnaires with immediate feedback to help each candidate understand how well they fit the role profile and control the quality of the candidates presented to HR and branch managers. Our clients typically experience a 50-80% reduction of unsuitable candidates through self deselection, with a parallel reduction in administration and manual filtering.

There you have it, confirmation that my application was judged by a computer program. Despite me comfortably having the necessary experience for the role, I have been overlooked by PC World due to them seemingly cutting costs within their recruitment department, and opting for a cheaper/easier method of filtering applications.

It makes me wonder how many other companies have overlooked me, and other suitable candidates in the past due to programs and similar cost cutting methods such as this.

I do accept that companies such as PC World must receive a large amount of job applications, and need a way of filtering them efficiently. But I’m not sure that conducting an online test that doesn’t appear make sense in places, is the right way to go.

Still, they’re a helpful, intelligent bunch in PC World… aren’t they?


Kal said...


I saw you started following me on twitter and before I deleted you from my followers (no offence, I get a lot of spambots following me) I decided to check out your blog.

I don't want to say that I'm happy you're going through this, but it's nice (in a way) to be able to read someone elses experience and know that I'm not the only one.

I graduated in 2008. Since then I've had 3 jobs (sales assistant, call centre agent and a month in a "real job" as a web content editor which I "let go" from as my manager realised he needed someone with a different degree background), and spent 9 months living with my boyfriend in Watford, 4 of those living off my savings as the JSA system said that as long as he was earning, I wasn't allowed benefits.

We broke up in March and now I'm living with my parents in Manchester (in my younger sister's old bedroom as she claimed mine when I moved out.)

Sorry, that was a longer rant than I thought! :s (Not looking for sympathy - no way - just enjoy a good rant, especially about job hunting. Grr.)

Anyway, I've realised that I think I've also been treated to this new horror of applications being read by a computer. Which is horrific. I didn't realise that was possible, although logical (not in a good way.) And I used to think online apps were easier than posting one off. Not any more...

I'm going to stop taking over your blog comments box now.

Best of luck with the job hunt.

globalEK said...

I commented about this post, and your jobhunting sitch on LinkedIn. Come back over and start a dialogue!

Here's part of wrote on LI:

Concerning the use of automated online screening. I too hate the use of such processes, and at this stage, even with the Great Recession, I would avoid a company that uses them--OR would do active networking/detective work to speak with an actual person, a HR or hiring manager directly.

I don't know if it's possible for you but try that. Go to various PC World (and other company) locations and inquire directly with the in-store managers about openings, their need actual need for help.

You'll need to be a bit [good-tempered about your approach] to them--as they probably get asked about work all the time-- but the benefit is you'll discover which stores have a specific need, as opposed to PC World HQ just banking CVs into their database for theoretical future use.

Even if the manager tells you that you have to apply online (DON'T tell them about your previous rejection), ask them to also take your CV, "for future reference." Who knows, they may call you in for an interview anyway.

Anonymous said...

It does seem bizarre that PC World rejects people in this way. Go back ten years and you could apply and easily get a part-time sales advisor role in a shop or store without a degree and a minimum of qualifications with the area manager taking the applications, selecting candidates and the shop manager perhaps interviewing you. Unless something has changed, perhaps they are weeding out graduates from among their applicants.

Anonymous said...

Online or indeed offline questionaires are a nightmare. I can (and have) flown through the boots questionaire but I can't get past the marks and spencers one. My friend, who put very similar answers to me, can't get past the boots questionaire, but flies through the marks and spencers one.
Plus I've applied to work at Asda three times, using their questionaire and not once got an interview, despite knowing 2 well-liked employees.

Anonymous said...

Can I just say that you shouldn't want to work for PC World anyway. They are the most useless people ever and know hardly anything about computers. And don't even get me started on their Tech Guys!

Good luck in your search with your new CV.

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