Friday, August 16, 2013

The impossible job application

Now, I thought I'd come up against every permutation of a bad application process. There's the traditional application form that has been created in Word, and looks very pretty, but goes to pieces when you actually try and fill it in - the text boxes that are too small to hold the information, but the size can't be adjusted; the tables that have margins set beyond the edge of the page so your text disappears; the layouts that dissolve into incoherency and random page-straddling tables when anything is actually typed into the form. Or the forms that only allow for 3 previous roles, and are set so that no extra areas can be inserted. Or the job that was advertised once with a strict warning that the guidance notes must be used to complete the form...without the guidance notes available (that one was re-advertised, and the epically complex guidance notes magically appeared that time). Or the company that required application forms to be printed, signed, and scanned for submission, but lost them afterwards. But Midlothian Council has actually jumped the shark, in impossible job application terms.

Twice recently, they have advertised jobs which either myself or my colleagues had felt we were suitably skilled to do, and therefore we tried to apply for them. "Try" however is the operative word, as despite our best efforts, we cannot actually apply for them. Why not? Well, before the application can even be attempted, applicants must confirm that they've undertaken a test called the Midlothian Strengths Assessment. In the job adverts, it states:
Please complete the Midlothian Strengths Assessment prior to completing the application form.  Failure to do so will result in your application being rejected.
So, we're clear - if you apply for the job without completing the MSA, you will immediately be rejected.

But, where is this MSA to be found? Nowhere online - all references to it lead back to...these job adverts. OK: we'll try the contact number in the adverts for the HR Department, that's sensible, right? Well, you'd think so, but Midlothian Council apparently don't do sense. Last week, when my colleague tried getting the same information about where to find the MSA from staff, they appeared to have no idea what she was talking about, and didn't return her calls. So this week, it was my turn. On Tuesday I called - the person who may deal with this was allegedly busy on another call, I was told I'd be called back. No call back. On Wednesday I was busy, and still no call back. Yesterday I called again. This time, the person whose phone I was transferred to wasn't around, so I left a voicemail, saying what information I wanted, and asking for a call back. I called again later - still no person, only the "leave a message" option. Guess what? No call back yesterday, and I was busy today so didn't have time to waste more of my life chasing them up again. I do not now have any time for actually doing the application before the closing date. As the post was advertised on the 6th and closes on the 19th, and I've wasted the best part of a week trying to find how to apply, there's a slim chance that anyone else will have been able to find out where this mysterious Midlothian Strengths Assessment can be found either, never mind completed it.

Midlothian Council - for this amazing effort to ensure nobody can apply for your jobs: I salute you.

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