The UX of Online Job Applications

Posted By Debbie on February 2, 2015

Categories: UX/UI

Tags: forms, job applications, jobs

There is always something ironic about filling out a job application where the UX is so bad I almost want to just say “forget it” and not apply for the job.

Here are some of the ways in which these summon The Four Horsemen of Bad UX.

Unnecessary Questions

One application first asked me my “ethnicity,” which the choices being “Hispanic or Latino” or “Not Hispanic or Latino.” The next drop down asked my “race,” which listed “White” and other supposed “races.”

Why not just have one drop down that asks race or ethnicity? If someone picks Latino, send that to your other field. If someone picks anything else, send “Not Hispanic Or Latino” to that field.

Another application asked for my full address (non-optional) and then had a dropdown called “Region.” It wasn’t marked as required but turned out to be required. When I clicked it, it was a list of towns. I picked my town again even though I had typed it in. Why.

Enter In Everything From Your Resume

Some applications grab your resume and might also connect to your LinkedIn. You now know just about everything about my work history that I make public.

So why should I then see step 2 of 4, a page asking me non-optionally to enter in my last 3 jobs… titles, companies, start and end dates? Can’t you get that from LinkedIn and/or my resume? Why make me type it again?

Bad Resume Scraping

Some job applications scrape my resume and try to put info into their fields. I appreciate the effort, but if you’re putting my phone number as my city, this isn’t going so well.

More importantly, do you really need my full street address for me to apply for this job? I promise I am local and will show up.

One application imported my resume, scraped it, and then showed an awful jumbled mess of text in a textarea field. I almost added some sort of apology to my cover letter about how awfully the system brought in my resume, but decided to have faith. After I submitted the application, the “thank you” screen actually had a sentence saying that I shouldn’t worry; the formatting of my resume would be retained.

How about saying that on the previous page where it looks like a dog vomited it!

Create An Account

Some internal job application systems as well as some third party systems require you to “create an account.” You can’t apply for the job unless you give some extra information, would you like to be emailed when there are more jobs like this, can we email you about other things, tell us what you were making at your last 3 jobs, and create a password. Now go check your email to confirm your email and this account.

That should be optional. I have applied for a lot of jobs and have never logged back in to any of these. Since it doesn’t seem necessary, how about making my experience faster and easier?

Can You Just Correct That For Me Please?

I had one application ask for my LinkedIn full URL. In my haste, I typed http://linkedin/in/debbielevitt. When I went to submit the page, it threw me an error message saying there should be a “.com” after linkedin. Yeah, you’re right. How about you just add that for me and accept my form?

Don’t like the format of my phone number? Make it whatever you want.

Yes, my email really is I actually got an error message saying it didn’t look like a valid email and am I SURE that’s my email. Yes, it is. Get with ccTLDs that have been around forever.

Another application asked for my LinkedIn URL and then the field maxed out at about 25 characters. Well, my URL doesn’t fit. What do I put in? I just put in debbielevitt and hoped someone would know why I typed that.


One thing I find interesting is that I can apply to a job online and never hear from that company again other than the form “thanks for applying” email I get immediately afterwards. Some do send form emails later saying they didn’t choose me.

But how about the companies who send nothing? I’m applying via some system. Can’t the system shoot me a quick rejection so I’m not wondering for weeks what’s going on? I’d imagine the hiring manager or HR person has something they can quickly do to tell the system they don’t want me. Respond, if you please.

Maybe a company in the HR or recruiting industry will hire me. 🙂