How to Escape a Black Hole

You’re a bulletproof candidate with a spellbinding resume. You’ve painstakingly wordsmithed your CV until your accomplishments and personality leap off the page. You know that anyone who views your finely tuned profile will instantly recognize you as the highest caliber talent on the market right now.

A wild opportunity appears!

Your job board email alert reveals a perfect match for your background, and it happens to be with a company you know and love.  You spend thirty-seven minutes crafting a cover letter tailored to the job description.  Almost there, you just have to hit the Apply Now button!

Ugh, it’s one of those hateful application portals.  You have to create a username and password to apply.  Sure thing, what’s just one more set of credentials to keep track of?  It asks you to upload your resume file.  No problem.  Now it asks you to copy and paste the resume in a box as plain text.  Uh, okay.  Now it wants you to re-write your entire resume, but you have to copy it piece by piece into a dizzying array of text fields.  Welp, there goes another twenty-eight minutes.

But it’s worth it!  Keep going!

Now the portal is asking you for references.  References?  Now?  We haven’t even spoken yet!  Minimum salary requirement?  What, help you lowball me?  Gross.  You’re thinking of turning back, but this company offers its employees unlimited vacation and a free sauna membership.  No, no.  Must… soldier on.

Time for the long-form essay questions.  “What makes you passionate about this opportunity?”  You start to type the word sauna, delete it, then flip into candidate autopilot:  Something something dynamic fast-paced environment.  Something something industry leader.  You suddenly remember reading somewhere that this company keeps a neverending supply of loaded baked potatoes in their employee breakroom.  You start to type the word chives, then delete it.

Your fingertips are raw.  A bead of sweat drips onto your spacebar. You click the Next button to move to the fourteenth screen of this tortuous application.  It takes a while to load.  The wheel spins for half an eternity.  Oh God, it’s crashing.  It’s crashing!

Phew, it loaded.  It’s now 3am.  Your eyes are screenburnt and bloodshot.  You’re pretty sure you can smell baked potatoes.  All that’s left to complete is a plethora of super invasive questions about your gender, ethnicity, and health.  You realize there isn’t a mixed race option, (And why would there be?  This is 1952, right?) so you pick Decline to Identify.  Wait, you can do that?  Sweet!  You Decline your way through eight more government-mandated questions that have nothing to do with your ability to do the job, right to the end of the portal.  Now you just have to prick your finger, place your bloody thumbprint against the screen, and hit the Submit button.

It’s over.  You’ve done it.  Now to wait for HR to email you about setting up the screening call.

Your fingernails get longer.


The seasons change.


A teenager in a red jacket whizzes by on a hoverboard.

Did it even go through?  Did they read it and hate it?  Is the company still in business?  Your mind can’t stop spinning with possible explanations.  Maybe they were intimidated.  Maybe the HR rep loved it so much that she hyperventilated, fainted, hit her head on the table, had a vision of the Flux Capacitor, and decided to invent a time-traveling Delorean, shirking her recruiting duties in the name of timeline-splintering adventure.

Another teenager whizzes by on a hoverboard, this time wearing a black jacket and fedora.

You check the company’s job postings again to find that the role to which you applied has vanished.  It’s over.  You, dear candidate, sent your gorgeous resume into the application portal black hole.

What’s the escape plan?

Almost every staffing agency in the world makes getting your resume to them a breeze.  They have a vested interest in shielding you from all the time-wasting, soul-sucking drudgery of the baneful text fields that mark the diabolical online application process.

The huge benefit of working with a staffing agency is that they have a hefty stake in the game of getting you in front of the hiring manager.  A recruiter has a direct line to either HR or the real decision-maker, and they won’t just launch your resume into an abyss and cross their fingers.  They’ll doggedly stay on top of it until they get feedback because they don’t eat unless their candidate gets the job.

Everyone knows that the quality of recruiters out there varies wildly.  You’ll get some duds who bury your killer resume in a massive rubbish heap of mediocre candidates.  You’ll get ghosted, strung along, baited, and switched.  But if you link up with one of the good ones, you’ll be valued, listened to, coached, cheered along, and thrust into the spotlight of a manager who’s eventually going to hand you the key to that company sauna.

by Justin Kirkwood, Contributing Editor, Cameron Resources Group LLC

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