What’s it cost and who pays?

by | May 24, 2020 | Change, ICT4D |

Remember the days of going to a grocery store/supermarket, going to the checkout where someone there was a cashier and someone bagging your groceries? Those days are long gone. Now many of us are the customer, cashier, and bagger.

Job applications are similar. Gone are the days of sending in a cover letter and a CV/resume. Now, hours and hours are spent entering the data into online forms for direct database entry. In discussing the job application process, a good friend of mine recently experienced, much frustration was expressed. Where previously applications were sent to a person to be screened, now the screening is done by an algorithm. The applicant does the database entry making it easier for the company. And in the case of my friend, there wasn’t the ability to connect the application to LinkedIn where her whole job history already existed. The database wouldn’t even accepted ‘pasting functionality’.

Decisions to make these shifts were likely made or justified as cost cutting measures. The company needs less people because machines can do it cheaper. I do wonder though if other costs beyond short term financial costs were considered?

The job application process is painful for almost everyone I know. It is also the first interaction people have with a company. So if that first interaction is both painful and fighting a database is that the first impression companies or organisations want to give? Does that attract talent?

There is also the question of who does it leave out. Applying for jobs is hard work. Crafting the application takes time. Lots of it. Now, if that time is increased further because of the data entry step, perhaps that pushes people over the edge. Just think of the single parent who manages to carve out bits of time to put together the words for the application. But then when she goes to submit her application she needs to spend another 3-4 hours in data entry. It’s unlikely she’ll apply.

Thinking about ‘who’s it for, what’s it cost, who pays, and who does it leave out’ from different perspectives can help us see a richer picture. It may not change our decision, but it may change how we implement it. Going digital is much more than just technology and financial. In fact, we must move such a heavy emphasis financial costs.

Photo by Kevin Ku


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