Careerbuilder.com Update Broke My Job Search

Yep, it’s another tech post.

See here’s the deal.  Everyone who ‘owns’ a website is always looking for ways to refresh it so people find more reasons to come back.  More visits mean you’re more likely to click on an ad and send a few pennies to a few dollars their way.

Sometimes the refresh works, other times they need to go back and rethink it.   This is one of those times.

This is also a good illustration of why I put “User Experience” and “User Interface” on my resume.  I’ve written about how Dice.com made a change, why it was wrong and what they needed to do to fix it.  They hit that blog posting and decided I was right on some points, and used my ideas.   I’m sure they read it because they’re out in Iowa and nobody from that city had ever read my blog before that posting.  It was easy to find.

A little background and high order discussion. I’ll try not to get too “techie”.  In fact, I pride myself and have been told I’m successful in writing about weird tech issues and getting things across to people who don’t understand them.

I look for permanent work around 35 hours a week on average.  I use the major job boards and some of the minor ones to ask the question “What Jobs Are Available within 30 Miles of Zipcode 33305 in Computing Within The Last Three Days”.  You know, IT and Project Management.   Since I live in a major city, that search returns a lot of positions.  I further finesse that by saying search for specific job titles, certain exclusions of companies that are inappropriate for various reasons, and even some arbitrary things.

Once a week I have a similar search that is targeted at specific companies and all of the cities and towns in my county and a few neighboring cities that I know about.

Pretty straightforward, there are millions who are unemployed, underemployed, looking for permanent positions, and just curious that go through similar processes every day.

This process can be called “Data Analysis” or “Data Mining”.  You do the same thing every time you use a spreadsheet.   

One reason why I prefer www.dice.com to all the other sites is that it further categorizes things as to whether it is a “Direct Hire” which is a company vs a “recruiter” which typically is just reposting a position that a Direct Hire had posted the day before.  Needless to say, I know which recruiters to skip.  If they have a “hot deal” they’ll call me with the position and most likely I’ve already made my judgement as to whether to pass or not.  We’ll talk but usually they realize I’ve been there, done that, and moved on.

You can see from this picture that everything that I need to see is presented on one line.  Dice.com has successfully reduced things down to just the information you need to decide whether a position is worth looking at further.

Basically I’ve managed to use Dice in a fashion that is slightly inconsistent with their website.  I save each individual page as a link so that I don’t have to click onto the next page.  Each page is it’s own link in a folder in Firefox and I can look at each page in it’s own tab. 

When you are opening 150 pages a day, you want to save every last second you can.

The list is presented in Job Alphabetical Order, all jobs are within the last three days, and I can tell at a glance whether I need to pursue looking at a link.

By the way, a helpful hint.  If you are looking at a webpage, hold down the Ctrl key and click on the link and it will open in another tab.  You can do that many times, and look at all those links later.  It saves a lot of time!

That’s the biggest criteria about this.  Saving time.  Can you imagine doing this by hand in a newspaper? 

Now here’s what happened with www.Careerbuilder.com

Careerbuilder is a little different.  They’re big and they partner with many newspapers around the world.  You’re going to hit one of their sites if you are looking at a branded website for many organizations.  It also has a few quirks.

One is that no matter how hard I tried, I can’t get it to give me more than 25 positions at a time.  That forces me to open up as many as 20 links for a given criteria.

Their sort is semi-broken.  If I have more than one job type on a given link, it’s going to put a few jobs from “today” at the tail end of the search.  When you are looking at 400 jobs for that criteria, that means you have to load up 20 pages just to get to the tail end. 

Now that you’re committed to opening all those pages in tabs, you have to consider what you want to look at.  If you’re looking at this thing every day, you don’t need to look at three days worth, you can skip to the end.  Check for “Today” and “Yesterday”.  Today, in a list of 20 opened tabs, Today and Yesterday were pages 1 and 2 and part of 3 then again in page 20.  That’s a lot of extra page hits for no good reason.

This screen grab from Careerbuilder.com illustrates how just a few little problems break the page and make it more difficult to get to the information you are looking for.

They used to have a handy page number at the top of each listing.  Minor perhaps, but knowing you are on page 4 of 20 and looking at positions 76 through 100 is surprisingly helpful.  After all, you expect to have to skip ahead to the Next To The Last Page, so you need to know where you are at.  

The date is not shown, but it is implied by saying “posted today” and “posted yesterday” all in grey lower case text.  I can handle the grey, but the date would be more useful since it is more compact.  I would prefer to see the date as “Mar. 18”.  The year can be implied, we all make the same mistakes on our checks but by March or even the second week of January, the mental block against the year has been past.

Most importantly they slid all of the position specific information into a single column.

Position Name
Company Name
City Name

Position Name
Company Name
City Name

… is not as helpful as stringing it out in one line.

Position Name     Company Name     City Name   Date
Position Name     Company Name     City Name   Date
Position Name     Company Name     City Name   Date

The reasoning is that if you’re skimming through 400 positions for a given search, you need to be able to skim the column and check on position name first.   Ctrl+Click to open that position into a new tab and continue onwards.

That brings up another point.  The order it is presented is incorrect and there is no way to specify which column you’re sorting on – and you need more than one column.   The job name should be the most important order.  Ideally this should be Sorted first by Date, then Job Name.   What the result would be is now that you have all the “Business Analyst” positions sorted together for “today” and not mixed in with the “Data Analyst” positions.  They are similar but distinct disciplines and while many of the skills are similar, they don’t completely overlap.

After all they have different position names don’t they?

Luckily they have the position names all in blue and the rest of the text in other colors so with a mind trick I can try to turn off the rest of the info until I need it…

When you redesign a website as complex as Careerbuilder, you are trying to balance a lot of needs.  You don’t want to do a radical redesign because it will get so alien to people that their minds will switch off.   It needs to be evolutionary.   Things as minor as the list of pages you are on will be noticed especially if you’re skipping to the end of 20 pages and can’t get to page 19 unless you go to page 20 first like I did the other day.

Basically the information is all there – Content gets an A Grade.
Presentation?  You can do better.  C Minus perhaps. 

SimplyHired.com and User Experience

Wait, this isn’t going to be as technical as it sounds, trust me! 

Oh well, now that I have scared most folks off…

I’ve mentioned before that I am looking for a Permanent Position in Project Management in South Florida.  I also have mentioned how I go through 170 web pages a day in order to apply to likely positions.  Mostly I do that through www.dice.com, www.monster.com, and www.careerbuilder.com, but there are others.

I also have a weekly sweep of specific cities, counties, and companies that I do on the weekend that is another 170 pages.

Roughly.

Anything that slows down the way I use the browser effects how efficiently I can do this.

I’ve noticed a nasty habit creeping in the way many web pages are doing things. 

First some really basic instruction on what happens when you click on a link – VERY basic.

See a link.  Click on a link.  The link will take you to the next web page.

Simple, right?  That is how it is supposed to work.  If it happens that way, success.  Happy user and the “User Experience” is enhanced so that you are more likely to come back.  That “User Experience” is a very important field, many people are working on that sort of thing so that you really do come back.  After all they have ads and that is how you pay the web page – by your clicks.

Next Helpful Hint.  Control Click.  Also known as “Ctrl Click”. 

See a link.  Hold Ctrl and Click on that link.  The link will open in a new tab on modern browsers.  The old page stays there so you can refer to it.

Shift and Click work the same way except that it opens that page in a new browser window.

Go ahead and try either, I should still be here waiting for you.

See?  Wasn’t that helpful? 

I think so because that is the basis for my opening 170 web pages in 6 browser windows.   My little Core 2 Duo 12 inch convertible tablet is not going to open them all at once.   Too much for Firefox to do, so I broke it all up into roughly 30 tabs per browser window.

For example, I have a set of tabs that open up automatically.  That set goes to Dice.com and says “give me the first 10 pages that show any ‘project manager’ position within 25 miles of my current zip, and exclude the following companies”.  It will happily do that and more. 

The result is one browser window with those 10 dice searches, one page after another, loading in background for me.   Next I can go through those tabs, one at a time and look at the links. 

Remember that “ctrl-click”?

The next step is Ctrl-Clicking the links so they all happily open up in the next tabs.  All the other web pages stay there, it just creates a new one for the next click.

This works well for any list of links like the ones you find on a search engine like www.google.com or www.bing.com for example.  Find a recipe site with 10 recipes all of which include your favorite food?  Just Ctrl-Click and they will all open in tabs as you click them.  It’s really handy and it’s built in to the browsers.

Ok, so now you say what’s the problem?

Simply put, there is a nasty habit many web pages are doing that work fine if all you are doing is one thing at a time.  Who has time for that any more? 

Click on a link on some web sites, and they will put up an overlay on top of your web page that obscures what you had, and presents new information.  This is usually called a Light Box.  Here is why that can be a nasty problem.

www.simplyhired.com does this when you click on a link.  They’re so anxious to get you to log into their site that they put up a light box asking for login information when you click.  Then you have to stop what you were doing and click on the close “X” up at the top right corner of the light box so it will process your link.  Completely in conflict with opening up a bunch of links in tabs and working with these at your own time.

The way around that is to right click on that link and select “Open Link In New Tab”.  Yes, it is another step, and it is usually done after the second or third try.  

www.simplyhired.com is an aggregator of other people’s content.  They try to be a search engine of other job boards and achieve enough success that I have been coming back.  Major annoyance to go through that click-and-shock every time you find a link for this one site that is so different from normal.

A Better Solution is to use www.indeed.com as an aggregator for job postings.  They work “normally” when you click or ctrl-click on them, they don’t get in your way with weird light boxes and unnecessary web clicks.  I have even tricked the website to give me my 50 links in one tab which I do with Dice and Monster.  They’re completely configurable that way if you choose to monkey around with searches.

Another website that is guilty of this nonsense is www.facebook.com in the way they handle pictures.  Their User Interface at this moment is putting up a lightbox that covers up everything you look at with the picture that you were clicking on.  It also puts you back up at the top of the page you were looking at to begin with when you clicked on that picture.   At least links are being opened the correct way – the way you want them. 

Again, this sort of thing seems kind of small and inconsequential but there are many people working on this sort of detail.  When you change the way someone else’s browser works, there has to be a concrete reason for the change and it has to be done so that there is a concrete benefit.

Rarely if ever does that happen.

After clicking on one too many friend’s links in Facebook, and one too many links on Simply Hired, I noticed a review box in lime green with white text.  Lime Green?  White Text?  What were they thinking?   At any rate, I gave them my opinion above, in a condensed format.  I may as well give them feedback.  After all, I told them I would under no circumstances recommend them since there were too many sites that do it right.  I’ll probably keep using the site because I have some searches that once in a blue moon show what I am looking for that are not shown on the big boards, but I really wouldn’t miss them if I could get to the rest.

Just a Normal Hectic Morning

Yesterday was busy, why should today be different?

Today, getting up before 6am, there was a flurry of activity.

The Linens were put into the washer, and true to form it took longer than expected.  It’s a Bosch Washer, so while it gets the clothes clean, it has a problem figuring out how much soap actually needs to be in the water.   Add too little and you notice things aren’t quite right. Add the soap manufacturer’s recommended amount and the idiot washing machine decides it needs another cycle saying “Extra Rinse Foam” and delays another 30 minutes.

The morning mile and a quarter dog walk was done, we walked into the kitchen and begun the morning meal.  At the same time there was a long list of food and drink being prepared.

Coffee, Tea for Iced Tea, two bowls of Oatmeal all received boiling water and were steeping and soaking.

There was a batch of Decaf being roasted at the same time.

An English Muffin had just come out of the microwave, and into the toaster.

The Chicken Patty was dusted with Curry Powder and then warmed in the microwave.

Yes, all of this was breakfast.

When things settled after the coffee was roasted and cooling for later grinding, it was time to further complicate matters.  Banana Bread had to be made.  The bananas were not all black, but picking one up and you realized that they weren’t exactly holding up well. 

Ever have a limp banana?

(No, not that kind, a real Cavendish Banana and overripe at that so get your mind out of the gutter!)

Walking to the front room, the laptop was started, the recipe found, and the banana bread was prepared as above.  While all of this happened, the laptop was going to windows update and getting all the latest updates. 

Everything except Silverlight.  This laptop HATES Silverlight.  Silverlight is something even Microsoft has decided should die because they are no longer actively pushing it to people.  It is a “Flash Replacement” that does the same things Flash does but does not actually do Flash animations.  Yet another layer of software that you really don’t need.   It uninstalled from all my windows 7 computers since it slows the world … to … a … crawl.

The bread was placed in the oven and timer set for 30 minutes, which gave a nice breather to begin to eat some of that feast.  While it was only 600 calories, it is a lot of volume. 

The bread began to warm the house with Home and Hearth types of smells, and it rose beautifully to a proper density.

Pulling the bread out of the oven, the results were quite fine.  Thin crust of tasty creamy goodness.

It was time to let it cool, go into the front room and begin the morning Job Search.  170 Web Pages of work goodness.  Dice.com, Monster.com, and Careerbuilder.com all done in rapid succession.

Here is where it got … weird.

The search was going fine, but there were signs of strangeness coming from the laptop.  The poor little thing needs attention.  There is something not quite right with the software and nobody will be able to fix it but me.  There’s a driver that crashes when I shut the thing down so it never gets powered off cleanly.  When a disc check is scheduled on the boot drive, it never happens because there was not a clean shut down, so it simply restarts.

Add to it that those two pictures above were not available because for some reason the poor little HP decided it would take a vacation and not read the USB Drive.   Not good, there are pictures on there that are needed for the projects that are outstanding!

Fine, shut down the laptop, then it decided that it wasn’t shut down, the driver was still crashing, so it would restart.   This Time However it now is going to do that check.  Here we are an hour and a half later and it is still scanning its hard drive – no errors so far.

Time to get out the blog posting though, so walking over to the Video Editing Laptop, it was time to start doing some work. 

No problem, it is marginally faster than the little HP, and there are some Powerpoint animations that need to be made for New Divine Mercy so they can be married to the videos on the video page on their website.

Yes, that is me, Videographer as well as a Photographer, baker and all around Project Manager good guy.

Need help? I’ll give you a good rate.

Need proof that a guy can Multitask?  Join me in the kitchen, we’ll make coffee and another Banana Bread.  There is this pile of bananas that aren’t getting any younger.  

So shall we make it plain? 

Nuts?  You’d better believe it!

That bread by the way… it was underdone inside.  That is what you get when you think you know your oven!