11 May 2010

Voices of a Virtual Career Fair

I just had what may quite possibly be the worst online experience of my entire life. It was a virtual job fair for USCellular. I heard about it from a friend and went to register that very day on the company's job site. I'd been to USCellular's site to look for jobs before, but I liked the idea of this virtual job fair, since it allowed the opportunity to talk with members of the staff and administration. The whole site was set up to look like a convention center, with sections like "Exhibitors' Booths," "Career Resources," and "Networking Lounge." All you have to do is fill out a profile (which includes a resume and cover letter), go to the right booth for your location, and then you'll initiate chats with members of staff.

In the exhibitor's booth for the MO/STL Metro area, I got invited to a chat with one of the staff members right off the bat.
V******* M***** has joined the chat.
V******* M*****: Hey Matthew --what position are you looking for?
Matthew Andrews: Well, my most recent experience was in customer service, but in total the bulk of my work life has been in retail, and I do kind of miss meeting customers
V******* M*****: We have Retail Wireles Consultant positions open in the St. Louis/Metro area and you can apply at USCellular.Jobs and a recruiter will review your resume and reach out. Thx!
Matthew Andrews: USCellular.Jobs here in the career fair? Or is that a different website?
Matthew Andrews: I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I don't understand where you're directing me to; USCellular.Jobs isn't a URL and I don't see a section here called that. Can you be more specific?

Total chat time, 13 minutes, with ten of it devoted to waiting for an answer to what I thought was an honest question.

Later, at the "Networking Lounge" a kind of general chat area for staff and guests, I posted this:

Matthew Andrews (05/11/2010 12:47:01 PM):After meeting with a representative V******* M***** regarding retail positions in the STL area, she told me to go to USCelluar.Jobs ... but I don't understand where she's referring to as it is not a proper URL and I can't find a section anywhere at this fair that looks like that. I asked her for more information, but she did not answer.

L****** S******* (05/11/2010 12:53:48 PM):Hi Matthew, the site is www.uscellular.jobs. If you follow this link it should guide you there.

Matthew Andrews (05/11/2010 12:55:18 PM):L******, my browser simply says BAD REQUEST (invalid hostname) when I click on that link.

Matthew Andrews (05/11/2010 1:06:09 PM):I still keep getting BAD REQUEST (Invalid Hostname) when I click on www.uscellular.jobs . Also, I didn't even get to ask anyone at the exhibit booth any other questions, they simply left the chat session after giving me the URL. She didn't even stick around to let me ask about the work environment or the clientele or anything else along those lines.
D***** W******* (05/11/2010 1:07:09 PM):Please join a private chat with me....

Promptly then, in a new chat window:
D***** W******* has joined the chat.
D***** W*******: Matt I am sorry this happened.I am not sure I can answer the questions that you had but I can try ... what were they..
Matthew Andrews: Well, I was just curious about the retail positions in the STL area, namely what sort of clientele or demographic that location tends to get.

Total chat time, 23 minutes, with less than three of those minutes devoted to the actual discussion. Suddenly, I get an invite from one of the other guests. A****** P***** has been unable to login to the career site that each of us keeps getting referred to. Eventually, she is able to login, and I realize why I'm getting the "Bad Request" error message. The link that L****** gave me was at the end of a sentence, so it counted the "." as part of the URL, throwing off the browser. So, I remove the offending punctuation mark, only to find it's just their default career search page. In other words, the company set up this huge website and real-time chat server all so they could refer us back to the site where we first registered found out about this fair in the first place.

Am I missing something here?
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