Click Bait Hurricane

 

As a victim of corporate downsizing a few years ago after almost 13 years at the same company, I bounced right into a brave new world filled with more employment opportunities than you could imagine, or so it seemed. The few established online job sites in the early to mid 2000s were still fairly new and the concept of electronic resume screening was just coming to fruition on a grand scale. Based on automated technology, a faster is better approach, and weeding out resumes except the ones with specific keywords to diminish the amount of time another human being has to interact with the prospective candidate, recruiters saved time and lost their interpersonal skills along the way.

A month or so into my new quest for employment, the people selling clicks came out of the woodwork and it was easy to see that many of these companies were questionable, but when you need a job you use all of your resources. As a result I wound up on so many mailing lists and offers for everything except employment, that I had to spend days unsubscribing. Being constantly barraged with emails touting bogus job numbers for jobs that did not exist, I did some homework and discovered that many of these so-called job services are merely pass-though automated click sites designed to collect your data and provide their owners with passive income. Companies with catchy names like, Lensa, Nexxt, and Neuvoo continued to send me these seemingly personal ads addressing me with my first name as if they knew me, and they were always signed by a company rep with a nice profile picture.

Click Bait Hurricane

Click Bait Hurricane (CBH) starts with an e-mail inviting me to apply for a technical writer or document specialist job. The automated headline produced reported by their brilliant algorithm boasts of 81+ IT technical writer jobs in Birmingham. In over 20 years working in technical communications, there has never been 81+ technical writer job openings in the entire state.

One day, I clicked on one of their job notices and started the Lensa, Neuvoo, Nexxt Shuffle on my iPhone. After clicking through a dozen or more different screens with different URLs and brands, prompted all the way to keep adding more information I wind up back on the first screen. I tested this a few times using two separate email accounts. Any elementary school child would catch this scam after the first time as I did.

I found the Lensa support email link and reported the click bait and inquired about their identity and if they were indeed humans and not robots. My e-mail was eventually answered by a lady with a nice profile picture named, Mesi Wesztermayer, but the name on the email did not match her daniel.kowalski@lensa.com e-mail address. No worries, Mesi has a LinkedIn account (since removed) and she assures me they are looking into this problem. 
No Red Flags here, nothing to see until Daniel, also on LinkedIn, contacts me with a brief, scripted reply. I spent some time with her/him/robot in a ridiculous exchange of e-mails.

Working as a contractor, I never let my resume get stale and always have it posted and searchable for the next potential opportunity and chasing clicks and getting spammed is unfortunately part of the equation. Among the hundreds of recruiting, hiring, and training sites available online from every corner of the globe where someone has a computer and the ability to scrape data, compile data, and distribute data via clicks and web traffic, there is a small percentage that have a legitimate interest in helping you find a job. Many of them make money using your data and click advertising, or they offer a great opportunity for companies gullible enough to upgrade to a paid tier system and let the automated bots post job openings for them. Technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have created yet another digital scam operation on a grand scale. Dominated by the endless pursuit of better and smarter AI, the recruiting industry is badly broken and needs a makeover.

Robots finding jobs for humans turns humans into robots lost in a bad web graphic, especially if the humans behind the scenes are manipulating the hard data to fit their needs, not the people they claim to serve. AI now touches almost every aspect of our lives. Automation is here to stay and we should all get used to it, but we should also keep an eye on the humans behind automation and what their motives are. Next thing you know, they will let the robots do the programming.

Companies like Hirvue sell customized robotic interviewing applications and services to some of the largest corporations to find the best candidates. According to their CEO, Kevin Parker the HireVue robot programmers can “replicate” what a human HR employee would do as an interviewer, but on a very large scale. The proverbial double-edged sword of technology has some balancing to do with our quest for expedient efficiency. Not to open up a big can of philosophical worms but the phrase, “replication on a grand scale” is one of those cans. Hirvue and other companies also employ game assessments that evaluate fluid IQ to compliment the video assessment that reveals the candidates emotional intelligence, all in a half hour flat. According to the Hirvue white paper, “The Next Generation of Assessments:”

Video-based assessments evaluate candidates’ responses to video interview questions. These do an excellent job of evaluating candidates’ emotional intelligence, communication skills, and personality traits. Game-based assessments evaluate candidates’ performance in games. These do an excellent job of evaluating candidates’ fluid IQ, visuospatial reasoning, and memory. These can be combined into a single experience to provide complementary insight into a comprehensive range of attributes necessary for success on the job in under 30 minutes.

While Hirvue must have some pretty sophisticated games to measure fluid IQ, visuospatial reasoning, and memory, Lensa has one to measure your Soft Skills.

Click Bait Games

After playing this game for hours and failing to build the mythical ground-up scaffolding to reach the Rotary Sun, I was devastated and just knew my soft skills would have a dismal score. I was cursing and grumbling, and fumbling with the mouse like my life depended on it, and still never made it to the sun! After a few hours and a dozen or so tries to reach the Rotary Sun, I thought I might at least get to see  some of my scores, but ET was a little slow calculating them. The next day I logged in discovered that the the Lensa ET declared me a Visionary in spite of my failure to reach the Rotary Sun.

I will take their word for it since they have an entire page of slick graphics and data describing all of the wonderful traits of a Visionary. I especially love the graphic that looks like a vintage car dash, or the one comparing me to other successful visionaries like, Martin Luther King Jr. and Eleanor Roosevelt. This will all be so useful helping  me find that next job. I mean who in their right mind wouldn’t hire a Visionary?

Now that I’m a visionary, I decided to create the soon-to-be famous, Click Bait Hurricane Tolerance (for Ignorance) game.


If you really want to see how surreal these automated job recruiting sites are,  upload a resume and list your occupation as Pimp and sure enough, the robot will start spitting out automated job numbers and deliver non-stop emails to your inbox. You may not find the coveted pimp job, but you can spend a lot of time filling out forms and clicking through screens, and don’t forget to sign up so you can play those fantastic games!

Although you may eventually wind up on the actual job page for jobs these companies display, these jobs can all be found on plenty of legitimate employment portals without playing the click game, many of which are managed by the company doing the hiring, or the hiring company will use a legitimate source like LinkedIn or Taleo where you are likely to find humans interested in helping you land a job without getting lost in, Click Bait Hurricane.

The Human Touch

I was surprised to get a personal response from one of my emails questioning the click bait after doing the Lensa, Neuvoo, Nexxt Shuffle right into ClickBait Hurricane.

Thank you, Mesi

Can you please verify for me the issue you discovered when you viewed the screenshots I presented documenting the click bait? You indicated that you could “see” the problem. Also, are you or your company affiliated with either of the companies depicted in the attached screen shots? Finally, are you considered an employment agency with ongoing working relationships with potential employers, or does Lensa just scrape the internet for jobs and then provide them on an aggregate site? Perhaps that could be part of the problem. if it is all automated, and the automation puts you in a click bait loop?

Please advise, and thank you for providing your LinkedIn profile. I still wonder why you all function under different names but use another email address. That’s kind of weird don’t you think?

Thanks again

Bill

Mesi/Daniel certainly cleared the air for me with this statement:

 Mesi Wesztermayer (Lensa) <daniel.kowalski@lensa.com> wrote:

With respect to this part of your email: “I still wonder why you all function under different names but use another email address. That’s kind of weird don’t you think?” – could you please elaborate what you mean by this? At times, when one of our agents is on holiday, someone else takes over their email load and responds to Jobseekers but if you’re experiencing something different, please elaborate so I can look into that.

Thank you for your cooperation!

Mesi drops a reply from her cozy desk, aka Daniel Kowalski’s desk – Is that the dude in the 70s car chase movie? She only uses his address when he’s out, yep! Maybe they are a couple and her response is legit. Meanwhile, still no updates on the reported click-bait, they are still looking into it, but another dedicated team is working hard to uncover this mysterious technical glitch.

Hi Bill,

Thanks for following up.

We’re working on resolving this matter, I’m hoping it’ll will be done this week – but I’m unable to estimate resolution time on a different team’s investigation. I’m following it closely and will update you once it’s resolved.

I completely understand why this may seem illegitimate to you, I believe this is a problem with the main settings at the moment, but I’m only guessing until we have a full report on how this is happening from our dedicated team.

I appreciate your cooperation and feedback on this. I’ll be back with you once this is resolved.

Best,
Mesi Wesztermayer
Support Lead
Lensa

This is a follow-up to your previous request #188816 “Fwd: Be the first to apply …”

Can you tell me where these jobs are listed and how your system makes this bogus claim? See screenshot. This company does not even exist in Birmingham, nor do they have a job listed in Birmingham. Clicking any link takes you to more click bait.

I guess this problem still exists.

Bill

Daniel reassures my concerns with a brief message and another hollow promise and a thank you for being so kind, indicating that he is probably the boss man with the fancier title, Career Advocate and does not have the time to address measly-little things like unhappy clients. I’m guessing at this point a good career advocate probably spends most of his time bragging to others about how much he advocates careers. I am wondering which are his favorite careers to advocate.

Daniel Kowalski (Lensa) Aug 5, 11:14 EEST

Hi Bill,

Thank you for your kind remark, we’ll definitely start investigating the case.

We appreciate your kind cooperation!

Best,
Daniel Kowalski
Career Advocate at Lensa

Author: Bill Ledbetter

Experienced professional business and technical communications specialist with a creative bent, motivated by capturing and documenting the endless wave of electronic documentation required to meet the constant challenges of keeping our technology-driven cyber world running on all cylinders.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *