Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Feb. 17: Long Lines For Miami Job Could Have Been Avoided

By Sylvia Gurinsky

If life happens when one makes other plans, news happens when one has plans to write about one item.

That item is from two weeks ago: The very long line of people lined up to apply for a firefighter's position with the city of Miami. There were an estimated 1,000 people for roughly three dozen positions. It was not hard to know why: The tough economic times.

But many of those people camped there for an entire cold weekend before the doors opened Monday morning - when it would have been so much easier for them to head to a computer at home, or at their local library or job training or recruitment center, and apply directly on the city's Web site. But they can't do that yet.

The following came from the city's employee relations department, via Miami's Communications Director Kelly Penton:

"1) Applicants can always download the City’s employment application from the City’s website. The link for same is http://www.miamigov.com/employeerel/pages/app_process/appform.asp It should be noted that the City does not accept applications for employment in the classified service unless a job announcement has been posted and we are actively recruiting for the position. The positions we are actively recruiting for are listed on our website.
2) The city does not yet have an automated system in place that allows submission of applications online; however, as a part of the ERP project that is in progress, this capability is anticipated to be rolled out before the end of the year.
3) For legal/compliance reasons, the City does not accept resumes in lieu of applications for employment consideration. The City of Miami ‘s standard application process for the classified service can be referenced on the City’s website at the following link:
4) The background process does not occur until much further into the process – after the applicant has applied, been qualified, taken and passed the written examination, been certified to the operating department in accordance with established Civil Service Rules, and selected by the Fire Chief to compete in the rest of the process (Physical Ability Test and Structured Interview)."

Number 2 is the problematic one. If there are applications online, why can't someone apply via computer yet, roughly 15 years after the Internet became available to the masses and at a time when it is possible to apply for thousands of government and private jobs online? Between Miami's fiscal crises of the mid-1990s and the current economic difficulties, the city had a period of some financial success. They couldn't redesign the Web site during that time so people could apply for jobs via the Web?

Here's hoping some of those people who got in line two weeks ago and didn't get jobs didn't get colds or flu, either. Applying for a city job should be as easy as a computer click - not as hard as camping in line for sports playoff tickets.

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