The Great Digital Hiring Wall

I discovered that I’m not alone. I stumbled across some other men who, like me have been applying for jobs for varying periods of time.

The youngest man is a mechanic with a couple years experience under his belt. The oldest man is a computer professional a few years older than me who has a much better pedigree than I.

We’re all encountering the same problem.


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The problem is we’ve been doing that. Myself for the past 4 years. The other computer professional has been active for the same amount of time.  The young mechanic (who is smarter than me) says he doesn’t even bother with the companies that do that.  His logic is simple. If he’s wanting to work at a car dealership odds are that a hiring manager is easy to find. 

Typically the person is called a Service Manager and it’s easier to put a nicely printed resume in the Service Manager’s hands rather than have his information in a database that no-one ever looks at.


By looking the Service Manager in the eye, the young mechanic is sizing up that person, and that person is sizing up the young mechanic.  In that few seconds, they either make a connection or they don’t. Their instincts kick in and they decide in a very preliminary way if they can work together or not. If they can, the service manager will stick the resume on his desk. If they can’t the resume is in the trash before the young man is out of the parking lot.

I’ve been desperately looking for a job. I don’t particularly care what that job is. I’ve applied at retail places.  With my resume and experience I should be able to work for Staples, T-Mobile, AT&T, Best Buy, Apple, or Fry’s.

Please go to our website and click on ‘Jobs’ then submit your resume.

Back in the day, I worked retail clothing. I can fold shirts and pants, I can stock shelves, I can run a cash register, I can unload trucks, I worked at a Toy’s R Us for a while. I know something about warehousing and loading / unloading trucks. I can drive a pallet jack, but not a fork lift. 

Please go to our website and click on ‘Jobs’ then submit your resume.

I need VERY little. $500 a week would be just PERFECT, as long as I didn’t have to drive 90 miles to and from work. I could make due with a minimum wage job and WOULD if I could move up in the company over time.


My resume is technology heavy, I’ve spent the past 30 years in technology so of course it’s tech heavy. BUT like most men of my generation we actually want to work and I speak for all of us when I say if it comes to a choice between eating, or not. We’ll bust our asses to work and do the best job we know how to do.  Our previous careers are completely useless and our previous salaries are irrelevant if we’re simply trying to survive.

As a side note, If Staples or T-Mobile, Best Buy, or Apple etc… were to call me back I’d be overjoyed! I’m not holding my breath.

Please go to our website and click on ‘Jobs’ then submit your resume.

The first one of them that offered me good honest work would have me for at least a couple of years, no questions asked.


My plan, like my colleague’s is to get something that pays anything, then take a breath and go back to school or some certificate program or whatever and change careers. 

We’re fighting a bit of ageism, and we’re smart enough to know it. So logically it makes sense for us to change careers to something that works in a changing economic landscape.

Computers and IT aren’t what they once were. The pay in IT has been flat for at least a decade and we American workers are being displaced, by cheaper younger foreign born folks who want their piece of the American pie. 

Hell, the last interviews I’ve been to, there was not one single person that I interviewed with who didn’t come from someplace else. India, China, Philippines, you name it, but not one of those folks was born here, they may all have been citizens now but they immigrated recently. Come to think of it one interview was a panel of all women, and the other all men parading through various offices and conference rooms. In neither situation was there a single white face in evidence in the office spaces that I saw. 

I remember thinking, “If this is white male domination, I really need to find out if the definition of those terms has changed.”

I actually had hope. I thought naively that perhaps I’d be the one white male face to round out their diversity numbers.

My computer colleague laughed when I shared that with him.

No body ever counts the actual number of white males in a business or department unless the place is perceived as ‘too white’, then and only then is the number relevant. The presumption is that all corporations a full of white males, and diversity is a door that only has to swing one way.” 

I told him I thought that was a bit cynical.


I’ve been in management meetings where we had to hire a dude from the university of Mississippi with a 2.5 GPA over an MIT grad with a 3.8 GPA. You can guess what the driving force was in that hire. The worst part was that the whole department suffered because the 2.5 GPA couldn’t actually do the job, but the department’s performance numbers and bonuses were based on productivity and headcount. A previously very productive department that was award winning and always got bonuses was demoralized. If you want to think really cynically, it’s an excellent way to control costs and still have a bonus system. If no-one claims a bonus where does it go?  That’s right… to the bottom line.

My colleague and I share leads. We’ve proofed each other’s resumes and all the “I’s” are dotted and the “t’s” are crossed. We still end up spattered against The Great Digital Hiring Wall.

Please go to our website and click on ‘Jobs’ then submit your resume.


Interesting fact is that for both of us, the best leads, the leads that have actually gotten us to an interview were those where we sent physical paper, you know in an envelope with a real stamp…

Both of us start our days where the ads that we respond to first are the ones where we can find a physical address. Then we craft a cover letter and put as much information into that letter as we can to catch the eye of a hiring manager.

Then we descend into the Taleo crap or the corporate websites only if we have to.  If you get to a corporate website you can usually figure out their mailing address and just apply with a hard copy. Often that’s exactly what we do. We’ve wondered if we were called to some of these interviews because of the quaint notion of words printed on paper.

Hey look at the Luddites, lets interview them for fun…” 

We don’t care why they schedule interviews, only that we end up in front of the hiring manager.


We’ve compared notes about some of the places we’ve interviewed too. There have been a few places where the “Vibe” was really bad. It was like a sense of desperation that was palpable. As it turns out we’d both interviewed at the same company for the same job. We were glad they kicked us out of the running. Something bad is going to happen at that company after the first of the year and when it does, we expect there to be a lot more openings.

In discussing The Great Digital Hiring Wall, we’ve wondered a couple of things.

1 What happens to the poor? If they can’t apply for a job on their cell phones doesn’t that mean that they’re unfairly excluded?

2 What happens when we become poor and can’t pay for our internet service anymore? I guess for a time we’ll be able to use Starbucks or Apple’s WiFi, or our Phone hotspots until the phone gets turned off.

3 Even homeless, we both could keep our tech powered up, even without gasoline. I’ve got an emergency kit with solar cells and a 110 inverter. That would do for a while.  He’s got a similar system, because both of us are planners and these systems are part of our earthquake kits. If we were to combine the systems we could probably power a lot more. 


After a point though you have to get to thinking, “Can I sell my computer for food?” Especially when The Great Digital Hiring Wall continues to be impenetrable. After all how many thousands of hours do you invest for NO return before you just give up?  97% of my applications or follow-up inquiries go un-answered beyond the automated “We got your application” email.

I’d imagine at some point in the not too distant future beyond selling your computer, you end up just another homeless person in LA with a shopping cart, a great story, and no teeth.  Another of the nameless, cast-offs from a relentless and unforgiving society. 


At that point you’re a charity case that some do gooder corporation tosses 5K at to get into public housing, get cleaned up and then gets a job as a janitor with the corporation. 

The sad thing is that were it not for 

Please go to our website and click on ‘Jobs’ then submit your resume.

All that could be avoided.

There are times when you just know that the person you’re hiring is the “right” person. They may not have all the pedigree you specified, for that matter, they may not have a lot of pedigree, but they’re grateful, they’re appreciative, they’re loyal, honest, and they’re going to work their asses off to come up to snuff.  

HRChecking the Boxes

That’s not something a database search is going to tell you. That’s something only your gut can tell you.


I don’t think this select statement is viable. It’s been a long while since I was writing select statements every day and I don’t have the inclination to install an SQL database on my computer just to find out how wrong this statement is. My point is that if you’re selecting people based on automation you can narrow the criteria so much that you miss a TON of other things, even if you’ve constructed a search with a long list of options.

Go to Google and type something very specific, eventually  you’ll get to the point that Google will tell you your search returned nothing, and then offer to expand the search for you.


My SQL above if it worked would return every Female from Princeton and at the top of the list would be all African Americans whose name began with L.

So Laura, Lois, Latoya, LaRonda, LEclaire, etc. 

At the very bottom of the list would be white females. The racial aspect gets imposed because the search criteria starts with African Americans, and is further reinforced because so many African American people have names that start with “L” 


The reason that the sexism gets imposed is because the person running the query narrowed it to the sorority Phi Gamma Mu.  Because a sorority name and school was specified, every other viable person male or female, even those with better credentials would be excluded.

You can’t remove bias from a system. We’re all going to choose to help those people with whom we have a connection. That connection may be familial or of an extended family nature such as where you went to school.

Since the HR people are the folks running the selection, their biases will inevitably affect the resumes that they pass on to the hiring manager. 

This is the danger of databases being used to quantify the real world. Databases are supposed to hold records. mortgages, property maps, license plates, employee records, but they shouldn’t be used to search for employees.

Searching for a new employee should be done by reading the person’s resume, not calling the first 10 people spat out of a database search.

Please go to our website and click on ‘Jobs’ then submit your resume.


But it’s even worse than just that.

All your special formatting, all your bullet points, all the care you put into making your resume appear just so, to make the best possible impression. That’s all stripped out. For those of you that have paid hundreds of dollars to have your resume written and polished, and formatted into that snazzy eye-catching work of art…

Well, you wasted your money.

What Goes in is this…

Screen Shot 2015 11 23 at 12 45 24 PM

What Comes out is this…

Screen Shot 2015 11 23 at 12 46 03 PM

Sure, there are ways to print the actual capture of the document before it was sliced, diced, and quantified by a database input algorithm. But most of the time, if you look carefully at what the interviewer is working from, it’s your resume just in courier 10 with little or no line wrapping and it’s tough to read.

NOTE: Always have a proper copy on hand to give to the interviewers. I’ve run into situations where years of my experience were simply missing in the hiring managers copy. 

I’ve also had many interviewers thank me for providing a legible copy of my resume for them to work from. I didn’t get the job, but at least I presented myself professionally. After banging my head against The Great Digital Hiring Wall for as long as I have, I try very hard to take solace where I can.


My colleague does the same. He’s actually showed the HR people at one company he interviewed with, how to print the resumes in their original format.  He didn’t get that job, probably because he threatened someone inadvertently.  

Think what it must be like for a college grad who’s been trained on this super secret, better than sliced bread, amazing, miracle of software; and this guy with no HR training or training on your miracle of HR software can walk in and make the system dance. Ooooppps! Threat Major!

My friend really didn’t care the place was a hole. When you’ve been searching as long as we have, you start to notice when companies are commonly advertising for specific roles. It means one of two things. Either the company is growing and that’s where you want to be… OR the place is a hole and they can’t keep people.

When you walk in for an interview, It’s obvious which one is true. If the place can’t keep people, then we’d still take the position if it was offered. But you have to take a position like that with a grain of salt.  Pragmatically speaking… their money spends just like anyone else’s. When you’re running as close to the abyss as we are… you’re not going to turn anything down. 

In the back of your mind you’re wondering what the problem is.


Oddly enough, in those situations older more experienced workers like myself and my colleague can really bring more to the table than someone right out of college. Folks like us are more likely to work to solve the problem than we are to get pissed off and stomp out the door. The really odd thing is that these companies are engaging in Einstein’s definition of insanity they’re going beck time and again to the HR databases, hiring people that don’t last then repeat the behavior expecting different results.

Unfortunately even these companies clearly in need of help, have bought into the HR database paradigm. Which means that folks who could actually help never get the chance.

Please go to our website and click on ‘Jobs’ then submit your resume.