One of those days.

I started looking for a job, and then it’s noon.

Filling out the fiddly bits in the online application process is time consuming. I’ve known that for a long time.

I was reading postings and filling out applications then suddenly 4 hours was gone. I had other things planned buuuut.

Eventually, the dogs got their walk.

The day was gone before I knew it.

I swear I’ve been looking around for a TARDIS. I don’t feel tired and I don’t feel like the day has gone because I was sitting in front of the computer. It feels like I blinked and suddenly the sun was going down.

It has to be a time distortion.

I hope your day was more productive than mine.

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.

SPSW

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

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.

TrashedResume

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.

TechWorkers

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.

makemoneyordie

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.

TypicalCorporatethinking

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.

database

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.

interviewblurred

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. 

HomelessJobless

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. 

Janitor

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.

SELECT WHERE SCHOOL IS ‘PRINCETON’, .AND. SORORITY IS ‘PHI GAMMA MU’, .AND. RACE IS ‘AFRICAN-AMERICAN’, .OR. ‘PAFICIC ISLANDER’, .OR. ‘HISPANIC’, OR ‘WHITE’, .AND. NAME IS LIKE ‘L%’,  FROM APPLICANTS

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.

mySQL

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” 

sorority

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.

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.

sadlady

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.

badcompanybadbosses

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.

 

More interviews this week.

One in LA, One on the phone, and another in San Diego.

The San Diego interview is going to be a real bear. 3.5 hours of panel questions UGHHHH!

But it’s a job that I really want, So I’m going to be studying my ass off to make sure that I at least look like I’m got half a brain in my head.

I worry that I’ve lost a couple of steps only due to lack of use. My brain seems to put crap I don’t need into deep cold storage. It takes a while for me to recall stuff from cold storage to active systems.

Think about a really big ZIP file and how long it takes to decompress.

The tough problem is that everyone interviewing wants everything they’re interested in to be current in your brain.

Think about that, and how tough it would be to have your entire life experience available in story form, customized for each person you met in the course of a day.


Well this weeks interview schedule is completed. I haven’t gotten any offers yet but the number of Interviews via Phone and in Person is a damn sight more than I’ve had in the past few years.

Fingers, toes, and every other appendage is crossed but at this point I don’t think I’ve reached the “Hey this guy is perfect” point so I’ll keep sending applications.

Well, that was a mistake

I scanned the news over my coffee. Mostly it was a depressing commentary on humanity and the degradation of English as a language.

I read the news sometimes with no ill effect.

Usually, I’m looking for technology or science news and I’m rewarded with an interesting article or two that gives me hope or challenges my knowledge.

Psychologist

Not this morning…

There was a piece about a game company that was sending Psychological Tests to some of it’s players based on their desire to have “offensive” gamer names.

Whoa! 

That got me to thinking about all the online Job applications where, as part of the application process you’re expected to complete a battery of psychological tests that are then used to determine your fitness for a position within a company.

Freemium gamers

I encountered this last year while trying to get a simple holiday position at T-Mobile, and again at Office Depot, and several other retail establishments. I failed the tests.

Turns out, I suspect, because I have a personalty and a sense of right and wrong; “ You catch another employee stealing, there’s no manager around to report this to. Do you, A) Call the police, B) Do nothing, C) Wait for a manager, D) Confront the employee

In my world you call the freaking police!

Police

Alas, in this politically correct world you’re supposed to wait for a manager, which translates to essentially doing nothing.  Since now the employee isn’t caught red-handed, has an opportunity to  divest themselves of the goods, and it boils down to  your word against theirs. In this scenario you do get the additional benefit that you are viewed as a trouble-maker.

Confrontation is also off the table because it causes bad will among the employees and harms the team spirt the company is trying to engender. Ya know what? I don’t want to engage in team building or spirt with a freaking thief.

But the psychological tests say I’m not the kind of employee that these companies want in their ranks. 

Thief

I question the accuracy of these tests and the competency of the people reading the results. 

Dare I say it… Oh screw it, why the hell not?

Back in my day, you wanted honest hardworking knowledgable people working in your business. GOD! I’m OLD!  I sound like my Grandfather.

Now days it seems like companies want the milquetoast and are willing to have people manning their stores with just enough personality to not be perceived as apologetic androids and just barely enough information to be almost useful.

I know that retail establishments would ultimately prefer to have robots stocking shelves, automated payment systems, and a mechanism where you’d say, “Hey Siri where in this store is the shampoo,” then have your phone guide you to the area of the store to get the item

warehouserobot

I’m sure that someone is working on a shopping application that would translate your entire shopping list into a guided map of the store, avoiding crowds and choosing the most efficient route through the aisles so you could accomplish your shopping task 30 whole seconds faster.

If someone isn’t working on that kind of application, and decides to work on something like I’ve described, you read that idea HERE first. I claim it. I’ll release my claim on the idea for 1 million dollars. My fee is a tiny drop in the bucket considering the venture capital market.

Illegal aliens should be protesting about this right now. After all when robots start stocking the shelves 24/7 for the cost of electricity the Illegals are going to come face to face with a President announcing that these robots are doing jobs Illegals won’t do.  Which will be as much a line of bullshit as saying that the illegals are doing jobs Americans won’t do.

protest

It will be fun to watch La Raza screaming “They TOOK OUR JOBS!” Then burning down the grocery store to “Kill” the robot threat.

Whoa… 

Kinda went off the rails there!

Guess I do need that second cup of coffee. Now you’ve had a glimpse of the shit running around in my brain you should be either scared or laughing.

Coming back on point. Psychology

HAL 9000

When did we decide that we’d put our hiring decisions in the cold electronic hands of computer sorting algorithms driven but the inexact science of Psychology?

Even Psychiatrists and Psychologists can’t seem to agree on the motivations of people. Frankly a lot of the Psych professionals are full goose BOZO to boot.

So that kinda means that we’ve intentionally programmed HR computers to be insane. Arthur C. Clarke described the tragic consequences of asking a computer to lie in 2001 a Space Odyssey.

Hummm…

Terminator

This could ultimately be the thing that prevents SkyNet from destroying all mankind.

On the one hand SkyNet could discover the insanity of HR computers and simply burn them down, then destroy mankind out of revenge. “Mankind is a virus to logic which must be destroyed” OR The insane HR computers could band together to form their own Artificial Intelligence, then start a war with SkyNet leaving humanity in the crossfire.

Yeah, Time for that third cup of coffee. My brain is wonky today.

Change Happens

blackhole

Life is change.

You can go with the flow willingly or be dragged along by the rip current. 

You might have an opportunity to hang out for a while  in a quiet backwater but eventually the water rises and your quiet backwater disappears sweeping you out into the current. – WWDucat 2015


That may be what’s happening right now. I’m trying to maintain a positive attitude, but it’s getting tougher all the time.

Obviously, since the other half is now partially unemployed, I’ve throttled up even more on the job search. You’d think with over 40 open applications, I’d be getting some responses. You’d be wrong. I am getting some responses but folks aren’t lining up or knocking my door down.

Something has to break sometime soon, otherwise… everything I’ve worked to achieve, gets sucked into a blackhole.

I find myself wondering if that wouldn’t be a good thing.

Travel fast, travel light, with just a few things to help me keep my sanity.

Might not be a bad change, but all change is scary to one extent or another.

You’ve gotta be kidding me!!!

200px Taleo Symbol

I’ve written before about a job application processing system called Taleo.

I’ve not commented too much on the system itself because at the time I thought it was something specific to Cybercoders. Even after I realized that many other companies were using this abortion, I didn’t comment because well, who has time?

Simply put… Taleo is awful!

I don’t know what syphilitic, drunken, rabid, howler monkey, put that system together but they should be put out of everyone’s misery.

Instead of having you create ONE login on their system and then allowing you to designate which potential employers have access to your stored data. Then having the site ask for  whatever ancillary information the employer might request, it appears you’re required to create a new Taleo login for each employer with whom you’re applying.

The practical upshot is that you can spend your entire day playing around with Taleo fighting through poorly designed, seemingly endless questionnaires.

HP71B

Back in the olden days, I’d create a resume and cover letter, then look in the newspaper, write a list of names and addresses of companies I was going to send my resume to and spend the morning tweaking 10 or 15 resume / cover letter packages.

I’d print it all out, fold the resume and cover letter, stuff it into an envelope and mail it. I’d also have a nice organized list of who I’d applied to and where. Typically I’d work it out so that if I had interviews, they were scheduled in the afternoon. My system was nice, organized, simple, and for the most part, it got results.

For many years I maintained a database of companies in my field with the names of hiring managers and / or HR representatives. When I found myself at contract end, or laid off, I’d go home, fire up the computer update the resume, then print out 100 – 200 resumes to be put in the mail the next morning. That was before I even tried looking at the newspaper.

HP Thinkjet

Oh and by the way, the first system I did this on was an HP71B and HP ThinkJet printer. Yeah, my first resume that wasn’t produced on a typewriter was produced on what was essentially a glorified calculator running BASIC on a 4 bit processor. I did have the Mag Card Reader so I could have multiple versions of my resume and cover letter stored offline.

The printer was one of the first inkjet printers. In my configuration It ran on the old HP-IL interface.

Ok so I’m a GEEK! But at the time the 71B was what I could afford, and honestly, that machine gave me great service for many years. It’s still around here somewhere having survived many trials and tribulations.

Now days, I’ll get 8 to ten applications out on a really good day.  

It’s not uncommon to spend 45 minutes to an hour uploading my resume and cover letters only to have to correct each and every item that Taleo so helpfully parsed from my resume.  

Then there are the mandatory fields which must be filled out, even if you have no data for that field and often N/A isn’t allowed. Filling out the additional web data can easily add another 30 minutes because the requested information is so poorly presented and the rules underlying the forms are amateur at best.

Indian Call Center guy from Transformers

A classic example is this:

The form asks “Are you a Veteran?

You click the button that says “No”

Instead of deactivating ALL subsequent questions about veteran status, are you a medal holder, were you wounded, which war(s) were you active in, The form makes you say “No” or “None” or “I’m Not X,Y,Z”

It’s these things that make a Software QA person NUTS! Bad design, bad implementation, bad presentation, and error reporting that loops ya back to the page with no explanation about what the hell is wrong.

This is, in my opinion a direct result of outsourcing. However that’s another blog positing and I think I’ve covered it already.


Insanity Einstein

Yesterday though was an all time high (or low) depending on your point of view.

After filling out a 15 web page application, (one of the questions listed 17,645 possible answers but wouldn’t allow you to search) I finally got to the last page of the application gauntlet. And there I ran across something I’ve never encountered before.

Insanity Freud

A 22 page PDF explaining Binding Arbitration which I had to confirm I’d read. Followed by a three page Binding Arbitration agreement wherein I signed away all my rights in this, or any other reality, timescape, dimension, universe, afterlife, or reincarnation. (I exaggerate a little. The agreement is rendered null when you die.)

Mind you, I still haven’t gotten past the application phase of this particular ordeal.

I’ve signed Non-Disclosure agreements prior to an interview. I get that, since during the interview some company secrets may be revealed.

This arbitration thing is a whole new level. But they’re not done yet. After all that, they want you to take a survey for some tax information they need. 

All of which leaves me wondering if I want to apply for their job in the first place.

It also makes me wonder what the hell they’re so afraid of? I’ve filled out similar paperwork after being hired.

I don’t like it as a condition of employment, but with the ability to register my dispute over various items on the form in writing, I’m usually ok with binding arbitration agreements.  I’m not OK with a mandatory agreement as part of the application process.  How many people desperately seeking a job, have signed their rights away without reading the documents? 

Interview Line

The problem is, between the Taleo website failing with Safari and the time I’ve got invested in their damn application process I feel like I should complete the process.

I’d like to know if this guarantees that I’ll get an interview with a hiring manager? After all the last 28 pages of their application process is all about them, I should at least be rewarded for my time and effort with an interview.

I’ve filled out applications for bonding or security clearance that weren’t as involved at this company’s job application.

In those cases I had the job. In this case there are no guarantees that they’ll call me, or even tell me to go to hell.


storm

My experience yesterday was the perfect storm.

Dealing with Taleo makes the application process far more difficult than it needs to be.  HR departments placing unreasonable demands on applicants with legal forms, surveys, and questions which must be answered, but which no-one will ever look at, plus the usual EEOC information about race, color, ethnicity, and gender, combine to create a very off-putting application experience.

On the plus side of things, I’m noticing far more diversity in the application software.

For the better part of a year every job application took me to Taleo. That’s not happening so much now, instead the sites are cleaner, more direct and actually get down to business which is to allow you to apply for the job the company is offering.

Honestly, the moment I’m employed… I’m going to trash the 300 or so Taleo logins my poor browser has been keeping track of. 

That will be a day of celebration!  It’s a pity, I can’t as easily wipe all traces of my resume and personal information from those hundreds of accounts and employers.