As it turns out I’m not alone in my disdain for headhunters

I’ve been trying to find gainful employment in my field on a contract or more permanent basis.

The results of my efforts have been uniformly bad. 

In utter frustration, due to a recent interaction with a headhunter, I posed this query to Google,

Has anyone ever gotten a job through CyberCoders?

Apparently the answer is a resounding “NO!

There are a number of listings on Complaintsboard.com and Ripoffreport.com. All of these listings recount experiences exactly like mine.

Apply for a position through DICE, Monster, or Careerbuilder, where you match the posted requirements, then you’re forwarded to a CyberCoders website, or you’re contacted directly about the position by a CyberCoders Lead Recruiter, who says they need your resume in Word format.

Cybercoder1

In my case even though I’d sent a current copy of the resume with the application I just filled out, I got an email asking for resume and salary info again.

I figured, “Sure, the guy didn’t get the doc yet, Its processing through the company databases,” and I sent him the data again.

That was last Wednesday.  Which coincidently was also the last time that I heard from this asshole.

cybercoders2

Follow-up email was ignored. As of today May 1, I still haven’t heard anything for this so-called “lead recruiter”.

According to Complaintsboard & ripoffreport, this is the way these folks operate and have been operating like this for years. To what end, commenters on the sites only speculate.

What amazes and astounds me is that with all the government employment regulations we have, these cockroaches and others like them are still in business.

Here’s a link to the RipoffReport article

Did you notice that in the CyberCoders logo they say they’re a subsidiary of On Assignment? Going to their website isn’t very helpful either since the site is all about selling themselves to investors. But one thing that was interesting is that briefly there is a reference to another domain called Taleo.

200px Taleo Symbol

Turns out, that Taleo is owned now by Oracle. It is a Human Resource Management System, provided to clients via the net. Not terribly interesting until you think about it this way.

Putting your resume into ANY CyberCoder application means that your information is available to ALL CyberCoder recruiters everywhere. So why do the CyberCoder reps to keep asking for copies of your resume in Word format again and again?  Moreover why isn’t the resume popping up on recruiter desktops the moment that they enter a new job posting requiring a person with the right qualifications?

The answer may be that CyberCoders is EXACTLY what the ripoffreport article suggests.

They’re a “resume farming” company and they collect then sell resumes in bulk to recruiting firms or individuals.

immigrationstamp

To Recruiters, for the purposes of spamming companies that recruiting firms are attempting to do business with. To individuals from other countries that are trying to create credible job histories. I would guess that many of this latter group are H1B1 visa holders or seekers.

The most annoying thing is there is no way to validate an ad. Which means that anyone seeking a position is left jumping through hoops that are simply a complete waste of time.

The question then becomes in a shitty economy…

HOW THE HELL DO YOU FIND A NEW JOB?

I’ve really become suspicious

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In my on-going search for a permanent job, I’ve had some very negative experiences.

In some cases, those experiences were due to my own failings, in other cases I, like a lot of the aging boomers got victimized.

As a result, I’m always suspicious of headhunters.

My experience with placement personnel has been universally negative over the past decade. Even within the headhunters, there are gradations of suspicion.

For example:

My suspicion is heightened when the headhunter is from well out of the local area.

Why would a company in California hire a headhunting agency in New Jersey?

Hunting party

Based on past experiences and lots of wasted time, I’m a tad more suspicious when a New Jersey based headhunter has an obviously Indian name and they’re telling me about a temporary opportunity 1200 miles away from my current location.

How well does this person know the job market or geography?

The odds are they don’t. Often these folks are actually in India and the address they’ve given in New Jersey is essentially an empty office suite.

This is not to say that American Headhunters don’t do the same thing.

Recently, I drove to Huntington Beach to personally hand my resume to someone. The office was actually an executive suite with a receptionist who told me flat out, she’d never seen anyone from the company I’d come to see.

I’m likely to flush an email instantly if it’s obvious that the headhunter didn’t read my resume, or if their email is rife with typos, or worse yet, obvious and incorrectly copied HTML

I realize that I may be tossing out viable leads, but from the old school perspective; “If you can’t be bothered to at least look at your work before you send it out to the world, you can’t be very diligent in negotiation for salary on my behalf.”

Lets be honest here. Technically, a headhunter is your agent. If they look like shit in their correspondence or can’t communicate, YOU’RE going to look like shit too

If a headhunter references their “database” but I’ve never done business with them, heard of their company, or the email address they’re using is very old, I’m very suspicious.

Beginning any relationship with a lie is a bad idea. Beginning a business relationship with lies is especially bad. Why don’t they tell you something like “I saw your resume on Dice, or Monster, or LinkedIn.” At least then I’d know what information they’d been privy to and might not be quite as circumspect. I’ve had way too many experiences where I spend the time, answer their questions, and then… The sound of one hand clapping.

In my case, I go right to the memory of working very hard with a headhunter daily, I was writing letters and tweaking my resume for weeks on end, for various jobs, only to discover that I was doing the headhunter’s job and he was using my letters and chunks of my resume to sell other candidates.

Lamprey

The parasite would have continued to bleed me for who knows how long except that I was at an interview and the interviewer asked if I used aliases.

When I said, “No” he presented me with a poorly edited version of my resume with someone else’s name on it, and one of the cover letters I’d written.

Needless to say nobody got the job. The headhunter in question and his company, were barred from submitting candidates. I noticed recently that headhunters office was for lease.

The point to all of this is that I’m getting interest in my online profile, but I’m very curious as to why all that interest is from companies outside of California.

Not that leaving California is necessarily a problem, but these are for positions within California. Why aren’t local headhunters working these positions?

The real problem is,how do you know if these headhunters and the positions they offer are real, or if these positions are bogus, designed to get you to turn over information “necessary to get the job” that is really being given to identity thieves.

At the risk of sounding like a luddite… 

I don’t like this new internet job thingy. I don’t like it one little bit!


Here’s an update.

After 5 headhunters contacting me, one of them twice. Then me following up with them politely and providing the information that they requested yet again…

…The sound of one hand clapping. 

I checked these companies out to the best of my ability. I did due diligence but lets face it anyone can make a web page and have a phone number forwarded to a cell phone.

Another colossal waste of time. Time I might add that I don’t have to waste. 

I hate having public profiles…

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Lets face it looking for a job these days is pretty sucky.

Gone are the days when you sent your resume to an actual company after reading an ad in the paper. Now you’re directed to some web site where your profile is suddenly visible to the world.

Even if you try to maintain some small amount of privacy by minimizing the number of job web sites you visit, or job site accounts you’re still exposing all kinds of information.

Literally within one hour of my making a profile on a well known job search site, I’ve been receiving strange emails.

Most of which ask for this kind of information.

First and the last name                                   : < They Already Have this – They saw it on my resume
Email ID                                                          : < They Already Have this Its on my resume and they contacted me via email
Phone/Mobile number                                     : < They Already Have this – They saw it on my resume
Willingness to relocate (Y/N)                           : < Reasonable
Availability for F2F Interview/ Phone Interview: < Obviously anytime
Availability to start                                            : < Reasonable
Current Location                                               : < They Already Have this – This is on my resume
Work status                                                      : < I’m guessing they’re asking if I need an H1B1 visa 
Expected Hourly rate                                       : < What are they paying?

And yet most of these silly headhunters ask for all of this AGAIN!

They have the ability to download and have no doubt seen my resume. But for some reason they want to wast everyone’s time by engaging in busy work.

Here’s a another one.

Full name:
Work Authorization status:
Current location:
Contact Number:
Best time to reach you on weekdays:
Rate $/hr on W2 (Without benefits):
Onsite availability:
Willing to Relocate:
Preferred location to work: MS OR AL

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This one is funny because he claims the position is in California but is still asking me where I prefer to work, Is that Mississippi, Oregon, Alabama? Or is he asking if I want to work in Mississippi OR Alabama?

Yet there’ve been absolutely no responses from the actual positions that I applied for, other than the perfunctory confirmation emails saying, “we got your email”.

The problem is this.

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If you want to participate, you have to give up any illusion of privacy. You know beyond a shadow of a doubt that virtually all the information that a bad guy could want is going to be available either because someone got careless or that they looked legitimate and you actually gave them the keys to steal your identity.

Talk about a rock and a hard place!

Over the past four years, I’ve tried faxing my information to headhunters and / or corporations in response to their ads. I’ve received to date no response to any of those inquiries. In fact, attempting to followup on those resumes or applications has resulted in one run-around after another because HR departments are so focused on using an on-line system, they never think to look at actual paper.

I’m under no illusion, that anything I fax to a corporation ever hits paper. The fax is converted directly to an OCR’d version of the document, codified, modified and distributed to various databases.

Which leads me to sending something via mail.

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I’ve considered going really OLD SCHOOL because the paper would be handled, is a pain in the ass, and might actually be noticed while it was being scanned into the corporate databases. The fear is that if stuff is too much of a pain in the ass, that my resume will simply end up in the shredder without being scanned or handled at all.

So that leads back to exposing information that really should be private to the freakin world.

This is one of those times when I really miss the old days.

I’d get a phone call asking me to come in for an interview, meet the hiring manager, have a conversation,  then depending on that interview I’d go to the next stage. 

Sigh.

 

 

Ahhhh That felt good!

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Sometimes trying to do work for friends is just not a good idea. I always feel guilty asking for what I’m worth and because I feel guilty I don’t ask.

The practical result of this little mind game is that I do good work, but always end up being taken advantage of a bit. You know, $80 keyboards, and $40 spools of cable add up. But I just gave the shit away…

That’s a problem that I’ve got to get over. Part of it will be the absolute certainty on my part that I am worth every freakin penny I charge for whatever I do.

I need to make sure as well that I’m billing for everything that gets left behind as part of the job. “OH, your keyboard is broken… well it can be replaced for $20 or you can have my really nice $80 keyboard for $80.

I’d been asked to take a look at some data and see if I could present the material in a better way. I said, “Sure” without even thinking about it. 

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That was mistake number 1. I should have thought about it, I know these folks and I know how one of them thinks.

Mistake number 2  I shouldn’t have offered to do anything until we’d discussed MY PRICE!

It’s about time that I stopped being a charitable organization. My Price was never discussed and I find that really odd given the circumstances.

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Mistake number 3 was that I should have called a halt to my doing anything when I wasn’t getting cooperation gaining access to the data I was supposed to evaluate. Instead I got directed to an incomplete website and was sorta left with nothing.

Mistake number 4 was not calling an end to the whole mess when suddenly I had a deadline to finish. I still hadn’t been given the materials I’d requested to make the evaluation in the first place.

In fact there had been an email wherein I’d been told that my friends had been sidetracked for several weeks. I took this to mean that they really weren’t committed to getting this little project off the ground.

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In this particular case, I’ve got other clients that are PAYING and know what the heck in general they want and are willing to work with me to deal with questions that come up.

You know what? Cash talks!

I just threw in the towel on the undefined unestimated project.

Sure I’m leaving money on the table, but you know what? I think it was going to be a never ending, a.k.a never satisfied project.  

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I’m cutting my losses, and calling it SKOOLING!

I feel pretty good about it. Now I don’t have this weird undefined thing looming over my head. It’s helped a great deal with my ability to focus.

I’ve moved on to a challenging project where I can see the $$ at the end of the tunnel and I’m learning something new too.

 

And then there’s this…

Ouroboros

I sometimes find myself in the most interesting discussions.

This one came about when a Friend asked how a couple of interview / tests had gone in the past week. 


Group

Friend:
Any news?
 
wwducat:
Nope.
 
Friend:
Sorry, does that necessarily mean anything?

wwducat:
I don’t think so. There were a LOT of people taking the tests, the last test had six essay questions. I think it’s simply about them grading the tests and as you know essay questions are highly subjective.  My guess is that there were at least 50 – 60 people total competing for the positions.

ISP Server Racks

Friend:
None more qualified than you

wwducat:
Based on the conversations I heard prior to the testing, these folks were Seriously qualified!  Fierce competition.

Friend:
Were they all for the same position or were there other positions being tested then as well?
 
wwducat:
All for the same two positions.  These guys knew their stuff every bit as well as I do and much better in some cases, because like me they’d been in the trenches.  Some of them knew stuff about fibre optics that I never thought to ask.
 
Friend:
That surprises me.
wwducat:
Others in the group knew configuration of really high end routers, the kinds of routers that your ISP uses for entire cities.
 
Friend:
But you have the user relations experience.

Get Out

wwducat:
Yes I do have user stuff.  Surprised I don’t know things? Believe me that shouldn’t surprise you, it’s normal.  In technology, you tend to get specialized. You bring some things to the table and others bring different abilities. Successful teams hand off tasks to the person or persons within the group that is best suited to perform those tasks. 
 
It’s an almost organic thing, which is why it hurts so much to be layed off or transferred.  You lose contact with those parts of you that you are as reliant upon as your left and right hands. Then you have to find another team where you can be an integral contributing member.  That’s the problem with a lot of “outsiders” including management, they don’t look at a team as an entity, they see only the parts.
 
Friend:
So alien to me since I work so much alone.
 
wwducat:
My specialization / Talent is user interfaces. Either in communicating for the team or in testing software that the users access. I’m usually the coordinator of resources, and the “go to guy” to obtain resources so the team can move forward.

Buss & Tag Terminators

I understand the technology, and leverage that knowledge to help the team. I also am usually the team historian and the guy that members of the team brainstorm with when they’re stuck. 
 
Because I’ve been around forever and Can relate everything I’ve ever encountered to the new stuff I help by providing new perspectives or a different view of a particular problem.  That function requires building trust between myself and the team members.

Friend:
And trust is critical.

wwducat:
Very! I have to be willing to tell them that I don’t know something, and ask that they explain it to me. And they have to be trusting enough to lower their guard and admit they don’t know something or that a problem has them stumped.
 
Then we put our heads together and call upon other resources from the team directing our energies toward a resolution. No one is criticized or derided about it. The focus is about all of us doing our job and learning in the process.
 

Cabling Evolution

Friend:
That’s a team.
 
wwducat:
These abilities are not shown by tests, or speaking with HR representatives. The only people that get it, are people that have been there, themselves.
 
Unfortunately over the past 10 or 15 years teams aren’t often perceived as entities, they’re seen as individuals and any person that appears flawed is replaced instantly, often without telling the team. This results in critical data being lost. I’ve referred to it as Tribal Data, because sometimes things are done in a particular way that is not immediately obvious to an outsider.  Those “special” things are done because they work not because they’re part of a policy or procedure.
 
When you have a lot of churn in corporations or a stressed group of individuals who never become a team, fewer people have ever had the experience of team work.  
 
Instead they’ve only dealt with Machiavellian machinations that lead to promotions and raises by eliminating people in your way.  These kinds of office politics have become commonplace and the sense of teamwork is becoming more rarified.
 
Wait!?!!? Isn’t that kind of like the academic world?

Friend:
Too much so.
 

Bad Boss

wwducat:
It would be a cruel irony if american businesses were falling behind, not due to degradation of skills but instead due to the most negative lessons learned in institutions of higher learning.  Especially when so many college graduates can’t seem to write a cogent sentence.
 
Friend:
But the academy is becoming more of a business- money driven and sales defined
Some of my colleagues argue grammar is a vestige of colonial patriarchal oppression. And they’re teaching writing.
 
wwducat:
So we could be looking at a college, business, college, self perpetuating model. Oh crap whats that snake thing eating it’s tale?? Ouroboros! that’s it.  A never ending  cycle of education & business eating and creating itself at the  same time.
 

Plato

Friend:
Education now is the process of technical training.
 
wwducat:
Sadly from what I’ve seen, in general the technical training isn’t all that good.
 
Teach me how to find things, teach me how to teach myself, teach me philosophy, and ethics, teach me that learning is a lifelong pursuit not an end state,  teach me that independent thought is equally important to equations and sums.
 
Friend:
To think critically, to express yourself effectively, to know where to go to find information.
 
wwducat:
Teach me the value of duty, and honor, and how bad choices lead to bad things and that there may be shades of grey but that the best choice is the choice that is mostly white. (Meaning good, not the great white way.)  
 
I’m such a dinosaur,  I’ve held many of these philosophies to be true the majority of my life.
 
Friend:
And that life is more grays than black and white.
 
What does that make me?
 

Gravitional Quantum Physics

wwducat:
You’re T-REX!
 
I’m probably more like one of the smaller Raptors.
 
Friend:
I’ve had to learn about life being shades of gray. I was taught it is all b/w.
 
wwducat:
Oh respective histories are similar, I too had those lessons. While I think there is  value in a B/W philosophy and it should really be the “Ideal”. 
 
Practically speaking, humans are not computers, and not all situations lend themselves to a binary outcome.  There is always fuzz in the stuff to the right of a decimal point.  AKA Chaos theory.
 
The best I can do it navigate toward the white and get as close as I can before the time element collapses on a particular choice / outcome scenario. 

 
So That’s how some of my day gets spent. Nonetheless it makes for an interesting blog post.

Reflections

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It was my birthday last week.

This one is a strange one.

I am the same age my father was, when he died. It messes with your head, I’m a young guy.

When I look in the mirror, at first glance I see myself in my early 30’s

When I look deeper, I see grey around the edges. The beginnings of that awful “Chicken Neck” thing that happens in some of my family.  Some blotchiness in my skin, a bit of sun damage and crows feet. My beard and goatee aren’t nearly as youthful as they once were. I take a moment in the steamy mirror to contemplate the changes and decide either due to reality or my ability to delude myself that I’m still not “OLD”.

The grey at my temples doesn’t look bad, the sprinkling of grey throughout my hair is still easily hidden with a shorter hair cut and even the slight recession in my hairline isn’t a disaster.

Then I flash on Dad lying in the hospital bed. With a little imagination I can strip away the ravages of disease and I see a guy that looks remarkably like me. It’s strange and disconcerting to think that If Dad was alive today he’d be in his 70’s and probably still spry and active. He’d certainly be able to hold his own in a political discussion.

Billy 20 7785

What would my Dad think of things as they are today? Would he be pissed, or would he have just given up; realizing that the battles he’d be trying to fight have already been lost?

Oddly, and something that spooks me deeply is that my life has mirrored my father’s in many ways.

Dad made his own way, he started businesses and generally was successful. He had a nice home, nice cars and a successful business when I was a child. He decided to “Check Out” of the ratrace in his mid 30’s and moved to Tennessee. He built a beautiful home, (or so I’ve been told) I never saw it completed. The house burned and Dad was back to square one.

666940 macro image of an old circuit board with transistors

Unfortunately, for dad, time passed and he’d missed a large transition from discrete electronic components to IC packages. This meant that he had a lot of catching up to do if he wanted to return to office dictation equipment sales and repair. I don’t know if he was ever successful in making that transition, we lost touch with each other for a while.

The next I heard he was in Florida again this time putting together an custom office furniture business where he built all the furniture. I lost touch again then heard from him when he told me he was in Sarasota building and selling houses. Again I gather that he was pretty successful, he must have been in his late 40’s by then.

Next I heard, he was in South Carolina. He was living with his Mom and starting another business. This time in cabinetry, That’s where his time ran out.

Resilience is one word I think of when I think of my father. He did all he did with a high school education, Navy training, determination and raw smarts. 

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In the late 70s I got into computers. By the mid 80s I had been kicked in the teeth, done a bankruptcy, and was clawing my way back up the heap. For the most part I was successful, I was working in an industry that didn’t care what school you went to. All they cared about was your ability to fix shit, make shit, sell shit, or support the shit that had already been made, or sold.

I did quite well for a long time and never thought about going back to college. After all experience trumps book learning any day of the week right?

Well, it did… back in the old days. By the mid ‘90s those of us in the industry were beginning to notice that H1B1 visas were taking positions that we would have recommended our friends for. Often we didn’t even know there were openings in the department we were working in.

Jobs got harder to get.

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California entered a slow death spiral that continues to this day. Suddenly your college pedigree was the most important thing regardless of how much experience you had. 

Then the layoffs happened.

Like my Dad at this age, I’m trying to find and create a new place in the world for myself. College? A new career? A complete change, or only a partial change? Do I want to return to the tech rat race, or would I prefer to do something more interesting? 

I don’t know. What I do know is that I’m running out of time.

I’d expected to retire from the last tech company I was working for, maybe I was retired… 

Must’ve missed the memo.

Lately, it seems that nothing I’ve tried has worked out as expected, perhaps “as needed” is a better description. 

I’m not the only person in this situation. I’m still hearing about friends that are bailing, either out of their careers, or California. 

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I’m starting to get over the weirdness of this birthday,

I’m at a place in my life I’ve been before… It’s the “fuck it all, cinch up my bootstraps, and start kicking some ass” point.

I thought perhaps I didn’t have the strength to do it all over again. I’m tired, I’d grown sick of the bullshit in corporate America, but it’s all I know. I’ve wanted to just give up, to allow myself to just be swept aside, to accept that my fate was not my own and be a victim.

Then I think of Dad, he didn’t have the time to reboot his life.

I think he’d understand what I’m feeling now, then I suspect he’d say “Now that you’ve gotten that off your chest, GET OFF YOUR ASS!”

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OK Dad, this one’s for you…