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Things I hate about "modern" job searching

Modern job searching is a joke. Well, it's always been a joke. In the very old days you would go in to an office, do a song and dance for someone, try to be honest and open and not exaggerate too much, and perhaps you would get a job. But these days the odds are stacked against anyone who breathes.

You can't just walk in to a business and talk to a manager any more. Well, perhaps restaurants, but certainly not anything IT or business related. You are likely to be shot dead before you get within 10 feet of the barbed wire fence.

You can't talk to business employees. Employees would be reprimanded, fired, and sued if they even hinted about any business internals. In the very unlikely chance you do get a response from such an employee, the sad reality is all they are even capable of telling anybody is "All I know about my job is that I press this button all day. I don't know anything else about the company. I don't even know the person in the cube next to me. I can't help you.".

Instead, you are expected to visit each company's web site, sludge through piles of job listings, and submit a resume. That gets promptly ignored. No feedback, no idea what you could do better, no contacts, no nothing. Lather, rinse, repeat forever.

The first thing they still tell people in job searching classes is "networking, networking, networking". How am I supposed to do that? I don't have pile of friends, I'm not part of the rich upper-class, I don't do sports or whatever "normal" people do, I certainly am not part of any mumbo-jumo religious group, and I have no desire to trawl through the mindless, trite sludge people call "social media".

You would think there would be some kind of agencies, organizations, or businesses that could help at least point someone in the right direction. But there isn't. Temp agency? Perhaps if you do warehouse work. Certainly nothing related to IT.

Atlanta used to be a hub for computer technology. The big Comdex computer shows with all the hot-shot vendors including Bill Gates were either here or in Las Vegas. I have piles of 1980s software manuals that list their company address as "Atlanta, GA", "Norcross, GA", or "Marietta, GA". Atlanta even had one of the first computer stores that sold Altair personal computers. Not so much of that here today. It is all in China or India now.

-Job Listings-
10 FIND JOB LISTING
20 SEND RESUME
30 GOTO 10

Most job listings are ridiculous. There are bazillions of job listings out there, and I'm supposed to somehow search through every one of them? Even when I narrow things down there are piles of them. Many of them aren't even real job listings. Automated searches likely omit things I should see. Automated "notifications" just bombard me with more than I can handle.

Pulling up listings under one company may show they have 10,000 jobs listed... even if company is hardly that big. If they are looking for that many new employees all at once, they can't possibly be in business. They list pretty much every job position they have, the postings are constantly re-listed, and the jobs are never "filled". Resumes get ignored. Not even a rejection e-mail. Fake jobs.

Most listings never tell enough about the actual job. A simple call-center "technical support" job can be so fluffed it sounds like they need a nuclear physicist. Meanwhile a listing for a big complex high-tech company "technical support" is all of five lines of generic stuff, telling me nothing. Give me a realistic idea of the scope of the work.

The HR people (if indeed they are actual people), writing the descriptions rarely know anything about the job or skills needed to do the job. For example, "XML" and "HTML" are NOT programming languages. "SQL" is a generic term. If one needs "PostgreSQL", "Oracle PL/SQL", or "Microsoft SQL Server" experience, spell it out! Just because the letters "SQL" appear in the name does not mean you can shorten it and still mean the same thing.

Similarly, "A+" is not a certification. Or rather, it could be many different things. One might mean "CompTIA A+" certification. If so, then spell it out.

I've even seen a listing, I think it was for a "Systems Engineer", that just took the word System Engineer and used it over and over in a bunch of babble like "The Systems Engineer will produce high quality output and excellence. The Systems Engineer must thrive in a fast pace environment. the Systems Engineer will work closely with the supervising manager..." with literally not a single word about any technology used, any skills needed, or any scope of the work, or any idea at all of what this job was about.

Then there are the ones that spell out every impossible little detail. "100 Years of proven experience programming Java, XML, and HTML, no less than 5 years of experience with Zoomaploop, Jazorpazola, and InternalBlaApp that only five companies on the planet use so good luck getting experience or finding training, 7 years professional experience in Shlonguzzle OR 8 years of iAssnort 17G experience instead. You will also clean floors, polish toilets, and must have experience in Oracle Everything, DHCP, Microsoft All of That 369, Cisco All The Things [...insert entire dictionary of skills here...] only Superman need apply"

Training

Training? What's that? Learning? Never heard of that.

Almost every job expects people to "hit the ground running" with no additional training or learning period. In some cases that is understandable, but when it comes to something like software development, or supporting internal applications, every business is unique. There is ALWAYS going to be some learning.

How would you ever get experience with whatever internal programs they use? It's not like there are public training classes readily available.

Some of these tools are just simple things that I'm sure I could learn in no time. Others *should* be simple, but the big businesses that write them have gone out of their way to make them more complicated than they need to be and impossible to learn.

For example - "Business Intelligence tools". Back before that was a buzzword, those were just buggy bloated graphing/reporting programs intended to connect directly to multiple databases. No big deal. Connect, write a few queries, make pretty graphs. Spend most of the time jumping through eccentricities, configuring unnecessarily obscure settings, and working around bugs. Ho hum, nothing special. Usually sold by the database vendors for a lot of money, so not something anyone could get their hands on easily.

So these days, they have webbified them, made them subscription based, added more unnecessarily obscure garbage. I think they can make "dashboards" and send alerts to toy cell phones too now.

Certifications? Ok, the employer doesn't want to spend time finding out what you know. That would be fair enough if that piece of paper certifying what you already know didn't cost $10,000! All that piece of paper proves is someone can answer multiple guess questions and is already rich enough to afford it. Even if you do invest in such an expensive certification, the chances of actually getting the job are still slim to none.

Application Sites

After sorting through ALL of those job listings and finding one that MIGHT fit my skills, assuming the listing is even vaguely accurate, now it is time the fill out another lengthy job application! Some sites like Indeed have a quick simplified submission process but increasingly once you submit your resume, you will get an automated e-mail instructing you to re-submit your resume on the employer's REAL job labyrinth.... I mean site.

Lets start by signing up to yet another random company's custom job site.

Your Profile

Unless you are submitting directly through a common job site, you will have to submit your resume on yet another companies site. Occasionally even the sign-up process can be hairy. It is yet another user ID and password to keep track of, or you might be able to log in using some random social media site shared login so the social media site can track you.

If you are lucky it just sends a confirmation to your e-mail address and you are good to go.

If you are unlucky it makes you set up a series of "security questions", or fill out a "user profile". Yea, your password is "ALq^3tG{GG6-oIQ~=(b]:{dVI*,!%Vut29,ooLvPqQZAYYya2`\%la\(1{"uy79g" but to reset it all someone has to do is guess that your favorite color is purple. Brilliant.

If you are ME, then it doesn't even work in your web browser. Everyone uses Gurgle Crumb, right? No one ever uses anything customized, right?

Once and a while a site may go totally overboard, trying to set up extra measures like two factor authentication. Usually the reason is they made the mistake of making their job submission site part of a much larger, highly secured, corporate site.

Some sites want you to set up a "profile" with all kinds of personal information. Usually, I think, the intent to enter data here that would otherwise be done in the resume re-entry step. But if it asks you to store your entire resume here, this can be problematic if submitting resumes for different positions.

My favorite current mis-feature of sign-up processes are the "Let's connect!" crap. Yes, sure, sign me up for loads of spam! No, it's not going to be anything useful to job seekers. Just the company tooting their own horn about how great their hiring processes are.

That is all assuming the site was even legitimate. If not, they have your e-mail address and lots of other personal information now that they can do whatever they want with.

Enter it all over again

Now it is time to re-enter EVERYTHING that is already on your resume and then some. They often even explicitly say: "Do not say 'see resume'!".

Many corporate application sites are custom designed and are filled with horrid user interface dumbness.

For example, many times they make you enter a phone number with no or odd formatting like "7895551234", or you have to guess what format it wants. This gets really tricky if they expect a country code and don't tell you how to format it.

Need to enter a date? Ok "4/2/2022". What do you mean "invalid format"? "4-2-2022"? No? "2022/4/2"? "April 2, 2022"? "2-APR-2022"? No? Oh, you want zero padding like "04/02/2022". It's too bad we don't have any kind of machine or device that can interpret and reformat dates...

A REALLY dumb issue are sites that ask only for a "Mobile" telephone number. Newsflash: not everyone uses or owns toy cell/smart phones. "Texting"? What do I look like, some kind of teenage girl? Probably trying to sign people up for "text" spam. Some sites ask for both home phone and mobile, but then "Mobile" is a REQUIRED field, forcing me to enter crap like 999-999-9999, leaving me unsure if they will even process the application.

Next, they want to know your city, state, and country... but you have to select from a drop down that contains a list of every city and country on the planet. Bonus points if it only loads a few names in the drop down and slowly chugs away fetching more names as you keeps scrolling down. Of course as more load it HAS to resize the drop down box so the scroll bar keeps jumping around. Keyboard navigation? What's a keyboard?

Many times they want insane levels of detail. For example:

When you do finally upload your actual resume the uploader may let you keep only so many resumes and cover letters on file. Some sites give the distinct impression deleting attachments may actually remove the attachments from your submitted applications.

On the very last page, after spending two hours filling things out, it asks if you have some experience in something they did not mention on the job description and that you have never touched. And it won't let you continue at all until you swear you have experience.

Either that, or it demands a Social Security Number, which you will happily hand over so the last two hours entering crap don't seem like they went to total waste. And someone will promptly hijack your identity. Nobody except the IRS has any business asking for that number. Need to do a background check on me? Fine, ask for that when you are actually considering me for the job.

Well, I hope you filled out every last optional field. There may have been hundreds. If you left anything blank, it will haunt you not knowing if your application has been automatically kicked out.

References, NOW!

Speaking of private information that should only be needed after an interview, some sites demand that you enter a list of references up front. They require name, job title, e-mail address, MOBILE phone number, and their first pet's maiden name, and won't let you continue until you enter all the goodies. Probably trying to sign references up to e-mail and cell phone spam.

Actual question: "When did you meet? From [mm/yyyy] (required) to [mm/yyyy] (required)"

To? What? Would that be the day you killed them?

I've even seen one site that said it would AUTOMATICALLY e-mail all of your references with an entry form immediately when you submit the application. I'm sorry, that is just wrong.

What ever happened to "References supplied upon request?".

Diversity - "Ze longer you verk here, diverse it gets."

But... before you can click submit, you have to cough up more private information in the name of "diversity". Allegedly these are for statistical purposes only. Suuure.

At least these questions are usually fairly standard. However, I have seen some bizarre and possibly illegal questions occasionally mixed in.

Race? Lilly fucking white. Would I get special attention if I said something else? Wouldn't that be racist on their part?

Gender? Yes, I have a penis in my pants. Why are you suddenly so concerned about what is in my pants? I find that line of thought very disturbing. Should I have had that removed? It seems to be in style to do that these days.

Disability? It's everyone else on this planet who has a mental disability.

Whatever. Done. Click...

...

Oh CRAP! You clicked submit? But you didn't upload a cover letter! Yea, the option to upload that was hidden in a poorly worded control somewhere around, but not part of, the resume upload. Of course that was OPTIONAL. I hope that wasn't a job you actually wanted. Either way you just wasted the last three hours.

Oops session timed out, please log in again. Changes not saved!

Assessments

Ah, finally. Done.

"Ding-You've got mail!"

"To complete your application you must take an assessment. This will only take yet another hour."

ARRRRAAAAGGG.

If an employer, IS going to require an assessment, they should say so the job listing! Also, say so clearly at the end of the application entry process so we know it is not really fully "submitted" yet. If an e-mail is sent asking for an assessment 1: make sure it does not look like spam, and 2: be mindful that it does not look the same as the useless "application submitted" e-mails that these systems send automatically. This is especially important if there are MULTIPLE steps involving different sources/sites after submitting an application.

As if multiple-guess questions that don't really tell anybody about your skills are bad enough, some actually want to "over automate" and automatically make you do a pre-recorded voice/video "interview".

This is very, very offensive and demeaning.
 
"This automated phone interview provides you with the ability to let employers learn a little bit more about you as part of the application process. By calling into the number provided, you will be asked a series of questions and your answers will be recorded. These questions, developed by real-world employers and hiring managers, are designed to help the employer learn a little bit more about your communication and prioritization style. Each answer provides up to two minutes of recording time and your answers will be recorded and passed on to the hiring manager."

If you want a straight answer from me, please press 1.
If you want a cynical response, please press 2.
If you would like to re-think your approach, please say "I'm an idiot" now.
If you want to hire a robot from overseas instead of an actual person, please hang up because you clearly want to do that anyway.

A lot of articles on the web out there say the modern job seeker should just put up with this sort of thing. Please keep in mind those articles are probably written by or paid for by the fancy business consultants that create these obnoxious systems in the first place.

Multiple-guess

A test to prove what one can really do? Fair enough, but they are rarely that.

Most assessments only prove that one has lots of time and is willing to jump through hoops begging and groveling for a specific job.

Weed out non-serious applicants? Fine, but if you are going to require an assessment for a job posting, say up front, so I can plan my time, or not waste my time applying. It is more than annoying filling out a lengthy application on Friday evening with no time remaining, and then out of the blue getting a message that I have to take multiple assessments to finish applying for a job. Two days of other responsibilities and putting out fires later I finally get back to it and find the link has "expired".

Those "personality" tests are outright pointless. 30 minutes of multiple choice agreeing or disagreeing with random workplace situations? What do you think that is supposed to prove? Oh, I'm sure someone gives you a bunch of pretty graphs filled with pure bullshit. Then you put the applications on the floor and pull out your Ouija board to figure out who to interview. Or feed it all to an "AI" that does essentially the same thing.

At least regular assessments pretend to ask questions about actual skills. But too often they are more about solving trick questions and popular opinion rather than gauging actual skill.

A few cynically altered examples of questions I have seen:

Answers based on someone's opinion:

Q: A consumertard needs more storage space but can not upgrade the hardware on their laptop. What is the BEST solution to add more storage?
1: The cloudz
2: Moar clouds
3: A cloud server in China
4: The answer must be the cloud! <= Expected answer, of course
5: We don't know what an external hard drive or NAS is.

Q: What is the CORRECT way to do bla bla bla securely?
1: Obvious wrong answer filler
2: Obvious wrong answer filler
3: [Totally valid answer that requires a smart phone]  <= Answer they expect
4: [Totally valid answer that does NOT require a smart phone] <= Answer I selected because I'm more familiar with it and it makes more sense.

Q: A pointy-haied-boss needs to store a top secret ultra classified document somewhere secure where should they store it?
1: On an encrypted external hard drive normally kept in a safe.
2: On a highly secured and hardened internal NAS, authenticating with both a security card and ID/Password, backed up to organization-controlled secondary secure sites.
3: Encrypt the file, burn it to a CD/DVD, submit it to the secure documents department.
4: PUT IT IN TEH CLOUDZ AND UZE RETNIA AUTHENTICATION LIKE IN TEH MOVIES! <= Expected answer.

Q: What is the BEST way?
1: My way   <= expected answer
2: Your way
3: The right way
4: The highway <= What I always get

Vague questions that simply do not give enough information.

Q: You are upgrading a laptoy, what is the BEST ram to put in it?
1: LRDIMM ECC <= Probably intended to be wrong, but not impossible.
2: DDR4 <=Probably the answer they were looking for
3: 1MB SIMM
4: 16k DIP 200ns <=that would be my laptop.
5: They all fit and work, right?
Not an option: "Check the manual!".

Q: You are setting up a computer that runs VM-ey things. How much ram are you being installing?
1: 4GB
2: 8GB
3: 12GB
4: 16GB <=expected answer
In reality, you need to know the requirements of the VMs you are going to use. The amount could be less or more.

Q: What is the maximum RAM that Windows 32-bit supports?
1: 4GB <=expected answer
2: 8GB
3: 12GB
4: 16GB
In reality, you need to know which Windows version and which license type. Read up on Physical Address Extensions. Some 32-bit Windows can indeed access more than 4GB of RAM.

Perhaps the assessment, such as the above question, assumes everything must be the absolute latest and greatest, but then they pull out this question:

Q: What is needed to run MacOS 9 applications on MacOS X?
1: Parallels
2: Classic Environment <=expected answer
3: Silly Putty
4: Cream of wheat
Yes, Classic Environment, but running MacOS 9 applications was DROPPED way back in 10.5 <=Actual answer.

Or, how about they forget what country they are in.

Q: IS PII (Personally Identifiable Information) government regulated?
1: Yes <=Expected answer, because the lucky person that wrote it is in Europe.
2: No, bend over and lube up.  <= Actual answer for anyone in the USA.

Q: What kind of electrical plug is found on a computer?
1: [Irrelevant picture]
2: [Irrelevant picture]
3: [Irrelevant picture]
4: [Picture of a huge honking 230v british plug]

Questions that change unspecified general assumptions. For example, they expect you will follow official "procedure" only SOME of the time,

Q: A component broke in a computer, what do you do next?
1: Replace the component
2: Perform a backup
3: Bleh
4: Meh
Answer: 2. Great, I got that right!

Then later on...

Q: Something else went wrong with some other computer, what do you do next?
1: Do something that might hose the hard drive
2: Perform a backup
3: Bleh
4: Meh
Answer: 1. WTF?!

And then there are the just blatantly obviously wrong answers. Along the lines of:

Q: What is 2+2?
1: 22
2: 3.14
3: 5
4: 69
I could guess, perhaps they want to hear "5", but it is still somehow wrong.

Q: Which flavor of cake is BEST?
1: Chocolate
2: Vanilla
3: Lemon
4: Fish-shaped volatile organic compounds and sediment-shaped sediment <- Expected answer. They copy pasted wrong. Or they are using an AI that is trying to kill you.

Then there are the really nasty trick questions. Such as dumb process of elimination questions. A realistic answer is not in the list:
Q: Question
1: Irrelevant but related answer.
2: Sounds like an answer, but isn't applicable in this case
3: They just made this up (and then, unknowingly to them, it turns out in some cases this could be a valid answer)
4: Really, really, BAD, but technically related, applicable, answer. <=ANSWER

Q: Bla such and such vague situation, what should you set up?
1: Plausible answer
2: Plausible answer
3: Plausible answer
4: Something that logically would already be set up and in place  <= EXPECTED ANSWER

Poorly worded questions.

Q: Question: I am not telling you what the situation is. Read my empty little mind. What is the solution?
1: How the should I know?
2: I need more information.
3: Can you be a little more vague?
4: Who cares?

Or how about making up new terminology? Or abbreviating things to obfuscate them. In the real world, nobody EVER refers to a technology using BS buzzwords or abbreviations that human resources or a test writer does:

Q: A YWM is MMDing a ZWS using an IIDY. During what RRXW should you QWT your PPD?
1: JDK
2: KFE
3: VSE
4: FUU

Sorry, this does NOT make you Sound Smart or Fancy (SSoF). It makes you sound like a FAH. (You figure out what that means).

Too often abbreviations can mean hundreds of different things depending on slightly different context:

Q: Here is a question for an assessment writer: What does TLA stand for?
1: Toast Lettus Association
2: Tire Lift Apparatus
3: TLA Listing Application
4: Tiring Long Assessments
5...: [list all possible combinations from a dictionary]

Q: A froonium drive frangle is stuck in a corvinium altex loop, how do you narfle it?
1: Frell if I know
2: Gloop the tickanizer in the sha'merp
3: Invert the polarity of the tachyon stream
4: Smurf the smurfity smurf smurf.
(Of course, the actual answer would be: write a GUI front end using Visual Basic to track the IP address)

Q: They give me money. I like money.
B: Water
1: Electrolytes!
5: What plants CRAVE!
3: BRAWNDOW, the THURST MUTILATOR! <= Expected Answer

Then there are the ones that have NO valid answer, but you have to guess what they want through process of elimination:

Q: How do you use Foo?
1: Not possibly an answer
2: Not possibly an answer
3: Not possibly an answer
4: Wrong answer that might look like an answer to some idiot who totally does not understand the technology. <= Expected answer

Or the ones that fly in the face of anyone who has actual experience:

Q: Which problem is MOST likely with this doodad?:
1: A really complex but non-applicable problem that wastes your time reading it. (Warning: 10 seconds remaining)
2: A configuration problem that should not happen
3: An obscure configuration problem that could indeed rarely happen <= Expected answer
4: Bad cable <= What happened every... single... freaking... time I actually encounter it.

Or how about just outright flawed questions? There are so many of these.

Q: Management has decided to let people work from home using their internet connected dildos. X Y and Z have been configured, what else needs to be configured?
1: Gibberish
2: Gibberish
3: Gibberish
4: Gibberish <= Correct answer!?!?
Problem is, they should be using a desktop PC, NOT internet connected dildos.

Q: If you had only one match and entered a dark room containing an oil lamp, some kindling wood, and a newspaper, which would you light first?
1: The Lamp
2: The Wood
3: The Newspaper
4: The Match
5: Document the problem and escalate to management <= expected answer.

Congratulations!You have just completed your assessment! We won't tell you how you did. You will just have to guess and worry. Let's just hope you haven't wasted the last five hours.

Getting the call

You have filled out hundreds of these job applications. Eventually the phone rings.... it isn't over!

Caller: "Hi, is this [YourName]?"
"Who is this"?
Caller "This is Ann."
"Uh, who are you with?"
Caller "I am with ThisCompanyYouSentAResumeTo! Is this [YourName]?"
"Oh, yes, thank you very much for..."
Caller: "but you sound awfully rude, we don't want that."
-CLICK-

Hu?

Bizarrely, it seems like nobody knows how to place a proper phone call any more. Even people who work in support, who should know better by now, just start in with "Hi, is this [YourName]?"

Here is what I have learned from many years of computer support experience: The proper way to place a telephone call is to fully identify yourself FIRST. Not all telephones have caller ID, and caller ID is so easy to fake and inaccurate, it is almost useless anyway. Assume the person you are calling has no idea who you are. They will assume you are a telemarketer.

When someone answers, state your name, the company you are with, and the reason you are calling.

For example, I might say "Hi, this is [My name] with [Company], I am trying to reach [Such and such], I have a message here that you are having a problem with [This and that]. Is this [Such and such]?"

After saying all that, they now know I am not Rachel with CardHolder Services, they hopefully understand why I am calling, and now they should have enough trust to continue talking with me.

You see most telemarketers/scammers/spammers who do not start in on an automated recording usually start with "Hi, is this [YourName]?".

The rule is, you NEVER say "yes" to a spammer. Saying yes at this point gives them valuable data. First they now know that the name they have for the number is valid. They can also twist that "yes" in to some form of acceptance of what they are selling or scamming you with.

Hmmm... Oddly, they keep re-listing that telephone support position. They obviously should have just hired me.:P

On a similar issue, when sending out an e-mail meeting request, ALWAYS include the time and date in the body of the e-mail! Not everybody has software to process those "ICS" invite files, or is in a position to use them (such as web mail from a public computer).

I shouldn't have to tell anybody this, but don't embed remote images in the body of your message. Almost ALL e-mail programs and web mail clients block those because they are a security hazard. If there was some piece of important information in them or if you used it as an important link, nobody will see it at all!

Whaaaat?
Q:  Rate your proficiency level in: Teamwork
1: None
2: Beginner
3: Intermediate
4: Advanced
5: It's Awesome!

And now... GOTO 10

Sigh. At the end of the day, employers say they "can't find anyone" and send the job to India.

Just a few other things:

I don't speak bullshit. Perhaps there should be classes on how to speak BS. I have actually spent the majority of my life cutting through bullshit, half assed specifications, bad program code, and so on, to get to the bottom of problems and create, fix, or improve things. It is against my very nature to create bullshit.

"If you could be any kind of animal, what would you be?". I am not an animal, and I prefer not to entertain such absurd hypothetical suppositions. I am aware I am supposed to use bullshit to turn that around in to something magically positive, but I have spent so many years going the opposite direction I can not just do that.

To be perfectly clear, I am writing all of this this because I want things to get better. I strive for technological perfection, and often the only way to get the ball rolling on change is to communicate and describe the problem.

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