Tag: Job Hunting

Ninjas need not apply.

Looking for a Job? America’s Listings Are Inscrutable – The Atlantic

The result is the obnoxious state of the modern job listing, which is often short on details and long on silly demands.

I’ve seen listings for more years of experience in a technology than years the technology has existed.

More than ever, it seems, hiring managers are looking for extremists: You can’t just be willing to do the job. You must evince an all-consuming horniness for menial corporate tasks. In an American labor market where wages are stagnant and many workers feel their jobs seeping into their personal time, such demands only create even more anxiety and dread for Americans looking for a new gig.

Extremists don’t make for good team players. Which raises the final point.

In other words, few people seem to want to do the duties of a rock star if they’re not going to get paid like one.

If you’re looking for amazing, dedicated people, you need to reward them. Giving them less than market wages isn’t going to attract or retain them.

I’ve been in the market for a new job. I’ve been in the same place for three years under 5 separate companies and the contract I work on has expired and we’re working on an extension until a new contract is awarded. This is always a natural time to look around and see what else is out there in the market. I’m happy where I am, but I can always be happier. When I came across this article today I had to stop and read it. It is everything I see in ads today.

Even when they’re not filled with flowery language, which many of the DC-area government contracting jobs are not, they’re written so vaguely it’s often hard to determine exactly what sort of job it is. Is it a help desk? Would I be answering phones all day? Is it face-to-face support? Is it infrastructure support where I’d see more server rooms than people? It’s hard to determine if I’d even be qualified enough to attempt an interview since it’s hard to know what I would be doing and what would be expected of me.

There’s another trend of mentioning the need for an upper level security clearance at the very end of the job listing. After reading 3 pages of requirements, qualifications, a vague notion of exactly where you’ll be working, as I am ready to press Apply I notice I’d need a Top Secret security clearance. Not be clear-able, but to already have clearance.

Why bury that at the end of the ad? Put it at the top where you’ve placed the need for the applicant to be a US Citizen.

Modern job hunting is a minefield of guesswork and mistrust. I’ve asked many recruiters what government agency the position is for. And many of them are cagey about providing that information. In addition with a lack of trust, location has a huge amount to do with the length of the commute.

Is it in DC, Maryland or Virginia? Is it metro-accessible? If not, is there any parking available? From where I live, will it be 45 minutes? 90 minutes? More than that? These are all real concerns and even more real driving figures. Even metro can be an easy 60+ minute commute and that’s not counting any transfers in between.

Companies want dedicated rock stars to work for them forever. And they’re willing to pay wages fresh out of high school.

Play the market, don’t let it play you

Growing up I learned a lot of things. One of them was about how I needed to go out and get a job. I needed to stay at that job for years and I would be taken care of. The company I worked for would invest in me as I invested in them. There would be a mutually beneficial relationship. We would both thrive.

That is a fairy tale. That is a story for another time. Another generation. That is not the reality of today. I learned too late in life the only person looking out for me is me. So I needed to do a better job of looking out for me.

I’m my own best advocate and ally.

I made one huge mistake when I entered the job market. I believed what I’d been told all through growing up. I believed loyalty was rewarded.

I went to college and learned in my four years there I did not want to work in Advertising. And I worried. What would people think of my Mass Communications degree?

Absolutely Nothing! And I don’t meant they didn’t like it. It didn’t matter. All my employers were interested in was if I had a degree. Not what the degree said on it.

I had a Bachelor’s degree. That’s all they cared about. Something I quickly learned was that having the degree won’t get me a job but it will keep me from being disqualified.

A college degree won’t land you a job. It will keep you from not being considered for the job.

A little story from the first time I’ve interviewed someone to hire. I was the lead Desktop Support Tech and we were looking for a new technician. The job was posted and we were flooded with resumes. We had well over 1,000 applications for this single job.

How do you think we filtered the list? We started eliminating anyone who didn’t fit the criteria. And one of the criteria was having a college degree.

From my first job working in IT Support I stuck to a simple plan when selecting jobs.

I’m a hired gun. I’m a technical mercenary. I work for the highest bidder.

Want a raise? Get a new job. I started making $12 per hour. Then $17, $19, and eventually $21/hour for the same job title doing the same work. But I’d worked for a different place each time.

While I worked as a contractor, I had no paid time off. That meant if I didn’t work, I didn’t get paid. Period. I would work through being sick. I didn’t take vacations. I worked. It’s what I did. That was my reality. So I wanted more money to justify the lack of time off. This is not sustainable and it was always my goal to get through it to something better.

And health benefits… Yeah. I had them. Technically. But they were often terrible. Expensive benefits that covered little if anything. It was barely worth the money I paid. And since I didn’t take time off. I didn’t go to the dentist or the doctor unless I absolutely had to.

Then I moved out of the area and landed my first job with benefits. I had time off. I had decent healthcare for the first time since leaving school and I was salaried. That changed everything.

That meant I got paid the same thing every pay check. No overtime but also very little demand for it. But my pay checks were consistent which made budgeting easier. Not that I had any money in savings. But I could pay my bills.

And I had a little on the side so I could enjoy myself and go out to eat some times. I could go see a movie. I could even take time off and enjoy life and visit friends or family out of the area without having to race out-of-town Friday night and return by Sunday. I had freedom.

Corporate Stockholm Syndrome

You may be working a job that makes you plenty happy to go to everyday. You may really enjoy what you do. You enjoy the company of the people you work with. You like where you are and what you’ve done. Overall, you’re happy and content with where you are in life.

Then one day something changes. You realize what else is out there. Maybe you start idly looking. Maybe someone tracks you down. But either way, you learn what else is out there for you. You learn what you could be doing and where you could be doing it. You realize there’s more money out there for you. ((Possibly a LOT more money!)) You realize it’s possible to work with a skilled group of people to learn from and share expertise and ideas.

You realize a lot of things when your perspective changes. In this case, I am this person. My perspective has changed. With my wife’s current job hunt underway to move to somewhere better I started looking around as well. I wasn’t terribly motivated to leave where I am and move on. I wasn’t terribly motivated to go through the job hunt process again. I wasn’t very excited to put myself out there to be judged and rejected all over again. ((As every job hunt goes.))

Then out of the blue, I was contacted. I was headhunted. Someone called me out of the blue, and despite rarely answering my phone, I took this call. A sign? A higher power? A random act on a random day? Who knows. The result is I have an interview Tuesday with real live people. I get to put myself out there in front of a new group of nerds. I want to be accepted by these new nerds. I want to join their ranks. I want to get more support for my career at work and I want to advance in my career. I want to make more money and take on more responsibilities.

I am tired of racing around and putting out fires. No, I am tired of putting out imaginary fires created by a series of poor planning and poor communication. I am very tired of having to do more work or rework through no fault of my own.

I am tired of imagined fires becoming my problem. The latest example being receiving a call from an out-of-state office at 5:42 on a Friday afternoon asking to re-add a computer to the domain and set it up for a new hire for Monday. There’s no way. It took all the self-control I could muster not to scream at this person for their carelessness.

Do I have this right…?

You’ve known about this new hire for a several days. You’ve known about this new hire all day today. Instead of calling in the morning, when there was a snowball’s chance in hell of the request getting completed today, you waited until 18 minutes until I leave for the day and our office closes. ((I am also the last technician on site and while we are on-call for after-hours work, this does not qualify as an acceptable after-hours request.))

The saddest thing is this is not a unique situation. This ((Not this exact event but a similar situation)) seems to crop up every week or two. ((Especially in that office. Though it’s not a condition unique to them.))

I have office Stockholm Syndrome.

I have seen the light. I see a way out.
I am going to meet with my rescuers this week.

If I go, I am also going to cause headaches for my current manager. I am an integral part of the department there. I am the rock on which all things are built. I have the serious technical chops to answer any question that comes my way. I diligently document everything I run across, especially if I think I may ever run across it again.

Wherever I am, I bring my A game. And I may be bringing that game to a new place soon enough. I am excited.