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Trickery

Is it illegal for companies to post the same ad every couple of months?  To collect resumes and take advantage of the unemployed technical people?  I know a couple companies around my neck of the woods who have posted the same ad in the local paper and on the internet about every 3 months for the past year and half to two years.  One of these is city government.  They literally return your resume to you and tell you that it is no good.  They only accept an application filled out by you.  I think the HR people there are playing games with all of the unemployed technical folks.  Isn't this illegal?  Should I contact the DA about it?  The evidence is all of the ads they put in the paper and the fact that they never seem to hire anyone.  They are also very rude on the phone and actually laughed at me when I tried to talk to them about the position.  As if they want to hold it over everyone's head that they have a job and you don't.  It's frustrating enough just trying to get a job without having companies play games like this.  Oh and when I apply for "normal" work the managers look at me like I can't do anything besides sit at a desk and program computers.  What a bad stereotype.

Tricked
Thursday, June 26, 2003


I don't understand what would be illegal.  This happens on the jobboards all the time and it is usually pretty easy to spot.  It is a form of trickery.

Joe AA
Thursday, June 26, 2003

An IT baby of the .COM baby boom era, Im now starting to realise the control that recruitment agencies and recruiters in general have over our industry. I (like many thousands in the Thames Valley, UK) am looking for work, and have relied on Sites like Jobserve, etc as a way of reaching companies that are recruiting. Every day its the same companies, and worse, the same names within the companies, posting positions that on further inspection are either old, taken or non-existant. With the current surplass of developers, the balance of power is firmly in their court, and as they themselves admit, their clients are the employer and not the employee. Frustrated and yet another week out of work, I am making one last attempt to stay in IT before taking my transferably skills elsewhere. In 4 weeks of hard work, I am planning on going from MCP*1 to full MSCD.Net. If this doesn't work, Im force feeding on MSCE for 9 weeks to become further certified. If this doesnt work, then I will be convinced enough that this really is an unprofessional profession where the rats run the ship, and Im either becoming a hair-dresser or a fat cat.

MattOffSoftware
Thursday, June 26, 2003

MattOffSoftware: my wife who's back home in Dublin now was saying the exact same thing, and she's not even looking for work in the IT field. Apparently companies there have no interest in hiring or doing interviews themselves. Everything goes through recruitment agencies who decide if your resume meets some arbitrary set of criteria.

I'm not sure, but it seems like it would be better to stay being a contractor and try to align yourself with a few agencies/companies rather than hoping to find a full-time employee position? Btw have you tried smaller contracts from places like rent-a-coder.com to build up a portfolio?

jedidjab
Thursday, June 26, 2003

False Advertising.  Happens all the time.  Hi we have a position open for a programmer/analyst.  Next month same thing.  Next month same thing.  Falsely stating that they have an open position is against the law.  If this were cracked down on then maybe companies would think twice about doing it and fire the irresponsible people that do it.  Of course the job boards would be empty then.  Imagine that.  They would actually reflect the true state of the market.  What's funny is school's do sorta the same thing.  Take ITT Technical Institute.  Now struggling to get students for it's computer networking program because they can't find work when they graduate.  In fact their advertisements make me want to puke.  In fine print at the bottom of the screen, they say that the students pictured in the advertisement graduated in 1998/1999.  Talk about a bunch of bull.  At least they are honest in a round about way.

BullFighter
Thursday, June 26, 2003

It is actually illegal to post ads for jobs that don't exist, in Australia at least. However the regulatory authorities don't investigate or prosecute.

echidna
Thursday, June 26, 2003

Its interesting that someone outside of IT made those comments - Jedidjb, whats your wifes involvement in software?

My anger at IT at the moment is mainly because I look at myself and am embarassed at what I do. Technically Im fine - but how can your respect yourself when the profession you are in is laughed at? Im fed up with being marched into interviews, ordered to take an hours test and then frog-marched off Site to await news to hear if "Im any good". Surely my degree says that? Or maybe my references? No, in which case, at what point in my career will I be able to actually prove Im any good? Im sure my involvement in open source development could, or maybe my WebSite or community work? But the problem with all these is that they force you to continually subscribe to the "Im love to code, man, I even code at home" type mentallity that isn't really professional in the first place. Im sure my (professionally qualifies) plumber did his own bath installation, but he sure doesnt outfit the Red Cross for free to qualify his Yellow Pages advert.

Anyways, your advice of getting close to a company/recruiter is great. Im a big new fan of "trust" and "networking" - probably the only way to get a job right now. The hero of the film always has the most dialog.

MattOffSoftware
Thursday, June 26, 2003

I don't understand.

If they're not going to hire anyone, why would they spend money to advertise jobs? Just to collect resumes? What exactly do they do with these resumes if they don't have jobs available?

Joel Spolsky
Thursday, June 26, 2003

This is what I've always wanted to know.  I think the answer is that with a larger collection of resumes, they potentially have better resources at hand to find the best people.  Not sure about this though.

Konrad
Thursday, June 26, 2003

Matt: When she was over in Canada she did a two year Computer Systems Technician diploma at a college in Ottawa (network admin, ColdFusion/ASP, etc..). Obviously the market in Ottawa dried up pretty rapidly and she's been applying for jobs in different fields back in Dublin. However, it seems that regardless of what the position is (data entry, web design, tech support), you're required to go through one of the big agencies in the city.

What confuses me is that the agents working in these jobs have absolutely no (or very little) qualification in assessing if a candidate is right for an IT-related position. I actually talked with a few of them a year ago about some coding jobs (full-time and contract), and the questions they used to decide if you got to speak to the actual company were unimpressive at best.

jedidjab
Thursday, June 26, 2003

Oops - I forgot to mention that the other jobs she's been applying for (hotel desk clerk, restaurant hostess, etc.) all ended going through agencies as well. Very odd from my perspective anyway. Perhaps that's the business to get into - becoming a recruitment agency :)

jedidjab
Thursday, June 26, 2003

>"Im love to code, man, I even code at
>home" type mentallity that isn't really
>professional in the first place.


I agree. 

The thing is:

hacking != software engineering

I do things to grow professionally on my own time; probably < 10% of that is write code.  Things like:

1) Leadership in a professional organization,

2) Joining another professional organization,

3) Preparing presentations/lectures for organizations, schools, and my work

4) Comissioned Officer in the Civil Air Patrol (US Air Force Auxillary)

5) Going to school at night: taking courses in Software Engineering, distributed computing, and info sys management.  MAYBE 30% of that are classes where I write code.

6) Reading books / JOS.  Books like "peopleware", "Code Complete", "The Deadline", etc.  Sure, some of these books involve writing code: "Code Complete" by McGuire, etc - but it's not hacking.



---> After I'm done, I have shown a dedication to my profession _WITHOUT_ hacking 24/7.


good luck!

Matt H.
Thursday, June 26, 2003

---> After I'm done, I have shown a dedication to my profession _WITHOUT_ hacking 24/7.

You have shown a dedication but have you shown a finished project.


What exactly do they do with these resumes if they don't have jobs available?

I know some recruitors in the financial industry collect resumes and if they get a good one they send it to their client who is always looking for talent.

Tom Vu
Thursday, June 26, 2003

>> "If they're not going to hire anyone, why would they spend money to advertise jobs? Just to collect resumes? What exactly do they do with these resumes if they don't have jobs available?"

The companies probably want to make themselves look good so they advertise positions they don't have or might have had but have filled.  Recruiters want names to fill their databases so they advertise positions they don't have.  Both of them are probably gleaning useless data like average out of work programmer age 30, single, with a dog.  Then they sell your information without you knowing it.  Any way you look at it, it is false advertising.

I once applied for a job titled 'VB Programmer/Analyst'.  That's what the ad said anyway.  That afternoon I got a call and went in for an interview.  I asked if the gentleman could describe the position.  He said I would be correcting errors in their access database.  I explained that I thought this was a VB Programming Position.  He said it wasn't.  I showed him the advertisement and caught him in a lie and he said, 'Well, you'll find that a lot in this industry.'  Yea.  I walked out.


Thursday, June 26, 2003


I really love the ones that offer an interesting position and when you take the bait, the "apply" function takes you to another website wanting you to register with them.

It takes all kinds.

Joe AA
Thursday, June 26, 2003

what's with the 'hacking isn't professional' tangent?  And is that what people think?

Nice
Thursday, June 26, 2003


Actually I think he said that hacking wasn't software engineering.

I agree...

That's why I am a hacker... after all, I have to get a workable deliverable out.

Joe AA
Thursday, June 26, 2003

>what's with the 'hacking isn't professional'
>tangent?  And is that what people think?

It's more:  When you say "This is more like playing; I can't believe I get paid to do this" -- It kinda implies that you shouldn't be paid.  The more often you say this, ***In the eyes of certain people*** the less professional you look.

>You have shown a dedication but have you shown a >finished project.

That's what the day job is for, buddy. :-)

Besides that, it is possible to show finished projects in those positions:  I've been serving as project officer for cadet competitions in my state for some time, for example.

If you are vice president of the Charlotte, NC C++ user's group, and your web-site is impressive, and you get Brian Kernighan to speak at meetings ... that's success on some level.

Again, it's about "Smart" + "Gets things done"

regards,

Matt H.
Thursday, June 26, 2003

Pretty much any job I see posted by an employment agency these days is fake. Some are more realistic than others, some post jobs that are too good to be true to get you to take the bait, i.e. "$200,000 year, major company great benefits"
I think they try to use the shotgun approach, get as many bodies into interviews as possible, to see if they get a hit. 

Bill
Thursday, June 26, 2003

>That's why I am a hacker... after all,
>I have to get a workable deliverable out.

haha joe.

Writing code is part of software engineering, just not all of it.

After, after you reach a certain proficiency, it's very common to find that the 'low hanging fruit' switches from getting better at writing code getting better at figuring out what the heck the customer really needs.

JMHO.

Matt H.
Thursday, June 26, 2003

Joel,
They won't be spending any extra money. They might already have  an yearly contract or something with these job sites and can post as many positions as they want. Recruiters post these made up positions all the time. They want to be ready  and have as many resumes as possible in hand when a real position do open up. So they make up these positions with the current "HOT" skills or as many tech words as they know :). They are also competing with other recruiters. Companies do hire more than one recruiting agency for filling the same position.
It happened to me couple of years ago. My resume was sent to the same position twice by two different recruiters :)
Also, in this economy how do you think a recruiter keeps his job safe? He has to look busy and show that he is doing some work, to his boss :)

Yaniv
Thursday, June 26, 2003

"If they're not going to hire anyone, why would they spend money to advertise jobs?"

To "advertise" they are growing. It is not for you but for their competition.

....
Thursday, June 26, 2003

"If they're not going to hire anyone, why would they spend money to advertise jobs?"

They may also be doing it for obscure legal reasons. For example, some visas (H1B?) are only for positions where no other qualified people exist, and you must advertise in such and such a way. Apparently they'll use tricks along the lines of "must have exactly 37 months of experience with technology X" to filter out candidates.

mb
Thursday, June 26, 2003

From my experience with job hunting last year, I can come to the following conclusions :

1) The best way _by far_ to get a job is by networking.
2) All recruiters are, to one extent or another, blood sucking leeches.

Getting a job through somebody you know provides you with a clear advantage. There's no competition. If you're good enough to hire, you won't get tossed on the scrapheap because another 20 people were and they "didn't hire unlucky people".

Even the ones that appear to provide good services are rubbish for jobseekers, I've got a big list of "CV sent to company,no further response, phone calls not returned" scenarios from one agency of notably good reputation. ("No thanks" would be nice.)

Wadvertised a position late last year with two job agencies. (250 CVs came in, of which maybe 5 were good enough to interview and one or two good enough to hire. I don't understand why people put "C/C++" on their CV and then can't answer a simple pointer arithmetic question. Anyway, I'm going off topic...)

At the same time, we got telephone spammed by recruitment agencies offering to advertise our position too. We said no. They put the job ad up anyway, and I saw adverts for it on Jobserve more than a month after the position was filled!

I even got one agency, who we definitely didn't advertise with, spamming _me_ with the very same job offer! What a chump. (IIRC our HR woman gave them a severe telling off...)

MattOffSoftware - I can probably guess at the companies you're thinking of. They're the sort of people who started up in the .com boom and are finding it difficult to get the commission now there's less jobs to go round.

Better Than Being Unemployed...
Thursday, June 26, 2003

I do not know about different regions, but at least in some parts of Europe it might not be the companies fault. I know examples form the realestate sector where magazines/websites continue to list properties already of the market. The sole purpose of this is that the publisher of these things do not want to keep up their volume and not look "empty" to the buyers/visitors.

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, June 26, 2003

Joel,

as I posted in another thread: job advertisements are still cheaper than regular advertisements. In German IT-related magazines you can even publish job offers for free, so companies (who even had the money to pay for ads) use that as an opportunity for "cheap" marketing.

Also, the problem with that attitude goes even deeper: I've been working for a company (network-security-related) which even wanted to employ just to show some potential customers that "we are growing". Then, of course, they wanted to fire that one after customers had entered the boat, due to some "unforeseen macro-economical events".

Johnny Bravo
Thursday, June 26, 2003

Employment agencies and contract shops may
leave ads running even when they don't
have an actual opening -- this way they
build up their base during slow times.
Later on, when they have a lot of demand,
they will have more contacts to call.

But (to the OP) you can be sure the city government
is NOT using this shabby tactic.
When they say "fill out the application",
that's exactly what they mean.  Go
fill out the application.  If they let you,
you can also attach your resume to it.  But
that's really how many of them operate!
Paperwork, channels, all that stuff.
It's nothing to do with false advertising
or trickery, just sop.

mp
Thursday, June 26, 2003

Boy - I just had a moment of enlightenment reading the list of activities Matt H persues in his free time. Up to the second I read the list, I proud of the my bookshelf crammed with assorted IT books (all read!), and my diary crammed full of MS certification test dates. I kind of feel Im wasting my time now with this unbalanced approach to becoming more professional in IT. From now on, I am going to commit to finding more cross-discipline acitivities - I have been banging my head against a wall trying to figure out how to "network in IT" when I dont hang around in IT circles. It looks like I really need to take the IT constraint out of the issue! Funnily enough though, the writer of the Wrox XSLT book that I very much respect states that he supports the Wokingham choral society. I was planning on giving up the XBOX for singing - all in the name of networking :)

MattOffSoftware
Thursday, June 26, 2003

I think some of it comes down to budget.  A certain amount is budgeted for recruiting and HR.  This appears in most companies to be completely separate from the decision of how many people to hire.  Thus HR runs ads/does recruiting when there are no actual jobs to fill.  This keeps them busy and saves their jobs.

Of course, slimy employment agencies are another thing.  There really should be a law requiring that a job they have a contract to fill be attached to every advertisement.  But... The same thing happens with apartments (at least in Boston.)

Contrary Mary
Thursday, June 26, 2003

Go get a copy of "What Color is Your Parachute?"  It describes how to find a job without going through the rigamarole you're all discussing here.

Karl Perry
Thursday, June 26, 2003

Recruiting agency modus operandi:

1) Collect as many resumes as possible
2) SPAM employers with your entire database of resumes.
3) When eventually somebody gets hired, try to extort money out of the employer because you sent them the resume first.
4) ???
5) Go bankgrupt anyways.  The dot-com boom is over you blood-sucking parasites!

Richard Ponton
Thursday, June 26, 2003

Joel, the assets of a recruiting business are its database of people. The bigger the database, the more chance it has of placing a person into a role.

Recruiters gather resumes for the same reason spammers send out messages; any yield is better than none. With lots of resumes, recruiters can match candidates against openings the recruiters discover at companies, or just them along on spec.

What more IT people, and most workers, don't understand is that recruiters are actually in competition against them to find jobs, and to then control access to those jobs.

The more that workers send resumes to job sites hoping to find jobs, the more power they give their competition.

echidna
Thursday, June 26, 2003

One of the reasons why big companies outsource recruiting is elimination of liability.  In the US, there is a lot of CYA paperwork that a large corporation must do to show they don't discriminate when hiring.  By outsourcing, the liability is shifted to another company.  If it's a small recruiting company, the headhunters can just declare bankruptcy and form a new agency, if there is a lawsuit.

Another reason is that companies don't want to be the ones doing the rejecting.  This way, all bad feelings are directed toward the recruiter and not the company doing the hiring.

Anonymous
Thursday, June 26, 2003

There are three reasons for the growth of the recruiting industry, and its strength in the IT industry:

1. As mentioned by anonymous, it provides a convenient way for employers to avoid their social and legal responsibilities as employers.

2. It's a lucrative business wide open to middlemen. You  ring companies to find jobs, place ads to attract suckers - IT workers - place them while hiding the prices on each side, and get rich

3. Unlike other high investment professional roles, those in IT have none of the barriers to entry constructed by older professional groups. This makes it easy for recruiters to find cheap new recruits all the time, undercutting the income of established professionals.


Friday, June 27, 2003

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