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yet another thread on hiring stupidity

So I'm back in the job market.

First phone interview, I am asked how my vi skills are. I say that when I'm on a unix system I use emacs and don't care for vi. "Sorry, the job requires vi skills."

So much for that interview. And I was talking to the project manager who is a programmer! Why should he care whether I use vi or emacs?

OK, second inteview:

"You're hired! here is our offer!"

"Are you kidding me? That is 1/3 what I made in my last job!"

"Times are tough. These jobs don't pay what they used to."

"Well I can't accept that offer, there is surely some mistake."

"There's nothing we can do. Since you just graduated from college, you only qualify for rung 1 one of our pay ladder."

"No, actually although I just got a Masters Degree while I was working. My original Bachelors is from 11 years ago and I have 13 years of professional development experience during which I have published several articles and obtained three patents."

"I'm sorry, but he pay rate is dependent on your current status which is that you just graduated less than a year ago. We only consider work experience since after you got your degree."

(Sigh.)

Phillip Watkins
Monday, July 05, 2004

I think in both cases you should have tried a little harder.

First job:

Ask "Why is vi important?"

Find out if vi is a proxy for Unix experience.

If they use vi as an engine for text transformation, then it may be important to know it.


Second job:

Well, you were talking with HR, almost certainly. If so it is up to you to be sure they understand your situation.

Go back to the manager who interviewed you and explain the situation.

That's if you really wanted either of those jobs.

dot for this one
Monday, July 05, 2004

You mean like scripting with vi to do grep like things? What would the advantage be when sed awk grep perl python and ruby are all available. And yes he did understand that I had extensive unix experience and even contributed a small amount to the linux kernel. The important issue was that I must have years of experience in vi tools because that was the text editor they all used because it is the best text editor ever.

2nd case, you may have a point but I don't care to work for a company that clueless in which HR runs things. It would only get worse.

Phillip Watkins
Monday, July 05, 2004

Good grief. That guy would benefit from having his head rattled.

It also sounds like something you wouldn't have even bothered applying for had they written a decent job ad, or however you found out about it.

Acquiring advanced degree while engaged in career => Reset to rookie status......gee, that's EXACTLY what my company has in mind with the tuition reimbursement program. 

Tracy
Monday, July 05, 2004

If ever there were proof that recruiters will do absolutely anything to devalue you...

Fernanda Stickpot
Monday, July 05, 2004

You'll quickly learn that in this job market you will have to become more agreeable.  Your favorite editor? VI yes sir yup.  Not that you have to use it on the job. 

Also, You sure can't expect to make the same salary you were making at a different company with different work especially when that salary was determined during a boom.

Come on, get with the program.  The job market is tight and companies really aren't hiring.  They are only probing the market to see who will work for cheap.

You're out of luck buddy unless of course you like being out of work then you may be able to stay the course and find something you like.  Highly unlikely but you can try.

I learned these lessons quickly.  Unfortunately this environment fosters job hopping.

At my first interview out of school the interviewer asked what my favorite programming language was.  I responded that on the AS/400 I liked RPG IV and on the Windows PC I liked C++ or VB and on the mainframe I liked COBOL.  He eyed my and said to choose one.  I told him that I had given him my answer and that it depended on the platform and what I was doing.  He insisted that I choose one.  So I chose C++.

Just give the answer they want to hear.  It's a sad state of affairs but that is what you will have to do unless of course you can command a high salary job from a decent company.  In this job market there is no such thing.

You eye-ballin' me boy!?
Monday, July 05, 2004

Can anyone read this? Test


Monday, July 05, 2004

But eye-ballin', how did you know which one he wanted to hear? Seems like you had a 2/3 chance of guessing wrong - ?

When I read Philip's post, it sounded to me like it was more of a mix-up, an interview that never should have taken place, because the job that was available was intended for entry-level people which Philip clearly is not. That might make the company stupid, since they must have had his resume in hand in order to call him, but it doesn't necessarily make them evil screwers-of-peeps. And Philip refusing to take such a job doesn't make him arrogant.

Tracy
Monday, July 05, 2004

Er, 3/4 chance of guessing wrong.

3 platforms. 4 languages. I can count, really I can.

Tracy
Monday, July 05, 2004

It's just the fact that I didn't answer the question the way the guy wanted me to answer it and the fact that I insisted that it depended on the OS and platform that I was using.  I should have just gave him an answer instead of questioning him.

Companies are looking to fill positions with skilled, cheap labor.  It was no accident that they contacted him and that he had an interview.  I have a hard time believing otherwise.

I'm not saying Philip is arrogant, but he does have to realize the state of the IT job market in the US at this point of time does in fact suck.

I'm also not saying that one should be a "yes man" but if that's what it takes to get past an interview in certain circumstances then that's what it takes.

You eye-ballin' me boy!?
Monday, July 05, 2004

Then the company is both stupid AND a screwer-of-peeps.

Stupid because they'd probably have a better chance of shafting somebody if they admitted to it. (We know you're overqualified, but we have an opening and you need a job, so how about it?).

What they said is so over-the-top ridiculous that they just look like morons. I might be willing to work for morons if they pay me well. I might be willing to sacrifice pay to work with good people. But surely the job market is not so horrible that somebody with good experience has to do both at once. :(

Tracy
Monday, July 05, 2004

"Work" is an exchange of goods & services for money. As such, lying on your resume is about as wrong as, say, bait & switch advertising. Interviewing really is a sales event, but cleverly disguised by the interviewing company. Some of the most successful interviewees understand this & act accordingly.

You should also know that you're interviewing the company as well. If you're not satisfied with them, you should let them know. I've walked out on a few interviews because I didn't like the company, though now I'd probably opt to keep interviewing just to polish my skills in a no-pressure environment.

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, July 05, 2004

"The job market is tight"

Bullshit.

I'm throwing down the flag on this RIGHT NOW.

The Commonwealth of Virginia just announced a serious labor shortage across the board. Every client I visit is hiring. Microsoft is hiring. Computerjobs.com shows 1300 positions open in the DC/Metro area, which is higher than it was in 2000.

PUSH BACK, people. When someone tells you on the phone "there's a labor shortage" inform them that no, there isn't, but if they think there is they're welcome to hire from the pile of resumes that must be on their desk. Or they can call you back next week.

Stop being victims.

Philo

Philo
Monday, July 05, 2004

You are being mislead Philo.

You are in the position of 'I have a job why don't you or why can't you get one.'

How many of those jobs on computerjobs.com are from recruiters and companies collecting resumes?  I would guess over half.

You also live on the east coast.  You live in an area where job growth is good.

The fact is that the job market is tight.  Most job ads are repeats and fakes and are there simply to collect statistics for HR and to make it look like HR is doing something.

You say MS is hiring?  Then why don't they hire me?  I have applied.  What's the deal?  You got in becuase of an inside connection.

Easier said than done Philo.  I tell you what.  Quit your job at MS and find another one.  I know your secuity clearance can't be good anymore.  I bet you wouldn't find it so easy.

You eye-ballin' me boy!?
Monday, July 05, 2004

Based on how difficult it has been to hire software developers at my company in the northwest, I'd say that the market isn't _that_ bad.  It's not the late 90's but that was an unusual period.  Finding good candidates is difficult.  And some of the really good ones took offers other than ours.

Jeremy
Monday, July 05, 2004

Philo, you're not a stupid guy.

Lobbyists for IT employers have been screaming about shortages ever since they discovered the word. Hell, they even kept it up when unemployment was really really bad. They're always trying to get government boards and politicians to declare skill shortages. Every so often they get one. Virginia sounds like they're short of brains or big on donations or both.

me
Monday, July 05, 2004

me, I'm not a stupid guy. I don't comment on these stories lightly. It wasn't just "Virginia short on labor" - that was the summary of a long story replete with statistics to back it up. I just summarized a story that made sense to me.

Philo

Philo
Monday, July 05, 2004

eye-ballin, I'm in the position of "I visit clients every week, and to an office they are all looking for people" In other words, I have first-hand evidence that manymany federal and partner offices are hiring. Sorry if that doesn't compare with your chairbound theories about job listings. ;-)

BTW, those numbers on computerjobs have tracked with the reports of the job market - the DC listings dropped to under 500 in 2002. So it all makes sense to me; if you don't agree then so be it.

And I suspect your challenge about quitting my job is just like the cop that told the armed kidnapper "If you agree with our offer, shoot yourself three times in the head" - it's a trick.

Philo

Philo
Monday, July 05, 2004

I'm not saying there is a labor shortage, I am saying that it is not easy to get hired in the few positions that are available.

Most jobs on the computerjobs site in my state are in fact from recruiters and other such entities.  These positions are posted in order to collect resumes.  For the few positions that are actually out there, there are a ton of candidates.

Of course people tell you they are hiring Philo.  Every company puts on the false appearance that they are doing well.  It's called BSing.  Sure my company is hiring give me your resume and I'll get back to you... umm yea ok.  Now you are representing Microsoft which does intimidate people and so the whole thing is just a bunch of people talking shit and sucking up to make themselves appear on the surface better than they really are.

I am not chairbound either.  I go to trade shows and job fairs and workforce development centers and clients etc. etc.

You are being deceived.  Like I say, quit your job and try to find another.  Not as easy as it sounds.

You eye-ballin' me boy!?
Monday, July 05, 2004

Jobs ain't that hard to get right now.

But anyway, to the original poster:

If the people you were talking to were both really that stupid, you should just let it go.  You don't want to work with people who are that stupid, or even for people who would use such stupid recruiters.

Mr Fancypants
Monday, July 05, 2004

Hi Phillip Watkins,

Your second interview sounds like you interviewed with an HR rep for about an hour or so and he/she immediately offered you a job. While I doubt that this is the way things really happened, the response that you received from this HR rep regarding why you were offered a low salary was very strange indeed. In fact, I believe it is one of the stupidest company policies I have ever heard of!

Assuming you actually interviewed with a hiring manager before interviewing with the HR rep, I would have sent the hiring manager a letter (or called) explaining why you declined the job offer. While I doubt a letter/phone call would have made much of a difference, it might have helped you determine if this company truly has a policy of penalizing people who decide to pursue an advanced degree or if the company was simply looking for someone with talent who also happened to be desperate/naive.


Philo,

Shame on you! You should know better than to use an online job board and the DC/Metro area as proof for how good/bad the fragmented IT industry within the United States is doing employment wise. Maybe Phillip Watkins is like me (just another business programmer) and would never be considered for many of those open positions that aren't fake?

One Programmer's Opinion
Monday, July 05, 2004

Yes, called called in for a few of interviews, met the other developers, etc. They said it looked good, perfect match. Then get a call on the answering machine from a vice president saying the company wants to offer me the job and I should come in the next morning if possible and get all the contractual stuff and security clearance (this is a defense contractor) clear with HR. And so they show me the offer and I am flabbergasted and all and then the exchange takes place and I leave. Yeah, I'll sent the guy who originally called me in a note that the offer was too low given my years of experience and that I'm pursuing other opportunities but thanks for the offer.

I'm sure I'll find something and will do so without having to take any hit against my previous salary which was a reasonable one. I just thought these couple of cases were pretty funny.

I'm a bit limited because I am NOT willing to move and I am not in a tech center, so yeah, a few clients of the last employer have asked if I want to interview with them but I've declined since it'd necessitate a move. But there is no way I am going to put my wife and kids through another move, we've already done that a couple times and I'm tired of it and I've finally got a house fixed up the way I like it.

Phillip Watkins
Monday, July 05, 2004

>> if the company was simply looking for someone
>> with talent who also happened to be desperate/naive.

Or possibly the HR rep had total misunderstanding of how the salary ranges were to be applied.

If Original Poster had any interest at all in the job, he should have gone over the head of the person who made the offer.

dot for this one
Monday, July 05, 2004

Recruiters and HR staff are a bit of a Joke. My favorite thing is to play games back at them. For example, in going for work that required EJB skills, I wrote into a experience description...  "Instead of using EJB, we used a Java CORBA service"  ...when I was interviewed by the recruiter, the "EJB" part was highlighted, and they verbally iterated that I used EJB skills on that job. Love recruiters. Play their game.

...there are too many morons out there. Just try not to get too bothered by them.

Arron Bates
Monday, July 05, 2004

Hold on, Phillip Watkins.

"the company wants to offer me the job and I should come in the next morning if possible and get all the contractual stuff and security clearance (this is a defense contractor) clear with HR"

HR doesn't "clear" security clearances, and not even a moron would insist you "just graduated college" if you have 13 years professional experience before that.

What game are you playing?

Ron
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Dude, HR has the security clearance form you fill out. What they do with it next I am not privy to the details of - I assume they send it off to the FBI to be cleared after that.

I have to ask - do you have a special person in charge of security clearance forms for new hires where you work?

Phillip Watkins
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Also, this isn't the first time I've seen the policy of disregarding experience pre-degree. Plenty of company's do it to discount situations such as when a college graduate who has done web site design since he was 8 years old claims 14 years of experience, they do not hire him as a senior web designer, they hire him as a recent grad. But this was the first time I saw this policy applied to secondary degrees.

Phillip Watkins
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Using any degree as a gatekeeper is stupid, as is any kind of automagic "years of experience = pay" equation.

Evaluate the degree, evaluate the experience. Use some common sense.

I'd say you do not want to work there, unless you need the $$$ and there's nothing else in sight.

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

"I have to ask - do you have a special person in charge of security clearance forms for new hires where you work? "

Yes, that would be the facility security office. HR drones don't touch that... a cleared facility in the U.S. is required to have a security office that maintains not only the classified safes and rooms, but handles all the clearance paperwork.

And a company VP would not make an offer contingent on you filling out a form for a clearance (which would take six months to a year to get back anyway), so that's why there's something odd about all this...

Ron
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Actually, they might be referring to an existing clearance - HR *can* file that paperwork, and it generally only takes a few days to turn around (you can actually get the answer over the phone, but I'm sure for hiring purposes they want it on paper)

Very strange mix-up, that they're thinking he has a clearance but he doesn't.

Heh. What a mess this whole thing is...

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

The relationship between Recruitment Consultants and Programmers has totally broken down!  Any marriage-guidance counsellor would recommend a trial separation.
See this blog http://danoneverything.com/index.php?p=167 for the "state of the art" in UK IT Recruitment.
Maybe we should all read "What Colo(u)r is my Parachute?" and do it properly.

Howard Ricketts
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Applicable Dilbert Cartoon:

http://www.unitedmedia.com/comics/dilbert/archive/images/dilbert2004062033626.gif

Gary van der Merwe
Tuesday, July 06, 2004


I've been getting calls for interviews up and down the East Coast over the past 3 months.  3 from DC proper, another 3-4 from the DC Metro area, 3-4 from the NYC area.  I've also been looking towards Chicago, as I'd like to move back there eventually.  I've gotten 4 calls ranging from Indianapolis, Northern Indiana, and Chicago area.

From all of these, 5 calls went very well and turned into offers for 2nd interviews, 1 went as far as an offer.  The jobs are there, but they're not looking for fresh grads.  They're looking for someone with a bit more experience.

(I only have 3 years, so they're not even wanting much.)


Philo, I didn't realize that you're in the DC area.  I'm on the NoVa side of things.  You should come to NoVaLUG (Northern Virginia User's Linux Group, we meet towards Dulles), it'd be a great time.

KC
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

After a long (3 y) drought offers and invitations have started to come in again over the last two months (Western Europe). I don't know if this is a sign of a recovery, or just a few accidental hits.

Just me (Sir to you)
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

> If they use vi as an engine for text transformation

Would you want to work for a company that uses vi "as an engine for text transformation"? Okay, vi is great and all, but, wasn't vi's limitations the very reason sed/awk found themselves on the UNIX map? In fact if it wern't for the seroius inflexibility of all 3 tools listed above (and more) there never would have been Perl/Python/Tcl.

overweightnerd
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Reading this thread, I have a few things to say:

1.  Just 4 months ago, I changed job.  I did the following:  I build a relationship with several guys with this company, and that took me more than a year.  Then I actually went, 'Hey, got any opening there?'  They were practically falling over each other to get me known with the right people there so they can get the recruitment funds.  They got it, as far as I know.

I doubled my pay, and moved from a sucky environment to a wonderful environment.  I am very happy with this job.

NETWORK NETWORK NETWORK!

To those who are willing to bid down for their new position, that's your choice.  But if you think that's the rule of the land, you're dumb.  I bidded up, way up, and negotiated down to a level that still doubled my pay, because I believed that is what I was worth, and I PROVED IT!  If you can't prove that you are worth the pay, well, enjoy your 25% pay cut, buddy.

2.  As part of this company, I am traveling to other clients who are DESPERATE for my skills.  I am just a guy with 8 year of experience.  None of those 40-50-60 year old foggies who knows the answer to the Oracle's questions.  Just someone who have experience and can get stuff resolved.

All of my clients have job openings, and I help with the hiring and interview process.  Let me tell you this RIGHT NOW:

THERE ARE SO MANY FREAKING IDIOTS OUT THERE WHO LIES ON THEIR RESUMES.

It have gotten so bad it was so easy to catch those lies.  The moment we catch those lies, that person is persona non gratis with my clients.  And the clients I'm talking about are looking to pay in the 40, 50, and 60 dollars range for 6-12 months contracts at the very minimum.  In the past 2 months alone, I assisted in hiring for about 10 new positions.  The market IS alive and well, and paying damn well for experiences that does not have to be top notch.

3.  Is the company dumb for listing VI?  DO NOT ARGUE WITH THEM UNTIL YOU GET THE JOB.  A few folks got dumped during the interview process because they decided to be holier than thou, and start telling you how much it sucks to work in something or another that was just listed or asked.

"Do you use VI?"  "Yes, I use vi.  What would you like to know about my vi skills?" 

Sure, you use EMACS, and you WILL use EMACS on the job.  But until you get that contract to hire paper signed away, do not whine about how much VI sucks and that EMACS is better.  To MANY... MANY people, they have no clue what EMACS and VI is.  It's just a requirement typed up by someone trying to follow some damn template.

* * *

It amazes me how so self-defeatist people can be with their abilities and career.  Be strong, be stubborn, and get what you want.  After all, buddy... it is YOUR life, and you got only one shot at it.

T.J.
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Forgive me for the crappy grammar above.  I hope the point was still made.

T.J.
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

I'd have told them I preferred EMACs and then lied and said I used vi too. The dipstick who asked the questions was just playing buzzword bingo.

I'd tell the hiring manager the truth and take my chances.

MilesArcher
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

I wouldn't want to work anywhere that required me to code with vi. 

christopher baus.net
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

I code with VI once.

I used Microsoft Visual C++, and used copy/paste onto a document opened under VI.

:)

(That was before I learned about dos2unix).

T.J.
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

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