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Do only geniuses get hired in US

I am not an American. I have around 4 years experience in IT (Basically Oracle and VB/Oracle Forms etc).

I have sent around 300 resumes without even a reply from anyone. I consider myself quite competent- above average and concscentious programmer.

This has left me seriously disillusioned. I do not understand why  i dont even get a call!!. Even for jobs which i think my skills are an overkill, i dont get responses.!

I do not mention that i am a foreigner (Meaning i need H1B visa sponsorship). But what tips can someone give me here which will help me get an interview call atleast?. Excluding visiting job sites and networking-i dont know anyone.
Is there any special things i need to add in my resume or format it in some fashion- do all these make any difference?

Friday, February 7, 2003

Americans also find that they have to send out over 500 resumes to get a job, and sometimes even that isn't enough.

Generally, you do have to be outstanding in this economy to get hired, and based on your self-description there are thousands and thousands of equally qualified people as you who are still unemployed.

T. Norman
Friday, February 7, 2003

No, usually companies do not require geniuses to get the work done. They need normal people, with good skills that solve more problems than they create.

Yet, there is a phsyhological factor that reverses this  statement to "We couldn't find anybody qualified ...". This factor is fear: the fear of loosing ones job.

As long as the company needs new people - people that could not be found in thousands resumes - our jobs are safe. Right?

With less jobs on the market this is quite an understandable reaction, but the end result is that the IT job market is driven by fear.

Be patient and persistent. Good luck

Friday, February 7, 2003

No, you don’t have to be a Genius at all.

However, most of the industry is laying off people right now. We have been loosing a good 500,000+ in the tech industry for few years back to back since the melt down.

This causes two problems, first, companies are not hiring right now (they are still laying off, and we probably have another 500,000 to go).

The 2nd problem is that the people laid off have to move on into other industries. All the people laid off in the last few years are still job hunting, and hoping to land the good paying job that they *used* to have.

As their savings run out, or their room mate gets tired of paying the rent, then these job seekers will finally move on into other industry’s and out of the IT sector. When that happens, then the job market will improve.

Since you seem to be global thinking, the best place right now for jobs seems to be India, and they are experiencing a hiring boom right now. They are expanding and hiring people as fast as possible. Thus, that might be an area to look into.  In fact, many articles hint that they are going through a boom right now.  It certainly seems like the place to be right now.

In North America, we still have to absorb those 1 million + workers that have been laid off, and that will take  a considerable amount of time. In fact, a large portion of those workers will have move on, as that number of laid off people is very large. To absorb that many workers is going to take years and years, especially with layoffs still occurring.

There are some jobs in North America that do open up. In fact, in the last month I have been emailed at least 4 real job offers in the pick database area.

Hence, if you have some special skills that are not general, then some jobs do come up from time to time. The other area that I still seems comes up is software project management/mangers. Project management of course means you need good experience on managing projects and people. That kind of solid experience is hard to get, and thus there is still is some demands in that area. If what you have is hard to get, then you can still find work.

In addition, many of the jobs now are asking for a degree or diploma in computer studies. Again, with so many to choose from, this is one easy way to cut down the applicants (and they still get too many!!).

The whole process here is about companies that turn code into dollars. If by hiring you they can make more money, then of course, they will hire you..right?

My thoughts on jobs can be read at:

Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada

Albert D. Kallal
Friday, February 7, 2003

> As long as the company needs new people - people that could not be found in thousands resumes - our jobs are safe. Right?

I think I've seen this happen.  At my last client, I would overhear another group going through the hiring process, trying to find a new member for their team.  They spent what seemed like months and months critiqueing resumes and interviewing.  They must have spent 2-3 hours a day discussing what was wrong with this resume or that applicant.  It got to the point where I didn't know what they did for this firm BESIDES screen resumes. 

I think they were looking for the "perfect" candidate that did not exist.  And dismissing applicant after applicant made them seem so much more elite.  Ironically, no existing worker in the building would have been hired under this type of scrutiny, including themselves.  I am certain they were just being this way b/c they had the liberty to do so. 

Friday, February 7, 2003

Anyone who focuses their job search on sending out resumes is taking the wrong approach.  RESUMES will not get you a job in this market.  NETWORKING will.

You need to put yourself out there -- meet other programmers -- get involved in professional organizations -- volunteer -- play golf with executives -- play racquetball with CIOs -- become active in organizations where there are lots of tech people.

Turn the "whole you" -- not just the part that is represented on your resume -- into an asset that other people know and want to have "on board" at their company.

Friday, February 7, 2003

Don't take it personally, but its not you, its the economy.

Another thing, sending resumes is not the greatest way to get employed in this economy.

Network pound the pavement my friend!!!

all the luck!

Prakash S
Friday, February 7, 2003

> The other area that I still seems comes up is software
> project management/mangers. Project management of
> course means you need good experience on managing
> projects and people. That kind of solid experience is hard
> to get, and thus there is still is some demands in that
> area. If what you have is hard to get, then you can still
> find work.

Well, I've just been sent on a project management course for the week, and it's been great. I've definitely found I prefer it to an all-out technical role.

Trouble is, I haven't got any "real" experience, maybe a year and a bit on an ad hoc basis. But I've seen so many project disasters (more than a few I've posted on here) that I'm convinced I've got a good idea on what to do based on what not to do.

Ah well, we'll see....

Better Than Being Unemployed
Friday, February 7, 2003

Companies want  a superstar programmer to do menial mind numbing work for no pay. I think successful technical people would be successful in any field and are moving on.

Friday, February 7, 2003

Does anybody know if hiring is taking place in the Math,scientific programming field?I have experience with 3D geometry,but that field seems kind of limited

Friday, February 7, 2003

I think programmer has it right, unfortunatly, it seems like a lot of these people posting about not getting a job after 300 resumes don't have any contacts.  To those having trouble finding jobs: be persistant, once you get in, if you ARE above average as you say, things will work out.  Good developers are hard to come by, and if you are one, your felow workers, your boss, and others in the company will know. 

A fair warning though, has any one of us EVER met a developer who doesn't claim to be "above average"?  EVERYONE seems to think that they're smarter then average.  I'm including the guys who have a rudementary knowledge of HTML, and can barely hack up VB.  To everyone looking for a job and having trouble, re-evaluate your skills, spend some time working on your weaknesses.

Vincent Marquez
Friday, February 7, 2003

"To everyone looking for a job and having trouble, re-evaluate your skills, spend some time working on your weaknesses. "

Good point, Vincent.

There is no point being technically brilliant if you have no clue about how to manage, plan your career. That is another thing you should work at.

Prakash S
Friday, February 7, 2003

And there is also no point thinking you are technically brilliant when you really aren't.

T. Norman
Friday, February 7, 2003

You are sending out too many resumes.

You can't possibly keep track of the names and contact information of all 300 of the people doing the hiring at those companies. You can't possibly call and talk to them and get an in at the company. You can't possibly write a personalized cover letter to 300 resumes.

It's likely that you're making a very generic impression on the people hiring at the organizations where you've applied. You would be much better off making a very genuine and personal connection at 20 - 40 companies (that you know are looking for people with your skillsets) than you are making a very generic impression at 300 companies.

Benji Smith
Friday, February 7, 2003

The title of this thread reminds me of a Simpsons episode:

Bart (in back of a police car): Do you you need straight A's to be a cop?
Cops: (Burst out laughing)

Most IT job web sites are all re-advertising the same jobs, or made up jobs. I sent out loads of resumes to those jobs without one response. But I have got all the jobs I applied for from the local paper in the last year.

So my advise is to check that paper first.

Matthew Lock
Friday, February 7, 2003

Job websites don't work.  Forget it.  Only 2-3% of all hires occur through websites.

The rest are mainly through networking and mostly through employees recommending their friends as potential hires to their employers.

If you're not able to network then you're pretty much screwed.  Sorry to be so harsh, but that's the reality in this economy.  You can't afford to be anti-social.

And to answer your question -- No, it doesn't take a genius in technology, but it does take a smart and gregarious, outgoing person to make the contacts necessary to get a job. 

So maybe instead of directing all of your time and energy in trying to be a better coder, perhaps you could work more on your social skills.  It's always better to be well rounded anyhow.

There's lots of ignorant and crappy programmers out there that HAVE and can GET jobs, while there's probably a lot of smarter and more competent developers who can't get in because they're unable to schmooze with managers.

So to sum it all up, the following which is a cliche, but is still very true:  "It's not what you know, but who you know."

Friday, February 7, 2003

I found that once I got past a certain number of job applications in a fortnight I started to get calls for the same job from different recruitment companies.

It would probably be best if you could ask people you know in the industry to keep an eye out for openings for you.


Saturday, February 8, 2003

I agree with what HeyMacarana, Matthew Lock, and Benji Smith have said about job websites.  Admittedly, my job search has been upwards of a year and still going, but my experience with recruiters and job boards has been that they are universally a waste of time.  Each posting probably recieves 200 or more resumes, so in order to compete, your resume has to be not only sufficient but spectacular.  This problem is compounded by the fact that recruiters really don't care about what you know, or how bright you are, so much as what you've worked on before.  Many of them don't have any clue about the skills they are recruiting for.  Example: after explaining that I've worked with ATL at my last job, the typical response is, "that's nice [as she makes a checkmark on her list], but do you also know COM, ActiveX, C++, and have you worked with Visual Studio before?"

I almost never receive responses back from recruiters, and my applications to specific company's job search databases seem to be routed directly to File Thirteen.  But every time I hear from a friend-of-a-friend about a manager that may be hiring, I almost always get a call back.

(by the way, if anyone knows of anyone hiring in the Seattle area, feel free to contact me.  =-)

Saturday, February 8, 2003


If you give me the names of the companies you are targeting , I could give you a few leads. Send me an email.


Prakash S
Saturday, February 8, 2003

>>sock wrote: "Does anybody know if hiring is
>>taking place in the Math,scientific programming
>>field?I have experience with 3D geometry,but that
>>field seems kind of limited"

Start talking to games developers. might be a good place to start.

Andrew Reid
Sunday, February 9, 2003

I don't think anyone else here has pointed this out yet, so I'll be the one to do it:

Almost no one gets a job by sending out a resume. Almost everyone gets a job through 1 of 2 ways:

1- Job interview (gotten either because of a resume - and usually not on the bare facts either - or from a referal by someone on the inside, or connected to somone on the inside).

2- Reccommendation.

I can't think of anyone who's actually gotten a job just because of their resume, unless the company is truly pressed for warm bodies (as with a very tight specific labor market).

They key is...well, I won't say the "n" word or the "r" word ( ;) ), so I'll skip to the facts of the matter - everything you must do is focus on getting an interview. Research everything you can related to that - pretend for the time being that you want a job in as a human relations officer/hiring manager as soon as possible, and go about learning how to do that, especially paying attention to how you should decide who to call in for an interview.

This requires creativity and possibly some degree of pushyness, but I think you'll manage to do it.

Once you've got the interview you, well, need to be really good at that. Learn as much as you can about what the company is looking for in a job applicant, then sell to it.

Do you have good sales skills? Because that's what you'll be doing. If you don't - learn. Because you don't have any choice - really.

Finally, understand that even with all this you are "going against the grain", fighting a very strong tide, beseiging a well fortified position. Fighting the market - which is basically what you are doing - is by definition usually stunningly difficult.

Sometimes it's best to reconsider your goals, and your abilities. Maybe you need to look for a role - not merely a "job" - in a line of work where the supply and demand for a given role is actually favorible. In most of the IT industry - but NOT all of it, such as with Pick and Cobol according to a previous respondent - Supply is going up and up and Demand for that Supply is going down and down...and down.

You can fight the market, but do so only if you Absolutely MUST!

So: If all else fails, start looking for something else to do, or somewhere else to do it.

One good strategy may be to get into a skill that will eventually be synergistic with your present ones - Management, for instance. A manager with technical skills, or a techie with management skills, I would imagine would be a good match.

That's the best I can do for advice given the information. Good hunting!

Brian Hall
Monday, February 10, 2003

"You can't possibly keep track of the names and contact information of all 300 of the people doing the hiring at those companies. You can't possibly call and talk to them and get an in at the company. You can't possibly write a personalized cover letter to 300 resumes."

Given a good Internet feed and decent social engineering skills, I think we all agree you can do 2-3 a day, so to get to 300, that's only 5 months worth if you take weekends off.

Just me (Sir to you)
Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Thank you for proving that its mathematically possible to contact 300 people in 5 months.

I still maintain that you can't reasonably keep track of your progress with those 300 jobs. You will forget who some of those people are. You will forget important details of what the values are at that company. You will confuse the specific ways that you hyped yourself during the first interview at one company with the subtly different ways that you hyped yourself at a different company.

If you've got a list of 300 different jobs you're trying to get, you don't really know which ones suit you and would make you happy and which ones will be terrible places to work. And even if you do learn a little about the different jobs, you'll never be able to keep track of it all. Because applying for a job isn't something that you do one day and forget about the next, simply because you've got 2-3 more resumes to send out that day. You have to remember lots of things for a long time. You might send out a resume and not get an interview for two months. When you go to that interview, you had better know what you told them about yourself in your cover letter.

(If you're not sending a cover letter, you're only sending half of a resume -- the boring half).

When you go to an interview, you should be familiar with the wording that they used in the job posting. You should be able to remember the tone and some of the actual verbiage from the original job posting. You should know what you wrote in your cover letter. You should know who responded to it and what they said. You should know the name of the person who answers the phone (because when you go to your interview, that person will probably be sitting behind the front desk, and you should be nice to that person). You should have already done some research about the company, its products, its management, its finances, and whetever else you can find on the internet about them. If someone important at the company has a CS masters degree, there's a decent chance that you can find their masters thesis online, read it, and talk about the subject matter in the interview. (That's what I did 4 months ago when I was unemployed, and it got me the job).

I suppose its possible that there is someone organized enough to manage all of that information, for 300 different job opportunities, but I've never in my life met anyone who I think can do so without marginalizing potentially important contacts in the process.

Sending out so many resumes implies that the majority of your work can be done by finding _more_ potential jobs. Instead, just do a better job of _sellling yourself_ to a smaller subset of jobs (that you've narrowed down by eliminating ones that your research indicates that you wouldn't enjoy anyway).

Finding a job is more complex than a simple numbers game. And more is not necessarily better.

Benji Smith
Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Fair enough Benji, I take your points, but there is a whole spectrum out there between firing of a thousand copies of a standards resume and spending a year perfecting that one application. If you do one a day, that is 15 in 3 weeks, wich seems like a resonable horizon. Is keeping 15 in your mind feasible? How about ten? Five?

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, February 13, 2003

15 in 3 weeks is approximately what I was doing when I was job hunting last year. And I'm a bit lazy and a bit stupid (and I was doing freelance projects at the time), so someone with more gusto, more brains, and fewer projects could probably handle a few more than that (but not many).

Although I didn't do it on a day-to-day basis. I would usually send out five or ten resumes at a time, once every two weeks. I would spend the next two weeks courting follow-up calls from those ten resumes, trying to arrange interviews. It's unbelievable how rude most companies' HR department are. For the most part, I got no e-mail even acknowledging my resume, even after multiple attempts at follow-up. I got no follow up calls from the people who I left voice messages for. And interviewers repeatedly cancelled at the last minute.

It was at such a time, while I was at the height of my frustration, that I formulated my current philosophy about applying for jobs. I started to write very personable, very specific, very customized cover letters. I tried to let my cover letter show a sense of humor in addition to showing my experience and qualifications. I highlighted some of the weird aspects of my experience (a background in visual arts, shakespearean textual analysis, and computer programming). I tried to make them see that, while I'm roughly as qualified as lots of other people out there, I would be more fun to work with. And, with my background as an entrepreneur, I also know how to manage time and resources.

I also started to make idle conversation (i.e. flirt) with the person who answered the phone (almost always a woman). Before long, I was able to build myself up in such a way that interviews become more common. Then, I did enough research about the companies where I did get interviews so that I could target the answers to interview questions to the company's specific needs and culture.

Benji Smith
Friday, February 14, 2003

To programmer 2003:  Your response to the disillusioned individual not obtaining interviews was disheartening to  me. 
You are what is wrong with America.  "Sucking up" is more important to you than competence and creativity.

The "whole you"!  Give me a complete break! You probably talk all the time and do little work.

Friday, May 14, 2004

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