Jason Nocks on Mon, 15 Oct 2001 06:20:10 +0200

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Re: [PLUG] RE: Re: OT: Help with finding employment please?

I don't think I'm going to say anything terribly new here, but I had been 
looking for work recently and just got a new gig (contract) 2 weeks ago. So, 
maybe I have something to add.

* Bad news *
First of all, you probably don't want to hear this, but this is not a great 
time to be looking. I'm not one to sugar coat things too much, and you 
probably know this already. My take is that the "job front" is kind of like 
what it was back in '92-'93. That's when I graduated from college with a 
BSEE, concentration in Comp. Eng. It took me a long time to find work then. 
It took longer than I expected this time arround as well. My last contract 
was terminated a month early so that less employees would be let go at the 
company I was at. Most of the companies I have contacts with are laying 
people off or have hiring freezes. Also, some of the companies out there that 
are talking to contractors use this time to try to convert contractors to 
employees. I believe that the other contractors from the same group I was in 
are still looking for new work. Again, it's not a great time to be looking. 
It's the economy plus the "burst of the Internet bubble". Most companies 
aren't interested in spending much money right now either. Technology 
companies may be worse off than many others.

That's the story on programmer/contract gigs anyway. Not sure about MIS, 
general IT, network admin, etc. Also, I don't use headhunters as much 
anymore. They can usually find you "something", but it may not be ideal. 
Plus, they have noncompete agreements, etc. Not a problem for most people, 
but not what I look for recently. Again, not sure if the same applies for 
non-programmer opportunities. I'd agree with the people that say things along 
the lines of - contact your friends, tell your neighbors, get the word out. I 
get most of my work through referrals.

* Good news
Yes, there is light at the end of the tunnel. If you have the background and 
are looking for a job that fits your background, keep at it. If you're 
persistent, you should find something. If you have background in a specific 
area, there's usually a company looking for someone in that area. I don't 
think that the company I'm consulting for is hiring any IT folks or 
programmers, but they needed someone to come in on a specific project and 
help them get it done. A friend from a previous job told another friend that 
I was available. That, and a "get it done" attitude and a few days later I've 
got a new contract.

You might want to look in other industries than you would normally think of. 
This doesn't always apply for programming jobs, but general IT jobs can be 
found at all different sorts of companies. Also, brushing up on some 
"salesmanship" doesn't hurt either. And by salesmanship, I don't mean lying, 
exaggerating, etc. (more on that in a bit) I mean, actually learning about 
the sales process, sales approaches, closing the sale, etc. That's an area 
most technical people are often weak on, myself included.

If the money starts to get really tight, you might want to think about 
finding something with a slightly different slant to pay the bills for a 
little while. Potential employers will also prefer to see that you've been 
doing SOMETHING to stay gainfully employeed rather than waiting to find the 
right opportunity. A fellow programmer friend of mine said to me once "I 
don't care if the guy has been flipping burgers, I'd rather see something on 
the resume." No offense to anyone who's ever "flipped burgers" (my self 
included). Basically, assume you will be asked "the tough questions" and have 
answers prepared. If you can't answer a question well when asked by a friend, 
you probably won't flub it well when asked in an interview. And, you probably 
won't be told what questions you didn't do well on. However, you can always 
ask why you didn't get a job later if/when you find out that someone else has 
been hired.

As for all the stuff about interviewing, technical assessments, etc. - I've 
been on both sides. I've had at least one person tell me an outright lie 
during an interview and caught them on it during the job - and had to get the 
creep to do the job anyway. You can bet that I haven't spoken highly of him 
to anyone that's asked. Not that anyone's asked, he seems to have disappeared 
from the scene. Karma has a way of getting around.

Most interviewers don't know what they can and should ask (technically and 
legally). Many interviewers don't even want to do the interviewing. I've had 
interviewers tell me that I seem quite relaxed during interviews, but I think 
that comes from going through the process enough times. I don't think 
"simulations" or "practice" is nearly as helpful as actually going through 
them. And, again, referrals are extremely valuable.

Just my $.02. HTH.

Good luck,
-Jason Nocks

On Sunday 14 October 2001 02:02 pm, you wrote:
> ==> > This is always the difficult part.  As an interviewer, you
> ==> have to understand
> ==> > that your candidate is under an extreme amount of stress, and
> ==> may not be able
> ==> > to call to mind everything that they would under more normal
> ==> circumstances.
> ==>
> ==> This is usually if you _need_ the job. But for a well qualified worker,
> ==> there are always more jobs. I try to tell myself that I can do other
> ==> things. I haven't gotten into a computer job yet, and I don't know if I
> ==> ever will. I'd love it, but I have no official cred, yet, so
> ==> I'm trying to
> ==> volunteer to get experience.
> Interviewing is difficult for both sides. In the RW some call it an art, we
> may think of it as social engineering. I have a friend who is currently
> looking for work as a graphic artist/designer as he characterizes the
> interviewing process as FLIRTING. As such he enjoys it and has a specific
> goal and challenge to relate to. Flirting because you have to make the
> interviewer like you and feel they'd want to spend more time with you. I
> like to think of work as an employer employee relationship where I give my
> time and mad skillz and they give my money and some sort of security. There
> is tons of advice on building interviewing skills, to me doing as many as
> possible (without purposefully excessively wasting anyone's time) is one
> way to gain experience with dealing with hard on the fly questions. [Doing
> mock interviews with friends etc. is highly recommended, but always feels
> awkward to me. This brings an idea to mind for maybe a PLUG meeting: maybe
> everyone could come in in suits, and we could do psuedo-mock panel
> interviews. We would learn more the skills and backgrounds of the other
> members, could critique both interviewer and interviewee style and content,
> and importantly provide a setting for people to fail without ill
> consequence.] The above post re: stress is very true though, and thus
> interviewing while happily employed allows one to immerse in the process of
> learning how to interview while not being stressed about actually needing
> the job.
> ==> > Some interviewers enjoyed that aspect of it because it gave
> ==> them some sort
> ==> > of strange sense of power.  That always pissed me off.
> ==> However you have
> ==>
> ==> Don't like this type for a boss anyhow.
> <Peeves> Many interviews set up by recruiters tend to be practice anyway,
> as they often don't bother to read your resume and don't actually have much
> of a clue about the technology anyway, so they send a square peg to a round
> hole position interview. The type of interviewers I dislike most are the
> ones who relish asking a tech question, cutting your answer off, and then
> explaining it to you - basically that annoying type of techy/consultant
> <http://www.despair.com/consulting.html> who hordes his often lame
> knowledge over you. </Peeves>
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