Tag Archive: industry

(Part zero of… probably ∞)

Note: As I have current co-workers who read this blog on occasion it behooves me to note that just because I am receiving mail from recruiters or for that matter reading them and commenting them, this should NOT be taken as an indicator that I am currently looking for jobs or “on the hunt.”

I receive approximately 3-5 emails a day and close to 20-30 in a given week specifically with “Job opportunities.” Now to be honest; I fulfill a niche career of which there isn’t a lot of competition. I specialise in writing software for Apple’s computing platforms. This would include: Macintoshes running OS X, and OS X Server, and devices that one can program that use iOS (the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad). Unlike the average iPhone App developer, I have about 4 times as many years developing with the development tools software kits. If I’m willing to move, I could theoretically pick up and have a new job fairly easily.

So, it should not come as a surprise that as iOS grows there are more and more companies searching for a way to get an app on the iThings. And since companies have NO experience with iOS development, iOS Engineering, or iOS Engineers (Yes, these are three VERY different beasts) they call a recruiter who is an expert in these things.

That’s not entirely accurate. Companies have a pool of recruiters when they have an opening and the recruiter tries to then become an expert at what their clients need to have filled. This falls into 3 primary categories regardless of job.

  1. Bob left and we need a new “Bob”
    • This is called the ‘Replacement’ listing
  2. Bob is going to quit if we keep piling stuff on him; we need to get him help.
    • This is called the ‘Junior’ listing
  3. We found a new potential for revenue, and not even Bob knows how to do it. We need something NEW.
    • This is called the ‘New’ listing.

For the sake of this posting I am skipping two things: Middle and Upper management. Let me visit each briefly to explain why I’m not going to address them.

Middle management is never an external position. In general middle management is posted externally because the law requires it. Inevitably, middle management is created from within a company. Usually as a result of Managerial Mitosis or worse, a need for an internal Junior listing because the group is getting horribly under-managed due to its weight and size.

Then there is upper management. Apart from my own small freelance company of 1 I have never been upper management. It’s somewhat a beast unto itself that follows it’s own set of rules. Most Upper management jobs fall into two grim and opposing versions of the “Replacement” Listing. Either it is “Crap, Bob left. We really require another Bob IMMEDIATELY” or the scarier form, “Okay, we’ve convinced Bob to get the hell out of our company, now we need to find someone who is exactly not like Bob.”

But let us steer back to the recruiters who are the real targets of this post’s ire. In my career I typically see “New” listings but have seen a growing number of “Junior” listings. In all cases the exchange between company and recruiter comes down to “What do you need?” At which point the hiring manager (usually 2-3 levels up) will list off the technologies they think they need. In the case of “Replacement” listings this becomes an exercise in describing how long Bob was at the company (or the experience Bob had, and listing every responsibility Bob had his hands in. In most cases the company will ask the recruiter for guidance complimenting it with the requirements their company uses.

The recruiter with requirements in hand reformats it (often poorly) into a job description turns to the mighty Internet. Usually about this point all goes wrong.

The online employment world now dates back nearly two decades. Companies like Monster (dc) started in 1994 Yahoo’s HotJobs (Originally HotJobs, Inc) goes back to 1996. Career Builder (originally Job Opening Web Site software company NetStart, Inc) started in 1995. Odds are that if you’ve been online for more than five years there is likely an out of date resume out there somewhere for you. I know this because I received an email yesterday to my maiden name at my 5 year unused yahoo email account.

If you do not believe that recruiters use buzzword scanning techniques, now’s the time to finally jump on the faith train. The buzzword scanning is so bad that if you have the phrase “I don’t do windows” on your resume, you will receive recruitment email for jobs at Microsoft. This will occur if you truly are a maid service. (Yes, I was relayed this story by a maid)

Suffice this to demonstrate, at this point, if you want your resume to be seen by several recruiters, I strongly recommend a “Buzzword” section. I even can suggest calling it the “Buzzword” section. As in “Experience, Education, Buzzwords” Just list them off in a neat fashion. This will set off recruiter’s scans/search algorithms and then you too can siphon thru mail from someone who contacted you before actually reading your resume.

I don’t want to finger point the entire industry for being bad. Honestly there are a still a good percentage of recruiters who do due diligence in the process. Personally, I think they can all still learn something from this series. This may be because I’ve both hired and worked in my niche.

In my next installment (Which I will post over the weekend) I will take a REALLY bad recruiter’s email, post the listing and then explain everything that is wrong with it. Please note: if I were to post everything right with this listing it would barely fit a twitter posting. I will not out the company or the recruiter, but the job listing alone will hopefully serve as an embarrassment to someone.

Finally, in the near future, I will comment on my own niche industry and how a recruiter can make the postings much clearer and more importantly far more effective in filling your talent pool with the best candidates.

Edit: 2005.06.16 – This post was originally friends only. It was hidden so that my employer would not see that I was interviewing externally.

The troubling part of the interview process is that I often feel like an idiot savant in a room full of PhDs.

The interview process has become “Please regurgitate this thing they taught you in your C.S. classes that would never happen in the real world”

For example the last time I interviewed I was asked to write malloc and free in C. In 45 minutes. I sat there for 45 minutes pseudo-coding what I’d have to do to make this happen.

I have no idea how to do a problem off the top of my head. I have to contemplate it. Make sure I have the right solution and then beat the hell out of it to make sure I didn’t miss anything. In other words, I don’t write malloc in C in 45 minutes. Me? I am a software engineer. I find a problem. I take it apart. I look at it from every conceivable angle. I look at it using things that no one else would. Analogy, simile, television, football, wine tasting, theatre, philosophy, comedy. Use comparison. Find answers. Play with tools, find solutions. See the big picture… put it together.

shimmeringjemmy really wants to move back to Seattle. And to use Firefly speak, “I don’t rightly blame her any.” It’s a beautiful city and there are some interesting venues open to me on several levels that I really can’t elabourate on. (Not for secrecy reasons because I can’t really find the words at this time)

But, the issue is, the companies that I have to look to in Seattle are less Mac friendly than most other cities. (No real surprise why)

So, it looks like I’m going to have to accept the fact that I’m going to apply to Microsoft.

Now here’s the problem. And here’s a frightening admission: In a Microsoft world without Macs I fear that I might be nigh unto computer illiterate. I know C, C++, perl, PHP, SQL, several assemblers, etc. (Buzzwords to most)… But the interface to programming them has been: Codewarrior, emacs, BBEdit, XCode, MPW. I’m not even comfortable finding my way around XP.

If I can’t get hired on by Amazon for Unix work. How am I going to convince Bill’s Uber Corp that I can manage a project, developers, or even write code. (And no… never used MS Project in my life)

I am honestly terrified. Advice and pointers welcome.

Remember: HR wants 5 years of C#, 7 years of .NET, and 15 years of Java preferably not tainted with any Mac use. When what HR should be looking for is: 10 years of problem solving, 5 years of understanding and working under corporate abuse and slavery and a strong ability in ramping up in 6 months on proprietary undocumented code.

Java’s been used in the work place for about 7 yrs, C#/.NET about 2 years.