Back to Work

It really seems like one of the hardest job searches of my adult life is over.

This is not going to be a super-long-term solution. I simply know too much to ever reasonably expect it to be: none of my jobs ever has been.

But it is going to hopefully let me kick the can down the road a few years. By then, I really do think I will be in a much better position to transition out of tech work permanently.

One of the things I had been cursing was how I was becoming apparently unemployable in the tech industry just a few years too soon. Now it seems that the timing can be arranged to be much more convenient.

Job Interview Debrief

It didn’t go as badly as the norm for such things, and they are desperate to hire new talent, so there’s a chance that I will get an offer. But only a chance, and not much of one at that. The effort to get out of tech work must continue unabated.

The effort must continue unabated even if I do land an offer, because past experience indicates such a result will be at best only a temporary solution to the permanent mismatch between me and where the tech world is today.

At least I got a lunch at an upscale restaurant and a free notebook (with paper that doesn’t bleed with fountain pen ink at that) out of the day’s efforts, so they weren’t a total waste no matter the outcome.

Another Job Interview

I’m heading into the city for another job interview. We’ll see how well it works out. I would like to say I am cautiously optimistic but honestly I am not. This is not pessimism; it is realism. Everything I have learned in the last few years points to:

  • Overall trends in the computing industry running precisely counter to my own personal needs for a work environment, and
  • Persistent ageism, coupled with how I am not getting younger as the years pass, leading me to being rejected based on appearance alone.

At this stage, job interviews are something I am doing on a non-interference basis to the pursuit of other strategies for financially supporting myself. If I do manage to get lucky and land a job, experience has shown it will prove to be temporary anyhow, and extremely unlikely to last longer than a few years. It will be a means of kicking the can down the road and buying some time for me to complete the difficult process of securing a good alternate strategy to conventional tech work, nothing more.

Well… Here Goes Nothing

Not quite “nothing,” but let’s be brutally honest: that’s the most likely outcome of my going to the Washington Botanical Symposium to do some job networking. First, I totally fucking suck at anything that requires social skills, and networking requires such skills in spades. Second, the odds in general are bleak, even if I do try a few strategies to cope with the first issue (which I plan to do).

Still, the odds are better than staying at home and not making any attempts at networking at all.

Tech Work and Alternate Plans

Well, chalk up another blown interview. I’m not sure if it’s just age discrimination at work (and deliberately creating impossible hurdles as a pretext) or just trends moving in ways that I am fundamentally incompatible with (so much of the “agile” trend might more accurately be described as “give software developers as little privacy and personal space as possible, and maximize the number of interruptions they are subject to”).

Whatever the reason, it’s becoming increasingly clear that today’s tech workplace is probably not for me. I could make yesterday’s work, but that was yesterday, and yesterday is gone.

So I’m increasingly thinking it’s time to move on to something else. The big question is what.

Really? A Four-Hour Timed Test?

Just to be able to talk to an actual person at the company? Does this anonymous employer have any idea how onerous a demand that is on someone’s schedule?

Demanding a four-hour time investment just to be able to speak to a human, even a personnel droid, is bad enough. Demanding it be in the form of a timed on-line exercise that cannot be paused takes the cake. Now it has to be four consecutive hours, blocked off in one’s schedule. That’s nearly as big a time commitment as a half-day on-site interview!

And realize, I do poorly on timed exercises. My style is to shelve things and think about them “in the background” for a while while working on other things. Timed exercises are fundamentally incompatible with that technique. So it’s hardly a surprise that the number of job applications that have gone further as a result of attempting such things are, in my case, exactly zero.

With those kind of odds, you can bet I am not falling over myself in eagerness to start the exercise. I may still attempt it, but frankly, there’s things right now I can do that have more promise than this particular time sink.

Why I Dislike Recruiting Firms (One More Example)

So, I see a job listing. It’s obviously posted by a recruiting firm, but it’s a distinctly better than average match, and I haven’t sent anything to such people on a long time, so I decide to give it a try.

It almost immediately prompts a callback. There’s just something sleazy about the level of eagerness in the guy’s voice, and how it’s hard to get a word in edgewise. Finally he calms down enough to where I can ask a few questions.

At that point, it becomes clear that:

  • No such job actually exists; he just crafted the job description to prompt responses and pad his list of existing contacts (he even admits as such), and
  • Most of his clients are in Bellevue, despite his listing the job as being in “Seattle.” Bellevue is an unacceptably long commute for me, so I deliberately ask Indeed to search for jobs “only in” Seattle proper.

And that’s why I have such a dim view of recruiting and consulting agencies, and as such generally shun them. They misrepresent.

My Old Boss Just Quit Today

Just by chance I met him as he disembarked from the ferry, and he shared the news with me. The short story he gave (it had to be short, as the ferry loaded soon thereafter) is that hs was demoted, saw that as completely unacceptable, and walked out the door for good.

My educated guess is that he was demoted for failing to achieve the impossible: bringing some of the least-maintainable code I have ever seen up to snuff. The only way to fix its problems is a complete rewrite, which is something that may in fact not be possible given the resources available to the firm in question. At any rate, it’s something that firm is unwilling to seriously entertain. The latter two facts were some of the things that was playing through my mind when deciding it was time to part ways myself.

The upshot of this news is that things would have gotten significantly worse had I decided to stick it out (he’s definitely one of the best people I’ve reported to, odds are the next guy wouldn’t be so good, plus morale and continuity would have suffered). I’d probably either be quitting myself of soon be asked to leave under that alternate scenario. In turn that would have put me in pretty much the same scenario I am now, but without the benefits of being able to make that late-season trip to Wyoming.

It all goes to show that honesty (with oneself as well as others) is almost always the best policy. Buying into a lie that there was a future in the work I was doing there would have simply made me worse off.

Taleo Sucks

Taleo is a software-as-a-service (SAAS) package that some business’s personal departments use. As the title of this post implies, it sucks. I’m hardly alone in having this opinion, either. Just type “Taleo sucks” into your search engine and see.

I used to put up with its suckiness (clunky menus, duplicated data, bad browser compatibility, excessive use of crap Javascript, inability to view job description and application form at the same time, etc.) in the name of doing a more diligent job search. No more; if a link (or redirection) to Taleo happens during an application process, it’s game over.

I’m hardly alone in having this policy, either; if you read some of the hits you got in your search engine exercise above, you’ll find that others act as I do.

What tipped the balance for me was the realization, at the start of this current job search, that I have never received as much as a preliminary phone screen from any of the dozens of firms I put up with Taleo to apply for jobs at. That’s right, never. Not once. It’s as if my data vanish into a black hole.

My theory is that Taleo sucks not only for the applicant, but also for the person on the other end. Why shouldn’t it? Bad design is generally not confined to just one or two places in a software system; if it exists, it tends to be pervasive. As such, personnel departments also generally avoid using it. Thus, the way to land a job at a Taleo-using company is via some other channel.

But why should I? By the virtue of choosing Taleo, they’ve demonstrated their organizational incompetence by choosing to waste money on a demonstrably bad product. And I have no interest in working for incompetent organizations.