head on computer

Job Searching Is a Battle Lost Before It’s Begun

If you even try putting your resume onto any job site, whether it’s Indeed or GlassDoor or LinkedIn, the first thing that happens is you’re immediately assaulted by Indian headhunters of every accent, location, and poor phone connection. One day I got seventeen calls between 8:00 and 8:30 on a Friday. (For more complaining about this, see my previous blog post).

Once you’re searching for jobs, it’s not as simple as clicking a filter and saying “full-time” or “this, this, and this location”. First of all, they don’t screen these job postings. So you could be looking for full-time, but four out of five are for contract, contract-to-hire, temp placement, contract-to-contract, and every variation thereof. And there’s no way to report these jobs. There’s categories for if something’s a scam, but there’s no way to say “hey, this is categorized as a fulltime job, but it says ’12-month contract’ right there in the goddamn description”. So you end up having to read every job anyway for the term “contract” or “short term”. Why do you have to do this? Because businesses are assholes. This is a theme which that’s going to reappear in this TED talk, so pay attention.

traffic jam

So you’ve figured out that filtering does jack shit. Hold on, because there’s more. Let’s talk about location. They don’t let you search by city or region. It’s always “miles from where you live”. Ten miles, twenty-five miles, fifty miles. A hundred fucking miles! Maybe if you’re a truck driver that would make sense, but not in my world. So that means no matter where you are, you’re on the cusp of a bunch of cities you don’t want and out of range of a bunch you do. Congratulations, you’ve either gotten too few results or more than you should have to deal with. In my world, it’d let you click on a few cities or regions on a map, separated by city political boundary, and say “I want to find jobs in these cities. Not past them. Not in the ‘greater blah-dee-blah area’. Just here.” Is that really so hard to program in? Probably not, but the vaguer the results the more job postings you can show and the more money these guys make. Because businesses are assholes.

Of course, none of this really matters if the job poster doesn’t even get the city right. Chances are, the job poster has jack-all to do with the company. It’s a third party IT staffer or recruiter who got a poorly formatted ticket in his poorly formatted email and just copied and pasted it. Once again I remind you that the lowest bidder is responsible for posting these openings. So there’s all manner of typos, weird list indentation, and phrases or skill sets that run together inonelongcontiguousword. Does anyone review these things just to make sure they’re readable? No, they don’t. Why would you have the good sense to assign the task of proper English communication to someone who doesn’t have English as a first language. Because businesses are assholes.

ashamed parrot
Ashamed parrot is ashamed.

Back to the city. So where I live, we have the twin cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul. St. Paul is the capital, but has none of the high tech business Minneapolis does. Minneapolis is the George to St. Paul’s Lennie. But of course, if you’re cold calling me from New Jersey or Plano, TX, you know nothing about that. So Minneapolis could mean anything from twenty-five minutes to sixty minutes away.

This could all be “Minneapolis” to someone not from here.

And even the businesses here want to get on that Minneapolis action because they want to get recognized nationally. I worked for a company in Mendota Heights that literally said “We’re relabeling our addresses as Minneapolis because none of our clients know where Mendota Heights is”. They’re two separate cities 22 minutes and thirteen miles apart! Why? Because businesses are assholes.

So that every job gets labeled as Minneapolis. And maybe that’s the job location and not the location of the staffing firm. It’s a roll of the dice whether the city they marked is the city you’d actually be commuting to. Just like the contract thing, so many jobs pass the filter, but then say it’s for a job in Dearborn, MI. Does anyone care about this misinformation? Does anyone want to do anything about it? No, because businesses are assholes.

This must be what being a literary agent is like. Bad writers don’t care what genre you’re looking for. They’re going to send everything to everyone blindly. If everyone in the world sees it, then it’s better chances for someone taking it. Works for pollen.

So let’s say you survive this shotgun approach and get an interview. Don’t expect just one phone call or one e-mail. Oh no. Now, it’s a whole process. First you get a phone call to set up a phone screen. Then the phone screen asks you the exact same questions on your resume. Ignore the fact that you spent an hour filling out the company’s dumb application website that didn’t parse out your resume worth a hoot so you’ve got to enter in all your work and education information again EVEN though you uploaded a copy of your resume anyway WHICH HAS THE EXACT SAME INFORMATION. What did you think happened in the time I wrote my resume and the time I applied? There was two years working for Best Buy I forgot? What advantage do you get from having my information parsed out that way? Do you even use it? No. Because businesses are assholes.

So if you pass the phone screen (which I think is just to make sure you have a human-sounding voice) they call you again to schedule a technical interview. These are the best because you’ve got no idea what the guy on the other end is going to ask. Could be anything from philosophical questions like “where do you see VR and machine learning going?” to “what is the difference between a private and public field?” which is something they teach in programming 101. And you’re applying for a senior position. I like those kinds of questions because that means no one expects much from you at this job. Because businesses are assholes. The best part is they can’t expect you to whiteboard anything over the phone, so station yourself by a computer with a quiet keyboard. In cyberspace, no one can hear you Google.

So congratulations — it’s been three weeks since you first applied. After all the scheduling and rescheduling and anticipation they want to bring you in to prove you aren’t outsourcing everything to China (this has really happened). Expect this to be two or three grueling hours with people who didn’t look at your resume until they walked in the conference room. They’ll ask you all the inane questions from a sheet they printed out two minutes ago. I have an eight page sheet full of prepared answers to common interview questions that have become prepared mini-speeches. Because the questions are always the same.

“What motivates you to get up in the morning?”

“Tell me about yourself.”

“Tell me about a time you had a conflict with another co-worker.”

“Describe a favorite project of yours.”

“What is your ideal group setting?”

“Do you like the front-end or back-end better?”

Bitch, I just want health insurance! I don’t give fuck one about what your company does or what you make. What I do know is you have crappy software and a position to fill because the last person had better sense than I did. Because businesses are assholes.

Did you survive all those interviews? Did they tell you they’d be in touch or they’d get back to you within a week or two? Ha ha. You fell for the oldest trick in the book. Everything could be going swimmingly. They could like you so much they start telling you where the best parking places are or best places to eat. They’re practically selling you the job. And then they go “Ope, we changed our mind.” They don’t have to give you a reason. They don’t have to respond. They can just leave you hanging out there for a week, then make up some bullshit like “we decided to go in a different direction”. I love that phrase. Going in a different direction? What direction did you decide to go in? Straight into a wall? Businesses are assholes.

If they never call you back at all, you can consider yourself lucky. Better they ghost you than try and give an explanation for why “it just wasn’t a good fit”. Cause all the excuses are pathetic puking pablum, the most tired business cliches you could ever write. Especially when they say something like “looking for more detailed experience”. Like bitch, I didn’t have AWS in the first interview what makes you think I learned it a week later? Oh, but they’d LOVE to stay in touch with you. They’ll give you all the business cards and coffee they can chuck. But offer you the job? Good lord, why would we ever do that? Why would we want to stop you from all this fun you’re having interviewing?

So, in conclusion, no one knows what they’re doing. No one knows how a job board is supposed to work, and no one wants to make it work. No one knows how to hire a person. No one knows what they’re looking for. No one considers the job seeker’s needs, just the company they’re going to get their commission from. I wish I could avoid the whole damn thing… but the money’s too good.

Eric Juneau is a software engineer and novelist on his lunch breaks. In 2016, his first novel, Merm-8, was published by eTreasures. He lives in, was born in, and refuses to leave, Minnesota. You can find him talking about movies, video games, and Disney princesses at http://www.ericjuneaubooks.com where he details his journey to become a capital A Author.

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