Posts Tagged ‘job search’

From the Editor’s Perch…

September 15, 2013


Circles of Intimacy / Where the Jobs Are


            Hiring takes place within differing circles of intimacy, which the forces of supply and demand determine, depending upon what the market for labor is.  (What a sentence.)

But the less companies desire labor, the shorter distance they will go to find it.  This struck me as I was chatting with a friend who is a technical writer.  He began his career in the tech boom times.  If you had a credible resume, then they wanted you.  And if you were competent, a full-time job was fairly certain.

Things have changed nowadays.  Whether it’s the economic downturn or outsourcing, having the resume doesn’t open the lock anymore.  You don’t come in through the personnel department.  There’s ‘a freeze’.  A large majority of companies aren’t looking for technical writers.

There are many parallels here with what has happened in the copier industry.

In the salad days of Xerox, salespeople were forking in the commissions.  Companies ran to Xerox for their equipment.  But nowadays our dealership has a large presence in Seattle, but it is extremely rare for anyone to call out of the blue looking for equipment.  Established customers might call up their sales reps to discuss an acquisition, but that’s as good as it gets.  Most often it’s the other way around; the sales rep calls the established customer to alert them to a special offer, or that a lease is coming up, or that they are paying too much for overages (and need a bigger machine).  The point is, the salesperson has to get in beside the prospect to convince them that they need new equipment.  The days of a customer needing something and then going out to buy it are long gone.  In other words, professional sales, as it is understood by the normal educated person, is not as it has been explained to be.  People do not need something, and then approach a salesperson to buy it.

Perhaps this misunderstanding for how sales works is because for most of us, this is how sales does work.  We need milk; we go to the store.  We need a house; we go to a realtor.  We need a meal; we go to a restaurant.  We need clothes; we go to Nordstroms.  This is not, however, how it works for copiers, and in many others areas of business.  As one newer, very bright, copier salesman said, flinging up his hands in exasperation, “I don’t know how anyone makes any money in this business!”

They do make money – but not where this salesperson had the point of sale located.  He was fishing way downstream.  He was calling people – and they were telling him they didn’t need a copier.  His ‘pool’ was all fished out.

Nowadays most of the prospects I call will say they don’t need any equipment.  To make money nowadays, a salesperson has to build a sale.  Over the phone the salesperson must qualify the prospect, that is, determine whether there is a possible sale there.  And then the salesperson must get an appointment with the prospect in order to assemble a need.  Few customers know they are paying $200/month too much for old equipment – except for those the salesperson who has gotten inside to discover this has alerted.  Suddenly, this salesperson has created a new need; they have created a possible sale where none existed before.

As I was chatting with my technical writer friend, it struck me that the same forces were at play.  Many tech companies no longer believe they need technical writers.  These are the day of Google and Wikipedia and crowd sourcing and forum threads….   A good resume cannot open this closed door.  Moreover, once hired, doing your job well will not necessarily keep you hired.  You must also have a presence within the company as someone who knows about technical writing issues and are worth speaking to.  By being taken seriously by those who decide to hire technical writers, the technical writer can use his insights to create himself a job.  But the job is created within a much more select circle of intimacy.  And to find that job, a lot of what you do is to create it.

Long ago my Engineer brother, who had a job in New Mexico, wanted to move to the Seattle area.   So he applied for a job with Boeing.  He applied through regular channels.  After he had sent in his application, he got to talking with another engineer who worked at Boeing and who was currently working on a project my brother was uniquely qualified to do.  The guy could really use my brother’s help.  So the fellow crafted a labor request for a position my brother was uniquely qualified to fill.  Soon, my brother was hired.  Six months later he got a letter, forwarded to him from New Mexico, from the Boeing Personnel Department.  They were sorry to inform him, the form letter stated, but there was no need for Engineers with his qualifications at this time.

This is what I am talking about.

Photo by Carl Nelson

Work, work, work… with Rita Andreeva

June 1, 2011

Rita Needs a Job!

From Where She Is, Rita Can See Bottom

but Finds the Interview Tough Sledding.

 “Finally, my first IT interview with a big company. The recruiter assured me that it’s a very good entry level job. So I go to the interview. The address was 605 5th Ave. I find a building with 500-something address, the next one is 625. Where the hell is 605? I walked back and forth between the 2 buildings, the situation hasn’t changed. I noticed the 500-something building had Specialty Bakery in it, so I went in and got a latte and a pastry. Then I walked outside and noticed that there was a building hiding behind the 625 building. Then I saw a delivery guy rolling a cart toward me. So I asked him if he knew where 605 building was. He said he didn’t know. “What company are you looking for?” he asked. “Cobalt Group,” I said. “I think it’s in there,” he pointed to the nameless numberless building hiding behind the 625 one. So I went in looking lost, dazed and confused. The guy at the information desk asked me what I was looking for. “Cobalt Group,” I replied. “Well, you’re in the right place then. Go up to the top floor.”
At the top floor the receptionist had me sign in, I couldn’t help noticing that there were people signing in every 10 minutes all day to see that Mary person I was to see. I barely signed in as someone behind me said, “Rita?” I turned around. “Hi, I am Mary, follow me.” I followed her to a tiny room no bigger than a broom closet, even though the floor plan was very spacious. Another woman manager in a gray business suite joined us at the door of this closet. There was a little cheap table and three chairs inside. “Did you have any trouble finding us?” the non-Mary woman asked. “As a matter fact I did,” I provided happily, “There was a 500-something building, and then a 625 building, but no 605 building…” The women glanced at me with what would be best described as forbearance and motioned to one of the chairs. I sat. The non-Mary woman asked me, “So what have you done as far as web design?” I waved at my resume and said, “What it says, and I’d love to show you… Oops, there is no computer here, so, I guess, I can’t show you… How come you don’t have a computer here?”
The non-Mary woman shook her head, kind of like my cat does when I give her nutritious food without carbs to try, and shot a series of questions at me:
“Do you know html?”
” Do you know css?”
” Do you know Flash?”
“Do I know Flash! I make cartoons all the time! Did you see those I….” I realized they didn’t see anything. “Yes.”
Then Mary took over and asked me what I thought the job would entail. I was very happy to answer that question: “You have to build many websites quick, and to put in content and images provided to me in all those websites.”
“Would you mind if the job might be a bit boring and repetitive?” Mary asked.
“Why, not at all. I mean, you pay. If it were a real interesting job it would have probably been advertised as an internship with no pay.”
“Do you have any questions for us?”
I didn’t really have any. A boring job is a boring job. But I had to ask something. So I asked, “Is this building earthquake proof?”
They both hurried to assure me that it was.
My recruiter sent me a very angry email later: “You made me look real bad! They said you went on forever about how hard it was to find the building, how small the room was and without a computer, and you kept fidgeting, and then, when you were supposed to ask something about the job, you asked if the building was earthquake proof!”
Surprisingly, I didn’t get the job. I sent an email back to the recruiter: “Sorry, I don’t think they had any reason to complain, for you sent them qualified people. They didn’t even care what I could do, they didn’t even look at my websites. Obviously it’s one of those situations where there is a basic personality incompatability, and probably a discrimination as well, because, what if I had a fear of heights… Because all the reasons they bitched about didn’t have anything to do with my ability to do the job, they were all very superficial…” She didn’t reply. Guess she is still mad at me. I hope she didn’t get in trouble for sending me over.”  – Rita

Photo by Carl Nelson

Work, work, work… with Rita Andreeva

October 21, 2010
Editor’s Note:  Rita continues to vent.  I can’t stop it.

Geek Emerging

 “Looking for work I came across an ad for an IT commercial. The ad said: “5 good looking, height-weight proportionate people: 2 men and 3 women between 25 and 35 y.o. to sit in front of laptops and look intelligent. Pay $100/hr.” I am so sick of commercials making a ridiculous standardized fairy tale out life! So I sent them a reply:   “Just thought I’d point out that most IT professionals are not at all attractive or height-weight proportionate, and the age range is spread from 18 to about 60 pretty evenly, and out of 5 people only one would be a woman, it would never be 3 women 2 men ratio. Get five geeky fat slobs, feet clad in torn sneakers up on the tables, unwashed baggy jeans showing the butt cracks, throw pop cans around and empty Frito bags, pizza boxes, a week-old sandwich and leftover cake from a birthday party, get some flies buzzing around, a dog that keeps scratching and licking itself with relish, some heavy metal glaring in the background – now that would be a correct representation of IT professionals”         –  Rita

Photo (taken completely out of context) by Carl Nelson

Work, work, work… with Rita Andreeva

August 12, 2010

Rita Ponders Her Next Career Move

“My latest job interview:

P’s phone number contained three sixes, not even counting the six in the 206 area code, and our meeting took place at El Diablo coffee shop. Do you think that could have been a bad omen?
The interview actually seemed to go very well, with P. saying “yes” not in so many words. He said he was going to email me some paperwork. I got no emails for about 3 days, and I pretty much gave up, but then I got an email from him, saying, “sorry, I was real busy, I’ll call you tomorrow.” He never did call. Then I emailed him, then he sent me an application and said please fill it out, sign it and get it back to me. I did. Then nothing again for two days, then an email: “I’ll call you at 10 tomorrow.” Tomorrow, at about 8pm I emailed him back: “Did you mean 10pm?” He did email me back, “Sorry I got real busy, I’ll get back to you.” Then next day not a word again.
Looks like, at best, I’m dealing with a guy who is incapable of saying “no” to anyone and would rather stall indefinitely. And at worst, he could be using the employment ruse to collect information on people to steal their identities.
If anyone has any suggestions as to what I should do, you’re welcome to offer them.”

                                                                                               – Rita

Photo by Carl Nelson

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