Recruiting In The Age of Technology

One would think that in this age of technological advancement, finding a job and interfacing with companies or recruiters would be an easy thing to accomplish. When I was searching for a job in 2015, while still employed, I was meticulous in where I submitted my information and which positions I actually applied. The laser focus of my actions apparently shielded me from the unsavory underbelly of what I have experienced the last four months while searching for a job while being unemployed.

I followed all the mainstream advice given to me by my mentors and colleagues that I’ve kept in contact through the years. My resume profile is listed on LinkedIn, Monster, CareerBuilder, and Indeed. The first 8-10 weeks were postive and yielding a lot of good results, especially after I replaced my resume with the updated one that the career management folks helped me write. These positive results unfortunately were not to last following the holiday season as I found my “profile” popped up on quite a few other job boards without me actually ever creating accounts for them.

The red flags started flying when I started getting calls by different people, from different recruiting companies I’ve never heard of before, for an opportunity with the same company, location, duration and description. At one point, during a few days in mid-February, I received more than a dozen calls for the same job. I called back a few of the ones that left messages and asked how they received my information. A few gave me the runaround once they realized I wasn’t serious about the position but a few gave me solid leads as to how it happened. My details had been uploaded into a massive database from an export of one of the legitimate job seeker boards. This database is then accessed via subscription by recruiter farms that are hired by large corporations to fill non-permanent positions quickly and efficiently. It’s too costly for these corporations to vet these candidates, so they pay a fee to the recruiter farms to present a list of a dozen candidates and they just pick a few and get them onboard to get the job done.

For the job hoppers that make a living doing this sort of work, its all well and good. For the job seeker that likes stability, it’s a reminder that technology can be just as much of a pain in the arse as it can be an efficient augmentation to our lives. I have no way to remove my information from this massive database and have resorted to manually, and tediously, marking these “recruitment” emails as spam. I downloaded an app on my phone that lets me rate and block these calls, some get blocked, some don’t.

As soon as I start my new job, I’ll be removing my profile from everywhere except LinkedIn, which is the way I had it before. I never received these stupid recruiter farm calls prior to my job search in November of last year by just being on LinkedIn.

#emails, #linkedin, #phone-calls, #recruiters, #text-messages

I’ve Got A Job!

I got a call this afternoon from someone that I interviewed with in person almost two months ago. He told me that he just received great news and that they received a verbal approval to start the hiring process and were preparing an official offer of employment to hire me. It’s been exactly 4 months and 1 day (by number, not actual number of days) that I’ve been out of work since I got laid off on November 12th last year. I didn’t believe him at first and a few innocent follow-up questions confirmed that the call was in fact real and it wasn’t a joke. I start, tentatively, on the 25th of this month after all the background stuff is completed.

For anyone that’s been out of work, especially in the information technology field, they know all too well how difficult it can be going through the process of screening and interviewing. Sometimes, depending on the company, it can take three or four rounds before a decision is finally made and an offer is extended. The direct hire market is the hardest, followed closely behind by the contract to hire market. The easiest to get hired and conversely hardest job to work is the short-term contract role as there is an assumption of knowledge and experience from day one. Thankfully the job I was offered today is a direct hire role for a stable company.

The last few weeks has been rather difficult as I’ve found myself getting lost in self-defeating thoughts and depressive black holes asking questions of my abilities. Why wasn’t I getting any offers? Why was I getting to a third and fourth round and coming 2nd or 3rd choice? What was I doing wrong that others were doing right? It was a self-deprecating pity party where I was the only guest that was getting harder to turn off when other people were around. The feelings were spilling into other parts of my life that were affecting the ones that were there supporting me through this crappy time of unemployment. My energy was spent by mid-day just keeping myself “together” enough to function. The days I had in person interviews were the worst of all because there was no relief.

I’m so happy now that the searching is over and I can settle into a new role. The bitterness of “why” from my previous role will fade over time as the new responsibilities of the new position start to become normal daily life. I can’t wait for the 25th now!

#employed, #got-a-job, #unemployment

3 Months and Counting

For the second time in my life, I was given notice of a reduction in force termination due to strategic reorganization. At the end of the day, you’re being terminated, legally, and without cause basically because your position is no longer useful to the company. There are many reasons for this to be the case, but the individuals that aren’t given the option to seek alternatives roles within the company. The lucky ones are given severance packages that allow them time to find new employment. I was a lucky one, at least so I thought.

My former company did give me a generous severance package, even paid for a few months of healthcare coverage on the practically useless COBRA that anyone out of work has had the option of obtaining. The main issue with COBRA when you have a high deductible plan that relies on a funded health savings account, that you don’t fund when not working, is that you end up paying out of pocket 100%. You might as well not have any insurance and in some cases, direct billing from doctors is cheaper than going through the insurance carrier. Figure that one out!?

I used the career management they paid for as part of the severance as well. Spiffed up the resume and completely redesigned the thing from the top down and was quite impressed with the result. It garnered a lot of call backs, phone screens, and several in person interviews. That unfortunately is where my insurmountable wall is sitting at the moment as I can’t seem to bring home that shiny new job offer. I’ve had great feedback both from recruiters and hiring managers on my interviews, however I’m usually “second choice” or “slightly less qualified” than the individual who got the offer.

Here is it, coming up to 4 months out of work and I’m again sitting and waiting for what I hope leads to a job offer following yet another great round of interviews. This whole process is extremely frustrating, having to repeat it now for the fifth time since November after not really gaining any real steam until after the holiday season. There is a level of exhaustion most people don’t understand that an introvert experiences following a 2 hour team interview that makes it difficult to even drive home sometimes. I know I’ll find a job eventually.

I’m tired of the process and just want it to end. Please, someone say yes, and give me a job offer!

#downsizing, #reduction-in-force, #unemployed, #unemployement

Never enough time

There’s something to be said about being so busy that you forget what it is that makes you relax when in fact, you have the ability to sit down.  My mistake for thinking that once the holidays were over, there would be more time to get back to some of the activities that keep me from being mean to people.  I’m still waiting for all this wishful extra time that I’m on the verge of just taking without regard for anyone around me.  Yup, I’m going to lock myself in my basement office that doesn’t have a locking door handle.  Knocking will just be met with silence or perhaps the occasional chair squeak that happens when I recline then sit back up again.

A few good things have motored my way in the last few weeks though.  There is a new position posted at my workplace that is 80% of what I’ve been doing for the last 9 months.  I have a decent chance of actually getting it as I’m on good terms with all of the interviewers.  While I think that I’ve done what was required in 9 months to demonstrate that I’m ready for the stretch goal this new position would put me into, anything can happen.  Silver lining is that I won’t be losing my job, it’ll just feel like being dropped a peg with a new level of management between me and the CIO.  Time will tell.  I already know that it’s more work of course, making a brain in my head that’s already tense that much more tense.

I think my daughter is being bullied in school.  Being the expert I am on that subject (go to hell bullies from my past), I recognize the signs all too clearly.  Her progress reports are slowly slipping without a noticeable difficulty in homework completion.  She is also not wanting to spend time with any of her friends and is hiding in the basement playing games, watching television, for hours at a time.  My restriction of “screen time” is met with some serious attitude, like way more than usual.  There is also a general lack of enthusiasm for any activities that she used to look forward to each week.  Yeah, she’s definitely being bullied.  The school is full of useless politically correct assholes that are experts in condescending placation when anyone reports suspected bullying.  I just hope that she decides to tell us before it starts to eat up her insides like it did to me.

The whole education system is beyond fixing at this point.  The only way to get a decent education for the kids is to pay ridiculous amounts of money for private school that is only  marginally better than public school.  Cyber schools are an option, but that is a huge commitment for parents that are both working.  Whatever the outcome of any of this, my daughter is the one suffering in the end.  I don’t have the answers right now, not sure if I ever will, but I need to get this suspected bullying taken care of now.

Don’t know when I’ll be able to sit down and write again, but as with previous posts, I do try to get free time.  The forces of life and responsibility have other plans lately.  Stay frosty.

#bullies, #bullying, #education, #promotion, #stress, #time, #work-2

Six month break from audits

I’m finally free of audits for at least the next 6 months at work. Yay! A welcome break from what has been an absolutely hellish 5 months with literal back to back audits. One would end and the next would start the following week, sometimes with some really annoying overlap. Mixed into all of this I’ve managed to keep writing for Eat Pray Vote, the political opinion site where I’m now a partner. Two weeks ago I completed migrating their site from WordPress.com to a self-hosted platform. A bit shaky at first, the site is now humming along and is faster than ever. Take a look at the site for yourself if interested in what I’ve written about, here’s my Author page.

Having a chance to see how a self-hosted platform works and the freedom that comes with it, I’m thinking of relaunching this blog. I’ve found a decently priced self-hosting plan that is just slightly more than a WordPress personal plan. I’ve wanted to change the domain as well to the real name of the blog as it seems to be something I’m sticking with going forward. When that happens, you’ll know. I won’t be deleting any of the old content until I know I can get a pro-rated return as I’ve finished the re-up for domain and hosting already this year.

The family front has been just as crazy and I found out that my daughter needs to have her tonsils taken out. It’s a scramble to get it scheduled so she doesn’t have to fight off another strep infection. We also want to get it done this year as we’ve hit our ridiculous healthcare deductible so we won’t have to cover any costs out-of-pocket. The whole system is fubar right now that doesn’t show any signs of improving anytime soon.

Well, this was just a quick update to let you all know I’m going to be back on a more regular basis now that work stress has reduced significantly. I’m also going to start getting caught up with the people I follow and will be commenting regularly again. I’m looking at you John, I miss our friendly conservative vs. moderate/liberal debates 🙂

A change of scenery

For those that have followed me for a bit, you might have recalled me going for a posted position within my company that would have been a promotion. I didn’t get it, but I already knew that going into it based on how the description was written. My goal was more to let upper management know that I’m not opposed to taking on new roles that may be slightly outside of my wheel house for the sake of the challenge. It worked. The new Director starts today, remotely from Colorado, then from Pennsylvania next week. I already know that my current manager and I are going to report to him as well as another individual from the Networking team. My job isn’t changing all that much except that a heaping pile of “conflict of interest” is going away now that I’m not inside the group that I’ve been auditing the last two years.

With the move comes a new desk in a different building but on the same campus. Moving to the third floor of the newest building on our campus is exciting. More so the fact that it will bring with it new challenges from management that is coming in from outside. We already got a new CIO from outside that is already making waves and with a Director to back her up, the change will keep coming. My work is already starting to make people worried in that the results of my reviews and audits are being reviewed and actioned on by senior management with more purpose and intent to get future audits looking better. It only makes my job easier as the more support I can get for the work I’m doing, the easier it will be to have people engage when I ask them for evidence. A recent audit of change requests in one particular group was actually quite poor and the results have not gone over well for those tasked with providing me what I was asking for. It’s probably good I’m moving to I’m no longer in the same building as the people I’m auditing.

The new space brings with it a quieter workspace and upgraded furniture and chairs. Overall, despite the lower cubicle walls to promote “collaboration”, I’m looking forward to not having the kids of distractions I have currently in my soon to be vacated space. You can view the archives for previous posts that detailed my daily living hell putting up with the people around me. I’ll also have a lot more face time with the CIO and new Director because they are in the same building and floor that I’m moving to. Face time as most IT people know is crucial for those moments when they’re trying to figure out who from within is worth promoting into whatever new idea they have and need bodies to run it. Not that I do my job in order to get a better job, but doing my job and being recognized for it is important to me. One of my many motivations. I’ll also be working remote two days per week instead of just one as I’m no longer in the reporting chain that enforces restrictions. My manager sees that I work just as hard (if not harder) at home then when I’m in the office.

Hopefully the rain holds off today long enough for me to move my stuff, freshly minimalized, to the new building across the main parking lot. Otherwise, I’ll have to try to move everything tomorrow. I like change, the more the better.

#change, #lateral-promotion, #minimalism, #moving-offices

Too good to be true?

It’s happened, a recruiter has finally placed a potential position in front of me that is too good to not invest some time exploring. The last thing I wanted to do was to start looking for a new job let alone think about switching companies and starting over again with a whole new corporate dynamic. In this case though, the job description, requirements, salary, benefits, and bonus package are, well, really good and my interest is overpowering my urge to stay put. Adding to all these goodies is, amazingly, this job is only 15 minutes from my home cutting my one-way daily commute in half… again.

The last few jobs I’ve taken and excelled with were essentially lateral moves. Jobs that had no more or less responsibility and didn’t advance my career all that much, but did provide other skills and knowledge that have led me to this current moment. This new position is a Director level position and would entail managing people again, something I said that I probably wasn’t going to ever do again. It isn’t that I was a bad manager, in fact, my directs in my previous position often would tell me how much they appreciated my style as a manager. Laid back, hands off, and appropriate blunt and aggressive when the situation required it. I also would lay on my own sword to protect them, deflect the negative comments, and allow them to use it as a lessons learned opportunity.

My problem though, is that my previous management experience, while over a year in length, was nothing close to what a Director is required to do or be in charge of. Stepping up would be an absolute necessity on my part and I truly am not sure if that kind of responsibility is in my wheelhouse or not. I know that I’m technically capable of doing the job, however, the personal side of the job is sort of shaky and up in the air. I’m having a fight in my own head over whether this job would be a good move for me or not, which is a conversation I have every time I start looking or contemplating a new position. I’m technically capable of being a manager of people as my personality is such that I’m rarely considered a friend to anyone at work, manager or not. My radar is always on while at work and I’m constantly observing and processing the environment around me. At Director level though, the game starts to change and I’ve yet to experience that game personally.

I’m scheduled to have a phone call with the head hunter this week, to talk about the prospect. This is the equivalent of the HR screening call where they review resume details, listen to how I speak of my past, what I’m looking for in a company, etc. I already know the salary is there and its much closer to home, but the discussion later will determine my next step. I just hope that I’ll be okay with all the next steps in 6 months to a year regardless of the resulting decision.

#head-hunters, #new-job, #salary, #the-right-decision, #work-life-balance

ITIL Training = Eyelid Olympics

My company decided that it was time for me to take ITIL Foundation training.  For those of you not in an IT field, this is essentially an industry best practice of standards on how to efficiently and effectively perform change in the IT organization.  I’ve been in the IT industry pretty much the last 17 years or so and practically live and breath the standards that I’m now learning about.  So I don’t refer to things with proper names or terms like they talk about in the training.  I know the methodology regardless of knowing the names of what I’m doing or not.

I can admit that ITIL is not the most exciting, rather, it is one of the more dry and tedious content subjects in IT.  Not even with CISA did I struggle to keep myself motivated for a mere three day class.  The scary part is that there are several levels of ITIL that you can obtain, each certification test getting harder than the previous one.  I’m wishing that the content as you get more detailed picks up in excitement where I can describe it as more riveting than watching paint dry or catching the latest episode of Bass Masters.

There is one more day of endurance training for my eyelids before I sit down to take the 40 question certification exam.  I’ve taken all the practice tests and online test preps and am averaging well above the 65% passing score required.  For me, this really is common sense and as long as I keep the hundreds of terms straight and not get caught up on tricky questions, I should do just fine.  The person that I’m taking the training with unfortunately is not in the same situation.  He’s younger and has less than 5 years experience and is struggling with understanding the terms and how to apply the standards.  I hope he passes.

I probably won’t have another post until Thursday when I give all of you another installment of Three Things Thursday, one of which will hopefully be a passing score on my ITIL Foundations exam.

#certifications, #itil, #training, #unmotivated

Can I work from home? Denied!

workingfromhome

No, this isn’t me.  I laughed at the picture though, because I’d totally geek out working from home like this!

Had a 1:1 recently with my boss. I again, brought up the request to work from home one day per week. He again, told me that it is difficult or near impossible to get something like that approved for the long term. The current policy as it stands is:

Working from home is available upon request for any colleague and is at the discretion of next level management. Work from home criteria and objectives should be set between the colleague and his/her manager to set appropriate expectations.

The annoying thing here is that “next level management” in my case is actually two levels above me and their discretion is hopelessly set at an “as needed or required” level without the hope of any type of regular approval for a weekly work from home day. My director in this case has been working for the company for over two decades and is very much stuck in the realm of old-school thinking where working from home is horrible and anyone doing it is just skipping on work. Here are the reasons I think this man is a dinosaur stuck in the middle of a modern workplace:

  • Everyone is using a laptop, there are *no* desktops
  • Internal phone system is VoIP through Skype for Business
  • Completely an Office 365 shop (Outlook, SharePoint, Office are all hosted)
  • 80 offices world-wide, on average, 80% of my communication is electronic or on phone
  • Mandatory methods to track and verify productivity

I will often give the benefit of the doubt with resistance like I’ve received at the onset of convincing someone to give an approval for something they’re initially opposed to. However, in this case, a direct conversation with said Director resulted in “I don’t approve work from home.” I was promptly asked to leave his office if there wasn’t anything else I needed to talk to him about. Not one to back down from a challenge, I took a different approach at first. I started looking up research on the benefits of working from home for both the employee and the employer and found quite a lot of positive information. The other side of the coin unfortunately had just as much negative information that contradicted the positive. There was information to support either point of view rather convincingly.

dinosaur-in-office

This is how I see my Director right now

As I think I may pay a personal price for the next action I’ve taken (not played out yet), I went to HR to talk to a few people about the origins of the policy and where and when it was set. In my logical mind I had a plan to work behind the scenes to get the policy updated by whatever committee set it in the first place. The committee in this case, was made up of several people….. that also included my Director. My posture must have changed as the HR person asked if there was a problem. I asked her when the policy was set and it, unsurprisingly, hasn’t been updated or changed since 2005. 11 years ago!! I went on to explain what I was after and if it was, in her opinion, something that had a snowballs chance of being changed. She didn’t need to answer, he face said it all. I got up and thanked her for her time.

For the last 5 or so years, I’ve pushed very hard with my current and previous companies to get a permanent arrangement to work from home setup and approved. What I was asking for was a single day to work from home that wasn’t a Monday or Friday; rather Wednesday was my preferred day. It provided a break in the middle of the week that helped greatly on both the front and back end of the week with an estimated 20% increase in productivity. A very non-scientific study conducted by me, subjectively, where I had a feeling of greater efficiency and effectiveness. Well, the few weeks I was able to do so that is.

Here is my current push, with highlighted justifications and benefits below:

  • Online no later than 6:30am / Offline no earlier than 4:30pm (company gets the hour I’d be commuting, at a minimum)
  • Activity time tracked through Skype for Business and correlated with VPN logs
  • First complaint related to remote work would end the agreement (puts skin in the game)
  • Important meetings or training would override a scheduled work from home day
  • Short weeks would override work from home day (holidays)
  • Any measured drop in effectiveness or efficiency would require a review of the agreement

Personally, I think this gives the advantage to my company. They’re getting more work out of me, a potential 52 extra hours, just for allowing me to work from home one day per week. My estimation has that closer to 40 when you take out short weeks and the occasional 1-2 meetings per quarter that would require my physical presence. I’m certainly not a 9 to 5’er, often getting to work by 7am and leaving around 4pm, so around 9 hours per day as I typically don’t take a lunch away from my desk, most times. I’m getting close to that mindset where I will stop overproducing for a company that isn’t willing to approve a simple request that is more than justified based on previous performance. I’ve been here before and I ended up looking for and getting a new job eventually. I’ve not worked for a company in my career that I actually enjoyed coming to work for everyday though, so I’m in a tough spot.

It feels like I’m fighting a losing battle. Why can’t more companies embrace modern and progressive ideas?

#dinosaur, #office, #old-school, #work-from-home, #working-from-home

I’m the outsider

awareness

Totally need one of these on my desk

Acute awareness of anything is not always a good thing. For most people it brings clarity in a confusing situation, lets you see something that you didn’t realize before, or lets you empathize with someone else to help them through something. In my case though, I’ve become acutely aware of the fact that even after 7 months at my current job, I still feel like an outsider. Nothing specific that makes me feel this way, just little hints that I’m still not one of the crowd or a trusted member of the company fold. Sure, everyone is courteous and friendly and will often engage in conversation at the drop of a dime. Free coffee here is our “water cooler” and conversations at the coffee pot are an hourly occurrence if you’re inclined to participate.

My introverted nature I’m sure doesn’t help this feeling though. In fact, I’m almost sure its detrimental to me in situations like this one where I’m the “new guy” in a group where the average tenure of an employee is well over 12 years. I work with people that in some cases were hired by the current CEO, not many people can say that at a company that exceeds a few hundred people, let alone a company that is pushing 5,000 employees. I’m 7 months in and still feel that I’m navigating the political waters of how management operates. The learning curve here is mighty steep and has proved to be a difficult journey to say the least.

Having to adapt to a corporate environment here, if you can call it that, has been daunting after having worked in what I consider normal environments for the better part of 18 years. There are so many levels that you have to fight with to get anything done and partnering that with an ever changing focus and direction makes it all but impossible unless you know people. That’s where my issues comes into full focus, I just don’t know the people I need to in order to get certain projects completed. I’m viewed as an outsider with my crazy notions of how something should be done and asking questions as to why it isn’t. My radar doesn’t quite tune to the “I built this process you’re shooting holes in” negative attitude that normally greets me during some conversations.

There is a very real sense that work is done to propel a career or protect a legacy of “it’s always been done like this” that, if changed, requires people to learn something new. I’ve found through experience that changing a routine in a corporate office is probably the hardest thing you can do as complacency takes root and is as hard to remove as a weed with a 2 foot long root into the ground. All of this struggle adds to my awareness that I’m an outsider and until I yield to the status quo, I will continue to be an outsider.

I’m not sure that my future with this company is going to be along one. I keep pushing forward handling obstacles as they come, but my energy and motivation are taking huge hits while doing it. My only hope at this point is that the retirement train keeps moving ahead and some of the crusty bits go away. My dealings with other “new people” (essentially 5 years or less with the company) have been positive. If some of those people can get their way into the vacated positions, I think I might have a chance to make a real difference. Until that happens though, I have to struggle to get anything done as the “outsider”.

The summer is going to be interesting….

#awareness, #change, #corporate