Category Archives: Recruitment

Building the Perfect IT Person

Deborah Rothberg at eWeek has a puff piece about making yourself indispensible when the outsourcing comes.

My view is that management, the directors of any outsourcing drive, have no idea who’s indispensible or not. That coupled with “why would you want to work for a company that outsources it’s intellectual capital” brings me to a big yawn on this article.

I guess the many pieces of “don’t be a tech-dweeb” advice will help, in such that management will hate you less – you stop confusing them and instead talk about synergizing the paradigm going forwards for a win-win team outcome.

“Get into project management,” screams the article, “its your only hope!” – Yep, not enough PMs, that’s a likely problem. Very view people can drive MS-Project and run through risk-management checklists.

“Maximize internal knowledge” – unless that’s where the bodies are buried, I’m not sure tying your brain so tightly to one employer is such a great plan.

“Don’t whine” – well, I guess I can’t argue with that. The squeeky wheel gets tossed overboard at the first opportunity.

$50 million
Combined salaries of the Top 10 CIOs, according to Baseline’s 2006 CIO Compensation Ranking, released Aug. 1.

Wow. Check out all that value they’re adding, with their amazing intellects and all.

Has anyone out there found that certification (as suggested by the article) helps, either with staying or getting employeed?

Clueless agency undermines customer’s advertisement

Compare this agency ad, which turns up in a “linux C++” search, to this homegrown ad, which turns up in a “linux C++” search.

I encourage everyone to apply for the first job. They clearly want everyone to do so. I certainly did. You’d think that agencies, with their unabashed love of keyword searching would know better… perhaps they’re fully aware of what they’re doing. I love their fourteen key areas of specialization. The second job, well, read the instructions. It’s a nice place, with a good coffee machine. And people too. And management that’s able to pull itself back from the brink of cluelessness without being yelled at. Mind you, the last few paragraphs used to read:

Now, we won’t chuck your application away if you don’t hit all these points. But if you clearly don’t match the job at all you will get an abusive email. We will be drawing our conclusions from the application you send (hint, hint). Comparisons will be drawn between yourself and a small rodent.

We’re located on St Kilda Rd near the Domain Interchange. Public transport is pretty good here. Oh, we’ve got a darn good coffee machine, if that floats your boat.

Note: Do not send us an application if you are clueless. You’re wasting our precious time, and you will get an abusive email in response.

Retiring Baby Boomers lead to IT Workforce Crisis

ComputerWorld reports that the retirement of the Baby Boomers will lead to IT Workforce crisis. The tech crash shook a bunch of people out of the industry (mostly “HTML programmers” – the rodeo clowns of our profession), and it also caused a collapse in the number of undergraduates enrolling in IT courses (I’ve been doing my best to discourage anyone from entering the field).

Basic economics says that a reduced supply of workers and an increasing (or even static) demand for them leads to a rise in prices. And it’s not like prices are low at the moment anyways.

More champagne, anyone? I’ll just drive the shops in my diamond-encrusted Rolls Royce to fetch it.

Broken URLs still abound

The mob I work for, eVision, are looking for an extra person, so they put an ad on Seek for the position.

Seek’s URLs are broken. The only way to get a URL that you can link to or send to somebody is to use their own “Email this job to a friend” feature and send it to yourself. That way you get a sensible, working URL, such as:

rather than the broken one you get by copying it off the browser (even after clicking through the above), which is something like:

which goes to an error page that complains that your browser doesn’t take cookies (even if your browser does take cookies).

Dick Smith Electronics’ otherwise excellent web site suffers from a similar problem.

Jakob Nielsen’s article URL as UI remains as relevant — and as unfollowed — as ever.

Where are the aliens?

Coffee drinkers are easier to persuade.

Fermi’s Paradox is explained by aliens getting adicited to computer gaming.

Strom reckons he knows how to make money with a website: ads! Plus a little other stuff.

An Irishman has a rather good summery of how to negotiate an intial salary.

Cross-platform rounded corners without images, extra markup nor CSS. The holy grail of web-design dweebs.

Hire IT professionals quickly

IT Manager’s Journal tries to tell IT Managers to hire IT professionals quickly if they want high-caliber IT personnel. High-caliber IT personnel get snapped up quickly, so if you want them (and you do). This article is a sub-point within Joel’s discussion on hiring.

I’ve been there, and seen it. On both sides. One employeer had to wait two years before being able to actually act on their intention to hire me. So my advice goes like this:

Be clear on a start date

Some people will be pleased with 2 weeks, others 2 months; if you can be flexible, all the better. Bad is: “We’ve got to get final budget approval, and then we’ll stagger you in with the others over a six week window.” My response would be: “Fine, but you’re going to start paying me now, right?” That’s not a start date. That’s more like an intention. Which could have the carpet pulled out from underneath it. Why did I just spend two hours in a interview with you?

Hire in small groups

Minimize the number of people you try to hire in one hit – well, at least compress the time between interviews and acceptance. Uncertainty is hard to work with. And if you’re looking to hire twelve people, you’ll want the best 12, and that means interviewing everyone and then ranking them. Actually, perhaps Joel’s approach to interviewing is the right way to ensure you get the number of people you need – he ranks the resumes, does a half-hour+ phone interview and then a face-to-face.

Pay Through the Nose – and be happy about it

High-caliber IT personnel are excellent value, even when they cost twice your average-caliber IT personnel. Study after study has shown it. They get more done, and the stuff they do works better. In fact, I believe it’s an order of magnitude best-to-average, and another order of magnitude averge-to-worst. A hundredfold difference. At twice the price, the best people are a steal. More words from Joel:

In some other industries, cheap is more important than good. Wal*Mart grew to be the biggest corporation on Earth by selling cheap products, not good products. If Wal*Mart tried to sell high quality goods, their costs would go up and their whole cheap advantage would be lost. For example if they tried to sell a tube sock that can withstand the unusual rigors of, say, being washed in a washing machine, they’d have to use all kinds of expensive components, like, say, cotton, and the cost for every single sock would go up.

As an aside, I’ve used Joel’s Guerrilla Guide to Interviewing and found it works fairly well.

What have I missed?

CallerID blocking backfires

Every employment agency I’ve come across uses CallerID blocking on their phones. When they phone, it’s a surprise who they are.

I’m not sure why they do that, perhaps it’s to prevent embarrassment when they’re calling candiates on a landline at work… but I can’t think of anyone who would give their work number in their contact details.

So I got a call from an agency. I went through my normal routine of answering a phone, where I announce my name. The agent asked “Is that John Parris?” to which I responded in the negative. “Oh, right, Josh, sorry” says the agent, obviously having misread my name. And before the caller could identify themselves, the call disconnected, no doubt as a function of it being a mobile telephone call. He never called back (perhaps he thought I hung up intentionally), and I couldn’t call him back because I had no idea who/where he was. Let’s face it, they all look and sound the same, so agencies all blur together anyway. I would have thought they’d want to stand out, or at least leave a number they could call back on.

Can anyone suggest why agencies use CallerID blocking?

This is God calling

Yesterday I answered the ‘phone. Because I was home, having a holiday, which is soon to be rudely interrupted by a short working stint, but that’s by-the-by. I could tell that whomever had called didn’t know anyone in the house; the phone’s listed in my girlfriends name. “Hello, Mr [Girlfriend’s-name]?” is a dead giveaway that they’ve pulled the number from the phonebook, and immediately puts me on the defensive. Which is why I have no interest in having the phone in my name. I can spot low-life scum a mile away with the arrangement as it is.

Now, the first thing I do when I have a telemarketer on the phone is to get them to tell me who they are. The lass weasled about, talking about a survey. Surveys don’t care about the identity of the respondent; this was marketting. Eventually she said she was representing the Jehovah’s Witnesses, at which point I terminated the call; religous fundamentalists get up my nostril.

Neither Cathy nor I get any telemarketing calls – oh, well maybe we get a couple a year from local gyms. It’s because we’re signed up to the ADMA’s do-no-call list. If you’re not signed up, stop reading, and go sign up now. The local gyms get the line “we only purchase goods from members of the Australian Direct Marketting Association” and they’re taken care of.

So, here we have technology being used for evil. Evil, not only because it’s evangelical fundamentalists at work, but because they claim they’re doing a survey about how people in the local neighbourhood feel about stuff. Because it’s a survey, that would be covered by the Australian Market & Social Research Society, which (they would claim to keep the statistics clean) doesn’t operate a do-not-call list (in spite of the fact that people that don’t want to be surveyed are going to do all sorts of bad things to their stats).

Worst of all, I don’t think there’s much I can do about it, except I remember hearing about a guy who had installed a PABX with and IVR – “if you want to talk to Cathy, press 1 now. To talk to Josh, press 2 now. Pressing 3 now will let you talk at Owen, but don’t expect a cogniscient conversation out of him.” Apparently, in the US, he was getting zero telemarketing calls – which is quite a feat.


  1. Has the obesity epidemic reached the point where the Jehovah’s Witnesses can’t be bothered leaving the house to recruit souls so that they can, pyramid-sales-scheme-like, go to heaven?
  2. Why don’t the Jehovah’s Witnesses tell people up front you’re not going to heaven, even if you convert (there’s only 144,000 spots – what are the chances you’ll be goody-two-shoes-super-converter enough to get in)?
  3. Why doesn’t the AMSRS operate a do-not-call list?
  4. Why doesn’t the government ban harrassment like this?
  5. What can I do to stop this from happening again?

This is how to write a job ad

*************** Job 2 ***************

Title: IVR Developer (Visual C++ and SQL)
Location: Melbourne
Advertiser: eQuus IT Resources
Date Posted: 11-01-2005
Description: IVR Developer with Visual C++ and SQL development experience required to earn $70-$100K with fabulous company in futuristic undersea laboratory*.
Get the full details of this job, here :
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