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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Employment War Story

Tales of employment and unemployment seem to be flying around me - so I thought I'd share a little campfire story. This occured back when the dotcom burst was well into effect and I was largely concerning myself wilth playing Sega and trying to find another job. As many know, finding another job can a job on its own. I had my own system - a collection of post-it notes which started from the answering machine and scattered upwards the wall like a Staples employee desperately trying to make smoke signals.

Search the net, submit resumes, make some phone calls and return some others. Most of the interviews I had weren't with employers but recruiters. Recruiters, however, were having it just as bad as we were. During one phone call the phrase "You don't understand how bad it is out there. It's a nightmare. There's just nothing left for a guy like me anymore." wasn't uttered by me but rather by the guy trying to get me a job.

Rarely a recruiter would call me first. Even more rare was it someone other than a clerical staff who had been perusing HotJobs. I get this call from a fairly large Chicago recruitment firm - from the recruiter himself. He's excited, he just saw my resume, he thinks I've got great experience, he's got loads to tell me, he's got lots of solutions for me, he wants me to come in as soon as I can possibly make it happen.

Needless to say, my schedule was pretty flexible and I went to go see him a couple days later.

First, despite having a standing appointment a few days in advance - the guy wasn't in. He would be in later, the secretary said, and I could wait in the lobby. So I waited. And I waited. And I waited a little more. I think in total he was about twenty or thirty minutes late.

He shook my hand and told me he wasn't going to see me. Instead, he was going to have someone else talk to me. No reason given. Just the way it was. And then he disappeared.

A few minutes later his replacement, whose name I honestly forget, came by to show me to his office. He was older, had a kind of grey and white mustache and beard, smallish glasses and a suit that didn't quite fit. His office was a tiny affair - crammed from one wall to another with filing cabinets and papers strewn here and there. Not atypical for a recruiter - although many of the ones I knew were more organized.

He asked if I had brought my resume. Of course I had (several copies) and I handed him one. That's when the barrage started. He scanned through the first few bits and announced, "No, no, this is all f--king wrong."

I was a little taken aback - but figured maybe it was just a random utterance. Just some coffee related Tourrets. Or something.

"Nobody wants this f--king stuf anymore. Nobody. Those f--king guys. What the hell? You worked on ... what is this?"

He pointed to my work with ATG's Dynamo. I said, "Dynamo. It's a server? It's kinda like JSP."

"Never f--king heard of it. And this?"

"DHTML. It's. It's a way of using JavaScript."

"Right, JavaScript. Can't f--king shake a tree without getting JavaScript these days, you know?"


"What about salary?"

I handed him another paper with my previous salary and what I would request. Having just gotten a raise before the crash, the second number was significantly lower than the first. This didn't seem to register with him.

"You f--king kidding me? Kid, nobody ever paid that kind of cash for this sh-t. F--king nobody."

"Well, yeah they did."

"Well they f--king don't I'm telling you."

"I lowered it - you know - because of that."

"Well, f--king good, because I'm f--king telling you this just ain't f--king feasible, if you know what I mean."

Yeah, I knew what he meant. I'd spent about forty days and nights trying desperately to get people a lot more familiar with the industry than this guy to get me interviews. I knew exactly what feasible meant.

"Let's see what we got," He said and swiveled his chair to his computer - an aging vanilla colored machine. He plunked his fingers slowly and some kind of custom app came up.

"Oh those f--king guys. They can't keep this f--king stuff working. Not at all."

"Well, maybe I should go?"

"No, no, look. Look. I know some people. People know me. Leave this with me. I'll make some calls. I should have two, maybe three, interviews for you by tomorrow. End of the week at the latest. Friday. We'll call you by Friday."

I shook his hand and left. I never heard from him again and I certainly never called his agency again.


Thomas said...

Wow. Sounds like they just referred you straight to the department's Crazy Guy.

In a way, that's f--king awesome. Although I'm sure it was somewhat less amusing at the time.

Anonymous said...

That's f--king crazed. A total HST moment.

Josh said...

lapreI had a really mixed reaction to it. I think while with him, I may have honestly cursed a couple times myself - just because it seemed like I could. I was annoyed that he took great lengths to ridicule virtually my entire professional career - but it was like a sideshow. And life at the time didn't have a lot bizarre situations which were also funny.

At the same time though - the whole event took up a good portion of a day and was a complete waste of time. The lack of professionalism - in general - was appalling.

Josh said...

Weird typo. LaperI = I. Blogger's captcha is totally f--king with me.