Friday, December 16, 2022

You All Suck (#55 -Technology Ruins Everything Edition)...

"If you'd like to experience just how badly computers have ruined modern life, try finding a job..." -- The Overlord

A month ago, I decided it was time "to move on". The passing of Mrs. Overlord was a terrible burden to have to bear (all loss is), but sitting around crying in my Ovaltine wasn't exactly the best way to handle bereavement.

Too negative, not very productive.

Instead, taking advice to (figuratively) 'look on the bright side' (which I thought at the time was a very callous and disrespectful viewpoint) it occurred to me that life, specifically MY life, didn't come to an end and that to simply cease functioning as a human being was not helpful to anyone. Especially myself.

Possibilities previously denied are now available; the lack of responsibility to another gives a freedom heretofore unknown. Choices are now more-valuable and easier to make when they aren't conditioned by factors other than myself.

I will always miss Mrs. Overlord; there will always be a hole in what passes for my heart for her that can never be filled in, but there are practical considerations to be taken into account here.

I'm still alive.

I like to eat.

It would be nice to be alive and eating in some form of comfortable shelter.

The lawyers want cash.

Mostly because when relatives say things like "I'm only ensuring that Rosemarie's Last Wishes are fulfilled" they apparently don't mean the ones she committed to writing in a legal document that they practically wrote and shoved into her hands, witnessed by multiple signees and Notarized for all eternity.

That wish apparently doesn't count.

And so it was time to get off my grief-stricken ass and do something to address these concerns. The first order of business? Go back to work. So, start looking for a job.

And that's when you discover that something that used to be a straightforward practice has been ruined by technology.

Technology, incidentally, that I may be (partially) responsible for.

In the Ur Days before a myriad of massively stupid 'employment websites' sprang up, getting a job was quite easy. You simply picked up the Yellow Pages or scanned the classified ads in the newspapers. There, you would find what were once euphemistically referred to as 'personnel agents', 'staffing solutions specialists' or, more-colloquially, 'headhunters'. You called them, you made an appointment, they took a resume and you filled in some forms, and the next thing you know, they put you in direct contact with hiring managers.

The rest was up to you. You either made the best impression, or you didn't, and employment came accordingly.

Even as recently as just a few years ago, this system was still operating and still common.

Not any more.

The personal element, which is probably (sez me) the most important part of the process has been taken out of the routine.

Now you send your resume to a website which purports to 'put you in front of thousands of potential employers'...and wait. And wait. And wait some more.

Oh, there's an occasional e-mail from someone who is interested in what you do, but more often than not, there is a ton of junk mail and invitations to join other 'employment' websites that are subsidiaries of the bigger scammers websites. They need people to spam, too, since I gather this is how they make their money, never mind connecting qualified candidates to a job.

And so you wait. Then someone wants to talk to you, via Zoom, usually, for about seven minutes, and then you realize this isn't even the hiring manager; this is a 'headhunter' who posted the job you've applied to who just wants to ask you a series of repetitive, 'routine' questions, and extoll his employer's virtue by telling you all about their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion policies.

These purport to have 'passed your resume' on to hiring managers, somewhere, to give the impression that someone is doing something that justifies the revenue generated by all the spam in your mailbox.

And then you discover the jobs you have been applying for, and are infinitely qualified for, remain open for weeks afterwards.

So, are these jobs for real? Are they being filled? Is anyone hiring anybody? Is anyone doing anything except 'passing on resumes'?

When annoyance and impatience become too much, you call one of these headhunters who has contacted you to ask a simple question:

"What the fuck?"

And you don't get a satisfactory answer. There's a reason for this, and I'll try to condense it for you.

In the Ancient World before 2022, the headhunter was more than a simple go-between. S/he were also salesmen. Their job was to sell you to prospective employers. Very often, usually from having provided candidates for other jobs, your headhunter had personal relationships with the hiring managers. These personal relationships aided the job-seeker; since manager and personnel agent had a working relationship, and history, with one another, this could be used to a candidates advantage in scoring that all-important first interview.

This no longer happens.

For a start, the explosion of web-based services means that 'your' headhunter is suddenly dealing with scores, maybe hundreds, of complete strangers. Anonymous strangers because they've never met, never will meet, and their only contact with one another is through e-mail or the job board. A personnel agent who may have once had but 20 or 30 clients now has access to hundreds, and the reverse is true for the managers, themselves.

So, you get pissed off and rip your headhunter a new one. He's had it coming, and he hasn't returned your calls for a few weeks, anyhow. You make a novel suggestion that just about blows the top of his head off:

Put me in direct touch with the hiring manager and let me do the legwork.

The headhunter does not like this. For a start, it's a direct indication that you believe he is not doing his job. Secondly, it breaks some form of sacred protocol that has evolved where all of this stuff is taken care of at arm's length electronically, usually at great expense. If we have candidates simply demanding direct access to employers it renders the investment in millions in computers and job search sites irrelevant to the process.

All of it is about as useful as Kamala Harris at a Scrabble tournament.

It also pisses the hiring managers off because it sets a precedent. And one of the first rules of Management (right after 'never be in the room when a decision is made') is that setting precedents is bad. If you do it once, you have to do it again. Modern Managers don't get paid 'to do'; they get paid 'to manage', which is defined as attending endless meetings and generating useless reports for higher management (that's why you went to college, after all!).

Next thing you know, headhunter suddenly has three opening 'that just came in' and that he somehow neglected to tell you about. A fire has been lit under his lazy ass, and the carefully-constructed system under which he extracts a good living for 'passing on resumes' is threatened. So, he starts doing his job, which is to sell you.

And you get results. Not necessarily a job, mind you, but now people are talking about you. One of these hiring managers is mightily impressed with me; he, to put it crudely, thinks it takes balls to do this sort of thing (prod a headhunter? In my day that was standard practice).

He likes balls (in the figurative sense). It shows personal initiative, a 'never say die' attitude, and perseverance.

Exactly the qualities he's looking for.

Exactly the qualities he would never have seen or heard about if it was all left to a lazy headhunter and a mess of impersonal computers.

We shall see what comes of it.

On another employment-related topic, I want to categorically state that I personally detest the latest gaggle of 30-something 'managers' now predominating in the IT world. They seem to have come off the assembly line with three major defects:

1. Most, if not all, have never actually done the work they 'manage'. 

2. They are a troupe of parrots, spitting out buzzwords and acronyms with careless abandon, and it becomes clear after but a few moments that this person hasn't the slightest clue as to what they're talking about. They are 'managers' by virtue of having a degree or qualification that includes the word 'management' in it. They are glorified clerks.

You can tell by the emphasis they put upon 'qualifications' that typically refer to CLERICAL computer apps -- like MsWord, PowerPoint and the like.

I'm applying for the job of a Mainframe Operations specialist; not a secretarial role. Maybe I should interview YOU to see if you know what JES2 is or what it does, or perhaps have you give me an explanation of the principles of Websphere, ESCON, VTAM or Omegamon in 200 words or less, exclusive of all the 'like' and 'you know' that litters your speech.

I doubt that you could.

P.S. I could give a shit about your Diversity, Equity and Inclusion policy. That has nothing to do with using OPC to schedule a batch run.

3. A good many of them in IT are under the mistaken impression that they are the guardians of some secret and arcane knowledge beyond the ken of mortal men (i.e. in the hands of someone who manages something they've never personally done, because 'manager'), completely ignorant of the fact that in its essentials Mainframe operations have changed not very much in, oh, 40 years. Yes, the technology has advanced, but the basics still hold true.

I'm getting sick of some youngin' explaining something I was already doing 20 years before she was born  (it's usually, predictably, a 'she', but far be it from me to misgender anyone) as if it were literally virgin technological territory that no one but her has ever been exposed to.

And then not actually ever used, because 'manager'.

Still, the hunt continues. Because I'm a stubborn sonofabitch, I shall prevail.

And within short order, replace the 'manager' that eventually hires me.

Because I know what I'm doing.

Everyone else seems clueless.

* On the subject of Mainframe operations: the Overlord is taking a huge step BACKWARDS, career-wise here, because that's the most fun I've ever had in IT. I'm old, and would like to do something I WANT to do, rather than something I HAVE to do with my remaining time.


Anonymous said...

I have been happily retired for a year or so now, aside from the odd consulting gig I take for people I care about. Recently a couple of headhunters I have had long relationships with have literally begged me to allow them to place my name into a few processes they are running. To be fair, I'm sure I wouldn't have actually gone through with returning to management life again, but I got my Irish up when after a second "interview" I realized I was just a stalking horse - the candidate that checked all the qualification and experience boxes they were using to measure the latest diversity candidate or 30 year old wunderkind against. Wasting an hour talking to a hiring manager so he/she/it could cover "their" ass doing what they were going to anyway? Fuck that. Oh and good luck with your search!

Doc g said...

I work as a doc for a massive multi state hospital system. Our IT people know their jobs. Their boss over all of them is a child life development specialist. She knows nothing about computers but likes to attend meetings and say the right things. Completely incompetent