Tech musings and other things...


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Tecnical Recruiters rank just below lawyers in my book.

Never have I had to deal with a larger group of unconcerned, poor workmen as I have in the case of technical recruiters.

Some anecdotes:

I’ve looked for work on and off for the last five years or so. I’ve a really well-designed resume, and have been told as much by many resume designers. It stands out, has comments from former employers, lays out accomplishments and abilities very well, and presents me in the best possible light. Heck, look for yourself:


However, I continually get response from recruiters on a single keyword buried deep within my resume, referring to something I had done once, or a project I had been associated with on a site that happened to have that technology installed. Or, I installed a database solution to be used for user management utilizing mod_auth_ldap or mod_auth_mysql to authenticate visitors to a website. Nevermind, I had nothing to do with the frontend, but only user authenticaion. Also nevermind that’s usually clearly spelled out.

More and more, as I start looking for work again and again, I find people who know nothing about what they’re recruiting for, nothing about the technologies involved, nothing about the field. So much so is this a problem , that I have even had hiring managers at the destination company not even know what they are looking for.

How sad is that?

Better yet…

On occasion, I’ll get a call from a recruiter, and will wind up giving HIM or HER* technical support to make their own browser/email/whatever work so they can do their job.

Obviously, in the heat of interviewing you do these kinds of things just to get the recruiter to maybe send you over to an employer (and then have to go through the whole scenario again).

What I’m looking for:

I’m looking for a company to have a realistic subset of job requirements.

I’m finding more and more that managers have no clue what Systems people do. When they find that their current admin is moving on, they will say “Let me see your resume” and will build the job req. from that resume. Unfortunately for some of us out here, that person may have a Master’s or a PhD, and was happy to take that salary offered, so they just hung around there.

The job request may be for a solid UNIX guy with some windows to help users and a good knowledge of networking, email, web, and to support a small or medium sized office environment and have a nice personality to make the folks there feel good about their computing experience. How cool would that gig be?

Instead, since the bust, a job request like that has turned into a request for someone with 5 years of a specific UNIX platform, 4 years of Sendmail, 4 years of Apache, an MCSE, and a college degree in Computer Science.

Do you see the disparity there?

Too often, the folks looking for a replacement think that the work we UNIX admins do is magic. They think we’re making magic with bits and bytes, and carefully build job reqs and descriptions as if that’s the case.

In reality, just like any career, we learn as we go. Certainly, a certain level of proficiency is necessary to be useful to an emloyer, but to expect today’s Systems Administrator to have memorized the entirety of complex packages such as Sendmail, Apache, Snort, Portsentry, PHP, XML, and on and on ad-infinitum is laughable at best.

The best admin will be the one with an extreme adeptness at finding answers quickly.

I’m looking for a company that doesn’t find a college degree to be the end-all, be-all of skills measurement.

I was a music major t Louisiana State University. I have a 3.0 in Music Education and a few semesters left to complete. At the time in Louisiana, a first-year teacher in East Baton Rouge parish would make 18,000/yr at their first assignment. While at LSU, I worked at the computing services center in network design & engineering as a work/study assignment. I had a local web-hosting company contact me regarding a position with them at 25,000/yr.

Imagine the decision-making/thought process to follow.

I had a wife & two kids (my wife’s disability had not progressed at all at this point) to think about, and a promise of a very small salary, should I continue to impoverish my family for a minimum of two years and an entire semester of student teaching (during which I couldn’t hold a daytime job, since on assignment at a local school), only to have an 18k job.

Obviously, I took the gig. Since then, I’ve progressed through all the standard growth. I was a Windows admin, Exchange admin, basic networks. I found out really qickly that Windows administrators don’t sleep much (at least in those early versions of NT). I picked up on Linux (I had been fiddling with it for quite a few years) and installed it on an extra box at my office, and an old 286 at my house. After a couple years of working with it, I got into an AIX/SCO/Linux gig, and never looked back. The road since has taken me from small startups to 3Com corporation itself, and it has been a wild ride.

Fast-forward to today… I’m published in, working on a book for Nostarch Press, and looking forward to a long, happy career. (I’ve already been doing this for 10 years).

From my perspective, I’d rather hire someone like myself, than a college graduate with a year or two. I can guarantee success from a track-record rather than a pile of promises and a piece of paper.

As a final aside from all this, I’m still looking for a new job. I’m being sent to third shift right now, and not looking forward to it at all. While it’s a great company with some good people to work with, 3rd shift is hell on earth. If you’re in the Atlanta area, and need a UNIX admin, let me come in and talk with you. I’d bet if we skip all the silliness preceding that conversation, that we’d have a deal that could be made.