Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Take this job, and politely exchange it.
It's been just about a month since I have worked a contract job. I can't say that it hasn't been nice. It has. But I was hoping to have a full time job by now and it hasn't happened. You see, somewhere between the 11 hour car drives, the Motel 6's, and the jet-lag ... it hit me. I do *not* want this job any more.

And so at the start of the month, I went out on Monster and Dice and started searching. There's not a lot of work that I am qualified to do. I'm a trainer. All I have done for six years is "train". The only people likely to hire me are training centers. But I'm not standing in line to work for one of those. This past year I've been to dozens of them, nationwide. And they are all the same. All of them operating on a shoestring budget. All of them pay their bills late. None of them are managed by anyone with any amount of sense. The only safety I have in this business is that the brokers pay me, and then chase down the senseless deadbeat straining center in their own time.

I saw a ton of jobs that I would love to take. The ones that interested me most were the Network Security something or rathers. At first, I only applied for a couple jobs in my area. I didn't want to send out a hundred resumes, and get dozens of responses. So I only sent out a handful. But nobody called.

So then I looked a little farther. Up to 100+ miles away. And this time I send out 25 resumes in a few days time. Still, not a single phone call or email. Many of the jobs I tried to follow up with yielded dead ends to voicemail boxes or receptionists who didn't know what I was talking about. One did call me back about a week after I submitted the application (which was maddening). I am pretty fucking sick of filing electronic job applications with everyones own clever little system. Escpecially when its the SAME information that Monster and Dice have you put into THEIR system. Anyway ... I got a response about a group calling themselves the career development program. I looked them up and it seemed to be a tax supported group that helps highschool kids in finding their future IT jobs. But alas, this was not the same group. Instead, I had filled out a form for a group that wanted to train ME. Yes, they wanted to get me "Microsoft Certified" so I could have the job of my dream. It took great restraint not to tell them that I am all ready a 2003 MCSE/MCT/MCSA, etc and I can't get a job to save my ass.

Dead ends. Voice mails. Filling out forms in the basement of state buildings. They all got me nowhere. Then I got a call from a local company that was looking for a Network Security Analyst. I remembered them well because I had been out a day or two earlier trying to put my resume into peoples hands. I believe that there is still reason to walk into a joint and hand them a resume. Of course I formatted in into the fanciest table you have ever seen. And I printed it on the finest of 100 percent cotton paper. But most people didn't want my resume.

I walked into one local business and asked the guard "is there an HR department here that I can drop a resume off to?". "I don't know", he said, "we just started here ... you might try the next building". In the next building I found some older woman in a tacky red dress leaning over a guard at the front desk aparently teaching him something about the phones. I asked again, "is there an HR department in this building? I would like to drop off a resume". She then went onto explain that they "typically did not accept walk-in's" and that they "had an electronic system on the Internet. She continued to tell me about their web site as if I were a child and I was unaware of these devices called "computers". While it was entertaining to flash her puzzled looks, and further drag more hopeless explanations out of her about how "web pages work" (in general) ... I was getting nowhere.

But that day I was able to drop off three resumes out of the 6 businesses I had visited. And one of them called me back. I set up an interview.

The first interview I had started with an application process. They handed be a paper application and explained that it was "a formality". I obliged and proceeded to fill out the details using my resume (which had all the necessary information). Once it was done, I headed to the "boss's office" where I had my first interview. It went very well. The conversation opened with him looking over my resume and telling me that "we didn't expect anyone with your qualifications to apply for this position". To which I thought, "I hope he's telling me I'm too smart for this ... and not the other way around". But yes, they felt I was far overqualified for a position as an entry level "security analyst". He was very interested in why I would want to drop my business and work for him. So I told him everything. Well, not quite everything. I left out the thing about the trains running under my hotel in Maryland. And when I couldn't afford three nights in a hotel, so I drove through the night to get to North Carolina, and had to take a few breaks to puke (from staying up all night). And I didn't tell him about getting into bed and finding other peoples hair in it. But I expressed my hatred for "the road", getting stiffed by training companies, etc. Being an independant business owner himself, he was delighted to hear of my misery. He related in a big way.

So the first interview went really well. So well, that the owner didn't mind spinning his terminal around and showing me their system. Which was quite impressive. I told him, "this is quite impressive". He agreed and went on to say "we couldn't find anything this robust, so I hired a genious to write it for me". As I watched him click around I made a few comments about what I saw on the screen. And then he gave me "the look". That look you get from someone when their brain says "one of us!". The last time I got that look was from a gay flight attendant who was fumbling with metal hangers. I had said "no more metal hangers!". This is a line from the classic film "Mommy Dearest", which is aparently very big with gays. I remember thinking "this is the look that gays give each other". A nod if you will.

I called everyone and told them about my interview. It went well. I couldn't wait for what was next. The "second interview". Most companies do three, but I was told "we dont like to jerk people around - so we should be calling you for a second interview and that will be it". One more and I am in, I thought.

A couple of days ago I showed up to my second interview with the company. Just as I was opening the door, I did this trick where I took all the anxiety from my stomach, and just lifted it into the air. Once you have trained yourself through meditation, you can really control that nervous mind. It's a skill I wish I had picked up years ago. It doesn't always work, but that day I was very keenly focused, and when I sat down for my interview I was completely cool and collected.

I went through the usual parade of goofy questions such as "tell me about a time you were unable to help someone and what you did about it". It was pretty hard for me, but I scrambled to come up with good answers. They were drilling me about "help desk" scenarios. It's been years since I have been in that position. But I have done far greater things and so I called on those consulting engagements, service calls, etc. I also got to tell some of my favorite stories about huge mistakes that I have made. The interviewer loves those. Yes, I have screwed up. No, I'm not too arrogant to admit it. And yes, I have a sense of humor about it.

The next step of my interview was with "an engineer". I was sweating this one. I know most engineers MO. They're assholes. Hey, if you are an "engineer" and you are not an asshole, I apologize. But then, I haven't had you as a student in any of my classes. But this must have been my lucky day because the guy that interviewed me was the same slick young guy that I had handed my resume to the previous week. He was going to make this easy on me. He has questions like "if you can't figure something out, do you have a problem asking for help?". I asked him some questions like "why do you like it here, or DO you like it here?". He had good answers. And then came ... the BOMB. He slid a few pieces of paper stapled together across the table rather sheepishly and said "well ... I have this ... that you have to do". I looked it over. "It's a quiz!", I said. He nodded, and chuckled. "Yeah, sorry" he says, "we just need an idea of your technical abilities.

I layed it out in front of me and scanned over it. I hadn't filled out anything. Just wanted to get my bearings. "Don't feel like you have to answer any of them", he said, "... just try to fill in what you know". Question number one? List all seven layers of the OSI model. Question number two was something about "what layer of the model does this". Hell, the first 10 questions were on the OSI model, and I was working that pencil like it was some sort of magic wand. I rattled off the answers to all twenty questions and slammed down the pencil. Done.

Yeah, I screwed up a few. On the "list what ports these services use" question, I got telnet and ssh mixed up. And when asked to give a network ID and a broadcast address for an IP address, I put them backwards. I was rushing. But he was impressed to say the least. As his eyes wandered over my answers he lifted his eyebrows and said "I got to tell ya, I could only answer maybe four of these when I came to work here". I had done well. I HAD to have the job, right?

But alas, they thanked me for my time, and freed me explaining "we have a few more interviews on Friday and we will be in touch". Argh! The waiting game. What's one more week of waiting? I've been off for almost a month now. Sure, I'm out of money. Yes, I am holding off definite work out of town that would pay my bills in hopes of maybe getting this job ... but patience. I must pracice patience.

A few days later I got a call from Judy, my second interviewer. She says "are you still interested in the job?". Of course I was. She says "we are still interested in you. We have narrowed down to three candidates and would like for you to take an online exam for us". Another tecnical test? Not quite. This is was a "personality test". I really hate these. Mostly, because I'm sure that they can be 'beaten', and only provide false positives about job candidates. But I did it anway, answering 500 or so questions where you had to chose from two bizarre answers.

I was put off a bit by the test so I responded to the email with the link and info with news that I had taken it, and I was anxiously awaiting the next step. I went on to say that I was not above pandering if they would like for me to drop by with baked goods sometime while they make their decision. Strangely, I got a smiley back and a hint that "the boss likes dark chocolate".

Now, stay with me. This is where things get a little wierd in my life. Yesterday I headed out on foot to Wal-Mart. It's almost 2 miles away, but I had all day to spend sitting at home, and I needed the exercise. Plus my wife had the car. So I bought brownie mix, and some bacon. We were having "breakfast for dinner" that night. A favorite with the kids. As I was walking home, I got a call from my wife asking "when is your appointment at the bank?". Woops. I had comepletly forgot that I was meeting with a financial guy at my bank about my 401k investment. Saving the day, my wife drove to meet me at the bank, holding the paperwork. The good news was, I rolled over the majority of my retirement money into an IRA. But had to take a bit off the top to pay this months finances. Oh, and a bit more to pay my taxes at the end of the year. It's a severe penalty. But ... I would keep my house another month.

So this morning I clammered out of bed fighting a nasty house cold I had picked up and made some delicious chocolate brownies. Today they would likely make their decision about whether or not they were going to hire me. And yes, I took them some brownies. If it helps even a little to get me this job, it will be the best five bucks I've ever spent.

Man ... I would like to blog more. But on account of this house cold I am on my second dose of niquil. And it's kicking in. Blah! Good night.

Oh by the way, did I mention I started a magazine? The first issue is about done, and I will be dropping it along with a new web site very soon. You can find it here ...

Tomorrow (or Friday) I should find out if I got this job. WISH ME LUCK.

Historic Comments
Good luck with the job Ray

Happy Friday
carwash | Homepage | 05.25.06 - 9:03 pm | #

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