Category Archives: Job Search

Beware The New Age Of Job Spam

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Lately I’ve been receiving a lot of phone calls and emails about job opportunities, and I’m not alone according to my friends. I’ve begun to realize a lot of this is due to technical changes and business changes – ones that it’s important as a sort of Geek Career Person to warn people about.

Now before I go into just what I found, a note that this isn’t bragging. I’ve been in IT for decades, my resumes have been sent all over the country for twenty years, and I’m in a ton of databases. I’m also in my 50’s, where people are experienced, start to retire (less competition), or die (also less competition). It works in my favor – except for that whole “aware of my own mortality” thing.

Now, onward – let’s walk through what happened and what I found.

THE SITUATION

So last six months or so I started getting hit up by a lot of recruiters. This wasn’t like previous experiences where it appeared to be people “raiding” California for talent that got tired of paying rent so high you could buy a gaming rig once a month. This was the usual combined with lots of samey emails, odd calls, and weird inquests that didn’t always seem to relate to my skillsets, often from companies I never heard of.

I didn’t think about it much, until some caller noted she was in a different time zone – one that didn’t fit the area she was listed as calling from.

So I began digging a bit and looking into all those emails.

WHAT I FOUND

First, the emails I was ignoring anyway looked real spammy – cut and paste jobs, search and replace issues, and sometimes repetitive. On top of that there were mostly companies I didn’t recognize.

Secondly, the emails didn’t seem to give a damn where I was. I mean, yeah I’ve seen people try to raid Silicon Valley for talent, but this didn’t follow any identifiable pattern. Previously I could note trends in what states were hiring, but this was more incoherent.

I also began looking at how to unsubscribe from them, and that was the real revelation. A lot of the unsubscruibe links sent me to the same kind of software setup – clearly different companies, but all using the same mailing list software.

Finally, I recalled how many people had mentioned they had me in a database, or saw me on Dice, or LinkedIn.

That’s when it came together for me.

WHAT’S GOING ON?

At the most basic, it’s a helluva easy to set up a consulting type company, get requests, spam out inquiries, and try to get people. So now plenty of people are doing that and outsourcing globally, at rate I’ve not seen before. And it’s annoying.

Specifically it looks like:

  • A company get set up anywhere in the world then route calls through a phone number in other countries. That explains the weird time zone issues I was getting from calls.
  • A company can use existing software out of the box to set up all sorts of HR and mailing systems. Then you can easily mail things out to people without thinking.
  • There’s all sorts of databases out there, and companies can fill them or just purchase data. Pretty sure some of my old resumes from fifteen years ago are sitting around somewhere in digitized form.
  • Dice and Linkedin and other sites are easy for dedicated people to scrape, especially if you have settings that allow people to see you’re looking, show information, etc.

So we’re now at the stage where you can basically spin up a consulting company or modify an existing one to pretty much run as a spam system. Sure, it sounds like it’s inefficient, but if you can throw out leads to a ton of people, you only need a small percent of responses. It’s pretty much like advertising.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

So what’s the takeaways from this for my fellow job seekers? I have a few.

  • First as always I recommend people always ask what the next stage of their career is. It may well be “more of the same,” but a review now and then is good. I evaluate my skills and plans once a month.
  • If you’re at all concerned about job stability, you should have a regular job search going on, from once a week to once a month.
  • Job searches by now are going to need to be selective. So be aware of who you’re applying to.
  • If you’re looking at temp or consulting companies, research them before applying. Build a list of reliable companies over time (and share them) so you know when trustworthy leads come in and you build good relationships.
  • If you have specific companies or organizations you want to work for, then I’d apply at their websites specifically. Now and then, do a “deep dive” and go back through listings to apply to past jobs, not just new ones.
  • Be careful how you set yourself up on job sites, LinkedIn, etc. You might be accidentally asking to be spammed.

Hope that helps. Let’s see how this evolves in the future, because I’m sure there’s more changes to the job market and technology to come . . .

Steven Savage

Job Skills For The Future – Scheduling

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr)

So as I explore Job Skills you’ll need in the future, as the Geek Job Guru that I am, let’s talk about one no one thinks about and everyone is usually awful at.

Scheduling.

No, REALLY.

Let’s be honest right now basic scheduling of meeting, events, software launches, etc. is almost always an excruciating experience.  Why? Most people are terrible at it.  Recently I got to talk to someone who had been quadruple booked for a meeting, which I think wins him some kind of award.

So right now people are really bad at scheduling.  They don’t plan, they don’t think, they don’t check the responses.  They don’t think about launching software before a weekend.   Yes I’m bitter.

So being good at scheduling and planning events sounds like a job skill that everyone bloody well needs now.  And they do.  Trust me.

But now I want you to add what we’ve talked about previously, about working with people in other cultures and time zones and so on.  Scheduling becomes even more important in the future – says the guy who often works with India teams.

Now I want you to imagine critical technologies becoming more and more intertwined, where every software launch has more far-reaching effect every release.

I want you to imagine publicity issues of launching a book just an hour ahead or behind in this wired world.  Now ask how that’ll change.

Good scheduling is definitely a skill people could use more of now, but one that is going to be far, far more vital in the future.  But I’d also take now, thanks very much.

I think this is important enough that scheduling and planning as a basic skillset is something talented people will actually need to call out in resumes.  Note it among your planning skills, or your software launch skills, or your media release skills – but note it.

As for getting better at it, I’d recommend this:

  • Just general awareness will go far.  Take some time to watch how you schedule and plan.
  • A basic project management or planning guide or class will work wonders. Pick up a book, take a class if you can.  Get some knowledge yu can use.
  • If your company or team is bad at it, schedule (ha) a meeting to discuss how it can be done better.  You’ll learn more and you’ll look good taking initiative.

I can’t emphasize how much people need this skill now, and how important it’s going to get over time.  Remember, I belong to a profession, Project Management, that just exists to coordinate things – we exist for a reason.

Your Scheduling skills have good reason to exist too.

– Steve

Where The Jobs Are

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr)

So something strange has been happening to me and some friends in the job market. People are reaching out to us with great positions. In other states.

Now we’re in Silicon Valley, technical professionals. Sure Silicon Valley has its problems, but reaching out to us to see if, hey, y’now maybe you’d like to leave, seems weird. Like why do recruiters assume we might want to pick up and move cross country?

So I decided a little analysis is in order for you careerists as I’m betting you’re seeing this too.

The Valley Paradox

First up, there’s a bit of a paradox about Silicon Valley. It’s harder to get employed here if you live away, but much easier when you’re here. I know someone who looked for work for months in the Valley, but when they moved here they had a partial offer in two weeks, a contract in four weeks, and an offer at that same company two weeks later. When you’re in the Valley it’s a bit easier to stay in the valley job-wise.

So I’m not sure if anyone is up to leave because coming back would probably be a wee bit harder. Besides I get the impression if anyone is leaving, it’s permanent, and that means giving up a lot.

But people are certainly reaching the hell out to here, which makes sense. If you’ve got time at one of the big names, or experience in the right industries, you’re valuable. I mean who’s going to turn down hiring someone who was at Apple or Google – even as a contractor.

Which leads to one of my first realizations of these Valley Raiders:

A Silicon Valley Hire Is Valuable

For all those recruiters wondering if I’d like to swap Sunny California for, say, Colorado, what have they got to loose?

Getting someone from Silicon Valley is pure gold for a recruiter. Who’s going to turn them down? Who’s going to say no? Who’s not going to offer them a lot of money? Not only is it assumed such a hire is good, much like hiring someone with a useful certification, hiring someone from Silicon Valley insulates a recruiter from blame because everyone assumes that hire was probably a good idea.

(Or in short, if the Silicon Valley hire fails, no one blames the HR person).

So it’s probably worth spamming people with leads.

Next, are people trying to leave the Valley? Apparently, yes.

Yeah, Some Of Us Are Trying To Go

Silicon Valley has its problems. I won’t lie, I’ve written about the paradoxes before. Its crowded, its pricey, and if you’re not up to ply the career game here it’s not for you.  You have to have a plan to live here.

So it won’t surprise people that Silicon Valley is showing more “outbound” job searches lately.  More people here are at least exploring options, so if you’re a recruiter, why wouldn’t you take a few seconds to send a Valley candidate something else?  You might hit gold – and that gold is looking to mine itself.

OK, that metaphor sucked, so let’s distract from that by looking where recruiters are trying to send we Valley folk.

Where The Leads Are

Here’s the states I and my friend keep getting opportunities in – and why.

New Jersey

Yeah, I’m not exactly up for moving to New Jersey, but it’s a pretty decent place and it doesn’t deserve a lot of the jokes aimed at it. It has bad areas but also great ones, is conveniently located, and produced John Stewart. It’ll be better when they get rid of Chris CHristie, though he’s working hard to get rid of himself.

The unemployment rate is about 4.8%,kind of middling. (thanks BLS – http://www.bls.gov/web/laus/laumstrk.htm). I can see that putting a bit of pressure on recruiting, because . . .

It’s the 8th largest state economy in the US. Yes, little New Jersey has a GDP the size of Sweden. Suddenyl not a state to laugh at anymore is it? (Thanks Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_GDP)

I also noticed that the pay rates I get offered are competitive with Silicon Valley.  Yeah people are willing to pay Silicon Valley rates in New Jersey.

So short form here, I think recruiters trying to staff in NJ are smart hitting up the Valley. There’s probably a need for talent, its got a big economy, and some smart people are willing to toss around a lot of cash to make it work.

(That also means that NJ might be a good target if, say, you want to move and find work but Silicon Valley and other spots aren’t your bag)

Colorado

Colorado isn’t exactly a state I’ve considered moving to. I mean I’m sure it’s nice and all, but it’s not my thing. But I and friends keep hearing from them, and when you look at the numbers it makes sense.

First, Colorado has a 3.5 unemployment rate. That’s tight, they need people.

Second, it’s the 18th largest economy of the states. Not huge, but hey it’s Algeria.

Third, it’s a nice state in general. There’s cities like Denver, lovely areas, natural resources.  Colorado’s advantages remind me of some pitches I heard from Scottish recruiting companies – you get lovely land and great urban areas.  I can see the appeal.

Fourth, it sounds like it’s economy has gotten diversified and is expanding its footprint.  Colorado had its technical players once, and it sounds like they want to do it again.

When you analyze it Colorado is probably a pretty nice place to go if you want nature, a good economy, and tech and culture without the crowding.

I’m starting to notice.

Texas

Well when you get leads from Texas that’s pretty damned obvious. Texas is working to grow it’s tech sector, has decent employment, is the second largest economy after California, and you don’t get snow. Plenty of companies have offices or are starting them there, a few companies are moving there.

Now I’m not one that buys the Texas economic miracle – from infrastructure issues to dependency on fossil fuels, I’ll stick with California, thanks. I don’t trust the politics nor the long-term potential.  But I get why people think I may want to move there – growth, space, and of course a hell of a lot cheaper.

It’s also got medium-level unemployment, and the second largest economy in the US – roughly equal to one Canada.  I suspect Texas politicians may know the fossil fuel industry has problems and want to diversify.

So yeah, I think we have a picture of the recruiters bugging me and my friends.

Why People Are Targeting Silicon Valley Recruits

What did I find just traipsing through these offers? That some of these recruiters know what they’re doing. They’re figuring “why not” and targeting jobs with areas that have appeal – the pay and opportunities of NJ, the many options of Colorado, the growth in Texas. When I started this analysis I sort of wondered – now I don’t.

As you can see, some of these folks aren’t random – they know what they’re appealing to. It doesn’t hurt to wing off a few options to Silicon Valley people in case

But this also means something more for you, my geeky job seeker.

A lot of us love the Valley. A lot of us are’t leaving – though that’s not a mindset everyone shares. But if any of these places appeal to you, if some of the other geek areas aren’t your bag, go take a look.

Ask your friends what recruiters are approaching them, draw up a picture – like the one above – and see if anything comes out. You might just find your next job and a great new place to live.

And you can always sell the recruiter on the fact that hey, you’re willing to move.

Oh, but you still want that insane pay rate.

  • Steve