Beware The New Age Of Job Spam

(This column is posted at 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.


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.


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.


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.


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

Monetizing Fun

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

After writing about how we destroy fun and how we sometimes monetize fun inappropriately, I’d like to address this question:

Is it Healthy to Make Money At What You Enjoy?

It would seem that this question is obviously “yes”, but it’s an uncomfortable one. I’m sure many of us have known people that turned fun into a job, many of us have done it ourselves, and it’s not an easy situation. Forget if you can make enough money, the stress the loss of joy, etc. can be enough of a pain.

It’s an uncomfortable question – could the idea of enjoying our job, of profiting from fun, be a bad one?

Let’s sit with that one for a moment. Go ahead, think it over.

Now that you did that, my answer is “yes, it’s OK to make money at what you like, but as long as you stay aware of your situation”

When you realize you can monetize fun, I’m bang along side it as long as you’re aware of the situation and pay attention. Check in with yourself when you start down this path, and check in reguarly and review where you are. I do this every month to every few months, often when I feel like my fun/work balance has gotten out of balance.

Here’s the checks you want to make:


Are you trying to monetize fun for a good reason? Will it advance your life and that of others? Will it make you happier? Will it, logically, make you enough cash to be worth it (if you care about it)?

Check in with yourself reguarly if you’re doing this fun-for-money thing for the right reasons, it can change. I’ve found cases where I was doing certain projects out of habit – not for any good reason.


There’s two questions to ask when it comes to the value of fun:

  • Do I know how much value my fun-for-money brings me or can bring me? That helps me understand if its worth it financially (and for the sacrifice of making fun more of a job).
  • Do I know the value of my fun without the pressure to monetize it? That helps me decide if its worth monetizing or I just want to hang out and have fun.

Know the value of what you’re doing both in money and personal fulfillment. Check in reguarly, because it can change . . .


Can you turn your “hobby-job” back to just a hobby? Can you, when you want, turn that “profiting from fun” switch back on? Can you just take a break?

Keeping this fluidity is important. It lowers the chance you’ll trap yourself, and helps remind yourself you have options – so you don’t feel trapped. Sometimes, after all, the worst trap is just thinking you are.

Personally, this question helped me realize I just like to write. I’d be doing it no matter what.


If you’re going to monetize your hobby, you’ll want to ask what the endgame is – when would you decide to not do it or decide you fulfilled your goals. Could it be “funning” your way to a new job? Being a paid author? Publishing so many books? Doing it until you die as you like it?

Have an idea of your long-term goals, even if your long-term goal is “just see if I still wanna do this.” When you have an idea of an endgame it lets you evaluate your progress towards it and prepare for transitions that may come when you reach that end state.

However, having an endgame also lets you know when to stop. Maybe the endgame won’t work and you change it. Maybe it’s not worth it anymore. Know what you want if only to know when it’s no longer a good idea.


So, go ahead, make money at your hobbies. Just make sure you have checkins to on these subjects to see how you’re doing on your goals, motivations, status, and so on. Be ready to make changes depending on your finding, and give yourself the freedom to do so.

This way you’re able to adapt and change and be happy – be it from making money, having fun, or a balance between the two.

Steven Savage

Sometimes The Best Ambition Is Less Ambition

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

Lately, a lot of my friends have been going through “job issues.”  Losing them, not happy with them, being pressured to trade up, and so on.  Listening to them I realized that there’s something important to say:

It’s OK to not have ambitions for a “better” job.

Yes, that’s right it’s me, Mister Geek Job Guru telling you maybe you’d be happier staying where you are, or getting a lower paying job or whatever.  Radical? Unexpected? Extremely un-Steve like?  No, it’s about things more important than getting a “better” job.

The benefits are worth it.  One friend of mine had some health issues, and their job has great benefits, so they’re not planning to move on or up at least for the time being.  This is fine.  If a job gives you benefits like great health, training, etc. it’s perfectly OK not to change.  A job that has good benefits may be worth staying at even if it’s not as high paying or lacks prestige or whatever.

It’s lower stress.  Look moving up is all fine and good, but maybe a job is going to have less chance of killing you.  Fine, worth staying with as opposed to getting a job that will put you in a grave quicker.

It lets you do other things.  Your job or future job may give you more time to socialize, build that art career, take care of kids, whatever.  Perhaps it’s less work or a shorter commute – that’s great.  No need to change.

It’s cheaper to do.  A job you’re at may cost less to commute at, require you to spend less on things like businesswear, and so on.  That’s fine.  Sometimes the money you save beats any pay raise you may have.

It works into your life plans.  You don’t have to go get the biggest title or highest paycheck if the job fits your life goals.  Maybe the job will let you retire quicker but isn’t as prestigious.  Perhaps your current position means you get to stay in a place you like.  That’s fine.

You’re tired of career stuff.  Maybe your current job is a placeholder intentionally, and that’s also fine.  Maybe you got laid off, or are changing careers or just moved.  Good, enjoy your placeholder, maybe set a time to re-review your priorities, and chill out.

It’s a placeholder.  Maybe you’re moving or going back to school or something and the job is there so you can earn money.  Great, don’t worry.

There are many reasons not to look for the better job, the best job, the highest-up job or whatever.  That’s totally fine because your career goals have to serve your life goals.

If you aren’t sure about this, let me remind you that you have permission from me, the guy who writes all sorts of career books to not think about the biggest paycheck or coolest title and just do whatever.

-Steven Savage