Category Archives: Career Management

Job Recruiters – Career Opportunity For Those Who Couldn’t Get Into Real Estate

The other day I was dealing with a recruiter who was “representing” me to a hiring manager.* We had arranged for her to call me at 9am to discuss the position, but when 9:10 came along and I hadn’t heard from her, I tried calling her office number she had in the signature of her email.

The phone rang on and on with no answer. So I went back to work, and figured I would try later. A bit of phone tag later, and we finally were able to talk and prepare for an interview with the hiring manager.

When she asked me to call her after the interview was over, I related the issue I had reaching her earlier. Her response? “I was getting too many telemarketing calls on my office line, so I unplugged it. Call me on my cell phone. I guess I should take my office number off my email, huh?”

A woman whose entire job consists of talking with hiring managers and job seekers didn’t see any problem with disconnecting the phone number she was handing out as contact information. And this level of incompetence is by no means unique when dealing with recruiters.

I have a hard time feeling sympathy when recruiters tell me the past few years have been difficult when the entire profession seems to combine the non-value adding qualities of HR departments with the clueless and dilettantism of bored housewives who get the idea to start up their own business to feel productive that ends up never really turning a profit if you factor in all the business expenditures, which they never do. (Real estate agent and pyramid scheme marketing are the other two big options for the later quality)

Sorry that this post is all complaint, no solution, but sometimes that’s all ya got.

*The other big joke in the recruitment field is the nebulous relationship each recruiter has with everyone else in the process. The hiring manager often has contracts with a few different people, so they see the recruiter as representing the prospective employee. The job seeker is often lulled into thinking the recruiter is on their side, which is a little true, in that they don’t get paid unless the job is offered (and accepted). But, the recruiter is making “matches” based on the job offers they represent, not job seekers. In the case above, I was only working with this buffoon because she was in the same recruiter network as another recruiter I work with and respect, and she had this offer on her desk. So while I never chose her, her unprofessional manner reflects on me, not the hiring company.

How To Get Them While They Are Young?

A blog that almost nobody reads may be the smallest way possible to throw my hat over the fence, but I hope it has the needed effect for me.

A few weeks ago, right around National Engineering Week, I had a brief back-and-forth about the idea of giving some sort of lecture/presentation/demonstration to the 8th grade kids my sister teaches (math) in order to try to convince some of them to at least think about engineering, and more specifically, manufacturing as a viable career. Especially now that I am getting to the point where I think my job is more about teaching/mentoring/training than it is about doing.

Since I’ll see my sister for Easter, I want to talk to her about what her year’s curriculum is, to see if there is something I can tie into. And really, making stuff is cool – manufacturing shouldn’t be THAT hard of a sell (especially to kids who haven’t had their eyes open to the terror that is trying to find steady employment).

So my question out to the vast wasteland is – how DO you get kids excited about manufacturing and engineering? Anyone?

Professional Reputation In The Balance – Understanding The Expected Level Of Communication

Today at work within the span of one hour, there were demonstrations of the damage to your professional reputation that can be caused by both over-communicating and under-communicating with your peers and managers.

The under-communication example:  The assistant plant manager needed to round up a half-dozen employees, and had them called as a group over the plant’s PA system. All but one showed up. The asst. manager then called the missing person by name over the two-way radios we are all to carry in the plant. When he still failed to respond, I was called to search the facility for him. Once he was found, and the initial matter was taken care of, it was brought to his attention that his lack of awareness of the situation could have had serious consequences had the issue been an emergency. (It didn’t help that this wasn’t the first such incident, just the first time that it was someone that high up the ladder that was looking for him.

The over-communication example: The same assistant plant manager expressed his displeasure over a recent incident when the off-shift supervisor called him at 3 am to let him know that the plant was down due to a town-wide power outage. At our plant, late-night calls are not an infrequent occurrence, but the manager couldn’t figure out the purpose of this intrusive call. There was no question of what to do, there were no options, there was just a need for temporary down-time until the power company fixed the problem. This was purely an informative call, which could have waited a few hours until the morning.

The lesson here is to understand your audience, understand the relationship you have with them, and give them the level of communication they need to do their job, and that they request from you – no more, no less. The VP of quality assurance doesn’t care about the reactor size of your new process, she wants to know what considerations for product integrity were made. Your sales force is going to glaze over if you explain each step you needed to go through to expedite an order, they just want to know that you arranged for the product to be received on date X. And your direct manager will let you know the level of detail they want to hear about your work based on how much he trusts your ability to do it correctly.  Being able to read the room and the clues that your audience will send you about their interest makes the difference between being perceived as a professional and being seen as hopeless.

Damn Dirty Hippies With MBAs

Maybe I’m just hanging around the wrong end of the internet again, but every time I turned around this week, I found another life coach or revolutionary thinker argue that the path out of the current economic slump is to focus on taking the freedom afforded by not being tied down to the old corporate structure and through new social networking systems and transforming yourself into a knowledge worker. It’s all about creating a presence through free content, and coming up with revolutionary ideas that will turn the world around. It worked for, it worked for Google, it works for Apple, so it should work for everyone.

Great, but I need to eat.

I don’t mean that in the way I usually would – that I need to make some money now to pay for my necessities in life. I mean that in a more basic way. I mean that I, and you, and Malcolm Gladwell, and even Seth Godin, need someone to make food. And cars, or buses, or bicycles, or some other transportation device. I need someone to make some shirts and underwear too. Electricity would be nice, as would clean drinking water being delivered to my house through a network of pipes. And maybe some laundry detergent and soap.

Perhaps it would be good if not all of these items were made in another country, for safety, security, ethical and practical reasons.

And yet, every blog post I see, and almost every business/management/self-improvement book on the shelves, is acting as if the creation of these tangible, physical goods is something for the history books. I think the implicit argument is that all these “small”, “petty”, “trivial” issues can be handled by the masses in Indonesia or Uruguay or Baltimore. I’m not sure, because these issues aren’t even addressed, as if every writer takes it for granted that of course the shelves at the Kwik-E-Mart and Trader Joe’s and H&M are going to stocked, much like a 5 year old or a dog takes it for granted that their parents or owners will have food in the pantry.

I’m not saying that everyone needs to be employed or engaged in providing the basic neccesities of modern life. I want books, and magazines, and theater, and TV, and, and revolutionary thought, and public intellectuals, and all the rest of the cake and circuses. But I’d like the big (and small) thinkers of business and technology and management to recognize that they want the basics as well. Shoving the hard realities and needs aside for an underclass to take care of probably isn’t going to work out too well for anyone. Just ask anyone who read The Time Machine, or saw Wall-E for that matter.