If Facebook is a Bad Way To Rate People, What Do You Do About It?

Standing out at 6AM walking the dog, some days you just end up having a conversation that stops you and makes you think.  I was talking with one of my Dog Friends about various issues and he asked me how do I handle Facebook.  He knows that I do social media for a number of small organizations and what did he think about it for hiring.   I told him that it’s not the best thing to rely on, but it can be one tool, even if it is imperfect.

If you are looking through job boards, you see some pretty strange requests.

Applicant must friend (specific name of C Suite Employee).
or worse
Applicant must present Facebook sign-on credentials upon interview.

First thing first… skip that ad.  It’s a sign that that particular organization may not be too aware of the current trends.

Second, if a company demands that you give them your sign on information, it’s a sure sign that they don’t realize the importance of computer security. 

Since most people have layers of sign-ons where they repeat passwords, or worse, use the same place everywhere, that’s a bad idea.   If person goes in, gives HR their sign-on for Facebook, then their Amazon account gets hacked and they end up paying for all sorts of identity theft and fraudulent purchases, the company is liable for all expenses – especially if the thief is connected to the company no matter how tenuous that connection is.

But since “we all” have a Facebook account, is it a valid indicator of how well someone would work out in a company?  Studies say that it is a “weak indicator”. 

Most people will blindly click “like” on a picture that flies by if they are amused by it or it touches them in some way.  The assumption is that you have a preference toward the product when you’re really just being supportive of the poster.

It will be an accurate indicator if someone is somewhat out of control.  Posting lewd pictures, violent videos, or drug use most likely will show that someone might need some counseling.   Get back to me after you work out your issues with those things and we’ll talk.   You will be skipped over, I know I’d do that myself.

For someone in a technical field, poor writing skills are a definite problem.  I’ve been given what was intended to be programming specifications for a major upgrade to a program that I have had to throw away because the systems analyst was using circular references, sentence fragments, and missing bullet points. 

Much easier to go directly to the internal client and ask what they really want.  Besides, it got me away from the desk and a really cool person to work with…

But the mastery of technical writing is beyond some people and that shows up quickly in a text medium like Facebook.  It may not be germane to the position, but it will easily show if someone is writing long missives that get lost somewhere in the wilderness. 

Ok, I’ll admit that I tend to write prose and Hemingway is not my own writing style.  I’m Not Terse.

The bottom line is that these same HR people are being asked about their hires after they get in.  Six months after you start a job, you’re on your way.  That is if you make it past that sixth month review.  HR is being asked how did your opinions fit with their performance.  What they’re finding is that “Facebook Profiles were no better at prognostication than more traditional predictors”.

No better or worse than the old school “Lets Talk”.

So what do you take away from this if you’re out there looking for work and busting your hump?

If you have questionable material, look in the mirror.  Why is it really there?  Do you really need a picture of yourself standing in front of a Confederate Battle Flag with a rifle?  What does that say about your future anyway, you’re planning on running a plantation in South Carolina?  Not very likely.

Got a love for the herb?  Pot leaves everywhere?  You’re not a good candidate for the C Suite either.  You probably should move to Colorado and set up that legal dispensary if you can stay sober long enough.

Most people simply aren’t that “out there”.  They don’t proclaim their love of the edge so much simply because it’s way too much effort.  Society prefers the middle of the road and those people from the edge get nudged back into being more “normal” anyway, in many ways. 

I’d personally wager it simply doesn’t belong let alone having that sort of thing on Facebook.

But if it is you, remember you’re being watched.   Whether you can do the job or not won’t matter if you get a skittish HR person minding the gate.  Whether or not it really is a good predictor it won’t matter because you won’t get in the door.

Why it is a problem is that wonderful thing we call a “Herd Mentality”.  You’ve excluded what you consider the “nuts” but you end up looking at people who are just like you.  Since people who write more put themselves out more, those people who tend to will be more likely to be excluded.  In the US, the study found, those people tend to be Women, Black, and Hispanic.  So therefore the assumption is that diversity will be lowered and you’ll end up with a white male in the position.

Great if you’re a white male, but not so great if you are a latina or black woman who happens to be better at whatever the position is for.

So the solution is to self-audit what you post, and periodically go into your Facebook preferences and delete old posting’s audiences.  You can limit the posting’s visibility by going into the Facebook Settings, Privacy tab, and under “Who can see my stuff?” select “Limit Old Postings”.

What that does is to go through all your “old stuff” and limit the view to only your friends.   It doesn’t delete the material, it simply makes it so their friends can’t see them.

Or simply delete your Facebook profile.  If you don’t do social media professionally like I do, it may be your best bet.

Monster.com, Are You Kidding? Fancybox? Really?

In business, there is a phrase.

“Eat Your Own Dog Food.”

Monster.com doesn’t seem to realize this in their roll out of new “features”.

You see, Eat Your Own Dog Food really means that you’re going to use your own product to make sure that it suits what you intend it to do, and that you aren’t giving the competitors an unfair advantage.

In web development and Project Management, this means finding someone who becomes the “Subject Matter Expert” and “Product Owner” and takes on a very special role.   When I worked at the university, and in every position I have held back into the beginning days of my career, I’ve assumed this role.  It means that you are going to step back, listen to what the “Main User” of the system says about it, and champion that role within “Development” so that the Main User’s need are best served.

It means that you have to anticipate how any person will use the system and make sure that problems do not occur, and that when they do, problems are dealt with gently and “Gracefully”.

It also means that unintended consequences sometimes occur like in this picture above.

It is one of my least favorite features, the “Fancybox” or the “Lightbox”.

It is also very very rarely used correctly.

This is an example of how badly monster.com used the fancybox.

I did this under “my signon” and on another browser with no signon and it repeats itself.

Simply put, go onto Monster.com and do a search for any position you like in what ever zipcode you prefer.  Monster will return a list of positions.  It may even give you more than one page.  When you go from page 1 to page 2, it will put a “fancybox” up on your browser asking you “Let These Jobs Come To You”.

No, you blistering idiot, that is not what I wanted.

You see it will do that for this page, and any future page I want to look at. 

Every Blistering Page.

Ok, so I’m quoting the TV Sliders and Dr. Arturo with his wonderful rants and insults, but the point is still valid – Fancyboxes rarely serve a useful purpose For The User.

I went in immediately to my browser, clicked “Adblock Plus” and found a script.  I blocked it, and refreshed the page, and now I’m back to the old Fancybox Free behavior.

If I wanted an RSS Feed of the search parameters, it would not work because since I live in a major metropolitan area, Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, there are thousands of jobs.  I have given up on RSS Feeds for this because they “max out” at 50.  I typically would need around 500 to be able to see the last two days worth of positions on this given search.

I have many searches, and have saved each individual page to save me a LOT of time that would be otherwise wasted clicking on “Next Page” buttons.   If I were not able to do the search the way I do, then I probably would have stopped using Monster.com a long time ago.

So all you need to do is go into your adblock plus and block the script called:


It is badly written code, your QA, Development Department, and Project Managers have made a mistake.

It simply does not belong in a professional product like we have come to expect in Monster.com.  It only can have come from someone who has sat in too many Marketing Meetings and thought they could get more “buy-in” from their users.

Lost – Political Humor

Velma in Philly thought you’d find this amusing.  I did so I’m posting it today!

Subject:  Lost

A woman in a hot air balloon realized she was lost. She lowered her
altitude and spotted a man in a boat below. She shouted to him,

“Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.”

The man consulted his portable GPS and replied, “You’re in a hot air balloon, approximately 30 feet above ground elevation of 2,346 feet above sea level.  You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude.

She rolled her eyes and said, “You must be an Obama Democrat.”

“I am,” replied the man. “How did you know?”

“Well,” answered the balloonist, “everything you told me is technically correct.  But I have no idea what to do with your information, and I’m still lost.  Frankly, you’ve not been much help to me.”

The man smiled and responded, “You must be a Republican.”

“I am,” replied the balloonist. “How did you know?”

“Well,” said the man, “you don’t know where you are or where you are going.  You’ve risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem.  You’re in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but somehow, now it’s my fault.”

P R I C E L E S S !     P R I C E L E S S !

In case you are curious, that is just south of Mertzon Texas

Careerbuilder.com Update Broke My Job Search

Yep, it’s another tech post.

See here’s the deal.  Everyone who ‘owns’ a website is always looking for ways to refresh it so people find more reasons to come back.  More visits mean you’re more likely to click on an ad and send a few pennies to a few dollars their way.

Sometimes the refresh works, other times they need to go back and rethink it.   This is one of those times.

This is also a good illustration of why I put “User Experience” and “User Interface” on my resume.  I’ve written about how Dice.com made a change, why it was wrong and what they needed to do to fix it.  They hit that blog posting and decided I was right on some points, and used my ideas.   I’m sure they read it because they’re out in Iowa and nobody from that city had ever read my blog before that posting.  It was easy to find.

A little background and high order discussion. I’ll try not to get too “techie”.  In fact, I pride myself and have been told I’m successful in writing about weird tech issues and getting things across to people who don’t understand them.

I look for permanent work around 35 hours a week on average.  I use the major job boards and some of the minor ones to ask the question “What Jobs Are Available within 30 Miles of Zipcode 33305 in Computing Within The Last Three Days”.  You know, IT and Project Management.   Since I live in a major city, that search returns a lot of positions.  I further finesse that by saying search for specific job titles, certain exclusions of companies that are inappropriate for various reasons, and even some arbitrary things.

Once a week I have a similar search that is targeted at specific companies and all of the cities and towns in my county and a few neighboring cities that I know about.

Pretty straightforward, there are millions who are unemployed, underemployed, looking for permanent positions, and just curious that go through similar processes every day.

This process can be called “Data Analysis” or “Data Mining”.  You do the same thing every time you use a spreadsheet.   

One reason why I prefer www.dice.com to all the other sites is that it further categorizes things as to whether it is a “Direct Hire” which is a company vs a “recruiter” which typically is just reposting a position that a Direct Hire had posted the day before.  Needless to say, I know which recruiters to skip.  If they have a “hot deal” they’ll call me with the position and most likely I’ve already made my judgement as to whether to pass or not.  We’ll talk but usually they realize I’ve been there, done that, and moved on.

You can see from this picture that everything that I need to see is presented on one line.  Dice.com has successfully reduced things down to just the information you need to decide whether a position is worth looking at further.

Basically I’ve managed to use Dice in a fashion that is slightly inconsistent with their website.  I save each individual page as a link so that I don’t have to click onto the next page.  Each page is it’s own link in a folder in Firefox and I can look at each page in it’s own tab. 

When you are opening 150 pages a day, you want to save every last second you can.

The list is presented in Job Alphabetical Order, all jobs are within the last three days, and I can tell at a glance whether I need to pursue looking at a link.

By the way, a helpful hint.  If you are looking at a webpage, hold down the Ctrl key and click on the link and it will open in another tab.  You can do that many times, and look at all those links later.  It saves a lot of time!

That’s the biggest criteria about this.  Saving time.  Can you imagine doing this by hand in a newspaper? 

Now here’s what happened with www.Careerbuilder.com

Careerbuilder is a little different.  They’re big and they partner with many newspapers around the world.  You’re going to hit one of their sites if you are looking at a branded website for many organizations.  It also has a few quirks.

One is that no matter how hard I tried, I can’t get it to give me more than 25 positions at a time.  That forces me to open up as many as 20 links for a given criteria.

Their sort is semi-broken.  If I have more than one job type on a given link, it’s going to put a few jobs from “today” at the tail end of the search.  When you are looking at 400 jobs for that criteria, that means you have to load up 20 pages just to get to the tail end. 

Now that you’re committed to opening all those pages in tabs, you have to consider what you want to look at.  If you’re looking at this thing every day, you don’t need to look at three days worth, you can skip to the end.  Check for “Today” and “Yesterday”.  Today, in a list of 20 opened tabs, Today and Yesterday were pages 1 and 2 and part of 3 then again in page 20.  That’s a lot of extra page hits for no good reason.

This screen grab from Careerbuilder.com illustrates how just a few little problems break the page and make it more difficult to get to the information you are looking for.

They used to have a handy page number at the top of each listing.  Minor perhaps, but knowing you are on page 4 of 20 and looking at positions 76 through 100 is surprisingly helpful.  After all, you expect to have to skip ahead to the Next To The Last Page, so you need to know where you are at.  

The date is not shown, but it is implied by saying “posted today” and “posted yesterday” all in grey lower case text.  I can handle the grey, but the date would be more useful since it is more compact.  I would prefer to see the date as “Mar. 18”.  The year can be implied, we all make the same mistakes on our checks but by March or even the second week of January, the mental block against the year has been past.

Most importantly they slid all of the position specific information into a single column.

Position Name
Company Name
City Name

Position Name
Company Name
City Name

… is not as helpful as stringing it out in one line.

Position Name     Company Name     City Name   Date
Position Name     Company Name     City Name   Date
Position Name     Company Name     City Name   Date

The reasoning is that if you’re skimming through 400 positions for a given search, you need to be able to skim the column and check on position name first.   Ctrl+Click to open that position into a new tab and continue onwards.

That brings up another point.  The order it is presented is incorrect and there is no way to specify which column you’re sorting on – and you need more than one column.   The job name should be the most important order.  Ideally this should be Sorted first by Date, then Job Name.   What the result would be is now that you have all the “Business Analyst” positions sorted together for “today” and not mixed in with the “Data Analyst” positions.  They are similar but distinct disciplines and while many of the skills are similar, they don’t completely overlap.

After all they have different position names don’t they?

Luckily they have the position names all in blue and the rest of the text in other colors so with a mind trick I can try to turn off the rest of the info until I need it…

When you redesign a website as complex as Careerbuilder, you are trying to balance a lot of needs.  You don’t want to do a radical redesign because it will get so alien to people that their minds will switch off.   It needs to be evolutionary.   Things as minor as the list of pages you are on will be noticed especially if you’re skipping to the end of 20 pages and can’t get to page 19 unless you go to page 20 first like I did the other day.

Basically the information is all there – Content gets an A Grade.
Presentation?  You can do better.  C Minus perhaps. 

Job Recruiters Amuse Me

Having my resume on Dice.Com, Monster.com, and Careerbuilder.com I get to speak with recruiters.

It is like saying you will get wet if you stand outdoors.  Underwater.  Repeatedly.

Yesterday I had two things happen that had me amused.  

I have a Lot of Project Management experience.  I’m doing some consulting for New Divine Mercy church where I have migrated their website off of LAMP and Joomla to Google Sites.  I also act as their videographer, and handle their technology needs.  I also have been the treasurer for a political campaign, and a webmaster for two campaigns.  I have written advertising copy and have been a speech writer – all of which in the last year.

I am also the social media director for Wilton Manors Main Street, maintaining their facebook group and their blog, as well as producing the monthly newsletter.  I produce the newsletter and the embedded newsletter site with content from Krishan Manners and it was my idea to get content from other organizations within the area so that there would be one central place to find the information as well as one newsletter going out instead of five or six.  It is well received and is growing each month.  If you would like to get our next newsletter – click on this link. We don’t sell the email addresses to anyone else.

Yesterday I got an email from someone at Robert Half International about a position.  I had read it, shrugged since I thought I was a little “short of the qualifications” and moved on.  A couple hours later I got a phone call from the same “associate” who sent me the email.  After her interviewing me and going past the elevator pitch, I told her my opinion.  I also told her how they typically do their interviews.  After being in the market as long as I have been , I’m a bit more wary of agreeing to go in to talk to recruiters.   They have a habit of wanting to see you, a Meet and Greet, without anything concrete behind it.   Robert Half is guilty of this as are some of the other firms in this field.  I have a hard and fast rule if I have done the Meet and Greet before, I won’t do it again unless you are ready to send me out on an interview.   I told her this and thanked her for her interest but since “gasoline is $4 a gallon and this would take two hours out of my day to get there and back, I was not inclined to come in for a face to face but would consider it ‘if there was something concrete’ involved”.

You see if you are interviewing your time is free, theirs is not.

Nothing against this particular recruiter, she was knowledgeable and understanding, she was polite, and she was willing to listen.  I just didn’t want to play by the script.

The other wrinkle I found over the time of interviewing is that most recruiters are fairly useless.  There are some exceptions and I write THEM, directly.  These are the ones that after going the first meet and greet contact me about specific opportunities.   I keep their emails on a spreadsheet for easy access.  There simply are too many folks in and out of that career for me to bother with the fly by nights.

Why I consider most fairly useless is that there is a pattern.

First the company needing the new hire will post a direct job specification either on their website or on one of the job search boards.  In Technology, Dice.Com is probably my favorite – I can submit a resume in under 5 minutes, a little more if I have to tweak my resume or my cover letter. The State of Florida has a page that is utterly useless, and the Federal Government’s is bad as well but better than Florida’s.

After the company posts the specification, recruiters will spot this and contact the company and find out if they are open to recruiters.  That may be as simple as Recruiter A sees Company Posting B at 8AM, claims it as their own and posts it to Recruiting Company internal website and then onto Dice/Monster/Careerbuilder.  That happens usually by 8:01AM.  It can be that fast.

If it is a Project Management or Business Analysis position I know I will have a busy day because I will notice multiple hits on my resume on those boards.  I keep a spreadsheet that tells me what the raw counts are and how many hits there were since yesterday. 

Usually after the local boards send me a feeler, a couple days later the Out Of State recruiters start calling.   They’re much later because they’re “fishing” for a hit.  The problem with the Out Of State recruiters is that you will never have any kind of a relationship with these peoples.  It is like a door to door contractor showing up and asking if you need your driveway sealed.  That’s a call I get every other week, the recruiters are daily.

If there is a phone call on my cell I immediately look to see the caller ID.  I have a definite priority of who I answer.  If you have called me, I add you to the SIM list.  If you haven’t then it shows as a raw phone number.  

First Priority are people who I have spoken with before – Friends, Family,  Business Contacts and former recruiters who I have dealt with.

Second Priority are those who have a local area code.  954, 754, 561, 305, and 786 area codes.  I’ll consider my own time constraints as it is usually easier for me to go on and let them talk to my phone and I can screen it later.

Lowest priority are out of state first time callers.   If they are from places like NYC Metro, specifically North Jersey I will always let them go to the answering machine.

The lowest priority calls are invariably someone calling from India as a recruiter on a scratchy Voice Over IP phone line trying to pretend that they are here.  If I make the mistake and actually speak with one, I can’t hear the accent over the static and tell them that they need to email me, they have my email address on the resume, and that they can expect an answer “shortly”.

Then I forget they ever called.

After all, there are people here in the United States who need the jobs more than shipping them overseas.  I know one, intimately. 

So if you need a Project Manager, Business Analyst, COBOL Programmer, Web Developer, Social Media Director, Software Development Manager, or one of about 30 other hats I wear or wore, let me know.  We can work something out.

Did I tell you about the telecommuting organization that I built using Skype and functioned as it’s CTO with help from my business partner?

Yeah, I’ve done it.

Ponderisms – Humor

Ok, folks, after the week I have had, I needed a joke email to cleanse the palate.  This is something from my good friend Velma.  She’s still sending me wonderfully strange jokes and strangely wonderful jokes.

I enjoyed it, and I hope you to too…

PONDERISMS – these are quite interesting and so true !!!

1. Ever wonder about those people who spend $2.00 a piece on those little bottles of Evian water?   Try spelling Evian backwards: NAIVE
2. Isn’t making a smoking section in a restaurant like making a peeing section in a swimming pool?
3. OK….. So if the Jacksonville Jaguars are known as the ‘Jags’ and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are known as the ‘Bucs,’ what does that make the Tennessee Titans?
4. If 4 out of 5 people SUFFER from diarrhea does that mean that one enjoys it?
5. There are three religious truths:
a. Jews do not recognize Jesus as the Messiah.
b. Protestants do not recognize the Pope as the leader of the Christian faith.
c. Baptists do not recognize each other in the liquor store or Hooters.
6. If people from Poland are called Poles, why aren’t people from Holland called Holes?
7. If a pig loses its voice, is it disgruntled?     LOL  
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ *~*~*~*
8. Why do croutons come in airtight packages? Aren’t they just stale bread to begin with?
9 Why is a person who plays the piano called a pianist but a person who drives a race car is not called a racist?
* ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
10. Why isn’t the number 11 pronounced onety one?
11. If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked, doesn’t it follow that electricians can be delighted, musicians denoted, cowboys deranged, models deposed, tree surgeons debarked, dry cleaners depressed and prostitutes delayed?
*~*~*~*~*~*! ~*~*~*~*
12. If Fed Ex and UPS were to merge, would they call it Fed UP?
13. Do Lipton Tea employees take coffee breaks?
14. ! What hair color do they put on the driver’s licenses of bald men?
15. I was thinking about how people seem to read the Bible a whole lot more as they get older; then it dawned on me … they’re cramming for their final exam.
16. I thought about how mothers feed their babies with tiny little spoons and forks, so I wondered what do Chinese mothers use? Toothpicks?
17. Why do they put pictures of criminals up in the Post Office? What are we supposed to do, write to them?
Why don’t they just put their pictures on the postage stamps so the mailmen can look for them while they deliver the mail?
*~*~*~*~! *~*~*~*~ *~*
18. If it’s true that we are here to help others, then what exactly are the others here for?
19. You never really learn to swear until you learn to drive!
21. Ever wonder what the speed of lightning would be if it didn’t zigzag?
22. If a cow laughed, would she spew milk out of her nose?
23. Whatever happened to Preparations A through G?
24. At income tax time, did you ever notice: When you put the two words ‘The’ and ‘IRS’ together it spells … ‘THEIRS’? 

You Left Something In Your Cart

Yes, I certainly did you silly machine.  Now delete it and go on.

That’s the G Rated response that I had to that nag email that I got from overstock.com

Back a few days ago, My Sister, Pat, the person who I started writing this blog for, had her birthday.

Go ahead, wish her a happy birthday again.  She’ll appreciate it.  🙂

Yeah I know …

So I ordered something from overstock.com and had it shipped to her directly.  Very convenient, and I tend not to do that sort of thing often.   With all the cookies and cakes that I make , usually I send her a couple pounds of goodies around the holidays and her birthday.  With the nonsense and drama that’s swirling around, I got into a bind – I couldn’t take the morning and make my cookies. 

When I do get the time, I’ll let you know…

I’m thinking December.

The reason why I went through that order was a happy coincidence.  I load up 130 or so web pages every morning at around 7:15.  I started slogging through all of those assorted job search pages that are peppered with pictures of cats and fails and other things to keep up the happy when doing the task of finding permanent work.  Being a Freelance Project Manager/Web Designer/and all around Tech Guy Extraordinaire in this Republican Induced Great Depression is tough and I’m good at figuring out the problem and getting it solved. 

One of the web pages has a lot of “deals” on it.  One of the deals was a piece of folk art that was a piece of a steel drum pounded into the shape of a Gecko.  They’re made by hand in Haiti, and they’re all over South Florida.   This particular buy was considered a Fair Trade item which meant they try not to take too much of an advantage when bargaining with them. It may be “Green Washing” for the soul and just an excuse to tack an extra buck on the item, but the item was what I was looking for and not a terrible price at all.  If *I* can afford it … it certainly isn’t too badly priced.

After getting into the sales cart I got to the point where for some reason Firefox didn’t show the link I was to click on to actually complete the sale.  I went through the process again on the Bloated Browser, Internet Explorer, and there was the link.   I went on my way happy that I could send a little South Florida to Pat. 

I hope you like it, Pat.  It isn’t much but it should be nice on the wall under an eave like the real things down here.

Apparently I left an item in the cart.   If I wanted the second item I would have bought it you silly site, so stop sending me reminders…  Rule Number One Of Marketing – Do Not Annoy Your Customers!

I went on there trying to convince overstock.com that I didn’t want the item, again, and went away.

I got another email the next day… Is business really that bad folks?  

More likely does anyone do proper Quality Assurance these days?   I have noticed more shoddy web sites that need a Project Manager (AHEM!) sitting there telling the Business Analysts that they need to work with the QA department closer because this just doesn’t work quite right.   Oh! and go down the hall to the programmers, get them into the conference room and we’ll have a JAD (Joint Application Design) session at 10AM.

Come on folks, ecommerce is not THAT tough.  You know what you’re trying to duplicate – a trip to the mall.  Now go and get it right.

Ok, so since you can’t you can contact me here.

Happy Birthday Pat, I know you like my cookies… maybe next time I’ll remember to pack them with more peanuts so they don’t shift and make cookie dust!  🙂

What My Cover Letter Says

I came across a web page that will let you feed a document into it and have it produce a word cloud.  A word cloud is an interesting piece of art.  It is created by looking at what you’re saying, removing all the short words, then ranking them based on how often you use them.  Words that are larger are those that are used more often.

This particular piece is created based on my Cover Letter.  I have another one that I created using my Resume.  I suspect it won’t be interesting to too many people, I can always point a prospective employer that I am interviewing at this sort of graphic and tell them this is what they’re getting.  A Systems person who is strong in Business Analysis, a Manager who is experienced in Development and Management of People and Application.  That’s pretty much in line with someone who calls themselves a Project Manager, IT Manager, or Senior Business Analyst.

You can also see a hint of some of the things that I have worked on in my career.  LAMP and Joomla are somethings I’m working with for a client.  SDLC is small, but it stands for something I’ve worked with throughout my entire career – Software (or Systems) Development Life Cycle.  Projects are how most things are measured at my level – work at something step by step until complete and move on to the next Project.  I Usually work more than one at any given moment of course. 

There are also some things that I have some significant experience in that are not shown in that graphic.  Those are the things that while they put you where you are, aren’t terribly useful in this particular market.  Will someone who is hiring me in 2010 care that I was considered a Subject Matter Expert in Fortran or COBOL?  Not in Fort Lauderdale, although in Tampa or Jacksonville they’re still used heavily.

This particular word cloud is the one for my Resume.  It is interesting to me as it tells me that my Resume and my Cover Letter are saying the same thing.  Analysis, Management, Project, Staff, and Business are all prominent.  Some of the other second level words are System and Systems, Requirements, Experience and Software.  Right there, I’m defining a Project Manager or a Sr Business Analyst again.

I don’t know how interesting this would be for a casual reader but if you would like to play around with the software, you can see it at Wordle and make one for yourself.  If you’re interested in seeing what someone is thinking rather than what they’re saying, it may give you some insight.

Now if I could find just the right position…

Job scams aplenty

One of the first things I do when I get back from walking the dog after having breakfast is to settle into a two and a half hour average job search on the internet. 

I make up whatever coffee I need for the task, settle into my Poang chair, and bounce away while looking at web pages.  I have automated the task as much as possible, and I usually look at an average of 200 pages a day in that time. 

Granted it is not all job pages, I’m focused but not a robot.  After all, job search pages can be dry to put it mildly.

One of the things that the job boards all say is to not give away personal information when you post.  Or rather, Too Much Personal Information.  Bank account numbers, Social Security Numbers and the like are just too precious to post.  I had to make a determined decision on what to list.   I have a resume on three major job boards, Dice, Monster, and Careerbuilder, and they all have personal information.  I decided that if I were to find a job, I’d have to post what was publicly available.  The problem is that it means that I end up getting spammed daily.

Most of them are patently obvious that they are scams.   Job offers do not come from Hotmail.Com accounts.  Job offers certainly don’t come from Hotmail.com accounts with a mismatched sender name.

Another problem is that jobs that sound like they may be interesting are either money laundering scams, or just “phishing” scams to get your personal information.  I get on the order of five jobs a day from scammers who want to get my information because they think that I would be a candidate for a “Payment Transfer Manager”.  Yes, I also speak Nigerian tribal languages too.  Oh please let me give you my information so the little money I have saved up will feed your Yoruba village.


There are a lot of people in Job Recruiting who have some positions that are a great fit, but are trying a bit too hard to fill the position.   I’ve got a resume that says “Permanently Located in Greater Fort Lauderdale, Florida”.  That means that I won’t relocate.  Telecommuting would be a wonderful choice, and there are technologies that I am a Subject Matter Expert in that would lend themselves to sitting here and working at a company in Minneapolis or Bentonville Arkansas.  COBOL Programming is one of them.  Certain Mainframe Technologies like EZTrieve and JCL are two others.  I had gotten so many contacts from Walmart asking me if I wanted to relocate to Bentonville Arkansas to work on their mainframe for a while that hitting delete didn’t do it. 

Thanks, but I’m really quite happy living in South Florida.   An occasional trip out of here will be fine, and I do say on my resume that some travel is acceptable.  Palm Trees are required, ice and snow is decidedly not.  As any of my friends or family could tell you, South Florida was the Mermaid on the Rocks that was calling to me like the Siren out of the old Greek Myths since I was 12.  This is where I belong.

The reality of the job market and where I am in my career combined with the depressed housing market are such that I could work in Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville or any other city South of the I-4 Corridor if I could telecommute 50% or more and buy a house in that city for the other two weeks for the cost of living in an extended stay hotel would.   Certainly would be worth it for me but none of those positions have come up.

I have also been contacted by one of the newpapers in San Francisco about writing for them but haven’t really pursued it.  Writing for www.Examiner.com would be interesting, but the trick would be coming up with three pertinent topics that are interesting enough every week.  Writing for a blog is one thing, it serves as a brain-dump.  This blog is either a brain-dump or something that I’ve wanted to say to my beloved sister in New Jersey that came to mind.  I can blather on and if it makes no sense, the reader gets what they pay for.  I’m not certain my style is correct for that but we shall see.  The pay isn’t great I’ve been told but I don’t make a dime on this blog.

At any rate, it’s time to start on that two-and-a-half hour epic.  I’ve got a mug of coffee to make while half of the 200 pages load.  Breaking things up was required, even my technical skills can’t make Firefox load 200 pages quickly.