Hiring and Interviewing for tech jobs.

I have recently been put in a spot where I needed to hire two people to fill fairly technical roles.

The Job market isn’t as favorable as it used to be. The days of posting a job on Monster.com and immediately getting 400 resumes are over. Even so, we’ve gotten what I would consider a fair to good level of responses to the advertisements.

Since we’re well into the process, I thought I’d share some tips or insight for those out there in the job market. You’d think that most of this is obvious but apparently it’s not.

Rule Number 1:
Don’t apply for positions that you are simply not capable of doing. Just because you fix computers, or love to work on computers does not qualify you in any way to be a Network Engineer or DBA. There’s nothing wrong with shooting for the stars, but you’re wasting your time and energy as well and the time and energy of the folks reviewing your resume.

It’s true everyone has to start somewhere, but there are certain positions that just aren’t open to entry level applicants. Recognize them and don’t apply for them if you don’t have the goods.

Rule Number 2:
If you put it on your resume, know it and be prepared to defend it.

  • Don’t say you have experience with SQL if you can’t put together:
    Select * from [table] where some condition exists.
  • Don’t say you were responsible for corporate backups and disaster recovery if you all really did was carrying the backup tapes to the off-site storage facility.
  • Don’t say you know networking if you can’t describe the difference between a hub and a switch.
  • Configuring Outlook does mean you have extensive Microsoft Exchange experience.
  • Because you were responsible for resetting user passwords when they forgot them does not mean you were responsible for administering and maintaining network security.
  • If you say you know Linux, basic commands such as ‘man’ should not confuse you.
  • Hooking up a cable modem and Linksys router does not mean you were responsible for the enterprise network infrastructure. It means you’re qualified to support small offices or home offices, nothing more.

Rule Number 3:
When asked ‘Why do you think a man-hole cover is round?’ don’t say “Gosh, I really don’t know”… Think about it and at least give a plausible explanation.

If asked verbal math puzzles; at least make an attempt. I know these types of questions can be stressful, but keep calm, and do your best. It’s the effort that counts even if you don’t get it right. Pause, take your time, and if necessary ask the interviewer to repeat the question, take notes if you have too. The answers are often quite obvious and you’ll feel really bad when the answer comes to you when you’re driving away after the interview.

It’s not ever a good idea to admit you’re not good at math. Tech jobs involve math, a lot. If you’re not good at math that will eventually be shown, you don’t need to admit it.

Rule Number 4:
If you have lots of empty time on your resume between jobs, have good answers for that time, even if it’s not entirely true. Family illness, family issues, death in the family, etc. are good gap fillers, but you can only use them once. By that I mean if you have more than 3 months space between multiple jobs you really need to explain that, with confidence, and you can’t say ‘Family issues’ was the cause each time even if it is true.

‘I was in jail from x to y, is not a good answer either’.

Rule Number 5:
It’s also not wise to say you left X Company because you weren’t being paid enough, unless of course you followed right up with a new similar job that paid you more. A 6 month period of unemployment doesn’t back up your ‘paid too little’ story. 6 months of being paid too little is always better than being paid ‘0’.

Rule Number 6:
Job experience that is irrelevant to the position you are applying is in fact irrelevant. If that’s all you have, fine, but if you’re applying for a software engineering position, we don’t really care about your time at Taco Bell. Likewise you’re not going to convince us you rewrote their point-of-sale program in between making taco’s at store number 752.

More to follow…

Ugly Ipods

News here.

OK so you can buy a whole song for $.99 from the iTunes Music Store. But for the privilege of using 30 seconds of the same song as a ringtone? Another $.99… Weak, very weak.

Oh and those of you who just had to have an iPhone in June, July or August, or even yesterday. The cost of that “gotta have it” comes out to about $200. Even worse, there are those who bought an iPhone, hacked out the phone features and just used it as an expensive ipod with wifi and web browsing capabilities. Could have saved $300 if you’d waited until today.

Add it all up and I see many signs of arrogance in the Applesphere. I say this as a huge Apple fan, but they are not treating their loyal customers right. This will come back to bite Apple.

Oh and the new Ipod Nano is ugly. I smell a bait and switch scheme.

UPDATE

Bizzyblog (link in comments) points out that if you bought the iphone in the last 14 days, you can get your money back. 15 days ago: So sad for you.

BlackBerry 8830 vs. Palm Treo 700p

BBTreo

 

Well it came to pass. My trusty Palm 700p finally bit the dust. It would no longer charge any of the (3) batteries that I have, regardless of the charger.

I don’t know if this was a side effect of the recent Update that Verizon released, then pulled or not but within 2 weeks of applying said patch my phone was dying a horrible death.

It was time for a change anyway. I had recently demo’d the Blackberry 8830 World Edition from Verizon. I used it for approximately 3 weeks. It was nice, but not enough ‘nicer’ to make me dump the 700p.

I was really hoping to be able to hold out until Verizon could come up with a better all-around business oriented phone. Given their track record, that’s simply not going to happen in my lifetime. So after looking at the alternatives again, which included the new Moto-Q, I opted for the Blackberry again.

Pros:

  • As a phone the 8830 is pretty good. Good speaker volume.
  • It has working Bluetooth!
  • Blackberry Enterprise Server is free for a single user. It’s as good as Goodlink on the back end, their support is outstanding.
    • After reneabling the BES server and trying to add my new phone I ran into some issues. I started with Verizon tech support who escalated to BB tech support. Within 10 minutes I was up and running. I can’t imagine that support from either Palm or Good. I’m still in shock over the fact that the Verizon data device guy that I spoke with was actually quite good.
  • Messages: BB sticks all your messages, email, and SMS into one mail folder. I initially didn’t like this but it’s grown on me. You can tweak this too, but I kinda like it.
  • Form factor, it’s much smaller (read thin) than the Palm. With the 700p to get more than a day of battery life I had to have the big elephant SEDIO battery, which added thickness and bulk to the 700p.
  • Battery life, so far seems very reasonable. I will opt for a bigger battery as soon as one hits the market.
  • Google Apps for this device just plain rocks.
  • The built in browser is no worse than ‘Blazer for Palm’
  • Opera Mini 4 beta is buggy but decent. Still kind of painful to browse with.

Cons:

  • Ringer and Alert volume. The latest Verizon patch was supposed to help with this but it doesn’t. I can’t get this thing to ring loud enough for me. Judging by the speaker phone it clearly has the capability to have decent volume.
  • Ring and Vibrate is hoaky. It vibrates, then rings, but it seems like the processes that handle doing both can’t do it together, at the same time. The vibrate is weak too. I’m going to miss calls with this thing.
  • Keyboard, it doesn’t suck but takes some getting used too.
    • It needs a dedicated ‘.’ key.
  • Too damn many options, buried all over the place. Poorly written options/preferences screen. It’s bare bones and works but it’s not pretty at all.

None of the Microsoft OS based phones are any good. They still blow chunks. They are slow and doggish. Even the new Moto Q is bad news. I supposed it’s fine for a lightweight user but if you live and die by your data enabled phone Windows Mobile still sucks.

So this is what I’m destined to use until iPhone 2.0 with Enterprise features is available (no imap to Exchange is not enterprise support), or something better comes along. Enterprise people need email push, calendar and contact synchronization, etc, etc.

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