Technical Difficulties

This started out as a rant via Twitter and Facebook, but I thought I’d take the time here to elaborate on things.

I’m job hunting. I have a resume on Monster and I actively look for opportunities to play my trade as a Systems Admin. It’s not easy and the market sucks, but I keep at it. (By the way, as I write this I have a job interview scheduled for Monday)

As part of the search, I sometimes catch job listings posted by consultants/placement firms looking for contractors or something permanent. While I haven’t landed anything via these channels, it’s still good networking, and the time spent with these recruiters allows them to assess my job skills so they know what to look for.

However, about once a month, I get an email that’s a cold contact from a consulting firm. It’s usually a form letter, but sometimes it’s written in a way that makes look as though English is the sender’s second language. The message tells me there’s a great contract opportunity for position “A.” Unfortunately, the requirements for “A” are so far removed from the skill set listed on my resume, I’m left to wonder if this individual even looked at my resume.

Now let me delve into further detail, so you can understand why I ranted this morning.

I mention on my resume, that I worked with Legato Automated Availability Manager (AAM). For those of you not familiar, this is a product that allows two or more computers to act as a cluster in a highly available environment. That is, if the primary system failed for some reason, AAM would bring all the necessary bits up on another system in the cluster.*

Now Legato has a range of several different products, none of which I list on my resume. Now, somewhere a recruiter logs onto Monster and does a search for Legato because of a specific position he’s looking for. Since I mention Legato AAM in my resume, it comes up in the search. If the recruiter reads my resume, he’ll my various Unix Admin positions. A savvy recruiter will then do one of two things. He will:

1) Realize I don’t have the skill set he needs for the position and search elsewhere.

2) At the most, send out a query letter asking if I have the experience he’s looking for and — barring that — if I know anyone who does.

A recruiter who lacks savvy or doesn’t read the resume will just blindly send an email asking if I’m interested in submitting for the job. In doing so, he has wasted both his time and mine.

Now, if said recruiter had done a search for Unix while looking for an HP-UX or Linux admin position, I would not be up in arms about this. While my experiences have been in Solaris and AIX, they’re still flavors of Unix, and thus have many commonalities, which could allow me to transition from one platform to another. In fact, I did just that back in 2005.

So in this case, if I responded to that recruiter’s email, ranting about not reading my resume, I would most definitely be in the wrong. I would also be in dire need of anger management therapy. Hell, if I responded to the Legato recruiter’s email with a rant, I’d be in the wrong as well.

There’s other factors to consider — if the Legato recruiter were looking for permanent or contract to hire, I’d submit my resume. For a six month contract, no. I’ve been on the other side of this, working with my former manager and going over contractor’s resumes. For a short-term contract, you need to have somebody with the specific technical skills so he can hit the ground running, pausing only to pick up how the hiring shop does things (i.e. technical standards, etc). For a contract position involving HP-UX, Linux, or maybe even Windows, I’d look into it. For an application environment like Legato Solutions Enabler or Tivoli Storage Management, I’d say no because I know they’re not going to want to spend the time training me in the technology. Given that even these temporary positions involve being on-call for problem management, that makes it doubly difficult to land the job. Do I have the experience and expertise to diagnose a problem should something break? That’s a key question that lies in the back of any hiring manager’s head.

So when I was going “Aaargh!” on my Twitter feed earlier, I was griping about a cold contact for a short term contract for a position I had zero qualification. If either of those two conditions were different, I wouldn’t have griped or even posted this blog entry. Job hunting isn’t easy, especially in this economy, but at the same time it’s important to understand the employer’s situation as well as the applicant’s.

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