Kevin J. Chase (thegreyeminence) wrote,
Kevin J. Chase

Are You Even Trying To Hire Anyone?

If you believe the big-bureaucracy claim that “our most valuable asset is our people”, then you might leap to the conclusion that acquiring those most valuable assets was their most important priority. Or a priority. Or at least worth the occasional effort.

This is not a complaint that “no one is hiring”. This is about the dozens of big names that are hiring, but have apparently never even seen their own job search pages. Some of the minor highlights:

  • Search engines that can't find a job posting I'm already looking at.

  • Job openings hidden behind broken JavaScript links that Google can't index.

  • Web sites that track you with a session ID and refuse to display the job if they lose track of you. One site collapsed to an error screen that said “You appear to be accessing ____ from a different window. Please close all your browser windows and try again.”. Yes, someone got paid to break something that already worked.

  • Speaking of failures, the JavaScript endless loop that tried to eat my CPU was fun. In that case I did close all my browser windows… because I had no choice.

  • Companies that demand you create a login and password before they'll even tell you if they're hiring. (I suppose this is a good filter if your definition of “greatest asset” is limited to the desperate and the slavishly obedient.)

  • Companies that tell you what kind of people they have hired, but not what they're hiring now. “We hire: System Administrators!, Database Administrators!, Leopard Breeders!, and Kung-Fu Ballerinas!”… all of which were links to the same page: a big textarea with a “Submit” button.

    Which one am I applying for? Who knows? … I don't even own a leopard.

These disasters hurt the companies that (clearly) need help almost as much as they do the people trying to work there. But the new fury, the one that prompted me to post this, is the United Nations.

They have not one hiring site, but two. Some jobs are duplicated on both, but most aren't. But the most amazing thing to me is that those jobs postings list no requirements whatsoever.

OK, that's not exactly true. Every job requires a page or more of communication skills, professionalism, clear goals, teamwork, and other Dilbertian mumblespeak. But these “requirements” are easily met by a Mafia leg-breaker or a full-time baby seal clubber.

Oh, and they want a masters degree for everything, even jobs that can't conceivably need it. (I assume you can get a masters in seal-clubbing somewhere.)

Time for an example: Vacancy 10-IST-UNMIT-424620-R-DILI is an opening for a “Database Administrator” in East Timor. You don't even need to follow the link, because the four pages of details won't tell you any more than that.

The long “Responsibilities” paragraph basically says that they want a DBA, which was already hinted at in the job opening for a DBA. They expect hands-on experience “designing and developing the data base”, which I assume is connected to the series of pipes or tubes.

In case you didn't know, there's more than one kind of database. Hiring “a DBA” is like hiring “a scientist” or “a pilot”. If you're sequencing DNA, you probably don't need an astronomer, and even an ace fighter pilot isn't much good at the helm of a submarine.

But they're all like that. I wasted half this afternoon reading every UN technical opening in New York (and one in East Timor) in search of a technical requirement of any sort. It was like a “Where's Waldo?” book with all the Waldos taken out — the futility of the search became its own perverse entertainment.

I am reminded of my very first full-time job. A mom & pop Internet service provider posted a wanted ad on with no text and a subject line of “NJ service provider needs tech support”. I thought to myself “yes, you do” and applied. Astonishingly, I was the only one.

Maybe there's a future in helping corporations fix their “help wanted” sites…

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Some of the job postings I see for engineers are this way. "Must be self-starter with good communications skills, familiar with MS Word and Excel!" Yeah, so do you need any particular engineering skills?

But then some are VERY specific. "We are currently seeking candidates with experience using AutoCAD, working in teams, coordinating with vendors to facilitate the in-house design and fabrication of steel casters, bearings and conveyors.

Therefore your experience using AutoCAD, working in teams, coordinating with vendors to facilitate the in-house design and fabrication of aluminum casters, bearings and conveyors is not required at this time. We will keep your resume on file and notify you if something more fitting your skills becomes available."
Though a few of them do both know what they want and know not to be too picky. I just wish there were more like them.
At least overly-specific ads tell me what they want. There are companies looking for “ten years experience with information and communications technology” that I can't even guess what kind of computers they use. Unix? Windows? 1960s DEC mainframes?

For fuck's sake, a campfire and a blanket is “communications technology”. So's a bugle.
Sorry, we're looking for someone who specializes in signal-fire and blanket communications. We will notify you if any positions for campfire specialists opens up.