Thursday, April 29, 2010

job hunting geeks and HR filters

Ever wonder why they call it "state of the art" and not "state of the science"? 

While you're pondering, my realization is that I have been a computer user for a good number of years, and through that time I have become mildly obsessed. I didn't learn machine code, or Basic or scripting or wire wrapping circuit boards by hand. I have known ones who could boast in those skills. I'm just a button pusher fascinated by what happens when all the software and hardware are in place and you click the button, wow!

If you put this here and that there, does that work? What if you tried this or used that in a different context? My favorite is update older concepts, repackage them, use them in the present context. Why, because there are sweet-spots where everything seems to fit and work just right. A lot of times products off the shelf miss that sweet-spot. There are all kinds of different users so the sweet-spots are different. We all settle for what's close enough. Sometimes we are psyched into stuff because the advertising has brainwashed us. We complain because it ain't "sweet."

You find that level of computing you can understand, then the science becomes art. I had a friend, M. Booker. He had a dream job, at least to me. He worked for DEC Equipment in the heyday of the mainframe. He put them together and made them work. That was a job. Man, I envied him and marveled at his stories. M. Booker is a tad younger than I yet he was into computing way before me. Some get that chance to grow up with computers, that's why they are gurus and geeks. It's not weird, it's the same for auto enthusiast we call grease-monkeys, gear-heads and lead-foots.

My world is so strange, the people around me are so into stuff. They try to pull you their way or push you another.  Where you are at does not appear viable to them. I am talking as an unemployed person taking jobs as they come and advice. There are sweet-spots with jobs too. Most often there is sacrifice because the focus of the job and the energies spent are not always your ideal. But you do what you need to do to support yourself and family, even putting aside the sweet-spot. You flex and adapt and apply yourself at work, then at home you tinker, dabble and dream.

Going through school, getting a job according to that training, having a career, that is science. When life doesn't flow this straight or this smoothly it becomes an art. I do not know all I am capable of, I just know I have a habit of applying myself. I do not know everything up front and total recall or regurgitation of industry standards is not proof of ability. Experience is time spent in a focus. When companies insist on experience, they are not interested in your capacity to learn or your ability to apply yourself. They're not interested in are you familiar enough, they ask do you know it? Yes or No? Do you know the science?

They insist on science, but it is really an art? Especially with computers, every area is so broad. You have to go against what you feel is the realized truth to sell yourself, "Yes, I know it." Then they demand proof and spit out hypothetical situations to which you are to supply real typical solutions. "We want the science." I am an artist, won't really know till my hands are on it. When I am seeing the real problem and I am engaged in the process, then all my resources and energies and knowledge converge, I am blank and stumbling when you ask me now. My job is to get a job, not work the job! It's a different focus."

Some HR folks set the Rubic's cube in front of you and say fix it. They expect you to have autistic focus, as if they are not there, instantly grabbing the cube without emotion. Then expect a furry of twisting and flipping without bending the elbow. Ok Mr. Johnson, you can almost do it but you took longer than the industry standard. Can you explain?  Yes, Mr. HR, most of my experience of late is in trying to get a job, not actually working a job. Job seeking erodes and diminishes my technical skills by diverting my energies to skills I don't need when I have the job. Over time I wonder what's wrong with my job seeking skills and dump more time into that rather than keeping my job skills sharp. Then, every job I apply for in IT is asking for something a little different and they want experience. I can't know it all and you don't offer on the job training these days.

Meanwhile, back at the Linuxville guide office, lab and center for job search and part-time decompression chamber, life with Linux goes on.
Often I am downloading and running Linux live-CDs to see how well they run on my assortment of equipment. I fuss with ideas I learned in school or read somewhere or dreamed of. And I fix stuff of friends, most of whom only know Microsoft and never heard of Linux. They ask for Microsoft advice and wonder what kind of geek are you if you aren't a Microsoft expert? I'm a stranger in a foreign land, yes, but also being a desktop Linux enthusiast I am not too cool with the Linux server crowd. Some think the desktop is a dumbing down, I say I use a cup instead of a bucket, still I drink, same Linux, smaller portion.


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