[rescue] Do you remember when? Security software.....

Skeezics Boondoggle skeezics at q7.com
Tue Aug 12 14:25:56 CDT 2003

On Tue, 12 Aug 2003, Charles Shannon Hendrix wrote:

> I hate to tell you this, but you might have to lie to get a job these
> days.

Of course, you could try the other approach:  brutal, unflinching honesty.

A couple of months before Y2K, when my employer was engaging in the usual
silliness and idiocy revolving around that big non-event[0], a friend told
me about some new job site that he said was superific and wonderful and
buttered your toast and everything.  So one afternoon I'm feeling less
than gruntled[1], so I check it out. a page where you could *type in* your
resume "in 3K of text or less".

> I am thinking of changing my resume to have a line of keywords in it,
> just to trigger their search engines.  I have checked several places
> that I know had my resume, and they told me straight up that it was
> nothing but having the wrong keywords that cost me the interview and
> very probably the job.

So in that "3K of text or less" I wrote - in all lower case - a completely
spontaneous outline of my experience as a Unix sysadmin and programmer.  
It was more like an "anti-resume". :-)  I threw in stuff like:

	"i am a unix geek.  this resume is written in all lower-case on
	purpose.  if you can't understand why, then you aren't going to 
	hire me and i wouldn't want to work for you anyway."
	"i will *not* work on windows machines.  life is too short to deal 
	with bloated, buggy crap from microsoft.  i'm a sysadmin, not a 
	"notice that i don't list any relevant college background.  
	notice that i list over 15 years of real-world work experience.  
	now go find me a college that even teaches what it is i do.  
	couldn't find one?  exactly."
	"this is pretty silly - you try to sum up your life's work in 3k 
	of text!  i'm extremely hard working, professional, diligent, and
	i have a great sense of humor.  but you won't know that until you
	call me."

Just basically threw it all out there - just as cocky as you please.  
What the hell, y'know?  For three days after the post I didn't hear
anything at all and I forgot about it.  Then my phone started to ring.  
Emails started coming in.  I talked with one headhunter who said "Man,
your post had our whole office laughing.  You have no idea how tiring it
is plowing through hundreds of identical formula resumes..."[3] The calls
went on for months, even after I'd accepted my current position.

Now, maybe a lot of that had to do with The Bubble, or with that brief and
wonderful period before Y2K when the suited class suddenly realized "Holy
crap, we'd better get some of those scruffy bearded fellows... whaddaya
call 'em?  'System administrators?' Yeah, we need some of those guys" and
for a while salaries were way up and demand was high... but I like to
think that it was because I just blew through all the usual formality and
boring crap and just spit out some truth.  You're not hiring a "skill
set", you're hiring a _person_.

Of course, it's a totally different world today. :-/

My (patently obvious) suggestion for people who are job hunting is to
network with friends as much as possible - find a successful consultant,
for instance, and take in some of their cast-offs. :-)  Maybe it's just
that Portland is a small town; maybe I'm just an aberration.  I've never
had a pee test, never worn a tie, and I've only had one interview in my
life where I wasn't offered the job (their rejection letter came a month
after I'd already accepted another one!).  But I can't possibly be that
special or that lucky.  I bet that half the folks on this list are
smarter/funnier/more experienced than I am.  So my advice is to be bold,
be honest, and never lose your sense of humor.  Sometimes even the people
in suits display some humanity, y'know?  And rather than waste time trying 
to beat them at their own game, simply change the rules...

Good luck,

-- Chris

[0] After two years of butting my head against the bureaucracy and a 
crazy boss, six months before Y2K they suddenly decide to take some 
action.  First thing: a hugely detailed and utterly pointless inventory, 
where we had to catalogue dozens of machines that were scheduled for 
decommissioning prior to Y2K anyway.  Grrr.  (Okay, I shouldn't bitch, 
since half of them are in my basement now. :-)

[1] Gee, we haven't applied a SunOS4, IRIX, NeXTSTEP or OSF/1 patch or 
update in the last 5 years, but NOW it's suddenly supercritical?  Gee, 
didn't I mention that the *second day I was here*?[2]

[2] Day one:  a friend hired the same day and I break root on their main
departmental server in *38 seconds* because they hadn't installed patches
since they upgraded from Solaris 2.3 to Solaris 2.5.1.  Bang head slowly
on the desk... Day two:  write up the 38-page document that would become 
the bible for completely reworking and rebuilding the place over the next 
three years...

[3] My voice mail message at the time was the old "Worldwide Pants"  
signoff:  "I'M NOT WEARING ANY PANTS!"  No name or number, just that.  
Works like a charm to keep cold-calling salescritters away.  The
department head was only mildly amused.  The recruiters thought it was a

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