Expansion

In my previous post I wrote something a lot of people might not get: monetary debasement leads to unemployment. Here’s how.

To start, I believe the Austrian Business Cycle theory is the correct one, that will underpin this post. The theory essentially states that money can be used for one of two things: spending or saving, but not both at the same time. A dollar you spend can’t be saved, a dollar saved can’t be spent. Interest rates in a free, unfucked with economy reflect this balance. A high interest rate means people are spending like mad, and savings are down, and thus so are loanable funds. A low interest rate means spending is lower and savings are high, and thus loanable funds are more widely available to fund new and existing projects. The interest rate is basically the price of money. When the government steps in via a central bank and pushes that rate below the market rate, the reality of the savings to spending ration is clouded. People think there are more loanable funds available than there actually are, and act accordingly. Eventually a shortage hits and there’s a realignment of the economy back to the reality of the real savings/spending ratio, usually frustrated by a central bank’s attempts to keep the over inflated economy going.

The end result of this is you basically get more business errors than would otherwise exist, and more jobs are created initially but then lost when the artificial liquidity dries up. That plus the added uncertainty leads to more ‘frictional’ unemployment and a slower uptake and reemployment of that labor, and essentially a perpetual labor surplus that’s always above and beyond what the natural rate would be. An unscrewed with economy would still have unemployment. Errors are still made and businesses still contract or go under. But with honest pricing of loanable funds, and no barriers to new opportunities, you’d see labor get taken up and reemployed faster. That doesn’t happen when a central bank is perpetually screwing with the economy and making life miserable for everyone.

So, we get some interesting issues.

For one, there’s just more unemployment. This labor surplus drives down wages and, as is expected, hits people at the margins more. But more interestingly, there’s a logistics issue that makes people who keep their jobs also take a hit above and beyond that when minimum wages are introduced into the equation. Generally wages are down, however logistically some jobs require a minimum number of people. If you were say running a movie theater, the minimum may be one ticket agent, one usher, one concessions person, and one clean up guy. But when you have a minimum wage the nominal amount you have to pay can’t go below that, despite what the labor is worth given market conditions. So you have a theater with four people needed to run it, but the theater company can’t afford to pay four people and maintain their margins. So, they take the usher and let him handle the clean up as well and can the clean up guy. So, one guy is out of a job, three remain employed and their nominal wages are slightly higher, but still perpetually devaluing, and they have more work to do in the end.

Ain’t economics wonderful?

Posted in Economics and Public Policy, I'm Right, Politics, Serious Stuff, Statists | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Seattle Minimum Wage Hike

As a an anarchist it may surprise you to hear I’m in favor of the Seattle minimum wage hike, but I am. Let me explain why.

For purposes of argument let’s just recognize reality: a price hike means less stuff bought, with labor or anything else. So, a price hike in labor means, over time and all else equal, more unemployment than would have otherwise existed. So, regardless of the other factors affecting employment in Seattle, why would I want there to be more unemployment than there would otherwise be? Because suffering is one of the only ways people truly learn, and because businesses and employees will suffer because of this decision.

Quite frankly, having spent my whole career in HR and recruiting, I couldn’t care less about business owners. I’ve never met a class of people with so many explicit and implicit advantages who complain and bitch so much. They operate in a managed market where it’s a pain in the ass to get in and to get up and running, but once you’re there as long as you’re not a retard you’ll likely do well. Myths and common perceptions aside, few if any laws truly exist in the US that ‘protect’ employees in a European socialist style. The DOL in many states is all but worthless to employees, and the litigious nature of our labor system is largely a myth. Unless you’ve got a slam dunk case, no lawyer is going to take it on spec, and few if any people have thousands of dollars to put down on a retainer to sue for a possible but unlikely win.

Employers in the US operate in a managed market with heavily controlled competition and a perpetual state and federal policy driven labor surplus to drive down wages, and a debased currency which also contributes to the labor surplus and drives down wages itself by always keeping the salaries of the politically disconnected and removed lagging firm owners’ and financiers’ salaries. Anyone who sheds a tear for the latter is an apologist for assholes, and disconnected from reality. Yes, they have problems, and yes in the end they are victims of the same overbearing government. But they still have it way better than most, so pick and choose the victims you give your empathy with some care. Small and medium sized businesses deserve some pity, but if I hear one more person belly aching about McDonald’s having to cut their profit margin by .00005% to pay the new minimum wage, I would honestly barf right in that person’s face were their head not rammed firmly up their theory.

As for the employees, some people will benefit from this because their wages will be higher. They will likely have more work to do on an individual level, more unemployment will result especially among young and unskilled workers. Good. Seattle can perhaps teach the rest of the country what a stupid idea this is, and maybe, just maybe, get people asking the real question, which is why the fuck is the currency they’re being paid in so debased and nearly worthless? You can’t stop this suffering, but you can make an effort to help people learn from it.

Lastly, and once more having worked all my life in HR and recruiting, I’m really tired of the attitude of employers in this country. Wages are stagnant or down, we have near zero time off compared to other countries where those beautiful socialist bastards mandate time off for people, while in the US even while on vacation people are psychotically checking voicemail and email every ten seconds. In the US we work more and more and harder and harder for less and less every fucking year, while at the same time getting barraged with stories of CEO salaries going through the roof and the same banksters who decimated our financial system get tax payer funded bail outs and fucking multi-million dollar bonuses. So, with no due respect, fuck them. They’ve been gaming the system for centuries, anyone with sympathy for the merchant class outside the theoretical acknowledgement that they suffer, in principle, the same indignities as anyone else, is misguided. Because, as a practical matter, they’re the ones paying the government to enact those indignities, and using it as a cudgel to harm their competition, occasionally falling victim to the same.

We live in a culture where the ‘entrepreneur’ is deified to the point of ridiculousness, and employing someone is seen as doing them a favor. It’s really just an exchange where both parties benefit; you’re not doing someone a favor by giving them a job. They’re doing something for you that you value more than the wages you give to them in return. So drop this ‘job creator’ bullshit, you’re not a fucking Randian God of Capitalism. A guy who pays the kid next door to mow his lawn is a fucking job creator too, you’re just a scaled up version of that. On an objective level, it’s no more worthy of praise or worship than a kid who ‘hires’ his friend to help him run his fucking lemonade stand. There is so much social and political worship of business and businessmen in this country, I really don’t care if those people get a little fucked in the ass at this point. They by and large created this society, if it kills them, so be it; Frankenstein’s monster.

The reason I don’t care is because we’re likely going to have to go full bore European style socialism, and subsequent collapse, before we can move to true freedom. It’s the only way people will learn, by going through the cycle and experiencing it for themselves. And we’ll likely have to do that multiple times over the course of centuries before society as a whole truly embraces freedom. So, as a practical matter I accept the point of time I live in for what it is, and the learning process people must go through for what it is as well. The government is a weapon, and here in this one tiny instance the little guy who routinely gets shit on in this country wrested it from the fascists and got their own fascism on for a moment. It’s really no big deal, and those deified ‘entrepreneurs’ are the ones who truly need to feel the pain of socialism before they’ll admit a market with free competition is better overall. So, let them feel it. Let them all feel it, and then maybe one day when enough people are tired of the bullshit they’ll stop trying to use the government to fuck each other and steal what they want and just cooperate with each other.

Posted in Annoyances, Economics and Public Policy, I'm Right, Politics, Serious Stuff | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Trans Gender People

There was an interesting Cracked article written by a trans woman in the recent past, I had some thoughts on it.

Tran gender people are endlessly fascinating. Society is literally inventing new types of people and you can actually choose your identity to a degree never before possible, which is awesome. People who historically have been marginalized or never allowed to fully realize who they were now have options, and more will be coming down the pike too. Good for them, and for society as a whole I feel.

But there are issues. Unfortunately, society doesn’t evolve over night. It does evolve faster now though, but I want to devil’s advocate some of the positions laid out in this lady’s article, honestly just for the hell of it, but also to lay out another side of the argument which shows perhaps why society doesn’t evolve that fast.

“We’re not trying to trick anyone…”

But you are, by default, doing so. The intent to trick is certainly lacking in most I’d say. However, if everything about you looks like a woman but you’re sporting a penis, it’s hardly surprising that a random person would be surprised. Now, the potential violence is certainly something no one should have to deal with; it’s inexcusable. However, as long as there are idiots and assholes in society, we must deal with them. I suggest the approach women use. Go out in packs for safety, when numbers dwindle stick with known secure areas like gay and trans bars. Straight men do it too, so if one hits on a girl and she has a boyfriend who is there and pissed off about it, his friend back him up. Society has to evolve to accept trans people, but it won’t happen over night. Until it does, find ways to deal with assholes until they have been appropriately minimized and are no longer a problem.

Trans people are a reality, society needs to accept it. But trans people also need to accept society, and up until now it’s been broadly accepted and understood that the human species is generally divided up into five groups: straight men, straight women, gay men, gay women, and bisexuals of both genders, also known as greedy motherfuckers. But there has been little to no confusion about the anatomy of the people in question until now. As you raise the odds of reaching under a dress and finding a penis, you will get people who weren’t expecting it. Some notice is only common courtesy. You can’t say you’re not trying to ‘trick’ people and then claim trepidation about telling them something which is obviously relevant if they want to pursue a relationship on any level, from one night stand to full on marriage. It’s a shitty situation, all I can say is honesty is the best policy.

“It’s treated as an illness…”

Which it might be, or more specifically could be a symptom of an illness. When people take certain drugs their sexuality can change. When people have mental issues or breaks, their sexuality can deviate. Straight men go gay, gay men go straight, etc. Mental illness can have symptoms, sexual deviancy from a person’s norm or baseline is one of those symptoms. I’ve noticed occasional gay tendencies in my sexuality when I’m under massive pressure, it happens, and to more people than most think or admit. Thoughts and tendencies across the sexual spectrum are normal for all people, and it’s also normal for them to be the result of a mental stress or disorder. If you push political correctness and acceptance of an aspect of humanity too far so that it becomes impossible to question it as a potential symptom, you just stop people from getting help who may need it.

More on this issue, as a recruiter I don’t recall ever asking anyone their gender, or whether they were trans or not. In fact if asked, I’d be highly paranoid of a lawsuit. While there may be certain jobs where, with the mental illness check it becomes an issue, I find it hard to believe this issue specifically, and the subsequently frightening lack of trans gender pilots, is why trans people have higher unemployment. I’d put that down to just general old discrimination. Welcome to being human, and old, or fat, or male, or female, or anything else seen as ‘not appropriate’ by a given hiring manager. People are idiots, welcome to the human race.

“It’s not just about surgery…”
“There’s not just one type of trans…”

Certainly, but that’s not the problem. The problem is people like simple categories. It’s how we communicate. We talk about cars, not each individual car, or houses, etc. We generalize to make communication easier. And the problem most regular Joes have relating to the trans and LBGT community in general is all the fucking terminology and categories. Now there’s this new ‘cis’ thing…

I get it, sexuality is a spectrum. But if we try to give a general label to every possible degree of human sexual experience we’re going to need a terabyte of stored text just to classify everyone, from the plainest straight missionary humper to the most extreme behavioral and body mod deviation from the norm. Just give people a pass on this one, if they ask about your balls or lack thereof, tell them. I do.

“It’s fucking dangerous…”

Indeed it is, and this is the only one I can’t devil’s advocate.

For some reason the entire world is overly concerned with what everyone else is or isn’t doing with their genitals. Violently so sometimes. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the source of this danger is ignorance and idiocy, neither of which will be eradicated from the human race any time soon. So, if you’re trans, do anything and everything you can to lower your profile as a victim. Teach people you’re not a threat, gain greater acceptance in society, and carry a fucking weapon to let those who assault you know that you will not go down without a fight. You’ve got to stake your claim in this world, and you’ve got my support for doing so, along with the support of many other people I’m sure you don’t realize are on your side.

Posted in He/She is Right, I'm Right, Politics, Pop Culture, Rationalizations of Perversion, Serious Stuff | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Uncomfortable Questions

I think the reason bad management persists in companies is because to achieve good management would require the posing of very uncomfortable questions. To illustrate this I want to present one simple example: coming in on time.

Now, you’d think this would be a non issue. However, you would be surprised how many people just don’t do it. They’re scheduled 9-6, they generally show up around 9 AM, usually with breakfast, talk a bit, and then start working in earnest around 10 AM or so, and are packing up at a quarter to 6. But, some people show up early and come 9 AM they’re on their desk working and don’t stop until their break, if then, and then don’t pack up and leave until 6 PM or even after. And there are of course degrees of compliance with on-time policy between and on either side of these, but these are typical people.

So a manager will have to discipline the late starters per company policy. However, here’s where it gets tricky. Let’s say Suzanne is a breakfast/late start type, and Joey is a work horse type. The real question to be asked is who has the better quality output? Every job is a deliverable with a time component and a quality component. In the end what matters is, did you produce what you were supposed to, did you do it on time, and did you do it to expected standards? If Suzanne did, and Joey didn’t, why discipline Suzanne and why not discipline Joey despite his compliance with the policy? One argument would be that if she started and ended on time, she would have more productive output. This is not necessarily true, though it’s often assumed to be true. Here are the uncomfortable questions:

If she puts out more work, will she get paid more? Some employers would argue they’re paying for eight hours of work. Is she hourly, though, or salaried? In the end she knows, explicitly or implicitly, that she’s being paid for a product, not a certain amount of time. She will just as likely drop her output as produce more, depending on her attitude. If she’s salaried, technically she’s being paid for an end result which is worth X to the employer, if she’s hourly time can matter more, but still it’s the result that matters most. Also, what’s her salary relative to Joey? If she’s getting paid roughly the same as Joey whose output and quality is lower than hers, chances are she knows it, and why should she work to produce more at better quality for the same pay?

What this hypothetical illustrates is two major points: people are aware, consciously or not, that for most jobs they are being paid to produce something, not to merely sit in a certain spot for 8 hours; they are also aware, usually consciously but sometimes unconsciously, that not all of the policies with which they have to comply have anything to do with ensuring their output meets standards. As such, managers are often in the position of having to ‘discipline’ their top employees while giving a pass to their mediocre ones who are nominally in compliance. Employees are often in the position of revolting to varying degrees, and justifiably so, against policies which are either arbitrary and not related to their work product, or which seem designed to squeeze more product out of them with no greater compensation, either nominally or relative to others in their circle who don’t produce as much or as well.

The unwanted answer to the uncomfortable questions such as the above is simple: most methods and standards for managing people are not aimed at achieving and rewarding performance. They are mostly just archaic standards and practices that people stick with for varying reasons. One reason is that managing to performance is harder than managing to an arbitrary standard, but it’s easier to claim, as a manager, that you did your job by managing to those arbitrary standards, and so lay blame for the lack of performance/product on the employee. Another reason is that people don’t even confront the issue, or realize that it is an issue. They made sure Suzanne and Joey did X, both should produce the same amount and the same quality, right?

Employers do not want to move to a new standard/method for getting what they need from people. In my view, it’s mostly because of the basic human unwillingness to change, but also because they know it would shift the burden of management to them more heavily, focus it more closely on actual results, and force them to face the fact that they are trying to squeeze way too much out of people for too little money. But in this day and age information flows and it can’t be stopped, and employees will be more willing to adjust their work habits and/or shift employment when possible to more accurately match what they think they should be comped.

Posted in Human Resources, I'm Right, Recruiting, Serious Stuff, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Predicting Success – The Major Mistake

There’s a famous math problem called the Monty Hall Effect, or Monty Hall Problem. Basically it deals with probability and how you should act in light of new information. Monty Hall, a famous game show host, would present three doors. Behind one was a car or some other grand prize, typically the other two doors are hiding a goat when the problem is discussed. Whether or not Monty did that in reality, I have no idea.

So, you’ve got three doors and the car is behind one. Monty asks you to choose one, he then reveals where one of the goats is and asks you if you want to switch your choice. Here’s where the problem comes in, because most people see two doors left, figure it’s a 50/50 chance of getting it right, and so stick with their choice. That’s the wrong move, you should always switch. Information is why you should switch.

The crux of the problem is that probabilities apply to events, not states of being. So the car is behind one door definitely. When you choose initially you have a 1 in 3 chance of being right and a 2 in 3 chance of being wrong. Now, the thing is when Monty reveals the goat behind one of the other two doors it doesn’t change the odds of the car being behind either remaining door, it just gives you more information to make a choice. There was still, at the time of choosing, a 2 out of three chance you’d be wrong. Those odds still apply.

One way to look at that illustrates it better is to assume 100 doors, and you have to choose one. So you do, then Monty throws open 98 of those doors to show there’s no prize, just a goat, so the car is behind one of the remaining two doors. Do you really think your odds at the initial choice were 50/50? They weren’t, and since it’s not a new decision you’re making, because technically it’s the same choice and you just have more information, the chances are still 98 to 1 that you’re wrong, and that applies to both remaining doors. However, whether dealing with three doors or 100, one other way to see how this applies is to view it as two choices, your door and all the others bundled together. Point being, it’s still more likely than not that your initial choice was wrong, and switching is better.

Now it may look like a 50/50 chance, but recall even though you have the chance to switch your choice, you are not changing the state of being of the result; the car is still behind the door it was always behind. Now, if Monty said he’d reveal where the goats are and leave you two choices, but then switch which one the car was behind, then you’re dealing with a 50/50 chance. But, when the car doesn’t move, the odds stay the same.

This is a useful, if not directly applicable scenario, to illustrate one of the major mistakes people make in hiring, specifically when they look to establish predictive measures. The common approach is to measure some aspect of the people who are performing well right now and apply that to the hiring process. There are various tests that do this, but the underlying problem is that what you know after you’ve hired them isn’t necessarily going to predict success when it’s used to inform a choice on who to hire now, because it’s not necessarily what you based your initial decision on.

A simple example is if you find everyone who is successful in a particular position is good at math, you then look for people who are good at math. However, did you know that before hiring them all? Were they good when they started, or did they get good at the particular math required? Testing successful employees isn’t useless, but you have to keep in mind that it’s eagle-eye hindsight. Who did you reject that would have done just as well if not better?

The real approach would be a pre and post assessment of hiring. How did you rate your choice of hire, and what was it based on, and what did you know about there person, before you ascertained whether or not their performance was up to par? Measuring some aspect of them after you already know they’re successful and looking for that in candidates doesn’t quite get it right. You should always do pre hire and post hire assessments, and then look for what was truly predictive of a good hire, not for what a good hire does after you already know they’re good. The problem is you could be using the wrong information, and using irrelevant assessment criteria for rating potential hires.

While the parallel with Monty Hall’s problem isn’t spot on, it does deal with the use of information in making decisions, and making the wrong judgement about how new information actually affects your choices. What matters in the end is this: what information can you reliably gather about a candidate before you hire them, and what information in that set has the highest predictive value?

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Paddy’s Got Some Advice

There’s an interesting blog entry here. I can appreciate the writer’s issues with recruiters, he’s got some points. However, I wanted to offer a recruiter counter point…

“Actually Pitch Me”

Hard to do, and a waste of time, until I have a better idea of what you do. Building up a pitch and putting all my effort into getting each candidate I find on the first pass is a waste of time, specifically in Engineering and IT because most of you guys lie on your resumes. I recently spoke with a Network Engineer who had every piece of Cisco equipment ever manufactured on his resume. He’s actually worked with one series of switches. I also recently talked to a self proclaimed C# guru who didn’t know what .NET was, or ASP. I have spoken with countless Electrical Engineers who can’t tell me Ohm’s law, or Mechanical Engineers who can’t identify friction as one of the forces acting on a body situated on an inclined plane, or simply draw the force vectors. These are people from junior to advanced, with consistent gaps in knowledge.

The point being, resumes do not usually tell me what I need to know. They offer a broad based communication that person X might be someone I want to speak to. I’m not going to pitch a position unless I have a fairly good idea that you’ll have a chance in hell of doing it. What’s more, I don’t pitch. I’m not trying to sell shit, because shit that’s really worth it sells itself. I want to know what you’re looking for to make your next career move a worthwhile one. If the job I’ve got offers what you want, I’ll communicate that, but I’m not into cajoling or convincing beyond the basics. If you don’t want it, or if you need to be perpetually goaded into doing something to get it, chances are it’s not in your best interest or mine to proceed. Pitching is for used car salesmen and Hollywood movies.

As far as revealing the client name, it’s not going to happen so get over it. I do want to make a profit if I can, and once I release the client’s name, assuming they allow me to do so, which most of the time they don’t, I’ve just lost all hold on the job. Now you can simply go, and with minimal effort find the company and the hiring manager and a connection which wouldn’t have happened without my effort goes forward with nothing’s in it for me. It’s an industry rule, we keep their names and your names confidential until it’s time to proceed to interview. As the recruiter, my asset when dealing with candidates is the job, and my asset when dealing with an employer is the candidate. I know who is looking on both sides of the aisle because candidates don’t usually want it public that they’re looking, nor very often do employers. That’s my product, my niche, and I’m not going to just give it up for free.

“Don’t Ask Me To Call You”

I agree, unforunately my boss does not.

Now, that’s not specifically my boss, however recruiting is dominated by people for whom communication is key, and for whom the key to communication is the phone, period. They’ve marginally heard of this thing called email, but all that new fangled gadgetry just confuses them. I heartily agree that email should be acceptable. I’ve measured response and success rates and email and phone are roughly equal overall. However, if I’m having trouble finding someone for position X and my boss asks me if I’ve called anyone, and the answer is, “No,” it’s my ass. Why? No particular reason. There’s no guarantee the phone calls will work, or work better than email. In fact I’ve had plenty of experiences where making those calls after emailing also yielded nothing. But it’s a thing I could have done that I didn’t do, so it’s my fault if it didn’t get done.

I prefer email as an initial communication method. I’d rather being talking to people who want to talk to me rather than cold calling, but cold calling is how things are done in this industry. It’s seen as a measure of success independent of actual success at fillng positions. There are some recruiting places which aren’t happy unless you’re calling 70+ people a day, and many recruiting ‘thought leaders’ who say that’s a good standard, ’cause it worked in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Technology doesn’t, you know, develop, as far as these people are concerned. So long as recruiting managers are old school types who still don’t really know what email is, phone calls will be the norm.

Also, quite frankly, you’re going to have to talk to me. I’ve connected clients with candidates before without speaking to them, it was almost always a fucking nightmare. There are people out there who are not worth employing who would agree with everything in this guy’s blog post. People who show up to interviews wearing a Hawaian shirt, a pair of jams and smoking a cigarette. People who refuse to answer questions, or who are just downright snotty assholes. I am going to speak to you before you interview, and meet with you if possible. The main reason behind this is just to make sure you aren’t a fucking idiot because I can’t make that determination simply by looking at a resume.

“Recognise Bad Timing”

Unfortunately the number of people willing to switch afer realizing they just made a bad job decision is pretty high, so you’re going to be contacted regardless. However, the answer is simple. If you’re not interested, just say no. If you’ve got a persistent recruiter I can understand your frustration. If he weren’t so intent on pitching you things would be so much easier…

“Your job is not to get me invested in the opportunity. That is the company’s job, by creating an exciting opportunity.”

So, first I have to pitch you, but now it’s not my job to get you invested.

I like Paddy, but in my conclusion it’s really hard to figure out what this guy wants. He wants to be pitched, but not to the point he gets invested. He wants to be contacted, but only by people who will be aware of when the perfect time to do so is, I guess through some sort of psychic connection. He doesn’t want to talk to the recruiter, because we’re not decision makers, but we should connect him and our client, and have us risk our relationship with that client if he turns out to be a moron or a psychotic. Not saying Paddy specifically is either, I just won’t have any way of knowing that about him or anyone else until I speak to them for at least a few minutes. There is a candidate who is still calling the recruiters at a job I had years ago. His resume was perfect, I put out one call to him. He now calls them regulary, and he is convinced I work for the CIA and/or sell drugs, and leaves lengthy voicemails letting everyone know that. I need to know you’re not that guy before I connect you with a client, Paddy. He wants to be treated like more than an email address, but puts himself at such a distance, how are you supposed to do that?

I think Paddy is just frustrated with the hiring process of most companies, and I can’t blame him. However, this dysfunction is a problem for us recruiters too, and we often have limited ability to change it.

The bottom line is you are not entitled to a job, nor are you entitled to dictate the process and have others comply. You can set whatever terms you want, but if the employer doesn’t agree, you’re not getting in, whether those terms include talking to me or not. Right now there is a demand for Engineering and IT people, but it won’t always be so. Supply rises to meet demand. When there are more people doing what you’re doing, or the economy tanks again and demand drops for your skillset and you’re without a job and I have one available, you may want to talk to me. Keep in mind Paddy, you will not always be a young, uber marketable candidate. There will come a time when an employer looks at you and says: over qualified; too old; off target; too specific; too broad; etc. Employers go into interviews looking for reasons to reject people, and rarely looking for reasons to say yes. A no vote to hire someone is automatically assumed to be the right move, a yes vote gets scrutinized to hell and back. Eventually everyone, even the most successful people in the world, hit a run of ‘No’ answers and stimied requests and no progress. It happens.

Right now a sense of entitlement can be maintained in Engineering/IT candidates due to high demand for such people. People will learn though, as do people in all professions including mine, that they are expendable at the end of the day. If you’re not in the budget, you don’t have a job. Right now technical people are in a position of having an inelastic demand for their labor. It won’t always be so, it never stays that way for any profession, much less any individual. All that remains to say on this point is to enjoy your position of strength while you can. I did when I was in such a position. But, you’ll be surprised who you would be willing to talk to when the rent is due and for some reason no employer seems to be willing to acknowledge your obvious brilliance and emminently employable nature.

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True Detective

I’ve been digesting the end of True Detective for a bit now, and all I can say is, “Bravo!”  Finally some classic story telling with a begining, middle, and end.  This is how you do an ambiguous ending.  The crime was solved, though there was a lot more story there, it just wasn’t the story of those two characters.  Their relationship developed, as did each character, but there was no major epiphany or change, just a shift and an evolution, a gradual move in each of them to show that they are not stuck in a rut and could, potentially, be better people in the future.  Another example of a good ambiguous ending is Stephen King’s novella The Mist.  In the written version, the characters go on, you have no idea what happens to them, but that particular part of their story was over;  they got out of the market.

This as opposed to shitty ambiguous endings like the one for The Sopranos.  Or the non ending for Deadwood.  And while I love The Walking Dead, I think they get too much mileage from mass carnage and killing off beloved characters.  Catharsis by death has been done, and done, and way over done.  I suppose TWD gets away with it because it is the zombie apocalypse.

Cheers to Nic Pizzoletto for doing some seriously good story telling, fleshing out some very interesting characters, and not getting caught up in the easy out of killing them for emotional impact, or veering into the mystical with no reason or resolution.  Superb acting by Harrelson and McConaughey and all the supporting cast too.  I’m going to miss those characters, but I’d rather the story ended without playing them out too much, or God forbid, playing them for more laughs than they were really good for.

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Recruiter Translations

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. Since the last time I was essentially fired, but hired again at a better job. My former employer apparently had no reason to fire me that would even pass muster in a Right to Work state like New York, where you can be fired because the day ends in “y,” so I got a nice severance to shut me up and guarantee I wouldn’t sue them or talk to the DOL.

I’ve been having fun following my former employer’s efforts to replace me. The guy working there now apparently hasn’t long to go, the recruiter they use keeps reposting the ad for the position. I’ve also heard he’s a bit ‘odd,’ so we’ll see. No one will last there in my opinion, mainly because the owners are a bunch of incompetent screaming lunatics.

Anyway, as a means of getting back on the horse, I’d like to share some common statements recruiters, both corporate and agency, hear from customers, and what their plain English translations are. Enjoy!

Statement: “We want someone who can grow into the position.”

Translation: “We don’t want to pay for someone who can already do what we want done, so we will look at resumes of people who don’t have the experience/skills we need, and we will constantly reject them because they don’t have the experience/skills we need. We will eventually put the position on hold and have someone internal do it. If the manager of this position starts feeling a lot of heat we will then make a hire, and we will either hire one of the junior people you presented and want them replaced in a month, or we will finally cave in and pay the market rate for the person we actually need. That will of course be a last, desperate move. When that happens we will want the people you sourced six months ago to start tomorrow.”

Statement: “We need a consultant.”

Translation: “We need a full time employee but think a consultant would be easier to fire if need be, even though we work in an ‘At will’/ Right to Work state.”

Statement: “A degree in the field is required.”

Translation: “I want some kind of qualification to cover my ass should the person not work out.”

Statement: “This experience/skill is required, this experience/skill is prefered.”

Translation: “All these experiences/skills are required. If we see someone with the requirements but not the preferences, we will reject them for not having the preferences. If we see someone with all the requirements and all the preferences, we will reject them for not being focused enough on the requirements.”

Statement: “We need someone to start as soon as possible.”

Translation: “We left off hiring for this role until the last second. We now want people to leave their current positions with a day’s notice even though we’d mark people as not rehirable and give them a bad reference or no reference for doing just that. We will also reject everyone who can start right away because they’re not currently working, and we will reject them because they are not currently working and can start right away.”

Statement: “You need a thick skin to work here.”

Translation: “Our managers/owners are incompetent and spend their day screaming at people and screwing things up and blaming everyone else. They really haven’t worked anywhere else because it’s a family owned company, so they have never actually had to behave professionally in any circumstance to get what they needed, and they accept the increased cost of turnover, because they’re unaware of it or because they simply don’t care and get off on belittling people.”

Statement: “This is a high pressure environment.”

Translation: “We deliberately under staff the company to save overhead, even though the cost of the increased turnover due to burnout is likely higher than just having adequate staff.”

Statement: “A sense of urgency is required.”

Translation: “Our managers are deliberately over tasked and so this person will need to make a great show of needing attention to get even basic needs met from their manager. Thankfully, a ‘sense of urgency’ is a completely subjective standard, so even if this person asks their manager for something twenty times, in writing and verbally, and including sending a few strippergrams to get the point across, it still won’t be the manager’s fault for not coming through because there was a lack of urgency to the required degree.”

Statement: “We need someone who is highly polished.”

Translation: “The person shouldn’t have an accent and they should know enough corporatese to sound good in meetings, whether or not they actually accomplish anything else. Our boss doesn’t like foreigners and prefers a certain brand of suit tailored in a certain way, and we will decide on those criteria.”

Statement: “What’s your mark up?”

Translation: “We’d like you to handle all the payroll and insurance issues, but we’d rather not pay you for it.”

Statement: “We will only accept top notch candidates.”

Translation: “We will only accept top notch candidates regardless of whether or not what we offer in terms of compensation, management, benefits, work life balance, and opportunity is top notch. In fact, the worse we are in each of those areas, the more we will demand top notch people. This desire is fueled by the fact that our combined total comp as expressed in those areas is so low that we perpetually have trouble attracting, and can never retain top talent. And we’re sick of that, but we’re not going to do anything crazy like pay people above market rates to compensate for our other short comings, or have our managers improve and treat people better, or offer benefits that aren’t pure vanilla, or offer options like remote work or help with the commute or even reasonable hours and time off, nor will we ever entertain actually promoting anyone.”

This is for hiring managers mostly, it’s important for you to realize that when you make any of the above statements, the translation is what the recruiter hears if they’re worth their salt. They know bullshit, it’s easy to smell with little training. The only solution is honesty. Be honest with your recruiters and they will be honest with you.

Posted in Annoyances, Human Resources, I'm Right, Recruiting | 1 Comment

Recruiter Article – Lou Adler – LinkedIn

I saw this article today on LinkedIn, and I have to say it’s a good short piece that explains a critical problem in hiring. A short quote:

I’m amazed that 80-90% of the job descriptions listed on LinkedIn or found on Indeed.com still emphasize experience, skills and academics. Yet 80-90% of the people who get promoted internally into these same spots don’t have the experience, skills and academics listed as required for someone hired from the outside.

However, I don’t think the article correctly identifies the root problem. That most job postings are specifications for a person and not a performance profile for a job is a symptom of a deeper problem, that being managers don’t have a fucking clue what they actually want a person to do once hired. Or, sometimes they do but don’t want to communicate it because it would actually sound lame, unimpressive, and be hard to justify the hire. The experience of recruiters tends to be biased towards higher level positions, ones which are more interesting than your standard office job. It might be easier to get a performance profile for an executive position, it would be less glamorous to get one for a warehouse worker. What’s his job? “Take these boxes from here, and move them over there to the truck; repeat.”

Now on its face that seems a little stupid, however when you get into the nitty gritty of such things the questions come up: how many boxes over what time frame, and why can’t your existing staff accomplish this work? For that you need measurement and metrics, however informal they may be, and an argument based on them to justify the position. That’s a hard sell and requires managers actually do the job of managing which many of them can’t. Some because of incompetence, but many because they are working managers. Companies, in their ever more desperate attempts to squeeze more and more work out of fewer and fewer people, will tend to have managers who never quite get out of doing the actual job that they’re supposed to be managing people in. In the end, they end up managing less 25% of the time, often less. Ideally, that should be closer to 50% of their time.

So, for managers who are strapped for time and perhaps not up to truly defining a job or justifying it, what’s an easier sale to their manager? Would it be a performance profile that accurately describes a less than glamorous job which could potentially be accomplished by existing staff? Or would it be a person, a super star! A rock star! Talent, god damn it!

The person is the easier sale. It’s easier for managers to say, “we need someone like this…,” than it is to say, “We need to accomplish this task in this time frame for this reason, and here’s why we can’t do it without an additional person (overhead).”

Most managers are home grown with little actual management training. They are successful in a company and either get promoted and are now running the department they once worked in, or move to another company and work in similar circumstances. They were never actually trained to manage other people to accomplish the tasks they were once assigned. It is, in reality, a different job. One for which their experience would certainly be helpful, but it doesn’t necessarily qualify them for the job.

Defining the work forces accountability, forces justification, forces the job of management on the managers themselves. This of course must be avoided at all costs, so therefore the managers avoid it at all costs. Which is why job descriptions will likely continue to be person descriptions instead. I truly wish Lou Adler’s ideas on performance profiles were embraced and used en masse. I have tried to get them going in my current position, and have hit resistance galore. I use them internally as much as I can, because as a recruiter knowing what actually needs to be done is the most valuable piece of information you can have. Getting it out of people is hard, getting it out of people and formalized and published is even harder, unfortunately.

Posted in Annoyances, He/She is Right, Human Resources, I'm Right, Recruiting, Serious Stuff | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Yellow Stone Super Volcano – Holy Fuckshit We’re All Going To Die!

I love these articles. This one is found over at Lewrockwell.com. I love the site and appreciate it, but they really should stick to politics and economics. any time they run an article on health or something like this, they tend to go off the rails. According to this gem the US could soon be a dead wasteland over much of its surface area. It’s likely ridiculous. However addressing the article’s 11 points makes for good thought exercise. And yes, I realize the super volcano is real and the worst case scenario could happen, but…

#1 A full-scale eruption of Yellowstone could be up to 1,000 time more powerful than the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980.

Yup, could be. What’s likely though? That is the question. Worst case scenarios are just that, what’s the likely result is what you should really be conerned with, and which you should put your planning behind.

#2 A full-scale eruption of Yellowstone would spew volcanic ash 25 miles up into the air.

Same as above.

#3 The next eruption of Yellowstone seems to be getting closer with each passing year. Since 2004, some areas of Yellowstone National Park have risen by as much as 10 inches.

This is a meaningless statement. It’s always getting closer in time no matter when it will occur. As for how much the land has risen, the real question is: is that unusual or not? If not, then who gives a shit?

#4 There are approximately 3,000 earthquakes in the Yellowstone area every single year.

This is, again, meaningless. What’s typical? Most areas experience constant earthquakes of very small magnitude. The Earth is never static, it is a dynamic system and constant, small earthquakes are the norm.

#5 In the event of a full-scale eruption of Yellowstone, virtually the entire northwest United States will be completely destroyed.

How likely is a full scale eruption? Again, the worst case is the worst case, what is the likely outcome?

#6 A massive eruption of Yellowstone would mean that just about everything within a 100 mile radius of Yellowstone would be immediately killed.

Same point.

#7 A full-scale eruption of Yellowstone could also potentially dump a layer of volcanic ash that is at least 10 feet deep up to 1,000 miles away.

Same point. There’s a potential for a comet hitting the Earth and wiping us all out, permanently. How likely is it?

#8 A full-scale eruption of Yellowstone would cover virtually the entire midwest United States with volcanic ash. Food production in America would be almost totally wiped out.

#9 The “volcanic winter” that a massive Yellowstone eruption would cause would radically cool the planet. Some scientists believe that global temperatures would decline by up to 20 degrees.

#10 America would never be the same again after a massive Yellowstone eruption. Some scientists believe that a full eruption by Yellowstone would render two-thirds of the United States completely uninhabitable.

#11 Scientists tell us that it is not a matter of “if” Yellowstone will erupt but rather “when” the next inevitable eruption will take place.

The rest of the points aren’t worth addressing to be honest. The problem with this kind of thought is that it is unbalanced. Considering the worst case scenario and planning for it ignores the opportunity cost of it not happening, and you wasting all your time and money and resources on planning for that worst case scenario. This is the kind of thought that goes into a lot of ‘prepper’ type articles and a lot of the articles on economics written at this site as well. It gives libertarianism and anarcho-capitalism this hysterical tinge to it which is unhelpful and self defeating. If the world is constantly ending or on the verge of cataclysm, what’s the fucking point of anything? You can’t live your life as if the worst is always right around the corner. And when people come along with articles like this you really have to ask questions rather than take the hysteria as a given. That Yellow Stone is experiencing earthquakes isn’t unusual; it’s a geologically active area. Of course they’re going to have earthquakes. And in this very article there is a geologist saying that it’s normal for them to come in swarms.

Further, the point that other volcanos seem active is another thing that sounds sensational but in reality, what the fuck does it mean? The Earth is active, there’s always an active volcano somewhere, or one that’s winding down or livening up. Is there a proposed mechanism that would say there is actually some link between the two volcanos he mentioned that would make increased activity at one indicative of upcoming activity in the other? If not, who gives a shit? Wet sidewalks do not cause rain.

And I wouldn’t move out of the northwest US just yet.

Posted in Annoyances, Economics and Public Policy, History, I'm Right, Pop Culture, Serious Stuff, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment