Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What Format Does The World Have, Anyway

Sent to both my and mail:
Dear Fj,

I am S***** K***** with V***** & Associates, recruiters based in Boca Raton, Florida since 1993. I found your resume online and I believe I might have a good job for you.

My Client asked me to find a great candidate to join them, and your name came up during my research. This could mean that you are the Person we are looking for, or that you are active in a function that closely relates to it so you know others who can fill this open position (we pay excellent referral fees). Please read the note (1).

I will personally work with you through this simple and quick application process, starting right here and now:

Position Code, Title and Location: 1451 - 0SK0 - Director, User Experience - Santa Clara, CA
Start Date: ASAP
Remote or Onsite: On location at the Client's site 100% of the time. No telecommuting or remote work.
Additional Information: Below is all the information I have from the Client. Once I setup your interview, you will have the chance to ask them directly anything I do not include here.

The Company builds award-winning software and services which make mobile computing easy and essential for everyone.

" Act as advocate for user experience in Good's development team as they develop next-generation enterprise mobility software
" Manage UI design team
" Manage interaction and visual designers
" Manage technical publications team

Required Skills/Experience:
" 10+ years of product design experience
" 7+ years of management experience
" Must have outstanding interaction design skills
" Communication and persuasion skills
" Must work effectively with all members of the team, including product management, engineering managers, and management
" Enterprise software experience (a plus)
" Mobility software experience (a plus)

End of Description

Please tell me if you feel confident with the requirements and comfortable delivering on them. As soon as you send me your reply to all questions below, and your resume attached, we will talk on the phone. A technical interview with the Client will follow as the last step.

1. Are you a US citizen/Green Card/visa holder (please, specify)?

2. When will you become available?:

3. What is the yearly salary you expect (Important: do not respond with 'salary range', 'approximate', 'negotiable', 'about', salary plus any other concept, etc. The Client will provide benefits in addition to your salary, according to their policies, which will be explained to you during your interview with them.

Important: You and I, we are competing with other agencies for this position for you. The Client will select a professional based on credentials and cost. Please quote a salary you feel confident will land you this great opportunity, and will be consistent with your compensation history. I will not attempt to negotiate your compensation down with you, I will report to the Client the amount you quote here? $__________ per year on W2 (Fulltime Employee).

4. Very important: this is designed to save us both time and expedite a decision by my Client. Please complete the following Skill Matrix, answering each question with A) number of years of experience with the skill, B) your skill level on a scale from 1 to 5 (highest), and C) the last time you applied it. It has to be consistent with your resume.

I.e.: Experience 4 years - Skill level 5 - Last Applied January 07

1) Product design experience (min 10 years): years ____, skill level ___, last applied ___
2) Management experience (min 7 years): ____, skill level ___, last applied ___
3) Interaction design: ____, skill level ___, last applied ___
4) Enterprise software experience: ____, skill level ___, last applied ___
5) Mobility software: ____, skill level ___, last applied ___
6) Do you have a Bachelor's degree (required)?

* Please attach your resume as a Word document

I will handle your information in strict confidentiality and only to obtain the contract you seek.

As a Recruiter, I chose my clients and requirements with you in mind. I am equally aware that you get to choose the Recruiter you will work with. I hope to earn your trust and that you feel comfortable working with me.

If you received a similar invitation or phone call to apply for the same position through another agency, I encourage you to consider that V&A has very good chances at landing you the contract: our processes resulting from over a decade of constant improvements, results in a lower cost to the Client, speedy handling and high rate of placements.

I hope to hear from you today through your complete response and resume. My mission is to get you the job you want.

[Name, contat info]

PS: This is a real opportunity with my Client; I am not wasting your time or mine.

(1) Referral Fee: please forward this email to that person/s and copy me and/or gives us her/his name. If I hire he/her thanks to your introduction, you will accomplish two things: found a great job for someone you know and get a referral fee ranging from two hundred to two thousand dollars directly from V&A, depending on the contract. We will not disclose your name to anyone.

My response:
> PS: This is a real opportunity with my Client; I am not wasting your time or mine.

Considering the job you are showing me is 6 hours of driving away from
my current residence, I am not so sure about that.

FJ van W*******

And then I get an automated response that my response was received, which includes the precious line:
Please take a quick look at what you sent me and make sure that you
included the answers to all the questions and your resume attached in
World format

Friday, October 26, 2007

Arrogant Dismissive Me

My N73 has a voice synthesizer built in that can be used to announce who is calling. If the number of the person calling is in the phone book, the voice will say the name -- often not so very good, but recognizable -- in between the sweet tones of the stereo high-fidelity ringtone, so I would know who was calling me from across the room. Nobody almost ever really called me, and the people who called me are friends, so it was very seldom I would hear the ringtone without an announcement. Until now. For the last 3 weeks. And when I hear the ringtone without the name, I can predict now with 90% certainty how the call will go. And it is making me wonder about the state of tech on all kinds of levels.

If the voice sounds like the person learned English in India or Pakistan, it starts off with "Hi, I am looking for Van / FJ Van?" An American-English voice will look for FJ. They will both ask me how I am, the US voice sounding a little less scripted, but we both know we don't want an answer. They'll tell me they found my resume on Dice, and they have a position that they'd li--

I have learned to cut them off to save us all time: "What city?" It's always something in the SF Bay Area, usually Mountain View. My Dice profile lists as work locations LA and, as a long shot since you can fill in two cities, Vancouver. Very seldom the caller will acknowledge that LA is not in the San Francisco Bay Area, usually they do not and they will barrel on and I stop them to tell them I am not interested in relocating.

I keep wondering if they consider that everyone will relocate as a given, are just calling everybody desperately, usually based on a bad keyword match. Today, when the answer was again a city in the Bay Area, I asked "Are you looking at my profile? Can you see what I entered as locations to work?" He glossed right over the fact I am nowhere near SF, making me wonder if he even knows what California looks like. I think I am going to probe a little deeper with the next call.

Maybe in a couple of months I will be deeply regretting blowing these calls off, because I do blow them off right now. I have my doubts about LA, but I am making some awesome friends here. I live in a modern and solid 1000 sq ft loft, which I consider gorgeous, with walkable services nearby, my own deeded parking, and close to major roads to take me to other interesting parts of the metro area. OK, so I couldn't have afforded this on my own, but that doesn't mean I am about to give it up to either live in Oakland or have a roommate, and do Silicon Valley traffic. I keep wondering what salary I should demand to compensate for the change in real-estate standard of living. As said, I didn't cut this morning's call off, but just named a number as my base yearly salary that was 50% over what I made in Disney Mobile. Again a gloss over, he would submit my request.

Of course when I received the position in email, it wasn't a good fit, just a bad keyword match, and I could see it a mile away. But I am really curious now. Are some of these recruiters actually working off-shore, without a map? Are insane salaries available? But just so you know, and in follow-up to John wondering why rents are actually going up and other's locked musings about real estate in SF crashingadjusting or not, I am getting these calls daily, sometimes two a day. Open positions in tech, and especially mobile tech, are way up in the SF Bay Area.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I Loved It!

Talking to Helen, photoshoot stylist and lifecoach -- I keep thinking she should combine the two: fix your wardrobe, pad, and career in one very expensive go -- she asked me in five minutes a couple of question that made me rethink what I want out of work. So what did I like about past gigs?

And I realize that the gig that I have had which I ended up liking the most was when I did two external sites, and for Nokia. First of all it was working for a company I could respect, and that had its act together or at least was striving to do so. I really liked the corporate culture of Nokia because I could handle it. A core value was respect, and the company meant it, those cute Finns, even though they could complain so bitterly on the Intranet their manager wasn't giving it. You have to love a company where I could have an internal blog telling people honestly how a re-org of our department was botched, and the only response I ever got from above was my direct manager telling me "The division heads don't like what you wrote, but you were truthful, and the company did set up and allow this internal-blogging experiment, so that's all." I'd work again for the company itself in a heartbeat.

Second the work for these sites was relevant and served many people doing interesting things. When I worked on WAP tools, it became quickly apparent that most of it was to be used by people who wanted to create what I call the Mobile Pizza-Coupon Delivery Eco-system, and that was disheartening. The whole WAP thing just ended up getting no respect. Putting researchers in touch with each-other and creating tools for their work was fulfilling. I didn't get very far with that, just the first iteration before I moved on, but I could see where I could take it. The whole thing was kind of glamorous as well because it was so high-profile -- second time something I made hit the Slashdot front page -- and had such growth potential; for example, there was an article in some business magazine about how P&G had used their research website to create a whole research extranet and research ecology, and I was seeing myself doing that over future versions as the sites grew.

Third, event though this was a two-person project, Barbara and I, and I was not its manager, I had a lot of control, being both technical and creative lead. Thanks to working with Disney Mobile I have learned how to be a better creative lead on projects like this, knowing what to farm out and what to do myself better. Although, of course, the project had no budget so I had to do everything myself, and I did it well within my capabilities. Technologically I was also doing too much myself setting this new thing up, but since it was new it was fun, as was making it ready to go on autopilot and be maintained by others as I worked on the next new thing.

Fourth, I was compensated well on many fronts. Hell, by the end I was even in my own office. So why did I leave that gig and Nokia? Location was one: I wanted out of Boston, and Nokia was not located where I wanted to be. I also did not have the clout in this project and company to say "I want to do this from a distance permanently"; that month that I worked on this while in a flat in Amsterdam basically happened because my manager and I didn't tell anyone I wasn't in my cube. It turned out to be a fabulous move; thanks to my location and working habits, I was catching the best parts of both the European and American workday during a critical phase, thus shortening the lag in certain problems. I was also working with a fabulous hosting team, the kind of guys who were truly comfortable using IM and email.

It was exciting to take the traditionally most closed part of a closed company and giving it an opportunity to interact with the world, something many of the researchers clamored for but the company culture decidedly did not. My project manager, who had gotten the ball rolling, did a lot of the legwork to get publishing policies in place, create buy-in, move a consensus-based company into a new direction on this vital issue. She did all this work brilliantly. However, here was also the second problem with this project: once I set it up and I saw what the potential was, I wanted to lead it. Another component of my perfect job is that I mean something, that I get to leave my mark, develop leadership and rise. That was not going to happen here while we were both working on it. I would never do any kind of leadership play, not while I respected the work that Barbara had done so. So therefore my ambition was in the way of staying. I would only stay a web-slinger on this project if it had my name above the line, else I would want to do the usual hit-and-run. I just did not want to be a 40 y.o. underling web-slinger. Creative consultant, services prototyper, technology analyst, fine, but not the same thing for years unless it was mine.

Just going over my past gigs and evaluating which one I liked most was very useful. I hope the next opportunity I get will be a good fit on these levels.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

So, Um, My Fellow Techies...

Do any of these people make you think they understand the specific niche of tech you are in and how you fit into the complex pantheon of services?

Sometimes headshots are just a bad idea.