This week's book giveaway is in the OO, Patterns, UML and Refactoring forum. We're giving away four copies of Refactoring for Software Design Smells: Managing Technical Debt and have Girish Suryanarayana, Ganesh Samarthyam & Tushar Sharma on-line! See this thread for details.
Let me tell you my story. In 2007, I graduated from college with a B.A. in Business Administration, majoring in Management Information Systems and minoring in Psychology. In 2008, I received a M.S. in Management Information Systems. I had a 3.5 in undergrad, a 3.9 in graduate school, and I was Vice President of the MIS Society. I have run my own small business, servicing computers for ten years, but truthfully it’s rather light, like one call a month. In addition, I have over thirty IT certifications, six Comp/TIA, MS Office Master, CIW Master Administrator, CWNA, and numerous Microsoft certs like MCITP: Server Administrator. This does not count all the other computer skills I developed over the years through extensive reading and self-study. I spent an enormous amount of time on developing myself professionally. I sacrificed my personal life, spending all my free time acquiring IT skills. I am clean, professional, very hard-working, and possess enormous integrity. I am polite, professional, and rarely use profanity. I am a moral person with strong values and empathy for others. I am clean-cut, in great physical shape, and rather good looking for my age, 42; I eat a healthy, balanced diet; I exercise two hours a day, and I usually sleep 8 hours a night. Though I drank and did pot back in the nineties, I have been clean since 2000. In addition, I am an extremely fast reader, great writer, and I am very learned about social sciences. I have done everything I can to make myself the perfect candidate in preparation for a successful career in IT.
However, my experience in the world of work has been mind-boggling disappointing. In my four years since I left college, I have had only two meager tech support jobs that paid $13 an hour. I have been on countless interviews, like over a hundred, most of which were for jobs in which I was well qualified. These were IT jobs like technical support, computer technician, network administrator, and some odd ones. Some of these companies recruited extensively from my college from which I was a model student and leader at the school. Still, after four years, I have no career; I am delivering pizza. I am astounded this has happened; I did not expect this. I think I may be the victim of some employment discrimination. I decided to take a break to work on some personal issues.
About half-way through this period, I made an effort to improve my interviewing skills, which I have. I read like ten interviewing books and prepared a polished, professional presentation. My resume is perfect and outstanding. I have an extensive profile on LinkedIn with nine recommendations and over 500 connections. Here is the link to it: [DELETED]
I had no idea to expect this disappointment. I find it simply astounding to be rejected so many times. I have analyzed the situation and identified the following possible causes of this situation:
• Some social shyness, which I have made an effort to improve. Though I am very nice and generally get along with most people. Communication skills may have been issue, but I think they’re fairly decent.
• I have bi-polar disorder and ADD, though I have been medicated for years, am very normal and stable, and try to live a normal healthy life. I never disclose this, but I wonder if employers suspect it. Perhaps there is some discrimination here. I should mention that I know a great deal about psychology.
• The recession
• Employers being snobby, uptight, perfectionist, and overly judgmental
• Age discrimination
• The fact that I am a liberal, which is clearly posted on my Facebook profile page. It was private for a while; I have changed it back and forth over the years. I finally decided to make it entirely public a while back. It is very extensive and not too controversial. Here is the link: [DELETED]
I have numerous likes, and I wonder if people don’t like my taste in music, movies, books, etc.
• I’m not a gamer, nor a typical computer geek. I’m actually very humanistic, and I enjoy social sciences and literature. Is there some sort of gamer cult in IT?
• Spotty work history, of course due to this situation itself
So my question is this. How can all these employers just throw me away like garbage, despite my enormous qualifications? Do they really think I deserve to be delivering pizza, despite a Master’s degree and tons of certifications and skills? What are they thinking? Are they all a bunch of conceited, selfish jerks? I accept some responsibility for this, but the enormity of it all is not mine alone. I feel I have suffered some sort of discrimination in many of these cases. After many years of hard work and dedication, I am broke with no career. It’s very frustrating not to be able to utilize my intelligence and education in an occupation. I just think all this is insane. It doesn’t make any sense to me. Is this an uptight, conservative corporate culture I’m up against? Because it is not right for this to have happened.
I have been taking a break from job-searching to work on self-improvement. I am addressing some humanistic and psychological issues that may have been neglected partly due to my endless studying. I wonder if this will make a difference when I go back job searching in a few months. I encourage you all to offer any wisdom, knowledge, or advice. Thank you.
For an entry level job - Many students graduate college with internship experience. They are going to get preference on jobs because they have some experience. (Can you volunteer to get that?)
For a non-entry level job - You are competing with people with more work experience.
I imagine age discrimination is a factor too. People are used to college grads being in their 20s. You can't do anything about this part though. I think spotty work history is hurting you too although again that isn't something you can change.
The biggest concern that I have looking at your Linked in profile is that it's too spotty. From 2001 - present , you have only worked for people besides yourself for 4 years. And the longest job that you have held is for a year. Looking at your resume it makes me wonder whether you are really looking for job while your primary business is slow. Doesn't give me a lot of confidence that if I hire you would stay with me for too long
Also, I would tone down the rhetoric in your status updates on Linked In. That's what Facebook is for. It's fine if you don't like videogames. You don't need to insult people who do like them. The first line on your Linked In profile tells me that you might have issues getting along with you coworkers. That won't really do much good for your job prospects.
I'm afraid that I have to agree with Jayesh. I'm not a gamer, but if I were the hiring manager, I wouldn't make it past that first line on LinkedIn. I think you have already identified that social skills are the ones that you most need to work on. I'd advise to start with cleaning up your LinkedIn profile so that you don't come across as a problem waiting to happen.
Now I've actually clicked on your Linked In profile which I imagine is similar to your resume. You might consider leaving out some info from Linked In. For example, leave out the politics. Partially because of controversy and partially because it looks like you spend all your time there. There's also a lot of info from many years ago which makes one wonder what your focus is. Or if you still believe those are the most important things.
Also, another thing I would like to add regarding discrimination. IMO, a lot of people in the IT industry lean to the left, but aren't very vocal about their political views. If there is discrimination going on, I would expect the discrimination to be towards conservatives
DELETED wrote:How can all these employers just throw me away like garbage, despite my enormous qualifications? Do they really think I deserve to be delivering pizza, despite a Master’s degree and tons of certifications and skills? What are they thinking? Are they all a bunch of conceited, selfish jerks? I accept some responsibility for this, but the enormity of it all is not mine alone. I feel I have suffered some sort of discrimination in many of these cases. After many years of hard work and dedication, I am broke with no career. It’s very frustrating not to be able to utilize my intelligence and education in an occupation. I just think all this is insane. It doesn’t make any sense to me. Is this an uptight, conservative corporate culture I’m up against? Because it is not right for this to have happened.
I have some observations on your post and your Linkedin profile, but this paragraph seems to encapsulate all that may make individuals leery of you. More at the bottom of the post.
The first observation I'll make is that you seem to be confusing qualifications and certifications with employability. In this market, having a degree clears a very significant hurdle or barrier. In certain lines of work, a certification can make you more desirable in entry levels or for a consulting organization that advertises the qualifications of its staff. But that's about it. After a certain point, people will start asking themselves why you have so many certifications relative to the scarcity of your work experience.
Second, your Linkedin profile has far too much information in it. It's not Facebook, and nothing should ever go on your Linkedin profile unless it's going to help you get a job. You've thrown everything but the kitchen sink in there, and based on your list of skills I'm pretty certain that you're not even marginally proficient in three quarters of them. It seems like a pretty rash statement from someone who doesn't know you, but the reality is that no one can be proficient in so many things. Pick a half dozen that you know well and limit yourself to those instead of playing buzzword bingo which just makes you look desperate.
Third, LinkedIn is NOT the place to enumerate your political or social views. As I said above, they are exceptionally unlikely to help you get a job, and far more likely to hurt you. Most hiring managers are too hard pressed to find someone competent to actively discriminate, but we also don't want distractions and we don't care about your political agendas, left or right. I have two team members that range from Creationists to Atheist vegans, and they work effectively together because all of them leave their beliefs at the door and treat each other like professionals. If you can't leave yours at the door (in this case Linkedin), you might not be effective. Unless you can give me a compelling case that giving MoveOn.org $20 makes you a better support tech, just leave it off.
Fourth, I'm not interested in your book or its themes of "dignity for the working class" or anything else. (And it's probably not the first written about pizza delivery.) There might be a grand total of two IT managers on the entire planet who would consider this as a key reason to hire you. One doesn't have an opening, and the other doesn't use LinkedIn. Sorry. Get rid of it.
Fifth, you need to learn to say more, not less. Look at your descriptions of your certifications and test scores. You should probably remove them altogether, because they show a serious lack of self-awareness. "My skills with Microsoft Office, particularly Outlook are unparalleled. I am a certified MS Office Master." This one's even better: "I am a genius when it comes to Internet technologies as this score shows." Seriously? It looks like your opinions and experience are inversely proportional, and no one wants that. It's marginally tolerable in a twentysomething, but you are supposedly at an age where you should start to know better.
Most importantly, stop complaining. Don't whine on LinkedIn about how there's some sort of gamer cult in IT (there isn't) or how employers are discriminating based on age or your political beliefs. 30 seconds on your posts here or your LinkedIn profile suggests that you have a chip on your shoulder on the ways how you are allegedly being discriminated against, and there's nothing, absolutely nothing, that spooks a hiring manager more than the prospect of spending time with HR or Legal because one of his or her employees had an overly inflated ego and an itch to claim discrimination at the first opportunity. And that's exactly what your profile manages to combine, in a very unpleasant combination. I don't hire support techs but if I did I would be very frightened of you even if you were my only candidate. And unfortunately at entry level I expect they have 20 or 30 alternatives.
Seriously, tone it down. Take off the social opinions and cast a very jaundiced eye towards anything on LinkedIn. If it is not likely to get you hired (AOL? Lotus Notes?) remove it. If you are going to be look foolish talking with someone who's done it for even a year (Management Consulting, Business Strategy, and who knows what else) remove it. If it's more than a few years old (no one cares that you made the deans list a decade ago, that you have an Outlook 2002 cert) remove it.
Have you done a post-mortem on why you left your jobs? Is there anyone (ideally a manger, but even a co-worker) that you can bounce a question or two over a drink? You have people willing to recommend you, why didn't they keep you? If you were the top performer on your team, why did you only last six months? While I expect there's a fair bit of turnover in these positions, good entry level folks are rare and companies want to keep or promote the good ones in a weed out situation. People who worked with you or that managed you might have some interesting and helpful feedback.
One other thought - are you currently in treatment for your BPD? If you are, have you shown your mental health professional your resume and LinkedIn profile? I am certainly not an expert in this area but some of the things I've mentioned above seem to be the product of an elevated mental state and I'm wondering if may be encountering some problems based on this condition in both extremes and not recognizing it.
Luke makes a lot of good points. I would add these: Firstly, make your Facebook profile private to everyone but the people you're friends with (in the Facebook sense of the word). Secondly, change your name here on this site. Of course, it likely has been indexed by Google already, and Luke has included your name in his reply -which you can't do anything about- so it may be too late already. A prospective employer who searches your name and finds this thread is almost certainly not going to interview you. Sorry if this sounds harsh, but if you expected this discussion here to improve your chances of getting a qualified job, I'm pretty certain that having it publicly will have done the opposite, regardless of what you personally get out of it.
Luke has given you an excellent analysis of the possible problems with your current approach. As a grizzled old developer who's also currently struggling to find work, I can only recommend you take his advice, because your post certainly sounds like you need a reality check.
Of course it's true there are all kinds of external reasons why it can be hard to secure a job, even if you have lots of relevant qualifications (which you do), or relevant experience (which you seem to have less of). Ageism is certainly a real problem in our industry, but then so is sexism (most IT workplaces still seem to be largely male) and no doubt racism too is a problem in IT as elsewhere. And then there are economic factors like the recession, or the impact of outsourcing/offshoring in different sectors and tiers of the industry, and so on. We all have to deal with these, and maybe some of these are factors in your own situation, maybe not. But all you can do is face up to the reality of a competitive job market and try to ensure that you are offering what employers want to buy.
Nobody owes you a job, and if employers are being "overly judgemental" or "uptight" then that's because they're risking their money and potentially the success of their projects or their business when they employ somebody. They typically want somebody with relevant experience in the technical and business skills they demand for the specific role, plus evidence of the personal skills that will allow you to work productively and positively with the rest of their staff. And of course they would often prefer to pay less for all these skills than you might expect to be paid for a given role. Again, that's the market: deal with it, or find another way to earn a living.
It's possible that your declared political/social/religious convictions may conflict with those of some potential employers. What's far more likely is that employers either are completely unaware of these anyway, or they may be more concerned by your presumption that anybody in the working world gives a damn about those beliefs. Workplaces are like bars, in that they can be dangerous places to discuss politics/religion, so best leave that stuff at the door.
Similarly with your musical taste, enjoyment of social sciences and literature, and so on: nobody cares. Actually, I think you are guilty of your own stereotypes about IT here, as I am constantly surprised and fascinated by the variety of interests and experiences displayed by my colleagues - very few of them are "typical computer geeks" as you put it. And most of them have worked just as hard as you have to develop their professional skills and experience too. You are nothing special, and you need to stop expecting other potential employers or colleagues to be impressed by your long list of irrelevant "features".
It's interesting that you have been invited to "countless interviews, like over a hundred, most of which were for jobs in which I was well qualified". If an employer invites you to an interview, it generally means they have found your initial application sufficiently interesting to invest a little more time in assessing your suitability for the role. So - assuming you really were applying for suitable roles - you could see your success in getting interviews as something positive. My own experience is that securing an interview is often the hardest part of finding a job, because once you've got an interview you actually have a chance to demonstrate your suitability for the role to a potential employer in person. And interviews are usually interesting experiences in their own right, as you learn a bit about another company, how they work and think, and you may learn a bit about yourself too.
So maybe you need to look at the question of why your interview performance is less successful. Think back over your last few interviews and see if you can spot where they went wrong. Did you say something wrong or inappropriate, was there a mismatch between your skills/experience and the actual role, did they find holes in your claimed experience, was there an obvious conflict between your professional persona and the company culture, did you demonstrate your positive qualities and suitability for the role appropriately, did you show you knew about their business, did you show enough interest in what they were looking for as opposed to what you were trying to sell? And so on.
Maybe talk to the careers office at your old university and see if you can get somebody to work through some role-play exercises or ask for more formal advice to help develop your skills in interview and job-hunting, as it's obvious your current approach isn't working. Maybe you simply need to target employers/jobs which are a really good match to your skills, experience and personal qualities: it's better to have ten good interviews and get one job offer, than have 100 poor interviews and get no job offers.
Finally, you sound like an intelligent and politically aware individual, and you're 42 years old, so you should have figured out by now that work is an economic transaction: you are offering to trade your skilled labour for money offered by an employer who needs those skills for their business. Start thinking like an employer - and that includes thinking critically about your own skills and qualities, how you present them, your job hunting strategy and how you handle interviews - and maybe you have a better chance of being able to offer a potential employer what they are looking for.
Lastly, I don't mean to be presumptuous, but having had friends with bi-polar illness, it does sound a little like you could be showing some symptoms, so maybe think about talking to your doctor/therapist just to get another perspective on things?
After reading this topic, I do not think the OP is fully aware of how the current job market operates. Therefore, I would like to post this book for him and anyone else that may not understand how the current market works. Also, here is the author's website which has many career tips that I think can be useful for anyone whether they are on the market or not. I would also like to say that by calling the employers "a bunch of conceited, selfish jerks", the OP is casting shadows on the wall as stated in this article here. Lastly, I agree totally with what other posters have said in regards to having 30 certifications and 2 degrees. This does not automatically make one qualified for a particular job. Hope this was helpful.
Wow ! You have so many certifications. I wish I had those certs too. Its not easy to get all of them. But, my experience is that most certifications are rubbish. Its your projects and capabilities that matter.
I have some certifications too. Only when I started doing serious projects, instead of answering clever multiple choice questions, I began to see why it is so difficult to become a developer.
Its more than just being able to spot the traps in a nasty little trick question that these certification exams ask.
By the way, I did not have the chance to go through your linkedin profile. Can you tell us which projects you have done ?