Job hunting

Sometimes, online job application forms are a gold mine of entertainment. Here’s a set of questions I had to fill out on a job hunting page recently.

Yes, these are my actual answers that I actually submitted.

Please tell us 3 times you were treated unfairly.

  • I once applied for a job asking for a creative writer. Turns out they wanted a JavaScript programmer who could write coherently.

(Blogger’s note: Hi dreameling…)

  • My current workplace is laying me off instead of moving me into a marketing or consulting position where I could help them more and use my talents better.
  • I got cancer, that was pretty unfair. Still, I survived so I guess I can’t complain. But hey, you asked.

If you do not get this job, why do you think that would be?

  • I’d say it’s because you guys dropped the ball. Or because you found someone with a CV you liked better. You know, it’s a competitive job market out there right now.

Please list 3 organizations that you don’t admire and why.

  • Do the Perussuomalaiset count as an organisation? I don’t admire them because they’re bigots.
  • Pfizer, I don’t really have anything against them but I hear bad things and I don’t generally admire Big Pharma.
  • Any organisation that imposes outmoded values onto the rest of the population, for example political parties that stand in the way of assisted suicide or religious groups that suppress LBGT rights.

(Blogger’s note: This was a difficult question, because there are probably millions of organisations out there that I don’t admire. I don’t admire organisations by default – I’m neutral towards them until they make some decision or perform some act that tips me over in one direction or the other. So it would be accurate to say I “don’t admire” a heap of places, but that doesn’t mean I actively despise them or even hold them in low regard. Just that the question was phrased badly.)

If you were forced to relive the last three years of your life, would you do anything differently?

  • No, that’s not enough years to successfully screen and prevent the cancer I mentioned earlier (I got that in 2011), so I’d do it pretty much the same.

Describe an instance where something went really wrong and you were a victim.

  • I don’t consider myself a victim. Sometimes bad things happen (cancer, global economic crisis), but you just have to keep on going.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how lucky are you?

  • 10. Well … maybe this morning I’m a 9. I’d be a 10 if this application website remembered my entries so I didn’t have to keep writing them! But maybe that’s ungrateful.

Did you ever apply for a job and not get it? Why do you think you weren’t offered the position?

  • Yes. I’m sure it was because they found the person they were actually looking for instead of the one they advertised for, but part of me is still pretty sure they dropped the ball and should have chosen me.

What’s the toughest feedback someone has ever given you? How did you respond?

  • As a fiction novelist, I’ve received my share of rejection letters and bad Amazon reviews. I generally respond by writing 5 more novels.
This entry was posted in Hatboy's Nuggets of Crispy-Fried Wisdom and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Job hunting

  1. stchucky says:

    I still feel bad about the “creative vs. programmer” dig, it’s in no way intended as a criticism of Mr. dreameling although it always comes out sounding really shitty and harsh.

    dreameling’s technical writing is excellent and very readable, and that takes creativity by default. He’s never shared his more freeform creative writing with me but he needs to.

    I’m mostly cross about that old job posting. I didn’t keep the ad, but it was super-heavy on the creative and marketing element (part of the reason dreameling was sceptical of the posting and part of the reason at least three separate friends sent me the link and said it looked perfect for me), and made basically no mention of the programming and technical side. It wasn’t until the second round of interviews, for me, that they revealed that it was the deciding factor and would make up a vast majority of the work.

    So I guess I’m still a little bitter about that.

    • dreameling says:

      You’re dead to me. You’re dead to me and my new overlords!

      In other news:

      Your response is honest, and there’s a reason for it, and while I don’t entirely agree with it, it’s totally fair. So I got no beef with your dig.

      It’s fair to say the company cast a wide net and their ad was a bit misleading [1]. It made sense, though, since they had very little previous experience of technical writers, and (apparently) were not entirely sure what they were looking for or what they needed to advertise for. What they actually needed (apparently) crystallized during the interview process: one technical writer leaning toward developer stuff, and another leaning toward copywriter stuff. (Hence the wide net.)

      I’m extremely happy with the Lionbridge colleague I ended up with, but, for the record, I would’ve been equally happy if it had been you. In fact, I wish they’d taken all three. That would’ve been some seriously complementary skillset synergy shit.

      Btw., when software houses want a technical writer, what they usually mean is someone who’s an experienced technical writer and an experienced software developer. Again, makes sense; that’s what I’d want. Fortunately, these multitasking prodigies seem to be next to nonexistent, which is why they usually have to settle for guys like me. I’ve seen this many times in the business, so I was expecting it.

      [1] The ad did not mention “creative”, though. But it did ask for “flair”. Which I found disconcerting. If someone said they needed “creative”, they probably meant it in the same way some people at Lionbridge seem to understand “creative writing”: technical writing encroaching on copywriting and sales. A definition I really, really do not like.

      • dreameling says:

        PS. Look at how polite and conciliatory and noncommittal I’m being!

      • stchucky says:

        Yeah, it’s pretty unnatural for this blog.

      • stchucky says:

        You’re dead to me. You’re dead to me and my new overlords!

        OH YOU’D LIKE THAT WOULDN’T YOU

        It made sense, though, since they had very little previous experience of technical writers, and (apparently) were not entirely sure what they were looking for or what they needed to advertise for.

        Yeah, that’s fair. I got the same impression from the HR guy as things progressed.

        [1] The ad did not mention “creative”, though. But it did ask for “flair”. Which I found disconcerting.

        Huh, we obviously saw different ads. The one I got linked to was heavily about the creative side, and definitely mentioned creativity (which is why I wish I’d kept it). Maybe it was rephrased through a recruitment agency or something, I don’t know.

        And let’s face it, if you’re writing API references and checking JavaScript, what is “flair”? Wearing a jacket covered in a regulation number of badges while doing the job?

        If someone said they needed “creative”, they probably meant it in the same way some people at Lionbridge seem to understand “creative writing”: technical writing encroaching on copywriting and sales. A definition I really, really do not like.

        Absolutely.

      • dreameling says:

        Huh, we obviously saw different ads. The one I got linked to was heavily about the creative side, and definitely mentioned creativity (which is why I wish I’d kept it). Maybe it was rephrased through a recruitment agency or something, I don’t know.

        The one I saw at their website is still available at some job sites. Google found a few hits.

        And let’s face it, if you’re writing API references and checking JavaScript, what is “flair”? Wearing a jacket covered in a regulation number of badges while doing the job?

        Might as well ask that about any technical writing. It’s not about flair, it’s about communicating relevant information, and flair tends to produce irrelevant information, noise (no matter how pleasing).

      • stchucky says:

        Hmm, well, I don’t know about that. There’s technical writing and then there’s technical writing, with regards to how much machine-speak is in there. But I confess I am better suited as a copywriter / language validator than a technical writer. It’s just a shame my current non-employer hasn’t valued that enough to make it a thing – not since about 2007.

      • dreameling says:

        Hmm, well, I don’t know about that. There’s technical writing and then there’s technical writing, with regards to how much machine-speak is in there.

        I didn’t mean to imply writing style is not important. Quite the opposite. But to me “flair” suggests a style that is unusual and loud and that therefore draws attention to itself. In any technical documentation, the style should be purely in the service of the information content. You shouldn’t really notice it. Like a really good score in a movie or something. Anything that is not in the service of effectively communicating the core information is, by definition, noise. Minimalism and all that. That’s what I meant.

        Of course, if they meant personal flair, then I guess I could always die my hair red or get an earing? I’m close to turning 40, so it’s about time anyway, right?

        But I confess I am better suited as a copywriter / language validator than a technical writer. It’s just a shame my current non-employer hasn’t valued that enough to make it a thing – not since about 2007.

        You actually had a chance to do copywriting-like stuff at Lionbridge at some point?

      • stchucky says:

        Oh yeah. We had a Native Language Specialist unit that worked with localisation. Also, we rode unicorns around the office.

      • dreameling says:

        “Die my hair”? Oh, Timo.

      • stchucky says:

        You’re approaching 40. The fact that your hair is dying is pretty much a given.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        All I see is butthurt, dreameling. Butthurt from getting pwnd harder than Leeroy Hnnnjenkins got pwnd by those drakes. But how’s the new job?

      • dreameling says:

        Still at Lionbridge. Switching over in May.

      • stchucky says:

        At least he ain’t chicken. By which I mean fired.

      • No fried chicken here, indeed. Typo intentional.

        Since this thread seems to discuss language and various uses thereof, style and all, I feel compelled to mention that an American colleague once made a point of correcting us, when we used the word “fired” in this specific context during a conference call. Apparently, the term you want to use is “laid off”, as it’s more neutral. At least to her, being fired implied that there was some fault in the employee, while being laid off meant that it was about numbers. You know, the numbers in your paycheck versus the target numbers in a graph somewhere.

      • stchucky says:

        Sure, when you’re fired they don’t keep you hanging around for months and months, doing work for them.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        Mmmmm, fried chicken.

  2. Those are far more interesting questions than anything I’ve seen so far. Clearly, you’ve a better idea of where to go for job hunting than I do.

  3. Pingback: Picture, if you will, a case of Mondays | Hatboy's Hatstand

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s