Sunday, March 8, 2009

Maturity is relative

These idiots e-mailed again. The ones who said I was charging too much the day I got two offers at that rate. I wouldn't have talked to them at all, but, you know, economy, etc, and it's the first contact I've had in two business days. They still say I'm charging too much, but at the number I quoted them, they're right.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Nothing in life is guaranteed

The phrase "contract worker" is a misnomer. I can be fired at any time, and they can change the terms of my employment at any time (although I'm free to leave instead). I don't actually know if I'm required to give two weeks notice, but I've never signed anything saying I am, so I suspect not. Nonetheless, I feel it is morally wrong for either party to change the rules midway through the game. When I start a job, I commit to it for the length of time we agree on.

Companies don't seem to see it that way. There can be little things, like my company extending the contract by four months without asking me, and then moving the end date up by a week. I didn't mind too badly, since if I didn't want to keep working I could have quit, and they changed the date far enough in the future that I could plan.

Then there's friend #1, who has more than once been let go early because he, quote, finished all the work. That's a bad incentive system right there, but on the other hand, he was hired to a job and he finished it. That's a bad incentive system, and they should have been upfront about it so he could charge for the risk premium, but it doesn't stay in my craw.

Microsoft's latest bullshit sticks in my craw. They're cutting the pay of all contractors by 10% mid way through the contract (the post says it's unconfirmed, but several friends have since confirmed it). That's not right. People turned down other opportunities in part based on salary expectation, and they know that, and now Microsoft doesn't want to pay for the fact that they recruited the talent when it was scarcer for, tops, 11 months, and generally much shorter.

It gets worse. I didn't know this, but according to the ever informative internet commenters on that site, the contracts they sign with the agencies are binding. They're getting around this by refusing to send more work to agencies that refuse to cut their rates. I had a whole rant against MS prepared, but now I'm pissed at the agencies. They want me to take a pay cut so that they can make money on other people later (and remember that anyone working there now is subject to the hundred day quarantine period between this contract and their next one, so this isn't really guaranteeing them their next job), despite the huge cut they take out of the money Microsoft gives them. Most contractors would remain profitable even after 10% was taken out. Previous to this, my attitude was that I would take a contract with MS if they could pay well enough, since other options are limited, but now I worry about rewarding the agencies' bad behavior.

On the other hand, agencies like Volt and Excell, as well as numerous smaller ones, have built their entire business around MS. At most they have a few other clients to occupy their contractors during their quarantine period. They were made an offer they couldn't refuse. Fuck Microsoft for extending it
I got two e-mails and a phone call today. Which would be great if I hadn't said to use e-mail and removed my phone number from my public profile (now that I've double checked this, I'll be asking anyone who contacts me in the future how they got the number), and it wasn't the third contact in four days from one particular company, asking for the same information. I checked my records, and what do you know they did the same thing a year and a half ago, when my resume wasn't even available: three e-mails from two people over a week and a half. Once more and I will seriously consider outing them on this blog, except I can't see how that would accomplish anything, they already look like idiots to anyone they try to recruit. I suppose the company they contract for, and it's only one company (you've heard of them), might care, but I doubt it. I'm still debating how snarky my reply should be. One on hand, the economy sucks. On the other hand, their are 400 companies that contract for the megacorp, 200 of which recruit for them alone, and they all have my e-mail address. And it would have to be a boatload of money to justify putting up with these idiots.

Speaking of idiots: today's phone call had something in common with Monday's (which was from my stalkers enthusiastic fans): a triumph of hope over reality. Monday's caller was really, really hoping I'd be available to start in two weeks, despite the fact that the availability date I gave me was five weeks in the future. It didn't hurt to ask. Today's caller was hoping I had five years experience testing databases. Now, recruiters* are stupid, so I can see how he couldn't tell from my resume I only had a year of DB work, because it's all greek to him. But maybe he could have noticed that I only had three and a half years of post-college experience, and my college work wasn't testing. That's just math, although there is the tricky thing where you have to remember years are base 12.

I really, really want to reward the good recruiters. Despite what I said above, my recruiter is actually quite good, and actually understands the things he recruits for. But a given agency only has so many jobs, and I'm not actually willing to take a pay.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Don't be anonymous on Dice

Turning off anonymity on dice, got two e-mails by end of day. This seems dumb, since I included my real name and e-mail address on my resume. I vaguely remember a similar effect the first time I used dice, although not so severe. What the hell?

I'm also fairly annoyed at one recruiter. He chose the earliest possible time I gave to talk on the phone (which was not my preferred time), then called 20 minutes late. When I refused the call, he did not leave a message, but called back an hour later. I picked up but rescheduled for- wait for it- the preferred time I gave in the original e-mail.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The economy sucks and dice is selling out

My current contract doesn't end for a month (assuming they stick with this end date- it's changed three times already), but the economy sucks so I put my resume on dice this morning (around 10 AM). It's gotten four views in the intervening 16 hours, and no one has offered me a job at all. I'm really glad I held off making fun of all those people who couldn't find work.

Of course, the economy isn't the only explanation. I put my resume up anonymously because there's no way to share your name but not your phone number, and I'd like to avoid taking 400 calls while I'm working in a conference room with a dozen other employees. I suppose I could use a 555 number, the way certain job posters do, but that seemed cheap, so I just put my real name and e-mail address in the resume.

Or it could be Dice's new policies, which I am not at all happy about. You can pay a fee to get more information about whose searching for you, and to get bumped to the top of searches. I don't see how it could possibly be worth it- eyeballs are abundant compared to resumes in the tech industry. But beyond that, there's no way this could possibly be ethical, since they take money from corporations to search resumes as well. I'm beginning to look for alternatives, but monster does the same thing, plus has terrible database security, and hotjobs hs never impressed me. If anyone has other alternatives, please post and let me know.

The hell is wrong with you people

Got one phone call today, from the same company that e-mailed me, but apparently it was an independent incident, working from an entry in their private database. Given that, I don't think he had a right to get angry at me for not being available on his timetable. And no, rephrasing the question does not change the fact that I have a pre-existing commitment going well past the day you want me to start your job.

Found a job I'd be perfect for while screwing around on dice. It requires one year less experience than I have, and I tend to try for jobs requiring 1-2 years more, but I'm well suited for it, it would further some goals, and it looks high level enough that I'm considering applying. It's listed by an agency though, so I'm going to give them some time to see if they contact me first.

Note to recruiters: if you're going to copy and paste a text message, rather than translate it into a real requirements list, at least cut out the gender specific pronouns.

The economy sitll sucks

Resume has been up for slightly less than 24 hours, has been viewed 7 times, and I have one e-mail. Under the circumstances, I'm not going to get super haughty about the fact that they're asking for information they already have.