Dumb Job Ads: Web Developer Job Opportunity

Just when I thought the dumb job ads had maybe disappeared, this little gem appeared in my inbox, courtesy of Mark and Deepa Toomey at Sarastaff Employment Services in Sarasota, Florida.

I almost hate to out someone who’s careless enough to use software to scan profiles and resumes, bombarding email inboxes, but fail to note that I’ve quite clearly indicated no interest in moving across the state of Florida. Yes, I almost hate to do it. But when the job itself is written so, well, dumb, then you just have to share it with everyone.

Both CareerBuilder and Monster have become downright ugly websites in the past few years, filled with obtrusive advertisements and even more obnoxious recruiters. Granted, they aren’t necessarily intended to be used to find freelance work, but you would think you could at least leave your resume on file for the few times when it might come in handy. Instead, you will receive calls that are not relevant to your “job search” from hurried recruiters who must have you email them your “Word resume” (since they don’t have access to your full profile).

I hardly understand why companies bother to use recruiters. All they do is collect resumes with the barest comprehension of qualifications. Some of the phone conversations I’ve had with certain recruiters are pure nonsense. They don’t even know what they are asking. They just hope that somehow one of their candidates’ resumes that they have sent in a torrent to the employer is picked - and that they get the $1500 signing bonus. It’s really a lottery to many of them.

There are some great quality recruiters out there, but they are becoming increasingly rare. I’ve started to see an increase in online job posts warning they do not accept submissions from recruiters that do not have a prior arrangement with the company. Bravo for those companies. Not only are they helping themselves (by getting better-qualified applicants), they are helping us not to be slammed to death by recruiters who, when you get down to it, are just playing Lotto games and have no real business running an employment staffing firm.

As an example, I don’t know what goes on over at Sarastaff, but this particular job posting should definitely have been screened before posting. Plus, what real man wants to work at Sarastaff? I once had a temp job decades ago at Kelly Services. Although they had long shed the moniker of “Kelly Girl”, it hardly mattered to me. I was a Kelly Girl working at an administrative position, surrounded by other Kelly Girls. Someone needs to start an employment staffing company called “Tough Smart Cool Guys”. Then again, getting employers to use it for technical and administrative work might prove a bit challenging. Maybe “Handsome Staffing”? Hmmm… sounds like one of those risqué house-cleaning services. This idea might need some work.

Anyway, here’s the job ad I received:

Web Developer Job Opportunity
Sarastaff Employment has the following vacancy for it’s client based in Naples, Southwest Florida. The company offers a competitive benefit and compensation package. Here is some more information on this exciting new opportunity:

We’re looking for a detail-oriented CSS wizard who can create a custom ASP.net web control while simultaneously simulating an inline-block on Internet Explorer 6, debugging an AJAX rendering problem, and completing a Sudoku puzzle in pen. Bonus points if you can write a Firefox add-on to do all that automatically. The ability to describe the sound of one hand clapping is a definite plus.

You should definitely know:
It’d be great if you know:
Prototype and Scriptaculous
Everything there is to know about AJAX
Classic ASP
You’re a shoo-in if you know:
Why I can’t make this IFrame absolutely positioned with top/bottom and left/right coordinates, even though it works fine on a DIV. Seriously, it’s driving me nuts.
The coolest thing about developing software for our premier client, is you’ll be building software applications that produce something that people will not only understand, but will WANT! Plus, it’s always exciting to build something that you can show-off to your friends and family that they can actually understand and will USE! How awesome is that?
Interested? Then email your resume in confidence to: [email protected] or call Deepa: 941 309 5305

I wish, quite seriously, that I had the skillset to make up hilarious jokes like this. But it’s quite real. I promise you. I so truly would love to hear from the poor bloke that actually took this position. So many questions…

I’ve mentioned before how juvenile and unprofessional it is to mention certain things in job ads. Trying to be cute or clever in job ads is just a really bad idea. You attract the completely wrong type of person - and you turn away all the people with quality skills (and self-esteem).

Granted, Sarastaff is originally a U.K. employment agency, so maybe there’s something being lost in the translation here. I’m usually pretty good with British humor, having lived overseas for many years and having to endure it as our only form of sitcoms. Many web developers are from England and are typically very funny - both in writing and in person. (Paul Boag comes to mind). But this is just school yard humor. I almost expected a burp joke in it.

The last paragraph is almost shameful. Does anyone think they are going to show off a web app they helped to create to friends and family and have them go “oooh, aaah”? Is some kind of external validation going to makeup for Sudoku puzzle jokes? I can’t even get friends and family to understand the benefit of switching to Firefox, or using an online bookmark tool? I’ve got one friend now who is managing a huge project with multiple tracts of work, multiple stakeholders, and hundreds of sub-tasks. When I sent him an email pointing out the benefit of using Basecamp (and mentioning some of its competitors), he had absolutely zero interest. And these are proven, well-used, web applications that hundreds of thousands of non-technical people use every day. Does Sarastaff’s client actually believe that little junior web programmers will be running home to show Mommy and Daddy their “awesome” web application? Sigh….

My dad used to design power substations for Florida Power & Light back in the 1970’s. Not exciting, I know, but he was really into it. As a kid, we’d drive past some lonely buzzing substation in Brevard County and my dad would begin to recount the various challenges involved in getting that one up and running. Of course, I loved my dad and would listen and try to figure out (even at the tender age of 10) what he was talking about. But for the most part, he never expected that I’d suddenly have a passion to build substations just because he did. In fact, not a single one of his five children became an engineer. He never had such illusions.

That’s just something you understand at some point in life. That you can enjoy what you do without expecting others to hop on board. I started to pick that lesson up somewhere around my mid-teens, although it probably took longer for it to take hold. You start to realize that not everyone likes the movies you like, or the books you read, or the jobs you have, even though they may love you and like you for many other reasons.

I just find it hilarious that this “premier client” would try and appeal to young talented programmers to, quite likely, waste away their youth on such flighty ideals. This is becoming more and more common: list a myriad of random and chaotic skill sets, hype the whole thing with a bunch of drama and excitement, then try and add some sense of world-changing meaning to the whole thing. Basically, not too different than what I used to do in car sales. You would think employment agencies and job recruiters could do better than that, but maybe it’s a sign of the culture of the American workplace. Think about that before you take your next position.

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That’s taking the programmer love letter to the logical extreme. Wow.

Where have the good recruiters gone to? I used to have few reliable guys and gals that knew me, my quals, my portfolio (I just lost track of them after some long term engagements). Now all I get is this:

“hello, I saw your resume on (XYZ) and I have an immediate opening for someone with your quals. Please send me your resume (!). Blah….

Most of these folks (the few I’ve engaged with) are useless - I now delete their email. If they call me, I want to know the rate and I demand that they keep me informed at every step when I am submitted, when I can expect a phone call with the client to set up terms, etc. NOT ONE has this worked out. They never call back, they hardly remember me when I follow up.

I can get my own work as a product manager under contract or as an analyst for requirements. I just wish I could find one of those old school recruiters from my not too distant past that knew me, knew my portfolio, and who could properly represent me to potential clients. Such a relationship would take a great deal of pressure off of me.

Once , just to have a laugh, I gave one of these ‘wide net’ recruiters the Ali Shuffle:

Recruiter: ….blahh….good multi-tasking skills…balh”

me: You mean you want someone who cant do one thing well, one thing at a time?

Recruiter: Yes. (they werent even listening.

@Alan Wilensky

If you’re in Orlando, Tampa or Atlanta - try Veredus (www.vereduscorp.com) … They are exactly that type of recruiter.

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