Job Watch: 1 down, 4 to go.

I’ve been hoping that this would be the week I finally landed a job. What with no less than five different possibilities all pending I figured this week would be the week that it happens and it still might be, but not as of today. First off I’ve still not gotten the offer from my old contract house that I know is supposed to be coming along. Not sure if they’ve changed their minds since I last talked to them or they’re still busy with year-end benefits issues, but the call still hasn’t come and I’m getting to the point where I’m not even worried about it anymore.

One of the new contract houses I’ve spoken to recently is responsible for two of the opportunities I’ve been waiting to hear on and one of them, going to work for a major banking chain that’s based here in the Detroit area, had me in for an interview on Tuesday afternoon along with about 9 other guys from the same contract house. The interview was one of those short 15 minute jobs where it was less about your qualifications than what the job entails and what your people skills are like. They had seen my resume and had no doubts I could do the job—which was basically a two month contract to do PC renewal at three of their major office locations—they just wanted to make sure, in the literal words of one of the interviewers, that I didn’t have 14 million piercings across my face. I don’t, but I do have a shaved head and a beard some have likened to Saddam Hussein’s. That didn’t seem to be a problem at the time of the interview and I answered their questions on my people skills with examples of how I’d deal with various situations. A telling moment was when they were explaining how they knew there were ways that you could tweak the renewal process to make machines load stuff faster or put up witty splash screens and they didn’t want us to engage in that sort of thing because anything that deviated from the process they had established would put other processes at risk and so on. I piped up and said, “You have a standardized process for support. Makes perfect sense. Deviation could result in breaking other applications or the support systems you have in place. I’m quite familiar with standardized installations.” The guy interviewing me practically jumped out of his chair with excitement saying that I was the first person in the two days they’d been interviewing that used the word “standardized” and could explain why it was a good thing. So, naturally, I thought I’d be a shoe-in for the job.

You can imagine my surprise and amusement then when I got a phone call from the contract house today and was told that the bank had decided to pass on using me on the contract because I had “too much personality.” That’s a first in my career. I’ve been turned down plenty of times, but never because I had too much personality. Now the rep I spoke with today wasn’t sure if that was what the bank actually said or if it was just the interpretation of the account manager who was handling it, but that was the reason he was given. It seems quite a few of the folks this contract house sent over didn’t get picked up which is odd considering that last year when they had a similar cattle call every single one of the people this contract house sent over did get hired and several are still working there. But that’s OK because this same contract house has a pretty strong relationship with a local energy utility and I’m on the short-short list (one of two people being considered) for a position with them instead which I should be hearing about within the next day or so.

Additionally the potential job down in Ann Arbor, which would be great from a commute standpoint once I move in with my in-laws in Brighton, has scheduled me for a 11AM interview this Friday. I’m also still waiting to hear back on the Server Administrator position I interviewed for last week that would be the best paying out of all the jobs so far (at least out of those that I know what the pay rate would be). So while I missed out on possible job I still have four other possibilities pending. I just need one of them to hurry up and decide if they’re going to hire me so I can get some bills paid up. The drama continues….

14 thoughts on “Job Watch: 1 down, 4 to go.

  1. Ouch.  If they visited SEB they might have concerns that your blog persona would channel in your work persona.  So from their view you may have too much persona-lity.

    On another note, (and I wish I’d asked for this months ago) if you write Expression Engine for Dummies I have no doubt it will sell one copy to almost every user.  One to me, at least.  If the Dummies people are too dumb to go for it, you could self-publish on Amazon.

  2. I suspect the “Too many notes” reference was from Amadeus.

    Les, I don’t know what “too much personality” means, but as you probably didn’t hold forth on your personal interests during the brief interview, I’m guessing it means “an appearance almost as unconventional as 14 million piercings across the face.” 

    In Switzerland the human resources departments had a standard set of code words that they wrote in the reference letters for former employees that the other HR departments would understand.  They were legally acceptable phrases, but “everyone” knew what they really meant.  I can’t remember any examples, but they were along the Dilbertian lines of “We can’t say enough good things about this employee” and “His level of expertise was clear to all.”

    Here’s hoping one of the other positions comes through …

  3. I wonder if they were using “too much personality” in more of reference to your physical personality.  Granted, you had more than enough skills for the job, but having spent most of my tech career in the finance industry, I’ve found that at the end of the day they prefer people who look like them, dress like them and act like them.  I’ve been guilty of the practice on multiple occasions.

    If it makes you feel any better, I have been turned down for a position as technology trainer because I was too charismatic.

    In my book, it’s their loss.

  4. but I do have a shaved head and a beard some have likened to Saddam Hussein’s.

    Bah, you put Saddam to shame!

  5. Y’know, the more I think about that the more I know it’s true. The unwritten rules seem to be these (in one long blurb) no facial hair (presumably for both genders but it virtually only applies to men), no long hair (on men only), no tattoos, no piercings and (believe it or not) no makeup of any sort.

    I’ve been turned away from a number of jobs because I have hair down to my lower back (what I call my waist but others disagree; what’s the “waist” anyway?), and I’ve always been called to shave for any job.

    I wish those who have a vested interest in such firms could be shown what it is they lose. I can understand where pleasing the general public means “standing [the employees] in a line”, but in most cases it’s not in anybody’s interest (monetary profit) for such policies to exist.

  6. I forgot to add no wounds of any sort. My brother and his buddy are accountants, and they both play rugby. His buddy was warned by his firm that he couldn’t keep his job if he kept playing rugby.

  7. Except in certain hard-core sysadmin circles, where they won’t take you if you look too “corporate.” If you don’t look like a canonical geek, they assume you don’t have any technical skills.  Snobbery works both ways.

  8. “which part of the personality would you suggest I cut?”

    Um, that would probably be the Saddam Beard[tm] part.

  9. I’d actually be very surprised if it were my beard that’s the problem. I’ve had it for close to a decade now and it’s never been an issue with employers before. I do trim it up before going to interviews so it’s not totally Wild Mountain Man in it’s appearance.

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