editor that understands CTRL/B, CTRL/I, CTRL/U
perrin at apotheon.com
Mon Apr 30 21:34:23 UTC 2012
On Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 12:23:47PM +0200, Polytropon wrote:
> On Sun, 29 Apr 2012 17:01:56 -0600, Chad Perrin wrote:
> > On Sat, Apr 28, 2012 at 08:01:13AM +0200, Polytropon wrote:
> > > On Fri, 27 Apr 2012 18:36:13 -0600, Chad Perrin wrote:
> > > > On Fri, Apr 27, 2012 at 06:00:51PM -0400, Jerry wrote:
> > > > >
> > > > > I have been told by several people in HR that the trend to give
> > > > > preference to those all ready working as opposed to the unemployed is
> > > > > based on the philosophy that if no one else will hire them, then why
> > > > > should we. While we could argue whether that logic is flawed, it is
> > > > > never-the-less presently in use. However, it doesn't really pertain to
> > > > > entry level openings. With the glut of individuals entering the job
> > > > > market, for an applicant to not be proficient in the skills being
> > > > > advertised for by the prospective employer is just a waste of time. If
> > > > > the employer is looking for skill "A" and "B", crying to him/her that
> > > > > you have skill "C" is just a waste of both your times.
> > > >
> > > > It *does* pertain to "entry level" positions, because (from what I have
> > > > seen) most "entry level" positions come with an experience requirement of
> > > > at least two years.
> > >
> > > But then this would invalidate "ENTRY level". How exactly is
> > > an applicant supposed to get a job from that "entry level" pool
> > > when he doesn't have previous experience because he simply wants
> > > to ENTER that field of profession?
> > Yes -- that is *exactly* the question that comes up. These are not jobs
> > that are "entry level" in terms of requirements, even if they are "entry
> > level" in terms of pay and actual skill required to do the job to a
> > reasonable level of competence. Consider examples like first-level call
> > center jobs that require a college degree and a couple years expericence,
> > as pretty much the canonical example.
> Seems to exactly that way in Germany. I did talk to a HR guy
> last week and he explained that those requirements are typical.
> I think he wasn't honest about the reasons. One may be the
> continuous degrading of school education and the recent loss
> of quality in university education (due to european processes).
This may be an honest reason, but it is not a good reason. It's the
thinking that if schools are worse, you have to require more schooling to
get the same effect -- and schools *are* getting worse, in large part to
satisfy the demand for more formal education to get even the most
mundane and easiest of "skilled" jobs, resulting in a vicious circle.
People may honestly believe increasing the education requirement is a
good answer to a bad problem, so that the problem is not their honesty
but rather their reasoning. Obviously, if autodidacts with degrees are
much better than anti-intellectual lumps on a log with degrees (and they
are), autodidactism is of great value. In many cases, that value greatly
outstrips the value of the degree itself, so that autodidacts without
degrees are better than anti-intellectual lumps on a log with degrees.
The approach to hiring that says we must require ever-more diploma
carrying "education" on the resume selects for anti-intellectual lumps on
a log quite often.
> Another reason might be that companies need to be _certified_
> theirselves in order to get orders from other companies, and
> for that kinds of certification, it seems they have to show
> that they employ lots of "highly qualified personnel" in order
> to justify their prices.
I have never seen a company that lists all of its tech support people and
their degrees. In fact, the most I've ever seen for people in entry
level positions is that they have CompTIA A+ Tech certifications, or
something equivalent, which is easily acquired with a heavy weekend
course and a single test. For autodidacts, you don't even need the
coursework -- just get a $40 book and some practice test software. This
might be worth some marketing, when a company can say all its support
people are certified "experts" or "specialists" of some sort, but it's a
heckuva lot less onerous than demanding bachelor's degrees in computer
science just to get a twelve dollar per hour job answer the telephone and
reading from a script, and more prone to selecting for autodidactism
skills. Offer people flexible schedules if they want to take college
classes while they're working, and you're even more likely to get people
who can think critically, learn quickly, and do good work, because people
who try to pay their way through college while working in a technical
field are far more likely to be good at such jobs than people who breezed
through college on a sports scholarship or parental support and have
never really learned anything on their own.
In fact, I'm generally of the opinion (based on my experience and what
I've observed in others) that the only way to really learn anything
useful in college is to be an autodidact, doing the coursework mostly to
get a piece of paper and get ideas of *what* stuff to learn on your own
time, rather than sitting around waiting to have knowledge handed to you
in a neat package.
> Combined with mis-naming call center positions ("virtualisation
> administrator / system administrator" being such a kind of 1st
> level phone support job, even though the name might make you
> thing of something totally different), it seems to be a means
> to lower wages by "presenting the fact" that the current
> applicant doesn't have a B.A. degree, but will be hired: "You
> know, well... we could pay you more if you've had substantial
> experiences and the required degree, but we can afford to pay
> you on entry level only. Be glad the we are doing that!"
At least they're willing to hire someone with the appropriate skills,
rather than turning them away entirely and hiring someone with a BA
degree who will utterly suck at the job (and giving that person the same
pay your example non-degreed employee would have been paid). There are
varying levels of screwed-up-ness in the hiring world.
> > In some cases, these jobs may simple be advertised this way so hiring
> > managers can use the lack of "qualified" applicants to help justify
> > offshoring jobs.
That should have said "simply" instead of "simple", by the way. Sorry
about the typo.
> That also sounds familiar: the current "lack of professionals"
> can be explained that way. It's not that the professionals are
> lacking per se, it's just that nobody wants to pay them proper
> wages. Personnel costs baaaaaad.
> If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. It is that simple. The "we
> can't get" argument often is "we don't want to pay". Of course,
> this is understandable if you consider how expensive work is:
> taxes, taxes, lots of taxes... 1000 Euro wage can easily turn
> into 2000 Euro costs. (And don't believe that 1000 Euro _paid_
> is much - it isn't. It's almost less worth than 1000 DM!)
Yeah -- that's an entirely different subject, really, but I agree. It's
absurd the way governments tend to punish employers for having employees
and punish entrepreneurs for trying to start new businesses, then offers
"stimulus" packages in the billions or trillions of dollars for
organizations that don't really hire many people to solve a problem they
created even while they blame the organizations to which they're giving
the "stimulus" money.
> > In other cases, this is just an example of how HR "best practices"
> > have gotten ridiculously out of control, where everybody tries to
> > copy what everyone else is doing because if everyone else is doing it
> > you can't get in trouble for doing the same thing.
> This might be important in the B2B sector, especially the "pro-
> paganda" that brings orders to companies. In case the word "they
> hire lower-qualified personnel" or "they pay their workers too
> much" might result in a loss of orders for that company, because
> they're "doing it wrong".
> Note that innovative business has always "done wrong". :-)
No kidding. This goes back to what I said about companies that swim
against the tide in hiring practices having a huge advantage when it
comes to finding good job candidates.
> > I think a far worse problem than the failure to understand what skills
> > are needed is the failure to understand things like
> > 1. what skills can be learned easily in a very short period of time so
> > that focus on other necessary skills already existing can be employed in
> > selecting candidates
> That shouldn't be any UNfamiliar. You don't learn to be a programmer
> at the university, and you don't get experience for working in
> company B during your professional education in company A. There
> is _always_ some time needed to get familiar with how things are
> done at your new workplace - and that's no problem. It hasn't been
> a problem for over 100 years, why should it now?
> As I said, a GENERIC SKILL is learning per se. If you can do that,
> you will be good at knowing how to do things in your new job in a
> few time. And you are treated fair, you _may_ even invest your
> free time (non-work time) to learn more.
I agree with the emphasis on generalized (I think that's a better term
than "generic" for this) skills, where the person understands the
principles that make systems work and knows how to pick up related skills
very quickly as a result of that understanding, rather than merely being
the equivalent of assembly-line workers who aren't even clear on what
they're building. People who are just performing rote tasks without
understanding should be replaced by software and robots when they leave
their jobs (for whatever reason) -- and not replaced by people with
college degrees and four years of experience in the same field.
If you want to hire someone to replace such employees, hire someone to
write the six-line Perl script that replaces the employees, and not
another over-educated meatspace equivalent of a Perl script.
> We currently have a cultural problem of "work vs. non-work" that
> is present nearly everywhere, in production and in service. The
> things you're doing at work are likely _not_ things you do in
> your free time. However, "geeks & nerds" tend to do programming
> stuff, reading docs and practicing coding in their free time too.
> In the past, I did often say: "You're paying me for what I would
> do for free anyway." :-)
I've been known to say something similar: "I'd do this anyway. You're
just paying me so *you* get to directly benefit from it."
> The "standard" scaling models of "being good at <static thing>"
> are hard to make a proper selection, because learning is not
> static. Just because someone is _now_ good at some programming
> language does not neccessarily imply that he will be able to
> learn a different language quickly (by both sharing the aspect
> of being "a programming language"). I think we're talking about
> POTENTIAL here, and how would one measure that? It's a thing
> that comes into action by applying it.
This is especially important to keep in mind considering that the
supposedly "same" language may actually be a different language in five
years. Look at the griping and moaning of people who have been writing
code for MS Windows platforms for more than ten years, for instance.
They've written COM code, .NET code, and are now looking at having to
write Metro code, all to accomplish the same things in the same languages
but with Microsoft's new wonder-drug cure-all technology. That's
ignoring the fact that, for instance, .NET coding itself has been through
a number of upheavals along the way as well. Even if you're still using
the same language fifteen years later, you're not exactly using the exact
same skills (unless it's something like COBOL, which is no longer
> > 2. why disqualifying candidates for stupidities that have nothing to do
> > with their skills and other actually suitable qualities for the job is
> > counterproductive
> Again, sometimes the best candidates slip here. Many "geeks & nerds"
> appear to be "socially unaccomodated", so that disqualifies them,
> even though if they're better at a job than the whole programming
> team. Applicants with disabilities are also "problematic", they
> cannot work exactly the same way healthy people do, and this may
> interfere with established procedures and processes, and therefore
> harm the certification of the company.
There are often some benefits to be had from ensuring people are using
similar tools and procedures to accomplish their work, but yeah, these
benefits are usually blown way the heck out of proportion. Part of the
problem is the way it has been (for a long time) such a popular thing to
judge people's productivity by how long they sit at their desks looking
busy, or by artificial and largely meaningless metrics like lines of
boilerplate code produced. Under those circumstances, it's easy to
understand how someone would want everyone to use the exact same tools,
thus allowing for the assignment of a single person to the task of
maintaining the tools to ensure nobody has any technical problems that
others do not have, and ensuring that people can collaborate without
running into tool incompatibilities.
If productivity and value of an employee were judged more reasonably,
they could be allowed to use whatever tools they like, without having to
provide any official support for tools that differ from the company norm,
as long as they keep being productive. That's a very difficult set of
circumstances to achieve in bureaucratic corporate shops where projects
are treated like assembly lines and programmers are treated like assembly
line robots, interchangeable and without need of qualities like
inspiration and imagination.
> You might be aware that there is legal regulation that forces
> employers to have a certain share of disabled employees (starting
> at a specific company size). But there's a backdoor: They can
> "buy theirselves free" of that obligation. Remember? That penalty
> fees would be material costs. Material costs gooooood, personnel
> costs baaaaaaad.
Most business regulation is, at best, ineffective for reasons much like
this, and more likely counterproductive by keeping new entrants to the
market that might improve the general state of affairs from actually
surviving the early years of competition against corporate giants.
> Of course, things "need to fit", but after all, isn't the employing
> process a thing to GET WORK DONE, on the long run? Shouldn't _THAT_
> be the primary goal, instead of "growing a corporate monoculture"?
It's interesting we agree on so much of this.
Chad Perrin [ original content licensed OWL: http://owl.apotheon.org ]
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