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I got laid off! Now what do I do?

Too many programmers and sysadmins know the personal realities that lie behind the statistics of the dot com bubble's burst. What do you do when the spotlight's gone and the future no longer clear? Is the time between jobs a tragedy or an opportunity?

Part 1 -- Exodus

Realize that this will happen to most of us at some point in our careers. It is normal. Like most things, business activity is cyclic. It goes up and it goes down. Many of you started your careers in a period that saw the longest economic expansion in history. You haven't had to worry about losing a job or even about getting a job. Your biggest worry has been which job to take. Well, kids, welcome back to the real world. It's going to hurt, but the pain is normal.

To give you some perspective, I'll describe my first job in the Bay Area. Think 1987 and recession. It was a consulting programming position that paid twenty four thousand dollars a year. That is about what school teachers made at the time. I had just sold a custom programming business back in Florida, so I felt I was uniquely qualified. Indeed, I was hired after five rounds of interviews. Once hired, I learned that the company ran one ad in the paper, used no recruiters, received more than two hundred resumes, interviewed more than seventy people, and finally picked me! The next couple of years are probably going to be more like that than the last couple of boom years. Get over it right now. You're going to have to scratch and fight for your next job.

You find yourself standing outside the conference room with your last paycheck in hand. What now? Let's first get you out of the building in as few pieces as possible, given that your work life has just been shattered.

Show me the money

Verify the finances. Final paychecks are often done by hand. Go over everything with a fine-toothed comb. Make sure all the details are correct. Count the number of vacation days you have left and how many days were deducted. Make sure the severance amount is correct. Check everything financial! Twice! Go sign up for unemployment as soon as possible.

My lawyer will call you

Companies often use the exit interview as an opportunity to protect themselves. You may be asked to sign releases or indemnifications. Be wary. You don't have to sign anything. Read everything. Take your time, check it all out, and seek advice. Don't make any hasty decisions you'll regret later. You are in a fragile state of mind and shouldn't be asked -- and can't be forced -- to make important decisions on the spot.

You've got your health

Don't even think of going without health coverage. Get all the information regarding your health insurance and either get your own coverage or continue with the company's. US residents can elect to use COBRA, but it is expensive and you will be canceled when the time limit runs out. If you get really sick on COBRA, you will have a very difficult time getting alternate coverage. Do not take the issue of health coverage lightly, no matter how young and healthy you are now.

Polish your image

You probably feel like committing some violent act against the company or your supervisor. Refrain from doing anything that can be construed negatively. Take only your personal items and leave everything else. That goes for your workstation, as well. Nuke your hard disk, and you could be charged with destroying company property. Don't do it.

Keep in mind that while you may never come across the business people at your company again, you will most assuredly encounter the technical people in the future. Have some class. Help the people who have to clean up your mess. They will remember and appreciate it.

Don't use the company email system for personal mail. It's never a good idea, but in volatile times, it's even worse. If you must send and receive mail from work, use Hushmail or another free, secure email service.

Network

Take a few minutes to connect with everyone before you leave the premises. Get everyone's contact information and future plans. You never know if you might need them, and you'd be surprised how fast everyone will scatter to the winds. Many hires come about from personal referrals. Make sure you have some.

Keep in mind that you are going through one of the most stressful events in your life. Expect some fallout. Take care of yourself and give yourself time to process this. At the same time, realize that this process is now part of the employment landscape. Like any other part of your career, you need to put effort and thought into how to do it and how to do it well.

Part 2 -- Nobody Loves Me

You got through your last day with your dignity, reputation, finances, and health insurance intact. Now you've been home for a few days, and the reality has begun to sink in. You've lost your job in a down market and you don't have another lined up. No recruiters are calling. Your last paycheck has been deposited, and you aren't likely to see another for a while. If you're like me, this is when the numbers at the bottoms of bills start to loom large and a little anxiety starts to build.

It's also at this point that you start to doubt yourself. Many people use their job as a way of defining themselves. It's natural to doubt your skills, your marketability, your value to society, and your value to your family when you're laid off. Instead, view this situation as a normal part of a lifelong relationship with work. Like any relationship, it requires effort and tending, and still many don't last. That's fine. If you start to think about this situation in a negative way, you can easily get depressed. Let's go over how can you turn it into a positive event in your life.

Get in control

Uncertainty is a breeding ground for fear and stress. In order to gain power over the fear, you need to reduce the uncertainty. Much of your reaction is a personal choice. Move away from this as an event that happens to you. Make it one that you control. Don't be a victim. Don't whine. Don't let people whine to you. Get busy on the next phase of your life.

Make a plan

Before you start a technical project, you perform an analysis, collect and prioritize requirements, write a specification, and then get it approved. This is Project Management 101. Why not do this for your career, as well? You now have time on your hands. Rather than flail about grasping at whatever crumbs fall your way, take some time to decide what you would like the end result to be and what tasks are required to achieve it.

Establish a routine

It's OK to lay around the house for a few days in your robe and slippers. You've probably earned it. Longer than that, though, and it's likely to drag you down. Set up a "work" day routine that you follow. Include plenty of exercise. Having a regular schedule deflects some of the self doubt, and exercise insulates you from depression.

Use activity goals

Sales people operate in an environment in which people are constantly telling them "No!". The good ones take this in stride, knowing that for every X number of Nos, there will be a Yes. They are happy for every No because it brings them closer to the Yes. Is this self delusion? Yes, but it works. Make your goals activity-based. Send out ten email messages this week, talk to three recruiters, and have one face-to-face meeting at a company. Start collecting Nos to get closer to that Yes.

Get real

This was just a job. You'll get another. Think of how many times you complained about that job. Take this as an opportunity to make some real progress with your life. Carpe Diem.

RSS Recent comments

11 Aug 2001 01:29 philhoward

Be sure you also read this article

Be sure you also read this article (heather.cs.ucdavis.edu...).

11 Aug 2001 02:50 mattryan

Alternatives
I've been searching for a job for over 6 months. I just graduated from college this May (graduated at the top of my class in Computer Science as well) and still can't find a job. I never had an opportunity to even be a part of the Internet boom.

I'm not bitter anymore from experience cus there are plenty of alternatives. I worked in fast food for awhile to earn some money. Definitely not what I thought I'd be doing fresh out of college, but it felt good to be earning a paycheck again instead of staying home and feeling terrible.

Now I'm discovering better alternatives. There's doing tech support for ISPs, being a salesperson for selling PCs for Best Buy, Circuit City, etc., and putting in ads in the local papers to do cheap installations for PCs. I found out I only need a Bachelor's degree and 3 days of training to be a substitute teacher.

11 Aug 2001 03:21 chimbis

Make a plan
Make a plan. How true.
This is very important. I thought I had made a
plan - going through a 20-week IT education.
(After failing the backdoor into law studies,
despite me coming out on top of my class). Not so.
(Mind you, I've got a nice job now - with good
possibilities of long business trips to tropical
countries so I don't whine too much).

Had I sat down a little more I would have found
the project I wanted to do - which I found out
some time later, when all my former contacts were
almost gone, and the times now are quite wrong for
the idea. (Although it might actually happen, I'm
still, somewhere in my heart, playing with it).

Bottom line. Plan your future career. Take a few
days being lazy, revisit your plan. Thoroughly
think about the plan. Discuss it critically with a
good friend. If it still feels right go for it.
Otherwise it was probably the wrong idea.

11 Aug 2001 06:29 Avatar stesch

Re: Alternatives

> I've been searching for a job for over 6
> months. I just graduated from college

Or try to get a greencard in Germany.

11 Aug 2001 09:02 greggman

Re: Be sure you also read this article

> Be sure you also read this article.

And then prompt ignore it since it is a bunch of speculation by a some guy that's never actually run a software company.

I don't know about other industries but in the video game industry there is a huge shortage of talented programmers (and artists). Sure, like that article claims we get lots of resumes and like the article claims we reject almost all of them without even an interview (because the resume clearly shows they don't have the expirience required). Then, like the article claims even of the ones we do interview almost all of them don't qualify.

Here's the problem, the article in question claims we are just too picky. If the author actually had any real word experience in the matter he would know that we've all tried NOT being picky in the past and everytime it has completely screwed us.

I can only speak for gaming. Working at IBM maybe they can hire rookies and train them. Most game developers though are small (< 30 people) and they do not have the budget or the time to train people. They have a deadline they must meet or go out of business. Why do you think so many game companies tank. It's in large part because they hired people that were NOT ABLE TO DO THE JOB.

The last company I worked for knew this. It took them 2 years to find 3 qualified programmers and those 3 ended up being H1B programmers. At the time the first one was hired (from France) our boss told us that the law said that in order to hire him we, the current programmers, had to be shown his offer (which I can verify was the same salary as the rest of us) and had to be given a chance to offer the job to any native we could recommend. As we all didn't know anybody else we could recommend he was happily hired as were the next 2 after looking the world over for another 6 months.

I personally believe that if the author of that article actually tried running a company and hiring programmers and dealing with the conscequenses of his choices he'd quickly come to a different conclusion than his current supposition.

11 Aug 2001 11:17 jschauma

Make a plan...
This plan should include:

* Get in shape - go to the gym , go running etc. You've been sitting on your fat ass for far too long.

* Read non-geek related books

* Read profession-related books

* Take classes to get a(nother) degree

11 Aug 2001 11:20 lithium2001

ideas..
Having found myself in the position above IMHO my advice is:

a) Be VERY careful regarding the sitting around at home period. It is esential to draw a limit on it, as much as it may be beneath you after the closing date of this period go out and get any job you can, fast food or whatever. 3 Days can very easily become a month and the longer it goes on depression will set in.

b) You need something that costs nothing, is good for your CV and may sway a potential employeer. Get involved in a open source project that interests you. You are keeping your brain active and your skills wont become rusty and its plus to a potential employeer.

c) Go 110% on your job applications. Dont simply send a CV and wait for things to happen. Most the time a more skilled 'better' person will also be applying so its crucial to go a bit further. Write a short piece on a companies product and where you would like to take it etc. Anything thats raises the bar and puts you at the forefront of the person reading your CVs mind.

On the above feelings, when in an interview dont bad word your former company (..much as they often deserve it), keep it polite and brief. This is important as again, the chances are another candidate will love to rant about there hate toward a former company that fired them and bore the interviewer no end. Staying calm and focused is important and it will help indicate you are the better person.

11 Aug 2001 12:01 philhoward

Re: Be sure you also read this article

I don't doubt that game programming is highly specialized. But if every such company demands prior experience in gaming, then you have basically cut your own throat by restricting your own talent pool. It certainly won't grow based on what you are doing. I do know employers (not in game development) who have taken the risks with new people. And some have been rewarded with gems. In one case I know of a guy with zero experience who turned out to be their genius programmer, in just a month there, and they had fewer programmers than your company. I wonder how long it would have taken a bright, but inexperienced (perhaps just inexperienced in games) person to come up to speed in the time it took you to find the outside talent. If you hired 3 people, why can't at least one of them be like that?

When you got your first job in game programming, did you have to lie about your experience to get in? Or did someone give you a chance because you were bright? Many programming areas are indeed specialized. But if you want the talent pool to grow, you need to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem. Of course it is not the proper goal of business to do what is best for the country. That role belongs with the government. That's why my position is not specifically that business must all hire inexperienced people, but rather, that the government shouldn't be making it easy to prefer going outside the country to the detriment of growing the pool of experience inside the country.

11 Aug 2001 12:13 philhoward

Re: Make a plan...

If you are a programmer, one thing you can do in down time is work more on some other things that you can add to your resume like open source projects. Of course not every employer will understand it, but some do catch on when you point out that you started a project from scratch and actually released it. A hyperlink on your resume to a released project on FM or SF would be a major plus to me.

What project to do? Talk to people and find out what is needed. Try to focus along the lines of the kind of work you want to do. If you want work that is not specifically programming, try to pick a project along those lines. For example if you want to work in systems administration, put together some new tools for systems administrators.

11 Aug 2001 13:37 ironstorm

Re: Be sure you also read this article

> company demands prior experience in
> gaming, then you have basically cut your
> own throat by restricting your own
> talent pool.

The ability to produce a marketable game
requires a lot talent and experince, and the
project schedules games attempt to adhere
to do not allow for a new hire with a lack
of either to come up to speed on the fly.

> In one case I know of a guy with zero
> experience who turned out to be their
> genius programmer, in just a month
> there, and they had fewer programmers
> than your company.

It is possible that the guy you know has
a LOT of talent and was able to demonstrate
it to the company that hired him, otherwise
the reason he was their genius programmer
is because they are not very discriminate
in who they hire.

When you run a game company you only
want to hire genius programmers.

> find the outside talent. If you hired 3
> people, why can't at least one of them
> be like that?

Good project managment strategies all suggest
that you start with the best damn people you
can find (no matter how long it takes you to
find them before the project starts) and build
a team of less experinced/talented folks under
them.

There is no time/money to play around with
the risk of hiring newbies... Plus more bad people
coding makes it more difficult for the good
people coding to clean up after them
afterwards.

I've been in jobs where I've had to look at
people's code when they don't know how to
do a switch/case block, do cut-and-paste
repeats instead of making functions... trust
me it is f**king frustrating to be asked to
go into code written like that and correct
a bug on production software.

Having experinced tech leads makes all the
difference in the quality of the code you
produce as a team.

> Many programming areas are
> indeed specialized. But if you want the
> talent pool to grow, you need to be part
> of the solution instead of part of the
> problem. Of course it is not the proper

You must be kidding, like anything else in
life YOU must take the initialitive, it is not
some big corperation's job to make sure you
can get a job.

if you want to be a game programmer
there is NOTHING to stop you from writing
your own game.

The tools and tutorials to learn how are on
the net, and if you can demonstrate you've
got the talent it takes to a company by the
stuff you produce then maybe you can get
a game programming job.

You wouldn't expect the baggage handler
to fly the airplane (even though they both
work with planes) ... so don't expect
an MSCE to get you a job game programming
(even though they both might use VC).

-Ironstorm
www.northern.ca
When all else fails hire a Canadian!

11 Aug 2001 13:43 ironstorm

Re: Alternatives
Writing an well coded/well thought out open
source is a great thing to show off to
prospective employers... it can be used to
show applied (not theoritical) talent, initiative,
and motivation...

That's how I got my last 2 jobs was showing
off stuff I did on my own time and explaining
what went into building it - in terms of project
managment, design, planning and execution -
at my job interview, when they asked about it.

-Ironstorm

11 Aug 2001 13:47 hforbess

Well, thanks to all for all these comments
This really cheered me up as I am actually packing to move out of San jose after 6 years back to Austin texas where I am originally from.

I had just gotten a software job up in the city after a really long time of unemployment but was laid off after only 2 weeks.

I was so angry at the world that I could not even sleep last night. After reading this article and the comments, it just took that away.

Life goes on and Austin isnt so bad, except for the heat and the rednecks :)

11 Aug 2001 14:57 dreamlord

But how do you get started?
I've been out of college for about two years, and except for a three-month
self-employment stint, haven't yet found a job (aside from the lousy
retail job I've got now to pay the bills).
Unfortunately, some of my best work in that three months is the stuff I
can't show to people. It was for a small
retail website, and my associate at the time did all the sexy stuff
(making the page look so darn cool, basically) and I did the gruntwork
(integrating the shopping cart software with the credit card processor,
the backend/inventory system, etc.) Most of my contributions are literally
invisible - I did my job right, so you don't see these things. (Well, the
shopkeeper sees 'em, but it's something I can't easily show off.)
I'm very good, but I'm not great. I admit that.
The true genius programmers will rarely have trouble getting work (that
guy with the game company a few comments up might hire you :-)
but what about the second-tier?

11 Aug 2001 15:08 gspencley

Re: Alternatives

> Writing an well coded/well thought out
> open
> source is a great thing to show off to
>
> prospective employers... it can be
> used to
> show applied (not theoritical) talent,
> initiative,
> and motivation...
%endquote

I've had quite different experience regarding OS programs. Most employers and recruiters discard them as being "not _practical_ experience".

Almost every recruiter I've spoken to has demanded at least 2 years practical (meaning with a company) experience. None of my OS programs have meant anything to them.

--

Garett

11 Aug 2001 16:26 greggman

Re: Be sure you also read this article
I agree with most of what Ironstorm said in his reply. I also see your point about the need to *grow* people. Larger companies may be able to afford to do that. I know that Sega in Japan does/did that. Of course Sega in Japan almost went out of business. Whether that's related I don't know.

I'll hire anybody that can demostrate their talent either through previous experience or through personal projects or through an interview.

The best programmer I know was a newbie and we got lucky we found him so I see your point. Usually those kinds of people come recommended from somebody else like another employee or a friend of the company etc.

The problem is, in a small company, nobody has time to interview because everybody is WORKING!!!! That means that we can't afford to talk to everybody, we have to find some way to weed out the most of the losers or otherwise we'd never get any work done. Usually (but not always) that comes from looking at whether ot not they have experience.

When I started my own company we put out the ads and at first started interviewing everybody (which takes more than a hour per person). After wasting so much time on that process we switched to a programming test. The moment the applicant arrived we handed him the test, a desk and said "tell us when you are done". We'd look at the test and just excuse him if he didn't pass so that we didn't have to waste our time.

The HARDEST question on the test was this

"Write a routine that returns the total number of on bits in a 32 bit value."

9 out of 10 applicants COULD NOT WRITE THAT FUNCTION!!!!

That doesn't mean that 1 out of 10 were good people just that 1 out of 10 passed our simple test so that then we gave them the complete interview.

11 Aug 2001 17:01 egenus

Insightful Article
It was a pleasure to read this article because it basically describes me right now. Its nice to know that its not just me or my location and that there's hope. Thanks.

11 Aug 2001 18:59 lithium2001

Adding protection
One person I met lately worked for a not yet hurt .com and there the IT staff, after a year of working together had formed a type of union amongst themselves.
The basic idea being 'if one of goes, we all go without exception'. Clearly this is a dangerous stance to take but it can also make CEOs very aware that they are dealing with fire. It does actually improve moral and working environment and first hand I have seen far happier working IT staff created through this type of union. It is very easy for the powers that be to target individuals and slowly or quickly cut a great team down to nothing. This ensures, at the very least, there will be a ripple effect of there otherwise anonymous actions such as bad press, system failures etc.

11 Aug 2001 19:20 philhoward

Re: Be sure you also read this article
The ability to produce a marketable game requires a lot talent and experince, and the project schedules games attempt to adhere to do not allow for a new hire with a lack of either to come up to speed on the fly.

I'm sure it is way on top of the needs chart. But the fact is, people are not born with the experience. Where is the new supply of experience coming from, huh? Do you know?

It is possible that the guy you know has a LOT of talent and was able to demonstrate it to the company that hired him, otherwise the reason he was their genius programmer is because they are not very discriminate in who they hire..

Most certainly he was talented. His previous job was changing tires and greasing axles. He got the job in part because he kept pestering them, and in part because the hiring manager actually knew how to "read" people.

When you run a game company you only want to hire genius programmers.

There are genius programmers around who don't have experience programming games, at least not for a game software company. The question is whether you want to grow the pool with them, or let the pool shrink.

Good project managment strategies all suggest that you start with the best damn people you can find (no matter how long it takes you to find them before the project starts) and build a team of less experinced/talented folks under them.

Of course. That would be striking a good balance. There would be top notch experienced people to lead the projects and mentor the learners, and new blood to do the grunt work, and gain the experience needed to be gurus and leaders. But that isn't the same as a place that wants _only_ experienced people.

There is no time/money to play around with the risk of hiring newbies... Plus more bad people coding makes it more difficult for the good people coding to clean up after them afterwards.

If you don't want to hire the inexperienced, then you have no right to whine about the lack of people who gain experience. Were you ever hired as a newbie? Or were you born with programming experience?

I've been in jobs where I've had to look at people's code when they don't know how to do a switch/case block, do cut-and-paste repeats instead of making functions... trust me it is f**king frustrating to be asked to go into code written like that and correct a bug on production software.

I've seen exactly the same problems. You're not telling me anything new. But that's no reason to assume the entire pool of people who don't yet have experience will do that, and it's sure no reason to freeze the pool of exerienced people and prevent it from growing.

Having experinced tech leads makes all the difference in the quality of the code you produce as a team.

I'm not suggesting newbies for project leaders. I'm suggesting them to be in a position to work their way up if they are able to prove themselves along the way. If you project leaders have an average of N years experience, then expect some subset of newbies to gain that level of experience and be as good as the project leaders, or be one of them, in N years.

You must be kidding, like anything else in life YOU must take the initialitive, it is not some big corperation's job to make sure you can get a job.

You're misinterpreting my words. I'm not saying corporations have to make sure beginners get the job. What I am saying, is they have no right to whine about the shortage of experienced people if they are not part of the process of growing the pool. Any business has the right to hire or not hire experienced or inexperienced people as they see fit. When all businesses do this, though, it has a negative impact on the economy and society, and government shouldn't sanction it by doing things like expanding H1Bs for companies that won't balance their hiring.

if you want to be a game programmer there is NOTHING to stop you from writing your own game.

In the field of game programming, this experience might make sense. I hope if your game programming company uses any proprietary development environments or runtime systems, that you provide that to people who want to learn on their own, so they not only get experienced with the basics of game programming, but also know your environment/platform as well.

The tools and tutorials to learn how are on the net, and if you can demonstrate you've got the talent it takes to a company by the stuff you produce then maybe you can get a game programming job.

If you want to be focused entirely on game programming, perhaps this is true. I don't follow game programming so I can't deny it. But in many areas of programming, including areas where a large portion of the corporate demand for more H1Bs comes from (telco, for example), these tools are simply not available. You got a couple spare Nortel switches in your closet?

You wouldn't expect the baggage handler to fly the airplane (even though they both work with planes) ... so don't expect an MSCE to get you a job game programming (even though they both might use VC).

My brother is a pilot for a major airline. Prior to going to work for that airline he had NO experience flying the kind of plane he flies now. He did know how to fly and had general experience, none of it in passenger flying. In only 2 years on this new job, he's now entering command training where he'll be the first seat.

Of course you need a certain number of experienced people. And there may be a shortage of a particular group. But if you don't have slots available for the inexperienced to get experience, then don't expect the experience pool to grow. And don't go whining to the government to let you just continue making the problem you are complaining about get worse.

11 Aug 2001 19:20 savgpncl

Re: ideas..
I've been "sitting at home" for some time now and I think I would be more depressed working at a fast food joint (in Chicago those jobs are just as hard to get as the sysadmin position I was fired from).

My advice is get the unemployment, use whatever savings you have put aside, and spend all of your time seeking employment.

11 Aug 2001 19:28 savgpncl

Re: Adding protection
Sure wish they had this kind of protection at a big bank like the one I worked at for 10 years -- and then was fired because Illinois is an "at will" state.
I'm 50 years old, a sysadmin, and have been looking for 10 months now. I doubt I would ever get hired at a Best Buy or Circuit City nor would I pass muster at the local Starbucks or McDonalds. Very frustrating position to be in so I'm hoping you folks at least have your youth to rely upon.

11 Aug 2001 19:28 philhoward

Re: Be sure you also read this article

At least you are identifying steps to optimize the hiring process. Some companies won't give even a response unless the candidate has experience actually doing the job they want them to do.
If that programming test is that effective in shaking out bad programmers, I'll have to remember that one. I may augment it by requiring it be done using 5 steps instead of 32. Maybe that will trim it down to 1 in 100.

12 Aug 2001 02:11 rvandam

Winning the Interview
If your seeking employment I have a few tips that might make the difference for you:

1. If you interview is arranged by a recruiter, ask the recruiter for some background information about the people you are meeting. Sometimes the recruiter can give some insights about the people your interviewing with. Something that you can use for small talk when your walking from reception area to the conference room or office where the interview will take place. Having some knowledge of a persons behavior or attitude can make a different in the way you present yourself during the interview. Ask the recuiter to tell you what questions they might ask you. Often during an interview, you might speak with 3 or 4 people, all with different aspects on job position. For instance you might meet with a manager, who make more interested in how you work as a team rather than how well can code. You want to project the image, that you meet all of their requirements. Having this foresight will allow you to prepare and think ahead what answers you will provide to them. Wars are won and lost by intelligence information, so are interviews!

2. When submitting your resume, for a position, tailor your resume so that it fits best with the position. Don't lie or mis-represent yourself, but expose your skills and work experience that best matches the position. For instance, at one time you might have worked on a project is very similar to the position. Put that project on your resume! Don't take an approach that one resume fits all, because your sure to lose out on a lot of interviews! Don't waste your time submitting your resume for positions your not interested or your not qualified for. You just wasting your time and some elses too. Ask the recruiter for advise on how to set up your resume. Ask them: "What do I need empathize on my resume so that they interview me?"

3. Always dress properly. Wear a suit regardless if the company your interviewing with is wearing cutoff shirts and jeans. You want to present a image that you are serious about the job. Be early! If you are running late, Always! I repeat Always, call ahead and let them know you have been delayed. If you don't take the interview serious by being on time, why should the employer?

4. Be polite and friendly. Always think before you speak. Don't be in a rush to blurt out an answer only to have to retract or revise your statement later. If you blunder your speech, tell them that your a bit nervous. It happens! If they ask you a technical question that your unsure of, ask them to provide you with some further details. If you still don't know the answer but you have a general idea how to find out, explain to them the steps you would take to find the answer. If you completely lost just say your not sure, or "I don't recall having faced that issue". Nobody knows everything!

5. Ask questions about the company and about the position. Ask about what current projects are in development and what future projects they plan to work on. Ask what are some of the issues they are having with thier projects. Then fire back with your experience with similar projects and issues. This process will show them that your interested in them, not just a paycheck, and that you can communicate. It also gives them some further insight into the way your skills and experience fit in with the position.

6. Be prepared! Bring several Clean copies of your resume along with a pen and pad. You may wish to draw a picture or a diagram during an interview. You might be asked a technical question, and if your english (or whatever the local language may be) is hard to understand, you will have the ability to write down or draw an answer so that they can follow you. Before going on the interview, run down scenarios of questions you may be asked. Work out how you want to phrase your answers. For instance, an Employer might ask: "So, what was the reason for leaving your previous job?" or "Where do you see your self in five years". You want to answer like a true business professional. No wineing, no bickering, no baggage. If your leaving or were laid off, don't bad mouth your previous employer. You don't want to come across as someone that may go "postal" if your laid off again.
For the five year question, answer that you plan to move up to the next level ( if your a junior programmer, say you want to be a senior programmer, if your a senior programmer say you want to be a program architect) Don't say that you expect to be a millionare or anything reflective of your personal life. Focus all of your answers on company or business.
Check up on the technology or other aspects of the position. Especially if you haven't done any related work for some time. Look on the Web or pick up a couple of related trade magazines. Find something useful to bring up as small talk that is related to the position. For instance: "I was reading this article about XYZ company that was working on a solution to a similar issue" or "Did you here about XYZ coming out with...". You can also research some details about the company your working on perhaps on the company's web site or from the recruiter. " So what's this XYZ product/project I heard about?".
Always remember that your selling yourself as a product and the employer is a potential customer. You must be able to fulful the needs of the employer otherwise they have no use for you!

7. Ending the interview. At the end of the interview ask them if they have any questions. This gives them a chance to think about anything they might have forgotten to ask. If they are open with you, the might provide you some hints about any doubts they have about you. It gives you one last chance to resolve any issues. Ask them if they would like a copy of your resume. And if approprate provide them a brief comment that reflects your interest in working with them, and don't forget the handshake and thank them for their time!

8. Alway follow through on the interview. If half-way through the interview you think you may not want the job, continue to the interview process like you want this job anyway. You can also turn down the offer later. If you have any doubts ask questions to be sure you have the facts straight. Sometimes you may also get conflicting information about the position if you interview with more then one person. If the conflicts have not be resolved by the end of the interview, ask the recruiter to find out for you.

9. After the interview follow up with the recruiter. Tell the recuiter who you spoke with and how well you did with each person. If you decide you not interested in the position tell them why. Even if you don't like the position or you feel your not qualified, provide the recruiter with any information you can about the position and people you met. This will help the recruiter find a candiate and to prepare the next candiate for the position. In return that recruiter is more likely to help you find a position. The better the relationship you have with a recruiter, the better of chance you may have of getting a job!

10. Be prepared to provide references. Contact your references prior to the interview and let them know you might be using them as a reference. Tell them what position your seeking so that they are prepared to provide a good response for you. Don't use people you don't trust as references. You don't have to use managers, you can use co-workers or even people you've worked with in the past.

Good Luck!

12 Aug 2001 02:42 mattryan

Re: ideas..
I thought getting a fast food job would depress me too, but it actually lifted my spirits a lot. It's a good feeling knowing "I don't need this job" and that it's only temporary while at work. Listening to co-workers' problems (e.g. not enough money to support kids) made my problems seem like nothing. I don't feel discouraged trying to find a tech job because I'm too tired to do that when I come home. I'm also too tired to do any projects as well on my own :\

I stopped applying to jobs online and have only been reading the Sunday paper for job posts. It's even more depressing opening up my e-mail client the next day or week finding 0 replies after sending at least 20 cover letters/resumes out in one day.

12 Aug 2001 03:02 mattryan

Asking price
Lately during interviews and screenings for a potential interview, many employers have been asking me salary requirements. This is kind of a dilemma sometimes. I have no work experience, but I did tons of projects during college and as a hobby along with being involved in a college computer club. I've been telling them above $30,000 annually, but I am lowballing it big time as if I'm putting down my own skills. On the other hand, it's a bad economy and there are plenty of people looking for work that do have work experience. So if I ask for too much, they can easily dismiss me and go with someone with work experience. Any suggestions?

12 Aug 2001 08:32 lithium2001

Re: Winning the Interview

> If your seeking employment I have a few
> tips that might make the difference for
> you:

Great advice, the suit is vital. I have seen so many good people go and waste an interview by dressing badly. The suit is an illustration of your dedication and that you have made a clear effort for them.

If I may add one thing that I have discovered, after the interview write down a little of what was said. Perhaps you were discussing a product or service company X would like to implement therefore a good thing to do is mail the interviewer once your home outlining any ideas you forgot to mention or anything that springs to mind. For example, a quick note on how you think they could create a more secure product or do it cheaper. By doing this is it highlights you as a person who really cares and even without a promised job you have given them some advice however valuable or not it may be.

Another tip is try and inject some humour when the topic of how much you would like to earn arrives - it is often a nasty minute or so while you agree and making it lighter the interviewer will apreciate. I certainly apreciate a candidate who isnt afraid to laugh and they stand out so much more than some of army of other candidates. Of course laying your demands out flat is a bad idea, let them make the first offer. However tempting it is, it is bad to push the envelope at this stage, they will realise your value after a month if you are worth it and the pay rise will come (hopefully!). The enviroment at the moment says take what ever you can as you cant be fussy until the .com nosedive begins to become more stable.

12 Aug 2001 08:36 lithium2001

Re: ideas..

> I thought getting a fast food job would
> depress me too, but it actually lifted
> my spirits a lot

The idea of fast food or any other job is you are getting out of the whole depression and gloom of IT and taking your mind somewhere else. Any job where there are plenty of people make life much more enjoyable. I found by sitting at home and mailing anything I worked myself into a hole and it was not a nice period.

12 Aug 2001 08:39 poggs

Re: Asking price

> I've been telling them above $30,000
> annually, but I am lowballing it big
> time as if I'm putting down my own
> skills.

I started in my job on quite a low salary, with little work experience, but my employer soon saw my talents and within four years, I'm now on 230% of my salary four years ago, with very good prospects.

If you can convince an employer that they don't have much to lose if they take you on, but make sure that you get decent pay reviews that are that - pay *reviews* - you should do well.

12 Aug 2001 08:43 lithium2001

Re: Asking price

%Any suggestions?

Mine is as above, try and let them give you a number. Something like 'well, Im young and money is not my first concern in a job' (white lie perhaps) would go down well.

Personally, if I was not experienced I would be very nervous about stating minimums. Most jobs are dynamic, by working like a dog initally you will show them you are worth more, it may take a year for the rise to come in though. From the posts above it is clear that if you can get a job at all your doing well regardless of the pay.

12 Aug 2001 13:56 savgpncl

Re: ideas..
To each his/her own...I doubt it would lift my spirits listening to others problems at work either. I am "older" and don't want to come home smelling like bacon grease, and with no energy to seek out the job I should have -- while wasting my time working at something "I really don't need". I will temp as a clerical worker or something similar when the cash gets thin -- at least there I can make contacts that will help me get a real job.

12 Aug 2001 14:04 savgpncl

Depression and gloom of IT
There are people to be around then there are PEOPLE to be around. Being around the people at a fast food restaurant would remind me of where I should be and make me so depressed I wouldn't be able to see straight. At home I talk with recruiters, work on my web page, research ads, etc. At least I feel connected to what I used to do. Of course, if the economy gets bad enough all of the IT workers will have jobs at Mickey D's -- then I'll apply and make some good contacts to boot. :-)

No thanks, I'll work somewhere where I can at least get next to someone who is able to further my career.

12 Aug 2001 14:09 savgpncl

A bit long but good advice...
Much of this information is available on any of the job sites out on the net so make sure you read all of them as well. Most are common sense: be on time, wear a suit, pay attention, ask questions, carry resumes, etc. An added note: ask the "recruiter" if they are actually hiring or am I just running a drill...

12 Aug 2001 19:08 Avatar LionKimbro

Relax, Have Fun, Find a Job
I have a bit different advice to give; I guess
I'm not from Ye Olde School of Hard Knocks.

Be nice to people as you leave your previous
company. Actually, be nice to people all the
time.
Spend a few days relaxing, and reflecting on
life. This will help you figure out what you'd
like to do for the next few years in your life.
Look for a new job. I recommend a mixture of
sending out resumes on your own, and using a
recruiter. When you send out resumes on your own,
think: What is it that I would really
like to do? What is the ideal position
for me? Then search the web for those things, and
send resumes.
If times are hard, you might not get the job
you'd like right now. Accept the job in the
happiest environment that will pay the bills until
you can find a job that you are naturally drawn
to.
Relax, be kind and courteous, be yourself.

12 Aug 2001 21:56 savgpncl

Good advice...
As long as "paying the bills" doesn't require more than a paycheck gocery bagging skills provides. When you work your whole life and acquire bills, it can be quite difficult to find that job that will meet your expenses.

13 Aug 2001 02:30 philhoward

Re: Winning the Interview

If you wear a suit when you come to interview with me, then the only jobs you'll be considered for are the ones where that is the expected dress on the job: sales

If you want to show dedication in a technical job, then do the research you think is appropriate. Especially try to figure out what you think may be problems we might have, and what solution directions you'd explore to solve it if you did work for me.

For me, don't wear the suit. But do bathe and wear clean clothes. Note that this is not general advice. There are some companies where wearing the suit is appropriate. You should be the one to find out what is appropriate for where you want to work.

13 Aug 2001 09:11 Braindrop

Re: Well, thanks to all for all these comments

> Life goes on and Austin isnt so bad,
> except for the heat and the rednecks
> :)

It's gotten much better since all the Californians here got fired and moved back west :)

Brain, in Austin

13 Aug 2001 11:57 argus

Another added advice
I was out of work for several months during the beginning of the .com layoff period. Luckily I found a job within 6 months. However my girlfriend still hasn't and it's been almost a year now. The advice I have is watch the credit cards. In the past I have been up to my ears in credit card debt, so I knew what would happen (the hard way) by letting the credit cards get the better of me. It's easy to just charge it when you are out of work and need rent dollars, but (if you can help it), don't do it! Most cards have a higher interest rate for cash advances and can slap you with their highest interest rate for any mishaps with the card 9like late payments or no payments). Your nice 9% introductory rate can go up to 29% in some cases. I know that sometimes, we need to do what we need to in troubled times, but check your finances during them. Take a second mortgage or even a loan, if you need to. this doesn't come from a finance guy, so check out your own situation. But be warned and smart.

14 Aug 2001 00:03 fleeb

Re: Winning the Interview

> If you want to show dedication in a
> technical job, then do the research you
> think is appropriate. Especially try to
> figure out what you think may be
> problems we might have, and what
> solution directions you'd explore to
> solve it if you did work for me.
> For me, don't wear the suit. But do
> bathe and wear clean clothes.

Heh...

When interviewing for my current job, I asked the
manager who would hire me how I should dress. He
mentioned that he would be embarrassed if I wore
anything formal, and that he was going to be
overdressed wearing blue jeans (it's hot in DC
during the summer, and everyone wears shorts). I
thought about it, considering my options, and wore
a nice set of shorts and a good shirt (not a T-shirt).

I got the job.

I even devised a kind of test for them; I had
brought a collection of yoyos that I gathered
while working my last job (did a lot of waiting,
and I need to keep my nervous habits from annoying
people). Just before I left, I lightheartedly
asked if they might be interested in seeing some
tricks (specifically, I performed a star,
rock-the-cradle, round-the-world, and I think I
performed a water-fall).

Many people forget that an interview works both
ways; you're testing them, and they're testing
you. My test was to determine if they could
handle a sense of humor, and to see that we'd fit
together. They passed; to this day, we still
laugh about the unconventional nature of that
interview.

14 Aug 2001 11:25 ralphie

get creative
folks-

get creative ... much of what i say is going to be contingent on where you are, but there are tons of contexts out there right now that need your skills. you may not be going to make a lot of money at it, or walk into a incipient ipo, but a lot of what i hear being discussed is the feeling of ennui engendered by the sense that no one is interested in you.

go talk to community organizations, churches, little leagues, etc. offer your services for what they can pay. help teach little inner-city kids how to assemble machines. demonstrate your worth. the next thing you know some guy who owns a plumbing business is going to ask you what it would cost to do x, and a woman who owns an orchard is going to ask you how she could integrate the web into her business. from where you hang out here i know you know how to deliver low-cost solutions ... do it!

i know this isn't near as sexy as game development, and sometimes i'm not sure that starting into this kind of thing will be looked on with favor in all segments of the culture. but this time can be an opportunity, if only in that it can lead you to learn new things about yourself.

15 Aug 2001 13:07 sokolsky

For those in Bay Area: Career Action Center

www.careeraction.org (www.careeraction.org)

Highly recommended

17 Aug 2001 18:11 rvandam

Re: Winning the Interview

> If you wear a suit when you come to
> interview with me, then the only jobs
> you'll be considered for are the ones
> where that is the expected dress on the
> job: sales

That's just plain silly. Wear the suit for the interview is a good idea, period. For most people, the interview will be the first contact with the employer. You will probably not know everyone you will be interviewing with. Why take a risk of some one pre-juding you (like you Phil) based on appearence? Once you get the job wear what is exceptable.

18 Aug 2001 02:53 Caglios

Re: Alternatives
% Almost every recruiter I've spoken to
> has demanded at least 2 years practical
> (meaning with a company) experience.
> None of my OS programs have meant
> anything to them.

Thats the reality of it. Fresh out of my CS degree with a 6.3 GPA, thought I'd set the world on fire. Even went to lengths of compiling and distributing a CD with all of my libraries, open source and shareware apps for them to give me the same old line, 'We don't hire graduates, you must have at least 2 years commerical experience'.
I've known some atrocious programmers getting paid upwards of $50k per six month contract; Trust me, planning your success path isn't the most productive pursuit - its not what you know, but who.

19 Aug 2001 11:50 JamesGB

Re: Winning the Interview
Structure your resume to reflect your best skills. There are various format styles, and for me the functional resume worked best. Group your work experience by the skills you have or the problems you've solved.

You need to catch the reader's eye right away; you can bury the details (where, when) but highlight the skills (Web dev, Java, Smalltalk, whatever).

Oh, and proof-read it, and include a well-written (i.e., simple and polite) cover letter to show that you can actually communicate in something other than binary.

19 Aug 2001 19:44 tftp

Re: Be sure you also read this article

> If that programming test is that
effective in shaking out bad
programmers, I'll have to remember that
one. I may augment it by requiring it
be done using 5 steps instead of 32.

int getNumberOfBits(void) const { return 32; }

Why 32, why 5? Only one step :-)

19 Aug 2001 19:49 tftp

Re: Be sure you also read this article

> Why 32, why 5? Only one step :-)

Well, I missed the "on" requirement. But still it can be done in one step, in only three machine commands or so. Just make a really big table :-)

21 Aug 2001 05:01 device0

Re: Winning the Interview

>
> % If you wear a suit when you come
> to
> % interview with me, then the only
> jobs
> % you'll be considered for are the
> ones
> % where that is the expected dress on
> the
> % job: sales
>
>
> That's just plain silly. Wear the suit
> for the interview is a good idea,
> period. For most people, the interview
> will be the first contact with the
> employer. You will probably not know
> everyone you will be interviewing with.
> Why take a risk of some one pre-juding
> you (like you Phil) based on appearence?
> Once you get the job wear what is
> exceptable.

This isn't 1950 and you presumably aren't applying for an executive job.

You're best bet is to wear a nice ironed button down shirt with the very top button open and a nice pair of ironed slacks. Anything else would be overkill and show that you're desperate instead of confident.

If it's smaller company, a technical job or a design job, wearing a suit just looks pathetic and out of touch. If you're interviewing at a big name company, then wear a tie as well, but the suit jacket has got to go.

23 Aug 2001 21:04 tuxken

Re: Winning the Interview

> 3. Always dress properly. Wear a suit
> regardless if the company your
> interviewing with is wearing cutoff
> shirts and jeans. You want to present a
> image that you are serious about the
> job.

Be yourself: be stylish, even adapt a style but don't overdress!

I feel comfortable in a black buttonshirt, black pants, black socks and black shoes. The sunglasses or jacket can be add-ons depending on the weather. Why change? I would only feel nervous in a more formal dress.

> Be early!

Take a coursebook or a tech/business magazine with you and read it while you are waiting for the interviewer. This way you are surely not wasting your time waiting.

Or go without it, patience can be an art, and you the artist. Don't fall asleep :-)

> If they ask you a technical
> question that your unsure of, ask them
> to provide you with some further
> details. If you still don't know the
> answer but you have a general idea how
> to find out, explain to them the steps
> you would take to find the answer. If
> you completely lost just say your not
> sure, or "I don't recall having
> faced that issue". Nobody knows
> everything!

This strategy is fine for the plain technical questions.

But after these often come "cases" where you are supposed to troubleshoot or give a solution.

I've done several interviews the last years, In which the interviewers gave me one or two cases to troubleshoot and solve. Most of them were cases from their real life experienced that have troubled them at least several hours, days if not months or longer.

I rephrase the problem and talk about things to investigate, finally I came to "check on the website of the manufacturer because this sounds like a bug", or with a solution that I know to work and work well (even when I reconsider it after the interview) but the interviewer tells me I am wrong and comes with a solution that is either quite similar or is different but not better.

This experience frustrated me so much that I said to myself "I think I'll stay with my current employer for a while, even though he doesn't pay that well."

Looking upon it after almost a year later, I know that if I failed on this part of the interview, it might have been because I was offensive in my answers not assertive.
I considered the question as an attack of the interviewer on me.
While I should have rather interpreted it as: "our team is confronted with this problem, how would you help?"

Yes one might better ask what the current issues are, to show assertive empathy for the team.

> 5. Ask questions about the company and
> about the position. Ask about what
> current projects are in development and
> what future projects they plan to work
> on. Ask what are some of the issues they
> are having with thier projects. Then
> fire back with your experience with
> similar projects and issues. This
> process will show them that your
> interested in them, not just a paycheck,
> and that you can communicate. It also
> gives them some further insight into the
> way your skills and experience fit in
> with the position.
>

25 Aug 2001 03:29 darnold

Re: get creative
%Hmmm...seems to be a lot of whining here.
%
%Last time I checked, this was a free market
%economy (at least here in the good ol' US of A)
%built on individuals taking risks and providing
%goods & services other folks would pay for.
%
%Mind you , I'm an old -timer by the stds of most
%folks commenting here, but may have a special
%persepective...I graduated from college in the
%Detroit area in the early 80's...unemployment
%was *at least* 25% (yeah thats right, 1 out of 4)
%and alumini that had graduated 3 or 4 years earlier
%were *sleeping in the halls of the career center
%to SIGN UP FOR* an interview!
%
%Games are really swell, but I doubt they're going
%to cure cancer. I realize game programming isn't
%easy, but maybe its time to start thinking about
%translating those skills to something more
%constructive ?
%
%1. Build an Open Source product. Not start,
%but BUILD. And make it something USEFUL!
%You probably have a PC or you wouldn't be
%posting here...
%
%2. Start your own company. It takes guts and
%perserverence (sp?) and you'll quickly
%find out who your friends are...but you'll definitely
%LEARN something they don't teach at most (any?)
%CS/EE programs.
%
%3. In the meantime, if you live in or near the USA,
%I strongly recommend a tour of National
%Parks. A day hike in the Grand Canyon,
%up Glacier Basin @ Rainier,
%or up the Grand Teton
%can put a lot of things in perspective. And its
%a pretty cheap trip. (Just don't all show up
%when I'm there (c:)
%
%I realize this diatribe may seem like salt on
%an open wound, but trust me, there
%are people who are in FAR more dire straits
%than you. You are probably smart, gifted,
%and seek challenges, making you a very
%important commodity in ANY economy.
%The secret is deciding to forge your own
%destiny, rather than letting others define it.
%(Boy that sounded WAY too Yoda-esque!)
%
%Regards,
%JR "Bob" Dobbs

28 Aug 2001 22:52 ask

Re: Alternatives

> I've had quite different experience
> regarding OS programs. Most employers
> and recruiters discard them as being
> "not _practical_ experience".
>
> Almost every recruiter I've spoken to
> has demanded at least 2 years practical
> (meaning with a company) experience.
> None of my OS programs have meant
> anything to them.

In my experience being a well known contributor to open source projects is indeed a big help. Just make sure that it's projects that are actually relevant to the company.

- ask

29 Aug 2001 22:15 abo

Re: Be sure you also read this article

> "Write a routine that returns the
> total number of on bits in a 32 bit
> value."

I feel like a comedy skit... "Luxury"!!! One job I got had, after IQ and written tests, a programming test "this file contains 8x8 bitmaps of opticly scanned characters and character fragments. Write a program that will recognise all the character 'M's". They gave me a computer with C and Pascal compilers and a couple of hours.

I was young and keen, and in three hours wrote a learning algo/recognition program that could be trained to recognise whatever letter you wanted. Later research revealed I had re-invented a primative single layer neural net. I got the job, beating many far more experienced applicants, and by the end of a year and a bit had written a fairly good Japanees OCR program. After achieving this, I was pretty much spent and failed to complete my next task of writting a word-processor for blind people.

Apart from being a chance to be a big w*nker and brag, this story raises two things; why don't employers use tests more often, and fresh, keen programmers often make good employees, at least untill they burn out.

If I was a bastard employer out to make a buck, I'd definitely use tests to help pick who to employ, and I'd favor young, keen programmers (like I was) over more experienced, burned out ones (like I am now). The young guys are cheaper, work harder, and are easier to order around.

01 Sep 2001 09:43 ufonaut

Re: But how do you get started?

> Most of my contributions are literally
> invisible - I did my job right, so you
> don't see these things. (Well, the
> shopkeeper sees 'em, but it's
> something I can't easily show off.)
> I'm very good, but I'm not great. I
> admit that.

But in this case you do have somehing to show a potential employer, at least if you are looking for a programming or systems integration position: Point people at the web site that you and your associate set up and tell people exactly the same as you said here: You did this together with your associate, you did all the gruntwork and then tell exactly which parts you were responsible for.

Now you've just told your prospective employer that you already have three months of experience, that you can be trusted with the responsibility for a small project, that you do have the technical insight to do systems integration and that you don't mind doing the not-so-glamorous stuff when it is necessary. Don't worry, if your application gets through the screening process done by the HR department to someone who has a technical background, then they will be able to appreciate what you have done.

06 Sep 2001 22:28 680x0

Re: Be sure you also read this article

>
> % Why 32, why 5? Only one step :-)
>
>
>
> Well, I missed the "on" requirement.
> But still it can be done in one step, in
> only three machine commands or so. Just
> make a really big table :-)

"Really big" is right. At one byte per entry, that
is 4 GB of data. I know memory is cheap these days
but that might be stretching it a bit. You could
separate out your 32-bit number into 4 8-bit
numbers, look up each byte in a 256-byte table and
add the results. The simplest way is just this:

int count = 0;
for (int i = 0; i < 32; i++)
if (((1 << i) & the_number) != 0)
count++;

And now count has the number of "on" bits. Isn't
that easy?

06 Sep 2001 23:42 tftp

Re: Be sure you also read this article

> The simplest way is just this:
>
> int count = 0;
> for (int i = 0; i < 32; i++)
> if (((1 << i) & the_number)
> != 0)
> count++;

//=========================
int count=0, i=1;
do { count += (i & the_number) ? 1 : 0; } while (i <<= 1);
//=========================

needs assert(sizeof(int)==4) though... and I would have objected to this at a code review.

14 Sep 2001 01:20 moses1420

Re: Be sure you also read this article
% I'll hire anybody that can demostrate
> their talent either through previous
> experience or through personal projects
> or through an interview.

Often whole recruiting/interviewing process is just a mess. Usually managers do all decisions.

> The best programmer I know was a
> newbie and we got lucky we found him so
> I see your point. Usually those kinds
> of people come recommended from somebody
> else like another employee or a friend
> of the company etc.

It's very easy to verify competence for a professional. But resume has to make this far.

Then also it's company wide strategies like we need
full-time only or W-2 only. Often it's we need 20 people within ten days.

Otherwise, once person passes interview they'll start looking for funds.

Plus the fact that 40 recruiters in 15 companies control 60% of today's job market.

> The problem is, in a small company,
> nobody has time to interview because
> everybody is WORKING!!!! That means
> that we can't afford to talk to
> everybody, we have to find some way to
> weed out the most of the losers or
> otherwise we'd never get any work done.
> Usually (but not always) that comes from
> looking at whether ot not they have
> experience.

But that does not work, does it?
One solution is to post jobs directly to boards.
At least *professional* opinion of a recruiter won't matter.

> When I started my own company we put
> out the ads and at first started
> interviewing everybody (which takes more
> than a hour per person). After wasting
> so much time on that process we switched
> to a programming test. The moment the
> applicant arrived we handed him the
> test, a desk and said "tell us when you
> are done". We'd look at the test and
> just excuse him if he didn't pass so
> that we didn't have to waste our time.

I think that's wrong. There are people that aren't
too good with written test, but can program.
I think 10-15 questions can pretty much show if a condidate is worth the meat.

> The HARDEST question on the test was
> this
>
> "Write a routine that returns the
> total number of on bits in a 32 bit
> value."
>
> 9 out of 10 applicants COULD NOT WRITE
> THAT FUNCTION!!!!

Yes, but should you asked what do words virtual and/or static mean, you don't have to waste another hour.
You can also do over the phone and not invite the guy to the interview. Sure faster than looking over test results.

17 Sep 2001 21:57 ally

Re: Be sure you also read this article
%
> I don't know about other industries
> but in the video game industry there is
> a huge shortage of talented programmers
> (and artists). Sure, like that article
> claims we get lots of resumes and like
> the article claims we reject almost all
> of them without even an interview
> (because the resume clearly shows they
> don't have the expirience required).
> Then, like the article claims even of
> the ones we do interview almost all of
> them don't qualify.
>

Ahh..yes, and then people like me come along, and don't get a chance. Why, you ask? Female. Oh the horror! How intimidating! Not really, get over the breast factor and you've got a dedicated employee. Young. Yes, and probobly smarter than the person interviewing. But that's just from my experiences. Don't mind me, I'm bitter.

Not everyone who doesn't have the "experience" on paper is ignorant in the field.

But that's just my two cents.

18 Sep 2001 00:20 greggman

Re: Be sure you also read this article

> Ahh..yes, and then people like me come
> along, and don't get a chance. Why, you
> ask? Female. Oh the horror! How
> intimidating! Not really, get over the
> breast factor and you've got a dedicated
> employee. Young. Yes, and probobly
> smarter than the person interviewing.
> But that's just from my experiences.
> Don't mind me, I'm bitter.
>
> Not everyone who doesn't have the
> "experience" on paper is ignorant in the
> field.
>
> But that's just my two cents.
>
>

First, Game companies in general are SMALL. Sure, famous ones like Square, Sega, Nintendo are not but the majority of game developers are small. 30 people or less. This usually means THEY DON'T HAVE TIME TO INTERVIEW. Everybody is working 8, 10, 12 hour days on the current project. Interviewing is considered a waste of time when most of the time the interviewee turns out to not be good enough. Therefore we need some way to try to come as close to possible to interviewing only true potential canididates. This is usually done by looking at experience. Sorry, but there's really no other way. The exceptions are (a) a personal recommendation from an employee or friend (b) personal works - if you've written your own game or added a mod to another game or whatever, send it in with your resume. It will probably be looked at.

Second, if you are good it doesn't matter if you are female, at least not the places that I've worked. Unfortunately we get next to zero female resumes. There is/was a kick ass female programmer at Crystal Dynamics or so I've heard. She came in after I left and was on the Gex 3D team.

23 Sep 2001 20:37 Avatar djoffe

Re: Be sure you also read this article

>
> % The simplest way is just this:
> %
> % int count = 0;
> % for (int i = 0; i < 32; i++)
> % if (((1 << i) &
> the_number)
> % != 0)
> % count++;
>
> //=========================
> int count=0, i=1;
> do { count += (i & the_number) ? 1
> : 0; } while (i <<= 1);
> //=========================
>
> needs assert(sizeof(int)==4) though...
> and I would have objected to this at a
> code review.
>

Hmm .. I think your way is notably less readable than the for loop (it takes a bit of looking at to figure it out, its not as quickly obvious what the code is doing). I'll take "readable" over "clever" any day, especially when you end having to dig through someone elses code to find their bugs, because they're either too lazy or they're not at the company any more.

23 Sep 2001 20:47 Avatar djoffe

Re: Be sure you also read this article

> Ahh..yes, and then people like me come
> along, and don't get a chance. Why, you
> ask? Female. Oh the horror! How

I don't think you've looked hard enough for a job. Where I work there is no gender bias. Heck, we've been *asking* for female progammers :) Seriously though, its a small company, and we currently *need* good C++ programmers. I guarantee you there is NO gender bias. We look for one thing only - *good programmers*. We already have a female programmer, and actively evaluate more if we meet them. If you're reasonably good at C++ and have at least a little bit of a university-level math/physics background, I guarantee you we'd hire you today. If it weren't for the we're-based-in-South-Africa problem of course...

24 Sep 2001 13:20 ally

Re: Be sure you also read this article
Not anymore, no. When I was activly looking for a job, i was 17 and barely out of highschool. Most people didn't give me the time of day because I was a chick, and was young. Perhaps it was an individual basis, I dunno. I just know that where I was living, in olympia (I'm in florida now), there was no market for females in programming fields. Your only hope was to go apply somewhere as something else and hope you could squeeze your way into a good programmin position. Portfolio or not, it just wans't accepted. *Shrug*

-kyvie
>
> I don't think you've looked hard
> enough for a job. Where I work there is
> no gender bias. Heck, we've been
> *asking* for female progammers :)
> Seriously though, its a small company,
> and we currently *need* good C++
> programmers. I guarantee you there is NO
> gender bias. We look for one thing only
> - *good programmers*. We already have a
> female programmer, and actively evaluate
> more if we meet them. If you're
> reasonably good at C++ and have at least
> a little bit of a university-level
> math/physics background, I guarantee you
> we'd hire you today. If it weren't for
> the we're-based-in-South-Africa problem
> of course...
>
>
>

24 Sep 2001 19:42 Avatar djoffe

Re: Be sure you also read this article

> Not anymore, no. When I was activly
> looking for a job, i was 17 and barely
> out of highschool. Most people didn't
> give me the time of day because I was a
> chick, and was young. Perhaps it was an
> individual basis, I dunno. I just know
> that where I was living, in olympia (I'm
> in florida now), there was no market for
> females in programming fields. Your only
> hope was to go apply somewhere as
> something else and hope you could
> squeeze your way into a good programmin
> position. Portfolio or not, it just
> wans't accepted. *Shrug*

Hmm .. do you know for a fact it was because you were female? Did they say so? Or was it maybe just because of inexperience?

I ask because when I graduated with a CompSci degree from University I also struggled a bit to get a job, in spite of me being male (and having a degree, not even just out of school).. the reason was, *nobody* seems to want people with no experience. Of course, I already *had* programming experience in industry, but that was part-time, so as far as they were concerned that "didn't count", they wanted full-time experience. I gave my CV to a number of recruitment agencies, who completely ignored it, and after nagging them a while I gave up and found myself a job, where I had worked before (and am happy there now). But they didn't throw my CV away .. instead, they waited six months or so, and then *started phoning me* (once I had a little experience) and actually wouldnt leave me alone for months. I was pretty pissed, when I went to them they wouldnt give me the time of day, and then they expected me to do them a favour once I had a bit of experience? Not a chance. They could've at least had the decency to tell me they didn't do graduates up front. Anyway, in general, virtually every job I looked for wanted people with n years experience in some very specific thing, and almost no companies were interested in training people. It gets so ridiculous, I remember there was a company advertising that they wanted people with "at least 5 years Java experience" - when Java was only 3 years old! Some of those companies went months without filling available posts, because they weren't interested in training people but wanted people with ridiculously specific experience.

24 Sep 2001 20:29 ally

Re: Be sure you also read this article
I was told by one company that they just "didn't think you would fit in well with this envornment", other than that, I knew people inside and had been told by them that I hadn't been hired because of age or sex. Not by inexperience. I had the experience, I'd been working for sony online for 2-3 years at 17, a company who hired me on a whim because I had motivation and needed college experience. (started off with low pay, part time, and no benifits, but it was a job with a good-name company), and since I was still a highschool student in college classes, I didn't have to get permission to work from the state, so it was easy on their part to hire me. So yeah, that ramble wasn't really necessary, except basically, i DID have the experience, i HAD been programming for quite some time, and it was a no-shit company that I had the experience with. Perhaps I'm just a rare case :X

-kyvie

>
> Hmm .. do you know for a fact it was
> because you were female? Did they say
> so? Or was it maybe just because of
> inexperience?
>
> I ask because when I graduated with a
> CompSci degree from University I also
> struggled a bit to get a job, in spite
> of me being male (and having a degree,
> not even just out of school).. the
> reason was, *nobody* seems to want
> people with no experience. Of course, I
> already *had* programming experience in
> industry, but that was part-time, so as
> far as they were concerned that
> "didn't count", they wanted
> full-time experience. I gave my CV to a
> number of recruitment agencies, who
> completely ignored it, and after nagging
> them a while I gave up and found myself
> a job, where I had worked before (and am
> happy there now). But they didn't throw
> my CV away .. instead, they waited six
> months or so, and then *started phoning
> me* (once I had a little experience) and
> actually wouldnt leave me alone for
> months. I was pretty pissed, when I went
> to them they wouldnt give me the time of
> day, and then they expected me to do
> them a favour once I had a bit of
> experience? Not a chance. They could've
> at least had the decency to tell me they
> didn't do graduates up front. Anyway, in
> general, virtually every job I looked
> for wanted people with n years
> experience in some very specific thing,
> and almost no companies were interested
> in training people. It gets so
> ridiculous, I remember there was a
> company advertising that they wanted
> people with "at least 5 years Java
> experience" - when Java was only 3
> years old! Some of those companies went
> months without filling available posts,
> because they weren't interested in
> training people but wanted people with
> ridiculously specific experience.
>

27 Sep 2001 09:24 JBHoren

Things to do in Denver, BEFORE you're out of work
1. Keep your resume current.
2. Keep your resume in digital form.
3. Keep your resume in HTML format.
4. Get and use a PDA.
5. Keep in-touch with colleagues from past jobs.
6. Be active in local user/professional groups.
7. If you have to use credit cards, pay them
off completely, each month.
8. Exercise daily.
9. Drink a glass of good red wine daily.
10. You're not indespensible, but let the kids
work weekends and 24/7.

27 Sep 2001 12:56 emacsuser

Re: Asking price
* Don't lowball... it gives the impression you're not qualified. Give the same impression of confidence they might expect from someone more experienced.

* Find out what a position like yours is worth by checking salary surveys.

* Give them a range eg. 35-45,000 for an entry level programmer and tell then you're flexible.

> Lately during interviews and screenings
> for a potential interview, many
> employers have been asking me salary
> requirements. This is kind of a dilemma
> sometimes. I have no work experience,
> but I did tons of projects during
> college and as a hobby along with being
> involved in a college computer club.
> I've been telling them above $30,000
> annually, but I am lowballing it big
> time as if I'm putting down my own
> skills. On the other hand, it's a bad
> economy and there are plenty of people
> looking for work that do have work
> experience. So if I ask for too much,
> they can easily dismiss me and go with
> someone with work experience. Any
> suggestions?

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