Re: Hiring Publications Managers

Subject: Re: Hiring Publications Managers
From: Kelley <kwalker2 -at- gte -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 03 Feb 2002 22:53:43 -0500

At 07:02 PM 2/3/02 -0800, Bruce Byfield wrote:

Excuse me for taking this personally, because I am. :-) I'm a contractor, after all.

But why do you automatically assume that a person who is a successful contractor is unsuited for full-time work? Given the high turnover rate in high-tech (even now), there is very little difference between contractors and full-timers.

I said that they "might" be ill-suited. Thus far, I've interviewed quite a few former contractors who are now scrambling for full-time work. I've found that, through experience, they are ill-suited to captive employment. But experience is entirely subjective. Do we have any decent, objective research? None that I know of. And, besides, social research is always based on probabilities and lies, more lies, and damn lies anyway.

Also, as I said, I, personally, refuse to hire contractors unless desperate because they made a choice to contract. It's a market. I make decisions. You make decisions. Our firm makes decisions. We get disciplined by the market. In my role, I'm happy to discipline contractors. That means they go at the bottom of the "Yes" pile. :)

I look for people who prefer captive employment for full-time, permanent jobs. If I were looking for contractors, I'd look for contractors, rather than full-time, permanent people. The captives are out of work because of a shite economy. People who chose to forego the benefits of contracting should be rewarded with the jobs I have to offer: full-time positions with an employer who will reward that commitment because they've demonstrated that commitment in the past. People who chose to contract shouldn't be rewarded because they haven't demonstrated that commitment. We want to invest in someone. Discipline. A huge differential in skills would go into the decision-making hopper, of course, but there are so many apps it really isn't much of a criterion.


In fact, I've had contracts that lasted longer than many people's full-time positions. And how do you know that the person isn't trying to make a switch to full-time work for one reason or the other?

I have no doubt that this might be the case. I was simply pointing out that a red flag for a potential employer isn't just that contracting has meant that they jump from position to position, but that the person's temperament may be ill-suited to full-time, captive employment. If you've done something a long time, it's going to be an adjustment. Why should a potential employee want to pay for someone to adjust to captive employment? Why should I have to have the stress of always wondering if they will get bored.?

I have a parallel concern when I hire for telecommuting positions. I want to know that they will _like_ telecommuting. I don't want to hire someone who wants to telecommute because that's all that's available or the job seems like a fun idea. Some people just can't work alone, at home. Others thrive. I have to weed the "I think I might like it"'s / the "I'm desperate for anything"'s from the people who truly know that they will like working from home, either because they've had such experience or because they are self-aware enough to know that they are capable of it.

Might it be the case that others without telecommuting experience or who are honestly luke warm about the prospects would make very suitable employees for the position? Yes indeed!

It's always a crap shoot. We try to "scientize" the process with nifty little algorithms; but, in the end, as Robert Jackall and others have shown, management uses "alchemy" and not science when making hiring decisions. They choose based on values, on "fit", on whether someone has similar interests and tastes, etc. Is it fair? Well.

In my book, a person who has managed to arrange their working life the way they want it is a highly intelligent and well-organized person. I consider these traits highly desirable in a potential employee.

I agree. Nothing in my post should have led you to conclude I thought otherwise. I also find the trait of commitment highly desirable. I just don't happen to think that commitment precludes intelligence and organizational ability.

I have to make decisions. My experience has suggested that contractors don't do well in captive employment. My personal feeling is that there is an employment market and I'd do best to maximize its rules for my and my firm's benefit. Captive employees made a choice in the past year or two or more and that was to stick with the "old rules of work". I think they should be rewarded with jobs that stick to the "old rules of work" today and will continue to stick to them. Contractors can find work someplace besides our firm. :)

As an aside, quite frankly, I think they should stick with contracting and let the people who like captive employment get the full-time positions. After all, contracting was a choice and the contractor made more money last year because they were expected to use that money to pad them for bad times, whereas the full-timer didn't.

Oh, come on now. By the same logic, full-timers should never take contracts. And shouldn't full-timers be putting aside some money for the bad times, too?

Oh, they can do whatever they like. My bad for typing that one and sending it off too fast. What I mean is that I just won't hire contractors for full-time employment. It's a decision I make based on my personal feelings about the worth of the so-called "just in time" economy.

And, believe me, I'm actually enlightened compared to the CEO. He is thoroughly uninterested in anyone who does contracting work if the position is for a full-time employee. I've had to argue with him that, just because they jumped around, it doesn't follow that they aren't committed. We have to find out _why_ they jumped around. If it's because they were contracting and didn't indicate that on their resume, we're probably not interested in someone who would misrepresent their background. If they're the lateral castoffs of the just-in-time economy, that's another issue altogether and we'll get to the bottom of that in the follow up and interview.


Anyway, all of this is speculation. My basic point is simple: you can just as easily make assumptions that makes the type of record mentioned highly desirable as you can ones that make it a drawback.

Without additional information, one is as likely as another.

Yep. I just don't fool myself into thinking that I have so-called objective criteria or even the only criteria that could be used. We have to weed through hundreds of resumes. You end up doing what "feels right". You either survive, or you don't. You get disciplined by the market and progress or die.

Kelley


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Follow-Ups:

References:
Hiring Publications Managers: From: Paula Puffer
Re: Hiring Publications Managers: From: Kelley
Re: Hiring Publications Managers: From: Bruce Byfield

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