Re: Being an Expert (was:I'm taking my marbles and going home...)

Subject: Re: Being an Expert (was:I'm taking my marbles and going home...)
From: Jo Francis Byrd <jbyrd -at- byrdwrites -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 19 Aug 2002 10:23:25 -0500

And sometime it's not even the "hard" or "soft" skills....

True story: Last week I interviewed for a job. Was quite ambivalent about it; the job description indicated they wanted a senior level tech writer but they were offering a barely out of school, still wet behind the ears entry-level salary. I mentioned my reservations about the company to the head hunter (and he was a head hunter rather than a recruiter), and he assured me the salary range was a result of ignorance on the part of the company - they had never had a tech writer, had only just discovered the species even existed - and not a deliberate effort to exploit the current buyer's market.

So, I went. The interview lasted four and a half hours. Their interview process consisted of interviewing with the HR, taking a writing test - in pencil - interviewing with the company president, and if you made that first cut, you'd come back and do a short presentation so they could judge your training skills. They planned to call the candidates on the short list that night. They needed someone who possessed the skill set, would fit into the company environment - and would stay.

Fortunately, a situation arose that prevented me from doing any preparations on a presentation, because the phone call never came. I figured I hadn't, for whatever reason, made the short list.

Turns out, there WAS no short list. The next morning I saw an e-mail from the headhunter, time stamped the night before (at 7:30ish, to be exact), that they had made someone an offer, please call him. My reaction surprised me: I wasn't disappointed, not even a "rats!" or "oh, well." Obviously I didn't really want it! :-/

I figured they'd pretty well made up their minds before I walked in the door, but no. The last person they interviewed (they were interviewing another when I left and one more person was coming after him), agreed to take the job at that appalling salary - and they KNEW it was appalling, because I told them that I understood them they wanted/needed a senior level tech writer, and this is the salary range for that expertise level. A mid-level tech writer should command "x" salary range. The salary range they offered was for a barely out of school, still wet behind the ears, entry-level. I figured that even if I didn't get the job - and I wasn't sure I wanted it - I could help someone else.

I have no doubt the person who agreed to that offer was desperate, and I am not criticizing that person in any way. However, I learned more about that company from those few words from the head hunter than that company EVER wants me to know. Despite all claims to the contrary, they are not ethical, not when they deliberately take advantage of someone in dire straits. They may call it a sound business decision. I call it unethical and despicable. And I hope, very much, that person keeps looking, finds something at twice the salary in a month or so and tells them to take their job and shove it and leaves them in a bind (yes, I have a touch of vindictiveness in my psychological makeup). They may have gotten the skill set they wanted, they may even have found a person who will fit into the environment - temporarily, at least - but they sure didn't get anyone who will stay unless that person is a real idiot.

Jo Byrd

letoured -at- together -dot- net wrote:

FWIW, Most organizations don't admit it -- some aren't even conscious of doing it -- but they hire people to fit a family of jobs. Who gets hired often depends on as much on how a person fits with the job skills of others on the team. And people are often hired as much for the soft-skills that come out during an interview, as anything else.

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RE: Being an Expert (was:I'm taking my marbles and going home...): From: letoured

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