Re: Hiring Practices

Subject: Re: Hiring Practices
From: "Walker, Arlen P" <Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 1 Apr 1997 12:42:55 -0500

Arlen P Walker
04/01/97 12:42 PM



(Personally, I'd guess that someone who has actually published a few
fiction works or shopped a screenplay is going to be even more thick-
skinned than your average tech writer.)

Just a note from the outside. The decision was to pass on novelist
mannabe's, not on novelists. I agree with you; no one who's actually gone
through the publishing exercise is going to be thin-skinned when it comes
to the written word. But a wannabe, by definition, hasn't done that. I've
known many wannabe's, and very few of them would tolerate anyone looking at
their prose with anything less than adoration. And the few who would
weren't wannabe's very long.

I think the policy is a little baby-and-bathwaterish, but I can certainly
understand it. There's a good chance the candidate will either be a pain to
edit or will be leaving soon to devote time to a growing literary career.
Either way the manager loses.

Using a search engine to try to find a candidate's postings and/or
personal web page when they have not specifically volunteered this
information is not just unethical, IMO, but potentially illegal.

I think the the original poster agrees, a little, with this. I know I do.
But, like everything else, it depends upon the use it's being put to. If
I'm hiring someone, if behooves me to get as much solid info about
technique and capability as I can.

That having been said, I should hasten to add that this additional
information should be weighed differently than the samples provided in an
interview. It's obvious that, for one reason or another, the candidate
doesn't consider this "best work." If it were, it'd be in the portfolio.

Therefore, it shouldn't be weighed as heavily as the provided samples.
Still it can be useful. I've said before that I don't put much time and
effort into these emails, and that anyone who judges me solely on the basis
of them is making a mistake. And I mean that. Still, it's quite possible
for someone to read these posts and form a general impression of the scope
of my experience, the width (or narrowness, you make the call) of my mind,
the depth of my taste.

It's like reading a draft. It's possible, when reading a draft of
something, to form a general impression of the quality of the final
treatment. This impression is fallible, because it is only a draft, but it
does give a set of expectations. (I don't know about you, but there have
been plenty of times I've written a short draft and then threw it out
because I could see that it just wasn't going to be a workable approach.)

If someone were to read my posts here, I'd expect them to form certain
opinions of me; I'd expect some of those opinions to be right, and others
to be wrong. If someone looks at web pages I've built, I'd have similar
expectations. I would *not* expect someone to look at them instead of, or
as a better indicator of my work than, the samples I'd provide. What I'd
show would be "best work." The rest would perhaps be useful in establishing
"range."

The other thing I should note is that the content of the extra work so
discovered would be strictly out of bounds. I can admire the technique
which went into a presentation which I thoroughly disagree with. I think
most of us can. I also think I wouldn't want to work for someone who
couldn't, so if a prospective boss is so offended by what I post here that
I get ruled out of the race, I don't mind in the least. We're both better
off without each other.

While it may be true that a bad match doesn't do anyone any favors,
that's not your decision to make. It's the candidate's.

Sorry, there I disagree with you. Yes, I know unscrupulous and nasty
employers have abused the privilege. But I think that particular street
supports two-way traffic. Just as you have the right to decide whether the
job I offer is worth the conditions I offer it under, I have the right to
decide that you're not worth the hassle it'd be to have you around and
decline to offer it. Both of us have the responsibility to exercise that
right honestly, and not to base this decision on trivia. Each of us only
knows our own limits, and we both need to be free to decide what lies
beyond the boundary. Anything less oppresses one of us.

I choose to volunteer certain personal
information to potential employers because I have no interest in
working for a xenophobic jerk. But if you failed to hire me after
finding out something about my personal life, you'd be on VERY shaky
legal ground.

It cuts both ways. It might be that I find out something that makes me want
to hire you. Let's say the job is strictly producing hardcopy. I have this
dream of someday making the move to electronic docs, but it's only a
pipedream at the moment. (Perhaps it's even disapproved of by upper
management, but I have hopes of dissuading them.) You give me hardcopy
samples, but I find out you've been active on some PDF lists and some HTML
lists, as well as having designed a couple of interesting web pages. As a
result you get the job.

The attitude expressed in the above quote seems to me both hypocritical and
arrogant. The prospective employer is expected to bare all about the
company working conditions, and is villified for not doing so (has happened
many times on this list); yet the prospective employee is allowed to
provide as little information as possible, and is protected in doing so.
The prospective employee is encouraged to discover as much as possible
about the employer before, during and after the interview, yet the employer
is bad if there is any attempt to discover anything at all the prospective
employee doesn't want to talk about. Why are newspaper articles about a
company OK, but your personal web page off-limits? All I'm saying is that
both sides deserve a level field.

What's on the 'net is public information (I mean publicly available, not
publicly owned). If you're ashamed of it, don't put it out here. If you're
not ashamed of it, why do you care if I look at it?

Have fun,
Arlen
Chief Managing Director In Charge, Department of Redundancy Department
DNRC 224

Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- Com
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