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300 Seconds Episode #98: “Job Search Blues- Recruiters and Staffing Agencies”

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You are listening to ‘300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz,’ and this is episode number 98, “Job Search Blues: Recruiters and Staffing Agencies,” so let the 300 Seconds begin!

I will start off by saying that I’ve dealt with a bunch of recruiters over the course of my career.  Some good, some bad, and of course, a bunch in between.  Naturally, I consider the ones that got me a job “good ones” but at the same time there were a few that did a great job, even though ultimately, I didn’t end up getting the job.  Of course, I’ll be focusing on the more sucky ones because, well, that’s more entertaining, and after two months of being out of work, I’m starting to get just a little stir-crazy, so on with the show.

I’ve established that looking for a job online kinda sucks and job fairs kinda suck too.  Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone!  There are companies and people out there that will be more than happy to help you find a job…sort of.

Oh, recruiting agencies and their recruiters.  If you’re online, you have have a pulse, and your work history is longer than five days, you’ve likely been e-mailed or called by a recruiter at some point in your career.  These overly enthusiastic people will talk to you like they’re your best friend.  Many are genuinely friendly, but at the same time, a lot them sound like car salesmen.

After introducing themselves, the recruiter will then ask if you are looking for a job.  If you answer yes, then they’ll tell you about position and requirements, and where it’s at, how much it pays and all that wonderful stuff.  Often, they’ll also send you an email with job details, and ask you to send back a current resume in response, and then you never ever, hear from them again, which kinda sucks.

It’s a lousy thing to do, it’s unprofessional, as well as a bunch of other mean things that I’d rather not say.  I need to say that I don’t know how these people work.  For all I know they’re calling fifty people a day and don’t have the time to call all them back to say ‘sorry, we don’t need you right now.’  I get that.  At the same time, I’m pretty sure there is some kind of computerized system keeping track of all this stuff.  If that computer would just send me an email saying : “Sorry, it didn’t work out,” that would be great.  On the rare occasion when a recruiter DOES keep in touch after the fact, I make sure to let them know that I appreciate their professionalism.  Sadly, that’s more the exception rather than the rule.

One thing that always throws me off is when I get multiple calls from different people at the same staffing agency within the same week.  Once again, I don’t know how things work at those places.  I don’t know if potential hires are assigned to a specific recruiter, but when that second guy or gal calls from the same recruiting agency, in my head I’m thinking: “Waitaminute, isn’t the first person already working with me?”  The conversation usually gets a little bit awkward after that.

It’s also fun when they don’t bother to check if you aren’t already in their system.  Had a fun talk with one of those lately.  What made that situation even more maddeing was that I had actually WORKED for that agency years ago.

Equally annoying is when the recruiter does not read your online profile and tries to submit you for a job that you are clearly not qualified for.  I have some interest in being a technical writer, so if an entry-level opportunity were to come about, or if someone was willing to give me a shot…HINT HINT…I’d take it.  I have to wonder, though, about a recruiter that submits me for a tech writer role that requires years of experience, even after I send them my resume that indicates very little actual tech writing experience.  Again, I don’t know how these people or these agencies work, so I wonder if they’re just trying to meet some quota when we go through those motions.

Lately, I’ve been getting a bunch of calls from recruiters that are from, to put it politely: “out of town.”  I’ve been contacted by so many of them, at this point that I could set my watch to the routine:  First, a phone call comes in from some random state.  I tend to not answer out-of-state calls, so after about a minute or so, I find a voicemail waiting for me.  Upon listening to the voicemail, I can very easily tell that the caller, to put it politely again, does not speak the language.  I will confess to taking particular delight at how these people stumble over and completely mangle my name.  I’ve gotten used to the gringo pronunciation of ‘Edwardo’ by now, but folks from a certain part of the world have no idea what to do with it.  By the time I have listened to the voice mail, and deleted it, an email will have popped into one of my accounts from that same person featuring poor grammar and a position I have absolutely no interest in.

I then block the phone number, report that email address as spam, and wait for the process to repeat itself.  Sorry guys, but no thanks, and I’d rather you not come again.

This has been 300 Seconds, the next episode will be posted after I add another phone number to the block list.  I am Eduardo Soliz, check out Eduardo Soliz dot com for more podcasts and short fiction, and I thank you for listening!

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300 Seconds, BUSINESS, Eduardo Soliz, JUST SAYING, PODCASTS

300 Seconds Episode #97 – “Job Search Blues: Job Fairs”

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Leave the real world behind for a few minutes by listening to “Super-Short Storytime” at EduardoSoliz.com/podcasts or find it on your favorite podcast app.  And now, on with the show…

You are listening to ‘300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz,’ and this is episode number 97, “Job Search Blues: Job Fairs,” so let the 300 Seconds begin!

I spent the last episode talking about what a big pain in the posterior looking for and applying for a job online can be.  Fortunately, there is a place where you can go to shake hands, speak to a real person, and get that personal touch.  The job fair, which is in itself a different level of hell.

I should start out by saying that my experiences are colored by the fact that I am looking for a job in Information Technology, and in general, job fairs tend to suck for IT jobs.  At a small job fair, I’ll consider myself lucky if just ONE of the businesses is looking for any sort of IT position.  If more than one company at a job fair is looking for a technical support guy or a programmer, I’m thinking that I need to buy a lottery ticket because it’s my lucky day.

Unfortunately, when companies do drag their IT guys out of the basement and put them in front of people, they get to experience how socially inept they can be.  I’ve had multiple awkward moments at job fairs with IT people, possibly because I’ve been told by people I’ve worked with that I sometimes come off as intimidating.

One person refused to look me in the eye after I let him know what I thought of their pay rates.  Another one froze up after I handed my resume to him and introduced myself.  So yeah, my people skills might use a little fine-tuning.

And then there are those instances when the IT guys can’t be dragged out of the basement and so I get to spend a few minutes trying to talk shop to a HR gal or a supervisor that has no earthly idea what I’m saying.  Those conversations often end with the company representative telling me to go to their website and apply there…which completely defeats the point of the job fair.

I also love it when I walk up to a company’s table and the representative just starts blabbing away about their wonderful company and how wonderful it would be to work for them and how much they love it there and blah blah blah.  After their delightful speech, when I’m finally able to get a word in, I let them know that I’m looking for a computer job.  At that point, the air gets completely sucked out of the room when they sheepishly say: “Oh. We aren’t hiring for computer people.”  So maybe you should ask me what kind of job I’m looking for   before you give me the sales pitch, guys, I’m just saying.

Job fairs are a good idea in general, but for folks looking to hire computer professionals, they don’t seem to work as well as they should.  Or maybe it’s just me.  It definitely wouldn’t be the first time!

This has been 300 Seconds, the next episode will be posted after I register for the next job fair.  I am Eduardo Soliz.  For more podcasts, and short fiction, and my blog, visit EduardoSoliz.com and thank you for listening!

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300 Seconds Episode #96 – “Job Search Blues: The Internet”

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A quick note before I begin: This episode was written prior to my being hired at my current job. And now, on with the show:

This is ‘300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz,’ and this is episode number 96, “Job Search Blues: Job Hunting on the Internet,” so let the 300 Seconds begin!

Complaining about one’s job is practically an American tradition, and I am certainly more than happy to let anyone within earshot know how I feel about my nine-to-five. I am currently in between jobs, and since I don’t have a job to complain about at the moment, I am going to spend the next few episodes complaining instead, about the delightful process of finding a job in this here 21st Century.

On the surface, looking for a job should be a breeze these days. Instead of flipping through want ads in the newspaper, we now have an overabundance of job websites out there that will be more than happy to take your resume and shoot it away to the four corners of the Earth. Instead of driving to an office and leaving a resume at the HR department, each company now has their own website that is more than likely is run by someone like Taleo or workday. Hooray for progress.

Monster.com, indeed.com, careerbuilder.com, dice.com…to see their advertisements, you would think that they all have the job of your dreams waiting for you. Just set up your account, upload your resume, and the job of your dreams will soon be yours!

As someone once famously said: Don’t believe the hype.

On paper, a job board is a Good Thing: It’s a place where, thanks to the Power Of The Internet, you can now search for an exact job title with an exact salary, within an exact number of miles from our home and find exactly what you’re looking for…maybe. I’ve done some programming, so I do know how dicey sorting through a database can be, but there’s gotta be SOMETHING in these algorithms that says: “Hey, this person has a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and over a decade of IT experience: Maybe they aren’t terribly interested in construction jobs.” Or how when I look for ‘technical support’ jobs, I get job listings for pharmacy technicians and veterinary technicians. Forget “artificial intelligence,” we need “artificial common sense.”

Since the job boards kinda suck, instead you decide to skip the middleman and visit the website of a company that you would like to work for. If you’re lucky, there will be a link that says “Careers” on the home page that takes you directly to a page with a link that takes you to the job listings. If you aren’t lucky, you to see get a webpage full of stock photos of happy people that probably don’t work at the company at all. This page will list all of the departments, the cities, the benefits, the descriptions of jobs and maybe one or two testimonials from real employees. Also: Real attractive employees, companies don’t want you to think they hire ugly people. You will then spend at least a minute trying to a link to the actual jobs.

Once you find the specific job that you are looking for, the fun part begins: The Application. Step one is always straightforward: Your personal information. Cool. Step two: Upload your resume. Okay. Now type in your work history, that is, all the information that is on your resume. Yeah. Even though you’ve just sent them an electronic copy of your resume, they want to you hand-type all of that same information into their system. But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is that larger employers don’t have their own job sites, instead they use a third party like Taleo or Workday, and they both SUCK. They suck because if you apply to multiple companies that use one of those third party sites, you get to re-type in the same information FOR EACH FUCKING COMPANY. At this point in my career I have probabl about a dozen Taleo profiles and a half-dozen for Workday. How hard would it be for those guys to let me enter my profile ONCE and just re-submit it to different companies? I’m just sayin.

Of course, after you have checked every box, selected every option, filled out every field, and clicked ‘Submit,’ then there’s the waiting. And along those lines, this is the end of the epsode

This has been 300 Seconds, the next episode will be posted after I type in eighteen years of job experience into an application website…again . I am Eduardo Soliz, if you’d like to hear more 300 seconds subscribe via your favorite podcatcher and check out my website at Eduardo Soliz dot com for more. Thank you for listening!

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300 Seconds, COOKING, Eduardo Soliz, FOOD, HOUSE, PODCASTS, WEATHER

300 Seconds Episode #95 – “Home Less”

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You are listening to ‘300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz,’ and this is episode number 95, “Home Less,” so let the 300 Seconds begin!

Because life (or something like it) happened, I sold my house a few months ago.  Thus, after five years, I’m no longer a homeowner, and there are a few things I already miss about having a house.

To begin with, there is the notion that the place where I live is no longer ‘my’ place anymore.  I’m staying with some friends for the short term, and God bless ’em, because they’ve been pretty awesome.  At the same time, their house isn’t my house, you know?  When I owned my house, I could do whatever I wanted to, like using an old CD to fix a hole in the drywall or putting the TV set in front of the fireplace.  That feeling of ‘ownership’ is pretty nice and the lack thereof will continue to bother me until I own my home again.

I never had a garage growing up; my parent’s house didn’t have one, and so I didn’t see a need for one on the rare occasions when I was offered one as an option when leasing an apartment.  Once I started making use of my house’s garage, though, I loved it.  I remember being at the laundromat folding clothes one day, when it started raining.  I grumped about the rain for a few moments before coming to the delightful realization that I HAD A GARAGE AND I DIDN’T HAVE TO GET WET.  I got spoiled by having a garage; now I have to park my vehicle outside and have it, and me, get rained on.  But at least I have a place to park at, at my friend’s house; I’m really not looking forward to fighting with fellow apartment dwellers for prime parking places in the future.

Another thing I’m going to miss is solitude.  I like being by myself, especially after a day of dealing with silly people at work.  This isn’t really a big deal right now, because my roommates are cool, but once I move into an apartment, having people on the other side of the wall is probably going to drive me nuts…again

But the biggest thing that I miss the most about my old house is having natural gas.  It’s the best thing for cooking, it’s less expensive, and I’m sorry, but you just can’t heat tortillas properly on an electric stove or even one of those fancy pants convection ranges.  And no, I am never ever, EVER going to put a tortilla into the microwave because that’s just WRONG.

This has been 300 Seconds, the next episode will be posted after I warm a tortilla in my toaster oven.  I am Eduardo Soliz, if you’d like to listen to, or read, more of my words and short stories, visit my website at Eduardo Soliz dot com.  Thank you for listening!

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300 Seconds Episode 93: “So This is Christmas”

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You are listening to ‘300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz,’ and this is episode number 93, “So This is Christmas,” so let the 300 Seconds begin!

I’ve been in a funk this Christmas season; it just hasn’t been the same as in years past.  I sold my house a few months ago and in the meantime, I have been rooming in with some friends.  It’s been pleasant for the most part, but not having a place of my own means that I’ve missed out on a few Christmas things. Things like putting up and decorating my little Christmas tree after Thanksgiving, stringing up lights on my house.  Even the little USB Christmas tree that I usually keep at my work desk sits somewhere in my storage unit, unused.  Granted, I don’t even HAVE a desk these days, but that’s a podcast for another time.

What bums me out the most, though, is that for the first time in years, I won’t be making Christmas cookies for my friends.  My work schedule right now includes weekends and I can’t squeeze in a full day of baking and another full day of making deliveries into my schedule.  Complicating matters is that it’s a temp job, so I don’t have any paid time off.  I’ve also been told that the job is ending soon, but I haven’t been given a definite end date, so every new week at work might be my last.  Yeah, thanks, guys.

Otherwise, Christmas has gone on as usual:  Gifts have been bought, I have another group of favorite Christmas songs to add to my website, and I have already written a Christmas story.  Granted, the story wasn’t quite as happy as those in years past, but that seems appropriate.  Funny thing: I’ve actually written a second, more optimistic story to make up for the dreariness of the first one.  It’ll be up soon.

My mood will likely improve when I go visit my family for Christmas next week.  Cookies will be baked and gifts will be delivered, and that’s always fun.  Spending a few days with friends and family always lifts my spirits, but until then, I’ll muddle along as best I can. 

This has been 300 Seconds, the next episode will be posted after I wrap my Christmas gifts.  I am Eduardo Soliz.  For more podcasts, short stories, and my blog, visit Eduardo Soliz dot com.  Thank you for listening and a very Merry Christmas to you!

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300 Seconds Episode 92: “Needless Things”

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You are listening to ‘300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz,’ and this is episode number 92, “Needless Things,” so let the 300 Seconds begin!

Now that the Texas weather has taken a turn for the slightly cooler, I’ve been talking walks around the neighborhood to get some exercise, fresh air, and sunshine.  Some days I walk in the morning, and some days I walk in the evening.  As I go around the neighborhood, I’ll often see people outside, watering their lawns, playing with children, tending to plants, or sometimes cleaning out their garages.

The garages intrigue me; they are nearly always packed to the gills with all kinds of stuff: Bicycles, tools, lawn mowers, children’s toys, exercise equipment, and, of course, boxes.  Stacks and stacks of boxes, oftentimes nearly piled up to the ceiling.  Cars, SUVs and trucks are often relegated to the driveway or to the street.  No room at the inn, as it were.

Seeing all of those garages filled with boxes made me think about all the stuff that I kept in my house;  I’m not that bad, I reassured myself. After all, I had    enough room left in my garage to use it for its intended purpose, so I’m not one of those people.

That notion got thrown out of the window when I sold my house.  I got a realtor and began moving out in anticipation of the house being shown to potential buyers.  The realtor drilled it into my head that I had to make sure to remove or secure anything that was ‘stealable’ from the house before the showings started.  Right or wrong, I interpreted that as ‘get all of my DVDs, Blu-Rays, video games, comic books, books-books, music CDs and nearly all of my computer stuff out of the house.’  As my storage unit slowly began to fill up with boxes, I began to realize, that yes, I did have quite a bit of stuff myself.

By the time the house went on the market and the showings began, I had done a pretty good job of minimizing the amount of stuff that was inside, by either putting stuff into storage or giving stuff away to charity.  In many cases, I had two of the same thing that I either didn’t need anymore or I didn’t see myself needing in the future because my next residence will probably be an apartment. One computer went into storage.  The second television set that was kept in the bedroom for guests, I sold for cheap to a relative and I did the same with the second living room sofa.

It felt odd to see my house without a lot of the stuff inside of it that made it, well, mine.  As a concession to myself, I left the artwork hanging on the walls, as if to say: This house might be up for sale, buster, but until you sign a check, it’s still my house, dagnabbit.

I lived with less stuff for a few weeks as the sale of the house went through, and except for a few moments when I wanted to watch a particular movie, I didn’t really miss the stuff all that much.  Granted, I didn’t get rid of everything, I still had my Xbox for entertainment.  I moved in with some friends after selling the house, and most of the stuff that I had kept in storage, remained there.  The experience made me realize that I can do without quite a bit of stuff, so maybe I’m not doing that bad, after all.

I think we need find a new word to describe the storage units that garages seem to inevitably become.   Instead of being a place to store a vehicle, garages have become a place to keep the needless things in our lives; old things that will likely never be used again and yet, they are the things that we just can’t bear to part with.   I won’t lie, though.  Once I get life squared away and I’m back at my own place, those needless things will be back in my life, taking up space.  Or maybe not.  After all, I probably won’t have a garage to keep them in, and paying somebody to keep my needless things stashed away kind of sucks.

This has been 300 Seconds, the next episode will be posted after I make a run to my storage unit.  If you’d like to hear or read more of my words visit Eduardo Soliz dot com.  Thank you for listening!

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300 Seconds Episode 91: “A few words after Furry Invasion 2018”

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You are listening to ‘300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz,’ and this is episode number 91:  A few words after Furry Invasion 2018, so let the 300 Seconds begin!

Furry Invasion took place at the El Tropicano Riverwalk hotel in San Antonio last weekend, October 5-7.  I did my best to pack in as much fun as I could in between shifts at work: I hung out for a little while on early Friday to pick up my badge and I made it out on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  Overall, Furry Invasion was a marked improvement over last year, but once again, there are a number of little nitpicks that affected me personally that I’m going to bring up.  Spoiler alert: They still have panel issues.

I arrived at registration at about ten o’clock on Friday morning and it went pretty quickly; there was really nobody in line.  They scanned my e-mail, checked my ID and I got my stuff…awesome!  I didn’t hear any squawking about registration this year, though there were a few complaints about finding registration, it was kind of in a weird spot, but that was expected.  Two quick nitpicks about registration, however.  Number one: Stickers are supposed to go on the BADGE ITSELF, not on the badge holder.  Second, and this is more for the people running the show; if you have a guy that’s hacking and coughing his guts out, maybe he shouldn’t be in a position to be handing out credit cards, IDs and badges TO MOST OF THE PEOPLE IN THE CONVENTION.  Yeah, the guy that checked me out let out a nice fit of coughing after he gave me my stuff, which made me very glad that I carry hand sanitizer with me.

One big complaint I heard about throughout the weekend was parking: Last year there was a parking lot across the street, however this year new hotel is being built in that space, so that significantly reduced the number of available parking spots.  As for me, I was able to easily find meter parking on Baltimore street near the hotel on each day of the convention.  My biggest trouble was having enough quarters 😉  Now this is an issue with the venue itself, another venue issue that came up was the elevators breaking down.

And now I’m going to talk about panels for a little bit because there are a number of issues going on here.  It was a pretty good plan on paper:  The panel schedule itself was done ahead of time, which is good, and the leadership decided to put the panel [schedule] online, and that’s also good.  There was also a screen set up with the panel schedules rotating and a QR code that you could scan to pull up the schedule on your phone.  This is also good.  Unfortunately the plan kinda fell apart in the execution.

To begin with, putting the schedule on the website isn’t a bad idea, but the Furry Invasion website is not optimized for phones.   That’s being polite, because it’s pretty awful on phones.  Here’s the thing, guys, it’s cool that y’all have an online digital schedule that you can update on the fly, but there is nothing wrong with paper.  Once your schedule is as final as it’s going to be, print out a bunch of copies.  Hang a copy of each room’s schedule outside the door.  Also, make a PDF copy and have that be downloadable from your website.

So I had a weird exchange with my friend Mordecai on Saturday; he thought my Furry 101 panel was at 6PM.  I told him it was at 5 and he said the conbook said 6.  This really confused me because Furry 101 wasn’t even mentioned in the conbook.  Turns out that  Mordecai was given a copy of LAST year’s conbook.  Don’t that that guys.  Just don’t.  Recycle them.  I was also given a less than ideal time and the crappiest room in the convention, but you know, what are you going to do?  Based on all that, I’m probably going to skip presenting next year.  On the plus side, they did have a projector set up.

Speaking of scheduling, for whatever reason the fursuit parade started before its scheduled time.  I was on my way to get a soda from the machine in the lobby when all of a sudden I saw furries marching towards me.  It was all I could do to scramble to find a spot and remember how to work my camera, which is what happens when you have a job that wakes you up at five in the morning.

Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m nitpicking a lot.  When I have to nitpick like this, it’s because most of the convention was good.  I had a good time, and I’ve been hearing lots of good things both online and off about Furry Invasion 2018.   Overall, I think things will continue to get better as the staff builds from their experience, and I’ll definitely be back next year.

Furry Invasion 2018 was a good con overall. Except for issues related to the venue and my own personal panel issues, which admittedly, are my own, there were no major issues present on the part of the con itself.  I had an enjoyable time, when I was able to get out there, I will certainly be back next year, hopefully for the whole thing.  The theme for next year’s Furry Invasion is going to be ‘Cyberpunk’ and it appears to be taking place on the weekend of October 4, 2019, and I look forward to seeing you there…or perhaps I should   say ‘furward!’

This has been 300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz, the next episode will be posted after I recover from the long weekend of work and fun.  I am Eduardo Soliz, please subscribe to this podcast and check out my website at Eduardo Soliz dot com for more podcasts and  short stories.  Thank you for listening!

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