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

Listen to the episode here!

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!

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

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

Listen to the episode here!

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!

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

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

Listen to the episode here!

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!



Read the Sprint Overdrive review here.

After purchasing my Sprint Overdrive about a year and a half ago, I was a pretty happy camper: I could access the Internet from pretty much anywhere, even in the hole in the Internet that is my hometown of Odem, Texas.

Two problems eventually arose, though. The first being that my income took a pretty nasty drop (like to zero) and so I came to rely on my Overdrive as my sole source of internet.  While it served that purpose fairly well, I couldn’t help but notice the less expensive alternatives that were popping up courtesy of pre-paid providers such as Cricket and Virgin Wireless.  After my employment situation stabilized, I wondered if it wouldn’t be worth the trouble to ditch Sprint and use a prepaid device for those few occasions when I needed internet on the go.

Overdrive with "battery critical" message

He's Dead, Jim

The second thing that happened was that the Overdrive stopped working completely.  Turning on the device resulted in a “Battery critical. Charge Immediately” message appearing on the screen, and after a few seconds, the device would turn off on its own.  Upon first seeing the message, I plugged in my charger and the device reported an 85% charge.  I let it charge completely, and the message appeared.

I went to a Sprint Store and they did offer to repair the device for $35, which seemed reasonable.  Despite that, I decided not to repair it because of the fact that I was not using the Overdrive enough to justify the $60 a month expense.

While it is pretty lame that the Overdrive did not even last long enough to cover the 2-year contract I signed to get it, the bigger story here is that $60 a month for the service is too much for the few times that I actually used it.  My current job doesn’t pay as much as the one I had when I bought it, so I’m cutting back where I can now.

While Sprint has apparently been kind enough to cancel my contract (as far as I can tell, I’ll know for sure once my next bill comes in) I will probably end up getting a 3G USB device from a prepaid provider.  Sure, it’ll be slower, but it also won’t be as expensive, and I won’t be tied down to a contract.  I could also get a new Android phone, but I’m not too sure I want to stick with Google’s wunderkind.  That’s a blog for another day, though.

In conclusion, the device worked great while it lasted, but be sure you are going really NEED an always-there fast internet connection before signing a 2-year contract with a provider for a 4G device.  If you have to think that question over, then you just might be just fine with a prepaid 3G device.  The operative word, of course, is “might,” though, I’ll let y’all know how that works out!


Waiting For A Living

Back in late November, I got an email from a recruiter who had a client that needed a programmer as soon as possible.  I sent back a resume and quickly got a reply asking if I could show up at a local community college for an interview that afternoon.  This was at about midday, so I figured that they must really be in a hurry.  I showed up a few hours later for the interview, and it went well.  The job was a six-month contract that paid well, and they wanted me to start the following week.

I was glad to be getting back to work, and I excitedly told my parents and friends that I had a new job that I would be starting soon.  Everyone wished me good luck, and I was raring to go.

That Friday, I got an e-mail from the recruiter saying that the job would have to wait another few weeks until late December.  I wasn’t happy about having to wait, but what the hey, it had already been a few months so it wasn’t be a big deal.

Two days before the new start date, I get another email with more wonderful news: the job was going to be delayed until late January because of a higher priority project.  I grit my teeth and say okay, I can wait, but I’m starting to get worried about the situation.  I enjoy the holidays and try not to worry too much about things as I move into a new apartment with the anticipation that I will have a job soon to pay rent and keep the lights on.

The Friday before the new-new start date, I get pinged from the recruiter, who tells me that we haven’t gotten a final answer for the folks at the college.  I wonder if I should pull a George Costanza and just show up, but I don’t.  It takes the folks at the school until Wednesday to touch base.  According to them, the job is funded, but there the higher priority project is running late.  They don’t bother to provide a new possible start date, so I’m left now with a “job” that has no start date.

I’m searching again in earnest for a new job (I’ve continued to search this whole time) but honestly, this is no way to do business.  If they get in touch with me before something else comes up, I’ll take the gig, but I really don’t know how much I can trust those people now.  The way they’ve been jerking me around this whole time has left a very bad taste in my mouth, and I wonder if there is something going on that I’m not being told.

Regardless, its a hell of a way to run a taco stand.



The most telling thing that I can say about 2010 is that I spent the last third of it without a full-time job, after getting canned back in August. I’ll be honest, I have nobody but myself to blame for that; a friend asked me if my bosses had been looking for a reason to get rid of me awhile back.  I sheepishly replied: “Well, if they were, they didn’t have to look very hard!”

Thus, the whole “what am I going to do with myself” debate I’d been having since 2009 (and heck, probably earlier than that) took on a whole new meaning as I applied for tech writer, tech support, and even editing jobs in an attempt to get away from programming.  I am currently scheduled to start a new programming job on the January 24th…well, so much for that.

Of course, sitting behind a desk for 40-something hours a week hating my job was not the only thing I did all year.  I also continued to be involved in First Storm Manga, handing out flyers and manga at a couple of anime cons throughout the year and keeping the website humming.  We are also going to be hosting our first event, the “Mezasu mini-con” on January 22nd.  While I enjoy hanging out with the guys, and it is fun going to events, I’m not sure that I want to be as involved in First Storm next year.  I’m just not sure that I’m getting a lot out of it, but I’ll bottle up that angst and save it for a future blog.

Another new ‘side job’ that I picked up was that of Writer/Editor/Voice Guy for video game website Original-Gamer.com. I started out just providing narration for some of their videos but eventually got more involved in the site, editing articles for readability and even writing reviews.  Because of that involvement, I was able to attend the 2010 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in July, and it completely blew me away.  I also had the privilege of attending the “Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy” concert in Houston, and the pleasure of interviewing famed video game music luminaries Nobou Uematsu and Arnie Roth.

Speaking of music, I was invited to join a band called The Loliholix. It turns out they needed a drummer, and I just happened to know how to play drums and have way too much time on my hands.  After getting an electric drum kit and an big ol’ honkin’ PA to use as an amp, I was ready to rock.  Practicing and hanging out the band was fun, but playing our first big gig at San Japan was awesome.  Being part of a show, even if it is a small one, is just incredible.  The audience feeds off of your energy and gives more back to you.

All the while, I have continued with my creative endeavors, namely writing.  I completed some very short stories, even entering one into a writing contest, and am working with my friend Chris Holm on some comics.  I also have some longer works that I hope to finish soon.  I am hoping to get my stories, and even some non-fiction, onto the various e-readers and phones and pads that are all the rage these days.  Hopefully, I can make a few bucks on the side that way.

As if being a part time musician and writer wasn’t enough, I also read for a part in a short film that my friend Carey Martell is currently working on called “Deathfist Ninja GKaiser.” Now, I won’t be too disappointed if I end up as Man in Suit #6 but having a speaking part and being the first person in the show to get fried by the Big Bad Guy would be cool, too.

All the while, I managed to post to this blog and keep up a somewhat-regular schedule with my podcast: “300 Seconds.”  I figure that if I can get out one blog post a week and two podcasts a month on top of all the other stuff I’m doing, then I’m doing alright.

Overall, 2010 was a great year for me.  I got to meet a lot of cool people and had a lot of really neat experiences.  Sure, it sucked to lose my job, but with the help and support of family and friends (and some creative budgeting) I’m hanging in there, in fact, I already have a job lined up in a few weeks so things are looking up!. I have faith that things will turn around soon and 2011 will rock even harder.

Farewell and Godspeed, 2010.  You were one to remember.


Had To Be Aggies…

From the TTI-TDS Department of Texas A&M University:

“Thank you for your interest in the Senior Web Applications Developer position within the TTI – TDS Department. The response to the posting included many qualified individuals with documented relevant education and experience.  After an extensive review, it was determined that another candidate would more closely satisfy our immediate need.”

Sheesh, and I thought I was wordy.



“I would like to withdraw from being considered for a developer position and instead want to be considered for a support position.  Thank you.”

I sighed as I clicked the “Send” button.  The email was going to an HR person at a local company that I had interviewed with earlier that day. We had been talking about a programming job, and I made the mistake of griping about having worked in under less-than ideal conditions at my last few jobs.  After hearing that diatribe, she asked me if I would instead be interested in a support job.  I said “no” out of reflex, but I think it was more likely because I wanted the higher salary that the programming job would command.

I was deluding myself, though.  I’m done with programming as a career.  From a mental standpoint, it probably was over months ago, but I just didn’t want to admit it.  Instead I chose to hang in there in the hope that things would somehow get better, but they didn’t, and so here I am.

I have always wanted to work with computers, and programming seemed to be a logical career choice. As time went on I gradually grew disenfranchised with it, though.  It did not help that I have never worked in a place where things were done “right.”  Instead, proper procedure and best practices were sacrificed to what I like to call The Altar of the Almighty Deadline.

I was chatting online with a friend about the whole situation shortly after the interview and during the conversation I had an interesting epiphany.  I started to wonder if my disinterest in programming as a job was related to my newfound interest in creative endeavors.  After all, I only really dove into creative things like writing, blogging and podcasting just over a year and a half ago.

I’m too lazy to look back through old blog entries and see if the two match up, but it raises an interesting question: am I starting to become more right-brained?  If so, does it have something to do with my desire to get away from programming?  The fact that I have also thrown my hat into the ring for technical writer jobs is also a telling sign.

Maybe I’m tired of being isolated all day at work and want to do something that involves contact with people, even if it is just over the phone or e-mail.  I worked with some great folks at my last tech support job, and heck, if the company had not hit a rough patch and started laying off, I might still be there today.  Or maybe its something more basic than that.  Maybe I just want to be as happy at work as I am outside of it.

Whatever the reason, I’m look forward to embracing a different side of the IT field, and some opportunities are starting to open up, so we shall see!



To:  Me

From:  Recently Unemployed Me

Re:  Being Unemployed

Okay, so you lost your job.  It isn’t the first time, and while it may be comforting to think it will be the last, you never know.  You dug yourself into this hole, and you are going to be the one to dig yourself out of it.  Remember these things:

  • It is not the end of the world.  Yes, it is easy for me to tell you this from where I am sitting, but you have a plan and it is time to execute it
  • You have been here before.  Remember the mistakes you made last time and do not repeat them.
  • Always be pessimistic in your planning: hope for the best, but assume the worst.
  • You are not alone: you have friends and family that want to help.  Let them.  This is not the time to retreat into a cave and shut everyone out.
  • Smile.  Have fun.  Enjoy life.
  • To survive, you will have to sacrifice and you will have to suffer.  Deal with it.  When you are back on your feet you will appreciate the things you had to do without even more.
  • The only truly bad job is having none at all.  Try something new.
  • Do the things you said you would do “if you had the time.”  You now have the time.
  • You will get angry, you will get frustrated, and you will get upset.  Don’t bottle it up.  Get it out of your system and move on.
  • Above all else, do not fall into despair.  Have faith in yourself and keep moving forward.

Good luck.