Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Jobster, a thing whose whatever may or may not have come.

"What is the Jobster service?

"Jobster is both a networking site for professionals and an online recruiting service for employers. We work with employers to help them find great people, and we work with professionals and jobseekers to make it easy for them to search jobs from across the web, get the inside scoop on company culture, and get referred for jobs." So they say.

Yay. We got another.

It looks purty, real purty. Folks should like it, maybe. Dunno, but it's trendy. That aint good or bad, it just is. Life is like that.

I've had an ad off and on with Craigslist for several months now. A couple of people contacted me about building social networking sites. They want to do Facebook. And they want someone like me to build it and then they'll pay when the money comes rolling in. Sounds good, damn near foolproof.

Conceptual, you see. Someone gets an idea, puts it on wheels, and watches the money come pouring in through the chute they built just for that purpose. Then everyone else wants to do that too. Easy, once the idea is there. Or the new, shiny, squeaky-clean design. Wow. I want one just like that, and by the way, if you build it, I'll pay when I'm rich.

Maybe, maybe not.

Jobster is fancy, and it's basically a good idea. I'm not sure if it will work, but then I don't have to worry about that one.

Seems kind of sterile, given its purpose, which is what by the way? Oh, yes, bringing employers together with job seekers for mutual satisfaction.

Yes, that was it. But can't employers scan resumes elsewhere? They wouldn't necessarily want to go browsing through pages of embarrassing personal drivel (see below). Maybe Jobster is a or will be a resource for people with compatible skills and like interests to find each other and set up businesses, somehow or other.

That one might work. Maybe that's why I put my info there. Sounds good to say it that way in public, case anyone asks. I should say it like that. Case anyone asks.


Q & A with the Jobster robot:

Q - What's your New Year's resolution?
A - Eat more hamsters. It's probably never too late to start, but I'm not sure I have the stomach for it, never having sucked on or even licked a hamster, dead or alive, cooked or raw. Luckily for me and the hamsters, everyone slides on resolutions, and I'm gonna too.

Q - How would your boss describe you?
A - Luckily I don't have one now, which is OK except for the pay. But I've always gotten good performance evaluations. I tend to think that what people put down in writing is the real deal.

Q - How would your co-workers describe you?
A - My sister says I'm weird. This is also something that each person I've ever thought of as a friend has called me. My mother said that whenever she heard of some quiet guy, some polite, good student who was always nice to everyone, who suddenly went nuts and murdered everyone around him, she thought of me. But I've never done that. No, really, I mean it. Not even once. Most of my coworkers have been clock watchers and lifers. The kind of people who know a comfy kennel when the see it, and do a little work between coffee breaks, now and then. The kind of people who get angry when they are expected to work. I've never understood that, or fit into that group, and so have often been considered a jerk. Even though I'm polite, and quiet, and always nice to everyone. I hope I didn't disappoint my mother.

Q - What advice do you have for someone who wants a job like yours?
A - I'll trade ya for it. Positive view: I'm self-employed. Negative view: I'm unemployed. (Though I have so much to learn that I have no spare time.)

Q - What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
A - Problem solving. Being creative. But most of all, not being supported by management, which has happened. When you work with difficult or naive customers, and then your own team cuts you off at the knees, well then you have to wonder just what the point is. Kind of embarrassing to say so at the moment, given that I'm working by myself, but I'm dreaming back in time when I had a salary and health insurance and coworkers, I think. Gets fuzzy sometimes.

Q - What are the most rewarding aspects of your job?
A - Of any job: the chance to crack a problem in a creative way. I've often been ignored because I analyze a problem, come up with a solution, test it, design it, build it, test the completed work, put it into production, and no one ever hears about it again. In the software world, you get credit for creating crap as quickly as possible, and then riding in for several evenings and weekends of hacking until the thing finally works. People get awards for that, but not for doing something right the first time. Go figure.

Q - What are you most passionate about?
A - Backpacking. Mornings. Pussycats. Hamsters. Keeping the pussycats separated from the hamsters. Quiet moments. Forests. Love.

Q - What companies would you most like to work for?
A - The perfect one, the one, the only, if only it would make itself known to me. And yet I wait and wait and it is not yet revealed.

Q - What do you want to do when you grow up?
A - A friend of mine always wished he was an artichoke. He seemed to have a direction. I keep looking. I once knew a woman (a cat lady) who wished she was covered in fur. I'm not so sure about that.

Q - What have your past employers loved about you?
A - None of them have been quite so bold as to express their feelings in such a way. I show up, which is 80% of life. And I work hard, and in good faith, which seems to be about 0.0005% of life. I focus on the work and training myself, and being more efficient this time around than last time, which is about another 0.000016%. Most people seem to like genial idiots. I prefer to be a genial idiot on my own time, but maybe I've been doing it wrong all these years. Could this be?

Q - What kind of job are you looking for?
A - A chance to make a difference at some place that is making a difference. An opportunity to use many of my multiple personalities: thinker, analyst, writer, editor, photographer, generally sane person, designer, developer, project manager, problem solver. A job at a place where people collaborate and work for a common goal, in good faith.

Q - What makes you a great coworker?
A - I try to pull my weight, be good to people, be respectful and tactful, cooperative, and I always seem to get the short end of the stick. The people who get ahead (in places I've worked) have been aggressive, arrogant, and sloppy. Maybe I should have tried harder to hate people and show it, to claim the work of others as my own, to bluff and bluster and browbeat, but instead I've always tried to get work done, to be modest and helpful, and to share credit for work well done. I guess I'm really dumb.

Q - What makes you a great employee?
A - If it isn't what I've said in my answer to "What have your past employers loved about you?", or the opposite (being a genial idiot) then I don't have a clue. Maybe I should be now clueless. Maybe that would work.

Q - What path did you take to your current career?
A - Good will, hard work, constant learning, creativity, inventive solutions. And then they eliminated my job. Go figure.

Q - What profession other than yours would you like to try?
A - I've been a technical writer, a darkroom technician, a museum designer, a newspaper reporter, a formal and informal student. I've driven truck, written a book, finished a B.A. in English and a B.S. in physics and computer science. I've been an analytical chemist, bicycled around Mt Rainier, from Seattle to Portland, and from Seattle to Vancouver (the exotic one). I've spent thousands of dollars of my own money on training for the sake of my job, and have used personal software and equipment when my employer would not provide it. I've been a long-time photographer, and do digital now. Who knows what might be next?

Q - What special qualifications do you have for your dream job?
A - You mean being a hamster rancher? Well, I just can't get enough of the little critters. They're just endlessly fascinating. One of my favorites used to bathe every evening when he got up (which they all do). I kept a deep pan of fine sand in the hamster cage (they go nuts over it), and I once watched him wash himself twice. It took 45 minutes before he was ready to snuffle around all night. I'd love to have a large herd and watch them flowing over the landscape, as far as the eye could see, nothing visible but tiny furry rippling backs.

Q - What was your best business trip experience?
A - Boy, we're scraping the barrel here. Business trip experience? Like I've ever gone anywhere on business? About all I've done is pay my own way to go off and get training. I guess I'd have to qualify that as my trip to Santa Barbara to spend a week learning Eiffel directly from Bertrand Meyer, one of the founders of object orientation. Too bad the world got stuck on C-based languages. Eiffel reached its peak of visibility about the time that Java came out and the ignorant herds abandoned C++ for Java without giving any thought to what was really wrong with C++ or C in the first place. And now we have Java as the world's number one programming language, and people getting itchy and squinting around for something else, without ever having thought things through from first principles. Oh, dear. Here we go again.

Q - What was your best interview experience like?
A - Ordinary life -- no threats, no tears, no diarrhea, no fear. Even some laughter, and not directed at me, for once.

Q - What was your first job?
A - Working for Tom Levi at Northwest Mapping Co. in Bismarck, North Dakota. He was a great guy but somehow or other didn't feel the need to pay me. I mostly ran an Ozalid machine to make blue-line copies of oil lease maps (and architectural drawings, and so on). "Trademarked copying process used to produce positive prints from drawn or printed materials or film, such as printing proofs from film images. The film is placed on top of chemically treated paper and then exposed to ultraviolet light. The image is developed dry using ammonia vapor." I love the smell of ammonia. Tom claimed that even though he smoked constantly and often had two or three cigarettes burning simultaneously, the ammonia fumes protected him. I can't say. All I know is that I still love the smell. Even better than a freshly-washed hamster.

Q - What was your most bizarre interview experience like?
A - I once drove from Bellingham to Olympia (about 150 miles) for an interview with a State of Washington agency, and when I sat down with the interviewers, they asked me if I had any questions. That was the interview.

Q - What's your dream job?
A - Being rich, the same as everyone else's. Barring that, hiking the Continental Divide Trail.

Q - Who are your role models?
A - Now you're cheating. This is the same as the "mentor" question. See that. If you're too lazy, then know that I steal from everyone. Guys are like that. We come in kit form and have to assemble ourselves from the pieces that come our way. Women seem not to need this sort of thing, but most guys are assembled from assorted parts. If I see someone doing something that seems good, I try to do that too. I add it to my act.

Q - Who was your most influential mentor and what did they teach you?
A - Everyone, both the good and the bad. And the others, the ordinary, everyday heroes all around us. I have no personal heroes but I learn constantly, or try to. Sometimes it takes a bit, but things eventually sink in. I've learned much from walking empty trails and watching the night sky, from learning self-reliance, and the value of good friends. As long as life goes on, there is always another chance to improve.

So will you, like, hire me now? Please?