dburrows/ blog/ entry/ from-blogspot/ Job Fairs

In my ongoing quest to find gainful employment, I decided to try a job fair in Seattle. Most of the companies there were looking to hire service-sector workers -- truck drivers, bank tellers, etc -- and when I asked about computer-related jobs, they said "oh, we do have some of those, but they're all in our corporate headquarters in [some far-away city]". There was only one company that was specifically in the computer field (some sort of consulting agency); their representative glanced at my resumé for a few seconds, then gave me a look of extreme pity and said, "I'm sorry, but all the experience you list is school-related...a Masters degree is something, I guess, but employers want a little more practical experience. Have you ever considered getting a certification?" I left the resumé with her anyway -- you never know what might help.

I do have a few leads to follow up on; maybe I can at least get an interview out of them. Aside from that, I guess I'll keep trying...by my reckoning, I can survive for a few more months before I get desperate enough to eat shoelaces or take a help-desk position. Or I could always try to get work at the elephant in the room... (you think it's a joke? You try living on shoelace soup, then!)

One question for the peanut gallery is whether certifications are actually useful at all, at least for getting a job. I doubt I'd learn anything from the course (at least, nothing I couldn't learn better on my own), and the whole thing seems like a racket to me, but if I'm learning one thing about the process of searching for a job, it's that it's full of pointless rackets.

[UPDATE] On a hunch, I looked up the company's Web site and BBB page. They are not a consulting company; they're a certification training company. I sort of suspected this at the fair, but their materials claimed they did consulting as well. So the is just the lowest form of deceptive, sleazy sales tactics (almost as bad as the guy from the Cult That Shall Not Be Named who came around claiming to be doing a survey) -- grab some naïve graduate who thinks you have jobs, cluck sadly at his resumé, then offer a solution in the form of services your firm just happens to be coincidentally selling. Another victory for "no matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up"...

If I sound annoyed, well, I am.

[UPDATE 2] Thanks for the comments. I have to admit to a certain amount of exaggeration above -- I should be fine for 4-6 months or so, which I hope is enough time to find something decent. I'm not on a shoelace diet yet, just getting a bit frustrated and impatient :-).

Comment by Anonymous at 3:58 PM:

Hi Daniel,

the one certificate that has proved useful for me in getting a job was LPI (Level2).

These are quite cheap and you can take both levels in a row, which means you can be done in about 2 hours.

Whether this is useful naturally depends on what area you are looking to find employment. If it isn't system administration, maybe there is not much point in getting a LPI certification :)

cheers, Max

Comment by Niall at 4:18 PM:

Yes they help. HR departments and job agencies seem to have a buzzword list. Playing the "match the buzzword with things on your CV" game is getting harder and harder to avoid.

Comment by Gunnar Wolf at 4:48 PM:

Each place of the world is different. I live in Mexico, and I stay as far away as possible from the corporate world. I have never needed a certification - In fact, when recruiting people, I throw away resumes that list certifications first and real work later. IMHO, people get certified more for lack of self-assurance than for anything else.

Comment by Bryan Hundven at 6:12 PM:

Actually,

I live in Tacoma,WA. Seattle and Tacoma are 'Port Towns'/cities... whatever.

There are few non-M$ jobs in this area, and even fewer are programming jobs. Unless your trying to get a job at Intel (in DuPont).

If you happen to be a programmer in these areas... I apologize! Try moving to Portland or Vancover,WA (or B.C.).

Seriously, business taxes in Washington totally scare away any right-minded programming firm from starting up (well, other than Microsoft and it's b**ch Intel.)

Good Luck!

Comment by James Stansell at 2:59 PM:

Have you checked out SourceLabs? Their promise http://www.sourcelabs.com/promise.htm seems reasonable and Bruce Perens said this week (look for his posting on technocrat.net) that he believes they will keep it. They should also be one of the few companies that would take your DD experience seriously.