Category Archives: recruitment

“Equal Opportunities”

My recent recruitment to $bigco was, as close as possible in the real world to a perfect case of no-possible-race-discrimination. That is to say, none of the folks who made the decision ever met me in person, and I never mentioned my skin colour to them. They know they’re employing an apache guru: we discussed that at length. But they don’t know my ethnicity.

Of course they can google, they can make a guess. So can I, and my manager’s name strongly suggests that he’s from a very different racial group to my own. So neither of us can be accused of favouring our own kind (unless one of us has made a wrong guess about the other).

Now part of the documentation they expect[1] from me is a racial monitoring form, so they can “prove” they … erm … don’t discriminate. It lets me choose from:

  • White
  • Black-Caribbean
  • Black-African
  • Black-Other
  • Indian
  • Pakistani
  • Chinese
  • Bangladeshi
  • Other (please specify)

Right. One category for white – the vast majority, encompassing warring catholic/protestant communities, and presumably other groups having significant tensions like jew and arab. Not to mention what the ‘merkins call “hispanic”. By contrast, no less than three different categories for black based on their history rather than their ethnicity, and three for south-asian based on country of origin. Seems to me offensive both to the white majority and to the minorities – both white and non-white.

I want the option to describe my race as “human”. But that’s not Politically Correct. Bah, Humbug.

[1] Or rather, that the Political Correctness Police expect of them. in a timewarp

Yesterday El Reg ran a story about how UK companies can’t recruit IT talent, and lack the imagination to update their working practices to what people find acceptable this century. It attracted quite a few comments, showing a thoroughly predictable (to a geek) lack of sympathy with the poor companies. They are, and have been for as long as I’ve been in the business (over 20 years now) the authors of their own misfortunes.

At my venerable age, they no longer insult me by offering peanuts of the kind that dip below the statutory minimum wage once you factor it over all the unpaid extra hours. But even when they talk of really good money, they’re stuck in a dinosaur mindset.

Here’s my contribution to that article. I meant to post it anonymously, but forgot to check the box, so my name’s already attached to it.

[Ring Ring]

“Hello, [me] speaking”

“Hello, this is J. Random Recruiter. Is this a good time?”

“Yeah, fine. What can I do you for?”

“We’ve got a city financial company needs your skills, in particular [foo]”


“Would you be available to work in The City”?

“I work for clients around the world. The City is fine. Just so long as they don’t expect my bum physically in their seat on a regular basis. Happy to travel to London occasionally – say, up to once a month.”

“They’ll pay £150K for this. And that’s a permie salary”

“Great. And that’ll be based on working primarily from home?”

“No, clients won’t generally do that. But you don’t have to live in London, you can commute in from the country”.

“It’s a minimum of five hours from here to Paddington, one way. About monthly is OK; anything much more frequent isn’t. That’s why I work from home, for clients around the world”.

“You find clients who are happy with that?”

“Most of my income comes from America, which means it’s losing its value. I’d welcome work coming from London.”

“And you wouldn’t consider moving”?

“Yes, but not to anywhere in SouthEast England.”

“They might be flexible on the pay”.

“The money is fine, thank you. Southeast England isn’t. That’s what I’ve escaped from, and I’m not about to go back”.

“Oh. So you wouldn’t be interested?”

“As I said, I’m happy to go up there from time to time.”

… and it draws to a close. We haven’t even discussed the work itself, beyond the recruiter having taken an interest in my CV. He can use our telecoms infrastructure to do his job (contact prospective recruits) remotely, but won’t countenance the recruits themselves doing likewise.

Not all of them say £150k (the last one I recollect did). But the shape of the conversation is remarkably predictable. I expect hacks prepared to work in central London are in huge demand and commanding correspondingly inflated pay, while those of us who won’t do it will find my tale very familiar.

Cause and effect and jobs

I got another request to join someone’s linkedin network.  I seem to be registered there: some time in the past, in a moment of weakness, I went and signed up on receiving an invite from someone I know to be genuine.

At the bottom of the invite is a one-line carrot: “Fact: Adding 5 connections makes you 3.7x more likely to receive a job offer“.  I guess they have some stats to support the assertion.

Of course they can’t know every job offer anyone receives.  Maybe they can come somewhere near to knowing every offer that goes through some process they facilitate.  Perhaps the “fact” taken with appropriate qualifiers is reasonably well supported.

So that’ll be “people who are more active on linkedin are more likely to find a job through linkedin”.  Sounds reasonable.

But now they’re using “find a job” as a carrot.  So that’ll be self-fulfilling: people in the jobs market are more likely to take the carrot and become more active there, while others are more likely to ignore it.  How is that better than (or even as good as) signing up at a jobs site?  Ah, right, it’s somewhere you can look without admitting (maybe even to yourself) you’re on that game?

But maybe there’s a real advantage: ‘normal’ jobs boards are overwhelmingly dominated by recruiters who lack techie knowledge of their market, and work on buzzwords of random relevance.  That kind of thing is a complete waste of time if you’ve rejected the ratrace career in the Dilbertian office.