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                             Looking For Work
  Adam Hough                                  

This is not really connected to this area, but...

This little tirade is based on my recent job hunting experiences in both
Ottawa and Calgary, considered to be the best places to search for IT
related jobs in Canada.

For years, the computer industry has been crying out for computer
knowledgeable university graduates.  So they got them.  Then they felt that
what they really needed was to have computer people who could communicate
effectively and efficiently.

So, with this knowledge in hand, I've pursued that particular profile.

And what's the result?  "We want three to five years experience."; "Do you
know IEF/ABF/SNA/ADS/SYBASE"; and so on.  And that's if you get as far as
an interview or an open house.  Most of the time, the closest you get is a
"Dear John" reply to your resume, seemingly from the same source as all
those office faxes since the wording remains identical no matter what the
source -- "We currently have no openings for your skills at this moment.
We will keep your resume on file for 6 months..."

What I'm really getting at is questioning how the computer industry expects
to recruit the next generation of professionals if it's not willing to
either train them or, heck, even give them a chance.  No institutions I've
seen handle anything more sophisticated than programming languages and
assorted theory -- definitely nothing like Cognicase or the other million
pieces of slightly obscure mainframe related software.

Much as I would like to be able to say I know this, that and the other, I
cannot afford to buy every single package out there and learn it -- and
even that does count.  One company I went to an open house to recently only
wanted to see knowledge gained through work, academic and personal
experience wasn't admissible; that resulted in a fairly empty sheet of

Is it TRUE that the only jobs out there are for people who happen to know
those in the know?  Is the computer industry needlessly rejecting thousands
of capable people they need because they are not willing to take on the
cost of letting them learn on the job?  What makes it so ironic is that
while at one open house, I talked to a team leader talking about a project
that he'd just completed.  That job required a substantial amount of work
to be done in Visual Basic -- in his words his team "couldn't even spell
Visual when they started on the project".  So wherein lies the difference
other than those people are already employed?  Is the IT industry being too
fussy and leaving jobs unfilled or is there a huge pool of people who just
happen to have that few years of experience in hand that makes them

In the meanwhile I'm sitting on a collection of useful and relevant skills
that are slowly becoming less valuable as new software is introduced and as
I become more rusty while looking around for a chance to hone them.  I'm
not trying to set my sights too high by being unreasonable in job
expectations or salary; I'm not unemployable through being socially
incompetent or indeed any of the other shortcomings of many other
technically skilled computer people.  So why the problem?  I wish I knew.

Thoughts, people?