A Recruiter Checks In

Sometimes you get an email from someone, and it validates every minute you've burned trying to get the word out -

Hi Erin,

I just read your book, and I LOVED it. Thank you for putting it out there.

I recently left my role as Manager, Talent Acquisition at <COMPANY IN MY BOOK> because I witnessed, was responsible for, played along with, many things you refer to in your book. A lot of it has to do with Executive Management and lack of accountability AND being in a role (me) with all of the responsibility of hitting headcount, but none of the decision-making capabilities of how to get there.

I also have lot of guilt with regards to the interview process, ageism, having a complete disregard for all things pertaining to a candidate, etc...

The reason I got into Recruiting was to make a difference in someone's life, and up until 1 year ago, I did. But since last February, it was churn and burn candidates, until we got those purple squirrels the Hiring Managers wanted. Spoiler alert: we never found them, and were reprimanded for not finding said squirrels. So I left for a better company.

Quit Your Job and Save the World

Another email from an interesting fan who wishes to remain anonymous:

"By the way, check out Jonathan Mead, who runs a couple of websites and programs devoted to helping others quit their jobs and create their own businesses doing work that they are passionate about.

He got into the corporate world, worked in it for a couple of years, and realized that he had absolutely no desire to dance to their tune. He and his wife made a plan to hone their finances, figured out how much of a money cushion they felt comfortable with, and within a year, he had created his own business and transitioned out of the corporate world.

His websites are:

paidtoexist.com
trailblazerjourney.com

If you check out his stuff and get on his mailing list, I think you'll see what I'm talking about: well-educated people, many of whom are in their twenties, who already know what they don't want to participate in and who want to create something that is not just different, but better. What I really love about what I'm seeing on the Internet with people who are espousing this approach--and I am not talking about get-rich-quick schemers--is that so many of them are white males--the people who corporations traditionally counted on to keep perpetuating their traditional model. And now, all these young, frequently well-educated, and very smart white guys are saying: Nope, not for me, I'm outta here.

So, basically, the people that have been groomed all their lives to obediently take their places and hold up an aging, out-of-date, and sometimes dehumanizing model of business are opting out. What does this mean? Eventually, the corporations that don't change for the better will die because the best, smartest people (both female and male) will be unwilling to work for them. And maybe that's a good thing.

If we go back to high-tech, the other thing that we have to remember is that, even if what the young software and hardware engineers want to do requires capital, they can, potentially, crowdsource that money. So, even if there does not happen to be an angel investor or venture capital firm involved, they can get the money that they need another way. This generation is not going to let the "good old boys' network" stop them from succeeding.

Heck, not long ago, I read a story about a young man who started his own successful, profitable software company when he was eleven years old. When I read it, he was 16 and his parents and other adults were trying to convince him that he should bother with college.

Here's a link to a story about a successful, twenty-one year old CEO who started his first company when he was 12:

http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/innovation/11/02/seth.priebatsch.scvngr/index.html
Seriously, people like this are who IBM and Oracle and GE, and so on, should be concerned about making them irrelevant.
Another trend? Companies that operate on the Internet using a completely virtual model, where sometimes there is an employer-employee relationship and sometimes it is independent business-to-independent business collaboration. The Internet/World Wide Web enables this, but guess who inspired young people's willingness to just go for it (besides open-source software development, a hobby taken up, by the way, by many programmers who wanted to work on more inspiring projects)? I believe it is the fact that so many people in their teens, twenties, and early thirties have grown up watching a business culture in the U.S. that makes it clear that very few employers view their employees as more than a temporary convenience. I think the young people today are very pragmatic and feel that, if they are merely a temporary convenience to an employer, then why not go out and start a business doing what they really want to do?

The beautiful part of this is that all of these trends have the potential to completely recreate U.S business culture to be something that is more holistic, meaningful, and caring between human beings (focused on cultivating wonderful human relationships through business) instead of having a business culture that is so narrowly focused only on financial profit. Many of the young people already get this, and it goes way beyond just paying lip service to coughing up a few charity dollars each year. Another truth: these young people can smell it a mile away if a company is just pretending; if the people involved in "doing good" are only doing it for the company image or are truly authentic. Again, if management doesn't really mean what they are saying, these people (whether they already work there or are considering doing so) know it and will act accordingly.

By the way, if you want to read a great book about alternative economic development, check out Charles Eisenstein's book Sacred Economics at:

www.sacred-economics.com

At the top of the page there is a link that says Read Online. You can read the whole book there, in separate chapter files, or you can purchase it to get the whole book at once."

Just a Few Sidenotes On "You'll Never Interview in This Town Again..."

I released You'll Never Interview in This Town Again a week ago, and wow. The responses - both positive and negative - have been explosive. I've actually had to rope myself in from reading and replying to everyone's emails during the working day (otherwise I will have to interview in this town again).

A couple of quick notes:

  • Fellow Austin job hunters, your responses have been overwhelming. Thanks for sending in your stories. If you would like me to share them on my blog or in the next book edition, please say so in your email. If you would like to keep your name and the offending company anonymous, please say so.
  •  "Can  I tell you if I find an editorial issue in your book?" Of course you can! I'm not one of those detail-oriented psychopaths. I make mistakes, just like everyone else.
  • A few (okay maybe more than a few) companies have contacted me. "Hmm, we don't see that you interviewed with us, but we were called out in your book..." That's because this book is not just my story. It's a lot of people's stories. If I didn't interview with you, that means you were called out in either this survey or this one
  • Furthermore, unhappy Austin employers,  I can't/won't give out my sources' names unless given permission. Lawyer boyfriend is strict on this.
  • I don't hate Round Rock. I just hate driving there. 
Ta ta for now!

Business Culture is Ripe for Reinvention

One of the coolest aspects of writing and doing research for "You'll Never Interview In This Town Again" were the friends and acquaintances I've met along the way. I love this email I received from a reader, another tech writer here in Austin. In regards to the BS hipster startup scene in Austin, she had this to say:
Honestly, I sometimes think that the younger people are just responding to the load of you-know-what that corporate culture puts on everyone as it tries to make itself seem relevant to a younger generation of workers (let's get them a ping-pong table and a basketball hoop--yeah, yeah, that'll make them want to work here)--when, really, all they want is to do work that actually makes a difference to something besides just lining the pockets of the already wealthy (or relatively wealthy).
In my opinion, in the past some corporations liked to hire younger people not just because their salaries were lower but because they were too naive to know how things really worked and therefore easier to manipulate (at least, that was the perception). However, I think many younger people out there today see through a lot more than the people who are usually the execs want them to see.

What excites me is seeing the number of people in their twenties and thirties now who are focused on creating completely new business models that elevate the goal of making the world a better place just as much as the goal of making money. I think it has the potential to transform the entire economy in a good way. (Tom's Shoes is just one company with a visionary business model.)
I'm looking forward to seeing what the companies started by people who are thirty-two and younger right now will be like in five to ten years from now. The U.S. business culture is ripe for reinvention by people (of whatever age) who want to create a business culture that is truly new, better, and more collaborative rather than exploitative.
Also, your insight and no-B.S. attitude is exactly the kind of attitude that I think the more visionary companies will want.
What do you think? Agree or disagree?

MadCap Sends the Best Customer Service Reply Ever

This is for all of you tech writers out there who love MadCap Flare in the same way you love that guy in college who seemed perfect on the surface but secretly had a serious drinking problem.

'Cause, see, as you probably already know, the spellcheck in MadCap Flare is a skitzo. It's sort of like the preoccupied agent at airport security-it may catch the 80 oz shampoo bottle hidden under the bag of cocaine, or it may not. Therefore, if you're actually writing anything longer than a sentence in MadCap Flare without first screening it through MS Word security, you run the risk of putting our country at danger.

So, frustrated one day, I shot them a "product request." I may have even tweeted it. Weeks later, I get this in my email--which just goes to show, companies need/want your feedback, no matter how ridiculous it is:

  

The Perils of Dating a Crazy Cat Lady

This week I agreed to housesit for my friend while she went on a road trip with her husband and her kids, ages eight and two (I'd rather get whacked in the head by a meat cleaver, but to each their own).

While I was away, I had one continual request of my boyfriend...

You'll Never Interview in This Town Again - Available Now!



Dear Readers,

You’ll Never Interview in This Town Again is Now Available on Amazon

I give you my lovely little ditty about interviewing in Austin—the pain, the humiliation, the obscenity, the ping-pong tables, the chaos, the bloodshed.

As most of you know, I promised her about six months ago, but stuff happened, so I kept moving the date back and back again until I finally set an ironclad date on February 23rd. Only, that didn’t happen either. I have my reasons.

So how did she come to be now? It’s simple: I couldn’t sleep last night. My next book, Rest In Me, is set (among other times and places) during the Crimean War. I was burning the candle at both ends doing research and fell asleep just after reading an ungodly description of a battle scene from which I will spare you the details. Suffice to say, I had nightmares. I woke up feeling the story in my bones like I never had before. I knew it was ready. But I also knew this—I was in the thick of this book now, and if I ever hoped to finish You’ll Never Interview in This Town Again, I had to do it immediately, before the jaws of Rest In Me sank their teeth down all the way.

So now, here she is.

Listen, I’ll admit this—it’s not the best edited book in the world. This fact more prevalent in some areas more than others. There was one part that I had been waiting on writing because I didn’t feel her, we just weren’t connecting, but I wanted her to be told nonetheless, so this morning I sort of took her by the throat and told her it was now or never (Can you guess which part? I wonder if you can. Hint: I never write in order.) I flushed her out at the eighteenth hour, and she didn’t turn out exactly what I wanted her to be, but I realized she would do as-is. It made no sense to keep the rest of the chorus in the rehearsal room because of one soprano with stage fright.

And as it always is with these things, I made some changes at the last minute. Shuffled the topics around, gave them new dresses. Some ribbons might have been torn during the scuffle. You’ll get over it.

Please enjoy. It’s highly likely Rest In Me will take a long time to write, so this might be the last book you’ll get from me in a while.

Always,

e.p.

"This Sick Little Heart of Mine" Fun Fact



Little known fact: "This Sick Little Heart of Mine" was originally titled "Take My Hand Across the Dark," which is a line from Zbigneiw Hebert's famous poem, "To Marcus Aurelius." I don't know why, but the first time I ever read this poem (1999, at the Monash University library, waiting for my boyfriend to finish his computer science class), it moved me, and I thought of that line years later when trying to come up with a title for my book. I thought about how depression wants so badly to be recognized. Ultimately, however, the title wasn't as buzzworthy as "TSLHOM," so it was cast aside. Here's the poem:

Good night Marcus put out the light
and shut the book For overhead
is raised a gold alarm of stars
heaven is talking some foreign tongue
this the barbarian cry of fear
your Latin cannot understand
Terror continuous dark terror
against the fragile human land

begins to beat It's winning Hear
its roar The unrelenting stream
of elements will drown your prose
until the world's four walls go down
As for us? – to tremble in the air
blow in the ashes stir the ether
gnaw our fingers seek vain words
drag off the fallen shades behind us

Well Marcus better hang up your peace
Take my hand across the dark
Let it tremble when the blind world beats
on senses five like a failing lyre
Traitors – universe and astronomy
reckoning of stars wisdom of grass
and your greatness too immense
and Marcus my defenceless tears
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