Equal Opportunity, My foot!
Many, if not most, of us might have gotten rejected at interviews and recruitment processes. While rejection itself is reason enough for one to brood over and blame the selection process or the employer, I had tried on such occasions to sit for a while and put myself in recruiters shoe to analyze what might have gone wrong. Almost 70% of the times I realized it was my mistake. OK no probs, will improve on that, I said to myself. For the rest, I felt that the recruiter were stupid. Now that's a unusual feeling. How can they be stupid, these are the guys who select people all the time, the ones who have perfected their technique. But I felt they were stupid because they were out rightly and hypocritically partial.
How many times have you found the “date of birth” field on the application forms of so-called “equal opportunity” employer? Unless they are Wipro, who flash the fields on their online forms anyhow but proudly proclaim that filling the data is optional because they don't care about gender and age being an equal opportunity employer, most of them demand it. There is not a single, read my lips, not a single employer in this world or the other who can be an equal opportunity employer, in the true essence of the phrase.
A month ago a reputed company, a ubiquity in database solutions, was in my town for a walk-in. Since too many turned up, despite of my experience and certifications I had to write a Java test, along with the college enthusiasts. No probs, I said. Luckily, I cleared the test and was called for the interview. Now, from the very start, the guy just couldn't fathom my past non-IT experience. “Why do you show your non-IT experience at the end of your Resume?”, he quipped sympathetically, “Do you want to put aside your 6 years of experience on the backburner?”, “Oh my, how will you relocate?”, “God, how will you manage at Bangalore, being a married guy you are?” All short of tears, he treated me as if I had tested HIV positive. No technical questions at all. After the hour long ordeal, the guy stood up, shook hand and “thanked me for my time” assuring that he would surely “get back to me”. Oh so much respect, ah so much disgrace..
Why do I write all this stuff? Because this advisory by Joel Spolsky provoked me to. I have been a great fan of his writings, a regular reader. But then he is not perfect in his advise every time and this time he certainly isn't. Now Indian candidates might not know the difference between a comma and a space but certainly they speak/write better English than an American I suppose. With your racial bias Mr.Joel I hope there is no “equal opportunity” tag appearing anywhere on you site, because if it does I now know exactly what it means. Joel complains that the job cover letters often come with job advertisement at the footer (and one of yahoo site builder actually irritated him). I don't think Sir I can manage to add a context sensitive Google text-ad with mine because first of all I didn't put it there. The free email service providers are at liberty to scribble the glory and I am satisfied as long as they don't ruin my mail and I am certainly not going to have a paid email account just to post my resume.
Speaking of cover letters and resumes, while many of his points seem valid I wonder if any Indian recruitment firm (expect for the consultants) actually read them. They are just not meant for human consumption. You are supposed to mail your resume in propah format, write experience-location in subject of your email so that parsing and sorting becomes easier. As a matter of fact, old hands have always advise to use the correct “keywords” in the resume, as per the “job demands” so that it surfaces rightly in search results. Who tries “to sound like a human in the cover letter” now a days? And while there may be dozens of book with advise on your resume I have not seen a single worthwhile response in last 5 years from 2 of the reputed job sites I had enrolled to, the ones who actually are supposed to create a good structured resume automatically for you.
So, whether my cover letter is written by Shakespeare or me, whether my profile is suitable or not, I suppose everywhere there would be some recruiter who would mange to give equal opportunity to adding his angle of bias to your candidature. (Disclaimer: I have not applied to Mr.Joel and I am perfectly happy with my current job)