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Examine the expectations and inferences underlying selected job positions. Consider timely topics in career preparation and the struggle for fulfilling employment. Analyze what could be improved in either situation. If this blog reminds you too much of work, then peruse my namesake blog for lighter fare.

Fuck UWM and all universities! UW-Milwaukee and their brethren are mediocre. Click banner ads on ClixSense instead; it's a better use of time than a college education in the UW System.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Interviews, Insults, and Interruptions

(Un-)Funny Job Interview Dialogue (Dark Humor)

Interviewer: Why do you want to leave your current position?

Interviewee: Being a professional job interviewee doesn’t pay too well.

Interviewer: What a shame -- it really is your calling!

Interviewer: What happened to your business?

Interviewee: I’m good at what I do -- but had to close my business for lack of selling ability.

Interviewer: You ain’t selling yourself too well, either!

Interviewer: Why don’t you want to be self-employed anymore?

Interviewee: Because I’m a [techie | artisan | craftsman], not a salesman.

Interviewer: And a p*$$ p00r job interviewer!

Interviewer: Why don’t you [earn another degree | go back to school | further your education]?

Interviewee: Because I don’t want to get burnt again, investing time and money but without a job to show for it.

Interviewer: That’s the most intelligent thing you’ve said during the entire interview!

Interviewer: Why should I [hire | choose | waste another breath on] you?

Interviewee: I’ll make you more money than the other candidates for this position.

Interviewer: Prove it! And I ain’t giving you the chance to -- good-bye!

Bonus: Job Interview Interruption Comic!

Hand-drawn cartoon about a job interview question - hilarity ensures!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Hiring Managers Should Read the Bloody Employment Applications!

I mean “bloody” in the British sense of exasperated emphasis, of generic intensification. The discerning reader will therefore realize the employment applications to which I refer contain no more DNA than O.J. Simpson's scarf. (You know, an item of clothing he didn't wear on June 12, 1994.)

My call to action is for those conducting the job interviews to actually read the employment application of the candidate s/he wants to interview so as to comprehend whether that applicant has prior experience doing a similar job. Otherwise, the receptionist might play the role of “interview coordinator” without being qualified to do so.

To elaborate on this distinction: No one should be an interview coordinator unless s/he also participates in conducting the interview! As a corollary, no hiring manager should ever leave the examination of a job application to the interview coordinator alone, for chances are that an underling would judge too permissively, only to waste everyone’s resources.

Would you let your receptionist schedule an interview between an unqualified applicant and the more discerning interviewer, without the interview agent or hiring manager first setting strict guidelines on must-have work experience for each type of position?

Land’s End is one of the organizations that apparently would call in an unqualified applicant to interview for a position s/he clearly has no prior experience doing. In my defense, I had applied for a customer service job, NOT a production position!

The next time a company offers to interview me for a position different than what I had applied for, I will require the receptionist to explain why the interview team wants to examine my qualifications for a job that my employment history shows I’ve never done.

Land’s End isn’t known as a “train to hire” organization; they only want those who’ve done similar work elsewhere. So why bother speaking with an inexperienced person, other than to be entertained with how he addresses his inexperience?

You goons in human resources get paid no matter how much time you waste interviewing throwaway candidates, but the candidates are not reimbursed for their time. “It’s such a privilege to walk into your office!” If you believe that line, then you have no grasp of sarcasm.

“I want to work here because I believe in your products and because there is room for professional development.” By such an individual have those words never been spoken more ironically! Here’s why:

I’ve read many complaints about the consistency of Land’s End products, and even your “best qualified” customer care agents anger buyers and lose potential repeat customers. Employee turnover plagues warehouse and office alike, for you expect so much from employees in return for so little.

They have only themselves to blame for fueling such a hyperactive pace of work. Rather than wasting time with candidates for warehouse worker who had applied for customer service positions without any warehouse production experience, they could use the time saved to roll up their sleeves and sling boxes themselves!

Oh, wait -- they aren’t “best qualified” for that! But they are well qualified for being paid to waste time.

If you’re that hard-up for actual workers, as opposed to the plentiful talkie-talkies in human resources, then hire more people to make the pace of work more manageable. The cost savings of worker retention will outweigh, within 3 years, the brief hike in total compensation resulting from the slightly higher headcount.

A person with simple, effective ideas like the one above evidently has no place in Land’s End. I’ve no reason to ever apply again. Never again shall I condign to touch your filthy, gilt doorknobs; nor shall I deign to handle your shallow, ill-fitting merchandise!

Statement of Withdrawal

Hi, [name redacted]!

I understand it is customary to send a thank-you note after interviewing. But more than thanking you for the privilege of walking into the Land's End headquarters, I must reiterate that every worker starts somewhere.

And if the office workers at Land's End generally started as warehouse associate - having tested their physical stamina and sense of urgency via trial by fire - then all the more so I can do the job.

I can imagine myself picking orders with the same speed and accuracy as someone from the front office; not necessarily any better, but certainly not any worse.

Certain people have been occupationally bred to be the ultimate order picker and therefore work in the warehouse for many years instead of segueing into clerical work. These appear to be the "best qualified" candidates to which you referred during our interview.

Although my work history does not evince such a thoroughbred approach to being raised as a manual laborer, I bet no one else in the [redacted] area does the wrist exercises that I do! (It's a highly unorthodox, self-made program but effective for building stamina.)

The physical fitness aspect alone puts me in the second tier of candidates in terms of, "Could the person do the job reasonably well?"

All that needs to happen now is for at least one of the best-qualified candidates - those with more experience - to turn down an employment offer at Land's End to make way for me. I'm fully aware of Land's End turnover issues, so that is to my advantage.

Granted, all the best-qualified candidates could find work elsewhere before accepting offers from you, but that doesn't mean you would budge. In fact, you're probably feeling disgusted that I wrote this ponderous email, so I withdraw from the applicant pool.

If prior production experience is what you're looking for, then you could have read my employment application that I had completed during the Open House.

But as it stands, you decided to waste your time and mine by ignoring my intent to work as Customer Care Associate, opting instead to see what ridiculous answer I'd give for production experience regarding Warehouse Associate - knowing fully well from my job application and résumé that I lack such experience!

So if you feel over-worked, then you have only yourself to blame for interviewing non-candidates for positions incompatible with their work history. Look at the employment application first! Why bother interviewing inexperienced applicants?

"Good luck" finding decent people.



Monday, July 21, 2014

Job Seeker Feedback Website Flops at Launch, Found Wanting for Functionality

While advocating against universities in a LinkedIn group for students and recent graduates, I happened upon a solicitation from an Internet startup called “Job Seeker Feedback,” also known herein as “N00bs with B00bs!” Why the blatantly misogynistic designation? Read on to find out how that West Coast crew earned such an ignominious moniker!

Its spokesperson, Tamlin Tromp, was “recruiting” -- more like requesting -- those who are searching for employment to join a research program that would evaluate the experiences of job seekers during their interactions with various employment applications. Monitoring and real-time Q & A would be conducted by Internet survey (with or without webcam), telephone conversation, and/or on-site observation.

Ever alert to emerging trends in the staffing industry, I entered my bid for starring in a focus group pertaining to the user experience of Job Application Systems (JAS), which are also known as Employment Applicant Tracking Systems (EATS) -- the latter term of which is especially apropos, considering how those online software apps tend to swallow applications without recourse!

There exist, however, myriad issues within the Job Seeker Feedback (JSF) evaluation model:

1) The primary problem is attracting professionals. Due to human nature, those who’ve struggled in the job market -- and therefore have scores to settle with the employment process as a whole -- will self-select more often than those who are content with their ability to find jobs. This will over-represent disgruntled job seekers in the JSF studies!

To wit: The reimbursement to focus group participants is a mere $50 gift card to Amazon, for those who travel to the on-site evaluation center. The interviewing location is kept secret until those selected for a study are given confidential directions. The remuneration to those completing a remote survey is nil. Considering the median time of a professional, white-collar worker exceeds $20 hourly, how few will deign to travel on-site and/or complete a remote evaluation of several hours -- for what amounts to less than $20 hourly?

The administrative owner of the Job Seeker Feedback website is privately registered via P.O. Box at the New Dream Network, LLC web host in Brea, California. The natural tendency would therefore be to over-sample Californians. Surely, those who live outside a normal commuting distance should at least have their travel expenses reimbursed!

One solution is to pay for qualified members of the labor force to take a “business trip.” This option would be more palatable to white-collar workers than to blue-collar workers: The former would be able to claim “professional development” expenditures and be paid on company time, whereas the others would predominantly be forced to either go on their time and dime or to not participate.

This would provide a counter-measure to the leftward skew of the respondent sample among occupations and income levels of job seekers. But knowing the geographic dispersion necessary to sample in-person EATS users from around the United States, I’d venture the Job Seeker Feedback crew rents time slots from Prometric and other testing centers, thereby limiting their on-site studies to major metropolitan areas.

Although the most intensive Job Seeker Feedback studies exclude most rural members of the labor force, that isn’t much of an impediment if enough country dwellers have a webcam so the JSF folk can monitor them -- when the NSA isn’t hogging the live feed! Then again, I’ll pass on that proposition!

Public eyes are watching you! They see your every move, baby! (Hall and Oates parody)

2) A compounding problem for Job Seeker Feedback is their horrible website. If you disbelieve me, then my annotated screen captures shall disabuse you of any contrary notions!

Exhibit 1: Cookie Cutter Home Page, Riddled with Errors!

The Job Seeker Feedback home page looks very generic and contains inconsistencies in capitalization and grammar.

Exhibit 2: Angst-Ridden Selfies of Staff on a Bad Hair Day!

The expressions on the visages of Job Seeker Feedback staff reveal traces of anxiety and doubt.

Exhibit 3: Awkward, Bumbling Unique Selling Proposition (USP)!

The Job Seeker Feedback overview page contains glaring grammatical gaffes that elicit great guffaws of, 'Good grief!'

Exhibit 4: Inappropriate Use of Latin to Obscure Incompetence!

Lingua 'Job Seeker Feedback F.A.Q.' discrepare contra sensus hominis laboris captare.

Exhibit 5: Demonstration of Primary Selling Point is Glitch-Ridden!

The Job Seeker Feedback staff don't know how to get their 'quick tests' running!

Exhibit 6: Refusal and/or Inability to Learn or Adapt!

The Job Seeker Feedback staff are rather resistant to constructive criticism!

Amicus Curie 1: Constructive Criticism!

A feedback group for those seeking jobs as budget and policy analyst? Perish the thought!

Amicus Curie 2: Confirmation of Received Suggestion!

Aspiring budget and policy analysts - including self-employed BPAs - do not qualify for a job seekers' focus group. Because New Dream, LLC is only the hosting service, any content, errors, and omissions are solely the fault of the Job Seeker Feedback staff. Who are they? Espy them below -- exposed for what they are!

Interactive Supplement 1: Monstrous Job Seeker Feedback Staff!

Job Seeker Feedback user experience (UX) crew, with aliases.

3) Finally, an obstinate refusal to acknowledge or utilize meta feedback is counter-intuitive for a firm called Job Seeker Feedback! If universities purport to teach one main idea -- besides the unquestioning embrace of diversity, except for those of confrontational personalities -- it is: Always learn what you can from everyone you meet!

Unfortunately for JSF, failure to grasp that concept means innumerable lessons are lost. Recounted below are verbatim messages that I sent directly to the JSF spokesperson. These demonstrate due diligence on my behalf to whip the Job Seeker Feedback project into shape.

Ultimately, those whom JSF interviews are best positioned to mention my article to staff, for the benefit of their eventual elucidation and a possible salvaging of what is presently a doomed endeavor (for the reasons thus described).

RE: Jobseekerfeedback (in response to the namesake LinkedIn group thread by The Tromp)
On 06/07/14 7:20 PM, Joseph Ohler, Jr. wrote to Tamlin Tromp:

I'm LOL’ing about all those who posted, “I’m interested!” without actually following the link and registering through the Job Seeker Feedback website. That probably explains why they're having a tough time!

As for me, it's been 4 years since I’ve had anything worth putting on a résumé -- I’m not counting Pizza Hut waiter or my 2-day stint working on an assembly line, where I developed tendonosis and was never placed again -- because no one wants to know me well enough to prep an employer for my application. That’s why it's always, “Who's this guy? We'll hire the person we know.”

I don’t need to be a mind reader to understand that goes on! And among the current cohort of graduates, those who did stay in touch with me don’t want to cash in their political chips on my behalf. Who knows what they say about me behind my back...

If you haven’t punched your monitor while reading about my situation, then you have more patience than most people I meet. They’re like, “Good luck!” and I'm like, “Enjoy your meaningless existence!”

Seriously, a lot of homeless people would do the jobs of employed people even better, but they don't “fit the mold.” They don’t make people feel “warm and fuzzy” inside, as the salespeople of finest fakery are wont to do.

Although I’m not homeless, that is not through my personal achievement but through the graciousness of family. The biggest opportunity right now is to draw upon my one clear strength: an ability to write in a manner both eloquent and primal.

At this point, I would feign consideration for your interests and ask, “How are you doing?” -- but I already know the stock response you'd give, being unable to emotionally commit to the hardships of the long-term unemployed, of the demimondaine who are an interpersonal half-world away.

When someone says, “I’m busy!” I then tell them, “I’m busier than you -- but at least you get paid!” That is an appropriate response to a bunch of smug, arrogant jerks who just happen to have a job.

Someone paid $50,000 might only be worth a tenth of that in actual, practical value. And many are virtually worthless from a human sense; even wicked people are nice to friends.

Who is nice to strangers? Do you refrain from slanting your eyes and wrinkling your nose when visiting the “off-putting” cousin of your husband on his uncle and aunt’s middle-of-nowhere manor?

If I had been in some office saying this, then I would have been escorted away by the second paragraph. But because this is the Internet and therefore a free speech forum, I spoke my mind to influence how you see the world.

Heed my words, Tromperoo, or Job Seeker Feedback shall remain mired in mediocrity!

10 days of silence transpired, during which I endeavored on miscellaneous tasks, one of which was the analysis of the many shortcomings shown in Tamlin’s terrible site.

I then sent a follow-up message on the morning of June 15th to give JSF staff -- not Joint Strike Fighter, but the Tromp and Troupe™ web crew ample time for fair rebuttal.

Because they declined to utilize this opportunity, I reiterated my findings directly to the PR pitchwoman who had been dispatched to various LinkedIn groups.

Your Funny Job Seeker Feedback Website
On 06/17/14 12:58 PM, Joseph Ohler, Jr. wrote to Tamlin Tromp:

Because you LIE on your “contact us” page by saying, “We respond within 48 hours, even on weekends!” -- I hereby re-send my June 15th message directly to bypass the webmaster:

I notice you use WordPress. In my experience, WP makes the customization process overly complicated because the bootstrap forces a bunch of includes to check each other for certain settings, and one wrench in the works grinds the site to a halt.

What should be easy tasks -- such as embedding “quick test” apps -- become a convoluted task of troubleshooting each component in the WP include hierarchy. Also, the sheer number of includes doubles the load time over a non-WP infrastructure that would be merely coded from scratch and then FTP’ed onto the server.

You end up spending more time removing fragile "features" from WP to prevent glitches than you do on getting the practice tests live -- not that the latter matters, unless considered by ATS designers alongside the non-practice feedback you receive.

(The practice tests might not be compensated, but they may be considered as part of the overall data picture for job application developers.)

In my “arrogance,” here are three unsolicited pieces of advice:

1) Although it's too early in the site's life to justify a migration from WP onto a platform-less “lean” infrastructure, fewer includes mean a better time for everyone involved.

In the meantime, append the text “(under development)” to the line, “Take one of your quick online tests” beneath the third icon on your home page. No one wants to waste his or her time clicking through to the page and waiting for it to load -- only to find there are no practice tests to take!

2) Your FAQ page is entirely in Latin and does not appear to actually address the subject matter of the questions in the headings when translated.

3) Your expectations page has minor typos that nonetheless have easy, one-minute fixes:

A) Insert the word “at” so that the fourth sentence reads, “You will be asked to look at a website or complete...”

B) Under the header “How to become a tester,” replace the comma with a semicolon, as in “Don’t be nervous; your perspective…” and “...plan for plenty of time to get there; late participants can be sent home.”

C) Stop the sentence altogether at “...late participants can be sent home.” If they are late, then the qualifier “if they are late” is redundant and therefore wasted space.

Let me know when you want more free advice, as I enjoy what I do.


I am now the registered owner of Although you will obviously pay more for it -- purchasing from me -- than what GoDaddy would charge, that is the price you pay for such incompetent planning on your behalf!

But you probably won’t bother buying the .net domain I hold, for your .com equivalent is already failing. “Good luck” in your future employment endeavors!

So much is wrong with the website, one can easily understand why the site founders are “entrepreneurs by necessity.” Even worse, as shown above: The founders are non-responsive to constructive criticism -- kind of reminds me of Honelife!

But whereas Honelife had a fairly experienced middle manager as a co-founder alongside a semi-proficient web developer, Job Seeker Feedback website is run by -- dare I say it again? -- n00bs with b00bs!

And that, appropriately enough, is just like a human resources department hiring candidates for unfamiliar positions; those which none in the selection committee ever worked but for a day, let alone long enough to grasp what is needed to play to the strengths of an already strong candidate. It would be like a political science graduate recruiting for engineering firms.

Closer to home for many readers, the HR hacks behind are akin to a visibly out-of-shape HR assistant claiming to be a better judge of a potential laborer’s on-the-job durability than the man who has trained his wrists with over 500 repetitions of weighted wrist exercises, every 3 days (to allow for muscle cells to regrow and thereby prevent injury), in preparation for such an opportunity.

It’s one thing to be written off by an expert who has been responsible for not only hiring organization-wide but also worked in most positions for which s/he hires. But it’s unacceptable to be dismissed by amateurs who proclaim each other to be “experts,” when their CVs are more transparent than the paper on which they’re written!

Job Seeker Feedback cannot bear to interview me, for I already know more -- than those pretenders! -- about the various Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) implemented throughout most national and many regional organizations. To wit: Chew on my Taleo Universal Profile (TUP) ATS review! A team of 4 has not yet produced what I have in solitaire.

Conclusion: The folks at Job Seeker Feedback are unlikely to respond to you, so don’t bother. The only thing they’re good for, as of this writing, is for an elaborate laugh -- such as what I’ve provided today.

Yet, I’ve published this article with the intent of creating public pressure against the misguided precepts and flawed implementation underlying the Job Seeker Feedback business model. Spread this information far and wide via strategic social sharing and indiscriminate word of mouth!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Job Application Fee: A Game-Changing Tool for Winnowing to the Winners

Problem Statement

After carefully reading the requirements and duties of the position, some job seekers may apply for a position in which they could potentially learn all relevant duties but have only performed a few of those in actuality. In turn, this lower end of the applicant pool tends to think, "Hey, my chances are 1 in 100 if I apply and 0 in 100 if I don't, so I'll apply despite an unknown number of more experienced people going up against me."

The over-optimistic job seeker hopes, “Although there are probably dozens of more experienced applicants, their communication skills might be inadequate to describe their experience in the best way compared to the talking points demanded by the scoring rubric. Who knows? Given the minimal opportunity cost, I may as well pursue this position.”

Presuming a telephone interview takes around 20 minutes and post-interview notes by the phone screener require another 10, each interviewee occupies at least half an hour of paid personnel time. Double or triple this cost, depending on how many interview panelists are involved. I made a cost matrix to illustrate just how expensive it is to interview first-rounders:

Number of InterviewersInterviewer WageNumber of ApplicantsTime per ApplicantTotal Cost
1$15/hour1001/2 hour$750
2$15/hour1001/2 hour$1,500
3$15/hour1001/2 hour$2,250
1$20/hour1001/2 hour$1,000
2$20/hour1001/2 hour$2,000
3$20/hour1001/2 hour$3,000
1$15/hour1001 hour$1,500
2$15/hour1001 hour$3,000
3$15/hour1001 hour$4,500
1$20/hour1001 hour$2,000
2$20/hour1001 hour$4,000
3$20/hour1001 hour$6,000

NOTES: To calculate the cost of 200, 300, or N applicants in each scenario, multiply the Total Cost by 2, 3, or (N/100). I included 1 hour as a potential time per applicant to account for capitalized expenses of pre-interview screening exercises such as iCIMS (cheat sheet accessible on the top-right tab of this blog), as firms spend time and money to maintain the online functionality of such stratagems, if not administer them in person. Also, temp agencies process a bunch of paperwork for each temp, whether ultimately hired or not, so this must be accounted for. Continuing forth:

On the job seeker’s end, a face-to-face interview costs more time and perhaps a comparable amount of money when you account for gasoline; the risk of running off the road in frustration over a slow, lengthy drive in unfamiliar territory; and the stress of a commute just for a glorified game of chance -- “maybe” getting that job.

[Optional Rant: Show]

NOTE: Thinking and acting, “That job is mine!” doesn’t work, either. None of the thousands of job coaches who have lived ever figured this out! Willpower means nothing without proper instrumentation. Does visualizing yourself breathing easily while you’re drowning make you capable of breathing underwater? NO!!!

[/Optional Rant : Hide]

Thankfully for job applicants, organizations are increasingly using phone interviews to identify who gets a second-round interview face-to-face. Although a telephone screen isn’t costly for the job candidate, the pre-screening tests of psychological exam and “common sense” customer service skills costs money due to the license paid to administer online these test batteries.

Anyone who’s worked in a call center at any time in the last five years can tell you about the computerized simulation that serves as a litmus test for who gets to reiterate their résumé to an actual human -- albeit one lacking humanity, as HR personnel are wont to check theirs at the door when entering the office every day.

Thankfully for job applicants, organizations are increasingly using phone interviews to identify who gets a second-round interview face-to-face. Although a telephone screen isn’t costly for the job candidate, the pre-screening tests of psychological exam and “common sense” customer service skills costs money due to the license paid to administer online these test batteries.

Anyone who’s worked in a call center at any time in the last five years can tell you about the computerized simulation that serves as a litmus test for who gets to reiterate their resume to an actual human -- albeit one lacking humanity, as HR personnel are wont to check theirs at the door when entering the office every day.

All things considered, it’s more surprising an algorithm hasn’t been patented to weigh candidates against organizational biases and then auto-pick by experience. Then again, clever people such as I could ascertain how to “game” the system by trial and error, so an anthropomorphic watchdog remains necessary.

Have you ever heard of computers pulling off a conspiracy to keep someone unemployed for so long? It’s because computers aren’t biased against an individual’s very existence -- unless so programmed by decision makers!

Too Many Jobbers in the Tournament of Champions

The most extreme examples of people having no chance to actually be selected -- yet, nonetheless offered a half hour of well-paid staffing personnel time for an interview -- are found in publicly funded state agencies and state universities. Although I’ve never been interviewed for a federal or municipal job, I’ve had dozens of first-round interviews for various positions at universities and in state agencies.

But given the lack of a second-round interview after so many tries, it should be quite evident to someone who sees my name pop up again and again in the ATS -- with the same work history, due to the glass ceiling of quasi-relevant, semi-credible “self-employment” -- that an easy time-saving measure would be to do as the private companies do: Send the template “thank you for applying, but…” rejection email a few minutes after receiving my application, as nothing has changed, and no amount of job interviews will change anything.

However, agency regulations prohibit the human resources department from refusing to interview any applicant who minimally qualifies for the position, such as by a score of 70 percent or greater on the civil service exam. Some will protest, “70 points do not mean 70 percentage points,” but I’ve never seen a maximum score higher or lower than 100. Ergo, N points implies “N out of 100,” which means “N percent.”

There is only so much utility to the job candidate that may be gained from facing the same first-round interview questions over and over again. On the bright side, I’ve slogged through enough such inquiries to understand the question clusters that are asked of each policy analyst position in the State of Wisconsin government and can therefore advise accordingly as an unofficial expert on the subject.

Then, you wonder why the UW-Madison College of Agriculture and Life Science (CALS) interviews the 17th-ranked candidate on their “civil exam,” which is merely an applicant’s own written comparison of how their work history demonstrates the skills and abilities called for in the position description.

Again, the job candidate can benefit by knowing his or her rank in terms of experience, something which the State of Wisconsin actually deigns to disclose! (That is quite refreshing, although I’d like to know who I beat in the qualifying round for “Top 10” and who the nine other finalists are. Networking, you know? Not to make them unavailable for interviews or anything.)

So, what’s the big deal?

Opportunity Costs Aplenty

Because of the aforementioned low opportunity cost of trying for the brass ring, the barely-qualified-to-work-at-all candidate is given as much first-round consideration -- and man hours of processing interview notes and scheduling emails -- as the ones who actually have prior experience that will get them into the second round of interviews.

Allowing these minimally qualified individuals to interview is a waste of resources because they are not selected vis-à-vis the more qualified applicants, due to having never been hired for those positions that could potentially involve the duties necessary to qualify into the presently desired employment.

There’s even more cost to the interviewers when written essays are scored in a highly regulated fashion prior to commencement of first-round interviews. And while no real “cheat sheet” or “brain dump” exists for a given Wisc.Jobs civil exam, it would be mighty helpful to know which positions track well into the ones advertised. For example, which jobs best prepare a candidate to be a serious contender for Level 1 University Services Associate?

It pays $14 hourly and seems to be the most entry-level position -- even lower than the $15 hourly University Services Program Associate (note the USPA vs. USA designation) -- but there aren’t any obvious stepping-stone opportunities listed, such as $10 hourly office positions, on Wisc.Jobs.

“Good luck” interviewing an incumbent for a potential revelation. Informational interviews are increasingly difficult to get as you get older because people just don’t trust career-curious guys in their early-to-mid adulthood. Maybe when you’re old enough, you can pull off a grandfatherly vibe to loose their lips, but it is always a tough sell. It’s not like you can just walk into ShopKo and talk yourself into a job! (One woman at a job center claimed to have done this, but then why was she hanging out in a job center? I smell a twinset-wearing rat!)

Working in government doesn’t mean a person is public about his or her work history; in fact, most seem to be embarrassed by it, much as they would hide a tumor! I am happy to say that I’m proud of my work and proclaim my employment history wherever possible. Ninnies need not apply when they’re up against me in the candidate selection process!

[Optional Rant: Show]

Good luck trying to weasel that information out of the minds of HR. They “cannot disclose because it would give an unfair advantage” and, “We cannot identify which positions the chosen candidate held previously because it would violate applicant confidentiality.”

The right to keep private one’s trade secrets for getting a particular job apparently supersedes the whole “atmosphere of learning” -- the latter just isn’t important to the university when you’re trying to persuade them to pay you a salary instead of you paying them tuition!

Universities are so selfish, that I refuse to donate even if I somehow end up earning a lot of money. I’ll invest in blue-chip stocks and advertise against universities generally -- but promote a university? Not unless they pay me good money to do so!

And yet, universities are similarly bound by civil service exam guidelines for most of their non-student positions. Obligated to interview all who surpass the minimum threshold -- but by which regulations?

No one seems to know. The closest I got was a red herring, when “LVT” in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at UW-Madison blamed my February 2013 non-selection for Level 2 Financial Specialist on the 2011 budget reconciliation bill, claiming the position remained vacant after interviews of multiple candidates.

“It was Governor Walker’s fault!” Yeah, right -- and every executive officer in the United Council of UW Students is always “in a meeting” and can therefore never discuss policy over the phone. LIES!!!

Having read the entire JSR1-2011 legislation -- something I highly doubt LVT did, as hearsay seems to be her preferred method of learning about issues -- I pressed her for further details. LVT then copped out by saying, “I don’t know specifically. I’d have to ask my steward, but she’s busy.” Another lie! How wonderfully poor of an example set by UW staff.

But in the cynical minds of many HR henchfolk, it would be a greater evil to let me enjoy the fruits of professional employment, so the end justifies their means. Whatever they can legally do to ensure I’m never hired, is precisely what they will do.

And lest none dare call it conspiracy, what is to stop the following scenario? “Welcome to our HR Conference of Evil. Your job is to prevent Joe Ohler from getting any job, even the LTE laborer ones. If he rises to prominence, then our status shall be jeopardized.” [In unison] “Yes, master!”

[/Optional Rant : Hide]

Half-Baked Decisions Waste Dough

Now the same under-qualified guy, having accrued perhaps another half year as self-employed policy analyst, recurs in your ATS. If you’re in the private sector, then you say, “Hey, I recognize him. He has nothing to offer, despite his claims. Next!”

If you’re in the HR department of a municipality, then you say, “I don’t recognize him, so we can’t trust him. Let’s get one of the children of the Common Council members to fill this position.”

If you’re using the federal ATS, then you don’t say anything because an algorithm scores résumés and determines which are “most qualified.”

But if you’re in the HR department for a state agency or for a business unit within a UW System campus, then you say, “His name gives me pause, but he qualifies minimally, so we’re obligated to ask him whether he wants to interview.”

I applied for LTE agency positions but was never granted a first interview. This most evidently is because those rely upon a different type of confidential evaluation and not upon the “write essays about your job history”-type civil exams used for permanent state-funded positions.

Although 4 LTE vacancies were posted, I was not interviewed for any. Nonetheless, some mirth is appropriate to cleave the clouds of job seekers’ gloom: Read my cover letter for fraud investigator!

I’ve devised the perfect solution to the dilemma of when less-than-best-qualified people -- who are no good at getting any job experience involving the duties of the jobs for which they apply -- come knocking at your door at an organization where your operating rules prohibit an instant write-off of such folk:

Why not a “candidate consideration” fee to absorb some of the cost?

The Penultimate Solution to Undesirable Job Candidates

Barring an applicant altogether would be the last resort; discrimination complaints could be costly, even if you prohibit someone based on “poor organizational fit.” And how do you know for certain, without granting another first-round interview for a future vacancy, whether the candidate who was merely minimally qualified last time has not become the best qualified in the interim?

Rather than risk a move that critics might call discriminatory, you should charge an employment application fee to every applicant for a given position! Make this a universal policy to minimize the chances someone could claim discrimination based on anything other than skills and job experience (which are associated with income, but not to the point of “disparate impact”). Why not raise the stakes by assessing a fee every time someone wants to be considered for a job?

Let’s face it: White-collar employers already discriminate against blue-collar workers for not having relevant experience, so additional discrimination based on inadequate income to afford a bunch of job applications won’t really harm applicants as much as it would help organizations recoup recruitment costs.

It’s really no crueler than not hiring someone who drove 100 miles for a job interview; and human resources personnel are already divorced from their humanity anyway; so why not give this policy a whirl?

Although the amount levied would depend on the compensation and duties of the vacancy, such an additional investment on behalf of applicants would further force candidates to prioritize which positions they pursue. The partially qualified candidate will not even bother this time if s/he is low on cash and doesn’t already know someone in the organization advertising the job.

Internship Surcharge and Job Placement Fee as Business Model

More profitable than an unpaid intern, one who pays your organization on a daily basis for work experience is definitely a way to boost your company’s bottom line -- or to offset public expenditures if you’re a government agency. The applicant pays for his or her own background check in addition to the daily pay-to-work fee; I explain in the section “Benefit to the Candidate” why a job seeker would do this.

Insurance costing you $50 a day for an untested temp or idiosyncratic intern? Charge $100 per day, to cover the daily insurance premium, in addition to the candidate paying the entire cost of the background check ($15 for the State Department of Justice report and $X for any other credential checks). In other words: Organizations have more to gain financially from my proposition than they would lose, both in the short-term and long-term time horizons.

What about protecting against people who hate your organization, such as irate interviewees who were not hired? The job experience placement fee / internship surcharge would be sufficiently expensive to cover the cost of liability insurance, dispute remediation, and/or conflict resolution for if / when your existing employees find the intern to be annoying and file a grievance. And if your employees find the pay-to-work person intolerable, then you can dismiss him or her without a refund.

Require every paying intern or pay-to-work temp to pass a pat-down inspection and bag / briefcase search for weapons whenever entering the building. Most big firms have security guards for this purpose, and the worst that can happen is that a very strong temp hurls a desk at someone or dumps a cup of restroom juice into the water cooler.

Benefit to the Candidate

A vacancy isn’t really an opportunity if you’re one of the last people one imagines when thinking “ideal person to fill this job,” so save your hard-earned dough -- obviously earned at some palooka job, due to your inability to get anything better, despite your yeas of tertiary education, student government budget work, and other accolades -- and write another blog post in the time it would have taken you to perfect another résumé and cover letter. You’ll have more to show for it!

It is only fitting that I first proposed companies begin charging a job application fee. It takes someone who’s interacted with literally hundreds of organizations’ candidate selection processes to understand how badly such a fee is needed before you'll see fewer people pressing their luck with so many opportunities!

I also recommended organizations charge interns and potential employees for the privilege of working there, as the value of on-the-job experience could potentially outweigh the application fee presuming the company lets the person observe and question others in the job instead of just being stuck in the peanut gallery.

Conclusion: We Have a Winner!

I cannot over-emphasize the utility of the position-oriented or department-specific job application fee or candidate consideration surcharge. Under the status quo, it seems many organizations spend way too much time inviting marginally qualified candidates, only for both sides to be disappointed. Why?

The job application fee would provide incentive for a candidate in low demand by the labor market to decline consideration. Candidates in high demand from the labor market are more likely to forgo an opportunity, irrespective of an application fee, because they're just that skilled at making the right connections at the right time.

The present tendency, without charging the fee, is to end up with even more minimally qualified job candidates than you would if you were to charge a job application fee; the surcharge moderates this “natural” imbalance.

Remember the cost table from the start of this article? Here is a net revenue table demonstrating the fiscal benefit of a candidate consideration fee / internship surcharge / pay-to-work fee / whatever you want to call it your organization:

Cumulative Search
Cost (All Candidates
Number of ApplicantsDaily Fee per ApplicantDays on JobApplicant RevenueProfit

As calculated above, the break-even fee in the minimum-recruiting cost scenario would be around $75. But that’s if you have enough applicants paying the fee; a smaller applicant pool might be charged more to compensate with larger margins for the smaller volume.

Even if the prospect of a consideration fee scares away some candidates, these are unlikely to be the best qualified; those who are doing well in their careers would think nothing of plunking down a Benjamin or two for a chance at higher earnings in a better job.

And there you have it: I have solved a problem for human resources! Call me a corporate hero.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Tired of Foreign Workers Getting Your Jobs? Then Comment via the Regulations Portal!

To practice what I believe my job would be like if the federal government hired me for one of the regulatory specialist jobs for which I applied, I perused the Federal Register website. I browsed the Antitrust Division notices in particular because these could potentially be useful to mention in a cover letter to an involved firm.

Announcing its first change of membership since October 1998, the technological development consortium The Open Group, LCC submitted a notice that was published in the Federal Register on May 31. In the far-right column of page 3, the notice lists UW-Madison from Wisconsin and Van Haren Publishing from the Netherlands. Here's an annotated screen capture:

Members of The Open Group are actually very quiet about their TOG activities.

A search on the UW-Madison website returned professorial papers on UNIX-related computing such as “X server code” and “zone-based data striping.” The absence of minutes, agendas, or other reports on the UW website suggests The Open Group is more like memoranda of agreement among the participating organizations than an actual governing body. And since January 2014, Van Haren Publishing and I have been mutual followers on Twitter -- thereby giving me two ties to The Open Group.

Returning to the main page of the Federal Register website, I moved onto the list of proposed rules for which the public comment period is open. It bears mention that each web page containing proposed rule text has a comment button in the upper-right corner.

Clicking the “submit a comment” button redirects you to the appropriate rule-specific page on the website, the only collective portal for any online comments to public agencies regarding their rulemaking. Otherwise, you would need to visit each agency website and submit comments through their specific channels.

Before you comment -- or technically speaking, “send a public submission” -- to any federal agency, download and read the official guidelines for creating influential comments. I especially appreciate how the document says not once, but twice, that a thousand duplicate comments or “form letters” are wasted effort unless each contributor adds his or her own experience and supporting facts to the public submission.

Remember that you are competing with think tanks and lobbying groups that have retained some of the sharpest minds -- though not all -- and therefore need to do more than act like a parrot reiterate some publicist's message on the matter!

I’ll add some helpful hints the official guidelines omitted:

1) Don’t threaten any government employee -- that would be a terroristic threat -- or anyone at all in your comment to the agency. Some issues can be highly emotional, but the last thing you need is for the agency to sic the FBI on you over a perceived threat! So play it cool; use professional language.

2) Although the guidelines state, “There is no minimum or maximum length,” the online comment submission form has a maximum length of 5,000 characters. The quickest way to check this in Microsoft Word is to highlight your comment; next, click the “Review” tab; and then, click the “Word Count” button.

Here's how and where to find the Word Count dialog box.

If it pains you to trim part of your over-long comment, then save your omitted text for another commenting opportunity. With approximately 430 interdependent agencies proposing at least a few rules each quarter, there are many occasions for you to be heard!

They've been bumming around their town for too long, and we've been typing this policy comment for way, way, way too long!

My comments tend to speak generally about policy through repeated interrelated themes, each of which pertains at least tangentially to broad set of rules, so as to maximize exposure in the public record to ideas that I support.

Write like a news editor to cram as much meaning into as few words as possible!

This allows many opportunities for contacting a wide variety of agencies regarding their proposed rules and creates a megaphone effect while diversifying the commentary to suit the particular agency-promulgated rules under question.

3) If a proposed regulation hurts your personal job prospects in any way, then let the agency know your specific story. The human element is underrated in the regulatory winnowing process. Segueing from the third point, I commented on three proposals that caught my attention in terms of being relevant to me and well enough within my grasp of policy to comment both intellectually and practically. From briefest comment to longest:

The Pipe and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is renewing oil pipeline inspection regulations, including requiring every sub-national government (regional compact, state government, municipalities, etc.) that desires to regulate intrastate oil pipelines must first be certified by PHMSA.

Checking one's oil pipelines for exposure to seawater is a generally wise risk management practice.

Here’s my comment, Tracking Number 1yj-8cff-5teo, on another facet of the regulations:

I’m surprised an energy lobbyist hasn’t commented on these proposed rules. As an everyday citizen, I appreciate PHMSA’s requirement that operators of underwater oil pipelines must periodically inspect for any protrusion to the surface. The corrosive potential of a marine environment cannot be understated, so thank you for helping to prevent corrosion-related leakage.

I also commented on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulation that would expand, by 24 acres, the designated critical habitat of the Vandenberg Monkeyflower. I feel sorry for whoever owns those 24 acres, as now the land cannot be developed in the foreseeable future.

A mere two dozen acres changes the regional ecosystem? On the bright side, adjacent land developers can charge more for scarcer land.

If you comment by 4:59 p.m. EST on June 5, then your message will be viewable by the FWS! Here’s mine, Tracking Number 1jy-8cfv-t3dp:

As an unemployed manual laborer and 2010 master’s graduate of the public administration program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, I’d say the job prospects of college graduates are about as endangered as the Vandenberg Monkeyflower.

Just as the FWS socks away critical habitat for endangered species, we should -- as a national grant-making policy -- partition more of the existing university system budgets to provide exclusively for internships and on-the-job training rather than for class assignments or wasteful programs such as mandatory “literary” and “inequality” studies that only serve to alternately distract and divide our potential workforce.

My third submitted comment regards a rule proposed by Citizen and Immigration Services that would authorize 4-H nonimmigrants to apply for work visas. Part of the policymakers’ argument is that H-1B workers are more likely to remain in the U.S. and become citizens if their spouses are allowed to work here.

But why the need for so many skilled worker visas? Do our universities suck or something? *Nodding in the audience* Okay -- but the quality of our graduates reflect the universities, so university officials ought to be embarrassed at the scores of H-1B visas issued.

Thousands of positions filled by workers on visa could be filled at comparable expense by those who are already loyal to the United States; a little more training, but less INS/CIS paperwork and a generally reduced security risk. Why invite industrial espionage from those who grew up with sympathies towards a different country?

(NOTE: Liberal arts universities are doing their best to make America seem like not such a great place, though! That’s why traitors born here, such as “Fast” Eddy Snowden and Brad “Call me Chelsea” Manning, have seemed more prevalent in recent years.)

To answering the above questions: It’s because the universities refuse to more intimately involve corporations in establishing curricula, thereby limiting the labor market utility of any hands-on experience gained through a university. I’m sure at least a few eggheads understand that, but their self-interest in so-called “academic freedom” creates market inefficiencies when it comes to training the workforce, thereby exacerbating functional employment!

For my own sake, I commented at length against the proposed H-4 work authorization and advised H-1B visas be contracted by 10 percent. Once the CEOs are done whining to the editors of Fortune magazine, they’d get cracking at training local talent to replace their precious foreign talent. It's not my style to concede the possibility that the world's best scientists might not ALL come from the United States. Without further preliminaries, the Tracking Number for the following comment is 1jy-8cfw-gjx1.

I don’t feel sorry at all for employers who suffer “detriment” because they are unable to hire foreign talent! Why? Because they are causing me and millions of fellow able-bodied, able-minded under- and unemployed workers to experience the same economic loss those organizations claim, if not greater, by refusing to hire us!

I earned a degree in public administration to get a government job, but that apparently does not count towards any substantive expertise or qualification. I received no interviews for over a year after graduating before deciding to undertake my own policy analysis in my spare time at my blog,

My landmark policy to date is proposing university student workers be allowed to finally earn unemployment insurance -- after years of state-by-state legislative prohibition -- and estimating the fiscal impact of the same to be over $2 million economic growth in each state, on average.

I’ve yet to break through into the second round of interviews, so my dream of a white-collar job is unlikely to ever come true, despite my efforts. That is why I went to college in the first place, but those eight years and $50,000 are now in a figurative black hole.

I’ve also applied for a bunch of private sector jobs. Three years after graduating, I finally received a four-day tryout at a pump assembly plant for $10 hourly. My job was to unpackage 1500 tightly packed units, movable only with sustained force through both hands over the length of each box, during a 10-hour shift: 7:30 a.m. through 5:30 p.m.

I developed tendonosis, filed a workers’ compensation claim, and was blacklisted at area temp agencies for over a year. Then, I received an interview at a grant-subsidized temp agency. They had advertised a permanent position but proposed I start as an LTE at the minimum wage, to which I expressed enthusiasm.

But a week later, the receptionist informed me that I was not selected and that there were already too many experienced people in the area to be hired. Given the general preference for previously fired, but experienced, workers over the worker without prior experience, it is doubtful I’ll ever work again -- not because I lack ambition or an education, but because employers are hiring foreign workers instead of locally.

A pressing question for the public is: When will employers stop being skinflints and start training local, born-in-the-USA citizens who want to work -- and perhaps already have a few degrees -- but still don’t have the specific training sought by that employer?

Some manual labor and office jobs I seek are filled by foreign workers, with the office work at starting salaries exceeding thirty thousand dollars -- wages substantially greater compensation than for what I would ask in exchange for the privilege of office work. Cue the red-faced CEO screaming, “WE DON’T HAVE QUALIFIED TALENT LOCALLY!”

And instead of yelling back, I disabuse him of executive ignorance by proposing a native-friendly solution that should be obvious to someone of his qualification but is most evident to the common worker: If the universities aren’t providing enough of the training you demand from new hires, then train the semi-skilled but inexperienced job seekers yourself!

CEOs should reallocate some of their distant underlings’ compensation to instead purchase valuable training time. HR should reduce the starting compensation of entry-level professional employees, hire more people without significant prior experience, and train them to eventually earn a higher compensation. A Department of Labor rule to this effect would restore America’s former economic glory and global influence.

Those universities that consistently fail to produce employ-able graduates actually hired by global firms should be shuttered, for they are a waste of public taxpayer money and therefore a misuse of corporate money -- funds that would be better spent directly training inexperienced employees rather than subsidizing $6 billion degree farms.

I hereby oppose extending employment authorization to spouses of those in the U.S. on H-1B visas or otherwise here on H-4 nonimmigrant status. I would also reduce the number of H-1B visas by 10 percent, by attrition.

The Department of Health and Human Services would thereby force the hand of corporations, and thereby necessitate greater investment in the U.S. workforce already here, by refusing additional 4-H work authorizations. When federal agencies companies to do so, they will hire local talent despite HR’s irrational fear, uncertainty, and doubt caused by their inaccurately low perception of my value as a potential employee.

Don't sell our American workforce down the river. Hire local; hire from within the U.S.! And if your locals don’t have the skills, then stop being a cheapskate -- and start training them the way you want; universities will never do this.

If you agree with me, then let the agencies know! You can even comment confidentiality, if you like. I commented under my real name to draw attention to myself as a means of reflecting some of that mindshare towards fairly obscure issues such as unemployment compensation for student workers. The worst that can happen is you end up in the national spotlight!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Cover Letter for Unemployment Insurance Fraud Investigator

Role: Unemployment Insurance Fraud Investigator
Agency: Workforce Development, Department of
Job Announcement Code: 1401699
County(ies): Dane
Classification Title(s)/JAC: Unemployment Insurance Fraud Investigator - Project Employment
Job Working Title(s): REGULATORY SPECIALIST - 1401699
Type of Employment: Full Time (40 hrs/week)
Salary: Starting salary is between $17.072/hr. and $27.00/hr., plus benefits. Project employment does provide benefits, but does not provide for any rights to a permanent civil service position and does not lead to permanent status in class.
Contact: Chris Goslawski, HR Specialist, 608-266-8332,
Bargaining Unit: Non-Represented
Area of Competition: Open
Deadline to Apply: 4/28/2014

There are currently 4 vacancies. These positions are responsible for investigating and resolving non-complex and complex level fraud cases, including known imposter investigations, employers or others aiding and abetting claimants in committing fraud, fictitious employers and identity theft investigations. This position requires specialized knowledge of, and experience with, criminal investigation and prosecution, particularly of financial crimes. These positions are located at 201 E. Washington Ave. in downtown Madison.

Job Duties: Investigate allegations of UI fraud based on referrals from employers, the general public, and others. Conduct investigations, including identity theft investigations, by applying sound fact-finding principles to secure all pertinent information. Collect and review investigation reports, determine what violations occurred, if any, review with Benefit Control Supervisor, and recommend conclusion of the investigation.

Establish facts by interviewing, observing suspects and witnesses and analyzing records such as business, personal, or public records and documents. Collect, protect, and preserve physical evidence and ensure the integrity of the chain of custody. Verify information obtained to establish accuracy and authenticity of facts, data and evidence. Prepare written determinations that are accurate, complete, informative, and concise. Evaluate the appropriateness of referring a case for prosecution.

Develop and maintain healthy and productive relationships with the District Attorneys/Department of Justice personnel. Sign criminal complaints and provide restitution information to prosecutors. Appear as a witness for the prosecution and testify at hearings.

Analyze fraud trends, schemes and threats to UI. Network with other UI staff, partner agencies, and law enforcement on methods to prevent and detect the trends, schemes and threats to UI. Provide technical assistance to UI Management on investigative policy, techniques and procedures, and preparation for prosecution.

Special Notes: Because of the nature of the job duties performed by these positions, criminal background and other background checks will be conducted on final candidates prior to selection for the position.

Job Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:
• Extensive knowledge of criminal investigation and fact finding techniques, especially as related to criminal fraud investigations
• Excellent verbal and written communication skills
• Knowledge of judicial processes
• Knowledge of criminal investigation and prosecution processes
• Skill to conduct confrontational interviews
• Ability to review processes and procedures related to fraud prevention and detection
• Ability to apply investigative methods and procedures to investigations
• Ability to read, interpret, and apply complex laws, rules, policies and
procedures • Good analytical skills
• Ability to work with diverse populations
• Ability to work flexible hours
• Ability to travel for work

How To Apply: Apply with a resume and cover letter. Your resume and cover letter should describe your experience as it relates to the job duties, and knowledge, skills and abilities listed in the job announcement; should include the name of your employer(s), your role and specific responsibilities, and your level of independence in decision making; and should address each of the following three key areas:

1) Investigation and enforcement. Include: purpose for the investigation; your role (i.e., lead investigator, sole investigator; working under the direction of another, etc.); experience collecting/protecting evidence and verifying authenticity of facts, etc.; the outcome of the investigation; other pertinent information.

2) Activities related to prosecution. Include: your role in evaluating appropriateness of referral of cases for prosecution; types of cases involved; tracking the case through the system; signing criminal complaints; representing the prosecuting party/testifying in hearings and trials; other pertinent information.

3) Fraud Detection. Include: experience recognizing and detecting threats related to fraudulent activities, the type of crime, and your role; methods you used; the outcome; other pertinent information.

Submit application materials to Alexandra Camarao; DWD/HRS; 201 East Washington Avenue; P.O. Box 7946; Madison, WI 53707-7946 or e-mail Completed application materials must be received by 11:59 PM on the deadline date to ensure consideration. Application materials will be evaluated and the most qualified applicants will be invited to participate in the next step of the selection process.

I applied hours before the cut-off time on the deadline, as the now-or-never scenario brings out my most descriptive ideas through the primal, senses-sharpening adrenaline rush of urgency. Although experienced municipal detectives seeking to receive state benefits assuredly applied, I put myself up for consideration to gauge how far I’d go in the selection process.

In sharp contrast to most early-career, permanent state positions, I was not granted so much as a first interview for this entry-level, limited-term employment (LTE) gig. It appears the silence resulting from my statement, “Here’s my pitch for UI fraud investigator,” evinces greater latitude in short-listing applicants during the initial round of vetting, relative to the standard Wisconsin government approach of, “Let’s interview 10, 15 people for one position.”

I have better luck getting first-round interviews for positions that either require a civil service exam – the first step in applying for most permanent positions at state agencies -- or university services program associate (USPA) at whichever university departments happen to advertise at the time; the latter jobs typically require a cover letter, but I’m good enough at writing USPA cover letters to qualify for interviews more often than not.

But those never pan out into second-round interviews either, so the most I take away is occasional mirth. Time-wasting job interviewee wastes everyone’s time, no? Read my cover letter for unemployment compensation fraud investigator. It just might make you feel better about yourself -- perhaps inspired enough to apply for the position yourself when it is next advertised! (These LTE positions are advertised maybe once a year, at most.)

NOTE: I knew “Chris” was a woman because I called a day before to hear her voicemail greeting. To demonstrate my preparation, I addressed her as “Christine” in my statement of intent.

April 28, 2014

Christine and colleagues:

I espied the four project-term fraud investigator positions shown within the Division of Unemployment Insurance during a routine patrol of the Workforce Development online premises. Upon identifying knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) that matched the description of Mr. Joseph Ohler, Jr.’s experience and expertise, I established reasonable cause that that he would be an ideal incumbent in such a capacity.

The discrete KSAs that particularly align with Mr. Ohler’s are as follows: identify, rectify, and prevent fraud; conduct fact-finding interviews; understand and apply Wis. Stat. Ch. 108; stop and report fraudulent payments and stolen identity. Mr. Ohler’s work history has, in fact, spanned all such duties throughout the half dozen jobs held during his blossoming career. So well, in fact, that it should be a crime!

Given the prima facie evidence, I enjoin you to schedule a charge hearing so the suspected four offending jobs may enter a plea as defendants and decide whether to stand trial against the allegations that they violated Section JPO of the Professional Job Code: “No white-collar job vacancy may lawfully match the KSAs and work history of the man Joseph Ohler, Jr.”

Please accept my résumé as an affidavit to supplement this job offender report you are presently reading. I am eager to undergo a cross examination so that we may throw the book at these delinquent job vacancies known as “project-term fraud investigator positions” and thereby prevent further loss of morality and decency within the Professional Job Community.

The very notion that Mr. Ohler may land into a white-collar job is unthinkable and outrageous. We must prevent such a scenario at all costs by making a public example of these Ohler-compatible employment listings. The alternative is loss of credibility throughout the Professional Job Community -- so let us close the book on this open-and-shut case.

I’ve taken the first step by writing you today; cross examination at your East Washington Street office is the next step in a successful prosecution!


Joseph Ohler, Jr.
Fraud Investigator At-Large

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Generation Jobless: A Rap

05-08-2014 Update: UW-Milwaukee has unveiled its winning crop of graduates this May 2014. How many do you think are profiled? Only five! And that's out of a graduating cohort of over 5,000 students.

Two of those publicized grads had already earned a bachelor's before their second degree, meaning they wasted 4 years on a stillborn career only to try again. The other three were winning all sorts of non-UWM awards from their freshmen year onward -- so although they hit pay dirt on their first degree, they in no way resemble anything the typical student or graduate will experience career-wise.

And yes, UWM has feel-good awards such as the CVSL Volunteer of the Year, STAR Awards, and Student Senate blandishments -- but they are all for naught, neither valued nor taken seriously in the real world of work. This is true not only for UWM but also for every university where every other person ISN'T an Elon Musk clone in terms of intelligence and social capital.

The MPA grad in the group, Aaron Lipski, had been a firefighter prior to earning his degree, thereby continuing the trend of a public administration degree being worthless unless you already work for the city. That man graduated from UWM way back in 2001 with a lousy communications degree, and only now is anyone profiling him because he finally achieved his goal of preparing budget documents for the Milwaukee Common Council. It only took him until age 50 or so to get there!

And really, Lipski's role as firefighter enabled him to gain the trust of the internship gatekeepers. That man would have never been hired if not for his vo-tech work experience; the degree was incidental and arguably inconsequential to Aaron's success.

The only reason I mention Lipski by name is because his example -- although seemingly pro-UWM on its face -- actually underscores how little UWM had to do with any of his job prospects. Aaron made his career by training as a firefighter and then using that position to transition into budget preparation.

Dennis Hatch and henchmen had nothing to do with Lipski working for the Milwaukee Common Council, so visitors to the UWM news page should not be fooled. And if anyone connected to Aaron is reading this, I'm not insulting Lipski but am saying universities tend to take much more credit than they are due.

Take back your lives from the higher education hucksters. Boycott all universities, not just UWM!

05-01-2014 Original:

Another May, another wave of graduates -- and for what? Out of thousands of graduates per institution, a few dozen will have white-collar jobs when they graduate and be featured in the “graduate profile” graduation promotion consisting of a photo and brief story of each “success story” grad.

The remainder will compete for professional vacancies, with no more than 500 of the 2,000 or so graduates entering those positions by the following May’s batch of grads. The remainder are either unemployed or working multiple unskilled, part-time jobs.

And while data specific to graduates are more widely publicized in the United Kingdom, America is heading towards the same slump due to misdirecting youth into accredited tertiary education they neither need nor benefit from.

When only a fourth of graduates secure white-collar jobs a year after earning their degree and in most cases, I really mean EARNING it the notion of a university as “professional career preparation” is obviously an odious lie meant to deceive through vague but legally permissible connotations of greener-than-reality pastures on the far side of the university journey. So bring shame to the higher education hucksters by refusing to enroll at their universities!

For the remainder of graduates constituting our surplus educated labor force, the clock is ticking until the next gaggle of grads will steal the jobs that prior graduates had been waiting and pushing for their turn in the queue. The December graduates cap off their formal credential in time for the January hiring spurt; and any summer students who technically graduate in August are considered in the job market more or less along the same set of May graduates while finishing their final three or so credits.

This presents a double whammy to the graduate who has been unable to persuade someone to employ him or her professionally by next academic year’s end: Even if building their skills through dumb trial and error in mock, unpaid-at-home run-throughs of what they think their desired jobs will be like, occupationally stagnant graduates are facing competitors who are at least a year longer, less depreciated in the labor market, and possessing fewer memories of failure in the rat race.

As Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute reports, “...There are still more than 20 percent more unemployed workers than job openings...(and) between 1.2 and 7.6 times as many unemployed workers as job openings in every industry.”

And that's not even segmenting ratios of jobseekers to job vacancies by years of experience in their respective industries, degree holder status or non-degreed person, etc. One may infer the job prospects follow an upright bell curve for years of experience -- with those trying to enter the field and those close to retirement with the worst chances -- and that degree vs. non-degree flattening out over the years due to experience holding a greater premium than on-paper credentials that have ceased to be an economic differentiator, no longer a Veblen good.

After so many years of this nonsense, it begs the question: Why don’t universities let local firms determine a greater portion of the curriculum so more of their program graduates can actually get jobs? So-called “academic freedom” aside, university staff have no incentive to care about better employment prospects for their pupils.

But now, scores of graduates are telling aspiring students about how many of their contemporaries have fallen short in the labor market despite possessing the once-ballyhooed powers of the college degree. Don’t think that an advanced degree will cure your situation! Is anyone hiring you to work as a graduate assistant in a research or teaching capacity? If the answer is “no,” then no one will care about your hard-earned graduate degree, and it will be like Groundhog Day when you again graduate without a job.

Can it be that such degree-affiliated value is entirely imaginary, like Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy? It certainly seems to be so when you examine the unemployed and under-employed graduates working unskilled jobs in your neighborhood! “There is no evidence of this,” claim university spokespeople -- but that is only because they do not monitor such data! WILLFUL IGNORANCE is the entire defense of university career centers!

It is time to expose them. Merely spreading word of mouth isn’t enough. I have therefore composed, performed, and mixed the following song:

Generation Jobless: A Rap - Lyrics

They call you tops; that's for real /
When you graduate, whose job you'll steal? /
Higher ed hucksters, turnin' green /
When students protest, the jobless scene /
Career Centers don't care, a bunch of bricks /
Neither do advisors; deceptive tricks /
What work you'll do, whatever the pay /
Years beyond graduation day?

Song download: Play this everywhere, all the time.
Generation Jobless: A Rap [0:20 | 784 KB]

Samples: Use these in your own raps to spread the vibe.
Generation Jobless Acapella [0:19 | 464 KB]
Generation Jobless Beatbox [0:20 | 488 KB]

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Staffing Talk: P*ss and Moan Fest for Sociopathic Staffers

I occasionally read Staffing Talk to be entertained. Between the wishful thinking of disgruntled HR recruiters in finding those elusive "perfect" candidates and the advertorials regurgitating talking points of staffing firm press releases, Staffing Talkers are humorists at heart.

Could they write for Cracked? Not necessarily -- they would need to find five or more observations -- and a factual twist for each that unites them into a thematic list of contradiction along a common factor, for a total of at least ten facts per article -- all within a 2,200-word limit. That is more difficult than it sounds!

08-09-2014 Edit: Some of the Staffing Talk articles have been more creative lately and have moved beyond regurgitating press releases, especially with the longer articles by Scott Morefield. I have been enjoying your work lately, Scott!

The general trend nonetheless remains for temps to be seen as expendable in the sense that, just like the under-employed college graduate (who might also be a blue-collar temp alongside fresh high school grads), you'll either find permanent work in a year or else "get what you deserve." America deserves better than over-education and being stuck in crappy jobs! Is the USA entitled? Damned straight we are -- because we expect to NOT fall back a socioeconomic class! Now, back to the original article:

But Staffing Talk is less educational than Cracked articles due to ST being a glorified soapbox high on opinion and low on facts. Staffing Talk is very much in the format of this very Absurd Job Vacancies blog -- but with less self-aware irony, due to their writers taking themselves way too seriously in light of their content.

When one considers the ridiculousness of ST's think-tank ideas and the relative lack of talent required to regurgitate press releases, it becomes clear how Staffing Talkers are yapping and yawing their way into ironic parodies of an entire industry. Today I critique two Staffing Talk articles in one fell swoop!

Here's my critique of the aforementioned HR-turned-PR article by Kinzy and Krew®. She and a ghost writer pretty much copied and pasted lines from an ODesk press release, but it's not exactly plagiarism because she cited her source and paraphrased for about half the article. In other words, Janssen pretty much did the equivalent of an eighth-grade short story article, kind of like a news-and-views report that only gives one side of the story: that of the staffers.

I maintain this blog to present a job seeker's view, the piercing perspective of a “staffee.” My voice is sometimes proactive -- proposing new rules of thumb such as whether college would be worth a red cent for the employment pursuer -- and at other times reactive, such as when taking sadistic staffers to task for poor policy.

Either way, my goal is to innovate competing narratives by which to challenge the traditional position of supremacy held by human resources personnel in the job seeker - job creator dialectic. Unions don't really help when you're trying to get the job or to create vacancies, so it's up to bloggers such as me to win the Mind War in the various public debates of staffing policy.

“So what's sociopathic about recycling press releases?” Almost nothing, except for the presentation of content as original. Like most marketing, ST articles are partially lies by omission; they do not add anything substantial to the press release content such as a poll of staffer's opinions or -- HR forbid -- the opinions of job seekers.

“Those job seekers are lucky we don't ship them to concentration camps for being unqualified wastes of our time!” Many who gladhand you think in such wicked terms about you!

In a test of whether Staffing Talk had any original information on the matter or was merely copy-raiding, I raised the question as to what percentage of Kelly Services workers were simultaneously considered for ODesk jobs. None dared volunteer a response!

Lest Staffing Talkers be accused as “Staffing Liars,” Janssen sat out that question. By contrast, I deduced an answer above and beyond anything ST personnel could have conjured. Behold my rationale:

Based on 1 million users at the end of 2011; an assumption of exponential talent pool population growth; and a population-blunting concentration of 90% of earnings in the top 25% (due to ODesk's 2013 revelation about 4 skills dominating those earnings):

I hereby estimate ODesk's active labor pool to be around 1.7 million. This is roughly three times the size of Kelly Services’ labor pool at a given time (between 340,000 -- as stated on the Kelly “About Us” web page -- and 360,000, as stated in recent press releases).

Because K. Svc. does not publicly disclose which percentages of its workforce belong to which industries or functional silos, it is a matter of segmenting the Kelly labor force by functional specialty proportionate to that of the broader temporary worker economy.

After applying that assumption, one finds IT workers are about a fifth of overall temp talent. One may subsequently presume that no more than a fifth of IT opportunities offered through staffing agencies in general are ODesk-compatible via telecommuting.

This produces the following math: (560,000 K. Svc. total * .2 IT classified) * .2 ODesk-eligible = 112,000 * .2 = 22,400, or about 4% of all Kelly Services' talent are also candidates for ODesk gigs.

I answered the question that none dare answer! A small but growing 4 percent of those seeking work through the multi-specialty staffing firm Kelly Services are automatically considered for remote work opportunities via ODesk.

If this relationship were to be viewed the other way, then the percentage of ODesk workers from the Kelly pool would be about a third of that 22,400 -- or 7,467 -- due to the aforementioned triplicate size of the ODesk roster vis-à-vis K Svc. But that last part is a fun bit of trivia because the referral relationship is Kelly-to-ODesk, neither vice-versa nor both.

The relationship cardinality in each staffing pool is one-to-many for jobs considered; one-to-one for jobs accepted; and many-to-none for those who find no employment.

Moving on from one-upping the less competent pundit to addressing the more gravely wrong-headed wonk, I now take to task one particular Staffing Talker who was evidently having a bad day when he cranked out a manifesto of how to screen out workers prone to injury -- acknowledging the illegality thereof in the preface.

My response was twofold: drawing attention to the very real fact that the tables could turn against him; and explaining short-sighted thinking such as his proposal is partially responsible for the national labor force participation rate remaining below 66.5 percent for more than a decade.

I won't repeat that godawful article, except to criticize a particularly insidious passage: “We’d love to peek into a crystal ball and find out about that previous back injury our workers’ compensation policy is getting ready to ‘buy’...”

I won't stereotype all HR professionals based on that one guy's cynicism. After all, Scotty Morefield and fellow pissants colleagues cannot be all that busy as recruiters if they have enough time to polish their brainfarts into almost-daily articles (as each writer contributes twice weekly, more or less).

But the latest paean to sending temporarily disabled workers into the land of permanent unemployment deserves a most definite rebuke, hereby revealed in cataclysmic fury:

So what if you, dear staffer, develop a disability during your working life? A car crash severs nerves; a tick bite gives you Lyme disease; you develop fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s, or other chronic, predominantly genetically predispositioned disease. Who will hire you under these conditions if every staffer followed your policy of (paraphrased), “If prior injury, then not hired?”

And although mental-emotional disabilities are more difficult to acquire permanently, the right mix of socioeconomic factors -- such as your fair-weather friends abandoning you during a crisis -- could change your personality into something less employable. You never know!

I take personal issue with your policy because being both mindful of safety issues (your first proposed question) and willing to go above and beyond (your first proposed question) may, at times, be diametrically opposed. For example, my first placement through QualiTemps, Inc. was four days as a temp at Hankscraft. (A note to AJV readers: This was a substantial commute from my home near Portage.)

The first day was fine because I was assembling, testing, and taping up battery packs -- a duty which used a variety of hand movements to minimize cramps. But on the second and third days, there were no battery packs to assemble, so my new duty was to open incoming boxes, remove the tightly packed air pump components, and flip the unit.

This involved an immense amount of cumulative strain on the wrists such that I was sore at the start of the third day and positively unable rotate my wrists by the end of that work shift -- all because I was doing as instructed and keeping pace with the 1500-units-a-day production line!

I told my supervisor that my wrists were getting very cramped and sore; I also requested a different production job for that very reason. Hankscraft supervisor John (last name unknown to me) denied this completely reasonable request and said, “You’re welcome to walk off the job if you can’t do this job.”

In case you need it spelled out, I was bringing attention to a safety issue but was instructed keep doing what was endangering me. The alternative was to be marked as walking off the job.

I chose the “tough guy” route of going above and beyond -- via adrenaline rush that temporarily dulled sensation -- the point at which it perhaps would have been better to “walk off” mid-day and let Hankscraft hang.

Seeing how QualiTemps ended up paying workers’ compensation anyway, I instead could have filed an injury report right then and there to get workers’ compensation in exchange for less pain and suffering.

It remains for debate whether working through the pain to shift’s end to prevent short staffing was an ultimately pointless sacrifice out of some delusion of future inroads with Hankscraft or some non-reciprocal loyalty to fellow stranger temps whom I would never see again.

I toughed it out but was numb in my wrists at shift’s end. I then reported this repetitive stress injury to John and another supervisor and filed for workers’ compensation through QualiTemps. That staffing firm investigated, paid my initial and follow-up clinic visits, and put me on light duty at a thrift store for the two weeks it took me for my tendonosis (misdiagnosed by the local doctor as tendonitis) to heal.

Although stopping immediately to file a claim -- before the repetitive strain injury became more obviously distinct from mere soreness -- would have shortchanged the other workers, they weren't the most welcoming to start with. And seeing how I didn't receive any "get well" cards, as anyone could have easily given to the temp agency office to be forwarded to me, I must clarify: I didn't do this for you people! I persevered for myself!

I just wanted to keep working to prove myself, a living Canto de Persistence -- but my tendons weren't on the same song sheet. But if anyone harps on me about "work ethic," then I tell them my tale until their eyes glaze over.

I never received an assignment after that, neither from QualiTemps nor from the other staffing agencies with whom I had signed. The agency had paid my workers’ compensation and is therefore immune to liability; they handled it to my satisfaction, except for the lack of future placements.

Whatever badmouthing Hankscraft did about me cannot be punished -- for lack of documentation and because QualiTemps was my employer -- but Hankscraft deserves a mention for how they denied my request for a different production job for the reasons I clearly explained and documented.

The bottom line is that I’ve done hundreds of repetitions of wrist exercises to become a stronger, more durable worker -- but thanks to staffers following your oppressive policies such as “no second chance after a disability,” thereby harming the public’s ability to live independently, national labor force participation has not exceeded 66.5 percent in over a decade.

Imagine Scott Morefield, Gregg Dourgarian, Kinzy Janssen or some other Staffing Talker in the same position. Can any of them really say with authority they would not develop tendonosis?

I can hear critics say, “Get a college education!” I already did that -- and am competing, at the ripe age of 29 years, with 18- and 19-year-olds for basic jobs such as light production (apparently no longer an option due to being blacklisted) and food service. How would any Staffing Talker tolerate such a situation if s/he were to lose everything? Who would support such a plundered pundit?

Some HR people have no shame because they have theirs! It is important for them to enjoy while they can, for no one knows what will be demanded of him or her. The haughty shall be humbled in due time!