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further random questions from the newly-unemployed

----- Original Message -----
From: "Seth Gordon" <sethg at>

> OK, now that I've had about a whole week to devote to this full-time
> job-hunting thing, I have a few questions, and perhaps people more
> experienced in the art of 21st-century high-tech employment search can
> answer them.
> (1) When I'm applying for a job through a Web form, [snip] I should
> be briefer and less formal than the standard cover letter, so I've
> usually been writing something like this:
> "I believe that my experience with X and my strong Y skills make me an
> excellent candidate for your Foobar Engineer position.  [snip]
> Am I shooting myself in the foot by being so brief?

Companies that require online r)B?sum? submission are running your application
through a keyword search.

Try "I believe my experience with X, Y, Z, A, B, C, D, E, F, and G makes

> (2) My headhunter suggested that I mark my (et al) resumes
> as "confidential" instead of making them freely readable by everyone,
> because then anyone who wants to contact me will have to go through the
> site as an intermediary, and if the headhunter proposes me to some
> company for a job, they can't screw her by turning her down, looking up
> my resume on line, and contacting me directly.  This smells fishy to me
> -- as long as both she and I keep track of the dates of our contacts,
> employers can't take advantage of her in this way, and I don't feel like
> there's any benefit for me to place any barriers between me and a
> potential employer.  (It's not like I'm so busy fending off requests
> from companies that want to interview me...)  Does she have a valid
> point, or is she just trying to lock me in to her service?

She has a valid point if you're not willing to sift through a mountain of
*other* slavetraders who will try to get you to sign on with them. Having
them go through her means she does the work of sifting the wheat from the
chaf. However, if she's really afraid that a company she deals with would
double-cross her that way, then you probably don't want to work for that
company anyway, and probably not through her, so having a conflict come up
is a good thing.

It's really a trust issue: if you trust her, tell her the firms you've got a
prior claim on and expect that in return. Otherwise, run for the exit.

> (3) At what point should I start looking for contract work *even if* I
> don't need the money yet?  [snip]

Contract vs. "permanent" is a semantic difference today. You should start,
and continue, to look for a job that will make you look forward to working
every day. Decide on a target list of companies, find out all you can about
them, and network your way into an interview.

Don't limit yourself to the work you used to do: my advice is to take a new
direction, even if it's toward a goal you can't see right now. I speak from
personal experience here, but it applies to some degree to anyone who is
unemployed: there's no better time in your life to look for new ways of

Decide what you love. If all you ever wanted to do was mow lawns and deliver
newspapers, go buy a Snapper and a paper cannon. Go for the things that
makes you feel good, because that (and only that) will differentiate you
from the legions of walking dead ghosts-with-r)B?sum?s that hiring managers
parade through their offices to frighten the serfs.

Whatever makes you smile, whatever puts the spring in your step; that's what
you should do for a living. Life's too short .


Bill, who is going back to a profession he left a long time ago and always

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