Thursday, October 19, 2006

Shhh . . . It is Like Breaking Into the Fort Knox

Finding work these days is like breaking into freaking Fort Knox. It used to be, you’d be offered a job based on a quick reference check – occasionally they didn’t even call the references.

These days, not only do they want your references before they even pick you from all the other candidates, they ask for criminal background checks, credit checks, intelligence tests, psychological profiling, aptitude tests. . . FUCK what’s next, asking to pierce me with a needle to get some of my DNA?

I don’t mind doing two or three interviews, and I certainly don’t mind a reference check – provided I have been selected for the gig and they aren’t just checking everyone elses references cart blanche.

As a contractor, I often get put through all the same hurdles that any other job seeker has – only I get it more often. I’m always interviewing for my next contract – so after a while you start to develop a thick skin.

Today for example, I interviewed some professional development association that requires someone with my skill set for a year-long engagement. The interview went very well, they asked all the right questions, showing me they knew what they wanted and were looking for the right characteristics in the right fields. I answered their questions well, and they were impressed with my wit and wisdom.

They explained that they would check everyone’s references, and those who’s references were solid, may – MAY – get called back for a second interview, and possibly even a third if the choices were very close.

FUCK! Double whammy!

They want to check references to see if I am worthy of INTERVIEWING further? That doesn’t even come close to narrowing the field of candidates.

They asked if I had brought my references. I had my laptop with me, and they were on the laptop. But I told them I hadn’t, but I could email them the references – I lied.

I have no intention of emailing references to some bozo so that they may call me back for a second and possibly a third interview. If they wanted to offer me a contract contingent upon a successful check of my references – fine – that’s standard practice.

But to simply toss me back into the ring with all the other contenders, that doesn’t justify bothering my very busy professional references.

My references are exceptional people. I have used them many times, and they have always come through. Every time I have submitted my references to someone who has already offered me work, I have landed that work.

However, I have noticed that when I have submitted my references for work without a firm offer, I have never won the prized contract. My hunch is, companies which ask for references up front do so as a standard procedure, and they either don’t contact them, or if they do, they are calling everyone’s references, regardless of whether or not they are really interested all of those people.

Fucking amateurs – acting all professional saying they need references to offer someone a contract. Offer me the contract first, contingent on a reference check – that’s professionalism at its finest.

So, if someone ever asks you for something out of the ordinary at a job interview, unless you are desperate for work, tell them to fuck off. Don’t take their crap – real professionals don’t dish crap out period.

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