[JOB] Sr. Python Developer, Northern VA

John J. Lee jjl at pobox.com
Thu Mar 22 22:16:13 CET 2007

> > Michael Bentley wrote:
> > Perhaps it is different where you live, but here you can put on your
> > resume relevant things that aren't paying jobs.  Otherwise nobody
> > would ever get their first job, right?
> Sure you can. But around here if one has been unemployed for a while
> it's nearly impossible to get hired ever again. It doesn't matter how
> many years programming Python one puts on the resume. Unpaid
> activities are just not *visible*. So HRM people keep asking questions
> like 'But what have you been doing?' In the end I just started my own
> company, and while I'm not always employed as a freelancer I can at
> least now say I'm running my own business.

You may not realise it if you haven't been applying for work since you
did that, but I'm sure you've done a lot for your "employability" (I
hate that word, it implies that it's a one-sided business, clearly
false) by working as a freelancer.

Your original rant seemed rather one-sided, though.

> The basic problem however is that it's just not anyones business
> whether one has been walking through the country making pictures or
> doing some desk job. All that should matter is can he do the job and
> is he motivated. Asking a person who he *is* (resume) is not Pythonic!

I sympathise but conventional wisdom (which surely has a lot of truth
in it) is that employers are not faced with the problem of minimising
false negatives (failing to hire when they should have hired).  They
are faced with the problem of minimising false positives (hiring when
they should not have hired).  That's a gross simplification of course,
but I'm sure you appreciate the point -- if you're hiring employees,
being fairly risk-averse is probably quite rational.

I've often thought that randomness is a good thing here though,
globally -- a world of perfectly rational selfish employers would fail
to employ legions of highly productive people.  Luckily incompetence
in hiring steps in often enough to save the day, in this best of all
possible worlds <0.75 wink>

(no hiring incompetence at the employer I'm just about to move to, it
goes without saying :-)


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