back to article Microsoft sysadmin hired for fake NetWare skills keeps job despite twitchy trigger finger

Roll up, roll up, for another instalment of Who, Me?, the weekly column in which El Reg tries to cure the very worst cases of Monday blues with fist-biting tales from readers of tech jobs gone wrong. This week, "Ricky" and his employer prove just how much some people hate the arduous recruitment process, to the extent that …

  1. malle-herbert

    Had it the other way around...

    As a Netware guy I was asked to administer a Windows-only network...

    Didn't even know what a domain controller was at that time...

    But the boss figured that since I was working with Windows all day anyway Windows server wouldn't be too much of a problem to figure out...

    1. wallaby

      Re: Had it the other way around...

      With no Netware experience I was sent to a certain nuclear plant to perform Y2K checks on their servers. I explained the checks to the onsite guy who they allocated to babysit me until my security clearance came through and he showed me how to do them on the Netware servers which were labelled up primary, secondary and tertiary. Secondary and tertiary were critical but wouldn't cause a big stink if they failed - primary would result in a meltdown. Dec 31st 1999 I was searching for iodine pills and planning a route to a remote mine in Wales just in case.

      Every single test I did (and there were hundreds) resulted in the same set of data. To save myself time I copied the first set and pasted them one for each server - only problem was there was a spelling mistake on one of the tests and they noticed it repeated for every platform I tested. It was a hard slog trying to convince them I'd actually done the tests and had to produce my original hand written results in full before they would believe me.

      1. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ

        Re: Had it the other way around...

        I was sent to a certain nuclear plant to perform Y2K checks on their servers...

        I was part of the team that went to all the nuclear sites rolling out the new desktop computers.with 3 weeks before we were supposed to be hitting to road with truck loads of kit, manglement still had not worked out a plan of backing up everyone's local data. Originally it was to be backed up over the network to our own folders on the Novell network, but after half a dozen tests and lots of screaming from the server guys about the volume of traffic being sent up and down the country.

        so a meeting was held to ask everyone on the team for ideas. the problem was the massive number of different computers with different hardware, the computers had to remain intact, so ripping hard drives out was out the question.

        I came up with the idea of installing novell netware on desktop computers (you couldn't install netware on a laptop) then just plugging the client into it with a crossover cable, throw a floppy disk in with a bat file to search out and copy all files for supported packages, and then copying the data to the local server. plug in the new computer, run a different bat file to drag the data back on to the new computer. everyone was given a date to back up their own data for non supported software. in most cases it took lass than 20 minutes to transfer data over to the new machine....

        roll-out went well and no nuclear sites went tits up....

    2. J27 Bronze badge


      Yeah, but Windows Server is really easy to administer. I taught myself (with the help of the internet). I'm a software developer, but I previously worked for a company that was so small that I had to do all the IT, in addition to my actual job. Novel Netware (which I actually did take classes on at one point) is a completely non-intuitive pile of trash which breaks if you look at it funny. It's no wonder that almost all organizations I'm aware of have dropped it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Easy

        I believe that bits of Oxford University still use it.

      2. JimC

        Re: Easy

        The trouble with Netware was that you had to know what you were doing, whereas any idiot could administer Windows server and often did. But once you did know what you were doing it was an infinitely better product. AD was just a horrible lashup by comparison.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've had the agencies "selectively emphasising" skills problem - but both ways. As an techie with a bit of PM experience, I felt ideal for the role I'd had described to me, but when I rocked up to interview it very quickly became apparent that they were looking for a full-on, high powered PM and that the agency had basically lied to both parties. Fortunately it wasn't far from home so not that much time wasted on my side but I bet the agency got even more grief from the hiring firm than they did from me!

    1. steviebuk Silver badge

      This is why I hate agencies. They are in it for the commission, nothing more.

      1. Nick Kew

        This is why I hate agencies. They are in it for the commission, nothing more.

        Never mind agencies. It's happened to my CV when it's been my then-employer (as a permie) trying to contract me to its client.

        Client asks about $foo at interview. I reply honestly I know nothing about $foo. "But your CV says ..." "I've no idea who edited that, but it wasn't me".

    2. J27 Bronze badge

      Should have just picked up the job. Most PMs are just monkeys in suits.

  3. Lee D Silver badge

    I was pushed into an interview by a well-known job agency whose name is something you might get growing on the side of a river (they've previously bought articles on here, and my comments then were censored because they are FAMOUS for being useless, especially for IT and medical staff).

    What I thought was an IT position turned out to be:

    - Phoning around Vauxhall car dealerships, asking if they needed anything from the main base.

    Now... don't get me wrong, it wasn't Vauxhall's fault. The job was quite clearly specced but the agency had obviously struggled to fill the role and so they were deliberately obfuscating when it came to ringing up other people on their database (I was newly job-seeking at the time) and trying to shoehorn them into an interview "because it's last-minute" and they had nobody suitable.

    So I ended up falling for their ruse (should've known *) and wound up in an interview where I'd been completely misled about the whole industry, let alone category of job I was interviewing for.

    This all came out in the interview (obviously) with more than a glancing nod of "fecking job agency" between the people on the panel when the full story came out.

    Long story short - they offered me the job. They said I was the best candidate by miles, presumably because I was honest about it and because I didn't let it worry me and still gave a good interview based on what I can provably do (i.e. pulling in customer service experience from my actual, real career). Even the guy from the agency who phoned me up sounded surprised.

    P.S. I know feck-all about cars.

    * My history with the company is thus: They did that to me. They did something similar to my brother (who sat through series of interviews before being informed that it was a FIELD technician role, and he doesn't drive and nobody had bothered to ask/tell him that - so he aced the IT part and then got blank stares when asked for his driving licence). My ex worked in a genetics lab and went to their healthcare agency, who do nothing more all day long than put people into healthcare jobs. She was asked "What's genetics?" and "Can I just put that down as nursing?"... so they wanted to shove a qualified Dr of genetics into a bedpan role...

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      My biggest bugbear is recruiters who don't know the difference between an Accounts Manager (bean counter), and Account Manager (sales person).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        My biggest bugbear is recruiters who ...

        IME, you could have finished the sentence much earlier, i.e. at "... recruiters."

      2. The Onymous Coward

        Despite having many years of experience as a Product Manager, I still get agents phoning me asking if I'm interested in a Project Manager role.

        In ten years of contracting, I'm yet to deal with an agency that adds anything of value to the hiring process.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I actually got an apology for not having a role suitable for me when I did something similar. I knew which skills I didn't have but the recruiter kept insisting I'd have a year to get up to speed which was a blatant lie. I didn't get to see what they did to my CV but I speculated aloud that they had misrepresented me as well.

    3. Rich 11 Silver badge

      whose name is something you might get growing on the side of a river

      A pile of duck turds?

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        "A pile of duck turds?"

        Phew! And there was me worrying about monsters...

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "... so they wanted to shove a qualified Dr of genetics into a bedpan role..."

      I know what you mean, but ever nurse in the country just rolled their eye at you :-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I know what you mean, but ever nurse in the country just rolled their eye at you :-)

        Then sighed with relief that they didn't get lumbered with an egghead working the ward. They're very different skill-sets.

  4. Paul D Smyth

    I've had things like this happen to me more than once. I had a recruiter add HPUX experience I didn't have and many other skills. When the interviewer starts asking questions about a particular subject that you can't answer it can be quite embarrassing. On most occasions they've queried the CV and luckily I always take a copy of my CV with me to follow along with so I'm able to give them that to demonstrate that the recruiter had altered it without my permission but on one occasion they didn't say anything and when I didn't get the role I found out later it was because they believed I'd embellished my CV.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Embellished CV

      The moment I get a question (in a job interview) I can't relate to my CV, I ask for a copy of the version they have while they receive a copy of mine. More than one recruiter found himself (or herself) in serious problems this way. And the minor problem for that recruiter is my personal (but publicly available) black list.

      1. Olivier2553 Silver badge

        Re: Embellished CV

        "my personal (but publicly available) black list"

        You should consider making a white list instead: it would be shorter.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This is why I always hate sending the agencies a word document, and much prefer a PDF. Of course they could do the same with a PDF, but they're unlikely to have the skillz.

      So, while we're in "whinge about recruiters" mode, I got a first and second interview for a role that I didn't meet but was assured that the company had decided to split it (They wanted a full-time Oracle DBA who was also a full-time Linux sysadm. Frankly, I'd rather poke my eyes out than do Oracle DBA). Turned out the manager hadn't cleared this approach upstream. Wasted 2 days of annual leave. Why do I still fall for recruiters' flannel ??

      As for the role - turns out (allegedly) that they took an Oracle DBA with a bit of Linux sysadm. Oh, and on another note, the recruiter still calls up with roles there. I tell them where to go.

      1. Sir Loin Of Beef

        This has happened too often to me. I chalk it up to the fact that the initial recruiter you speak to is just looking for anyone who even remotely matches the job description (shows he/she is bringing in people!) until you get moved up to the account manager, who really knows what is going on, and rejects you because of a certain skill the skill level of the first recruiter never told you about.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "luckily I always take a copy of my CV with me"

      Luckily? Take several as a matter of policy and hand them to the interviewer(s). Leave luck* out of it.

      *Did I spell that right? We're dealing with agencies.

  5. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Memories ...

    "dropping a huge NetWare manual on his desk ..."

    Those were the days, when documentation existed and actually contained decent information. You could have three folders (paper variants) open at once, see the entire pages and still be working on a console ...

    Sometimes I feel we've taken several steps backwards ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Memories ...

      As I say to people(1) when they ask why I google everything....

      In The Good Old Days (tm) we had shelves and shelves full of manuals, with well-thumbed indices.

      Google is the (allegedly) modern version of this.

      I print stuff out for pen markup when the need demands it.

      (1) i.e. my wife

      1. Saruman the White

        Re: Memories ...

        I can remember in my first job we received a Dec VAXstation which was going to be used on a specific project for a customer. The thing arrived on a pallet containing a vast quantity of boxes (including one that just contained a sheet of paper saying "this box is empty" - shades of Douglas Adams), including enough manuals to fill 3 shelves of a cabinet.

        About a month later the software engineer working on the project needed to know the system call to print a text message on the console. This ended up talking 4 us, and having to refer through 4 fully cross-referenced manuals before finally tracking down the system call.

        Paper documentation is good, and I often still prefer it. But Dec used to take it just a tad too far in my opinion.

        1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

          Re: Memories ...

          I almost miss the old MSSQL 2000, exchange 2000 and windows server 2000 manuals.. (the SQL 6.5 can stuff it)..


          1. Rich 11 Silver badge

            Re: Memories ...

            I've got spares for Windows 2000 Server and SQL Server 2000 if you want a copy.

            1. Mr Sceptical

              Re: Memories ...

              I only recently threw out my Exchange 2000 manual!

              Similarly, my binder of useful pages from dawn of t'internet was also only just recycled. It was around the same time El Reg became my most viewed website. Aaah, happy days...

            2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

              Re: Memories ...

              Don't tempt me... I've got a few doors that need propping open..

              1. Korev Silver badge

                Re: Memories ...

                I've got some seats that need to be warmed too...

        2. GlenP Silver badge

          Re: Memories ...

          Paper documentation is good, and I often still prefer it. But Dec used to take it just a tad too far in my opinion.

          In my first job one of my responsibilities was to update the DEC manuals every month*. One bookcase of VAX (which were referred to occasionally) and another with PDP manuals for a system that was never turned on.

          *They were ring binders and packs of updates were sent out. I quickly developed the technique of always tearing the old versions out so they couldn't get mixed up with the revised ones. I then had to tear every one of the old ones through before I could bin it as otherwise the cleaners would return it to the desk (Civil Service rules).

          1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

            Re: Memories ...

            Ah, printed manuals. Nothing beats them, which is why I continue buying so many books.

            1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

              Re: Nothing beats them

              And they're surprisingly useful for beating uncooperative equipment into submission.

              1. Amos1

                Re: Nothing beats them

                Hmm, I've never referred to "coworkers" as "equipment" before but sure, that works.

                1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

                  Re: Nothing beats them

                  I believe the word you may be looking for is "tools"...

              2. The Specialist

                Re: Nothing beats them

                "And they're surprisingly useful for beating uncooperative equipment into submission."

                Ah, re-percussive maintenance - used to be one of my favourite way of fixing faults when I used to don hw engineer hat.

          2. Little Mouse

            Re: Memories ...

            Those VAX ringbinders had a non-standard three-hole configuration. Totally incompatible with your standard two or four hole-punch.

            What was the thinking behind that?

            Were they worried about counterfeiting? The useful recycling of old ringbinders? Engineers inserting their own notes?

            The fact that I can't think of a good non-petty reason has niggled me for the past 25 years.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Memories ...Those VAX ringbinders had a non-standard three-hole configuration.

              Do you mean non-standard for the US (three hole ring binders there) or standard US but used in the EU?

              The US believes all the rest of the world is out of step, which is why printers still default to US Letter despite A4 being the commonest sheet size.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Memories ...

        "In The Good Old Days (tm) we had shelves and shelves full of manuals, with well-thumbed indices."

        In the Good Old Days I had a cabinet mounted on my desk partition with the OS & RDBMS manuals in it. I only needed to raise my arm to pick up any of them.

        One day some Big Boss came to visit the call centre next door. (It was quite big - the support manager of the database company visited one day so I I gave him the tour and his jaw dropped when we went in there.) Big Boss made some comment about how great it was having everybody able to communicate with the low partitions. Next weekend all our partitions were lowered and my collection of manuals was "over there" beside the window. A few steps away is not the same as within arm's reach; those few steps and the time they take break concentration.

        To cap it all there was a bit of a swap around and I also acquired a new team just behind me who, for some reason, had to have a dot-matrix printer on one of their desks.

    2. Nick Kew

      Re: Memories ...

      Those were the days, when documentation existed and actually contained decent information. You could have three folders (paper variants) open at once, see the entire pages and still be working on a console ...

      Where the **** did you work?

      My overwhelming recollection of documentation in pre-google times was of the gap on the shelf where whatever-I-wanted should have been. Noone knew who had it, except that they'd long since left the company.

      Online docs are a true liberation. Doubly so now we have desktops big enough to keep as many pages as we need open.

  6. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    Have the opposite problem

    Whenever I update my CV, I find it hard to brag about myself. I don't want to come across as an absolute cock on paper (I wait for the interview for that).

  7. trevorde

    Other side of the fence

    Quite some time ago, I had to interview a candidate for a software development role. His CV seemed to indicate all the right-ish sort of experience, so we asked him in for a chat. He arrived in a suit and tie, and, according to my work colleague, smelt of chip fat (!). He was more than a bit overweight, sweating and very nervous, so I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and served up a few soft ball questions. His answers were invariably: "I'm sorry, I can't remember", even as the questions got progressively easier and easier. Needless to say, he didn't get the job. We suspected the recruitment agent had sent over his local pub landlord for a bit of a laugh.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Other side of the fence

      Hmm... Sounds failure... I've had the miss fortune to work with a former pub landlord who somehow managed to blag his way into project management; his CV/LinkedInn (ha!) basically started 6 years ago (he's late 40s) and read like a job description with the phrase "I have completed to requirements / met agreed goals" next to each item... ( I guess the previous 20 odd years or pub management didn't fit the PM CV / LinkedIn listing?)

      Not sure how he got in, but once in, he attached himself to the IT Dir and followed him role to role :-(

  8. RyokuMas Silver badge

    Who writes the damn matching algorithms???

    The thing I've learned these days is that whoever writes the matching algorithms that recruiters use should be sacked.

    My pet hate is that despite never having done contracting (and most roles on my CV being in the 3-5 year duration bracket), I still get scalper emails offering contract posts. Most of them get ignored. However, occasionally I get a complete howler - only a couple of my "secondary skills" matched at best, completely the wrong location, etc...

    I now have a copy-paste template for such howlers, which gets emailed back, the appropriate replacement bits blatantly copy-pasted from the scalper's own email (ie: their font etc), stating how concerned I am at how bad a mismatch the role is, that as a professional software developer I feel I have a duty to point out how their crap algorithm is costing them time and money, and they should have an audit immediately with a view to fixing it.

    This also gets CC'ed to their company's generic info email as well.

    Petty? Maybe.

    1. AbortRetryFail

      Re: Who writes the damn matching algorithms???

      Years ago I got approached by an agency wanting me to be the instructor on a Desktop Training course. The agent got quite shirty when I said I didn't do that. "Yes you do! It says so on your CV!" he said hotly, to which I pointed out I'd helped write a Ground Crew Training Simulator for BAe Military, part of which was a Desktop Trainer / Computer-based Training (CBT) package. Yep, you've guessed it, he'd searched for "desktop trainer".

      The funniest part was that the recruiter was obviously really desperate, as his final question was "I don't suppose you'd like to have a go, would you?" :)

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Who writes the damn matching algorithms???

      "as a professional software developer I feel I have a duty to point out how their crap algorithm is costing them time and money, and they should have an audit immediately with a view to fixing it."

      If you did contract work you could offer, as a professional software developer, to fix it for them.

      More likely, however, you'll find their algorithm is nothing more than a word search being run by people for whom the words are nothing more than squiggles on a screen, devoid of any meaning.

      1. error 13

        Re: Who writes the damn matching algorithms???

        I once wrote one of those algos.In essence I built :

        Select * from punter where punter has (requirement 1 and requirement 2 and requirement 3)

        ANDs ended up being replaced by ORs..

        1. Adam 1

          Re: Who writes the damn matching algorithms???

          Shirley it would be

          Select distinct c.*

          From Company victim

          Inner join Company oldvictim

          On victim.CategoryId=oldvictim.Category and victim.Id<>oldvictim.Id

          Inner join CandidateHistory ch

          On ch.CompanyId=oldvictim.Id

          Inner join Candidate c


          Where victim.Name='FooCorp'

          And (c.LastPlacementDate>DateAdd(Month, -6, GETDATE()) or c.LastPlacementDate is null)

  9. PerlyKing Silver badge

    Hot transputers

    Back when transputers were hot (look it up...) my boss interviewed someone whose CV declared experience in the "Transputer Layer Interface". It turned out that the agency thought the Transport Layer Interface just wasn't interesting enough! Everyone had a good laugh and he was hired.

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Re: Hot transputers

      Have an upvote for transputer...

  10. Chris King Silver badge

    CV okay but HR screwed up

    I was once interviewed for an industrial placement at DEC, and the interview came to an abrupt halt when the interviewer started asking me how and where I learned Arabic.

    Turns out their HR had accidentally short-listed me for a post specialising in DECWindows Arabic localisation rather than a standard placement, and sent to a different interview location to where I should have been.

    Needless to say, I didn't get the job, and my placement tutor tore me a new one for being a "no-show" for my proper interview - he did apologise when DEC 'fessed up to their mistake.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wrong sort of boss

    About ten years ago, while I was living in SE Asia, my boss (also 50% owner of the boutique consultancy I was working for) decided to represent to a potential client, one of the biggest conglomerates in SE Asia, that i'd just finished a spot of consultancy involving Domino on iSeries/System i for the largest bank in the country. All I know to this day about iSeries/System i is that IBM don't call it AS/400 anymore.

    I was not happy. Unfortunately, him owning 50% of the company that sponsored my and my wife's visa, I couldn't tell him exactly what I thought.

    AC for obvious reasons.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    People who can't do a job


    My team has a team member who is useless.

    A manager interviewed him and didn't pull any technical person in to ask technical questions.

    During his probation, stated he can't do the job he was employed for (IBM MQ).

    He doesn't understand the basic concepts

    He takes 3 weeks to do a 2 hour job badly and then gets praise for it (WTF?)

    Our Oracle administrator has learnt more about it from me repeating the same thing over and over that I could now teach her the basics in about 1 day.

    He's still with us, I've just left him to fail.

    He screwed up a config so badly it caused an outage for a customer and done the opposite of what he was told to do, in this particular environment, the director has said he is not permitted to make config changes in the production environment rather negating what he was employed to do.

    Basically, he can't handle as a full time job what was 10% of what I done.

    </rant over>


    1. Little Mouse

      Re: People who can't do a job

      Most offices have one of those.

      For anyone who's never come across one of these people - beware - it might be you.

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

        Re: People who can't do a job

        As long as they make a decent cup of tea and not be a "Mordac the preventor of information systems" (Because that was me until my role was outsourced)

  13. naylorjs

    Beware agencies

    I had the misfortune to have had my CV doctored by an agency. I should have sniffed a rat when I was asked to read my CV before the interview by the pimp, not something I've been asked to do before or since. To my shock, one of my existing skills was vastly overblown. I should have told my potential "employers" at the interview there and then what had happened and got him on their black list. I got the contract and was able to do the work that was given to me, but the agent turned out to be a real wide boy and was bad at paying too, I did drop him in it for that. I was very happy to get out at the end of the six months. BTW this wasn't in the UK if anyone is interested.

  14. adam payne Silver badge


    You've gotta love those agencies. Doctoring your CV, selling you a job that is nothing like what they said it was, not paying on time etc etc.

    I once had an agency remove most of my qualifications and experience to try to shoehorn me into a junior position.

  15. Scaffa

    Good old recruiters

    I had a recruiter encourage me to overstate my experience with Cisco switching / routing gear, when really at that stage in my career I hadn't done much more than check if a port was showing as up or not.

    I didn't want to put myself in a position where they test me on that subject and I flail, so I suggested we left it as is - the job was a junior role anyways.

    Fast forward to the interview, they say almost immediately "We saw you're a Cisco EXPERT on your C.V, can you talk us through some networks / projects you did?"

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    backup role at big corpo

    One day, at a big corpo, while in the middle of the deployment of the new backup solution for this international DC, it so happened the backup specialist went on pregnancy leave.

    Hardly was it a surprise since it's been visible all over the place for months ...

    A dude was hired as a backup specialist from a contracting company. At one point, there were so many backup issues it was not longer sustainable. It really looked like he never had touched any backup solution before.

    We had to let him go, after understanding he was actually an ex mainframe operator, and in no way a backup specialist ! Talk about over-selling !

  17. J P

    Apologies to those who've heard this one before

    This seems like an appropriate place to recount the tale, possibly apocryphal, of an individual who registered with several different agencies on learning his role was potentially up for grabs and meanwhile perused Sits Vac for an alternative option.

    Ultimately, he found himself applying for what appeared (from the advertisement) to be his dream role. His disappointment on discovering that it was actually the job he already held, but viewed through the rose tinted lenses of a recruitment droid, was tempered only by the discovery that his boss had selected his own (anonymised and "edited" by the recruitment agency) CV for interview at 1.5 times his current salary to replace himself in his own job.

    Meanwhile in the real world, I had a slight conundrum earlier in my career (I'm now well past the point where people worry about this sort of thing) based the fact that one of my key distinguishing achievements was having won a couple of School Prizes for English. The Literary Criticism one wasn't a problem, but I always felt a bit awkward about the School Prize for Creative Writing...

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Apologies to those who've heard this one before

      That story is one of the historical BOFH articles, namely this one:

      1. Korev Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: Apologies to those who've heard this one before

        Blocked at my work...

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Apologies to those who've heard this one before

        Very suspicious. He walks out without finishing his drink.

  18. Alien8n Silver badge


    Think I've told this one before, but one company I was at was recruiting at such a rate that the R&D manager decided to see if they could get someone hired without ever being interviewed, or even checked if they were real. He succeeded to the point that a desk with name tag was allocated, along with PC and network credentials. For a "Hugh Janus".

    Apparently Hugh now works as a spam filter at his new company.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Right job, Wrong company

    I thought the interview was going really well, until I commented on a recent issue they had had in the US and got blank stares back.

    Recruitment people had given me the completely wrong company details, and as the interview was on a 3rd party site they were managing, I had no clues on arrival.

    I didnt get the job, which was a pity, because it seemed it was going to be really interesting.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not just recruiters

    In a past life, working for major company which was downsizing in some areas and expanding in others.

    As part of this, they created a formal internal "resourcing" division, to which people inbetween roles would be allocated; in theory, you could then spend time upskilling and doing any short-term odd jobs which needed to be picked up.

    In practice, the internal HR drones proved to be just as inept at skill matching as any external agency could ever be. On one occasion, I travelled to another city for an interview, only to find that it was for a role which used a technology I'd never actually used before.

    I rolled up my sleeves and gave the technical test my best shot, but oddly, I didn't get the job...

  21. Stevie Silver badge


    Many, many years ago I used an agent who was somewhat legendary for what would become known as a "wide boy" approach to the business. He was a total villain who would upsell a job and then downgrade the pay once the interview was won, but I learned to factor in the "shrinkage" and he always, *always* paid and paid on time - a major plus in them cowboy days. If I tell you the agency was situated across the road from the Paul Raymond Revue Bar in Soho in the early 80s you may be able to intuit the atmosphere or even recall a contract of your own with the un-named agency that went pear-shaped big time.

    One of my agent's endearing qualities was to tell the prospective employer that I would be arriving in my-estimated-time-of-arrival minus 30 minutes. I drove long distances several days a week and had a very good idea of how long it took to get from A to B even in places I'd never visited before, but he never learned and it always landed my with an initial job of explaining that I was actually wherever-it-was in good time but we had both been had by Mr Never-Learns.

    My next job was to ask for the CV they had in hand, before the interview started properly. I would then go through it and correct it for creative writing "slips of the pen".

    Lovely times.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was offered a gig doing storage for an IBM mainframe

    Even though the guy offering it to me knew that I had great experience with EMC Symmetrix and zero with an IBM mainframe. He basically said "you'll pick it up". Maybe it would have turned out I didn't need to know much IBM stuff but I figured I'd pass and wait for something I didn't have to risk damaging my reputation over.

  23. sisk

    I once had an hiring agency cold-contact me and try to set up an interview as a school cook. For the same school district where I was working in as a programmer and AD admin. Through my work email account. My boss and I both had a bit of a laugh at that. I wasn't even looking to change jobs at the time, and even if I had been it was pretty obvious that the agency hadn't bothered looking at my CV anyway.

    Sadly that sort of thing seems to be how it goes for hiring agencies in this area. The one time I've ever gotten anything from any of them even remotely related to my experience it was also another cold-contact and turned out the position had been filled before they even sent it to me. Too bad to: if they'd sent it too me a month earlier I might have sent them a resume. Maybe it has to do with being in a mostly rural area that I don't want to leave, but there don't seem to be any agencies with a clue around here.

  24. Danny 2 Silver badge

    I'm not sure why folk aren't naming names. I was wrongly blacklisted as a peace-protestor by Search Recruitment for dropping off a hitch hiker at a peace camp.

    Before that, in 1990, my first experience of "recruitment consultants" was when my electronics division was laid off. I'd listed two microprocessors on my CV, because I'd been trained on them and knew them in and out. The consultant asked me what other microprocessors I'd ever touched, so I listed another six and he added them to my CV.

    Alexander Mann - utter cnuts. Lying, nasty, incompetent expletives.

    I can't actually name a decent recruitment or contracting agency so maybe best ignore my cynicism. There was one good one in the Netherlands, not one of the big ones, but the ones in Britain and Ireland are all awful, truth is they are criminal, abusive.

    I urge any of you who are footloose to get work in Germany while you still can. There are plenty of English speaking companies there and the work environment is the best I've experienced.

  25. Marty McFly

    Nailed it

    Hiring managers are always slow to fire those they have hired. It makes the manager look bad.

  26. Nifty Bronze badge

    Doctoring of CVs by agencies? It had never occurred to me till reading this comment thread. Now I know how I got the job I've been in for the last 10 years.

  27. Giles C Bronze badge

    Well there are some good agencies out there

    The one who got me my current job (only my fifth week) actually did a really good job, listened to questions, followed them up with the employer and got the answers before I got to the interview stage. Mortimer Spinks if anyone is interested. I gave my old employer the agency details to find a replacement...

    On the other hand some of the other ones....

    Strange descriptions - one job I went for was so badly worded that a year later they haven’t got anyone for it (I know a couple of people who work for them). They wanted a 3rd line network engineer but totally hands off..... didn’t say that in the advert.

    Another agency who took over six weeks to get an interview date - told that lot to get lost with a very strongly worded email and then blocked their numbers.

    And the one who suggested a job in Peterborough that turned out to be the other side of Leicester so instead of a 10 minute commute it would be over an hour each way. They couldn’t understand why a pay rise that wouldn’t have covered the petrol cost didn’t appeal.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A bit different twist on this - was called at last minute to an interview at a company that I had applied to who had representatives at a local job fair, and happened to notice that I lived nearby. Seemed a bit odd, but being in the market for income, I decided to take a chance.

    I got all dressed up and went to the location specified, where the "job fair" turned out to be two people in a hotel room working for a temp agency. The position seemed legit tho, so I said that I was there for an interview, and was handed a stack of forms an inch thick to complete. As I scanned the forms, I realized that if I was willing to provide every detail and pertinent government and social identifier of my life I could get the job, as well giving them permission to offer my data to anyone and everyone at their whim..

    Also, as I scanned the forms, the two "interviewers" sat around a laptop talking about companies they were providing employees for, and some of the employees, in high detail. I finished looking through the stack of forms, spent a few more moments more listening to them discuss business, and stood up to leave. But not before telling them that they were the least professional pair of professionals I had ever had the (dis) pleasure of meeting, and that they might want to avoid discussing clients and staff in front of anyone who walked through the door. Bloody amateurs

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Bloody amateurs"

      In terms of recruiters they sound like typical professionals.

  29. Griffo

    I too was unleashed untrained on a Netware 3.11 network. I was given the admin doc and the SYSADMIN password and unleashed. I didn't even know what IPX was for gods sake.

    Somehow, I survived, although I do think I had about 6 weekends of major rebuilds due to earlier poor planning decisions. Name everything the same and everything would work just fine come Monday morning.

  30. Hazmoid

    cisco experience

    Got an interview with a Nonprofit that I had used previously for my autistic son, and went and had a very pleasant interview in the garden with the IT manager. Turns out my Cisco experience (I have configured phones on a VOIP system and set up Cisco switches and routers in a training environment) was vastly overstated, so after the IT manager gave me the details of what they wanted, I had to turn to him and apologise for wasting his time as I didn't think I would be able to fulfill the role.

    When I got on the phone to the recruiter afterwards, I did mention that my skill set was a few steps down from what they actually wanted.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Had a similar experience (agency/interview-wise without any major disaster).

    I applied for a job via an agency for a Lotus Domino admin position.

    Agency rang and told me they had an interview set up.

    Went to the interview, very perfunctory and got the job (thinking it was the one I applied for).

    Turned up on the Monday and found that not only didn't they use Notes, every PC in the office was running a different flavour of Linux, RDPing to VMWare desktops (fortunately I do know VMWare very well!) and using MS 365.

    Explained to the boss what had happened, he explained to the agency that they were tw@ts, and we agreed there was one thing I could do that would be very useful to them. They wanted to migrate every VM they had (user desktops and apps) onto brand new kit.

    So the kit came in, I set it up and configured it and then managed the migration without a hitch. Left when that was done - I wasn't the guy for general management of their stuff.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ex-employee's CV

    Many moons ago, the company decided to get one of these newfangled network things installed. it was decided that as myself and a college were technical as we repaired electronic stuff like CRT monitors - that we would be responsible for building the network from scratch. Installing 10Base2 cabling, NICs, shared printer, and Novell server. We built a thing of wonder, even a qualified Novell would stare at it in awe. (Actually, what he said was something along the lines of he couldn't believe it actuallly worked, but after he "fixed" it, it never worked properly after that).

    Anyway, another college had left to work somewhere else and was made redundant and tried to get a job back with us. He read his CV - where he tried to claim credit our network. He was not taken back...

  33. ICPurvis47 Bronze badge

    Sounded too good to be true

    When I had been working for a large electrical manufacturing company for a few years, I was faced with redundancy. I neatly sidestepped this by applying for (and getting) a position in a different section of the company (insider knowledge as my wife worked in that department), but just to be on the safe side, I fired off my CV to a couple of agencies. Some years down the line, I suddenly received an invitation to an interview with a large diesel engine manufacturing company, based on the fact that years previously I had obtained an MSc. in Diesel Engine technology. At the interview, I was informed that the position was for a Purchasing Standards Manager, responsible for ensuring that all turned parts used by the company, sourced from all over Europe, met and continued to meet the company's standards. The starting salary was ten percent lower than what I was already earning, and my present job had little or no responsibility attached to it. I respectfully declined the offer, and pointed out to the interviewer that they would be hard pressed to find a willing candidate at so low an offer. I saw some time later that they were then advertising the same vacancy at a much higher salary, but, knowing the level of responsibility involved, I was not tempted to reapply.

  34. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

    B###dy agencies!

    I had one gratuitously embellish my CV once. I responded to a motorsport job which sounded like it might fit me but was very short on details. I sent over my CV and was told I was a good fit. A couple of weeks later I sat in a small office at Williams F1 while I and the interviewers tried to work out what the hell I was doing there. I had most of what they wanted but not the one key must-have skill - DSPs. Never been near one then and still haven't.

  35. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    The inverse case

    @interview, paraphrased:

    Suit: "Well Mr Chairman, impressive resume. One show stopper is that we really need 10yrs experience designing in $tool"

    Me: "Thank you, sir. But consider... $tool has only been out for five years. I should know as I participated in its beta.

    Whatever punter tells you they have ten is..."

    Suit, skating nicely: "Excellent. This is why we need a man of your..."

    Me (internally): WTF should I work for these guys? Oh, wait, mortgage is coming due...

    1. Alien8n Silver badge

      Re: The inverse case

      Went for a job at a certain anti-virus place based in England. Role was for 3rd line support, they were offering what I'd expect to be offered if I'd literally just come out of uni, but expecting 5 years knowledge of not 1, but 3 different operating systems. Ironically I'm now working in their old headquarters (they moved across the road, our postcode still directs people to their new building).

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Me (internally): WTF should I work for these guys? Oh, wait, mortgage is coming due...

    My answer is that I have a wife and a mortgage - neither of which is cheap.....

  37. Valerion

    Applied as a dev, interviewed as a DBA

    A few years ago I applied for a job that I didn't really want but was paying a lot so thought I'd sound it out at least. I'm a c# dev, but it turns out they really wanted a DBA. I had a fair bit of SQL Server experience, but not much from the DBA side, but thought what the hell, I'll do their tech test.

    So I had a quick Google for DBA test questions, picked the first link, and boned up on my knowledge. I quickly realised I didn't really know enough to be a DBA, but I learned a bit.

    Anyway, I get to the test, and discover it was the exact same one I had been looking at online. They had literally just nicked it and presented it as their own. Therefore I knew all the answers and got a perfect score.

    They admitted they were actually quite surprised about how I did given I got higher scores than all the actual DBAs who applied, and I ended up on a phone interview with their lead DBA and somehow got through that as well.

    Then the manager left and the new one came in a couple of weeks later and gave me a call to say that really they wanted a c# guy.... I gave up at that point as I didn't really want the job anyway.

  38. J. Cook Silver badge

    I still get the odd email for level one gruntwork from the last agency I toyed around with some four years ago. I dropped like a hot rock when I found out that they were speaking with the boss I was trying to get away from, AND they were also pulling the same shenanigans mentioned by previous commenters. (at one point I went to their office to interview for a SQL admin position, and they asked me to lie through my teeth about my experience; I didn't, the guy thanked me for being honest, I apologized for wasting his time, and that was that.

  39. Chris King Silver badge

    I only used an agency once in my career...

    ...and they set me up for an interview with a company that had gone bankrupt a few days earlier.

    Turning up at the location, the empty building and chained-up gates kind of gave the game away.

  40. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    I used to live not far from Marlow and left my company car in to be serviced in a garage there. There was an agency in the High St that specialised in the sort of systems I looked after and as we were looking for a contractor I simply walked in off the street to talk to them about it. They were tickled pink - they'd never had a client walk in like that before. And yes, they were some of the good guys. They did very well for us.

    A few years later I was relocated about 200 miles north. About 2 weeks after settling in at my new desk I got a call from an agent offering me a good job in Marlow. Realistically, I suppose it wasn't two weeks too late; it would have had to have been several months earlier to dodge the relocation.

    Later in my new job we were again looking for a contractor. A selection of CVs dropped out of an envelope including one for a guy who'd worked form me a few years ago in London. I think he actually started in the business as a YTS but I knew he'd do. Sometimes the agencies do get thinks right. Sometimes.

  41. 's water music Silver badge

    not just agencies

    IME it is common that the Job Description from the employer is often a word salad of technology terms that bear little relation to the position being recruited for. It sometimes results from an HR drone copying and pasting from a perm JD for the same team that includes every skill that might conceivably come in useful for all the roles in that team and sometimes from the hiring manager doing something similar.

    When an agent proposes a contract role that includes something I have as well as something I don't, I make clear which is which and leave it up to the agent to decide. I make the same point at the beginning of the interview. Often all they really wanted was the skill I did have

    1. Giles C Bronze badge

      Re: not just agencies

      Once saw an advert for someone to work alongside me, it was so badly worded I wouldn’t have known what the job was to apply for it.

      A strongly worded email to the recruitment office followed.... they had tried to rewrite the profile sent to them... never ask a non techie to write an advert for a network engineer

  42. AbortRetryFail

    Proactive recuruiter

    I had one agent who was a lovely girl but was a bit, um, shall we say "proactive" in looking for new leads.

    I'd had a bit of a lull in work earlier in the year, so had filled the gap in my CV with my own company details, saying that the period of time had been spent on internal projects.

    Imagine my surprise when I was contacted through the Contact Us page of my company website, with the sender being this agent, saying that I had worked for my company in the past and was interested in doing so again, and did I have any work? I was especially surprised as I had not authorised this agent to contact my previous clients.

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