back to article This developer created the fake programming language MOVA to catch out naughty recruiters, résumé padders

Alan Holden, the inventor of the MOVA programming language, doesn't mention it on his resume, which isn't entirely surprising since it never really existed. Holden, a California-based application developer, gave the language a name, which stands for Multiple Object Versionless Architecture, but not much else. There's no …

  1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
    Joke

    I can't believe it's not real!

    I can't believe that it's not a real language. I've got at least 10 years experience in it. You'll be telling me that my other main language - SHAKR - isn't real either!

    I'm definitely the best MOVA + SHAKR around.

    1. Shadow Systems Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: I can't believe it's not real!

      I saw what you did there. =-)p

      *Upends a pint of American "beer" over your head as pun-ishment*

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I can't believe it's not real!

      Scriptable Heuristic Active Kernel Restrictions: A mechanism for leveraging cloud workflows into tightly integrated security environments while minimising the overheads normally created by such a secure system.

      It's currently a hot item to put on one's resume, in high demand in government circles.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: I can't believe it's not real!

        Binary Integrated Network Generated Objects

      2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: I can't believe it's not real!

        I always preferred adding that I have an in-depth knowledge of the HTCPC/1.0 protocol including the modern security considerations.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I can't believe it's not real!

          Nice one. Maybe I should add "extensive experience implementing networks using RFC 1149" to my resume.

          1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

            Re: I can't believe it's not real!

            For some reason I always have problems with the carrier level of RFC 1149.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I can't believe it's not real!

              Try a different incentive. Most carriers are only influenced by money but the RFC 1149 guys are pretty indifferent to it in my experience.

              1. J. Cook Silver badge

                Re: I can't believe it's not real!

                I can add that substituting the carrier for a different substrate is NOT recommended.

                *goes back to pressure washing the goose poop off the servers*

          2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

            Re: I can't believe it's not real!

            I went to Bergen and spent some time in a pub with guys from the local hackspace. They had actual experience of RFC1149.

          3. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge
            Black Helicopters

            Re: I can't believe it's not real!

            Penzias and Wilson thought the microwave background radiation might be RFC1149 comms. They had to evict the carriers.

        2. Scott Wheeler

          Re: I can't believe it's not real!

          I've used that one for recruitment. It's a simple enough protocol that you can hand someone the RFC and set them a test that requires them to read and understand. It was a while back, but I seem to remember there was a bug in the standard so you had to be careful designing the exercise so as not to use that bit of the standard.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: I can't believe it's not real!

            "I seem to remember there was a bug in the standard so you had to be careful designing the exercise so as not to use that bit of the standard."

            It's not terribly robust in the presence of hawks/eagles

    3. Blackjack Silver badge

      Re: I can't believe it's not real!

      I am certified in HPS (Hangman Puzzle Solver), IALTY (I am lying to you) and NAPL (Not a programing language).

  2. ssharwood

    Reminds me of the Fiber Channel over Token Ring prank from back in the day ... https://blog.fosketts.net/2010/07/16/fibre-channel-token-ring-fcotr/

  3. HildyJ Silver badge
    Devil

    Great idea!

    Not for recruiters, for consultants and contractors.

    I can see plenty of body shops claiming experience in 'converting legacy MOVA code to Rust'.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Great idea!

      That's fine, but we're not at that stage yet. First we need to get a solid team of MOVAOps people in to streamline our MOVA pipelines. Then we'll be in a position to look at commercial MOVAaaS offerings so we can do serverless MOVA in the cloud.

    2. Mike 16 Silver badge

      Not for recruiters?

      Does that mean the recruiter who took me out to dinner and then suggested we move on to finding me a woman (I told him I wanted to get home to my girlfriend) also no longer exist?

      How about HR departments who insist on CVs being in Word .DOC form? Yeah, the ones recruiting Linux kernel and driver developers. (Made me wonder if they demanded CVs for Access DBAs in Latex)

      I've already mentioned keeping my IBM 1401 experience on my CV well past its "use by" date, just to weed out the interviewers who would take one look at my thinning grey hair and reject, after wasting both our time.

      1. William Towle
        Facepalm

        Re: Not for recruiters?

        > How about HR departments who insist on CVs being in Word .DOC form? Yeah, the ones recruiting Linux kernel and driver developers. (Made me wonder if they demanded CVs for Access DBAs in Latex)

        Nod (heh!)

        After a short period at University when my CV was an Irix Showcase document (as my final year project report had been) I switched to .tex, with recruiters getting told "it's not in Word; you can have a PDF or other intermediate format that Word can load". This tends to get the PDF accepted in general, but on one occasion I gave in and sent HTML and advised "take your pick".

        Despite my using a standard template and therefore getting the default layout etc, this year somebody noticed "a problem with the fonts" and indicated the line with the "LaTeX" glyph on it. I had to point out this was "as intended, it's a graphic of the package's logo!"

        (...I too get jobs related to technologies only mentioned in passing. As I replied to one such recruiter, "if I'm a good fit I assume there are related technologies I score well on; please feel free to call for a chat later today". I assume that's the point they read my CV, as I heard nothing further)

  4. sbt
    Devil

    Not so much Paper Towns as Paper Tools

    Generally had to take non-core skills I did have like VBA off the CV just to stop the recruiters who only knew keyword searches, and barely that. No, I do not want to join your Java team as a QA lead. Javascript is not Java.

    1. GioCiampa

      Re: Not so much Paper Towns as Paper Tools

      Ah yes, the joys of explaining that creating an export to migrate data from a soon-to-be-decommissioned system (essentially a giant set of CSV files) does not make me an expert in the recipient system...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What?

    But résumé padding is a long standing tradition.

    What next, reference and background checking?

    How dare they!

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: What?

      But résumé padding is a long standing tradition.

      Sadly job advert requirements get padded as well. All too often I see "must have 2N years experience in N year old language".

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: What?

        I'm tempted to add "experience in MOVA would be advantageous" and see what comes in

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Back in my contracting days...

    We (contractors) were fairly certain that some of the less reputable agencies* never read CVs and just loaded the content into some DB that was used to match skills against client requirements. They, of course, denied that this was the case.

    So, a trap was sent. Someone sent in a CV with a section titled "Skills I do not have", followed by a long list of skill that were in demand but which the contractor did not have. It was no surprise when calls starting coming in for gigs related to them. Conversation with the agent when down hill when they were asked if they had actually read the CV. They claimed they had, and were a bit put out when the section title was pointed out to them...

    * Believe it or not, there are some with integrity.

    1. Rosie Davies

      Re: Back in my contracting days...

      Way back in the early 90s when I was developing code for a software house that specialised in recruitment software text matching was certainly a thing. There were OCR and matching modules to do exactly that - scan a CV and let the machine do the CV assessment for you. I've long since left that area but I'd be surprised if it wasn't still being used, certainly it was on lots of people 'must have' list.

      Rosie

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Back in my contracting days...

        Thanks for confirming - we always suspected it was going on!

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Back in my contracting days...

          As an employer it strikes me as a way of eliminating recruiting outfits (set the trap, see who bites, ensure they're put on the "Never do busines with this outfit again" list - no need to even ENTER into arguments about it - and let everyone else know why you've done so)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Back in my contracting days...

      I've had a recruiter edit my CV to add Windows and SQL Server experience that I didn't have. He then sent me a job description that mentioned neither, and the potential employer the doctored CV.

      At the interview I couldn't understand why they kept on asking questions about those MS products, and I kept on answering them by saying I'd not used them. One of the two interviewers (a pretty obnoxious person at the best of times I suspect) got really nasty and started waving the CV at me. I grabbed it out of his hand, read the skills section and flung it down saying that was not my CV.

      After I left the interview I rang the recruiter and let rip. Then I checked LinkedIn for details of his bosses and emailed them details of what had happened. The CEO of the firm, which was quite a big player in contractor recruitment at the time, replied to say the recruiter had been dismissed.

  7. ColinPa Silver badge

    open mouth - put foot in it

    I remember interviewing someone for a job, and he was all "I did all this work, the others didnt do much... I expect you are looking for people like me".

    "No", I said, "We are looking for a team player with rounded skills etc",

    He replied " When I said I did all this work, I meant other people did the work under my guidance"

    He didn't get the job.

    1. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: open mouth - put foot in it

      Many years ago when I was designing hardware (and writing the diagnostics thereof) for a massively parallel video on demand system we were interviewing for test engineers (not least so I could concentrate on the in depth stuff).

      One candidate duly arrived and after the intros and initial questions we got to some real questions.

      The system was based on a 3U compact PCI rack with bespoke cards so one of the questions I asked was:

      "What do you know about compact PCI?"

      The response: "I have a Compaq PC at home".

      Absolutely true; one of the other guys had overheard this from just outside and was busting a gut attempting to keep the guffaws inside.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: open mouth - put foot in it

        My aunt has one.

    2. TRT Silver badge

      Re: open mouth - put foot in it

      I was on a board recruiting for a music technician - there's a certain level of IT literacy required for any of those kinds of jobs now... anyway, one fly-guy, dodgy geezer, when asked about their software experience, said that they had worked in the industry for over 5 years now and had loads of contacts and they could get hold of any industry standard software we wanted for free because they had loads of cracked copies of just about anything.

      "I see", said my colleague sitting next to me, making a note on their interview pad using the FAST pen they'd picked up at a conference on preventing software theft the previous day.

  8. Real Ale is Best
    Boffin

    Ahhh!

    You're good, but are you a Rockstar Developer?

  9. ForthIsNotDead
    Coat

    Wait till you read my book on...

    Simple Hypervisor Integration Technology...!

    1. NoKangaroosInAustria
      Coat

      Re: Wait till you read my book on...

      I can't wait to read it so I can tell everyone else that I am superior because they don't know Simple Hypervisor Integration Technology.

    2. RM Myers
      Thumb Up

      Re: Wait till you read my book on...

      I loved that book! It's what inspired me to write Borderline Useless Language Literacy in Simple Hypervisor Integration Technology.

  10. Juillen 1

    Been using that technique for years

    It was always a standard question on interviews; although not a direct programming language, it was a development paradigm.

    Interesting, I've had more than a few people over the years claim to know it (one, who came to the interview armed with a Microsoft MVP badge kept extolling its virtues way after the point I'd decided that this was definitely not the person to hire, and actually let the cat out of the bag that this wasn't a real thing).

    jAnother thing I used to use was placing an incongruous object in plain sight (such as a bright yellow wiffle bat that I kept around for the purpose).

    One of the things I've always wanted to pick out from the crowd is someone who'll identify something amiss, and communicate that effectively even in a highly stressful environment where they may have something to lose. Almost invariably, people saw the bat, some people fixated on it.

    What I wanted to see, was who would see the bat, and plainly ask why it was there. That's been at the root of a good many hires.

  11. Arty Effem

    Vetting Mechanisms?

    ""The information age has matured to the point where it's very difficult for people to represent themselves as something they're not," he said, pointing to sites like LinkedIn and GitHub as vetting mechanisms."

    So they're vetting people via LinkedIn; a site that could have been designed for the purpose of fooling recruiters.

  12. Jos V

    CV vetting

    If a CV made it through my first phase of vetting (the blatant lies, and nonsense) and not ended in the bin, I'd send the applicant a 10 question form, asking for a return by next day.

    I found that asking really simple questions (for hiring a field installation/support engineer) would weed out a lot of the chaff.

    "What is the difference between a hub, a switch, and a router?" If you'd get back a block of text copy-pasted from a Cisco website, it was one candidate fewer to invite to the office.

    When invited to the office, I'd give a cup of coffee (or tea), two PCs, and a clean 2950, and a subnet to configure written on the whiteboard. "Make them talk over the switch, on VLAN 100."

    Then walk out and give them half an hour.

    I don't want to sound "smart" here. But after a couple of dozen duds wasting my time, not knowing the basics of much more complex stuff we were doing, this approach really worked, and we ended up with an great "flying squad" of engineers that could work out things by themselves without much, if any, remote support needed.

  13. Death_Ninja

    Moronic job adverts

    I don't know about you but I am pretty fed up with adverts for jobs with utterly ridiculous skill requirements from major employers. (I understand that in a small company you might have a tiny handful of "technical people" trying to do everything but not from say a household name bank or insurance company)

    "Must have CCIE" - ok its a network job

    "have 5 years+ of Oracle" - you expect me to be able to deal with databases too....

    "Javascript coding experience desirable" - a developer too?

    "Prince2 methodology" - and a PM?

    Just ffs tell me what it is the person is expected to actually be able to do on a day to day basis!

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Moronic job adverts

      I came across a similar example the other day - a combination of advanced programming as well as PM skills - and they were offering £16/hour.

      It's also amusing when the recruiter clearly has so little understanding that they can't even copy the acronyms correctly. Another advert I saw recently was looking for a database expert with, presumably, "oualifications" in SOL and LINO to SOL.

      1. William Towle
        Facepalm

        Re: Moronic job adverts

        > It's also amusing when the recruiter clearly has so little understanding that they can't even copy the acronyms correctly. Another advert I saw recently was looking for a database expert with, presumably, "oualifications" in SOL and LINO to SOL.

        I'm seeing a lot of "C Developer" headlines that turn out to be "C .Net" past the "read more" bit of the description, and other apparent confusion between C/C++/C# and between various eras of Java. Database and data entry problems are also evident - markup that hasn't been removed; an errant "true" in summaries; another site had "null" in place of a job description. On one site specifying "software engineer" returns results including "civil engineer" where the description has "software" in it somewhere.

        In yet another a pay rate specified by the day but marked up as "per annum" made me think "can I choose the day I work? February 29th perhaps?"...

        1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Moronic job adverts

          > I'm seeing a lot of "C Developer" headlines that turn out to be "C .Net"

          What were A. and B. in the list?

        2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

          Re: Moronic job adverts

          "In yet another a pay rate specified by the day but marked up as "per annum" made me think "can I choose the day I work? February 29th perhaps?"... "

          You never know, it could have been a Government special advisor day rate so probably correct...

  14. A-nonCoward
    Boffin

    Applicants don't lie?

    A dear friend's experience, with an international-oriented outfit that tried to take lying rather seriously. They actually ran some kind of specific psy test on advanced candidates. My friend "passed," to the interviewers surprise. Said surprise led to chatting, with the interviewing admitting, much to my friend's amazement, that most candidates, including those that would end up being hired anyway, did not pass. And it was the kind of place where you would think that lying mattered... Seemingly, if they actually cut out those that did not pass this test, they would be very short on incoming bags of water.

    "Asked whether there's still a need for such subterfuge, Holden was skeptical. "The information age has matured to the point where it's very difficult for people to represent themselves as something they're not," he said, pointing to sites like LinkedIn and GitHub as vetting mechanisms."

    Hmm, not really... Just proves you can game LinkeIn and GitHub (which is not a useless skill. so much of business is all about gaming the system. a "playa" might come up quite useful in today's world...)

  15. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    I've used MOVA

    ...and think anyone using Intel 8xxx assembler would have too. Now let me see...

    MOV A,B

    MOV A,C

    MOV A,D

    MOV A,E

    MOV A,H

    MOV A,L

    MOV A,M

    MOV A,A

  16. Steven Guenther

    Hunchback

    I took the Quasimodo boot camp at Notre Dame.

  17. Steven Guenther

    If we all submit questions about MOVA to Stack Overflow it could become rated. Then it could take on a life of its own.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      this sounds like a fun lunchtime game....

  18. gal5

    Of course the PFY knows about it!

    BOFH wouldn't hire anyone not verse with MOVA.

    "Mova this rack to that corner", "Mova that hard disk to that PC", "Mova your a$$ over here!"

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