Professional unprofessionals



  • Some time ago the company I worked for was bought by the competition and everyone was fired. The company had been on the edge of collapse for over a year. I had been hired to fix the incredible mess that the systems and network had become. Let me tell you it was a huge mess. Servers randomly rebooted, event logs were full of alerts, virus scanners on servers had no exclusions (think SQL database scans), lan and wan traffic was constantly saturated by idiotic replication systems, and a lot (a lot) more. I spent a whole year fixing their mess and improving things where I could, always surrounded by incredibly idiotic colleagues, who were too insecure to leave (I stayed for the experience of fixing/creating everything from A to Z), had no insights whatsoever in any field and turned everything into a turf war, fighting over irrelevant scraps. And then finally we got bought over and everyone was fired.

    Do I have to tell you that I'm seriously suspicious of anything that can make me suspicious nowadays?

    So I've been looking for work lately, and all I get are e-mails from big firms letting me know that they have jobs that I might be interested in. However, the e-mails I receive are always full of spelling mistakes. Their websites are bland expensive gif-filled business cards, showing that they don't understand anything about how business is going to work in the 21st century. They talk about being 'people' companies while their message is incredibly impersonal. When I get them on the phone they sound as if they're bored out of their minds. When during interviews I ask questions like "Why should I work for you and not for someone else?", they look at me like I said something taboo and have a very hard time to answer me.

    I have a hard time respecting someone who calls himself a "manager" who can't even send a properly spelled e-mail (why don't they spell-check? I don't get it) and doesn't understand what his 'product' (me) wants. This happened several times already.

    Another thing that happens too is that they get very confused. When I was being interviewed at a consulting company last week, the account manager told me he was going to go get his boss for the final part of the interview. So he got up and went looking for him. After about a minute the boss walks in, and asks where the manager is. He leaves again and I notice them both passing in front of the door and missing each other several times, like one of those Tom & Jerry cartoons where you see them entering and exiting doors in an upbeat tempo while bumblebee music plays. They finally bump into each other and the interview can go on. The next day I get several e-mails from staff I had never heard about, proposing me the same jobs several times but with different descriptions, and also some talking about jobs that do not apply for me. I'm not a programmer, where does it say I do java? Why would I work for a company with so much confusion in it? Why would I want this stupidity in my life?

    How in the world am I supposed to deal with this unprofessionality? It seems that all the companies that have contacted me are submerged in it. What am I supposed to do? How do you find a genuinely professional company?

    (I'll note that where I live there's no shortage of jobs and I have a pretty good resume)



  • @jos said:

    Some time ago the company I worked for was bought by the competition and everyone was fired. The company had been on the edge of collapse for over a year. I had been hired to fix the incredible mess that the systems and network had become. Let me tell you it was a huge mess. Servers randomly rebooted, event logs were full of alerts, virus scanners on servers had no exclusions (think SQL database scans), lan and wan traffic was constantly saturated by idiotic replication systems, and a lot (a lot) more. I spent a whole year fixing their mess and improving things where I could, always surrounded by incredibly idiotic colleagues, who were too insecure to leave (I stayed for the experience of fixing/creating everything from A to Z), had no insights whatsoever in any field and turned everything into a turf war, fighting over irrelevant scraps. And then finally we got bought over?? and everyone was fired.

    I love it when people rant about speling grammer and punctuation then either spell words incorrectly (possibly) or use them incorrectly (seems more likely)

     

     



  • @spor79 said:

    I love it when people rant about speling grammer
    and punctuation then either spell words incorrectly (possibly) or use
    them incorrectly (seems more likely)

    There's a law that absolutely requires that this occur every time someone corrects someone else on these here interwebs.

    In all seriousness, though, keep looking. Some companies just suck...maybe I've gotten lucky because all my jobs are through my university's co-op education program?



  • Corrections aside.

    I think in any job you'll always find a handful or more of people who seem to lack any sense of professionalism. In my experience, the only way to stay happy is to strive to be professional in your own activities and to protect yourself from other peoples' failings affecting your performance and level of professionalism as best you can. 

    If it all gets to much and is dragging you down, it's time to move on and hope for a better role next time.

    I agree with you about "Why should I work for you.", that said I don't think it's a question to be asking in an interview simply because it will invariably alienate the interviewer.

    Good luck in you search anyway!



  •  @spor79 said:

    surrounded by incredibly idiotic colleagues, who were too insecure to leave (I stayed for the experience of fixing/creating everything from A to Z), had no insights whatsoever in any field and turned everything into a turf war, fighting over irrelevant scraps. And then finally we got bought over?? and everyone was fired.

    ----

    I love it when people rant about speling grammer and punctuation then either spell words incorrectly (possibly) or use them incorrectly (seems more likely)

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bought

    Umm... not everybody spells american :) . You could argue about the 'over' instead of 'out' from a grammatical perspective, but bought is just fine in this context.

    AM



  • The guy does make a few spelling/grammatical errors, but I think he's speaking about communication in his native tongue, which is (judging by the name) Dutch (it's a common name around these parts), and definitely not English.



  • TGV is right, sorry for the errors (the irony I know) but I'm not a native English speaker at all.

    Interesting thought about the validity of the 'why should I work for you' question. However I wonder if an interviewer that feels alienated by such a question would be qualified for me. I'm a pretty direct kind of person and having to spend 8-10 hours a day 'pretending' seems like the opposite of what I should do. I think I'll stick with the question but I'd love to hear it if you've got more input. It just seems improbable to me that an interviewer would dismiss a candidate for such a valid question (and I haven't been rejected over it yet anyway).



  •  Also, the errors I see when I read those mails are of the very serious kind. Tehy era off this kind, except there are often entire words that missing and sentenses dont make the sense would understand. That's the kind of mail I get - my inbox has plenty of them.



  • @jos said:

    How in the world am I supposed to deal with this unprofessionality? It seems that all the companies that have contacted me are submerged in it. What am I supposed to do? How do you find a genuinely professional company?

     You really have 2 options here.

    1) Deal with it. Take the job that you think you can make the most impact in and go with it. Choose one where you feel that management and at least a good proportion of the team are interested in changing for the good. Spend a month or two looking at the existing processes in place and actively take a part in improving them. Make sure you do it in a way that's tactful and be aware that what you think is best, may not be best for other people and may not work in this situation. Take care not to go in with all guns blazing.

    2) Keep searching. I don't know what you're experience level is, but there are companies out there that do operate in a professional manner. But be prepared to move. Also be prepared to actively search for the organisation that meets your match. Don't wait for them to contact you. The best organisations are hiring 365 days a year. They will hire if the right talent shows up at their door, but often they don't advertise. Remember that you're good enough for any organisation. Have the confidence to be able to say that. If you think Google, Apple, Microsoft or {insert name here} are the best Software Engineering firms out there, apply!

    My suggestion is to make sure you have done step 1) first. Chances are, you won't get it 100% right. There is no 100% right and this stuff is really hard to even get good, let alone perfefct. Once you've accomplished that, you're ready for step 2) where you can learn from people who really do know what they're doing. You'll be able to take what you lean't in step 1 and be able to better contribute to a larger more professional organisation.



  • @spor79 said:

    I love it when people rant about speling grammer and punctuation then either spell words incorrectly (possibly) or use them incorrectly (seems more likely)
     

    Me too :)

    Unless of course those misspellings and missing comma were on purpose? But then "punctuation" was spelt correctly. Oh I don't know any more...



  • @amoh said:

     @spor79 said:

    surrounded by incredibly idiotic colleagues, who were too insecure to leave (I stayed for the experience of fixing/creating everything from A to Z), had no insights whatsoever in any field and turned everything into a turf war, fighting over irrelevant scraps. And then finally we got bought over?? and everyone was fired.

    ----

    I love it when people rant about speling grammer and punctuation then either spell words incorrectly (possibly) or use them incorrectly (seems more likely)

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bought

    Umm... not everybody spells american :) . You could argue about the 'over' instead of 'out' from a grammatical perspective, but bought is just fine in this context.

    AM

     

    Thankfully, I don't speak American; it was the over/out I was quibbling.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p></o:p>Challenging American bastardisation of the English language just isn't sport.<o:p></o:p>

     



  • If you have such comparative enthusiasm, clarity of thought, professionalism and technical excellence, instead of working to make someone else rich, why don't you go into business yourself and show them how it's done properly?

    NB on re-reading my sentence before posting it sounds like I might be being snarky, but it's a genuine question.

    PS I love the bit about the Tom and Jerry cartoon.



  •  @DaEagle said:

    2) Keep searching. I don't know what you're experience level is, but
    there are companies out there that do operate in a professional manner.
    But be prepared to move. Also be prepared to actively search for the
    organisation that meets your match. Don't wait for them to contact you.
    The best organisations are hiring 365 days a year. They will hire if
    the right talent shows up at their door, but often they don't
    advertise. Remember that you're good enough for any organisation. Have
    the confidence to be able to say that. If you think Google, Apple,
    Microsoft or {insert name here} are the best Software Engineering firms
    out there, apply!

    My suggestion is to make sure you have done step 1) first. Chances are, you won't get it 100% right. There is no 100% right and this stuff is really hard to even get good, let alone perfefct. Once you've accomplished that, you're ready for step 2) where you can learn from people who really do know what they're doing. You'll be able to take what you lean't in step 1 and be able to better contribute to a larger more professional organisation.

    I've thought about what you said and I'm thinking you gave me some very very good advice. Thank you, it's really appreciated. I thought about what you said a little more and came to the conclusion that good companies probably don't place ads to recruit people. They'll go with word of mouth or with headhunters and recruiting firms who don't go around calling strangers and instead really try to 'find that gem'. The only alternative to being recruited like that would be to contact them directly indeed. I think I'm going to take a look at the companies I'd really like to work for instead of looking at ads.

     

    @Zagyg said:

    If you have such comparative enthusiasm, clarity of thought, professionalism and technical excellence, instead of working to make someone else rich, why don't you go into business yourself and show them how it's done properly?

    I have been thinking about this. I mean it. In fact it was the only answer I could come up with. It seems so "all or nothing" though. I'd have much more work, I'd be a lonely freelancer without a team. I don't have the funds to hire people and even if I did after a while I don't think I'd put them on the same projects as me. It would be an adventure that I feel would not be worth the bargain. I don't really see how it would solve my problem either: I'd be working on projects that could suddenly be cancelled because my contractor was being inadequate.

    Also, I'm not saying I'm all those things you say, I'm saying that I try to be those things actively, I work towards enthusiasm, clarity of thought, professionalism and technical excellence. I can't say that of the people I mentioned in the first post. It feels to me like these people have given up on those things

     Thanks for the good comments so far.


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