Job Search Observations

As some of you may know, last year I started searching for a new job. Due to the pandemic, it wasn’t the best time to start such a search, but ultimately I was able to find a new position that I’m really happy with.

While most of my experiences with potential employers were positive, some were distinctly negative. This post is going to outline some of those negative experiences (without being specific) in hopes that companies may learn from them.


My previous employer was PTC (which used to stand for Parametric Technology Corp, or something like that, I never could keep track of the branding stuff).

One recruiter contacted me and said my background was perfect for a PTC (Positive Train Control) Architect position he was hiring for a transit authority.

Also in this category would be recruiters that contacted me to be a collections agent, Brand Compliance Analyst, or Clinical operations Innovation Leader.

‘Software Engineer’

Many recruiters contacted me indicating that my background and experience was perfect for the ‘Software Engineer’ position they were looking to staff.

I would ask what kind of environment the position was for … language, application, platform, etc. I am skilled in many technologies including Java, PHP, Javascript, etc.,, but my speciality is RPG on IBM i (iSeries, System i, AS/400).

They would ultimately come back indicating they were looking for someone strong in Windows and .net, or COBOL, or some other technology that I have no experience in.

What the recruiters didn’t seem to understand is that the computer industry isn’t like most others … title doesn’t mean much. What matters is the programming language and, to somewhat less extent, operating system and framework.

Bad Job Postings

A lot of the job postings I saw were REALLY bad … with loads of typos and bad technology references.

Come on folks, at least proof read the job posting. Additionally, the hiring manager should approve the posting before it’s published.

For instance, I saw job ads that had requirements that included…

  • RPG!!, RPG!!!, and RPG/400.
  • Experience with ILC (Integrated Language Environment)
  • IMB Power Systems
  • 116 different technologies that included RPG, COBOL, Java, VisualBasic, OS400, JCL, Jira, Aldon, etc.
  • Listed no technologies at all … just general computer experience.


Some job postings I saw misrepresented things about the job they were hiring for.

One job ad I saw stands out.

The location was listed as ‘Northbrook, IL’. But qualified the location as “North of Northbrook”.

The job location was actually Pleasant Prairie, WI… which is about 32 miles north of Northbrook. The ad wasn’t technically wrong, but that’s a pretty big distance.

Another company I interviewed with indicated in the job ad the salary range they were offering. After I talked to them, and it was looking promising, they indicated that the maximum salary they were offering was about 2/3rds of the maximum they listed in the job ad.

Multiple interviews followed by crickets

One company I was talking to had me go through 3 interviews at various levels … I talked to a HR person, some technical people, and some management people.

After the three interviews, I waited … and waited… and waited.

After a week, I sent an email to the HR person asking if there had been any progress. I heard nothing back.

I waited another week and sent another email … and still got no response.

It really surprised me that I couldn’t even get a “Thank you for your time, but we’ve decided to go with another candidate” message.

If this is how they treat their candidates, I hate to think how they treat their employees.

Long Delays

Related to the last topic, I had a few companies take a REALLY long time to respond.

With one company, I had applied online and heard nothing (not unusual, see below). A few weeks later, I interviewed with and was offered a position with my new employer.

To avoid wasting anyone else’s time, I went to all the companies where I knew I had open applications, and withdrew those applications.

About 2 months later, I got an email from that company requesting an interview.

So, not only did they not respond to my application, even after I withdrew my application, they requested an interview.

Crickets in general

A LOT of the companies I sent applications in to just never responded at all … not even a “We’ve received your application an will contact you if your skills fit our needs”.

In some cases, when I sent my resume to specific people in my industry, and I KNOW they received it (either through email return receipt or viewing my profile on LinkedIn within hours), I didn’t hear anything.

The IBM i community isn’t that big … and I am somewhat well known … so it would be just basic professional courtesy to respond.

Bad Interview Questions

I had a few technical interviews where I was asked some really bad questions. Mostly where the answer they were looking for was wrong.

One interview stands out … I was asked what the primary use of a “Binding Directory” was. I said that it was a list of modules & service programs that the compiler should look for necessary procedures to successfully compile the program (or service program).

The answer they were looking for was that it made programs smaller. This is not the primary use of a binding directory (actually, that’s not even a secondary use).

Unreasonable Expectations

I have to admit, when I first started my job search, I had some unreasonable expectations.

When I talked to recruiters, I told them these expectations … but was never told that they were unreasonable.

I think that recruiters should be up front with candidates and tell them when they have expectations that aren’t reasonable.


It’s really important to be honest with job candidates about expectations, the job, and the company.

I hope this post is helpful to someone … I doubt my experience is all that different from many job seekers.

One thought on “Job Search Observations

  1. John Erim

    I appreciate the post and information. I have been looking for five months without success. I have experiences similar to the ones you’ve described. I receive a multitude of job postings which clearly don’t match my IT skill-set, including ones which require that I have an existing security clearance. Mostly, I’ve had no response from applications I’ve submitted in addition to no response back from follow-ups to those applications…including those via LinkedIn. Even more frustrating, a search firm (connected to me by an acquaintance of 20 years) which was able to get me an interview never followed up post-interview for any type of review/de-brief despite my emailing them immediately after completing the interview. They responded with “I know I owe you a phone call.” That was January 20th…and I haven’t heard a chirp.


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