Deep dark reason

It all started as a discussion on Mastodon. And it all was provoked by two blog posts written by Simone Silvestroni and Matthew Graybosch. Now it is time for me to add a few words.

The main theme: job interviews and the current state of the labour market. With some additional words about peronal brand but not too many, because it makes me furious.

And the icing on the cake: personal branding.

I’m on the market now, looking for another job where I can earn money, maybe even learn and grow. I’d like to have a job where I can learn something new and do something I haven’t done before. It’s almost impossible. Recruiters are looking for people who are already doing the same job they are advertising. Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe not. I can understand if someone is looking for a structural engineer and I am an electrical engineer. It takes about 5 years of study and at least another 5 years of work to get a decent level of knowledge and skills to design a high-rise office building. It does.

But when someone is looking for a project manager and they get the CV and then they reply with the comment “we’re looking for someone with predispositions to lead people and projects and I’ve been rejected”, then I’m a bit suspicious. It just so happens that I’ve been managing people or projects, or sometimes both, for over a decade. Have you even read my CV? Because I don’t want to believe that the recruiter can’t understand what’s written.

But its just a beginning.

I’ve been lucky enough to get some insight into how to prepare your CV to impress recruiters. It seems like it’s a very important thing to impress someone at the moment. It’s so important that people are lying just to get to the interview stage. It used to be different. I’ve done some recruitment, well, I’ve hired over twenty people, interviewed hundreds and seen thousands of CVs. And I really don’t understand why recruiters only have 10 seconds to take a quick snapshot of my application. I’ve read every CV I’ve seen and HR has sent me almost every application they’ve received. They understood that it’s my job to choose the best people for my team and they were there to support me, not bail me out. That’s changed now, but ok, let’s move on. I’ll try to deal with it.

Once you’ve been hired, it’s time for the real work.

And things get even funnier. I’m pretty good at managing things, so I feel comfortable commenting on the current state of management and leadership in various companies and industries. Based on my own observations and those of a few people very close to me, with whom I often discuss the current state of… everything, I can make a bold statement here.

We have a big problem.

The level of management skills is an absolute nightmare and I hear it from every place I go and every person I meet. I’m not even going to talk about leadership and the difference between them. No, not now, maybe later.

In general, I have one main observation: a lot of people think about managing people as an opportunity to build and use power, and they are very wrong. It’s about serving people and making their work possible.

But it doesn’t mean organising games. Delivering pizzas. Or even moving tasks around on the kanban board. It means taking responsibility and making decisions. It means helping people grow and solving some problems for them, like the ones Matthew mentioned here.

But ranting about managers isn’t my favourite part! Now it’s time to talk about a personal brand.

I can’t believe that anyone has ever invented something as ridiculous as a personal brand. I mean, really? Did anyone really think we were brands? One of the problems I have when looking for a new job is my lack of a personal brand. I have a LinkedIn profile (which I hate) and a personal website (which I love, but I’m alone in that feeling) and even business websites (which is nice too). But I’m not on social media. Well, I have a good reason for that, it’s hard to be active in a place where I don’t even exist, like Instagram or Facebook. LinkedIn should be illegal and I refuse to publish anything on it. I only have a profile because some companies refuse to advertise their vacancies in some normal places. No, I don’t mean job boards. I mean company websites. Or just websites. What was wrong with company websites? Anyone could have looked up interesting companies and applied directly. Maybe it wasn’t a good system, but it was definitely better.

Now I have to build my personal brand, take a cringe photo for LinkedIn, wear a shirt and keep smiling. I refuse to wear a shirt almost as much as I refuse to be published on this portal from hell. And my facial muscles are incapable of making a grimace any bigger than the one you can see on this website. It wasn’t easy, but I managed. It took more than a hundred photos and I’m not exaggerating.

Whatever I think or write doesn’t change the fact that we are where we are. And the current job market is full of unnecessary jobs being done by under-qualified people, and every one of them has an opinion about what’s wrong with people who are in any way different from them. I’ve been told that there’s no point denying reality, and I agree. I do. There’s no point in denying it, but there’s a lot of sense in raising your voice and speaking openly about what’s wrong. Someone has to. If we all keep quiet, nothing will ever change. Sorry, but that is the truth. There are a lot of people who are trying to convince everyone around them that it’s better and safer to keep quiet, to do their job and be part of this madness, but it’s not. Maybe they like it that way, maybe they are trying to convince themselves that they are not so miserable. The reason doesn’t matter. It’s not normal to try to sell everything, including our names and faces, as a personal brand, it’s not normal to be categorized without any possibility of changing anything in our lives because someone has decided we have to do this and not that.

It can easily be concluded that I am frustrated because I’m struggling with finding a job. And I am. But it doesn’t change the point here: something is really wrong and something has to change. I know how to take care of myself and I’ll do. But there’s a lot of folks out there who are shy, underestimated or extremely introverted, who are struggling also. And it’s totally unfair that the best things are only for those who are vocal, loud even, who have personal brands and weird photos in some hellish social networks.

Concluding that I’m frustrated is a fair thing, so do it. But don’t be wrong. The reason I’m frustrated is not because I don’t have a job, it’s because a lot of people expect me to be part of a game I have no desire to be part of. And the deep, dark reason I’m frustrated is that I don’t want the game to exist at all.

I’m always happy to discuss things with anyone, so let me know what you think. Send me an email. Add me to the Fediverse. Or better yet, write a blog post and send me a link. I’ll read it and add you to my RSS reader.