OtherInbox – 2008

2008 was a really bad year for this country, and that extended to my personal situation. There were not very many jobs because of the worst recession since the Great Depression, and I was out of work.

Not only was I out of work, but I had managed to derail my career pretty badly. 11 years earlier, I made the decision to go into management. 4 years after that, I went into QA.

See, the thing is that once you are in management, or you are in QA, or both, people stop believing that you can be software developer. Not only that, the fact that aren’t developing software means that you aren’t keeping up with the most popular development technologies, like programming languages, or platforms. Or even entire programming paradigms, like object-oriented programming, or functional programming.

So, in 2008, most development jobs fell into the following categories:

  1. Java and web development. I had an academic knowledge of Java but no practical experience.
  2. C++ and system development, either on Windows or Linux. Yeah.
  3. There was this new thing called IOS and the Mac App store. It at least was in a language I knew something about, Objective C, but had no practical experience there either.
  4. Ruby-on-Rails and web development. No experience there.
  5. Javascript and web development. Strike five.

All of those technologies were object-oriented, which I did not have a huge amount of experience in, either.

Another hurdle: what few development positions there were were in Silicon Valley or Seattle, for the most part. At least the ones I found that I might have a chance at.

I had not much experience with QA automation, either. There were some positions for that, but I was not qualified.

Software management positions were extremely rare, as most of those positions are filled from within, or by being a friend of somebody hiring one. And I had no friends in Austin tech. And, frankly, I had just failed as a QA manager.

And manual QA work basically disappeared during the Y2K scare. It’s the lowest-paying tier in the software world. Well, except for support.

I have previously mentioned that I had a friend in Austin who was very well connected in the tech community here. He did what he could to help me. I did get a phone screen from a startup called OtherInbox. Basically, the hiring manager did a lot of probing of skills, and I did a lot of trying to convince him that I was smart enough to learn on the job. I had not done web work, and I had not worked with Ruby at all, much less Ruby-on-Rails.

They got acquired by somebody or other in 2012. Either I would have been out of luck or I might have a little cash.

After a few days, I got an email reply:

It was nice talking to you also. At this time I don’t think there is a good fit for us because we’re looking for someone that is more hands on / less manager and because you don’t have direct experience with web-based applications. But I work with a bunch of other startups in town and will keep my eye open for any other opportunities!


Fortunately for me, I had been pursuing something since before I was fired at Lombardi. I’ll talk about that next time.



Google – 2008

Google opened an Austin office in 2007, and poached one of our people from Lombardi. After Lombardi laid me off, I answered a job listing for them on some website or another, and got this automated response:

Hi <my full formal name that nobody uses>
We just received your resume and would like to thank you for your interest
in working at Google.  This email confirms that your application has been
submitted for the following positions:

Software Engineer – Austin

Our staffing team will carefully assess your qualifications for the role(s)
you selected and others that may be a fit.  Should there be a suitable
match, we will be sure to get in touch with you.

If you’d like to get immediately involved and help form Google’s new
products and features, we encourage you to visit Google Labs.  This site
showcases a few of our favorite ideas that are not quite ready for prime
time!  We invite you to play with the prototypes and send your suggestions
directly to the Googlers who developed them.

Have fun and thanks again for applying to Google!

Google Staffing

To check out Google Labs, go to http://labs.google.com/

And, a few weeks later, much to my surprise, I actually got a response:

Hi <my full formal name that nobody uses>,

We received your resume for the Software Engineer – Austin position and would like to thank you for your interest in Google.  We carefully reviewed your background and experience, and though we do not have a position that is a strong match with your qualifications at this time, we will be keeping your resume active in our system.  We will continue to use our database to match your profile with new opportunities and will reach out to you if we find an opening for which you may be qualified.

Thanks again for your interest in Google’s careers and unique culture; we hope you will remain enthusiastic about our company.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at <recruiteremail>@google.com.

Kind Regards,
<Google recruiter name>
Google People Operations

Hey, at least they responded. I spent most of the time after Lombardi applying for stuff and not hearing back.

Google shut down the Austin office a little bit later, and my colleague from Lombardi had to relocate. They did eventually come back, but 2008 was a rough time, so…


Dell – 2008

Some company’s career websites are practically impenetrable. I applied for a position at Dell, and the first thing I had to do was fill out a profile. I got an attachment back in email, which was an HTML FILE. Inside was this lovely page in the body of the page:

Sir or Madam:

We have received the profile you submitted to our company. We thank you for your interest and would like to advise you that you may now be informed by email of job openings that match your profile and fields of interest. You can also consult our current job opportunities and easily apply online through our corporate Web site.

If you would like to review your candidate file, click here.

If your profile corresponds to our requirements, a member of our HR Department will contact you soon.

Again, we thank you for your interest in Dell.

Best regards,
Talent Acquisition


Replies to this message are undeliverable and will not reach the Talent Acquisition Department. Please do not reply.


Yep. That is a GIF of text. And it’s still online 11 years later! I also got a very similar page in the mail as an acknowledgement of applying to a job.

How do they expect quality people to put up with their crummy websites anyway?


Requirement: QA Manager – Sarasota Springs, NY – Permanent Position – 2008

Over the years, I have received hundreds of messages very similar to this one:


This is a Direct Client opening – QA ManagerSaratoga Springs, NYPermanent Position

10 Positions Open

Job Responsibilities:

  • Develop standards and processes for accepting and scheduling test requests.
  • Insure the proper development and use of testing methodologies.
  • Report test results in quantitative and qualitative forms, providing insight into developer quality as well as useful feedback to problem resolution.
  • Report current status on release testing efforts, including defect detection rate and completion progress.
  • Train QA Engineers in performing test automation and system performance tests.

Required Skills:

  • Quality Assurance management experience.
  • Experience building quality testing programs from inception through refinement stages.
  • Experience with automation tools.
  • Web and SQL application testing experience.
  • Experience with load testing of Web based applications.
  • Experience in general QA statistics reporting and program implementations such as Six Sigma and/or CMM.


  • Web application development experience.
  • Strong SQL script and test data development experience.
  • Retail application experience a plus.

Experience/Education/Training/or Equivalent Combination:

  • 3+ years of experience in a team development environment
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Technology Field or equivalent experience Compensation Base Salary, 4 weeks paid time off, Health Care/Dental Benefits/Flexible Spending Account, 401K, Stock Options

Please forward your resume along with the below requested details:

Full name:
Degree Major:
Total IT exp:
Total Quality Assurance management exp:
Total Quality testing programs exp:
Total Web and SQL application testing exp:
Total load testing of Web based applications exp:
Total Six Sigma and/or CMM exp:
Current Salary:
Expected Salary:
Are you US Citizen/GC?
Day Tel#:
Eve Tel#:
Cell #:

Best number to reach you anytime:
Current City / State

They are usually signed with names from overseas, although sometimes not. The few times I have followed up on one of these, the pay was about half of what I was used to. And most of them are not for permanent positions; they are for six months contracts in the most non-Silicon Valley places. Gary, IN. Bethlehem, PA. Bentonville, AR (OK, so that’s Wal-Mart).

There is no job security here. Their pay is terrible. And they expect you to be able to move around the country on a moment’s notice. They always talk about visa status.

They also don’t actually interview you. You express interest and fill out their little forms, and they call or email and ask you when you can start. Way to build a lasting team and product, people.

I suspect that there are a large number of immigrants doing this kind of work who just go all over the place for a few months a time, and that a lot of times, the recruiter hires the same people, likely family or friends. This is part of a hidden software sweatshop industry, and it is pretty awful. I had one employee who was a refugee from this system. Their previous company had one US citizen (the president) and forced their employees to work very long hours with bad quality, or he would see to it that their visa was revoked and they would be deported. They came to work for us, because we sponsored their H1B. Since he had no official days off, he pretended to be sick to interview for us.

Bottom line: If you see this kind of solicitation, send it to spam. You can do better.

Epic Systems – 2008

Getting email about jobs when you are unemployed gets your attention.


I am a recruiter at Epic Systems Corporation in Madison, WI.  I saw your resume on Monster.com and I think you would be a match for one of the many technical positions we are hiring including: software development, problem solver (technical services), electronic data interchange, and server systems/database administration.

Combine creativity, math and software development in a way that can save lives.  You’ll have the opportunity to collaborate with the brightest minds in the healthcare industry and make a difference, while enjoying a casual work environment (jeans, shorts, sandals) and great benefits.

Relocation to Madison, WI is required and covered.  Epic is sponsoring visas for our software development and electronic data interchange positions.

For more information and to apply online, visit www.epicsystems.com/jobs.

If you do not feel like this position is a match for you, please check out the variety of technical and non-technical openings at www.epicsystems.com/jobs.

If you have questions, visit our FAQ at www.epicsystems.com/jobs.

This recruiter has no name. The Subject: line said Letter, and the From: was Epic. The Reply-To: said jobs@epicsystems.com. So I didn’t hold out hope for a personal connection with the recruiter.

I am sure that Madison, WI, is a lovely town. I am also sure that I still don’t like winter or snow. Medical software wasn’t all that interesting, but then again, I just came from Business Process Management software, which was about as dull as beige paint in a bathroom with no windows, so maybe I shouldn’t be that picky. Notice that there are two spaces after periods in this email.

Maybe if they did not believe me that I was a developer 8 years after taking management jobs I could be a “problem solver”. I wonder if I could get that on my business card. And there aren’t that many positions who list “math” as a requirement. That could mean a lot of things. Does it require algebra? geometry? probability and statistics? differential equations? multi-variable calculus? differential geometry? I was (and still am) quite rusty on most of those; the most advanced math I have used in my professional life was trigonometry.

I don’t appear to have answered this one, which is not terribly surprising, given the location.

At least the company is still alive. Or at least its website is.

TippingPoint – 2008

Subject: I need a Python/Perl/Automated tools specialist for my client in Austin. Please read!

At the time, I did not know perl very well, nor python at all. I did have tcl, for what that was worth, and shell scripting. The body of the message continued:

Please review the job description below and let me know if you feel you would be a good fit. This position is more focused on the Python, Perl and automated skill sets.


Tipping Point


6 month Contract to Hire (Will go perm)


TippingPoint is looking for a toolsmith to round out the team developing our next-gen deep packet inspection engine. The successful candidate will be someone who enjoys rapidly developing tools to improve day-to-day effectiveness of the people around them. This includes not only developing tools as asked, but identifying opportunities to improve the overall development process.

Contract to hire scared me; I needed a steady paycheck.

Looked at the requirements. The big one that stuck out at me (and they had it bolded):

Expert in either Python or Perl, but must be proficient in both.

So, somebody would rather not hire somebody to learn these on the job.

They also wanted experience with Lua, which I don’t and never have had.

I wrote back:

My expertise is in tcl, so there would be a learning curve with the perl and python pieces. I don’t even know what Lua is. Otherwise, my technical skills are a decent fit.

My goal, however, is to be a manager. This is probably not a great fit at this point.
The recruiter did not give up. He then sent me a job listing for Lead QA Engineer. Standard template, but something bothered me about it, and I included it in my response:
– 10+ years of testing multi-tier Web-based systems would require people who worked on the original multi-tier Web-based system, since the current J2EE or .net infrastructures are only 10 years old. I only have a couple of years exposure, and not an individual contributor level. I have also not done a lot of individual contribution using browser automation tools.
I gave him my resume and salary requirements, but mentioned that I was much more interested in management. He came back with feedback from the client:

1)  We don’t need an existing QA manager, unless they are really willing to do hands-on work.

2)  We need someone with scripting skills:  Unix bash, Perl, Python, etc.

3)  We need someone that knows Linux pretty well.

4)  Ideally, we need someone that is a lead QA that could become a manager as we grow.

So much for my 5 years+ as a manager.

I did not hear from them again.


About Google+

Google+ is shutting down. I have posted every blog entry to Google Plus, and have gotten very few referrals/hits from it.

Given its security problems and its general failure as a social network, it needs to go. However, the science accounts I follow on it are fantastic, and are presented in a much more pleasing manner. So I will miss that.

I will continue to post this blog on WordPress, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and MeWe. Hopefully, if you are reading this on Google+, you can find another way to continue to do so after it is shut down.

Thanks for your support.