Dealing with Recruiters

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Sorry, I guess I need to vent. One of my biggest complaints as of late is so
called "professionalism". You know, you call up some support group and you're
trying to get things straightened out, frustrated from being on hold for 20-30
minutes navigating the voice mail call menus (there are apps to assist for that
so this is not just me!), trying to fix a problem that was basically caused
because company A fucked up and you're now fixing their problem. You utter
something like "Fuck you mean I need to wait for 4-6 weeks for this to be fixed!!!"
and they retort with something like "Sir, please! Be professional". You know what
asshole! Being professional is about actions not words. Your actions were
unprofessional thus causing me strife and frustrating resulting in me blowing
off steam and uttering the word "FUCK", which you've heard a million times before
and you know what is going on here. Look if you were fucking squeaky clean then,
and only then, you might have a point but you don't.

Recruiters are the worse - especially Indian recruiters fresh off the boat! Typical
things that I encounter are things like a recruiter will call me up, apparently
not be able to hear me well (or so they claim) then they hang up. Literally hang
up on me. Do they call me back? No. Do they call and leave a message? No. Can I
call them up? Sometimes. Other times I get a message saying "This Magic Jack
subscriber is not here" or it's a general number and I need to know their
extension. Well I don't know their extension BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T FUCKING BOTHER
TO LEAVE A DAMN MESSAGE! Or I get to their voice mail and their mailbox is full.

Think about this - a business who depends on being able to communicate with
the candidates and they do not have a way to take a fucking message, they do
not have the professional business courtesy to leave a fucking message nor
insure that they can be contacted. They've left a dead end trail. No, I'm not
the fucking unprofessional one - you are.

Then you have things like this Zip Recruiter link,
which sends you to here, which sends you here,
which now requires you to fill out forms. Other places require a login and
even a series of 4-10 pages to "fill out your profile" with an account that
hell I don't even want!

New Banking Partner

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Sorry I've been taking my time responding. Truth be told the reason is, although you might not believe me, I don't actually like complaining! I'd much rather have nothing to complain about. But my personality type is also that I will not sit idly by when I have problems I shouldn't have to and/or can see improvements that can be made.

I have been making a list and I've decided to keep it on my server so I can amend and update it as time goes by.

However, the following is something I'd like to have taken care of quickly (it was #4 on my list but that may shift around a bit when I finally publish):

  1. I've had a problem logging into this centresuite.com - a totally separate website to manage my one business credit card. My account had been locked. I called up and complained. I was told that somebody - perhaps you - was supposed to get back to me to resolve the issue. It's been almost 3 weeks now, no followup, no phone calls, no email, nothing!

Basically I've had not been able to log in to that site to pay my business visa. Please fix, contact me or whatever as my next invoice is about to be paid and my plan was to pay that off then.

See "Continued reading" for the real skinny!

Note: You do not want to become like my last bank Wells Fargo

Southbound Silicon Beach

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Looks like I'm moving to LA! Or more precisely Marina del Rey. I have a
new contract with ICANN (International Corporation for Assigned Names
and Numbers - the people who hand out internet IPs and DNS). That's
exciting! Silicon Beach as they say. And I'll be closer to San Diego,
my guitar playing and non-guitar playing friends out there. Perhaps
Randal and I can ride share to Mexico on occasion. Shout out to my
friends in Mexico! Hey Ed! You zombie chaser you! And Charles...

Marina del Rey seems to be a wonderful place - right by Venice Beach,
Santa Monica as well as other beach communities. And my new place looks
fantastic with ocean views...


Right by the marina:

My mother always said she envisioned me living by the beach. Well Mom,
this is as close as I've come so far! Miss you Mom! It's the Wild,
Wild West... Doing my best
!

Everybody take care and have a great summer!

Contractor Pay Rate vs Company Bill Rate

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If a recruiter is telling you he's only making like $10-$15/hr above the rate he's offering you then he's probably lying. The industry standard is anywhere from 20-75% markup. This means that for a rate of $90/hr the staffing firm is billing the client anywhere from $108/hr to $150/hr.</>

From http://peopleticker.com/bill-rate

Typical markups range from as low as 20% to 50% or more

From http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/234665

In general, niche markets (e.g., IT) produce higher markups than do traditional staffing markets (e.g., clerical). Veigele notes that occasionally her firm's markup can approach 75 percent for a computer company client.

From http://www.eremedia.com/fordyce/heres-how-to-set-your-contract-staffing-rates/

Once you have an hourly pay rate for the contractor, you can use an average multiplier to calculate the hourly bill rate for the company. The location of the contract assignment can affect what multiplier you use. If you are placing someone in New York the multiplier would be higher than Michigan. Multipliers usually range between 1.5 and 1.8, but they can go much higher for healthcare professionals and hard-to-fill positions.

Our tracking shows that the current average multiplier for technical and professional contract staffing throughout the United States is 1.60. For the past 10 years it has ranged from an average of 1.51 to 1.67. (Excluding healthcare contract placements.)

Note: The multiplier is defined as the quotient of the company bill rate divided by the employee pay rate. A simple example of a 1.5 multiplier would be a scenario where the bill rate is $60 per hour and the pay rate is $40 per hour. The common term for multiplier is also "mark-up."

One to watch out for

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Lalaine 7:17 AM
Sent from EXPLORE the BAY
Kindly delete my pic pls

Andrew DeFaria 7:19 AM

OK. Sorry. Didn't mean to "steal your soul"...

Lalaine 7:31 AM

The picture is not a good thing to display buz it looks like I was annoyed with you or with the event, but I was not. I was just caught off guard.

If the pic did not show that kind of expression, then I would not mind nor would I request that you delete it. I wish you had asked my permission first when posting this 'kind' of picture. The concern is, not only it got posted and it's in everyone's emails, which such picture can be misjudged.

Please also ensure to delete every copy of this in your mobile gallery or any postings you've made on other sites (if any...). I trust that you'd respect my wishes. Thank you and have a good day.

Andrew DeFaria 8:14 AM

But you were annoyed at me for taking that picture. That's why you looked that way.

Lalaine 8:31 AM

I was not annoyed. Pls reread my email, I was caught off guard. I did still talk with you even after - remember? Did you see any annoyance in that. You've joined us quite a few times after and I was still talking with you cordially. My attitude did not change. Besides, I did not know that you actually took it cuz I started walking away and did not expect that you would post it either - if you did take it. I assumed wrong. I'm not comfortable when men are taking a 'solo' pic of me and esp a stolen pic. Yeah, it made me so uncomfortable that's why I showed that expression... Hope it does not happen again.

Andrew DeFaria 8:47 AM

What I said was exactly and literally true. You were annoyed at me - for taking that picture. Not you were annoyed at me personally and would never speak to me again. You just didn't like that I took that picture. That's all I was saying. And it was why I still talked to you and hung out with you. I found you "exotic" and lovely which is why I took the picture. I thought you were a bit pouty in the picture but I thought it looked cute nonetheless so I posted it. Sorry it bothered you. I removed it and I can assure you I will take no more pictures of you.

Lalaine 9:51 AM

I was just really uncomfortable. I find it rather odd. See, I had bad experiences from a few men before who stalked me. A while back I had to file unwanted harassment even at work and it all started by men taking a stolen solo pic of me. I'm not saying ur gonna be like that, but I'm traumatized... We can all take pics in a group. Thanks for the compliments. God bless.

Andrew DeFaria 9:55 AM

Thanks for thinking of me as a stalker first before thinking of me as just a nice man. Made me day!


The bitch then proceeded to attempt to get me thrown out of the group. My opinion: Seems like she's has issues and should not be approached. Smells like a Fatal Attraction to me. Beware!

Dealing with recruiters

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I get a lot of calls from recruiters. Many are not that professional. Many don't have anything to offer me of worth. How do deal with such people? Here's my system. If you've been redirected here then you've failed the test.

What's the test? Well recruiters work with a script - so I have my own. My first line of defense is to direct them to email me the job requirements. I do this for a few reasons:


  1. To have a record of it

  2. To see if the recruiter is blacklisted

  3. To see if the recruiter is responsive enough to deal with simple instructions

You see I have my own spam filters that I've used for well over a decade now. I filter based on From address. Anybody who is not in my system gets a bounce back message telling the sender how to register with MAPS - my home grown spam filters. If the sender is on my blacklist it means that I have not had good results with this person and thus I will no longer do business with them.

Now most recruiters can't figure out this simple system that quite frankly my 85 year old aunt has no problem with! At first I thought that my bounce back message was being filtered into the recruiter's spam folder. But lately I believe that it's probably in their inbox but unread. If you've ever seen the typical Outlook user they have thousands of messages in their inbox and hundreds of them are unread. So this tells me that if I were to do business with this recruiter and I had say a problem with invoicing or receiving payment I might have my email in their inbox unread for days. I don't do business with people who are unresponsive and effectively are ignoring people. Sorry if you have a workload - I do too. And I manage to manage mine. Learn to manage your own.

If the recruiter figures it out and simply clicks and types in their name to register with MAPS the email will be delivered and I will promptly respond with my standard response asking them to quote me a rate. IFF the rate is acceptable I'll talk with the recruiter.

Passing the Bluetooth torch

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I have many problems with Bluetooth not working correctly. The problem is that when it does work it's great. But when it screws up it's extremely frustrating. This should not be as hard as it is!!!

Here's my biggest problem: I have a pair of LG HBS-730's that I use all the time. I also have Bluetooth in my 2013 Camaro. Finally I have a Galaxy Note 3 phone running Android. As I approach my car I'm often listening to something on my headset. I get in the car and start it up. Now I want to "pass the Bluetooth torch" from the headset to the car.

The problem is if I start up my car but I forget to disconnect the headset form Bluetooth then the car will connect to Bluetooth but only the Phone profile - not the Media profile. At this point I cannot get the car's Media profile to connect to the phone no matter what I try! If I hit the Media profile to connect it it flashes for a second then stops. I will not connect. I can turn off Bluetooth and turn it back on. Nada. Same problem. I can put the phone into airplane mode - same problem. I could turn off the radio... turn off the car. Nothing.

Then I discovered that when I turn off the car and open the door, at that precise moment the Bluetooth connection to my phone and the Phone profile disconnects. Great. So I'll just close the door, turn on the car and I should be set right? No! Instead, in order to get my phone to connect to the Bluetooth Media profile if I committed the sin of forgetting to power off my headset before the car attempts to connect I have to turn off the car, open the door at least briefly to have the Bluetooth drop then wait anywhere between 1-3 minutes before turning the car on! This is extremely frustrating! At that point, when I turn the car back on, if the radio displays the splash screen I know it's re-initialized the Bluetooth driver such that it will connect. UGH!

Now I'd love to say to Chevy, "Hey your Bluetooth implementation sucks. Fix it!" but I have little hope that the dealer's mechanic jocks really know anything about this nor will they be able to fix it. So I've tried to get around this by using Tasker and setting a profile for "Near Bluetooth" to quickly turn off my headset so that the car can connect. The problem is Near Bluetooth and the car itself both are polling some amount of seconds looking for Bluetooth devices. So if Tasker is gonna poll in 20 seconds from now but the car is in it's polling cycle and has only 10 seconds left then the car will attempt the connection, fail and be in the bad state described above. But it Tasker is in it's cycle and is going to poll in 10 seconds and the car's gonna poll in 20 seconds then it'll work.

I've also experimented with A2DP Volume, which seems to handle this a bit better but I still experience times when it messes up.

Has anybody experienced this and has come up with a more reliable workaround?

I only run Ubuntu @Home. So I need to have my Yubikey Neo work @Home. Follow my thought process here...

I go to your website and find https://www.yubico.com/faq/enable-u2f-linux/. I download it an extract it. There are absolutely no instructions about how to install this! There is a setup.py file however it doesn't run. Hey have you heard of this great invention called the shebang line? Google it. It'll flip you out!

Sticking "python" in front of that script I get this wonderful error message:

Earth:python setup.py
no previously-included directories found matching 'doc/.build'

Installed /tmp/yubikey-neo-manager-0.2.5/nose-1.3.4-py2.7.egg
usage: setup.py [global_opts] cmd1 [cmd1_opts] [cmd2 [cmd2_opts] ...]
   or: setup.py --help [cmd1 cmd2 ...]
   or: setup.py --help-commands
   or: setup.py cmd --help

error: no commands supplied
Gee, what am I to make of that? Should I explore the depths of this setup.py or... Wait, there's a README... Let's look:
=== Installation
The recommended way to install this software including dependencies is by using
the provided precompiled binaries for your platform. For Windows and OS X,
there are installers available for download
https://developers.yubico.com/yubikey-neo-manager/Releases/[here].
Wondering why a README file for a Linux installation would be talking about Windows and MAC at all!...
For Ubuntu we have a custom PPA with a package for it
https://launchpad.net/~yubico/+archive/ubuntu/stable[here].
OK, wait a sec! Didn't I just download what I needed to install this? What's this "and now go download this from here..." crap? Further on in this README file is talk about Windows installation and Mac OS/X crap but nothing else about Linux.

OK so what's this https://lanchpad.net/~yubico/+archive/ubuntu/stable thing? A ppa. Alright. So I set that up. Now what do I do?!? Dead end. Instructions lead to a dead end.

OK so back to that setup.py. I learn I can do python setup.py install. After doing so, what? What am I supposed to do?!?

Needless to say your Linux installation leave a hellofva lot to be desired!

Lately the trend is to combine traditional SCM position with your Unix/Linux administrator and Automation/Helpdesk work, call it "DevOps" and pay only one salary. They're asking for the world and paying for a cityblock. They are asking for a jack of all trades who is a master of no trade specifically and what they get are burnt out engineers trying to please everybody and failing miserably.

Witness a recent post to the job board DICE: DevOps Engineer to which I respond:

I suspect that this is an example of the kinds of assignments we would be shooting for however let me point out a thing or two.

First, this is supposedly W2 only. As such this supposedly would not be open to our business at all...

Secondly there's a statement of "This is an excellent opportunity to work on the latest technologies used by the big software/web companies while maintaining a great work/life balance" however anybody knowing all of this stuff clearly has no room on their calendar for any kind of work/life balance unless you define work as working at work and life balance as working at home!

Finally, in order to quote/unquote "qualify" for this assignment you'd need to know Linux, Windows, Agile Envs, Ruby and Java web apps, Perl, Python, Bash, Awk, PHP, Elastic Cloud (probably Electric Cloud but the recruiter got it wrong), ESXi, EC2, Rackspace Cloud, Hypervisor, KVM, Xen, VDI, Jenkins, Hudson (which is merely the old name for Jenkins), Cruise Control, Electric Commander (yes all of the CI web based platforms... 'cept BuildForge, of course...), Chef, Puppet, Cfengine (cause you can't know just one), Babushka, Knife, Mcollective, Func, Kickstart, PXE, MySQL, Oracle, MongDB, HBase, Cassandra, Hadoop, Junit, Phpunit (is that real?), Rspec, Cucumber, MQ, CDN, Varnish, MemcacheD, Redis, haproxy, Global Traffic Management, GeoDNS, Failable Architecture (I would venture to guess the non-failable architecture too), SDLC, Nagios, Gangila, CollectD, Graphite, Aptitude, dpkg, Yum and RPM (what no setup.exe or Install Shield?), Single Sign on, LDAP, Kerberos, OpenDirectory, PAM, NFS, NTP, APache, nginx, IPTables, Nessus, nmap, F5 BIG-IP, Viprion, REST, XML, JSON and if you can add it on - HBase. Oh and walk on water, turn that water into wine, in high heels, backwards and if it were not too much trouble - with a smile . On and exhibit all you're wonderful skills in a mere 6 months.

Is this for real? I would bet my entire year's salary that a person who knows all of this does not exist in America! Like my subject says: Basically: Looking for Jesus!

Can you say unrealistic? Sure you can.

W2 vs. C2C

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I'm a consultant and have been for quite some time now. In April of 2007 I finally incorporated and I have been successfully paying myself a paycheck ever since. There are many benefits to me to be in business including business write offs, the ability to put away more money in my IRA, etc. I have my own benefits and do not wish to give them up.

I have also worked on a W2 basis in the past. However I got to thinking that I have never ever been placed a second time by the same recruiting firm. In other words, I may be working through a consulting firm on a W2 basis. And at times I've been extended on the same contract. But when that assignment ends the consulting firm does not place me somewhere else. So whatever consulting firm I go to next I'll have to renew my benefits there. I probably will not be at the first consulting firm long enough to get vested in their 401(k) plan so I'll have to roll it over, etc. I also do not benefit from the benefits offered because I don't have the wife and kids (my child is an adult now) to utilize the benefits offered. It used to be that the consulting firm would pay you a reduced salary when you were between contracts, and that was their incentive to get you placed at the next assignment quickly, but they don't do that anymore. Instead you're out the door on your own to find your next assignment.

So what's the point of being somebody else's employee? Just so they can process payroll for me and take out taxes? You know Wells Fargo does that for me and it costs me less than $0.15/hour to do this. Yet W2 employees are offered rates that are between $20-$30/hr less than true independent consultant working on a 1099 or C2C basis. You can calculate what benefits cost and it's not that much in terms of $/hour - like $10/hr tops. And bare in mind that most of them offer pretty minimal benefits and the new rage is "W2 without benefits"! If you come across one of those ask them how many consultants they have on W2. If it's > 50 then the must offer benefits!

Also, when you employ a person as a business you must pay the other side of the payroll taxes. This is currently about 7.5% or on a $100K income that's $7,500 AKA $3.75/hr.

The usual arrangement for my contracts is that I am working for the client through a consulting firm. I bill the consulting firm and they bill the client. The consulting firm often has consultants that are on a W2 basis (IOW they are employed by the consulting firm), maybe some consultants on a 1099 basis (meaning they have their own business like a sole proprietorship) and perhaps some working on a C2C basis (same as 1099 except the consultant has formed a corporation).

I've found many recruiters state that the client insists that the consultant is paid on a W2 basis. However this makes no sense. I've often asked but have yet to hear a valid business reason for the client to insist that the consultant is paid on a W2 basis. In fact it's really none of their business how the consulting firm wishes to engage with the consultant be it on a W2, 1099 or C2C basis. As we can see above it's better and cheaper for the consulting firm to just pay the 1099 or C2C consultant directly. In such situations the consultant assumes all of the liabilities for paying his own taxes, benefits and insurance requirements. The consulting firm does not have to offer, pay for nor administer any benefits nor do they need to pay the 7.5% of the payroll taxes. Why is it only in the IT consulting field that this is an issue?

When I'm faced with a "the client wants W2 only" situation I ask them the following question: Have you ever hired a plumber/electrician/carpet cleaner do to work at your house? If so did you bother to call the phone number on his truck to insure that the person who showed up was being paid on a W2 basis? None of them have and if they are at all intelligent they get where I'm coming from. It's of no concern to them and likewise should be of no concern to the client in my situation.

So then why do client's insist on W2 only? I can't be sure (because recruiters never even think about this let alone have put forth a rational answer to the question "What is the business reason why the client insists on W2?") but I have some theories:

  • W2 contractors are more like the sheeple of employees out there. They aren't true consultants trying to run a successful business and perhaps build it up. Most likely they are or wish to be employees because they assume that that's more secure and they don't want to be bothered with running their own business. The best they could find was a consulting job and being on W2 is comfortable and familiar to them. Clients like such tame, go along with the crowd, workers.
  • Clients often want so called "contract to hire" where at the end of assignment an offer of permanent employment will be made. True consultants running their own businesses get paid a lot better than permanent employees or W2 employees. The "sticker shock" that results when clients attempt to convert their consultants to perms is often too much for the consultant to lose. Paying W2 employees less to start with lessons this sticker shock (and we already know the W2 consultant is more likely to want to be perm as they are already an employee of somebody else - they're not independent).
  • Many consulting firms offer consultants who need H1B visas. I believe in such situations the H1B visa holder needs to be employed on a permanent basis. Why it should be the concern of the client how the consulting firm employs their consultants is still beyond me however as it would seem to me that the consulting firm should be free to engage non H1B visa consultants on a C2C basis.
  • I think some clients believe that they lesson the likelihood that the consultant will be considered their employee when they are obviously an employee of another firm. There was a big brew ha ha back in the day with some Microsoft consultants being found to be Microsoft's employees and not consultants. Microsoft was forced to pay them a bunch of money because of this (see Vizcaino v. Microsoft).

However one should note from that same Wikipedia page:

The IRS definition of a common law employee rests on whom actually controls the work done by the leased employee. IRS Publication 15A explains "Under Common Law Rules anyone who performs services for you is generally your employee if you have the right to control what will be done and how it will be done..."

As such many if not most (or even all) IT consultants that I know are told not only what will be done but how it will be done. Of course, the client has the right to define the work to be done, but how to do it? Think of this as you would if you hired a lawyer. You would tell him what you would want to see happen, but you would not tell him how to do his job. Additionally truly independent workers often bring their own tools. Now tell me the last time you saw an independent IT consultant come on the job site and say "Here's my laptop - hook it up to your intranet. Oh and I'll be re-writing that code in a language of my own choosing"....