Amusing Thoughts On Job-Hunting
Imagine this. You apply for a job. Your application or resume goes to Human Resources, who matches the words you used and your apparent background with a list of keywords and requirements for the position. They use the standard tools of their trade, of course, without any deviations that might actually make them more effective at matching the right person with the right job opportunity.
Now, let's flesh this out a little. Let's say you've been working with Linux and the BSD operating systems (whether at home or in an employment situation) for several years. A recruiter contacts you about an opening for Linux-related skills like yours. The recruiter wants you to send your resume in Word (.doc) format by return e-mail. Sounds pretty normal, doesn't it?
But let's see why this should tell you that the recruiter is probably clueless about the position he is filling.
What operating systems does Word run on? Windows. Depending on the version of Word you have, it may be any of the several versions of Windows that have been produced and continue to be produced. But the recruiter is looking for Linux skills. What is a fast way to screen out the 80% who may have seen Linux, but are not actually used to using it? How about asking for the resume in a file format that is actually available for Linux.1
For example, I have my resume in .sxw, .odt, .kwd, and .abw formats in addition to .doc and .pdf. All of this is possible because I have OpenOffice.org (OOo), KOffice, and AbiWord installed on most of my computers. OOo Writer 1.x used the .sxw format, while the 2.x versions use .odt by default. KWord has its format, .kwd, but it also defaults to .odt. AbiWord's default is .abw, but it can export .odt as well. What is so special about .odt? It is the word processor version of the OpenDocument Formats (ODF). ODF is an international standard for office suite file formats. It is available for anyone to implement without any kind of licensing process or fees. It is widely implemented in Linux office suites (and also in a number of Windows products).
Best of all, the three suites mentioned above are free downloads. ODF is also available in Textmaker Viewer (read-only), StarOffice, and IBM Workplace. The next version of WordPerfect's suite is scheduled to have full support for ODF.
If you are a recruiter looking for Linux skills, do yourself a favor. Ask for the person's resume in OpenDocument Format (.odt) or PDF (.pdf). While most Linux office suites will import or export Word (.doc) files, you will miss one of the best discriminators between skilled people and posers.
Also, familiarize yourself with the field you're covering.
If you're looking for a Linux person, and you want database skills as well, SQL is the primary database query language. SQL Server is Microsoft's database server that uses a version of SQL, but which does not run on Linux. Oracle, IBM, Sybase, Ingres, PostgreSQL, and MySQL (among others) have database products which use versions of SQL and run on Linux (most of these are also available for Windows). So you should ask for Linux and database skills, or if you have a particular database server in mind, mention it.
If you're looking for both Linux and Windows skills, say so.
1: Yes, I know that Linux has word processors that can produce .doc files that are reasonable facsimiles of those produced by Word itself. That is not the point of this rant.