EppsNet Archive: Unemployment

The Country is Turning Into One Big Junior Prom

9 Dec 2017 /

That’s interesting. Have any other men tried to kiss her? Or is that the whole list? Why does anyone need to know about this?

I’ve tried to kiss women. I hope Al Franken is saving a place for us in the unemployment line.

There seem to be an awful lot of apparently adult women who should not be allowed to leave home without a chaperone . . .

Where Are the Additional Women in Technology Supposed to Come From?

29 Jul 2017 /

The jobs report for May contained discouraging news: continuing low labor-force participation, now below 63 percent overall. About 20 million men between the prime working ages of 20 and 65 had no paid work in 2015, and seven million men have stopped looking altogether.

In the meantime, the jobs most in demand — like nursing and nurse assistants, home health care aides, occupational therapists or physical therapists — sit open. The health care sector had the largest gap between vacancies and hires of any sector in April, for example.

We hear a lot about a shortage of women in technology jobs but we don’t hear about a shortage of men in traditionally female jobs.

It’s really two sides of the same problem. Unless a lot of women suddenly appear out of nowhere, the only way to get more women into professions where they’re currently under-represented — like technology — is to get them out of professions like health care, which they seem to prefer but in which they are significantly over-represented.

In theory, nursing should appeal to men because the pay is good and it’s seen as a profession with a defined skill set.

But the NYT cites a study from UMass Amherst, showing that not only will most unemployed men resist taking a “feminine” job, but that those men who might have been willing to consider it encountered resistance from their wives, who urged them to keep looking.

So much for diversity . . .

Speaking of which, here is a screenshot of the current board of directors of a nursing organization that I used to work with.


Nursing is a white female dominated profession, much more so than technology is a white male dominated profession, but I worked with this organization for about five years and never heard word one about a lack of diversity in nursing.

It’s hard to imagine an organization in 2017 having a 15-member all-white, all-male board of directors without drawing a lot of negative attention but all-white, all-female is okay.

I see a tremendous number of proposals for “empowering” women to get into technical professions that they may just not be interested in, but if the number of women in technology is considered problematic, then the number of women in nursing (and other over-represented professions) has to be considered equally problematic.

Where else are the additional women in technology supposed to come from?

Thus spoke The Programmer.

The Honest Politician

3 Jan 2013 /

“You want a simple plan to reduce the national unemployment rate? GET A JOB!”

Tax Rate Hike and Increased Unemployment Payments on the Same Day

2 Jan 2013 /

According to this White House press release, the federal government is ringing in the new year by simultaneously raising tax rates (i.e., penalizing people for working) and extending payments to two million people who do not work (i.e., rewarding people for playing Xbox). Has this ever happened before at any time in the history of the U.S. (or anywhere else in the world for that matter)?

“Creating Jobs” and Other Fallacies

3 Oct 2012 /
Thomas Jefferson

Almost everything appertaining to the circumstances of a nation, has been absorbed and confounded under the general and mysterious word government. Though it avoids taking to its account the errors it commits, and the mischiefs it occasions, it fails not to arrogate to itself whatever has the appearance of prosperity. It robs industry of its honours, by pedantically making itself the cause of its effects; and purloins from the general character of man, the merits that appertain to him as a social being.

— Thomas Paine, Rights of Man (1792)

My fellow Americans —

I’m hearing in the pre-debate analysis that voters are looking for the candidate who’ll help them have a better life.

Speaking as someone who was there at the beginning, I can tell you that helping you have a better life was not America’s original value proposition. Everyone was welcome to come here and try to make a better life for himself and his family — unless he was from Africa or Asia, of course — but there wasn’t what we now call a “safety net.”

If you tried to make it and failed — and a lot of people did — you had to go back where you came from. No guarantees! You tried, you failed, let the next man have a chance.

I still believe that the majority of Americans want a government that gives them the freedom to succeed or fail or their own merits, and not a government that “helps them have a better life.” I don’t believe it’s a large majority, but I still believe it’s a majority.

Politicians over the last 200 years or so have doen a masterful job of convicing Americans that all of the good things in life come from government. As my friend Tom Paine says in the quote above: government takes the credit for everything and the blame for nothing.

If business is booming during my term of office, the credit goes to me and my policies.

If business is bad, it’s because my policies haven’t had a chance to work yet. Or because my opponents obstructed me. Or because the last guy in the job screwed things up so bad that nobody can fix them.

Anyone who thinks about this notion that government is making good things happen sees what a fallacy it is . . .

If President Obama could “create jobs,” give me one good reason why he hasn’t done it. Do you think he wants to run on a record of increased unemployment, increased poverty, increased debt, plummeting net worth . . .?

Please don’t tell me that Republicans in Congress are preventing him from doing it. How would that work? I want to hire a man and a Repubican congressman shows up and stops me from doing it?!


If politicians could “create” jobs, they’d be doing it all the time.

Thomas Jefferson

How to Lose Your Job : A Fictional Memoir (Part I)

4 Sep 2012 /

Because of the huge productivity differences between good programmers and bad programmers — 10x? 28x? More? — my biggest leverage point as a development manager is my ability to hire people.

At my last job, we had an HR Director named Lucy. In every one of our annual Employee Satisfaction Surveys, Lucy’s group had the lowest scores in the entire organization. Nobody liked or respected her.

She was, however, close with the CEO, which made that irrelevant.


Lucy’s friend Kathy Slauson runs the Slauson and Slauson recruiting agency, so that’s where we got our programming candidates, who were mostly terrible.

The Slauson agency doesn’t specialize in IT candidates, although they do have a “technical recruiter,” who unfortunately knows nothing about technology.

They don’t bring candidates in for in-person interviews. They take whatever candidates give them in the form of a résumé and they pass the résumés along to clients like me in hopes of being paid a fee.

  1. Candidates send résumés to Slauson.
  2. Slauson sends them to me.

What value does this add over candidates sending résumés directly to me? None.

Slauson doesn’t qualify candidates. They don’t map abilities and skills against the requirements of a position. They add no value to the process, and I had to screen all the résumés myself, the same as if I’d just bought them from a job board.

When I saw that Slauson was just going to throw résumés at me, I asked them to please add a short write-up, indicating why they thought each candidate was a good fit for the job.

What I got was write-ups like “Candidate is good with Technology X,” where Technology X is something I indicated as a job requirement.

When I asked “How did you assess that the candidate is good with Technology X?” they would tell me “We asked him.” Or “It’s on his résumé.”

In other words, “Candidate is good with Technology X” meant “Candidate states that he’s good with Technology X. Unverified.”


(If you’re wondering at this point why an HR department would funnel good money to a recruiting agency for doing nothing, go back and reread the part where I mention that Kathy Slauson is a personal friend of Lucy the HR Director.)

Money to burn

I said earlier that Slauson has a “technical recruiter.” She was in the office one afternoon and handed me a résumé.

“He doesn’t look like an ASP.NET programmer,” I said after looking it over, “which is what we’re looking for. For example, I don’t see any C# experience.”

“It’s right here,” she said, pointing at the résumé where it said this: C++.

If you’re not a programmer, you might say, well, easy mistake to make. C# (pronounced C-sharp, like a musical note) and C++ (pronounced C-plus-plus) are both programming languages containing the letter C followed by one or more symbols.

But whereas C# is the primary programming language for web development on the Microsoft platform, C++ is a lower-level language used for system development. Nobody does web development in C++.

Not surprisingly, a high percentage of Slauson’s candidates bit the dust in the initial phone screen with me, because the phone screen was their first encounter with someone whose programming knowledge was non-zero and could possibly tell a good programmer from a bad programmer.

According to Kathy Slauson, that was totally unacceptable. She thought that because she had an in with the HR department, we should be hiring every candidate she sent over, qualified or not, and paying her for the privilege, which is the way it worked before I arrived on the scene and screwed up the process.

Money and whiskey

She was always very polite to me in person, assuring me that she was doing her best to improve the quality of candidates, but behind the scenes, she was telling Lucy the HR Director that I shouldn’t be allowed to interview candidates anymore.

(That information was never supposed to reach me but it did.)

Think about that: we had a recruiter telling our HR Director that a manager shouldn’t be allowed to interview their candidates. (The fact that I no longer work there tells you which side of the issue Lucy came down on.)

Kathy also told Lucy that the candidates I was rejecting were perfectly good candidates because after I turned them down, they were being hired at other companies.

Imagine that!

Of course they were being hired at other companies. They were being hired by companies with lower hiring standards for programmers. The best thing that could happen with some of those candidates is for them to be hired by competing organizations.

Do you think Amazon or Google worry that candidates they turn down get hired somewhere else?

(No, I wasn’t trying to match hiring standards with Amazon or Google. I’m just saying that it wasn’t my goal to be the employer of last resort, or to be able to say, “If we don’t hire ’em, nobody’s gonna hire ’em!”)

Everyone I hired was an order of magnitude improvement over the people they replaced.

I like to work with talented people. I’m not trying to get rich and I don’t have a career path. I’m trying to learn and get better and contribute to my profession.

If you give me a job where I’m responsible for hiring people, I’m going to hire the best people available, and decline to be force-fed unqualified candidates by a friend of the HR Director.

To be continued . . .

Twitter: 2010-07-08

8 Jul 2010 /
  • RT @Aimee_B_Loved: Just because I'm unemployed doesn't mean I'm not busy. These mines aren't gonna sweep themselves. #

It’s a Big Day in America

6 Mar 2010 /

If you’re not seeing the video here, you can go to YouTube and hear Harry Reid say, “Today is a big day in America. Only 36,000 people lost their jobs today, which is really good.”

A Good Hire

19 Dec 2009 /

As my son and I were driving past South Coast Plaza, we saw a woman holding a cardboard sign that read “UNEMPLOYED AND DESTITUTE. Any Help is Appreciated.”

“She’s got a good vocabulary,” I said to the boy. “Someone should hire her.”

Silicon Valley Jobless Quit Tech

31 Jul 2009 /
Silicon Valley Unemployment Chart

SUNNYVALE, Calif. — Jobless workers in Silicon Valley are giving up on the region’s dominant technology industry and trying to switch to other fields, as the area’s unemployment rate spikes above the national and state average.

Silicon Valley’s unemployment rate — which was below California’s average and largely tracked the national average last year — has soared, surpassing the state average in May. By June, the area’s unadjusted unemployment rate was 11.8%, worse than California’s 11.6% and the national rate of 9.7%, according to the latest figures from California’s Employment Development Department.

Many of the jobless techies are targeting new gigs in the clean-energy or health-care industries . . . Some are shifting even further afield, looking for jobs in teaching or financial consulting. People are leaving tech as “more tech companies are offshoring and some are shrinking, plus people are burned out and tired from having been there and done that.”

Could Not Be More Serious

9 Mar 2009 /
Nancy Pelosi and Brad Pitt

The situation could not be more serious. It is inexcusable and irresponsible for any of us to get bogged down in distraction, delay or politics as usual while millions of Americans are being put out of work.


— Nancy Pelosi

What Am I Thankful For?

22 Nov 2007 /

I’m thankful that I have a job! A lot of people don’t!

Want ads

I lost my last job a few months ago, along with 9,499 other people in the Orange County real estate/finance industry over the past year. We all got to compete against each other to find another one.

The Orange County Register ran a story yesterday on how some of these folks are doing . . .

Delia DeYulia, a grandmother, was recently forced to take her first retail job.

For the holiday shopping season, DeYulia, 53, is working part-time at Kohl’s, placing clothes on racks and cleaning dressing rooms. She resorted to taking the temporary work after not finding other employment. After 15 years with Fremont Investment and Loan, she lost her mortgage job in Anaheim Hills in March.

“I’m used to sitting in an office,” said DeYulia, who audited loans at Fremont, a firm from which she expected to retire. “Now, I’m on my feet all day. I’m carrying a lot of stuff and my body has to get used to it. It’s hard work for a minimum-wage job.”

The extra money will help pay the mortgage and car payment. Her husband can’t work because he’s disabled.

“I had always felt comfortable financially,” said the grandmother of two. “Now, I’m worried about the future.”


[Robert] Harrington, 31, of Tustin, was let go in September from Bankers Mortgage in Santa Ana. As its loan originator, he made about $75,000 last year. More than half of that was from commissions.

That’s why he thinks his best bet is to find a commission-based job at a luxury retailer or a store that sells big-ticket items.

So he has zeroed in on several shops at South Coast Plaza. He recently applied to Movado, Bloomingdale’s, Sony Style, Porsche Design and Allen Edmonds.

“I hope one of them calls me back this week,” he said.

He needs to help supplement the income from his wife, who is a waitress. They have a three-year-old son.


Corinna Vickers, 35, was let go a year ago from Secured Funding in Costa Mesa. Then two months ago, her husband Shad Vickers, 35, lost his job at Lending Tree in Irvine.

Combined, they had been making $200,000 a year.

Now they’re both unemployed and have been hunting for work to pay their bills and help them save for retirement and college tuitions for their four daughters. They have not had any luck and now the Vickers are both willing to take on holiday retail work.

Man and woman looking at job postings

Rhonda Struman of Laguna Niguel is not waiting around to get hired full time. Last month, she began working as a part-time salesperson at Nordstrom at The Shops at Mission Viejo. It pays $8 an hour. Before she was laid off in August from her underwriting position at Paul Financial in Irvine, she was making more than four times that hourly rate, or about $70,000 a year.

Her husband also got laid off from the mortgage industry. He was pulling in about $130,000 a year. Now, he’s working for $11 an hour at a Costco in San Juan Capistrano.

Because of their huge pay cuts, they’re having a hard time paying their $3,400 monthly mortgage. They sold off their boat to get rid of the monthly payments. They will soon sell their furniture.

“I cry all the time and I’m stressed all the time,” Rhonda Struman said.

By February, she and her husband will leave Orange County for Colorado to look for mortgage jobs or work that pays better than their current employers. They’ll rent out their Laguna Niguel house to help pay the mortgage and then rent in Colorado.

“We have no choice,” said Struman, who’s in her 40s. “There’s too much competition in Orange County. “There are too many people out of jobs” who are looking for new work.

Whew, tell me about it! I was this close to taking a job parking cars for $12 an hour . . .

Related Links

Nor does the immediate future look bright for the local real estate market. Here are some of this week’s headlines from the OC Register real estate blog:

Job Posting

19 Oct 2007 /

My days of unemployment may be over:

Cross-dressing bandit sought

No, wait . . . I just read the rest of the story and it turns out not to be a job advertisement . . .

Be Prepared, but Don’t Overdo It

4 Oct 2007 /

Since I’m currently unemployed, my friend GL asked me to write something about the job interview process. The problem is, there’s already so much written about the job interview process, it’s hard to think of anything to add.

Which brings me to my point: It’s easy to overprepare for interviews.

Best Answers to the 201 Most Frequently Asked Interview Questions

For example, we have a book here that my wife bought called Best Answers to the 201 Most Frequently Asked Interview Questions.

Two problems:

  1. Who has time to prepare answers for 201 interview questions?
  2. What if the interviewer asks a question that’s not on the list? Where is your God now?

But wait! It gets worse! If you go to Amazon and look up this book, you’ll find a list of similar titles like

Clearly this notion of preparing answers to all possible interview questions in advance quickly reaches a point of diminishing returns.

Here’s what I’d suggest instead: Write up a list of the key points you want to make about yourself in the interview, the unique contributions you’ll make to the job and the company. Brush up on a few stories that show you at your best in the workplace.

Then — no matter what the interviewer asks — respond with your points and stories. We’re in the midst of a political season, so it’s easy to observe this technique in action. Politicians are not out there to think up answers to every stupid question someone throws at them. They have a list of points they want to make. So do you!

This list is mostly for your own reference, but you may want to go ahead and put together a nicely formatted version, print out a few copies and bring them to the interview. That way, if the interviewer asks — and they often do — “What makes you the best person for the job?,” you hand them a copy of your list.

Bonus: Most of what’s said in an interview is quickly forgotten. What remains is a general impression and of course — documents!

Related Links

Advertisement for Myself

14 Sep 2007 /

I was laid off recently by a mortgage bank here in Southern California. Times are tough in the mortgage business, as you may have heard.

First, some tips on how not to do a layoff:

Man with sandwich board
  1. Call the layoff a “rightsizing,” which suggests that there was something “wrong” with the people who were let go. (Actually, the company I worked for has already announced another “rightsizing” in which 1,000 more people will be laid off over the next few months. They just can’t get these “rightsizings” right.)
  1. Overnight a layoff information packet, including a 20-page severance agreement, to the home of laid-off employees, asking them to sign and return it via the enclosed UPS envelope.
  1. Don’t enclose the UPS envelope.
  1. The next day, overnight a second packet to employees’ homes, containing the UPS envelope and a letter correcting phone numbers, email addresses and other misinformation in the previous day’s packet.
  1. Include an obvious misspelling or two in the letter — ideally, something that would slip past a spell checker but be caught easily by anyone who bothered to proofread it. Suggestion: “If you have nay questions . . .”

Unemployed people like to see the kind of flamboyant incompetence that still draws a paycheck.

Want to hire me?

Here’s what I’m good at:

  • Software development
  • Project management
  • Writing
  • Training, coaching and mentoring

A Waste of a Morning

5 Sep 2007 /

The California Employment Development Department — aka the unemployment office — scheduled a meeting for me this morning at the Orange County One-Stop job center.

I thought it was going to be a one-on-one meeting to discuss appropriate employment opportunities for someone with my outstanding qualifications as a technologist.

Instead, I found myself placed in a room full of misfits and losers, none in professional attire, and many of them dressed for a day at the beach — shorts, sandals, Hooters T-shirts — while we listened to a presentation on how to make $50,000 a year selling cars.

(“Sounds pretty good,” my son says, and for someone with a junior high school education like him, it probably is.)

In the course of the meeting, three people asked to borrow my pen because they didn’t think to bring one.

Of course, I was wearing a shirt and tie, so I could very easily carry a pen in my shirt pocket. If I’d been wearing a Hooters T-shirt, I wouldn’t have been able to do that . . .

Laid Off

6 Feb 2003 /

I guess I should have seen this coming when they eliminated free bagels on Fridays. Or when we stopped printing things on plotter paper because the paper vendor stopped coming around shortly after we stopped paying him.

Unemployed man, Omaha, Nebraska

The retention list was heavily weighted toward young women with big tits and the managers’ poker buddies. Two of the laid-off developers had to be hired back within 30 minutes of being let go, when someone in authority belatedly realized they were working on the company’s only billable project.

None of us will be retiring on our severance package, since there wasn’t one. We’re now faced with the one thing we all feared enough to stay with this company so long in the first place: trying to find another job in the worst tech market in 20 years.

Thus spoke The Programmer.

Rent Hikes Cause Homelessness?

19 Jan 2003 /

I read a story in Time magazine about a family in Columbus, OH, evicted from their apartment and living in a homeless shelter because they couldn’t afford a rent hike on the apartment.

The husband was unemployed at the time; the wife was a pizza delivery driver. Both are high-school dropouts and they have three kids.

The lesson here, according to Time:

All it takes sometimes is a sudden rent hike to push a working family into a shelter.

Continue reading Rent Hikes Cause Homelessness?

How’s Business?

19 Dec 2002 /

People often ask me: How’s the computer business?

One thing I can tell them is that a significant number of my Merry Christmas emails from former colleagues end with something like this:

P.S. Please let me know if you hear of any job leads as I am currently unemployed.