Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Did by Internet activity and blogging hinder my return to old-fashioned IT?


One question that I sometimes process is why I never found a mainstream IT job after my career had its “cardiac arrest” and fibrillation on Dec. 13, 2001, 92 days after 9/11. Had I been able to do so, the course of my life might have been quite different and some existential issues (as what came up with substitute teaching) might have been avoided.  
    
I had two other complications in my life at that time (when I was 58), the likelihood of my mother’s needing care (which she eventually did, big time), and the visibility on the Internet, in the “good old days” before social media displaced old fashioned forums and flat-file websites with simple hyperlinks (like my old hppub.com) for unregulated self-expression.  By about 2000, it had become apparent that people could become global personalities just because of search engine presence (especially Google) which they did not have to pay for.  No, you didn’t need optimization.  Original and rich content would get indexed and show up highly ranked on its own.
  
In the early 2000’s, most of the jobs in the market were likely to be W-2 contract jobs where a contractor hired you, once the client had interviewed you (often by phone).  I screened for two jobs, one in Richmond with a PPO, and in Bloomington MN with Express Scripts.  The phone interview (late 2002) with the PPO did not go well, partly because it had been postponed so many times;  the Express Scripts interview (on Sept. 11, 2012) seemed to go well in person, but then the company didn’t have the authorization for the position after all.  I got feedback that I had “tried too hard”.
  
But in early January 2003, I had an interview in suburban Maryland with Group1, part of Pitney Bowes, with the idea of returning immediately from Minnesota if there was a job.  The interview went well enough, and I emailed a thank you when I got back to Minneapolis, but I never heard a thing.  It’s true that when I was at ReliaStar, some people didn’t like Group1’s support and I mentioned that out of candor in the interview.  Did that blow the job?  Maybe, even though that isn’t reasonable. Or did a Google search on my name make me seem controversial and dangerous to have around.  A company would have to worry that someone would make comments about the company on line and others would find it.  A contracting company that places people would have to be particularly sensitive to this risk.
  
Remember that mommy blogger Heather Armstrong had been fired for what she said in a personal blog in 2002.  She went on to be one of the most financially successful bloggers ever, and the verb “dooce” entered the English language.  I didn’t start using blogging platforms as such until 2006.

At the time, I was one of the few people really known for this.  The “risk” was just coming to be understood in the dark days after 9/11. 

Update: Dec. 10

Here's a good piece by Danielle Kurzleben on Vox about "skills erosion" when unemployed from a previous career indefinitely. But I was 58 when my "demise" started. 

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