I've got mod points on Slashdot again, which means I'm going out of my way to make sure I read some this week. Luckily I found a good thread called Resume Tips for Jobs.

While reading, a new post came in that mentioned a site called asktheheadhunter.com. Looks like a neat site which I'll have to check out more later. I started reading the first article, and it looked like the guy, though a little informercial-esque, had some decent stuff. Then I read this:

There is only one job description: Produce profit.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha. HA HA HA HA!!!

Excuse me. Sorry about that. I'm better now.

Folks, don't be fooled. Even though you've been taught for years and years this is what to base your work ethic on, there's another pretty large sector where you can make mad dough without worrying about a profit for a second. That's right folk, the Federal Government. State and local gov't is often the same, but it's harder to find special projects that have slipped through the cracks that are quite as cash-rich as the ones in the Fed gov't.

Here, thinking about profit is more likely to get you into trouble. There's a budget that has to be spent before the fiscal year's out, causing grenades to be thrown at anthills ("Our $120,000 server farm has provided our users with our static web content with five nine's worth of reliability." You don't hear that last month that came to about 3000 hits), and sometimes the grenades aren't even used with that much efficiency [ie, they don't even kill ants]. There's also this incredibly amorphous measure of projects not by financial worth but by "aura". People attach themselves to nebulous projects that sound neat, but don't actually go anywhere. Well, heck, if the project ended, there wouldn't be any good sounding idea left to champion, now would there? And the coffers and funding would dry up, and you'd be back to square one, looking for another good sounding idea to spearhead. Now that's work!

And this doesn't end at the gov't agency, but continues with the contractors that work for them. Often [if my experience is any measure], gov't agencies actually measure success by how much of their budget goes out the door to the private sector for any reason without any reference to the actual results of this spending. So what contractor wouldn't want to keep a project going as long as they can so that they can keep feeding at the trough? Heck, as long as they're feeding, they're making money, which is their goal, and the gov't agency is still giving away money, which is theirs. It's awful.

Then insert the special interests looking for hand-outs from the Federal Government agencies, and the agencies' absolute fear of causing any waves by having one unhappy person, and you're back to that emasculated "100% conflict avoidence" management style I talked about a while back. (Unfortunately, in my case, this bizarro world-view of the gov't has infected the contractor I work for -- we can still do efficient work, even if the gov't agency doesn't position themselves to do it. And we're not.)

So if you're not getting a job in the world of asktheheadhunter.com, there's always a good government job -- or government contractor job -- with your name on it. In fact, in a few short weeks, you can have mine. I, personally, can't feel good about working in a system built on top of this perverted bottom line. At least not more than a few years, which is about how long it took me to figure out this wasn't a short-term (2-3 more years) fixable situation.