BOFH: Welcome to Helldesk, ma'am, may I take your bags?

The soul-dead CV sort-through

Application security programs and practises

Episode 8

"You're looking stressed!" the PFY says to the Boss, who's behaving more irrationally than usual.

"What?" the Boss responds.

"Stressed," the PFY says. "You. Look. Stressed."

"Oh. Yes," the Boss says, looking around in a semi-dazed manner. "Have a stack of Service Desk Candidate's CVs to look through."

"What for?"

"For people. For the Service Desk."

"Yes, I understand that bit, but why are you doing it?"

"Oh. Uh, because in the past there's been a few... problems."

"You mean the Helldesk supervisor's unspoken belief that IT knowledge is in some way linked to cup size?" I chip in.

"I... wouldn't have put it quite that way," the Boss sighs

"You mightn't, but others have," the PFY replies. "And the vacancy you're looking at – did it come about as the result of some sort of 'hands-on test of IT ability'?"

"We settled out of court with her and he resigned last week," the Boss sighs. "Only it turns out the woman concerned was the Financial Director's daughter and he's put substantial pressure on the board about the attitudes of IT people to women. As a result we're now implementing a zero-tolerance policy to workplace harassment and now I have to find an acceptable candidate from the 100 or so respondents and be able to defend my selection against future allegations of 'old-boys' favouritism."

A small part of me feels sorry for the Boss, and not just because he's been screwed over by the nastiest director in the building. There are two main ways into a Helldesk Supervisor role, the most common being the rising-through-the-ranks method, by which stage the supervisor is usually so bitter and twisted that they advocate summary execution as the preferred method of sorting out paper jams, or the "new broom" approach of appointing someone with no history in IT whatsoever in the hopes that they'll apply the management strengths of their former role to the task of forging a coherent team.

"So what made you pick someone from the auto parts industry as a Helldesk manager?" the PFY asks. "Surely you'd have realised that that industry was a bit of a sausage fest and the photos of half of them would probably appear in the illustrated dictionary under misogyny?"

"His CV said he had a background in servicing the needs of his team!" the Boss replies defensively.

"Ah. It seems patently obvious that you lack the ability to read a CV," I sigh. "How about we give you a hand?"

... 10 minutes later, in the Boss's office, in front of a huge pile of possibilities...

"Okay, this is WAAAAAY too many CVs to have to wade through, so we'll apply my quick-cull technique," I say.

"Which is?" the Boss asks.

"Bin anything that is printed on a different-coloured paper."

"But you do that to catch the reader's attention!" the Boss gasps, recounting some morsel from the CV-writing course he went on the last time he was made redundant.

"So you're looking for an attention-seeking person?" the PFY asks.

"Oh... I suppose not," the boss says, flipping some pink paper into the bin.

"Next, anyone who has a picture of themselves on their CV..."
>clunk clunk<

"Why?!" the Boss gasps.

"Because the only people who need a photo of themselves on a CV are pop or porn stars," I say.

"What about supermodels?" the Boss snaps back.

The PFY responds briskly: "A. People generally already know what supermodels look like, and B. Give 'em five years and they'll usually fall into one of those two categories anyway."

"Next," I say. "Anyone who uses some ludicrous font like Comic or Brush Script." >clunk< >clunk<


"See, the problem with the Helldesk is it's a boring, mundane, soulless experience handling the day-to-day trivia of idiots, day after day, until you finally crack and turn up to work in your undies, carrying a power saw."

"And what's that got to do with fonts?" says the Boss.

"Using different fonts or coloured paper, enclosing a multimedia presentation, etc, are all things which indicate people with hope – and if there's one thing a helpdesk person doesn't need it's hope," the PFY replies.

I continue: "Yes. You want that crushed out of them long ago so that they won't leave after three months when a better role comes along. You want someone who'll keep their sanity after the 20th phone call about a problem which was solved in item 2 of the FAQ – someone who is immune to user incompetence and laziness." >clunk< >clunk< >clunk<

"I'm still not with you."

"You want someone whose resume is just Times Roman on plain white – unwatermarked – paper. Someone low-key."

"And a woman," the PFY chips in.

"A woman? Why?"

"Anything other than a woman means you're an old-school bigot – which cuts the number of potentials down to..." the PFY says >clunk< >clunk< ... >clunk< "...these three."

Our discussion is interrupted by the arrival of the Financial Director.

"Just thought I'd stop by and see how things are going?" he murmurs.

The Boss makes some positivish comment which seems to placate him into drifting off.

"If he's here," the PFY murmurs quietly, "who's running the Death Star?"

We leave the Boss to contemplate the hopefuls while we take our lunch. On our return, however the Boss's PA informs us that he's had to taken the rest of the day off sick.

"Oh, nothing trivial I hope?" the PFY asks.

Before she can respond, Lord Vader glides back into the Boss's office.

"How's that vacancy coming along?"

"He made a decision before he left," the PA burbles.

"Oh yes, and who'd he choose?"

Before I can respond, the PFY has already blurted out: "He said something about the one with the biggest tits!"

So that'd be another vacancy to fill.


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