New Job! – Data Analyst

I found a new job. It’s a 3 month contract, with a possibility of an extension.

It’s document review for Dodd-Frank compliance. The bank stores its documents in a bunch of different databases and programs. There’s a new program that rescans the raw documents, compares all the databases, and looks for problems. If a set of documents is flagged as inconsistent data among the programs, I have to look through and figure out the error and how to correct it. I’m also verifying and fixing OCR scans. Essentially, I’m getting paid to solve CAPTCHAs.

It isn’t programming-related. The req asked for SQL experience, but that isn’t what I’m doing.  It sounds like I have a similar job to this guy.

Bank X hired consulting company Y which used staffing firm Z to hire people. That was amusing. If I’m getting paid $X, the bank must be getting billed for $3X or $4X or more.

“OMFG! We have to obey Dodd-Frank!” caused the bank to open its wallet and hire a lot of people. The consulting firm is mediating disputes among the various bank divisions, as the data is sanitized.  Every manager wants to defend his turf, refusing to admit that one of his clerks mistyped something in the database.  Instead of working to ensure the database is 100% accurate, each manager would rather refuse to admit that someone in his division mistyped something.

The motivation is that a regulator can ask “Give us all the information on X!”, and the bank has to answer immediately. They can’t do that if their databases are an inconsistent mess.

It is amusing that my job only exists because of the Dodd-Frank law. As usual with the financial jobs I’ve had, it has no real economic value.

Surprisingly, I’m getting paid a high rate for simple document review. It’s slightly more than my last job. Some headhunters say “A highly-skilled programmer with 10+ years of experience should be getting paid 2x-3x what FSK is earning.” I haven’t found any decent opportunities, not even for cheap rates.

This job could be useless experience if I go back to programming. “Computer programmer” is a dead-end career. Maybe I should try something else? Even though I’m a CAPTCHA solver, a more sophisticated name for my job is “Data Analyst”. (That’s what the paperwork says.) Maybe I should try a career switch from computer programmer to data analyst?

Amusingly, all my co-workers are Indian. Is it cheaper to hire a US citizen than import an H1-b?  It feels weird to be the token white male in the group.

There was another amusing bit. It was only a phone interview, no face-to-face. That made me suspect it was a scam, but it turned out to be legitimate. Apparently, they needed to hire a lot of people in a short period of time.

They don’t expect me to already know how to use all these programs. They actually are (*GASP!*) showing us how to use the programs. They have a bunch of screenshots and flowcharts that show all the common cases. They called it “deskilling”, attempting to reduce the job to a flowchart.

Instead of the usual idiot idea “We need someone who can hit the ground running!“, they hired everyone to start a month early, and actually are training everyone on how to use the programs. I’ve never heard of anyone doing that for a computer programmer job.  However, they need a lot of bodies to wade through the mountain of data in a short period of time.

These database programs are pretty obscure. I doubt anyone has experience in all of them. However, if one bank is using these programs, other banks must also be using them! They could be useful resume keywords, if I apply for another “Data Analyst” job.

For some of the jobs I was rejected from, the idiot hiring manager was still looking a month later. In a month, I could have learned a lot about whatever language they were using, and learned a lot about their code base. Of course, an idiot hiring manager will always say “FSK is not an exact match for the skills we need.” instead of “I’m threatened by FSK’s experience and ability.”

I’ve never heard of a programming job where the manager said “I’m going to hire someone who isn’t a perfect skills match, and I’ll take a few weeks to teach them what they need to know.” Why doesn’t anyone do that?

It’s actually no more boring than programming.  Does it make a difference if I’m reviewing OCR scans, or writing data manipulation scripts?  A few years ago, I would have been offended by the idea of getting a job as a CAPTCHA solver.  Now, the economy is so bad, that I’ll take whatever I can get (as long as it’s a decent rate).  Given that computer programmer is a dead-end career, maybe I should try something else?  I can still write software for personal projects and my website.  Maybe I’ll be more motivated for personal projects, if I’m not writing software for abusive jerks at work?

However, Data Analyst is a job with less leverage than Computer Programmer.  I estimate that, at best, I’ll be 2x or 3x faster than the others.  In software, I can be 10x or 100x more productive.  However, in software, an evil manager will outperform a competent worker.  Even though I’m a great programmer, it’s almost impossible to find a job where that’s appreciated.  If you’re technically illiterate, it’s almost impossible to tell the difference between a good programmer and a good liar.  Therefore, the software profession is dominated by evil liars.  If I review 2x the documents as every else per day, with a low error rate, that should be obvious in their tracking system.

It could be useful experience, to work as a “Data Analyst” instead of “Computer Programmer”. I know I’m on the top end of the ability scale, but I haven’t found any computer programmer jobs. Every hiring manager has evil tendencies, and would never hire someone smarter and more experienced. This could be bad experience if I try to go back to software, but maybe “Data Analyst” is a better career choice? After all, there must be a shortage of data analysts, if this employer was willing to hire and train people.

12 Responses to New Job! – Data Analyst

  1. Congratulations on getting the job, although it isn’t a good job for you.

    As you say you are free to do creative work in your free time. Hopefully your job won’t sap your creative energy and leave you free to do what you want at the weekends.

    I just hate recruitment for software developers. It is just an insane buzzword bingo.

    I hate dealing with fools that act as job gate-keepers.

    As you prefer they prefer to interview people for months rather than just take someone and let them learn new skills in the first month.

    I got contacted by a big company recruiter a few months ago. I program in C# and haven’t programmed in Java and C/C++ for many years, although I did do lots of programming in those languages. I wanted the recruiter to contact the interviewing team to see whether they would make allowances for a C# programmer, but it seems I couldn’t get him to consider this point. Just another stupid waste!

    • It’s a “good enough for now” job. It isn’t a dream job.

      Reasons it is a bad job:

      - I’m ridiculously overqualified. It’s a waste of my abilities. However, I’ve also been ridiculously overqualified for all the programmer jobs I’ve had.
      - It’s useless experience if I go back to a wage slave programmer job. However, if I get experience in language X, that has zero value applying for jobs using Y.

      Reasons it’s a good job:

      - Maybe I should make a career switch from programmer to data analyst?
      - The pay is decent, comparable to my last few programmer jobs.
      - I’m old enough for age discrimination to start mattering. I’m not that old! A 25-30 year old evil hiring manager will never hire someone older, more experienced, and smarter.
      - For a programmer job, you need an exact skills match. For this job, they are spending a *MONTH* showing me how to use the programs. There must be a shortage of data analysts, if the employer is willing to do this.
      - In programming interviews, I’m insulted by many of these questions. I have a CS degree from a top university and 10+ years of experience, and they’re asking me basic skills questions and trivia about obscure language features? Sample stupid questions are “Q: multiple inheritance in C++” I don’t use multiple inheritance, and you normally shouldn’t. “Q: In C#.NET, what happens if you edit a collection while looping over it.” Seriously, what kind of idiots edit a collection while you’re looping over it?
      - A lot of people say “There’s a shortage of programmers!” If that were really true, employers would be willing to hire people who aren’t a perfect skills match.
      - I suspect the programmer job market is flooded with mediocre workers, and evil management. If you’re an evil manager, it’s easier to try to extract productivity out of mediocre people, than hire someone talented. As a really talented person, I’m different and therefore rejected.
      - If a mediocre evil programmer is looking for a job, he’ll lie on his resume. He’ll say he has 20 years of .NET experience if that’s what the ad requests. Liars have an advantage over me, because they pass the keyword screening phase.
      - In 50+ interviews over the past few years, not a single employer has said “Wow! FSK is really smart! I want him working for me!” I know I’m really talented, but employers don’t appreciate it. In fact, most evil managers feel threatened when they see I’m competent.
      - It’s better than staying home all day. Seriously, I’ve had zero traction in my search for a computer programmer job. It’s time to try something else.
      - I can still write software in my free time. With a non-programming job, maybe I’ll be more motivated to work on person projects? The only drawback is that I have very little time left over after working.

      I’ve never heard of a programming job where they let people learn on the job. It’s always a demand for an exact skills match.

      Why leave a job open for months, instead of hiring someone and letting them learn? If you’re an evil manager, it’s an ego boost when lots of people are sucking up to you and begging for a job.

      • You seem to express more elegantly that I could in writing, my own exact thoughts about ludicrous software developer recruitment.

        You have a bunch of fools in big tech companies doing very little that is really productive and defining themselves as clever because they got through the recruitment process rather than actually doing real, useful work. They cannot do real useful work because the companies they work for only exist through monopolies.

        The initial founders did the difficult technical work. Eventually the company ends up hiring dumb cannon fodder. They congratulate themselves on how clever they are.

        But we only know the HARD TRUTH.


        Profit is not stealing via a monopoly position.

        • Who is more clever? The person who makes a huge salary while stealing and destroying wealth? The person who builds a business, only for others to steal it via taxes and other tricks?

          In a real sense, the evil parasite is more “clever”, until the entire system collapses under increasing corruption.

          When a VC invests, he wants a good Ponzi or a business that can survive on inertia once its run by idiots. Examples of a good Ponzi are FaceBook, Twitter, Groupon, etc. Examples of businesses that are sustainable via the State once idiots take over are eBay, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, GM, Google, etc.

          It might be a bad idea to build a genuinely profitable business (unless you do it agorist-style), because then you’re only feeding State crime.

          • > Examples of businesses that are sustainable via the State
            >once idiots take over are eBay, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, GM,
            >Google, etc.

            The Google clowns have an interesting business model.

            They seem to have given up trying to write any more useful software (i.e. Google clown search) and are just about buying in stuff with a check book.

            The Google Clowns purchased the Android operating system (itself based on Linux) from another company.

            The Google Clowns then give away the Android operating system FOR FREE to hardware manufacturers of smartphones such as Samsung and Motorola.

            They presumably hope to get some payback from buying and giving away free at a later date. Someone else will in effect by paying for the Android operating system. This could be advertisers.

            The Google Clowns are about a big check book funded by advertisers.

            If the Google Search is good, then there is less need for a producer of a good product to pay for an advert.

            Herein lies the conflick. If the Google Clown is a good and honest clown, it won’t make as much money. What should a clown do?

            Anyway there are a bunch of arrogant clowns and they have given up writing software and they just take code from Konqueror for “their” Chrome web browser and buy in stuff as they need it.

            They aren’t really a technology company anymore.

            They are just a shell that is only capable of moving money from advertisers to third party companies writing real software.

          • Google has one big cash cow. That’s the search engine and search advertising. Google loses money on everything else they do.

            Really, Google should stick to that, and pay out all the profits as dividends.

            For the CEO of a big corporation, the goal is empire-building. As a large corporation, Google can borrow at artificially low rates. Hedge funds borrow cheaply and buy shares of Google, making it easy for Google to finance buyouts by issuing new shares.

            Because Google may borrow at negative real interest rates, the incentive is for the CEO to buy up as much stuff as he can, rather than return profits to shareholders. The bigger Google is, the more executives can leech via salary and option grants.

            Google has become another boring big tech corporation, rather than truly innovating.

          • I don’t really like the Google Clowns as a company.

            I do advertise with them and over the years have given them a substantial income stream.

            My product at the time it was launched was head and shoulders above the competition and so sold well. Despite being produced by a nobody it did well on its merits.

            Money rolled in and really I was only concerned with dealing one tiny thing but trying to do it decently.

            At a rough estimate, the Google Clown Adwords system provides 5% of my visitors, but takes 8% of my income stream.

            So if I stopped advertising on the Clown system I should in theory make a bit more money. Inertia and the fact things are good has stopped me.

            Other advertisers have said that Google Adwords is good but it isn’t scaleable. I don’t know why they said that, but I can guess from my experience.

            If you increase your advertising budget it will simply suck off so much of your profit you will either have to put your prices up or stop.

            I have a decent product with a lot of real people linking to my site and saying what a useful product I have.

            But from my statistics, if I increase my budget it won’t pay off.

            In the early days I got hit with Click Fraud. I emailed the Google Clowns. They blew a raspberry in my face and I got canned replies from them. Fraud was obviously going on. An Indian screensaver website was swallowing my whole daily budget within a few seconds. The Google Clowns buried their head in the sand and kept my money.

            Clowns look sinister.

          • I remember in the early days it was around 10 – 20 cents a click when advertising with the evil Google Clowns.

            It meant you could sell cheap software doing useful tasks to the masses. You could sell cheap software and make up for it by selling to lots of people.

            This should be the way to do things in the software world.

            But the Google Clowns needed their bellies feeding.

            Somehow the price of the clicks increased and increased and increased.

            Now it is just plain silly.

            I try to keep my running costs down to the bear minimum. I do lots myself and don’t buy in systems for other people.

            I can’t see how my competitors could possibly pay for more expensive clicks or even properly afford the prices per click that I see at the moment.

            The Google Clowns have expensive tastes and they are getting too greedy. But the Clowns would say that the market decides the price of the clicks.

            The evil clowns send me lots of emails telling me to change my settings and let their evil software decide the price of clicks etc. The evil clowns don’t want you to use manual controls in the Adwords system.

            The clowns love money too much. Their adwords system wants to suck off too much money.

            The clowns are ruining the Internet. What they are doing is like trawling the sea with huge nets and not worrying about sustainability.

          • Pay-per-click is an inherently defective advertising model. It leads to click fraud and other problems. Pay-per-impression is better.

            Pay-per-click also favors spammers. If it’s a spam ad, almost nobody clicks on it, and you don’t pay as much.

            My blog was unfairly banned from AdSense. I could never get it reviewed or appealed. If you have a small website, all it takes is one or two people to click on a bunch of ads, and you get banned from AdSense.

            I considered writing a FireFox pluging that randomly clicked on ads, if a page had Google ads on it. If enough people used that plugin, it would ruin pay-per-click advertising.

          • >I considered writing a FireFox pluging that randomly clicked
            >on ads, if a page had Google ads on it. If enough people used
            >that plugin, it would ruin pay-per-click advertising.

            The sick, evil, twisted Google Clowns are ruining Google Adwords themselves without any help.

            I’m pretty much the only of the only two people in my field advertising with the Google Clowns a the moment. I’ve seen my competitors advertise with the Clowns and then after a few months they give up. The Clowns are too greedy.

            By being too greedy the clowns are losing business.

            Hopefully the clowns will self-destruct.

            If everybody stopped throwing money away with their dodgy systems they would be forced to write a proper, affordable advertising system.

            The Google Clowns should provide affordable advertising and decent natural search results. In my niche, search results are getting overrun with trash articles that suggest unworkable and unscaleable solutions to people that are only dealing with about 5 bits of data and can do everything by eye.

            However in real life people and businesses have more than 5 customers!!!!!

    • It’s a 3 month contract, with the possibility of an extension.

      I’m starting to wonder about “I’m ridiculously overqualified.” They gave us a bunch of instructions.
      - If A, do X.
      - If B, do Y.
      - If C, do Z.

      My coworkers are saying “If B, do X.”, and I’m having a hard time explaining it to them.

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