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(Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted on Friday, March 25, 2011 - 03:12 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I’ve been employed by an established local firm for the past 2-1/2 years. After, about one year working hours were cut by 10 percent, with a corresponding paycut. Since then there have been periodic layoffs and two regional offices were closed. My workload is sporadic, ranging from crazy busy some weeks to very light others.

Several months ago I began periodically checking job boards. Up until there haven’t been any listings that truly excited me. Recently, I found a listing with a national firm that took me by surprise. I then sharpened up my resume, prepared a letter of introduction and assembled a few work samples to upload on their website.

After investing about 30 minutes completing the online application (new experience for me), I got to the last page. There I found a very nicely crafted signature page as follows:

1. I understand and agree that this application does not constitute an offer of employment.
2. I authorize the Firm to make investigations relating to my Application, including verification of my employment history, current employment and education. I further understand that for certain positions my credit, criminal record, and/or motor vehicle record may be checked. I waive any claims or liability against the Firm or anyone acting on its behalf, resulting from or arising out of these investigations.
3. I understand and agree that, if I am employed by the Firm, my employment is subject to my submitting legitimate employment eligibility documents within 72 hours of the time my employment commences.
4. I understand and agree that, if I am employed by the Firm, the employment is “at will” and does not create any contract, either expressed or implied, between the Firm and me. Employment can be terminated either by me or by the Firm, with or without notice, at any time, for any reason not prohibited by law.
5. I certify that all information given on this application and any attachments are true and complete to the best of my knowledge. I understand that the making of any false statements in this application, or the failure to disclose information called for by this application which is known to me, may be sufficient to disqualify me for employment or may result in my dismissal.
Applicant's Signature

Upon reading that they may contact my current employer for employment verification, I proceeded no further. I’m quite concerned that if my current employer learns that I’m looking, they will lay me off in the next round of layoffs. It seems as if I’m damned if I do, and damned if I don’t apply.
Am I over-reacting or not? I’d really appreciate someone knowledgeable about the hiring process weighing in on this.
(Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted on Friday, March 25, 2011 - 03:28 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I am an Architect who as part of management piece I deal with hiring and HR. This is typical liability jargon. We always honor a protential colleague's request to not contact their current employer. They have to be crazy to not understand that idea.
Lynn Javoroski CSI CCS LEED® AP SCIP Affiliate
Senior Member
Username: lynn_javoroski

Post Number: 1227
Registered: 07-2002

Posted on Friday, March 25, 2011 - 04:33 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I just checked with our HR; there is a similar form allowing them to contact a current employer, but there's also a check box that allows the applicant to say "do not contact current employer".

Our HR also says this is typical language.

Why not contact the firm separately and tell them that you are reluctant to submit for the reasons you stated? Perhaps they will agree to not contact your current employer.
Richard L Matteo, AIA, CSI, CCS
Senior Member
Username: rlmat

Post Number: 416
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Saturday, March 26, 2011 - 02:03 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I ran into some of the same issue as Lynn regarding filling out online employment applications. It's very tedious, and in some cases, they don't let you go back and verify info.
However, in my case, since I have already been let go, contacting my employer is not a problem, in fact I received a very nice letter of recommendation from my former boss.
The problem I'm finding is that there are not many, if any, employment opportunities out there for specification writers.
I had 2 interviews for specification writer positions and neither panned out. Given that I have over 14 years experience wrting specs and over 30 years as a licensed architect, I'm beginning to think I fall into that category of "over qualified" which translates to "He's probably too expensive". Also, I get the feeling that they actually want someone to teach others to write specs rather than actually write the specs themselves.
I truly believe that I have the necessary qualifications of an excellent spec writer and everything that goes along with it. In the years that I have been writing specifications, my employers never got sued over anything in the specifications.
(Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted on Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - 11:44 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I currently know of 4 openings for specifications writers up and down the west coast and the problem is that most of the applicants have out of date skills, bad interviewing techniques and no ability to actually edit their resumes. This may be one of those recessions that weeds out the "difficult-to-work-with"
J. Peter Jordan (Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted on Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - 12:27 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

A specifier who is "difficult to work with"? Don't all us spec writers remain accomodating, positive, and cheerful while working under totally unreasonably deadlines for people who don't understand why we are needed with issues that can't be resolved without unwanted redesign effort. Uh... guess I don't qualify either.

Seriously; those seeking positions will have to do some serious marketing to explain how their expertise can add value to the firm and, indeed, to each project, far beyond the cost of a salary and benefits. And, even though it is laughably easy to be cynical, BIM and IPD are not meaningless buzz words or fads, but are rather harbingers of things to come. What is not well understood by most design professionals is the role that a tool such as CSI's MasterFormat can play in moving forward.
Lynn Javoroski CSI CCS LEED® AP SCIP Affiliate
Senior Member
Username: lynn_javoroski

Post Number: 1228
Registered: 07-2002

Posted on Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - 04:47 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Most valuable friend when you are seeking employment - someone who does this sort of thing for a living. Seriously, make friends with a "headhunter" and ask advice for your resume, interview skills, and how to market yourself.
(Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted on Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - 09:02 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

To Unregistered Guest (March 29 - 12.27pm):

I wonder if you will be willing to share the details of the “4 openings for specifications writers up and down the west coast” for readers who might be interested in applying for these jobs. Perhaps you can send your contact info or the job info “anonymously” to Colin and he can them forward same to interested readers that ask for it.

It looks like there is a good number of experienced and effective specification writers nationwide that are looking for work. I wonder how the skills of most of these people, who have been productively employed until last year or couple of months ago, could be seen as “out of date skills” - even with the current level of IPD and BIM-Specifications integration!

Please forgive my curiosity, I also wonder how “bad” the “interviewing techniques” must have been for the interviewers (and these applicants?). One would also think that an effective specifier, who typically writes very well, would be able to verbally explain their value to a competent interviewer – particularly at a firm that had spec writers as staff or consultants!

Given the amount of editing that most specifiers do – my expectation will be the opposite of these folks having “no ability to actually edit their resumes”!

I agree with Peter, good specifiers are not "difficult-to-work-with". Could it be that the recession - rather than weeding out the "difficult-to-work-with" - is encouraging some rather disagreeable hiring attitudes?

To Llynn:

I get the impression that many head-hunters will not be interested in you, unless they are considering you for a current client, or you have information that they need!. Once they decide you’re not what they’re looking for, or they’ve secured what they want, they no longer want to know you and they’re off hunting for the next head! Their rather short-term mercenary sales approach may also explain the high turnover in the “headhunting” industry.
Phil Kabza
Senior Member
Username: phil_kabza

Post Number: 471
Registered: 12-2002

Posted on Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - 09:41 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Back to the employment statement: While all of the clauses seem somewhat familiar and are probably lawyer'd up pretty good, I think they're a bit inappropriate in an online job ap for a professional position - rather like whipping out a pre-nup agreement when picking someone up for a first date. The firm certainly could handle this stuff in a more refined manner. It speaks to their manners.
(Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted on Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - 10:45 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

As the Unregistered Guest who posted the original question, I took Lynn's advice and contacted the firm by phone and email. Surprisingly, today, I received a reply from the Director of HR stating "We never contact a current employer without permission."

In light of this, I will complete the application, plus note "Please, Do Not Contact" next to my current employer so there's no misunderstanding. For me to grant permission to contact my employer, they would have to offer me the position.

I certainly agree with Phil's point. The language is down right pompous...maybe it hints of firm-wide culture. I have no doubt, everyone on this board has heard of this firm.
Lisa Goodwin Robbins, RA, CCS, LEED ap
Senior Member
Username: lgoodrob

Post Number: 129
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Thursday, March 31, 2011 - 09:32 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Did you see this quote from yesterday's CSI NewsBrief?

"Don't write a résumé based only on the guidelines given to you by a recruiter, because their advice may not be the best way to highlight your skills and attract various employers, Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter writes. "[R]ecruiters' advice often is based on the number of poorly written resumes they receive, and a desire to fit a square-peg, square-hole need as efficiently and quickly as possible." GlassDoor.com (3/24)"

While I don't believe there is a one-size fits all answer to resume-writing and job-seeking, this is an interesting article to read.
Jim Sliff
Senior Member
Username: jim_sliff

Post Number: 71
Registered: 08-2010

Posted on Friday, July 01, 2011 - 01:26 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Anyone job hunting who has a single resume they submit to every potential employer needs to either do extensive reading or seek out a job counselor. Resumes have to be tuned to the specifics of the job AND to the potential employer.

If you look at (for example) 3 different Architectural firm websites you'll likely find 3 different areas of market focus, "vibe", style (casual or formal), job vs people-focused, client-need fulfillment vs "brag pages" with endless project profiles and awards and other specifics and/or peculiarities.

In one case you may want to stress experience in environmental areas and even include volunteer work (if any), while in another you will need to send a laser-beam primarily touting your technical expertise and awards. With some companies you can easily recognize that they are going to look at your years of experience; others want to see awards and accomplishments.

"Vanilla" resumes that follow established, predictable patterns go to the bottom of the pile. Ones that *specifically* dovetail into the company's business model and/or style stay on or near the top.

Recruiters inevitably work from generic resumes, with part of their job the company-specific details. The CSI NewsBrief is dead-on. You have to "mold" your resume (without BS) to fit the job/company.
Anne Whitacre, FCSI CCS
Senior Member
Username: awhitacre

Post Number: 1170
Registered: 07-2002

Posted on Friday, July 01, 2011 - 04:28 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I've now worked for a couple of firms with such liability language either as part of their hiring or on their application pages, and it pretty much comes down to how big a target they might be for a potential lawsuit. (and the most pompous firm I worked for didn't have language like that. they also weren't disclosing) For those firms there is a lot of proactive language out there to forestay any possibility of a suit by a disgruntled employee.
I do agree with Jim Sliff though -- a specifier's resume needs to be tailored to the firm (project type, and firm culture) and it needs to be digestible. I've seen some resumes come through here that are 6 pages long (!) with absolutely no effort made to edit project types, sizes or locations. And I've seen resumes that list projects all the way back to 1972. At the very least, some editorial judgement should be part of the specifier's set of skills.
I am seeing much more emphasis now on personality "fit" with the rest of the office. As a senior, experienced staff member, I think specifiers are looked at as much for their staff mentoring/teaching capabilities as for their technical skills, and of course their ability to work with teams of people of wildly varying capabilities.
Richard L Matteo, AIA, CSI, CCS
Senior Member
Username: rlmat

Post Number: 639
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Saturday, November 16, 2013 - 09:13 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Well fellow 4Specs colleagues, here I am again looking for employment. The firm I was working for has entered into a slow period and I was let go 2 weeks ago, even though I had found 2 weeks of billable work.
I am looking for a similar position, preferably in southern California (Orange County).
Thanks for any assistance.
Alan Smithee (Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted on Saturday, November 16, 2013 - 02:46 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post


I know of two positions, but they're both in Atlanta.

I also know that if you hold a CCS, you've probably already gotten a letter ;-)

If you're even vaguely interested, post here and (pardon my paranoia) we'll arrange a less public way to communicate.
Robin E. Snyder
Senior Member
Username: robin

Post Number: 488
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Saturday, November 16, 2013 - 08:09 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Richard - email me your resume and contact info - robin@spectraspecs.com
Jo Drummond, FCSI
Senior Member
Username: jo_drummond_fcsi

Post Number: 56
Registered: 06-2007
Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 - 07:46 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Richard, are you still available. I have gotten calls from a firm looking for a temporary spec. Writer.

If you would like, give me a call at 323 254-4155.
Richard L Matteo, AIA, CSI, CCS
Senior Member
Username: rlmat

Post Number: 640
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Sunday, December 15, 2013 - 07:52 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Jo, I got your message late on Friday and was unable to call as I was involved with the Dana Point Boat Parade this weekend.

I will call you tomorrow.


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