ALC Consulting

May 10, 2009

How to Lose a Job in Six Days or Less

was asked recently what I wanted to accomplish with my blog, and it is a question that I have been mulling over for a while. I can’t say that I have a complete answer. I know that I want to write about hiring and how to avoid the pitfalls of doing stupid things that cost people jobs. There is plenty of career advice out there, but most of it is bland, poorly written and not very original. I hope my take is more original and helps you, my readers, look at unemployment in new ways.
Today’s column is a cautionary tale taken from my own experience. In August of 2007, I started a contract with a Very Small Company in Minneapolis (not pictured).

We were quite high tech and all seven of the employees were issued laptops. We were linked by a private network and docked our laptops at our desks when we hit the office. It wasn’t long before the boss, who was running a very lean operation, hired a key new team member, Joe, the Network Administrator. It was his job to keep the network running. As a part of our jobs we were roaming over cyberspace and could be picking up nasty things that could compromise the network. We had a firm rule that we did not download ANY software without letting Joe know what we were doing. Licenses were applied for and authorizations obtained. Joe knew what was on our machines and that the network was safe.

Fast forward to a Very Large Company in Portland (company not pictured). This employer has over 4,000 employees including contractors.

The issues confronting their Network Administrators are the same as Joe’s. The network needs to be protected and no unauthorized software is to be downloaded to their network. This is part of the formal agreement that is signed by all new hires and contractors.

A new developer (contractor) came on board to the Very Large Company in Portland. He was placed by a reputable firm, which checks out their people before placing them. He thought he knew more than the old fogies in Network Security and wanted to download some development software on his machine. He applied in writing and was told NO in writing. The Very Large Company in Portland did not have any licenses for it. They also had not performed any integrated testing and had no idea what it might do to their network. The contractor’s manager also told him he was not to put the software on his machine. He told the manager that he was going to anyway. After six days and several hours on the job, the contractor was escorted out of the building by security guards.

The contractor really messed up here. He has a black mark against his name. The contracting firm will not take a chance on him again and they are busy repairing their relationship with the Very Large Company in Portland. I know this is a true story, because one of the other developers on the team told me. He was dumbstruck that the guy used such poor judgment.

It’s a cautionary tale. Networking security policies are not about heavy handed people making rules to make your life miserable. The are there for a reason; to keep the company up and running and producing products so they can sell them and make enough money to pay your salary. Stupid things like the actions of this developer jeopardize their ability to stay in business. They can’t take a chance on someone who uses such poor judgment.

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