Archive for the ‘On the job’ Category

Another reminder of why I so “love” Paychex

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

Because I am a boring old fuddy-duddy, I was spending the minutes leading up to the New Year trying to reconcile my 2013 medical flexible spending account (FSA), i.e., to match up the FSA transactions listed on the Paychex web site with those listed in my financial management software and confirm that there were no incorrect transactions in either location.

Alas, after several passes through the transactions, there were, in fact, several that I couldn’t reconcile, and even taking those into account, the reconciled balances were not matching up. However, rather than make yet another pass at trying to make them come out even, I decided to go watch the ball drop with my kids.

When I came back to my office, I had been logged out of the Paychex web site due to inactivity, and the transaction history page I’d been looking at was wiped clean. It wasn’t even available in my browser cache, because the Paychex web site is *shudder* entirely implemented as a Flash application. “No problem,” I said to myself. “I’ll just log back in and bring up the data again.”

Alas, when I logged in, I discovered that the web site had rolled over to my 2014 FSA, and none of the data from the prior year was accessible any longer on the site. (more…)

High Tech Ventures blows off the BBB

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

As I commented following my recent posting about slimy recruiter High Tech Ventures, I filed a complaint with the BBB about them a month ago.

According to the BBB, “We have written to the business two times on your behalf and we have failed to receive a response to your complaint.”

Please, folks, do not do business with this recruiter.

High Tech Ventures strikes again

Monday, April 19th, 2010

A few minutes ago, I got the following email message from Ed at High Tech Ventures, a recruiting firm I have trashed on my blog in the past:

Subject: Company Name specs

I placed the cto.  He’s a great guy and asked me to help with a couple engineering roles. I’ve attached the job specs.

Company Name has been know as Old Company Name 1 and  Old Company Name 2.

would you recommend Current Coworker Name?

any other suggestions?


Here’s what I wrote back:

I will reply to you now as I replied to you the last time you contacted me, last November:

I have asked your company multiple times not to contact me.

I have even decried your failure to leave me alone on my blog.

One of my friends commented on my blog that at one point his wife told your company that he had died just to get you to stop calling him.

Get the message?

Jonathan Kamens

As for Current Coworker Name, he is currently employed where I work, and he has not chosen to mention to me that he is looking for a new position, so whether he is or isn’t, dropping his name to me was entirely inappropriate.  The fact that you felt comfortable doing that is yet another reason why people should avoid your company like the plague.

Please do not contact me again.

Jonathan Kamens


Dropbox — easy, fast personal file sharing between computers (and even iPhones!)

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

A friend of mine (thanks Bruce!) pointed me at a totally cool personal file sharing service called Dropbox.

In a nutshell, Dropbox smartly and automatically synchronizes a hierarchy of folders among any number of Windows PCs, Macs, Linux PCs and iPhones.  All of the synchronized changes are automatically backed up on Dropbox’s servers, and you can go back into the past to retrieve previous versions or deleted files.


Advent Tamale in Boston is hiring!

Monday, February 1st, 2010

The Tamale RMS team at Advent Software (NASDAQ:ADVS) in Boston, where I have been happily ensconced for almost three years, is hiring Operations, Quality Assurance, and Software Engineers, Client Services Specialists, and Product Managers.  Advent Tamale is full of great people doing exciting work for demanding clients.

At Advent, we offer competitive compensation and benefits, treat our people well, and strive to be a good corporate citizen.  Furthermore, we successfully weathered the recent economic storm, with no layoffs, and came out of it stronger than before.  I love coming to work every day at Advent!


Oxford International, High Tech Ventures, and other annoying, cold-calling recruiting firms

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

If you work in the high-tech field like I do, and especially if you’re in management, you probably get regular cold calls from recruiters looking to either (a) hire someone into your company, (b) convince you to let them find you a new job, or (c) sweet-talk you into giving them the names and phone numbers of other people at your company for them to call as their next victims.

If I were looking for a job myself, I wouldn’t use any of these people.  I decided years ago that the way you find a good recruiter to work with is through word of mouth and networking, not through cold calls from pushy, often dishonest people who don’t actually care about you or your career.

If I were looking to hire someone to work at my company, I wouldn’t use any of these people, both for the reasons given above, and because we have in-house recruiters and it is very difficult to convince senior management that a job is sufficiently difficult to fill that external recruiting expertise is needed.  Even if I were going to use an external recruiter to fill a position, it would be handled by my HR department, not by me.

Nevertheless, I get several of these calls per week.  It’s gotten so bad that I don’t answer my desk phone when the caller ID doesn’t show a number I recognize.  If it’s someone I actually need to speak with, they’ll leave a voicemail message.

Today’s annoying recruiter incident was sufficiently egregious that I felt it appropriate to post about it on my blog to warn others off from the perpetrator, Oxford International.

The Oxford International recruiter called not once, not twice, but three times, and the third call was after I actually spoke to him and told him to leave me alone.

  1. Recruiter calls.  Caller ID shows no number, so I let it go to voicemail.  No message is left.
  2. Recruiter calls again.  Two calls in a row is almost always a sign that someone I know really needs to reach me, so I answer the phone.  As they so often do, the recruiter introduces himself vaguely using a tone of voice which suggests that we’re old friends.  When I ascertain that he is a recruiter, I inform him that I’m not currently hiring and that if I were he would have to talk to my HR department, thank him for calling, and hang up, all before he can waste any more of my time by saying anything.
  3. Recruiter calls a third time — I do not answer — and again leaves no message.

Interestingly, I am not the only person who has written on-line about bad experiences with Oxford International.

The other recruiting firm mentioned in the title of this blog entry, High Tech Ventures, found me a job in 1997.  However, I was so bothered by the way they worked that, after thanking them for finding me the job, I told them to please never contact me again.  What bothered me about them was:

  1. It was clear that were more interested in earning a commission than in placing me in a position that was a good fit for both me and the company that hired me.
  2. A couple years after they place you in a position, they call you up and try to convince you that it’ll be good for your career for you to leave.  Yes, that’s right, they actively try to steal employees they’ve placed from the companies with which they’ve placed them.

As I said, I asked High Tech Ventures back in 1997 never to contact me again.  Nevertheless, I continue to get phone calls and email messages from them, both at home and at work, on a regular basis.  I have repeatedly asked them to stop contacting me, and it does no good.

If you do find it necessary to work with recruiting firms, I suggest you take a pass on Oxford International and High Tech Ventures.

Workplace irony

Monday, June 8th, 2009

Last week, the internal training division of my company sent out the June schedule of  one-hour seminars they hold regularly on various topics.

One of the seminars, entitled “The Working Parent,” was described as follows:

This workshop is for anyone interested in learning ways to assess our current lifestyle, set priorities and choose realistic goats. Review tools to help meet the multitude of demands facing the working parent. Topics discussed will include:

  • Challenges Facing the Modern Working Parent
  • What Matters Most
  • Meeting Your Own Needs

I was interested in attending this seminar until I checked my calendar and discovered that it was taking place during the all-but-compulsory managerial training I’ll be attending next week, away from my family at a hotel in Connecticut for two whole days.

PayFlex: an FSA administrator actually does something right

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Administaff disappoints

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

A little less than a year ago, my employer, Tamale Software (since acquired by Advent Software, in what I would happily classify as the fourth successful acquisition of the five in which I’ve been involved), decided to outsource its human resources function to the Professional Employer Organization (PEO) Administaff (note: Tamale used Administaff, but Advent doesn’t, so I am no longer a current client of Administaff).

Administaff uses a “co-employment” model, wherein the employees of Administaff’s clients become employees of Administaff as well, and Administaff handles health insurance, payroll, recruiting, performance management, etc.  Administaff clients don’t necessarily use all of Administaff’s services; it’s a menu from which they choose what they want.  The biggest reason for a company to use Administaff is probably to reduce the cost of health insurance.  Administaff can bargain with the insurance industry for lower rates than a small or medium-sized business can on its own, since they have a far larger employee pool.

Tamale has always had awesome benefits, including great health insurance with 100% of the premiums paid by the company.  But the company and its employees got a little older and more mature (read “got married and/or started having babies;” I must confess that I’m a major contributor to this!), and at the same time the cost of health insurance skyrocketed across the board.  It’s therefore not surprising that Tamale went looking for a way to reduce its costs, and perhaps switching to Administaff was a necessary evil.

Nonetheless, from the point of view of the employees, it was not a positive change.  (more…)

Green Card process benefits no one but the lawyers

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

I’m sitting in a meeting right now discussing Green Card labor certification, which is the first step in the process to get one of the people who works for me his Green Card. I am having the same reaction today that I had the last time I want through this…

The Green Card process seems intentionally designed to encourage employers to game the system. It is an entirely unrealistic process, in which what employers are ostensibly doing is actually completely different from what they are actually doing. The only people who benefit from the process are the lawyers who guide employers through it.