Hiring a good employee is like shopping for a car. You don't buy the coup if you have a family of six, a gas guzzler when you're a commuter, or a 2wd when you live in the boonies. It's a balance of values.
I've seen "rock star" coders fail in team environments because they can't communicate. I've seen great communicators fail because they were all talk. I've seen really great team players impolode when facing the customer.
I'd rather have an employee who is good at a few things than one who is "The Best" at one thing. It's called hiring for employee fit, not so you can tell your buddies how l33t your team is.
Point is, effective team building doesn't end at offer letters. Hire for fit, then fit the hire. Train up. Just because someone is weak in some area doesn't mean they can't contribute meaningfully given the proper resources and support, nor is a strong hire going to succeed without the same carefully tailored support.
"We only hire the best!"
The best at what?
"The best at everything of course. We want a full stack wish fulfillment genie."
Either you have no idea what skills are missing from your current team, or they are all missing, and you want to fill that gap with one person rather than a team.
Job postings that ask for excessive skills across multiple disciplines say to me: This hiring manager doesn't want to do their job. The management job of creating a team, process, workflow. Why bother building a team of shared responsibilities? Why take ownership of the team's process? That would be hard. Instead I'll just hire one uber-nerd and make them do it all.
* asking for "everything but the kitchen sink" skills
* even mentioning J2EE in the requisiton (who on Earth wants to do that in this day and age?)
* copy-pasting of the requisition leading to truncation of the posting
Nothing new DHH isn't widely praised for originality, but come on this whole article is like a total re-hash. And he doesn't even bother to mention Joel... to me that means he's trying to take credit, or he doesn't know about Joel... uh, yeah.
Unless you have more to say I think this is an unnecessary attack on David's person, especially that one might think of a couple of things he did that are original. ;)
At no point does he make an originality claim, and you don't need to be original to voice disappointment...
http://danluu.com/programmer-moneyball/ (discussed at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11326940)
I also really liked the post he did about discrimination in tech:
The recruiting process is deliberately set up to yield a lot of false negatives -- i.e., applicants who are qualified on both skill and fit who are rejected for some arbitrary bullshit reason.
I suspect it's largely an effort to mindfuck the employees who do make it through the process. I'm so lucky to be here! Only 3% of applicants even make it to a five-minute founder interview, and only half of them get hired!
Perhaps it builds the perception in those hired they are in fact the best.
They're not approaching it for the frame of satisfying a requisition for a specific role with the best of the N applicants for it on X date, they're picking up talent as quickly as possible and then sorting out where to place people after the hire/no-hire decision is made.
Absolutely. There are a hundred bad candidates for every good one, but large companies reject good ones as well will bullshit justifications for a reason: rejection keep salaries down.
I think location really matters a lot. Telecommuting has not made it irrelevant. There's strong network / market effects for an industry with frequent job hopping and frequent changing of company hiring needs -- employees want to be somewhere with a lot of employers and employers want to be somewhere with a lot of employees, so the top few cities end up taking the lion's share of the tech work.
If anything, easier communications maybe has made it easier for companies to just open up an office somewhere just because that place has a lot of prospective employees. Maybe in an earlier era slower communications with colleagues in other offices might have made this less attractive, but it's so easy now. E.g., tech companies starting in SV but then also opening up an Austin, Pittsburgh, London, Seattle, NYC office because there's plenty of prospective hires there. What you don't see them do much is also open a St Louis, Tampa, or Little Rock office. It's just not worth it.
DEFINITELY consider trying moving to a major tech hub, or just a bigger city at least, if you have persistently had a hard time finding a job locally.
Programmer: "What's the salary?"
Corp: "Market average. Also, we're looking for people who aren't just motivated by money"
Corp: "We only hire the best, but we can't find any good people. There must be an industry shortage of good engineers!"
Me: "What about $candidate that we interviewed last week, I thought you liked him?"
Corp: "He was great! But he wanted too much money"
Salespeople "actually do things". The problems come when you make a stupid compensation plan or don't fire the ones who consistently underperform.
They don't make the company any money, they're middle-men. The value comes from the product.
I would argue it's equally hard to objectively measure the value of a salesperson, but as there's already specific figures one can latch onto, it's easy to think it's easy.
> They don't make the company any money, they're middle-men. The value comes from the product.
It is supposed to be a symbiotic relationship. Sales staff can't make money if they have nothing to sell, and engineers can't build product if they have no customers.
The sales staff is just as critical as the product development staff for the company making money. Rare is the product that can sell itself.
Atlassian sold $320 million worth of business software last year without a single sales employee. Everyone else in the industry noticed.
They just recycle this same story every year and get tons of press for it.
Their sales costs are low, but maybe not having more sale people is negatively affecting revenue growth?
Too many programmers are smugly crossing their arms, saying they know what's best for customers without ever talking to them. Programmers are generally far more responsible than sales people for poor product quality.
But there are also many cases when sales people force the product development team to implement the most idiotic "feature", because "we think the client is ready to sign the check and this is really important to them". The bad side of commission-based compensation is that they want to close the sale, no matter how harmful (in the long term) it can be.
Beyond that, it's not idiotic. It's just stuff the programmers don't care about. Price you pay for getting a paycheck.
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” -- Henry Ford.
My spouse actually deals with this more than I do. She's a product owner/analyst in international e-commerce, a very deep subject/domain expert in a narrow field. Customers, not really understanding the complexities of the domain, ask for things that are often technically impossible, illegal, or self-destructive. But she's serving as a first line of defense for engineers, educating sales reps and customers (and executives) about the nature of their business, and what can/should/shouldn't be done.
I think my point is that with sales people, there's usually actual numbers involved (that the salesperson has visibility of), which can help anchor perceived value. But it's still potentially hard to actually determine value.
Never met a salesperson who was deterred from selling something by the trivial detail that it doesn't actually exist. ;-)
Sales and marketing generate demand. Engineering and manufacturing generates supply. Both must exist for a product to be meaningful in the market.
The labor theory of value, you see, is bunk. The product is worth only what the buyer will pay for it. And much of the time, a salescritter can convince someone to pay so much more for a product above cost that the difference pays for the salesperson's work, and still leaves some left over for R&D, or other nice things.
Don't get me wrong. I still hate smarmy, schmoozing salesfolk with the passion of one ten-thousandth of a sun. But they aren't entirely useless. They do add value to a company in their own right. It is as a value multiplier, though. There still has to be some value added before you can multiply it.
If we had a just world, any salesperson who did that would be forced to forfeit their commission to the engineering staff who's saving their ass.
It seems to promote short-term gains over long term goals.
See IMSAI in the 1970s for a great example of needing to hit goals at all costs.
"we're looking for people who aren't just motivated by money"
You should counter:
"there's no shortage of meaningful problems; I'd be irresponsible if I didn't work on the one that improves my family's standard of living the most"
I agree with your later point about not wanting to be surrounded by people who are _only_ in it for the money. In fact, I took a small pay cut when I left me last job because I was (and still am) very excited about my new company's projects and aspirations. In my experience, though, "we don't want people who are motivated by money" has always been code for "we pay like ass and we're going to Stockholm Syndrome you into feeling like the privilege of working 12 hours a day is worth our $30K below market salary".
If I didn't need money, I wouldn't be looking for employment. I'd be hiring other people to work on my dreams instead. All else being equal, yeah, I'm going to the place with a bigger check.
I called BS on Chris Dixon on this on Twitter and he blocked me. It was when he and Paul Graham were arguing that "not enough (good)engineers exist for startups, so we need to import more". I was arguing that plenty of great engineers exist, you just have to pay for it.
I love startups because it's exciting and genuinely fun to be scrambling alongside a team who's as into their work as you are yours. In practice it's also very low risk, because I know that if my company laid me off tomorrow then I'd be unemployed for approximately a weekend before hopping onto another team.
FWIW, sane startups also take really good care of their employees. Mine has good pay and great benefits, and that's pretty common. You don't hear about those places on the front page of Hacker News, though.
I'm sure the best will be naturally attracted to that. Sorta an "opposites attract" strategy.
There are historical analogies to the dating world where if you're trying to find a complete dumpster fire of a person for whatever crazy reason, just look for the loudest proclamation that they only date 10/10s. Actually dating 10/10s is a different issue, I specifically mean loudest proclamation. Generally this works pretty well. Both for finding dumpster fire people and companies.
1. People work in education because they love the work, not the money.
2. We don't need to pay educators well because they're not the tops in their fields.
3. We can't recruit top candidates because the pay is shit.
4. Rinse, repeat.
I think it's a lost battle but I used to rage whenever I saw a company talk about their 'Vision'. Unless you're a poet, religious mystic or philosopher king - then you're being pretentious and grandiose.
You're typically expected to take a pay cut if you're doing any of these.
And don't forget life-long pensions at 80% salary.
How many distinguished engineers make anywhere close to these amounts (whether public or private)? Close to zero.
I mean, public service can pay well if you are a commissioner or head of a for-profit part of public service. I'm not sure there is much of a comparison to be made for software developers, though.
FERS gives you 1.1%years of servicehigh 3 average salary, which is about 40% salary for a lifetime of service.
The NYPD give 2.1%years of serviceaverage salary and early retirement at 20 years of service (less 50% social security upon that kicking in) which is a hell of a good deal, but hardly representative of what most government workers get. I think they are probably among the only 80% pay.
You also end up with the (generally state) government worker problem of the government just deciding that paying your pension is expensive, and then having it reduced or removed. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
If yes, can you cite a reference (I'd like to know about it)?
If no, then what precisely do you mean?
Startup hiring process in a nutshell.
Sure, some of them have a social aspect, something interesting, etc
But for others I can't see how they manage to say it with a straight face
Now ISIS and other startups in that sector can feel free to continue being idiots. The locals need to avoid making the same mistakes, though. ;)
We hire a lot of H1B candidates, so I'm convinced that the point of the scam is to depress wage scales for the LCA.
I currently have 7 weeks off/year plus 10 holiday days. No way I'd take all of that with the unlimited plan.
The best companies that can and do attract the best, still keep it simple - direct face to face interviews, max two stages to offer, no fucking around with shitty tech tests, and making the time and effort for the interview.
Also, agree on the 2 interview max. Technically we do 3, but the first is a 3 minute basic screen by the recruiter, not really an interview.
Exactly. The recruiter call should be primarily to gauge interest and to get some idea if the candidate has any skills and experience whatsoever. I've gotten calls from recruiters who were clearly not technical people asking fairly deep technical questions. That's an instant turn off to me.
"Tech" Recruiter: "I saw that you have 7+ years of Java experience! That's great, we're looking for a senior Java dev!"
"Tech" Recruiter: "Same thing, right?"
Programmer: "Too bad, I consider myself mediocre, bye"
I've found the best have interesting hobbies. The not so best have nothing to say beyond "how bout that sitcom/drama/game last night, eh?". The extroverts won't shut up about it and the introverts have to be coaxed, but one way or another if they can tell stories for hours, about something other than TV last night, they tend to be pretty good at their job.
Its a weaker argument that it has to be a craft hobby. Beer, carpentry, knitting, playing music, writing poetry, subject doesn't matter. If doing something the right way is important to them as a core value outside of work, then they'll tend to do things the right way at work.
Key statement here. Some employers need top coding skills in modern technologies. Some employers, like my current one, really don't need a top coder: they need good analysis skills with some coding. Employers need different degrees of executive function and technical skill. My previous employers valued high technical skill, but we had single product/project focus. My current employer doesn't need high technical skill, but a successful person in this environment needs to be able to multiplex across four projects with differing requirements - COTS implementation, soup-to-nuts software development, bridges between existing systems, etc. - while also providing at least second level support for existing systems.
In addition to executive function and technical skill, add in social skill. Some employers in my past had no problem with on-edge bright technical people. My current employer values politeness far over technical ability.
"Best" and even "successful" have to be defined by each organization according to their mission and values.
"We only hire the best" is a sales slogan, not a true management principle. The "best" aren't usually for hire at any given moment; they're very well employed already, or otherwise occupied. And when a high caliber person decides to move on, someone in his or her network will likely hear of it and snap them up.
I'd rather hear them say, "We have excellent hiring practices that filter out incompetence and unpleasant personalities. We have a great team here and we're really proud of the hard work they do."
Of course you can make a case for disruption; sometimes what a business needs is someone to challenge the norms, shake things up, rattle the chains, and that can be unpleasant if not downright threatening. An old manager of mine called such people "brilliant assholes". Gotta love'em for what they can achieve, but they're often not much fun to be around!
Yes, "the best" is a transparent lie. It doesn't matter though, because it serves the interests of companies who espouse it. DHH is calling a spade a spade here - but I'd hazard that the vast majority of the HN crowd already know.
Also, globally, there are lot of extraordinarily shit software people out there. If we define quality by "gets things done and doesn't break things and act in a crappy and deleterious manner", then it is not difficult for "the best" to mean the upper 60% of software people. It is completely reasonable to assume that the companies with this mantra do indeed hire from the top 60%, if only because of how many rubbish people there are.
I've heard a lot of complaints from friends and family in the tech industry over the years, as I've had my own issues. While details vary, it always comes down to the acting up of one obvious asshole or another. It infects the whole team/company/project.
In the long run, a team of average but positively motivated people more often than not beats a team with an asshole in it, even if he/she is a rockstar/guru/ninja/jedi/whatever. And their lives won't be miserable in the process.
That's where the problems lie, when everyone the person is an asshole but no one can do anything about it.
An asshole is who someone who makes like miserable for most people they interact with. Or they make life miserable for a whole group of people (e.g. someone who is shitty to subordinates, treats women poorly, etc.).
Pity; its great sport. What, you think you'll be fired?
"Our company is founded on an engineering mindset in which the best ideas always win and people are encouraged to candidly speak their minds!"
Of course, some people find being told "no" to be asshole move. 🤷 ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
We've heard many stories of how it only takes one asshole on a team to ruin the team. However, assholery takes many forms. It includes the perpetually acerbic who's impossible to work with, but it also includes the perpetually offended who derails conversations into pointless tone arguments and recursive meta-discussion unless you walk on metaphorical eggshells when speaking to them.
Lots of talk about the former, little to none about the latter. I'd wager that if you're running a team whose purpose is to accomplish a set goal, the latter is necessarily more destructive than the former from a sheer time commitment standpoint, and that's before discussing the "meta is murder" principle.
Then again, I'm speaking from the standpoint of a group outsider. If you have a culture that demands civility above all else (up to and including logic and correctness), that group is probably okay with how they work, and would rightly judge poorly anyone who wouldn't conform to that culture.
"The best" is a relative measure. An absolute measure must be set first and gatekeepers put in place to guard it. Then, do all you can to find candidates exceeding that measure and then pick the best FIT you can from there.
blisterpeanuts is right on...
What are you supposed to say; we hire mediocre developers? Give me a break. "Best" is such a loaded, nothing term that it doesn't really mean anything without a ton of context.
This is a waste of outrage.
At best that can indicate "we copied and pasted the top part of this job description from every other job we've posted", at worst it can mean "we have a very corporate culture, so I hope you're going to bring your 'team player' rock star ninja game"
It's not good or bad, but it can tell you something about the company - just like the company will scrutinize resumes and job histories to find clues for what potential hires are like. Signals all around.
> What are you supposed to say; we hire mediocre developers?
They’re not that great, and they know it, and you like it like that.
Ok, fine. That's obviously not what we're talking about. You don't recruit talent or raise capital on the idea that you are going to put talent in the sub-basement of a server room because they are a "warm body."
Seriously, I think WOHTB is an indication that the company doesn't know the difference between selection and training. They want the technical equivalent of Navy SEALs (which is already a questionable goal) so they put in an equivalent of BUD/S, but that's a training program and they're using it for selection. Anybody capable of getting past that is either a faker or doesn't need it, and since the second group will also have little patience for it all you're left with is the fakers. Not a strategy for success. I don't mind, though, because their failure makes things easier for the rest of us.
Vettel and Webber crashed as well in Turkey 2010 as they battled for the lead: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vx9zIQvrdZU
I think pointing out some of the absurdities of software development culture and startups is fun. It's unfortunate that Startup L. Jackson hung up his hat :/.
Problem with former employer was a lousy work environment for uninteresting work...
The second thing high performing companies do is have entry level roles where you can mass hire to see who rises to perform as "the best" where you can then promote out of that pool into your "hard to hire" roles where you cannot afford an average or below average player on the team.
You'll also need to pay the best at market rates for "best" not market rates for "average". "Pay" breaks down into what I call 'the money/fun dial' -- the dial goes from 0% money / 100% fun to 100% money / 0% fun. At 0% money those activities are called hobbies and everyone has a list of activities they enjoy doing each day they either spend money on or at best break even. At 100% money / 0% fun this is effectively "selling your soul" -- these are the jobs that leave you no time or energy to have hobbies, non-work relationships, or a family. With my company we aim for 50%/50% on the dial -- we pay well, allow folks to work hard on meaningful projects, and give them time for hobbies/friends/family. I view life as a marathon and if you turn the dial up or run a company culture with the dial turned up beyond 50% on money people will work for you until they burn out or make enough to find a long term home.
We only hire the best means we only hire the trendiest
I think a quick reply with a link to this article will do the trick.
Do you want to "hire the best" or do you want to reject anyone with a Ph.D. degree? E.g., how many STEM field Ph.D. holders have you hired to date?
...and not recognizing it is a prerequisite for running a company.
Employee: I want the most money for the least work.
In the current market Employer > Employee.
This "salary cut" works only in this case: The employee is not just looking for money but something intangible from the job (Experience/network/etc.) This doesn't apply to most of you guys who have no intention to start a company or make a huge leap in life. That's why you think it's bullshit. But there are also a small number of people who are really not driven by just money but puts a lot of value on the intangibles I mentioned above.
Many startups look for these types of people, so to those of you who are hating on this idea: there's nothing wrong with you hating on them. It's by design, these companies don't want you either. I know from experience because I've hired people who just got in without any specific reason. These people tend to give up very soon because they simply don't care about what they're building. And again, there's nothing wrong with that. It's just that these startups can't afford to hire you.
Here's my horror story: I was working on a startup. We were fortunate to have a guy who's extremely talented and wrote the core part of our product. However he switched ship immediately when he realized it was a business that will take time to mature. I really hated that guy for a while because we had to basically abandon our core product the day he just left. Now I understand and also know that part of it was my fault too, but it was a very difficult experience for me. If you look at the world with this lens you'll notice so many "rockstar developers" jumping ship after another when things don't go well for the company (which is totally fine for them but bad for the company). That's why startup companies should care more about the "right match" than "rockstar developers". And hiring a rockstar developer by paying him tons of money when he's not so passionate about the company's vision is the worst thing you can do.
An analogy is most girls who don't want guys who are just in it for her looks. When you try to seduce a girl, complementing her looks rarely works unless your social status is extremely obviously high or if your looks are extremely great. In most cases you have to demonstrate that you like her not just for her looks but because of her personality. Most girls don't want a guy to just have fun for one night, never to see again, especially if they like them. I know many girls who gave up on a guy she really liked because she didn't want to be hurt. Startups are like that.
Your guy switched to another company because you were on track to become rich off his work, and he was not. If you incentivized him right, he'd stay. Did you ask him why he left? Because if not, you really did not learn a lesson.
Lastly, he switched because no one was getting rich off anyone's work. We were going through difficult times. But that was not the point of my comment. You blame me of being sexist but maybe you should also be less biased when reading someone else's words.