Apparently if you actually try it, you get fired:
> Apparently if you actually try it, you get fired
Apparently, firing ensures that there is no further "abuse".
Excerpt from the wikipedia article :
> The first part of the phrase is often remembered as "let a hundred flowers bloom". It is used to refer to an orchestrated campaign to flush out dissidents by encouraging them to show themselves as critical of the regime, and then subsequently imprison them. This view is supported by authors Clive James and Jung Chang, who posit that the campaign was, from the start, a ruse intended to expose rightists and counter-revolutionaries, and that Mao Zedong persecuted those whose views were different from the party's.
Many who expressed critical opinions ended up under investigation and in prison labour camps.
The short version is that Mao encouraged people to openly express non-communist political philosophies and then killed or imprisoned those who had done so.
"Let a hundred schools of thought contend"
Ah, how history repeats itself.
That is to identify dissenters so that they can be eliminated before they create some damage in the news. Not to solve any of their problems.
Whistle blowing never works. Its a mechanism to identify dissenters and eliminate them.
Of course! What more efficient way could there be to identify and weed out potential troublemakers in the organization?
Well, of course you get fired. You're obviously a malcontent, and clearly not a team player. But, in fairness to Bezos, this is pretty much SOP at many companies.
It's another one of those inventions that heavily favor the employer at the expense of the employee.
Though I think they can withhold benefits for longer than that separately from the probation period, but that's kind of rare I think.
Really withholding benefits in Canada is pretty different than in the us, though, since here it means you don't buy glasses for three months and there it means you'd better not break your legs.
edit: I am in Ontario and I know a guy in the medical feild that had a 1 year probabtion
It costs a lot in terms of productivity, time, and dollars to bring someone new into the company. As an employer I don't know if you've completely misrepresented yourself or not- especially as a developer. I've hopefully done my best to make a good hire and be forthcoming in helping you make your best decision as well, but just like in dating, we're not necessarily sure how this thing is going to go at first.
In the tech industry I've never come across an employer that withheld insurance during the first 90 days, and most I've come across have you accruing your vacation immediately as well. I've seen employers in other industries (like manufactring) withhold all benefits until the 90 day mark though.
All my discussions with new hires on the 90 day trial period go something like this: "We're going to meet more frequently than we normally would, I'm going to give you more frequent feedback than I normally would, and I'm going to review your work much more often than I normally would in order to make sure that you're not getting lost in how we do things and that I can help you out with anything as fast as possible."
If you're a smart employer/manager you're going to use that arbitrary trial period to aggressively make sure your new people succeed. If you suck, you look for a problem and cut bait.
Personally, I think it's pretty crappy as it means that the company has all the leverage if they make a bad hiring decision, the person is let go after already potentially leaving another job for this one.
But I still disagree. I don't own a company (yet), but I would like to have employees, who are strong enough, to tell the truth, even though it might hurt some feelings.
And if they honestly can tell me, what they like or did not at their former place, it would be much easier for me and also for them, to decide, if they would fit in this (imaginary) company.
And if, later, my company would be bad in their perception, they may say so, in the next interview.
I just like solid facts, even though they are sometimes not nice.
It is frankly risky to say anything bad about a previous company, because even something minor like, "management micromanaged too much" could be interpreted by a cynical interviewer as "this person doesn't get anything done and whines when someone asks him what he's doing with his time." But even a good interviewer will take it as a bad sign if you spend five minutes enumerating everything you hate about your previous/current employer.
If the legitimate reason would be, that they micromanaged everything, because of lack of trust, even though I delivered results and that the general atmosphere were a mixture of hate and distrust, then I would very much say so in the next interview, if asked. And if they then won't take me, I would assume it is because the new place is similar and they just don't like people talk about it. So no place where I want to be anyway ...
An interviewer can't see anything about your history except what you tell them, and any decent interviewer will know not to take your word as gospel. So you need to look at anything you say through the eyes of a person who knows is making a guess at the accuracy of everything you say. It's totally possible that if you say your old employer has a culture of distrust and hate, you're telling the absolute truth. It's also possible though that you are a problematic employee and you're bitter because you were fired/pushed out for being unpleasant and incompetent. So you need to be careful how you present your story so that it's hard to interpret negatively.
I've seen employees who really didn't do anything useful. I've seen managers work with them for months trying to resolve issues. I've seen those same managers resort to micromanaging because at some point that's all you can do. And I've seen those problematic employees finally get pushed out and then rant on Facebook and in person about how terrible their manager and/or the company were, when I know for a fact that they were the bulk of the problem.
Imagine if you asked the interviewer how they felt about their current employer and they told you it's pretty good except that the guy you're replacing was terrible, that he was incompetent and constantly angry and despite constant oversight he never delivered anything of value. This should be a point of concern for you. Was the previous employee the entire problem? Is the position overworked? Did manager deal with it but berating the employee to just do more rather than working with the employee to fix the problems? And will the company badmouth you to others if/when you leave?
A bad employee stays a bad employee, even though he hides the truth by not bitching and a bad company stays bad, even though nobody dares to talk about it. But with honesty people find out those things more quickly ...
If you want to speak up at your current employer to resolve issues, I would generally encourage that. There's clear value in being honest with your employer and trying to work out issues (though there can also be risk if you have a really unhealthy relationship with management). Being "honest" with an interviewer about your current company doesn't solve anything. You won't fix problems with your current employer by telling a new company about them. You won't likely discover anything useful about the new company. And they won't likely learn anything useful about you, because it's impossible for them to tell if you're just bitter and spiteful or if you had legitimate problems caused by the company.
See also the other reply, but I seriously don't see why that would be bad for my (imaginary) company, unless I want to hide, that my company is indeed "bad"
> This is like saying you should tell everybody about the trouble you have in your marriage - because "truth"
And no it is not. You don't tell everybody, but your close friends - because they are interested and might be able to help
And having a potential employee telling honestly you, what he did not like at his former place, is a very good context for useful information, to find out, if he fits.
Because if he didn't liked it for example, that in the last company they expected results ... than you know, that he probably won't fit in your place as well.
But if he tells you, that they focused much more on formalities, than on results, then you maybe say "welcome home", we also like more the latter ...
> A prospective new employer may ask you why you left your previous job and what you liked and didn’t like about your employer. This line of questioning is designed not only to learn more about you and your professional history but also to find out about how you’re likely to characterize your new job in the future. If you talk poorly or complain, it sends a red flag that you are unprofessional and lack company loyalty.
If a company expects me to lie in the future about my potential bad experience, it would not be a company I would work for.
Sure, just "bitching" and whinery complaining ... no, nobody likes that and people who do that. But why should a company get my loyality, if they are indeed bad?
 FWIW, I've had some bad jobs, usually because they were startups where people didn't know what they were doing. Well meaning people in over their heads can be tough but fun and the furthest things from abusive. Amazon was organized to abuse employees as a consequence of protecting management egos.
> How then can others be warned about abusive
Nobody prevents you from doing everything else. But this is a job interview, and how you behave here shows how you will behave in the future. You think it's a good idea to show your new employer that you will shit-talk them next time?
This topic has been discussed here on HN repeatedly, what I said initially has always been the recommendation.
> A prospective new employer may ask you why you left your previous job and what you liked and didn’t like about your employer. This line of questioning is designed not only to learn more about you and your professional history but also to find out about how you’re likely to characterize your new job in the future. If you talk poorly or complain, it sends a red flag that you are unprofessional and lack company loyalty.
Over and out, it's getting ridiculous.
1) I'm never going to work at Amazon
2) If you're judging a company based on the experiences of those who are dissatisfied, isn't that always going to be heavily biased?
At any large company, there will be many people who are unhappy and dissatisfied. If you go out looking for stories from such people, and compile them into a single digest, it's going to make any company look dysfunctional.
Using a glassdoor-esque rating system seems like the best way to judge a company. And Amazon's rating there is 3.4 (https://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Amazon-com-Reviews-E6036.h...). Which is nowhere near Google (4.4) or Facebook (4.5), but it isn't horrible either. It's even slightly above average (3.3) across all companies in Glassdoor.
Which does kind of make sense... no tech company can churn out great technology products over many years, if the work-culture is dysfunctional. Purely for that reason alone, I'm sure Bezos would put a lid on how bad the work culture at Amazon can possibly get.
All of which is to say... I get the feeling that Amazon is probably an okay place to work. It's not great. It's probably a little below-average for the tech industry. But it's probably not as dysfunctional as these reviews and horror stories seem to suggest.
There seems to be hot-spot groups that seem to originate a majority of the complaints, and they're not the tech teams we think about first when we're on HN reading these stories- a lot of the horrors happen on the 'non-tech' side.
With all that, I'd still never work there. It's generally a very tough place to work and I've heard of all kinds of funny ways those big bonuses have a way of disappearing/shrinking. As I tell the recruiters every two weeks when they inevitably call or email- I appreciate the tools they've built for me to run my company, I'm a Prime subscriber, and Alexa basically runs my house, but I want nothing to do with stepping foot in that campus as an employee.
Anyway, this guy was frank enough with me about that stuff, that I actually believe him when he said that all those bad articles about amazon's culture (which had just come out weeks prior at that point) were probably accurate for some parts of the company, but he had never encountered it.
I didn't end up getting an offer from them ( I wouldn't have hired me based on the tech interviews either. Every single applied programming problem was some form a tree traversal, which I don't use regularly anymore) and was a little relieved that I wouldn't end up working there.
Amazon is not very friendly towards open-source. When I was there, I believe their policy was that you needed to ask for permission to contribute to any open-source project. The policy was broad (covering things like code snippets on StackOverflow or /r/programming on Reddit) and strict (I heard they would not approve anything related to game development). There definitely were folks who contributed to open-source projects -- I think those people either didn't ask for permission or had friendly managers.
If you have something new you want to work on, you normally need to contact your company's legal or HR team and get signoff that you are allowed to work on it (and that you can maintain ownership of it).
The first time I assumed that it was just a freak thing, after the second time I asked around and got the vibe it was completely normal for a variety of reasons, often because a manager on the interview cycle with more clout decided they liked you and you were therefor going to be working for them.
I like a lot of things they build and believe there are some very talented people there, but at what cost am I willing to participate in that activity directly? Not that high, I'll just reap the fruits of their labor from the outside.
I've worked there myself and have a ton of friends who have spent time there. Some folks have even enjoyed working there. Overwhelmingly the evidence is that Amazon is a very bad place to work at, on average. You might get lucky and find a good team (amazon is incredibly federated as an organization) but you might also get unlucky and get an extra bad team. Also, unlike a lot of other tech companies of similar size (such as Microsoft or Amazon) there's basically no "love" at the corporate level for individual employees. At other companies reaching that "full-time employee" status level means something, and the company is willing to invest in you. You have the ability to move around to different teams, you have the ability to change your role. You have a wide range of options in terms of training to take. Working as an FTE at Amazon feels like working as a contractor anywhere else.
It's very dysfunctional, though there are enough devs who mostly know what they're doing who stick around for a long time to keep things running. Additionally, the service oriented architecture of the system makes it a lot easier to cycle through lots and lots of devs.
Of all of the folks I've known who have worked there most left after a short period of time because they hated it.
That said, I have generally positive things to say, but I've also witnessed an entire team of 6 SDEs quit under an especially bull-headed SDM. I've also seen managers making ridiculous promises to upper management without vetting them first.
Thankfully the bad SDM found another job, but he's still working in another department in the company.
Could you clarify? that's kind of what I expect when being on-call anywhere
Most importantly, unlike a typical Ops/DevOps job where being on-call is "your job" you are still expected to deliver on your "real" development job in addition to being on-call.
Amazon is an okay to great place to work if you have low standards and low self respect/esteem. Many engineers are this way without realizing it even. (Because we can see all the flaws in ourselves and our systems and don't realize that this isn't objective, so when we're mistreated we figure it's more legitimate than it is.)
Of the people at amazon who were happy there when I was there, it was mostly people with low requiremetns- they figured if they got their paycheck every month they were happy. They weren't bothered by their bosses abusing them verbally, or the other nonsense that others have talked about.
I like how you just make a blanket statement like "It is okay or great if you have low standards and low self respect/esteem". Way to play the superiority card. I know guys who went from Amazon to Google and say they liked Amazon way more.
Our experiences are obviously both anecdotal.. but only one of us is making condescending value judgments of others.
I wasn't being condescending. There are a lot of engineers who have low self esteem (that's not a value judgement- too high self esteem is bad, as is too low, but "low" means "Lower than their value as a person", eg: they under value themselves. I'm not devaluing them.) And there are a lot of people who just aren't too picky about their workplace. I think that many of them are people early in their careers who don't know that they're being mistreated as poorly as they are.
Before I worked at Amazon I heard many stories from people who worked there about how terrible it was. I foolishly discounted them, and went to work there anyway, in large part because I undervalued myself, (eg: low self esteem effectively) and I was not being as picky as I should have been.
Just because people made the same mistake I did and might have felt the company was ok, because thy didn't have the alternative experiences I did, doesn't mean I'm wrong.
I consider you to have turned my comments about the topic to the person, by making a condescending characterization of me that was unwarranted by my comments.
Contrast that with startups where the lack of resources and increasing growth makes it feel broken.
Also if you're growing headcount very quickly, culture doesn't always get transmitted and you can end up with factions fighting against each other.
"Life is pain. Anyone who says otherwise is trying to sell you something."
You do, however, get to pick your pain. Pain from growing too quickly feels much different from organizational disfunction.
In Amazon's case they might have both (!) because of how fast they grow and how big they are.
Sometimes, the people part of the bad ones wake up and start bitching, then you get this.
Google has great reviews, but it has its share of bad departments. It also has a lot of koolaid drinkers, so the people who work in those just bitch about it a lot to their friends and it never goes any further than that... Eventually someone will post a NYT article about it and make Google sounds totally horrible because of those localized issues, just like Amazon. Or maybe they'll just keep drinking the koolaid. Who knows!
I don't buy this as an excuse. There are too many stories about Amazon culture to write them all off as a loud minority. Either Amazon has more bad departments than other companies or the bad ones are just worse. Either way I don't care, I don't want to work in a toxic environment and am not going to coin-flip that I get put into one of the good ones.
Though I blame it more on their slightly looser hiring practices. A lot of people get hired there that have no business working as engineers on hard problems anywhere. Then Amazon does what most tech companies seem to have trouble doing: can them (they should not have hired them in the first place, but still). Then they write stories about it complaining about how great they were and were canned.
You're suggesting Amazon struggles not because of bad management (as almost every story suggests) but because their developers aren't skilled enough? That's a really strange claim on the face of it.
That said, they totally have bad management. Like the majority of tech companies minus a couple of shiny ones. What I'm saying is that, aside from the fact they are a pretty visible target among tech companies with shitty management, one of their main issues is that they have very lax entry requirements, so not only people bitch about the real issues, they ALSO bitch about non-issues because a large segment of their devs suck. Yes.
Silly of you to claim amazon has lax hiring standards.
I find this to be true of the megacorps I've worked for but the problem at amazon seems to be the entire culture starting with Bezos.
We are not talking about a single person here. There is a systemic issue it seems.
The Amazon issue isn't just that they are large. IT's their culture, which is employee hostile.
Companies have processes and policies, I don't buy the "bad department" excuse. Of course, some have it better than others, but often bad working conditions are the result of policies put in place by the upper management.
And the fact that Amazon is as big and healthy of a company as it is and the fact that it loses an entire point compared to Google and Facebook in ratings means that the culture must be really bad. And when you consider that the lowest of the companies in Glassdoor are not only shitty culture but businesses that are fundamentally swirling down the toilet bowl as well -- and Amazon for all its success can only eek out an 'Average' rating?
That means the culture must be pretty bad.
(And based on my working there for 5 years, I know the culture is pretty bad -- but if you asked me to rate it, I'd probably rate it a 3 overall -- good place to spend a year or two to learn some cutting edge technology to get on your resume, but then you should escape before you stay there too long...)
It's the same in that glassdoor thread you linked: even the people who are trying to recommend Amazon as a good place to work end up making its culture sound aggressive, cutthroat, and inflexible. Not my cup of tea.
"Jeff Bezos Assures Amazon Employees That HR Working 100 Hours A Week To Address Their Complaints"
Is their HR outsourced? Because they should also be their employees, right? :D
EDIT: Judging from the down votes, I guess that someone didn't get the sarcasm. :)
There was a point in my life where I'd say I'd never again work in government, finance, or healthcare related companies, and now I actually find I'd rather do that because management politics is /less cutthroat/ and more reasonable in those industries than it is in tech. I hope maybe we'll see a real revival in the tech industry one of these days, but so many of the companies that have made it big have done it by stomping on the people who actually matter. Tech these days is all about big egos fueled by big dollars, but the numbers don't actually matter so things are irrational from the top all the way down.
At least in finance, the numbers are all that matter at the end of the day. At least in healthcare there's a semblance of care given to the patients. At least in government there's an understanding if not a fulfillment of the social contract. In tech all we have are douchebags with big wallets and bigger egos (Bezos, Ellison, et al) destroying the lives of their employees (and sometimes their customers) to enrich themselves at the expense of all others. It's completely pathological.
A lot of techies, especially young guys, are hyper-competitive from very early on. I think a lot of shops have a problem where the cut-throats are a good part of the staff, then these guys start graying a bit, have kids, etc and realize they can't keep up but they've already created a cut-throat culture. So they burn out and move onto a company with better benefits and values.
Its easy to blame CEOs, and obviously they should share the blame here, but a lot of this culture is grassroots. The most miserable environments I've been in are CS classes and early career tech work. Holy shit, are the egos huge and the attitudes bad. Social skills in IT are below average in general in my experience, so we're talking a lot of serious and dedicated misanthropes with stereotypical male social aggression, bullying, and intimidation. (gee, women don't feel comfortable in CS classes, I wonder why?)
The real question is why aren't we teaching the values of work-life balance, win-win, etc from early on. Is it schooling with its emphasis with grades and "doing better than the other guy?" By the time it gets to the CEO level, its already been ingrained in society. My pet theory is that CEO behavior just reflects the rest of us. If it didn't they'd be kicked out of by the board or an employee uprising. A lot of people love Bezos and his heavy-handed ways, in fact, they think this is why Amazon products provide such a good value.
As we move towards automation and post-scarcity these questions are going to become important. It may be the case that today's batch of CEO bad guys are the last generation as GMI and other concepts become political realities to handle later stage capitalism, economic drive-downs, loss of jobs via automation, and lower costs of living.
I think it is only "a lot" when you only look at the relatively small sample who frequent sites like HN. I used to work for a large defense contractor, where out of hundreds of engineers of all disciplines I could count on one hand the number of HN readers, and only 20% or so of engineers fit the hyper-competitive mold. Obviously there was some level of self-selection (part of the reason I am not there anymore), but places like this represent the bulk of engineering jobs.
People pursue status almost unconsciously. If you don't pursue status, you might pay for it with your job. The thing I find appalling is that employers seem to encourage this - after all, if your people are so busy knifing each other in the back, they're probably not actually working.
Of course what I'm missing with that is - that's how they got there.
At some point society will need to make a choice (if it doesn't end up being made for us in one way or another along the way). We need to figure out if we want to prioritize wealth or welfare (in the broadest sense of those terms). That is, do we consider it ethical and acceptable for one person to lord over others within their micro-fiefdom merely on the justification of "getting there first". Or do we consider how the entry into a post-scarcity society empowers us to think globally and communally, where the goals are the advancement of everyone as a whole rather than individuals.
Personally, I follow a highly individualist philosophy, but I'm not ignorant to some of the unintended consequences that can come from that philosophy, and I think the fact we govern ourselves at a crossroads without wholly committing to either side actually worsens these consequences. Collectivism philosophies come with their own consequences, but I think once resources no longer are limiting factors for individuals or groups, it becomes about allocation of intellectual energy instead and this is where a collectivist philosophy might shine.
It's easy to say we shouldn't blame the CEOs, but in this case I think there's something related between how shareholders and boards think about CEO behavior, how employees think about CEO behavior, how CEOS think about their own behavior, and our social trend towards cults of personality and celebrity. We as a society have put a significant amount of effort into glorifying people who are act like total dicks in the business world. To some extent, it's helped us get to this point. But there's a huge amount of ethical concerns with that, and it's just simply no longer necessary and is now detrimental to getting further.
At the end of the day though, we've enshrined a ton of power and wealth in these individuals and they have a responsibility to themselves and to all those that depend on them to make the right choices. Ethics is a huge component of this, and the fact so many of these CEOs behave unethically towards one reliant party (shareholders, customers, vendors, employees) or another is a testament to their willingness to compromise ethics in favor of personal enrichment. That's an individual choice and we can't blame anyone else for making it. It's even more egregious when the CEOs in question are also founding members of their companies, such as Bezos and Ellison that I called out in my original post by name.
Is this culture common at many tech-focused universities? It certainly wasn't at MIT 5 years ago.
Grading on a curve also fosters competition by its very nature. Doing well on a test doesn't mean mastering the material, it means beating 90% of the class to ride the curve to an A.
Which from my understanding is a collection of anonymous rants from Amazon employees, and the posted link is just an example.
As someone already posted, it would be interesting to hear if someone in HN can provide some counterexample, or if the rants are spot on.
Here's an anonymous comment that backed Amazon:
(there were plenty of negative experiences too)
I also interviewed once with them for a TPM position and had a fairly weird discussion with the recruiter about compensation and had to field some pretty random interview questions. Nothing was particularly terrible about my experience, but it made me wonder if I wanted to move across the country for what looked like a very non-amazing job.
Their inventory system is totally screwed up, worst I ever seen. I can't understand how they can run their company the way they do.
"I sent in 14. 14 were received, 1 was lost and 1 was found. How many should have? 14
How many does Amazon say I should have? 11. How many units do I actually have? 9."
As for your situation, I'd encourage you to get out there and look for a new job ASAP. I've had a bunch of different jobs in my career and for me it was actually pretty refreshing starting a new job somewhere. Of course, after a while the grim reality would set in about how this place wasn't that great (usually it was something in the job that changed, such as new management), but for a while they'd usually be pretty fun since their expectations of a new-hire are pretty low, and some jobs actually were pretty good all around. Don't just sit around and stew about your last job; get out there and get a new one and you'll forget about that last horrible one before long. Also, the longer you stay unemployed the harder it'll be to get a new gig, so don't wait.
That being said, Amazon is still considered a top tech firm, even if it is a cut below Google/Facebook in prestige. There aren't many tech firms as well-known as Amazon. I can see many fresh grads going to Amazon for 1-2 years just to get it on their resume.
In an absolute sense it may be a hellish place to work and the average turnover might for the sake of argument be 6 months. But lets say you have a job hopping stain on the resume and you gut out 9 months of amazon, well, that's fifty percent longer than most survive, that employee must have a cast iron stomach and be a focused dedicated team player, etc etc. Paradoxically Amazon being hell on earth is a benefit in that scenario, obviously you don't want to waste your life on HR nonsense, and if you can prove you're tough in 9 months instead of 2 years, well, thats great. Actually, make working conditions worse at Amazon if at all possible so "tough guys" can prove themselves in only two months instead of the made up 9 months.
Also, when I was working there I had a difficult time reconciling myself to how bad it was to work there. On paper it doesn't seem so bad. You get to work on pretty interesting stuff sometimes, you make good money, typically you only have to work 40 hour work weeks, etc. I convinced myself to walk away from a good chunk of money just in bonuses to get out of there, some people might be able to stick it out longer or find the money harder to leave behind.
The problem is that having such a huge portion of the economy being involved in knowledge work is a relatively new thing, and we don't understand the differences between knowledge work and physical work. And especially we don't have thoroughly established standards on what constitute good and bad conditions for knowledge work. We tend to think that sitting in a chair for 8 hours a day is "easy", but it very much is not. A stressful working environment for a knowledge worker is just as bad if not worse than a physical stressful job working extended hours. I only spent a year at Amazon, and most of the time I probably didn't even put in full 40 hour weeks, but I hated it there. In comparison I view the time I spent years ago doing data entry at sometimes up to 70 or 80 hours a week during peak times as comparatively inconsequential. Depending on the team you're on and so forth, working at Amazon can be a painful and stressful experience.
Take being on call for example. In theory this isn't so bad, it's good to give devs exposure to how the ops side of things works, and it's in theory good to give them ownership of their own mistakes so that they have incentive to write good code. The problem is, you're not in charge. You're never going to get permission to dump the resources into making everything run well, ever. Most teams have other priorities and they don't have enough resources to spare to allow you to properly fix the code you're responsible for. Worse, it's not even your code, it's code that was written by someone else years ago who also left years ago. And the next person is just going to get whatever mess you leave behind when you leave. So in the average case you can't actually work to improve things, so being on call is going to always be an extra pain, and a significant intrusion into your theoretically off-work life. Worse, it'll push you behind on all the other stuff you need to deliver.
Meanwhile, you have all the typical office BS of politics, ranking, bad corporate culture, reorgs, etc. that you have to deal with day to day. Some people manage to find good teams in that mess, and others manage to just turn off whatever makes people care about work and just suffer through it for the paycheck. But for a lot of people, more so the more you care, it'll be a stressful nightmare. And the easiest way to avoid dealing with all those problems is to just leave, which lots of people do.
the most stressful part of this entire industry, and i know this from experience, is fixing other peoples' problems on-demand. whatever form it takes, that's the absolute worst fucking job in this entire field, because you get blamed for problems you did not cause, and blamed a second time for not fixing it fast enough.
Curious - does this take into account their warehouse employees who are not FTE's and are seasonal or only FTE's?
Keep in mind that can be somewhat misleading, if you have 3 positions and for 2 of those you have people who have stayed there 5+ years but for the other one you have had 5 people cycle through at a year each the median tenure will still be just 1 year. Even so, that's a pretty scary stat.
Well, that makes me fell better about being rejected. :/
I have been downvoted on reddit for saying this, but my opinion is that a company should be confident enough in a "no" that they won't reconsider that person for a substantially similar role. If they aren't, they need to fix their hiring process so they are.
As an aside, the other thing that really pisses me off is to hear about how in-demand "software engineers" are while still having to deal with this crap. Seems like a self-imposed problem to me.
 "Substantially similar" here means same level, same stack, and same team, as appropriate for a particular company. IMO level should largely be irrelevant at larger companies because a candidate should be judged on hireability into any level and an offer made at the highest one appropriate. If there isn't one appropriate but a slot opens up within a reasonable amount of time, an offer should be made to previous interview candidates who passed that bar but failed the higher one, without the need to re-interview.
One of the biggest problems is that it's just very difficult to gauge someone's competency well (even broadly) in a short amount of time. Worse, most folks who do interviews are unwilling to acknowledge how difficult a task it is and how bad they are at it. And the high level of legitimate rejections makes it easy to imagine that all of your rejections are legitimate.
It's very unfortunate because hiring is one of the most important things anyone does at a job, and hiring well (especially finding competence that other companies have passed over) is a major competitive advantage.
> You get maybe 1 in 10 people that you can pass from one stage to the next (i.e. resume review to phone screen, phone screen to interview, interview to job offer).
Where I currently work I have not been involved much in the early screening. My understanding is that resume to screen is about 1:4 and screen to interview is about 1:10. I have been involved with the interviews, and our interview to offer is somewhere between 1:2 and 1:3. Our screen includes a 2-hour timed coding test, though, so I think it is fairly effective at filtering the poseurs. Prior to this I didn't have any visibility into the results.
This is tangential, but I often wonder how much of the phone screen and on-site failure rate has as its root cause a poor resume filtering function. When you say you only screen the top 10% of resumes, are you really screening the top 10% of candidates? I know it's a really hard question to answer, but it seems like many companies don't want to try to answer it.
> Worse, most folks who do interviews are unwilling to acknowledge how difficult a task it is and how bad they are at it.
This is one thing that really bothers me about this industry. So many companies think it is acceptable to just yank semi-random engineers out of their daily routine to go interview a candidate. I came from the traditional engineering world, and we got training before we were assigned to interviewing candidates. Furthermore, for our first interviews we were always paired with another interviewer who had significant experience.
> It's very unfortunate because hiring is one of the most important things anyone does at a job, and hiring well (especially finding competence that other companies have passed over) is a major competitive advantage.
What is ridiculous is the number of people who treat hiring as a distraction from their real job. If you want any sort of management responsibility, hiring is part your job.
Now obviously, I can't say whether that's fair to the company, however it must be costing them a lot of money. I bet there are a lot of people that have heard the din of politics and would never consider working there.
Are there any HN readers that are currently working at Amazon and that are happy?
That or it existed until several years ago and the rumors have a time delay in coming out.
I did well with the culture, and therefore had a positive experience. I'm definitely aware of people who didn't. I'm also aware of people who weren't unhappy, but left for unrelated reasons (several because the weather in the Bay Area trumps Seattle for them. I don't know if I feel that way, having not lived down there, but I think Seattle's weather is vastly underrated.)
(I feel compelled to defend Amazon since I feel like the lone naysayer in this comment thread.)
This was directly from an entry level offer and it is general practice to get a salary increase at annual reviews and more RSUs for after your fourth.
Like many RSUs, if you leave before your RSUs vest, you forfeit them. This is pretty much your 4 year incentive to stay.
EDIT: Clarifying RSU forfeiture
I totally agree, I don't really like it. I think, though, that the astronomically large bonuses are worse than the small ones. Paying back $5000 (+ income tax, mind you) is much easier than paying back $100k + tax.
As for signing bonuses, I have read contracts from various startups that want you to pay your signing bonus (which is generally about 5k) back if you leave within the first year.
I have heard stories from other employees, claiming that entire teams were fired, and workloads were transferred to the remaining employees - however they have been just that - unverified rumors.
RSUs are back loaded. I forget the exact numbers, but it is something akin to 5% vested after 1st year, then 15%, then 35%, so after 2 years the vesting schedule makes it pretty hard to walk away from, especially with the current stock price. "If I stay just another 3 months I get 45 thousand bucks over my salary... hmm...."
* They missed first phone call.
* Then on interview day my future manager was not there. Heck, I suspect they didn't even know I was supposed to come in (yes, I did check my email 3 times that morning to make sure I wasn't crazy).
* People I talked to expected to be told about the stupid leadership principles. I talked more about those than actual cool stuff I did with distributed systems. One would think Amazon would care about distributed systems, but I guess not...
* Forgot about me during lunch. I was just left in a room by myself for an hour. After some point I started to walk around aimlessly hoping someone would ask if I am supposed to be there (I even had a funny comeback line ready)
* After promising to get back to me in 2 days, got back in 3 weeks.
* Didn't get the offer. Feels like dodged a bullet.
Take it as an anecdote, a fluke, but I see it as pointing to a systemic issue. I can see some problems, but it was just too many in row. From various people, at various points in time.
Then probably ask them how they like their job or such.
It's actually a pretty standard invention agreement across tech companies.
When you think of these managers, you need to ask, who are they? Where are they from? How did they get the job? What did they do before (large/small org)? What is their social background? What is their style?
At the root, I suspect it's shitty leadership at the top. The Valley execs I have met, let's just say they are not the sort of guys you would willingly go into battle for. Tech lacks a real officer class that commands respect.
I have also yet to see a non-white person quit over company culture issues. Thar be some elephants in thar rooms.
The director in charge of Fire TV was part of a sex trafficking ring that victimized Korean slaves in Bellevue, WA. This person is under indictment in King County courts. The women were slaves who were forced into prostitution to pay off debts to organized crime bosses in Asia. No doubt this person still has lots of friends that are still in management at Amazon.
So, for context of "how bad can it really be?" read the above and let that sink in a little bit. This is not being forced to work on the weekend kind of shit. No woman should be setting foot on Amazon campus for their own personal safety.
Once my management was split over several people and that was an issue as well as one could set incentives and then the other would obstruct because they didn't share the incentives and didn't care about the outcome. Not having shared incentives and outcomes has been the most common problem across my entire career.
Managers can set up goals and incentives and then change them at the last minute without telling you and claim you failed. Not maliciously in my case, but the effect is the same.
I'm sure the ways in which a manager can be bad is quite diverse.
This is spot on. Most of the currently big tech companies were founded by people who got where they are by means of their technical skill. The general disdain for "old order" businesses carries over into a disdain for management practices that were developed and refined at those "old" businesses, sometimes to the point that such things don't matter at all.
So big companies end up being run by goofballs who live out some juvenile fantasy by appearing in Star Trek. Makes Richard Branson look like Thomas Watson in comparison.
That generally happens when people luck out, ride a once in a lifetime wave and land at the top. And now think it was all due to their hard work. While it was luck all along.
I've had mentors whom I would follow anywhere. But I also have had people I wouldn't like to see their face again.
There are a plenty of career managers in Tech, whose solve purpose to work for their won existence.
With that kind of turnover, it occurs me to that you very well could survive without doing all the soul-sucking bullshit because the managers simply couldn't afford to lose more workers.
I'm not the one to try it, though, as I've no interest in working in those high-stress situations in the first place. I'm fine with making a little less and having a personal life outside of work.
But it is soul sucking...if you piss the wrong people off they will do their best to get rid of you and promote their lackeys. It really is welfare for the middle class.
Why did you inject race into the conversation for no reason? I've seen layabouts of every description
Having seen it occur to various people elsewhere where cultural rot had set in quite deeply, it's really quite simple.
Failing to suck up means you'll get mediocre to poor performance reviews. In places with stack ranking systems (reportedly Amazon is one of them), somebody has to be the goat and you basically are volunteering. You manager will say to you, with varying levels of sincerity, "I tried really hard to get you higher up in the rankings but there were a lot of people who did really strong work this year. You'll have to work extra hard next year to try to get a better ranking.". Unless you genuinely aren't doing a good job, you won't be punished directly but you won't get much in the way of raises, bonuses, or promotions either.
Eventually, people will notice that you have a long string of poor/mediocre reviews and relatively low level compared to your peers and will start assuming that you're not a good employee and look down on you. Internal transfers then become much more difficult and you become a prime target for being managed out or laid off.
As an intern, I worked on a team that was rapidly spinning apart. We were resource constrained, one of the team members was in Ireland (and he always seemed to need help from somebody else on the team), and the manager... I don't even know.
The first day I was there, he told me to write a tech spec for a new version of one of the team's projects. The examples he showed me were all pithy high-level algorithm overviews for small features, which had 0 relevance to my project. I spent a week and a half groping in the dark for what he wanted.
About 4-5 weeks in to the internship, I asked him how he thought I was doing. He told me to think about the Amazon leadership principals and to tell him how I thought I was doing next week during the one on one. What kind of manager doesn't give feedback, even when the employee asks directly?
The business owner was a tall guy with slicked-back hair. I was supposed to meet with him in the first week. He blew off four meetings with me over the first month before I stopped trying to schedule them. When he finally deigned to meet with me (7 weeks in), it was to tell me he wanted a feature that not only didn't exist, but was so far away from what was possible that I didn't even know what to make of it. He would also do this shit where he would try to take other people's food, which seemed to me like an aggressive display of dominance.
My mentor, a senior engineer, was the only one who was really helpful. It was he who read my code reviews, he who told me that he was impressed with how quickly I had learned the framework, and he who was actually setting goals for me that made sense. He said he had my back for the hiring meeting, which put me at ease.
I didn't end up getting hired. I read and reread the feedback document I got, trying to make sense of what had happened. I hit all of my deliverable dates, I know my code was clear and concise, I went to the social events and talked to people from all over the org... What could I have done better?
The answer I've arrived at is I should have sucked up. I should have tried to identify the people with real power, and done my best to make them happy. The business owner was in the hiring meeting, and if I had gotten him on my side, I could have written 12 loc total and still gotten a job. Amazon had been pretending to the new hires and interns that there wasn't any office politics, but I've never worked anywhere more political.
A friend of mine from university got a job in a different org inside of Amazon, and he told me that he looked at my employee feedback on the internal website and said that it didn't say anything concrete about why I hadn't hired, just stuff like "obviously skilled, but not a good fit." Maybe that's the truth. I've just started working for a company whose namesake was just nominated for CEO of the year, and I already feel more at home there than I ever did at Amazon.
Congratulations on avoiding that place.
Oh my God, please explain this.
Pretend that you brought a take-out burger and fries back to the office for your lunch. As you take a bite of your sandwich, a hand snakes out and snags one of your fries, which then disappears into the smarmy maw of the boss of your boss.
He's not even hungry. He just wants to see what you do when he takes your food. It's a dominance test, and as childish and petty a test as anyone could possibly imagine.
I don't even know how anyone passes it, either.
I've started to order my books through my local bookstore recently, it's surprisingly easy. I do my research online (often times via AMZN tbh) and pick up the books on my way from/to the office.
 Some examples here - https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/4wpl0i/whats_a_b...
I've stopped buying from them but I'm realistic, very few people will care enough to do so, not enough to affect their bottom line. I do it because it supporting them would feel wrong to me. Not because I expect I can make them change.
With its current practices, it's only a matter of time before Amazon has a recruitment problem that it can't fix.
That is to be seen. There are lots of horrible employers who are still around (EA for example). Supply of workers is much greater than demand (even software industry is not immune to it as more and more youngsters enter the profession)
I'm still searching for and working to develop a good solution to minimise the flow of my economic output to those who do undesirable things with it.
I give the Walmart example because the boycott sentiment has been around for so long. For companies as big as them and Amazon, even if boycotts hit the bottom line somehow, would they be able to sort that out from all the other factors that affect revenue and profits? It's like flies buzzing around an elephant. I doubt they'd make the connection and decide, "Oh, we'd better change the way we do business!"
It seems the only effective way might be to get high-impact media coverage. But then their spin-masters go on tv to neutralize the damage and everything stays the same.
You have. Trough your money.
Yeeaah, about that... Last time I ordered a book at my local book store, they just ordered it of Amazon. The guy behind the counter tried to remove the Amazon packing discreetly, but failed.
If book stores are going to be complain about how Amazon is putting them out of business, they should at least not use them as a supplier.
My local bookstore gives me Amazon's price, and has an understanding that my name doesn't go on the order.
Better yet: the library.
Then again Danish book stores are insanely crummy. Most of them are somewhere between an arts and crafts store and a book store. Many even add a toys section. The selection of books is a joke in most of them. For the largest chain of book stores, books almost seems to be a secondary product.
And then theres the shop itself. Hugendubel is a big chain and all its stores seem to have at least three stories. I guess boxes and boxes of overseas books fly every week to some distribution centre where they then get sent along to the stores along with the far larger bulk of German-language books.
I am not blameless in this; we just bought a house, and although we have a locally owned hardware store that I try to go to first, there are so many things I have had the options of A) waiting 7+ days for them to get it in, B) getting it from Home Depot/Lowes within an hour, or C) getting it delivered from Amazon Prime tomorrow. It is nearly impossible to compete with that, but I WANT to support my local guy whose family has owned the business since the 60's. I don't know what the answer is.
International companies have a way of shifting earnings into jurisdictions where they don't need to pay much taxes, since there is still a race to the bottom between countries. 'Better they pay us 2% of revenues that that other country 10%.'
(This has noting to do with the way the supply chain is done.)
So your suggestion is basically to support the less efficient businesses.
If you have any kind of self-interest, though, supporting local businesses should be your priority. How does it benefit you to send your money away from your city or town so that it does not get re-invested in the area directly surrounding you? A lower share of your money gets re-invested in roads and schools through taxes and it has a multiplying effect when local businesses shutter frequently. It lowers real estate prices (assuming you own real estate, this matters) and reduces the quality of life of those around you; a factor which tends to cause an increase in the crime rate.
Your argument is essentially, "Why eat at anywhere other than McDonalds? They have the most efficient supply chain."
You should really be buying from the people and businesses with the fewest trade transactions from your customers. Once upon a time, that meant buying local was a smart move, but now it's more complex.
Since I, as a software developer, do not have any small business customers, the tightest possible trade graph loops that could return my own spending back to me all go through the larger national- and international-scale businesses.
Generalizing, I should prefer to buy from the companies that spend the most on software and software development, or who often buy from companies that spend a lot on my industry.
If I go to the farmers' market, I should prefer to buy from the stand that uses Google Pay or Stripe or Square or Bitcoin--or even Paypal--than from the one that is cash-only. Failing that, I should buy from the guy who has the newest tractor, with programmable GPS-assisted steering and blinking LEDs on the cup holder. Failing that, I should buy from the guy that spends the most on MMORPGs and dating websites.
Anything invested in a place will never pay off if I have to move away from it. And if I move, I can always prefer to move to the places that already have good schools and roads and parks without any additional investment from me.
Why should I eat anywhere other than McDonald's? Every chain and franchise restaurant runs McDonald's management software. They have touchscreen POSTs, and reprogrammable menu displays, and video screens at both of the dual drive-through lanes. They are consistent and inexpensive and "invest heavily" in R&D. Because sometimes I just want a convenient variety of salubrious and tasty food to eat, that's why. When Just-Down-My-Street Diner hires me to remodel their website, that's when I should prefer to eat there out of pure economic self-interest.
That is a specific exception, maybe only to you. Just because you cannot find local customers doesn't mean that small businesses don't source software developers locally. I have done software development work for several businesses directly in my zip code, some of which I am also a customer.
You seem to specifically avoid the argument that small businesses in your area pay taxes for services that you consume directly. Why, exactly, is it more beneficial to you that your farmer plays an MMORPG than pays an override real estate tax that funds expanding a school in your neighborhood to better handle class sizes?
Also, you must not have a stake in the real estate market if you only care if the McDonald's in your neighborhood stays open.
>When Just-Down-My-Street Diner hires me to remodel their website, that's when I should prefer to eat there out of pure economic self-interest.
Again, just because you aren't currently engaging in this kind of business doesn't mean other people aren't. I find your argument very strange; that you can't work for local companies.
If you are hired by local business, then by all means, patronize those businesses in return. But as long as I am not hired by them, don't tell me I should, just because it is in your economic self-interest for me to do so.
You are very astute. I haven't had any stake in any real estate market anywhere since I lost the majority of my positive net worth to the real estate market in 2007. (Thanks very much for reminding me of that.) So whatever real estate market I happen to be in can go copulate with itself. I'm not buying anything I can't really own ever again.
Anecdotally, the property taxes I pay (that are included in my rent) go to the county--as do the business taxes paid by businesses on my side of the county line--and that county has refused to remit any portion of those funds to my city, which spans two counties, for the provision of services to city residents. As a result, the schools are overcrowded and other city services have been cut. So they can go copulate with themselves, too.
In contrast, McDonald's has never failed to give me the same consistent experience whenever I pay them their menu price from my own pocket. "My community" can't ever seem to uphold its end of any implied social contracts, but at least McDonald's can always sell me a Big Mac when I can afford one.
Having been repeatedly shown that loyalty no longer exists, if it ever did, I am now a strictly transactional mercenary, following tit-for-tat cooperation strategy, because that is what is in my economic self-interest. I am not going to "buy local" because it has feel-good marketing around it. I will buy local only if I see a specific benefit from it, and I have never actually seen one.
"Buy local" is marketing bullshit from people who don't admit that they would benefit from it far more than you ever will, and from people who hypocritically do their own buying non-locally.
Money doesn't get tired climbing hills or crossing rivers. Geography is continually becoming less important to economics. Buy closer to you as measured by your social network graph, not as measured by physical distance.
Though I agree that a larger chain bookstore with more selection offers more value than a small bookstore, for me it's more about real-world vs. online, not large vs. small business.
Morals are God's concern, therefore it's up to God to enforce them. God needs to reach his hand down and decree to the land that thou shalt not abuse your employees. This reverberates throughout the land and causes the powerful to tremble in fear. They all get together in a room and quietly make plans to appease the masses so they don't pray for blood or start a revolution.
Of course, in this case God is the government. Given enough political pressure, legislators can pass laws that change the landscape of commerce. Pressure can compel prosecutors to prosecute, regulators to punish. The threat of these punishments is often enough to keep the unscrupulous in line and allow the virtuous to have their say.
It can be useful to remember that economics is primarily a branch of rhetorical moral philosophy - not an empirical science.