Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
Wall Street's Frantic Push to Hire Coders (bloomberg.com)
170 points by applecore on Oct 28, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 186 comments

Well, if any Dev Leads or HR Managers are reading these comments, you could start by getting rid of the Taleo (or even worse iCIMS) Career search engines from your career microsite. [1][2]

These are awful to use and often require a new profile per company to apply, so applying to a few companies could take hours depending on the work experience required to fill out.

For godsake, enable the quick-apply feature of LinkedIn so your applicants don't have to spend hours labouring over your custom application. [3]

Make recruiting easier for prospective applicants and HR with something like Greenhouse. [4]

[1] https://jpmchase.taleo.net/careersection/2/moresearch.ftl

[2] https://careers-fidelitylife.icims.com/jobs/search?hashed=-4...

[3] https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/search?keywords=Bank+of+Americ...

[4] https://www.greenhouse.io

Agreed! Every time I'm hiring, I insist that my job posting has a "email your CV directly to the hiring manager" link, and it astounds me how much push-back I get.

It boggles the mind that a company can devote half a dozen designers to optimizing the experience for potential customers, but for potential employees it's "Well, HR says you have to fill out this form, and I guess what they say goes."

Former recruiter here. It is hard to help a hiring manager who insists on getting emails directly to their inbox, as it cuts the recruiter out of ths loop. As soon as you aren't on top of your email, it breaks. Think sync vs async.

Sharing an email account (devjobs@mycompany.com) scales is nicely for a few jobs with light candidate flow. It can start to break down when trying to organize things in a meaningful way for all parties, but mildy disciplined use of a Gmail account is pretty solid when compared to much heavier solutions, like Taleo.

Due to the large number of administrative tasks (posting ads, scheduling interviews, etc.), the walled garden platforms that refuse to give you (and each other) decent API access, and the number of relationships to stay on top of, there's really no substitute for good someone who stays on top of it all.

As a hiring manager, if you insist on managing the process end to end, you're the recruiter, too :)

As someone who applied for a job that I didn't find out about until the last minute, when the application engine locked up and didn't submit my application I was quite pissed off. Unfortunately, it didn't notify me that it hadn't completed the application. A friend of mine was working at the company and asked me a couple of days later why I didn't apply, after he agreed to be a reference for me and really upsell me to the boss.

That would have been one hell of an addition to my resume, and it's far more likely that plain email would have worked. Of course, a recruiter wouldn't have got his cut...

An email can actually go directly to you AND the hiring manager. We have the technology.

In one email account, you can see replies. With two accounts, you get zero, one, or two replies, and no one knows who said what to who. And mailing lists get kind of spammy, but are certainly a manageable option.

I agree. Email is so much better.

You could always request applicants include a word in the subject to filter out spam and people that can't follow instructions.

I generally don't apply when I see a complex form. Instead I try emailing the company.

I don't bother (with filter questions). If weeding through some bad resumes is the price I pay to make sure the best candidates will apply, I'll pay that happily. Part of the job.

Related: It's amazing how many HR depts are not equipped to handle a submission of the form "My CV and projects are on janedoe.com/cv.html, let me know if you'd like to talk." In a sane world, that would be the default by now.

Holy tamole spot on re: "here's a link".

I get people calling me because they found my contact information on my website, then demanding that I send them a "Word copy of your resume". A) there's a PDF there already. B) There's more up to date information in the site itself and C) WTF - don't call me then demand I send you something in another format. You only want it in Word format so you can edit it up anyway. (mostly recruiters, I know, but still pisses me off).

They want the word version so they can strip your contact information and sell your resume.

I once interviewed myself for a position via a pretty large company's body shop subsidiary. Not really sure how they got my resume.

Did you get the job?

No, another candidate got it, he had a slightly better resume and went by the same name :P

I stopped providing Word CVs a few years ago, considering it a filter on reasonable recruiters. People seem to have accepted it. I almost never get asked for a Word version anymore. Though I do still get people who find me on LinkedIn (which has my complete CV) and then ask for a PDF, but I'm fine with that.

i think a lot of hr departments and upper management approach hiring with the mindset of "they want something from us, so they should do things our way"

Ha! HR Managers don't visit Hacker News. In fact, I don't think they visit any technology sites at all. They have got to be one of the most technologically inept cohort of workers out there. Just look at the tools they prefer: Taleo, Peoplesoft, etc.

Michael Scott was right; I'd shoot Toby twice, too.

Oh Taleo. It seems some companies make it suck less

I've given up applying to companies because of their process.

Some are privacy abusing from the get go. Or some ask you several different irrelevant questions. "No, I'm not a veteran" "No, I do not have protected status, yadda, yadda, yadda, etc, etc, etc". While laws may require you to ask some of those, there's no need to have one page for each question, or to ask them for candidates outside of the US

(A huge pet peeve of mine: US centric questionnaires)

You are peeved by US companies asking US-centric questions? It seems like a problem you give yourself

When applying for a job outside of the US

Ah, that wasn't clear to me. Thank you

Effing Taleo. I bail on any application using their horrible interface no matter how nice the job looks. Add Brassring to the hate too. On the plus side it's a clear signal that management of any company using them is tonedeaf on HR issues and probably other important areas too so just walk away and be glad you dodged that bullet.

If I didn't know better, I'd say some banks purposely make it impossible to apply through their websites. I challenge you all to try to a job at Goldman Sachs. You won't be able to get though it. Parts of the web app are simply broken.

It's part of the challenge of landing a job there. They are trying to figure how creative and motivated you are to apply there.

If WHO YOU KNOW counts as being creative, then yes, it is a creative challenge.

There's probably a Metasploit module specifically designed to exploit on to the website and return a job application.

When I was interviewing I just wouldn't even bother applying if the company had iCIMS or Taleo - I figured it was a bad sign of how poorly they were run internally.

Yeah, but if you really wanted to work for us you should be happy spending a few hours filling in these ridiculous buggy online forms.

Also timely responses would help companies hire so much. I've had a company get back to me two weeks after an interview and be completely baffled that I'd taken another offer in the meantime. It was like a foreign concept to them.

Taleo is truly horrible, prob the worst I've seen. When I'm considering a job opening and discover I have to jump through Taleo I cringe and come close to treating it as a red flag.

Fitbit switched to Greenhouse recently and it's working well.

I agree wholeheartedly, but does anyone have any advice or stories of how they've made this happen? Are there other vendors or solutions out there that focus on ease of switching over to their systems?

The other vendor is plain old email. Works great!

Heh I understand your pain. One product we sell is a quick apply that can work on top of Taleo and other ATSs http://www.rolepoint.com/apply.html

We've also built and API middleware to abstract Taleo complexity in a simple and elegant REST API http://rolepoint.io/

I can probably give some color to this.

Wall Street banks used to be a very good spot for programmers due to:

- big pay, this was often enough to not need more benefits

- what you often got to work on was very interesting

- hours worked tended to be no where near what they were in the hedge fund or startup scene.

They also leaned heavily on credentialism for hiring signals, mostly through where you went to school and secondarily by where you worked before.

Banks have found over the past 10 years that they are no longer a top choice for the best STEM students any more due to a number of factors and hence they have to move down the food chain.


- shrinking size of most of these banks due to decreased profits for the sell side firms

- shrinking pay due above.

- The tech scene and buy side, hedge funds, offer better pay, more interesting work, and much better career upside(moving up in the sell side anymore is cut throat due to shrinking head counts and bonuses).

I know next to nothing of hackerrank but anything that helps opens up the hiring pipeline is a good idea.

As to pay being partially based on bonuses. I mean this isn't going away, and if you don't like it, then you probably won't work in finance at all. Its analogous to startups. You may still get a great base salary, but options will always be a decent portion of your salary.

If you really want to get angry at bonuses. I've had recruiters tell me that many hedge funds have a cut off of $500,000/year bonus for looking for programmers, ie they won't interview programmers who haven't had a bonus of more than $500,000 in a year as they feel it provides one of the better hiring signals. You'd think this would stop them from hiring but there are alot of programmers in the HFT scene who easily pass this bar.

I've had recruiters tell me that many hedge funds have a cut off of $500,000/year bonus for looking for programmers, ie they won't interview programmers who haven't had a bonus of more than $500,000 in a year as they feel it provides one of the better hiring signals.

Sounds as ridiculous as Hollywood casting.

Seems like this would create a "Moneyball"-style opportunity for a hedge fund to actually invest in tech management, hire more objectively, and build a development team that's composed of talent that works well together rather than a random cast of prima donnas who won't get out bed for less than $1MM.


But to be fair, its based on two things:

1) No one just gives money away, especially to the programmers over the "traders". So if a programmer gets $500,000 you can be fairly certain more than a few people really think the programmer is worth it.

2) It's the people version of "No one ever got fired for buying IBM". Someone else has already vouched for this person, based on the compensation they gave the programmer. So if he/she turns out to be a bad hire, hey, not our fault, Citadel thought they were worth it.

"than a random cast of prima donnas who won't get out bed for less than $1MM."

I mean, if I've already gotten that, why would I want to go to your company for less?

Because Moneyball would correct the $ that is being offered to you anywhere

Also it's more about using better techniques to identify talent

What are some places (except Citadel / Tower / Two Sigma) where one can make half a million in bonus? How does one land and prepare for an interview for such positions?

Also, do you think any of these places might be open to hire a hybrid programmer-quant i.e. someone who isn't as good at math / programming as a typical quant/dev, but is good at connecting the two and working in the middle?

Basically what happened is that tech companies started paying similar or higher amounts than finance.

how were banks viewed compared to MSFT/Oracle/Sun back in the late 1990s and early 2000s?

Banks refuse to hire people on the basis that they don't charge enough? Sounds like bad logic coming from a financial institution.

It's good logic to poach good people in the industry who already got a job.

It's bad logic to accept and grow people from other industries.

Corollary: Other companies refuse to hire people on the basis that they charge too much.

This is not about banks.

Did you mean haven't had a bonus of less than 500k/yr?

No, I'm pretty sure chollida1 means more. They only hire people who have made a ton of money at some point, because they think that means the person is valuable.

So last year, Furlong, 30, enrolled in a three-month coding boot camp that uses HackerRank, a web platform that trains and grades people on writing computer code. After earning a top ranking for Java developers globally, Furlong was hired by JPMorgan Chase & Co. in December for its two-year technology training program.

So many questions here. If you're doing a bootcamp and scoring among the "top java developers globally" then you're either exceptionally talented, your bootcamp is the most amazing thing in the world, or your sample set of "top java developers" is absolutely terrible.

Yea this article seems like an obvious promotion for Hacker Rank and boot camps in general.

Nobody is becoming a "top ranked" Java developer in 3 months.

I say this as somebody who spent many years developing in Java, and I was not even close to being the best on my team.

Agreed - I'm an old hand at C and C++, but it'd take me ... 3 mo. to half a year or so to really get a good grip on serious Java.

Don't get me wrong - I've used it ( but not extensively ) and it's not scary or anything, but there would eb a few things what would take some woodshedding.

Even then, there's many, many more than one way to use Java.

Or he just earned a "very good" (top 25%) score from HR (by itself, pretty impressive for a 3-month boot camp and zilch experience). But the Bloomberg reporter thought it would sound better if he wrote "top ranking for Java developers globally".

The sample set was those in HackerRank. This guy isn't immediately a senior developer, but he's probably got a bit of talent - the story says he tinkered with motherboards in his spare time, so he's getting some domain knowledge before the bootcamp too.

You can't get from zero to hero in 3 months, but a talented person can go pretty far.

What does that even mean. What are you going to tinker with a motherboard?

That sounds like somebody who plugged a graphics card into his computer and elevated that to some CV highlight.

Reflowing bad solder on laptop or game system GPUs? Reballing might be a bit much to look for.

Depending on his age it might also have been replacing blown caps some years back when that was a big problem.

You missed the most obvious one: the test that determines "top" is crap.

Tip: https://thehftguy.wordpress.com/2016/07/13/cracking-the-hack...

HackerRank are simple exercices which can be done in a few minutes to one hour [online IDE, short single-file code]. It's trivial for anyone who can program, [except the screening tests in limited time with hard (or custom) exercises].

The bootcamp people with good ranking are likely people who started programming a long time ago, but never professionally. It's a given that they must be able to solve simple exercises.

There are lots of exceptionally talented people who aren't software developers and want to be. Three standard deviations above the mean takes you from roughly 100 million working Americans to a hundred thousand. Two standard deviations of being unlucky in having the life-history that gets you to programmer-hood drops you down from 100k to 1000. It's not that surprising, honestly.

It's very surprising actually. Apparently he knows how to ship code yet hasn't even had a real programming job yet. How is it even possible to be among the best in the world without having had your abilities tested in the world?

I'm not doubting that this gentlemen could possibly be extremely talented. What I think is clear is the criteria for "best globally" skews towards theoretical knowledge without concern for real-world abilities.

Kind of like saying "this guy nailed the whiteboard interview better than everyone else, therefore he must be among the top developers globally".

Well "earning a top ranking for Java developers globally" means from the global pool of HackerRank scores.

People who already have tech careers aren't going to see the point in doing a ton of tests on HackerRank. It's not surprising that one of the top scorers was someone who lived in a town where he couldn't get a job using compsci skills. He was looking for a way to prove his skills since he didn't have credentials or work experience.

Well, HackerRank is a relatively popular website, he spent a 3 month boot camp working in it, and the ranking system looks to be relatively decent at first glance, so I think its reasonable to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Edit: HackerRank looks like it measures aptitude more than anything.

Interesting. About a year ago JPM sent me a link to a HackerRank (or something like it) session with a couple of dynamic programming problems in it. It was late at night and I didn't know what to expect. To my surprise the webcam turned on and started recording me (I was shirtless). I panicked and shut down the session expecting JPMorgan to bypass me for quitting the assignment. Lo and behold they still wanted to move forward and I eventually was offered after an onsite. I declined because I had a better offer from another bank and the environment at JPMorgan seemed very worker bee'ish. I would be working in that massive new building right now, 2000 developers at 1 site in Delaware sounds exceptional to me.

Wall Street/banks get a bad rep for a lot of reasons but you can still do "modern" development at some of them and the pay is not bad for the east coast. The project JPMorgan was hiring me for was "modern java" fwiw. I'm currently at a bank doing full stack "modern java" of the JHipster variety essentially (Spring boot, java 8 , angular 2).

> the pay is not bad for the east coast

Do they still insist on a mediocre base salary with completely not guaranteed annual bonus lump sum?

If you are a trader this makes perfect sense, but I've never quite understood it for programmers.

There are financial and regulatory reasons to structure it that way, even if you don't intend the bonus to vary much with firm or individual performance.

Financial first: deferring compensation from continuous throughout the year to a lump sum at the end is essentially getting your employees to lend you money. Depending on the implied terms of the loan (ie, how much extra you have to pay your employees in order to get them to agree to defer some of their compensation), it may be a better source of funding than issuing debt or equity. That's why banks and broker/dealers like the deferred bonus compensation model.

On the regulatory side, banks and broker/dealers are required to maintain a minimum amount of capital. Guaranteed bonuses would count as liabilities, reducing capital. Discretionary bonuses, however, don't have to be counted as a liability for regulatory capital purposes, so they don't reduce your regulatory capital. (They still count as liabilities under GAAP though.) That regulation is why they like to make them discretionary.

Disclaimer: regulatory capital definitely works like this for non-bank broker/dealers. Banks are subject to different rules, with which I am less familiar, but I would guess they work the same way with respect to discretionary compensation.

Even better for the company, if they fire someone even just before the end of the year -- no bonus at all for them. If they were to pay them the equivalent of the bonus in extra salary installments throughout the year, most of that money would be gone.

I've not been outright fired, but in every case where I got laid off the bonus was considered part of your compensation and paid.

It's typically more expensive to replace somebody. And if there's no reason to fire you... why would they?

> Financial first: deferring compensation from continuous throughout the year to a lump sum at the end is essentially getting your employees to lend you money.

Also, when the bonus comes in it is paid out in two portions - one immediately, and one six months later. This helps retention, since there is always a carrot for the employee to look forward to every six months.

Not sure about new grads, but experienced compensation can vary. Not unusual for sr. devs to get $200k+ in places like Wilmington DE. So I imagine the packages in Manhattan are on par with SF tech giants if they want you bad enough. My bonus last year was significant given the fact I was only employed there for 1 or 2 eligible months, so I have high expectations this year. I worked at a mutual fund company as a contractor and the employees claimed to get bonuses of $30k+ and this was for testers and normal rank and file...not even developers.

I live in Wilmington de, and intervewed with a number of the banks. It was a chore to get them to talk above 100k. Any more info on those rates?

I can believe that. JPM wasn't really eager to meet my other offer (firm not in DE). 2010ish I worked in DE on a team where the majority of Sr/architect guys were getting 200K+ for basic Java/Spring/Hibernate stuff. They were recruiting nationally and bypassed alot of candidates during interviews fwiw. It may depend on the particular project.

200k+? Does DE have state tax? What's the cost of living there? That's a fantastic salary for the Bay Area as well which already has inflated salaries to make up for the high cost of living and general high amount of talent. What technologies?

Wow, that sounds great for that area. What skill sets do you have, and what were they looking for?

It makes sense when you think about their business - because banks are extremely pro-cyclical, they need an 'out' to reduce compensation when their profits blowup or economy turns. Easiest and quickest to drop bonuses.

Do it to the traders then, not the programmers.

[edit] Saving 10K on a programmer, even multiplied over 1000 programmers isn't going to amount to a hill of beans in a crisis where the bank is at risk. My suspicion is that tech management at banks have adopted this system because they're failed middle managers and it helps them pretend that they're BSDs with the ability to swing pnl.

My suspicion is that any time someone's analysis of a situation requires them to say "$GROUP is just bad at their jobs," that analysis is biased at flawed at the deepest levels.

Or it could be experience speaking: I worked at one of these banks for a decade, and was distinctly unimpressed by the caliber of technology management.

You can't generalize your experience at "one of these banks" to all management at all banks.

Bizarrely, I'd rate the one I worked at as best in class as far as tech management goes.

To back this up, I can draw on the experiences of my friends and former colleagues across the Street, and a large number of hair-raising interviews at other banks that made me repeatedly wonder why I would trade in the devil I know for a dumpster fire.

At the end of the day though, "the best in class" is still not "good".

The issue is that the same argument made for programmers can be made for back office & middle office as well, which when added up are much more than 1000 programmers. I agree that the bonus:salary ratio should increase drastically for trading/sales vs other roles, but for corporate culture/uniformity and practical business (need to quickly reduce costs) reasons it's done this way to some degree.

I have extreme views about the existence of middle and back office personnel at banks as well. But that's another discussion for another day.

Based on your and scott00's reply, it sounds like the "giant bonus" is a way to skirt the rules regarding taking money from investors (and turning employees into such).

I guess it's better than the "unfunded pension because they don't come due for 50 years when we'll be totes making bank" approach...

They still do unfortunately. New grad salaries at tech divisions in the banks are low relative to the tech companies. The bonus is again significant if you have more exp.

The annual bonus is a lot more likely than a liquidity event for your stock options in your pre-IPO startup.

Think of it this way: would you rather get a 5-6 figure bonus most years, or a 6-7 figure stock option liquidity event in 3-7 years with a 95% probably of zero and you don't find out until after the 3-7 years have passed?

Fundamentally, they serve the same purpose, to tie compensation to company performance. But banks still expect to be around 50 years from now and earn profits the whole time, startups expect to take a big gamble on growth and then cash out in a big event and sort of change form. If you're a VC the latter is a pretty good deal because you only have to pay LT capital gains tax, not ordinary income; and obviously you're able to de-risk through diversification, unlike employees.

The bonus structure in banks is there so they can set salaries to be more like a percent of the company's revenue that year, except people refuse to accept salary decreases so they have to call it something else. If you compare it to pre-IPO stock options, it seems like it could be a lot less risky from the point of view of the employee.

If you are an ATS it would make sense. I interviewed with a hedge fund most of your money was bonus.

Wow, what a sucker deal. Who on earth are they managing to pull in with bullshit offers like that?

Some people are willing to accept higher variance pay that has a higher expected value. That does not make them suckers, that just makes them less risk averse than you.

I am a motorcycle-riding, mountain-climbing, pyromaniac daredevil adventure-instigator whose friends would burst out into astonished guffaws if they heard you call me "risk averse". The key is that I choose risks where skill and training give me influence over the outcome. I will hurl myself into danger when I can be reasonably confident that I am capable of triumphing over it because I know what the variables are and how to bias them for success.

I have at various points in my life accepted 100% variance in pay by choosing to work freelance. It was an acceptable risk because I controlled not just the tech but also the nature of the business, and had reasonable confidence that I could make choices which would result in a satisfactory rate of return on my effort expended. Accepting employment as an engineer while also accepting the financial risk of other people's choices about how to run their business, choices you explicitly have no influence over?? That's not risk, that's an exploitation lottery.

That is a perfectly reasonable point of view for yourself and I totally get it.

But I would take a job with a 50% chance of making 200k and a 50% chance of making 100k over a job with a 100% chance of making 125k even if the outcome was determined by a coin flip. +EV is +EV whether I am responsible for the impact or not.

It makes sense when you put it that way. I guess the issue is not so much risk tolerance as cynicism. It is a negotiation where the information asymmetry does not favor me. The potential employer must be offering a variable compensation package with a claimed EV of $X because they believe their actual cost will be less than $X. Otherwise, why make it complicated? They'd just offer $X. I conclude that the only actual knowledge I have about the value of the offer is that it won't be lower than the base salary. I therefore accept the offer if the base salary is high enough to make the job worthwhile, and reject it otherwise. Any additional money which might happen to come along later I treat as a windfall; it has no incentive effect.

That seems a little extreme. The reason they do bonuses is because in a bad year they can pay you 0.5x and in a good year 1.5x. You still get an average of x per year, but in such a way that they don't go out of business. Finance companies tend to see much larger revenue swings than other industries.

My current employer gets over this hurdle by guaranteeing your bonus for 1-2 years, thus giving them time to build trust before the variable compensation gets going.

Otherwise, why make it complicated? They'd just offer $X.

The reason that this is done is because investment banks tend to have larger revenue swings than many other businesses. Due to this, they want to be able to more easily adjust their costs (of which people are a huge %) relatively easily. It's much easier to adjust bonuses up and down than base salaries.

Yes, if it really was a coin flip you'd be right. But that's not really reasonable - in the real world you can't know the odds like that.

If you think about what the company is saying, it's "If we fail at our business this year, we'll pay you less despite all your work." Even if that was only a 10% chance, meaning I'd statistically win, I wouldn't work there because they're looking to shit on me for their fuckups.

And it's far more likely that they'll specifically and intentionally defraud you by faking the performance metric, and reward themselves the bonus they "saved" by not paying you.

> And it's far more likely that they'll specifically and intentionally defraud you by faking the performance metric, and reward themselves the bonus they "saved" by not paying you.

Surely this would result in extremely high turnover? High turnover employers is probably something you want to avoid anyway, so I don't see this changing the equation much.

Your cynicism does not match up with the historical behavior of investment banks towards their employees. But yes, if you think this way you should definitely not ever go work for one.

In fact you probably shouldn't work with anyone else because whenever you do that your success is, at least in some ways, tied in with their success. Best to work alone all by yourself where you don't ever have to trust anyone else.

Unfortunately for your ego, that makes you risk adverse.

How can you know it's a sucker deal without knowing the numbers? $80k + a $10k bonus is bad, sure. But $50k + a $500k bonus is great even if you only get it once every 3-4 years (and as other comments point out the bonuses happen more often than not and are significant figures even relative to yearly compensation).

It's a sucker deal because they're offering not to tell you what the numbers are, and you have no meaningful way to influence them. You accept a share of their risk without gaining any compensating control over the outcome.

120-140K base with a 60-70K bonus was about where the average was for tech programmers. This is barely competitive in NY during the good years -- it sure as heck doesn't fly in bad years.

Quant technologists are a different beast. Like traders, they eat what they kill, and a 50/500 payout matrix may well make sense for them.

Wouldn't it be unfair to offer a deal that's significantly different in structure than the one that's offered to other types of knowledge workers?

Why would it be unfair to offer a different kind of pay structure? It's all about how much they have to pay to get employees.

What web browser were you using that let them access the camera without a confirmation popup?

Maybe GP globally enabled video recording access.

>" To my surprise the webcam turned on and started recording me (I was shirtless)"

Wow that is really invasive! There was no warning that you would be video recorded?

I am curios to what is the rationale behind needing to record potential candidates typing code on video?

I'm sure it was some sort of disclaimer (that I didn't read apparently). Like I said it was late at night when I opened the email and clicked the link with in. Still caught me off guard. I guess they record you to make sure you are doing the exercises

and if you don't have a webcam?

You are very correct in the worker bee interpretation of JPM's culture.

> To my surprise the webcam turned on and started recording me


You can just scroll back up and read it again.

"What?" for "this statements confounds and confuses me" is very different than "What?" for "I didn't hear you."

This difference can be very confusing in a lot of circumstances though. I wonder if perhaps a new word is needed.

Nice reply, given your username :-)

A bank is using Angular 2?

Isn't this just a puff piece for hacker-rank? The banks have been hiring 'coders' for decades now. Most of the technical front office folks have at least the ability to code, if not the time to do it. Last time I was in an IB, working on synthetic equity desks, everyone there used to code, often tossing it over the fence to IT to get it "productionized" (read: wrapped in red tape, slow down the change rate, etc.).

> Isn't this just a puff piece for hacker-rank?

As far as I can see it is. This seems to be suggesting that they are replacing the traditional route of hiring from tier 1 universities. This is how they filled graduate jobs. They still do this, to more or less the same extent, but that's only a smallish proportion of overall hires.

For experienced hires, most of the devs come from other financial institutions. Their stat of 10% new hires is misleading. That's 10% churn per bank not 10% added to the industry as a whole.

All the banks are looking for more avenues for finding developers. Although they usually prefer people with relevant experience, they are relatively hard to come by and are expensive.

Bringing people in from other fields has been going on for a while. What JPM are doing in Delaware doesn't look a million miles away from what they did in Glasgow 15 or so years ago but on a much larger scale. There they largely recruited from utilities companies if I recall correctly.

So yes, the banks are looking outside finance more than they did in the past but it's really not a novel thing at all.

Sort of. But to my mind, anything that takes an axe to credentialism deserves some cheers.

My own preferred approaches are internships for junior developers, code review for intermediates, and evaluation of the strength of record for truly senior hires.


Pretty much. Ever notice that anytime anyone wants to "fix" hiring they end up developing systems that are just cancer.

If you can't figure out if you want to hire someone in < 1 hr talking to them, you suck at hiring.

I really disagree with that. You might not have time to have code written and completed in that interview. You might have someone who just knows that question but has limited knowledge, you might have someone who can code but has an uncommon failure on your problem. I have interviewed tons of people who can talk about technology but can't do it themselves. If you are hiring people for a coding job, they have to code. People who say they are architects or first level manager will have a really hard time doing a good job if they don't understand the technology themselves (I guess its not impossible, but its harder).

Like I said, you just suck at hiring.

so what do you do to filter people out with such certainty? I worked at a startup, and the ceo was dead certain he could figure it out in a short conversation with someone, if they'd be good or not. he was certain we should hire 2 people, i was certain we should not, i was right both times, he was wrong. But I've been wrong before. Being certain you can do it in an hour probably means you are overconfident.

We all do.

It's less about whether you want to hire that person. It's which of 100 people you want to hire. You need to have SOME filter prior to wasting 99 hours.

If you've got 100 engineers applying, please forward me the other 99. I've got some positions to fill.

Amen. Thing is, now you have to keep records on how you arrived at that decision.

There's really only two things to programming-as-a-job:

1)How much dog does somebody have in 'em? Determination frequently trumps everything else.

2) How good are they at knowing when to back up a notch, punt or roll it all back?

You don't figure that out with fizzbuzz.

>Isn't this just a puff piece for hacker-rank?

Bloomberg (the tech side of the company, not the journalism side that produced this article) uses HackerRank for developer hiring too.

Yeah I had recruiter reach out to me via email, they said that had come across my CV and was I interested in a specific role there. I responded I would interested in hearing about the role and seeing if it was a fit. The recruiter's response was that I would need to take a Hacker Rank coding test before proceeding. Before proceeding to hearing about the role that is.

As many people mentioned below, including etf-to-mark, this really feels like a PR piece for HackerRank, which is a cough YC Company.

As a former Wall Street tech person, I know that JP's story here is overly exaggerated (they're really rigid and still require 3.0 GPA from schools for the two-year tech program they mentioned).

In addition, there are many other companies like HackerRank, and the article fails to mention any of the complaints large corporations and candidates have expressed so far (like you see in the comment section).

Anything with "Hacker" in its name gets my eyes rolling. It usually means either "do some free work for us"

"It usually means either 'do some free work for us'"

Your comment seems to have an off by one error. What is the other option?

Ah true!

Or it usually relies on an inflated (and slightly cultish) sense of self importance to have a job candidate do a "dog and pony show" for a job opening.

"Company X is hiring hackers". I'll pass.

> Anything with "Hacker" in its name gets my eyes rolling

Ummmm.... Look up...^^^^

That one is excused

Anyone know what happened to Sergey Aleynikov (Goldman Sachs)? That kind of story doesn't help my (already) poor perception of these financial companies.


"Aleynikov was employed for two years, from May 2007 to June 2009, at Goldman at an ultimate salary of $400,000.[4][8] He left to join Teza Technologies, a competing high-frequency trading firm which offered to triple his pay"

The scary part to me is that he spent time in prison, had to use his savings to pay for a lawyer because he couldn't work, and even though acquitted to anybody who doesn't read all the details it looks the same way as not being acquitted.

I can easily imagine that similar situations happen but for people without enough savings to keep going and even then they may not have as high a profile to have their reputation overshadow the headlines.

I feel like I am just shy of tinfoil hat territory but it's not the craziest thing I have ever though of.

He really messed up bad, though. You simply don't take code with you when you leave, especially not at a finance firm. They will not understand the subtleties.

Yes, that is very much a thing and not at all uncommon.[1] Also, since you mentioned "tinfoil hat territory," I feel compelled to share this piece from MTV News about how many white conspiracies are history for black people.[2]

[1]: http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/centralparkfive/ [2]: http://www.mtv.com/news/2914420/white-conspiracy-black-histo...

Yep. He took all his high-frequency trading code (written while working at Goldman Sachs) with him.

While this should have probably been handled out of court, I understand why GS guys were pissed. Don't do that.

So you have any more details? Is it clear cut he did indeed 'steal' anything? I'd be interested in any facts you have regarding this interesting turn of events.

He probably didn't consider taking the code that he himself wrote a stealing. However, GS saw it differently.

Source: any article about his case.

The articles I read about the case were about contributions to an open source library.

This was his defense. I don't know exactly what code he took, of course. Here's what known:

- GS cites "500 million lines of code". This is most certainly including all dependencies (I deal with HFT systems and usually they are not _that_ complicated), so it is probably correct that 99% of the code was indeed open source.

- He uploaded the tarball with the code to his "server in Germany" (Hetzner, I presume). Sounds scary to the judges, but of course, having a server at Hetzner is perfectly normal.

- He deleted .bash_history. Quite a red flag for me.

And anyway, why repack and upload open source code as a tarball?

BTW, here's what Goldman Sachs published on Github: https://github.com/goldmansachs (GS Collections are well-known, but not a lot of code expected from a big company).

"And then he did what he had always done since he first started programming computers: he deleted his bash history. To access the computer he was required to type his password. If he didn’t delete his bash history, his password would be there to see, for anyone who had access to the system."


Oh wow, I didn't realize he deleted his bash history. That's a HUGE red flag in my eyes!

I always got the feeling coders/programmers/developers were second class citizens in Wall Street compared to the traders, bankers, quants etc...

Why join at all if Silicon Valley and core tech jobs have competitive pay? What's the justification given equal hours of work/effort put on both sides.

My experience is old, and I worked mainly in backoffice/clearance stuff, but that said...

I worked for Salomon Brothers in the mid-late 90's, and they treated developers extremely well. Us backoffice guys got extraordinarily good facilities/equipment, humane working hours, a lot of freedom in tech use, etc. All for above average pay, even for NY.

The trader support devs I worked around and with had it a little bit differently; their processes were much more reactive than ours, they worked under enormous pressure, and there was a lot of "less than cordial" interaction with the traders. However, they got paid quite extraordinarily, and there were never grudges held after the trading day; you could get screamed at for a few hours and go out for refreshments with the same guys a couple hours later. It was a dynamic that you had to have a certain personality to be able to handle, but no one went in there not knowing that.

Just a data point.

When you work at a large financial institution in the technology division, you do have to accept the fact that you are not going to be the one making the doughnuts.

working at GS, I definitely got a little bit of the feeling of being somewhat of a second class citizen, and have many former colleagues that felt the same thing. I don't say this in a complaining kind of way, more that just my job as a technologist was supporting 'the business', rather than technology being our business.

this is true at the traditional banks/wall street firms...but HFT firms treat their coders really well.

That was my first question - I live with a banker and he's at work 8-8 every day including Saturday. I'm a developer and can go to work "whenever" and come home "whenever." It's a pure meritocracy - work done? Go home. Some of my coworkers come in at 11 because they surf in the morning.

The point is - is it the same story for a developer working for a bank, whose bosses' boss presumably is more old-school and wouldn't be keen on hippie engineers wandering in and out of the office whenever they please?

Are there any good firms in particular?

In the HFT space, here are some big names:

Tower Research Capital

Hudson River Trading

Jump Trading LLC

Note that these firms are typically considerably more difficult to get an offer at than Google, FB, etc.

Yes, they are derogatorily referred to as 'back office' workers at banks.

Who cares if they pay you $500k and don't ask for more than a regular work week? And treat you with respect.

Lol @ the idea that IT guys at Morgan Stanley or Goldman Sachs get paid half a stick.

Many of the senior traders have mediocre academic backgrounds and no marketable skills outside of finance. Plus, they're stressed out all the time. The assholes among them will take out daily frustrations on junior employees, IT guys, and quant strategists that don't run their own risk. Lost five million today? Solution: Go red in the face and loudly berate the kid who developed your pricing model for something that isn't his fault.

This is part of life at a bank. Nobody wants to admit it here because the guys here who work at BBs are generally on the receiving end of the abuse.

It is not unusual to see a math PhD, who is a vice president and writes code for a living, get a very public reaming from an executive director (one rank higher) who drank his way through a bachelor's program at a lesser Ivy.

Bosses don't do anything about it because they don't care and because they are beneficiaries of the pecking order. Subordinates don't do anything about it because they don't want to risk their bonus numbers.

and i guess this is why lots of devs don't work to work at that place. i also heard that everyone is an executive, so they don't have to pay you overtime.

^ If you know someone working sellside w/that salary + hours it's an anomaly[0].

[0] - I worked @ a BB IB

i didn't know anyone who made 500k there, plus i'm on the west coast. i was just responding to someone up above who said it wasnt that uncommon to make that much

> derogatorily referred to as 'back office' workers

1. That's not respect.

2. You can't assign a monetary value to respect, unless you're willing to sell yourself out.

Does not exist.

Virtually 100% of the top quants code. From experience, I think your feeling is a close, but a bit off. Some code more than others, some code in pairs with more experienced hardcore devs, but the best all code.

HFT != Banks, Hedge Funds != Proprietary Trading Firm (aka prop shops). They are all in Finance and all could be considered "Wall Street" firms.

Your feeling is akin to thinking the mean annual compensation of all of IT (including software architects in Finance) is the median salary of Junior Windows Administrators :)

Source: I've worked in HFT for the past 10ish years and currently work for one of the larger futures trading firms in the US by volume.

Then start your own investment firm: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renaissance_Technologies.

I think this varies. There are places in Wall Street that don't treat their devs that way. There are also places that pay in a range that Silicon Valley doesn't really compete with.

Sure, JP Morgan probably isn't in either of those categories.

The article doesn't mention crushing bureaucracy, intense regulation, old huge systems, outsourced everything.

Nowadays you're supporting a 10 year old inbred system trying to implement some new regulatory project. No root access, often no access to production, github blocked at the firewall, 4 releases a year, half the staff in India.

Plus wages are lower than 10 years ago

Yeah Wall St was great. Not so much any more.

Really depends on your team. I work on a small team in a huge investment bank and we are working on new nice-looking apps. I usually don't have to deal with audit, risk management, compliance, regulators, etc. When I do it's usually minimal. We don't have root access but we have full access to production. We release twice a week. I have to deal somewhat with India but it's bearable

So you see a high developer attrition rate, and go, I know, I'll fill it with 3 month code bootcamp graduates?

No wonder their attrition is so high. Apparently they are incapable of observing the fact they are just an awful place to work, and instead of fixing that, they just shovel more developers into their meat grinder.

You make a cogent point - these behemoths will have inertia problems.

“This is purely about skill,” said 28-year-old Vivek Ravisankar, a HackerRank co-founder who used to work for Amazon.com Inc. “Most really good programmers learn on their own and just continue to build their skills. Probably the really good programmers are college dropouts.”

As a co-founder of the site, I wonder if he has any data to back that up.

My only take on the article (I'm an EE not CS), is that unless you go to Stanford, you might as well just go boot camp. I guess degrees from all those tier 1 research universities across the country are worthless.

I think a lot of people are going to disagree with you because they _want_ you to be wrong, but my observation (as somebody who got a solid education and a good GPA from a tier 100 university) is that in a lot of places, this is absolutely the case.

and of course that's not true. And anyone experienced has seen people from mit that are just terrible. That degree might help get a cooler first job. That could lead to a better second job, vs say someone from blah state university in a small town, who has a harder time starting. But eventually that person can make it to the big time. I know cause i'm one of those.

I would say degrees work 2-3 years after graduation. After 3-5 years experience becomes more relevant for employers.

Numbers can vary, but based on what I see, after 5-6 years of relevant experience, there's no difference between graduate of Top_20 and of noname college.

Actually, the article specifically said "and other big name schools":

Financial institutions traditionally coveted graduates from Stanford and other big-name schools and people already working in Silicon Valley.

What a BS of an article. Expected to read about Wall street trying to compete for talent. Got a promo for hacker-rank instead.

Come up with something better than link bait guys.

Pretty much hate hackerrank

Apparently, you're not the only one: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12667174

Care to expand?

Did you click the link? I despise these platforms as well, because they're all just timed, algorithmic heavy, dynamic programming tests: almost completely irrelevant to real-world programming, and devilishly difficult to get exactly right. And that's if you studied CS in school and got exposure to this stuff there.

You don't need to test how well people do the easy stuff - even if the easy stuff makes up most of their work - you want to test if they are able to do the difficult parts.

Most of the "difficult parts" have almost nothing to do with the kinds of textbook algorithms and dynamic programming trivia these sites test.

Do not bother testing the hard stuff. Test for the easy to average stuff.

e.g. Ask people to print numbers from 1 to 10. Then kick the 20% of applicants who couldn't do that :D

Source: I had to correct a batch of HackerRank tests for one company.

What link? I don't see a link in your comment.

Their programming knowledge tests are very gimmicky questions where you often spend over half the time figuring out how to format the input because everything is read from standard in.

What about Codility?

A former employer used Codility. It was useful for screening out wanna-bes, but to actually use it for ranking senior candidates would be more work than just interviewing.

There's like a dozen comments saying this is a plug for Hackerrank. Yeah, that's obvious. What's not so obvious is that there are 1000+ YC companies, none of whom get this kind of coverage on Bloomberg even if they bend over backwards. Surely Vivek must be doing something right.

Thanks HackerRank, now I want to work as an anonymous cog in a behemoth bank!

What a silly puff piece for JP Morgan and the 'coding bootcamp' puppy farms.

Lame article, just a plug piece for hackerrank.

I've given some thought to switch from being on the backend for SaaS companies to working at a hedge fund or bank. I'm just not sure it would be a good cultural fit and it might be hard to make the adjustment from the tech standpoint.

Any examples (anyone out there?) of old dudes coming back into tech after a decade or so being hired by banks in this effort?

Wonder if salary and time off is worth a redive in.

Fellow old dude here - I'd measure ten times and cut once before I jumped off on a thing like that. When it comes down to it, Vastly more people have training in inventory management at some point than they do in tech, and if you look past yer sell-by date...

Looking to hire low skill "coders" instead of experienced professional developers and engineers?

I see your problem right there.

Applications are open for YC Summer 2018

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact