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Facebook recruiting and Unix systems (imgur.com)
1091 points by abhisuri97 on Sept 6, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 477 comments

Hey folks, I'm the student writing the emails in the post here. Thanks to everyone for their criticisms. While I was initially kind of shocked by the recruiter's response, I've had a lot of time to think about it today and have realized that I was being pretty damn condescending and spoke out of line without regards to the context. It's been a hard lesson learned. I honestly regret the whole exchange, and posting it online was inappropriate as well. I briefly debated deleting the image, but decided to leave it up for sake of posterity and accountability.

Also, just to be clear, I do not (and never did) hold any hard feelings towards the recruiter; in fact, it was very kind of them to point out why I was not qualified in the first place. This has been probably the most reflective of how I let my ego get the best of me at times, and I hope it might serve as a warning to those who might be tempted to do the same "devsplaining" in similar situations.

Please let me know if you have any other criticisms beyond the ones already voiced in this thread. I'm reading through the comments here as I can, and it's been a lot of good advice. Thanks again.

Hi, I think you could have massaged the snark in the sentence that says "Beyond software developers who have programmed in the 1970s, most people do not have experience with a true UNIX OS" but other than that I think you should walk away thinking that your communication was clear, straight-forward and respectful.

Here's what happened - the recruiter had a list of keywords, received a large volume of inbound resumes and filtered for == 'UNIX' and dumped everything else.

They (and the company they represent) could have done a better job if they'd taken the information given, created an actual human mental model and filtered accordingly but chose to behave like a computer program instead. Their loss - move on and don't feel bad about this.

But I want to point out that like the recruiter you too got stuck in the literal filter. You assumed, I'm guessing correctly, that the hiring team is probably looking for someone with experience working on UNIX-like operating systems.

A bit of advice: When you encounter imperfect systems like this in the future a good practice is to ask yourself if you know what the actual desired outcome is, and give the lossy filter the input it needs to get you to the next round.

Here it would have been simply updating your resume to list UNIX instead offering an explainer. This would get you through the recruiter filter, and during your actual phone screen with someone on the hiring team, you could discuss your UNIX-like experience if asked. If they did want literal UNIX experience, you could apologize for misinterpreting the requirement and move on. No harm done.

That's the most cringy part - in the second iteration you'll note he did list UNIX as a skill, but then the recruiter went on about the lack of Linux experience (which he had just replaced)! Like playing whack-a-mole.

Yeah, that's the part that gave the game away when the recruiter did the whack-a-mole move. The recruiter did in fact know exactly what the difference was and he was obstructing the candidate. Who knows why, maybe he feels there are too many asians working at Facebook so he takes it upon himself to play games with applicants who have asian names so they are more likely to give up, but he can still have plausible deniability in showing that he reached out to all ethnic groups if he's ever audited. This sort of stuff happens all the time in industry. If they are interested, management there can audit recruiter exchanges to identify different approaches a particular recruiter takes with different classes of applicants to find out exactly what classes or categories of persons they are obstructing.

> Who knows why, maybe he feels there are too many asians working at Facebook so he takes it upon himself to play games with applicants who have asian names

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence/stupidity"

Hanlon's Razor definitely applies to your theory!

"A sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice."

> The recruiter did in fact know exactly what the difference was and he was obstructing the candidate.

For a little while I was basically convinced of deliberate obstruction - no sane person would use the arguments employed by the recruiter. But, on reading through from the top once more, the recruiter was actually initially helpful and I have settled on "incompetence, not malice". Almost settled, at least.

> the recruiter had a list of keywords, received a large volume of inbound resumes and filtered for == 'UNIX' and dumped everything else

To be fair, I wouldn't expect this kind of 'recruiting by grep' to happen at Facebook of all places either.

OT, did you actually embed your password in the username to enable random users share it?

Initially I actually thought his working directory was swordfish.. I'd make a terrible hacker.

Apparently they did...

Interesting... Is it a social experiment?

RMS did something similar way back in his days http://www.oreilly.com/openbook/freedom/ch07.html

Deniability? Make your password public, stop being responsible for your postings.

I, pwdisswordfish, accept all responsibility for all of my posts, past, present, and future.

Ironically, you could always claim that acceptance of responsibility was written by someone else (and perhaps it was).

That's the joke...

I am verbify, this actually works

But can you nounify it?


FYI, here is more analysis on the reality of "recruiting by grep". https://fulldecent.blogspot.com/2010/10/classic-and-modern-j...

Under the section Keyword Stuffing.

Can I use your user to upvote all my comments?

That would be an interesting result to the experiment.

Well I see someone already changed your pwd, which is another expected result of the experiment :)

Not a very interesting one though.

We meet again.

To whoever has changed this account's password, can you be nice and change it back? I wanted to play in this experiment too. :(

They are using greedy matching ;)

> When you encounter imperfect systems like this in the future a good practice is to ask yourself if you know what the actual desired outcome is, and give the lossy filter the input it needs to get you to the next round.

I feel like this is one of the most fundamental skills I learned in school. You don't answer the actual question, you provide the response that they are looking for, even if those are different. This is doubly true for machine graded multiple choice exams.

We had a biology teacher in high school who, in order to keep things fair, made the system very clear: when answering essay questions, he had a list of a dozen or so points he wanted you to mention, and you were graded by how many you hit. It didn't matter if you had a brilliant thesis or whatever, if you didn't recite the relevant parts of the book and lectures back, you lost credit.

The biology barely matters, but I couldn't have asked for better training in dealing with recruiter (and hard headed managers, beurocrats, etc).

Well yeah but isn't that exactly where the tragedy lies then.

And yet engineers are taught to be liberal in what they accept and strict in what they send. It would seem that most recruiters are taught the opposite.

>And yet engineers are taught to be liberal in what they accept and strict in what they send

From the desk of recruiters, most likely.

This is good advice. If you want the internship/job at a company, you have to get your foot in the door. That means going through the recruitment team. Cutting off your nose to spite your face doesn't often result in job offers. Get through the recruitment and make it better from the inside.

If you use Macs, you have bona-fide True Unix Experience. Mac OS is more Unix than Linux.

SunOS, HP-UX, and BSDs up to a point all ran System V binaries until recently, or still do. If they really want that then it's a thing they can ask for.

Speaking as someone who used to work in dev at Facebook, in my time there I saw absolutely no Unix systems, just Linux on the production side. They did have some proprietary systems in corporate IT that could have been running on HP-UX or AIX for all I know, but a PE intern wouldn't ever have touched those.

macOS/OS X is actually a certified UNIX OS.

> A bit of advice: When you encounter imperfect systems like this in the future a good practice is to ask yourself if you know what the actual desired outcome is, and give the lossy filter the input it needs to get you to the next round.

This is extremely condescending. The article displayed a supercilious tone towards the recruiter, clearly making it known that "I (the erudite developer) know more about how to filter candidates than you (the ignoramus recruiter). I am right, and I will only adjust my position under duress to the bare minimum which meets your requirements".

But, as a recruiter, I would be delighted to glean this insight into a candidate's mindset, and gladly put them into the "struggles with collaboration" reject pile.

Facebook employ canny recruiters. If this interaction seems odd to the "well actually" crowd, please be advised that it makes perfect sense to those involved in hiring decisions.

You think this exchange shows a recruiter conducting a psych experiment?

All I see is a human keyword grep that is clearly failing to do their job: find relevant candidates and forward them on. I say this having been in both ends of the recruiting process and have have struggled with recruiters who had no understanding of how to read a technical resume and rejected JavaScript experts on this basis that they didn't list html in their keywords.

> You think this exchange shows a recruiter conducting a psych experiment?

No. I said what I meant; which part didn't make sense?

edit: downvoters, if you disagree you'd better leave a comment telling me why im dum

Well, since you asked...

Your statement is a mismatch between the comment about the lossy filter, and the actual email conversation, which clearly shows the lossy filter in all its glory.

My statement is about condescendingly calling humans doing their job 'lossy filters', and challenging the deeply-ugly assumption that they should have bowed to the candidate's correctness.

The recruiter wanted to advance the candidate through the pipeline; they told them exactly what they needed to do to proceed; the candidate didn't think it was necessary to modify their position to conform with the requirements, in the face of someone asking nicely.

Humans are always lossy filters, more lossy in some areas than others. There is also no 'bowing' required, and there is no correctness.

The recruiter wanted to put pegs in holes (which is essentially what selection is), but mistook the request for a red rond peg for 'only a specific type of red' peg. The peg in this situation might have been fire engine red, while the recruiter had poppy red in mind. In both cases, what they both should have in mind is not the color of the peg, but the shape. Swap peg with 'POSIX' and color with Unix, Linux, Unix-alike and you're back in context.

In this specific context, the one setting up the list of requirements should have specified "any posix, unix, linux or similar knowledge" as one single item, and then the recruiter should have matched any response that contains either posix, unix, linux or bsd, or a combination of those. This same problem could have happened if someone wanted a lathe operator that does threads, but the respondent lists NPT, TPI and M, but the recruiter doesn't know the area of expertise to filter for that and thus loses the input completely.

Aside from that, there is emotion and intonation and tone and appearances, but that doesn't have anything to do with the concept of 'lossy filters' and it totally irrelevant regarding that.

We are all lossy filters because the world makes infinite demands on our time and attention and we have finite amounts of it give.

I didn't write this as an indictment of the recruiter.

How could I when I have no knowledge of their constraints, their past experiences or the incentives that guide their behavior? In all likelihood, they're behaving in a way that's perfectly consistent with their environment.

What I can do is form a reasonable guess of what the desired outcome is - the recruiter wants to move a qualified candidate into the applicant pool, the applicant wants a shot at interviewing, and Facebook wants someone who has experience in working with UNIX or UNIX-like systems.

Structuring the response so that everyone gets the outcome they want, as an acknowledgment of the constraints, and not as a criticism of the recruiter makes everybody win.

> I didn't write this as an indictment of the recruiter.

Have you heard? Authorial intent is dead. If you write something crappy, it doesn't matter if you meant to or not.

Calling someone a 'lossy filter' dehumanise them; these are people doing an incredibly difficult job & whose work has a huge impact on the productivity and success of companies.

> Structuring the response so that everyone gets the outcome they want, as an acknowledgment of the constraints, and not as a criticism of the recruiter makes everybody win.

I find this a disingenuous excuse: the behaviour you think should change was the recruiter's insistence on specifically 'Linux'. It is a criticism, whether you intended it or not. Your recommendations are to recognise and work around this behaviour, not to understand and accept it.

As a thought exercise, have you considered how a candidate without Linux experience would have acted in this situation? What evidence would the recruiter use to determine if this was a genuine candidate, or a dead lead that wouldn't proceed + waste their time + cause them to miss their quota?

So... Facebook wants employees that do as they are told and not to correct obvious mistakes?

I find that hard to believe.

This is ridiculous. Nothing in your responses was rude. The CMU recruiter is dense and underqualified. Don't apologize for taking the time to remain honest in your communications and explain the circumstances.

Because of the monopolies that have been allowed to exist, getting black listed by FB is akin to chopping off a large portion of the quality tech jobs out there.

Its not that he was factually wrong (or even wrong in etiquette) , but as my mom said you can be right and dead right, which is why he recognizes he needed a better approach to leave the most opportunities for his career going forward

There is an old joke about janitor who couldn't work for Microsoft because he didn't get an email. (Link: http://www.angelfire.com/oh3/momathome/janitor.html)

What has been done has been done and there is no place for regrets. Facebook might (along with its partner and associates) be a big workplace but it definitely isn't the only launchpad for a happy & successful career.

He came a little bit snarky, true, but I yet have to see devstar who isn't snarky at least to some degree.

Anglefire wow it's still going! I was certain the page wouldn't exist. (Goes to lookup if GeoCities still exists)

The gif counter on the bottom of that page is even working!

So is the automatic redirect to malware!

It shows 514 for me. That seems rather low.

Up to 795 three hours later. We did it Hacker News, we finally got this guy the traffic he deserves.

I saw it at 400 something

I hardly think getting blacklisted by FB would lose you opportunities outside of FB. Sure, you probably can't get a job at Instagram because they probably share the recruiting database. Beyond that, there are a million startups, and tons of other medium and large engineering companies that need technical people. Seriously, Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc are all trying to steal each other's employees. They are competing so they definitely don't share such information.

If this person is good, they will definitely have opportunities elsewhere.

> Because of the monopolies that have been allowed to exist, getting black listed by FB is akin to chopping off a large portion of the quality tech jobs out there.

That does not describe reality as I've lived it. I tell headhunters from Google, Apple, Amazon, FB and other huge companies to leave me alone every few years - seems like they expire their 'go away' notes after a while.

I've had zero problems finding quality employment.

Facebook isn't going to blacklist someone over a bad interaction with a university recruiter, at least short of sending an email full of hate-speech.

It's an opportunity missed (it's a great place to have an internship or be a new grad, not so much for senior people who've worked elsewhere in industry) but the OP will certainly have no trouble applying again with some future recruiter.

> I was being pretty damn condescending and spoke out of line without regards to the context.

No, you didn't speak out of line. To be honest, the recruiter was lucky you were willing to continue the conversation at all; if that were my experience with Facebook recruiting, I'd simply would have stopped replying as soon as it was clear that the recruiter was nothing more than checking boxes. The recruiter needs to improve before they lose more than just intern prospects.

Eh, honestly I would've been similarly frustrated. The recruiter seems like they are being needlessly bureaucratic. Either they are familiar with Unix and thus should know that Unix-like is synonymous with Unix nowadays or they aren't and they should take your word.

Maybe you were a little condescending but it happens and rejecting someone on the basis of this exchange seems mad to me. If FB doesn't reverse their decision here I'd be surprised/disappointed.

Unix-like systems are not synonymous with Unix systems nowadays.

* Solaris, HP-UX and AIX are Unix systems.

* FreeBSD and Debian GNU/Linux are Unix-like systems but not Unix systems.

When technology people like us are debating over this terminology, I think it makes sense to cut the recruiter some slack.

I read the exchange as cutting the recruiter slack. He didn't say "you're wrong" or "you're an idiot." It seems to me he's saying "here's how I understand what you're saying, and here's why I think my skills meet your qualifications."

Do remember that we are talking about internships here.

If I have a task for an intern that requires some shell-scripting, and the intern already understands what it means to pipe commands, I put my hands together in silent thanks.

Exactly that I was thinking, too.

However, the HR person clearly filtered with "==UNIX". Hence, any explanation to him/her just wasted everybodies time. A different approach might have landed Stanley an interview with a Tech and the world might have looked different.

But then, he has plenty of new Tech contacts now. ;-)

Thanks for this lesson.

> If I have a task for an intern that requires some shell-scripting, and the intern already understands what it means to pipe commands, I put my hands together in silent thanks.

I thought we were talking about university students studying CS or related discipline?

How on earth would a uni student in CS don't know about piping commands? Does this actually happen? I dropped out of uni after 1,5 years, and I studied bioinformatics, not CS, but even then I considered using pipes as basic and universal skill for any "advanced user", not even an engineer.

> How on earth would a uni student in CS don't know about piping commands?

Beyond the obvious ones, lots and lots of valid reasons this could happen:

1. Student is entirely new to programming as a concept and just started in university. Not every fresh CS student has been programming since birth.

2. Student uses the shell entirely for basic commands and honestly doesn't even realize it can be used for more advanced things

3. Student is really interested in the "Science" part of CS and isn't planning on being a developer. Plenty of brilliant CS minds are awful at the programming part but extremely adept at, say, consensus protocols.

Your basic first year CS curriculum might offer a crash course in things like basic shell scripting, but it's certainly not a given. Computer Science is a very broad field and it's arguably a huge waste of time for them to teach you how to pipe commands when they could be teaching you something you can't pick up in 10 minutes, like automata theory.

> How on earth would a uni student in CS don't know about piping commands? Does this actually happen?

People fail FizzBuzz. 'Nuff said.

Yes, it happens. And much worse.

Many interns I've been in charge of were not comfortable in the command line and most had no experience outside of windows. Writing shell scripts? The everything-is-a-file concept in Unix? You're lucky if they know what you are talking about.

It highly depends on where and what exactly you study, but in many cases you've probably been explained shell basics once and can get by with knowledge how to to copy-paste commands to install packages and basic git usage.

Of course, many students are interested in more and learn it, but isn't a requirement, so students with other interests have no real need for it.

Also: - OSX is a certified UNIX - iOS is UNIX-like (BSD based)

Due to this, when someone is asking me whether I have experience with UNIX-like I say that yes, I had an iPhone.

Solaris, HP-UX, AIX, and FreeBSD are all Unix systems. With the exception of FreeBSD they are all also UNIX, because other than FreeBSD the other three are commercial Unix OSes that have been certified and therefore hold a license to use the trademarked name UNIX.

Debian GNU/Linux is a Unix-like system because Linux is not Unix, but it is Unix-like and when combined with a GNU userland is POSIX compliant.

For which definition of UNIX? There are 'genetic unices' - systems that directly descent from AT&T UNIX. From your list Solaris, HP-UX, AIX, and FreeBSD are (genetic) UNIX, since they all descent from AT&T UNIX (FreeBSD via the Berkely distribution of UNIX).

Then there are 'trademark unices', which are systems that implement the Single UNIX Specification and are certified to be compliant. Such a system does not need to be a descendant of AT&T UNIX. From your list, Solaris, HP-UX, and AIX are (trademark) UNIX [1]. Note that there is also a RHEL-deriver Linux distribution, EulerOS, that is a certified UNIX.

[1] https://www.opengroup.org/openbrand/register/

A Linux kernel even though not derived from another UNIX can be UNIX. See the EulerOS 2.0 and K-UX 3.0, derived from Red-Hat.


RIP Solaris

In fact, the recruiter was the one that introduced "UNIX-like" term, in a reply to second resume change. Judging from that, I'd say this recruiter is intentionally malicious.

Agree. This is a recruiter-like person. I doubt he knows at all about "Unix-like" systems. He debated about words hiding his own shortcomings. I would have replied "you needed it" to the comment "thanks for the tutorial".

Here's the sad fact: If I were a hiring manager at Facebook and saw your post, I would slap my forehead in frustration in complete empathy with you. That recruiter is not only clueless, but shows a nearly bot-like level of comprehension of the subject they're supposedly recruiting for, which I personally find quite rude on their part.

Then, because I'm at Facebook, I would just move on, because honestly anything that filters out one more of the 10,000 qualified intern candidates I'm going to have to look at is good for me, even if it's completely random and stupid.

> That recruiter is not only clueless

Look on the bright side: automation is likely to put recruiter-as-grep out of a job soon.

At which time faulty pattern-matches will become impossible to argue with, even if you can keep your ego under control.


Don't take all the feedback in the thread to heart. The fact of the matter is that even if you were more condescending than you desired to be, the joke in this thread about plumbers and pipes is also true. The end of the chain really does enter an absurd territory that narrows things down such that the recruiter was either failing very badly at understanding your emails, lying about his reason for rejecting you, or not even reading the emails. There is a very gross lack of comprehension in his later responses. It eclipses your condescension, by far. If it didn't, your post wouldn't be at the top of Hacker News.

Hey, you did nothing wrong.

Reading, it was frustrating to see the recruiter looking for essentially an "exact string" match. They did not appear to be interested in leveling with you on UNIX vs Unix vs POSIX vs Linux or having any sort of interesting technical discussion.

Also their "thanks for the tutorial" phrasing is very unprofessional.

I do hope this thread helps FB in training + calibrating their external comms with candidates.

Nobody else has mentioned this so I will: leave an email address in your profile, or dump something sharable in a comment here. (Pretty much everyone here (relevant) can de-base64 (which can be convenient, a la data:text/plain;base64,...) or figure out "gmail@myaccountname".)

Best case scenario, someone from FB could say hi. Not officially (that would be a nice miracle), but rather some person working there. Then you could start chatting with them, they could figure out somewhere you could probably get in on the ground at, and give appropriate instructions. AFAIK internal recommendation is the best way to get through/inside The Great Wall of Google™, perhaps that's the case for FB as well. Note, I have no experience with either company, but in a thread like this not having contact info is wasting your 15 minutes.

Also note https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15188618 - apparently what happened to you is quite common (!?).

I've taken to your advice. Thanks!

Awesome (I see it's in your profile, reachable by clicking your username).

Good luck; here's hoping you get some emails!

If you are not an old fart like myself, you probably haven't used an actual Unix system but back in the days before the popularity of Linux, you'd see a lot of Solaris.

You stuck to your guns and didn't just lie about Unix experience, so I commend you.

But if you really want the job, next time just lie and set them straight once you've gotten an interview. It is splitting hairs to make a big deal out of actual Unix experience vs Linux experience.

It is splitting hairs to make a big deal out of actual Unix experience vs Linux experience.

This only holds true if one is a UNIX Graybeard, otherwise, GNU/Linux is rife with pitfalls and minefields for the unwary. Shell scripting and GNU-isms or bash-isms is an example of this, or using GNU specific functions or semantics when programming yet another. There are many such landmines lying in wait on GNU/Linux, waiting to blow one's legs off. The BSD guys have been trying to raise awareness of this for years.

Hi. I was at FB and a lot of us in the Ex-FB group want to help. FB is a big company now, so unfortunately, these things happen.

If you email me at thomasbao12@gmail.com. I can share your email with some other FBers or ex-FBers. Here's a screencap of some of the support: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ecq6qqzu1b88grr/Screenshot%202017-...

Even if they can't help you get back in the pipeline for an internship at FB, maybe they can get you an internship somewhere else.

Commenting just to let you know. You did nothing wrong.

Never forget who reached for who. It's FB in desperate need that they pick workers from students these days.

Also, trying to (yuck) trick you into providing names of others companies - hahaha - it's like you asking him: what's the maximum salary FB can offer or similar questions. Disgusting simply because any sane person (your friend e.g.) would suggest you never provide that to counter negotiating party. Asking for this info is not far (in effect) to asking about age/race etc. This data is intended to have more bargaining power on FB side. Unethical.

And NB: it's the recruiter who introduced 'UNIX-like' into conversation.

Take your time, they all (companies) will bend. It's an employee market.

You did a great job!

> Commenting just to let you know. You did nothing wrong. > Never forget who reached for who.

This is the most important comment in this entire thread.

> Never forget who reached for who.

Yep, that's the core.

Whether he did something wrong, though, depends on how much he wanted the job.

Don't sweat it, I think lots of people go through this phase.

Though next time you can skip the pleasantries and go right to the "Actually, it's GNU SLASH Linux."

As you've requested comments. I would say your replies were fine. You gave more detail than was necessary, and the recruiter was not able to understand. That's not really your fault though.

Your comment here however indicates to me you lack confidence. That's normal too. But lacking confidence can be career limiting.

You're trying to figure out "what did I do wrong" which is a useful exercise, but as Picard said "it is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose that is not a weakness, that is life".


You dodged a bullet. If a recruiter is that dense, that doesn't speak well for the company they represent (they are helping to recruit others, too!) You can do better. Nothing in your response was wrong or out of line.

I used to think like that too, but it's worth remembering that HR/Recruiters != company.

It's entirely possible that once you get past the inane recruiter junk you find yourself on a superb team of talented people.

Unfortunately, I have just come to accept silly HR/Recruiter practices as a negative reality of life in 2017.

>once you get past the inane recruiter junk you find yourself on a superb team of talented people

But... these are exact same people the "inane recruiter junk" has selected. How good can they possibly be?

Just because the people played the "inane recruiter junk" game doesn't mean they are good or bad.

Maybe the manager of the team does an excellent job of sorting out the noise after people have passed the recruiter game. Maybe they have great face-to-face interviews with the team and the team decides.

There are a hundred reasons why the recruiter junk is meaningless to the quality of the candidate, but it certainly lets you know everyone that gets through is willing to be adaptable, compromise, communicate clearly etc. etc.

Because this is one of hundreds (if not thousands) of recruiters that Facebook has ever employed ;)

I also think you're being too hard on yourself here. Sure, it will be helpful for you to learn to interact with difficult people, and to bite your tongue when frustrated. But frankly, most of us have limited success with that even by late in our careers. It appears to me that the recruiter could have been a lot more helpful, particularly at the end where you flat-out explain you have Unix and Linux experience and they still insist that your email never said so.

You're not condescending; you were trying to explain to a person who is not qualified to screen you. It's a billion-dollar business, and they're hiring engineers, so they're not picking up apples at the grocery store. Even if you would apply before they contacted you, there is no excuse that they don't know what they're talking. You don't have to be gentle to excuse someone else's illiteracy. He/she is not your friend or your family, this is a business.

You screened the recruiter well, and he/she failed to continue. Best luck in his/her exactly-UNIX-and-not-UNIX-like engineer search!

Do not bend. Keep educating people. You done right.

If we all give in, the result is 2017: ignorant, arrogant recruiters, not willing to look into what they _should_ understand, since they are looking for speciality positions; and ignorant, arrogant people all around, not willing to learn anything.

> Do not bend

This kind of advice is what will keep him from being an engineer that others want to work with, and from passing the trivial HR screens that big companies have immediately before talking with an engineer.

Soft skills and an ability to explain without condescension are much more important for educating others, rather than doubling down and being pedantic to someone who obviously isn't getting it.

You were not condescending, what you wrote about POSIX are facts (with a slight addendum that if you grew up on Solaris, HP-UX and IRIX like some of us, those are true UNIXes). You simply had the misfortune to run into an inexperienced recruiter. It happens often whereas it shouldn't happen at all: I've been preaching for years that IT professionals should be recruiting other professionals, instead of companies putting up someone who isn't formally trained in computer science to do something they don't really understand. After my own experience, I'm of deep and firm belief that recruiting good people is part of a social contract of every good IT professional. It is too critical to be left in the hands of the non-practitioners.

I'm a recruiter, your responses were spot-on. I think I'd have probably been a lot ruder a lot earlier than you were.

In case you hadn't, please make sure to read foo101's comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15188746

Also, good on you for being able to receive criticism, that's a big step in the right direction. In time, you'll likely come to the realization that good communication skills are an important part of almost any role.

You're internalizing your repression, which is actually another requirement for most full time positions.

Thank you for commenting here!

I am curious. Can you be a little specific and tell us what Linux or Unix experience do you have?

I mean can you specify the Linux distro names and the Unix brand names (AIX, Solaris, etc.) that you have worked with?

RE: Linux distros, I am familiar with Ubuntu, Debian, and Arch Linux. To some extent RHEL as well. RE: Unix (commercial brand names), none. It was my fault that I assumed the recruiter meant UNIX-like systems.

I can claim experience with developing userland applications portable across POSIX-compliant systems, as well as some understanding of lower-level operating system concepts. However, to be honest it seems I am unqualified for the role as specified, which makes the exchange all the more embarrassing. Oh well, what's done is done.

The recruiter did mean UNIX-like systems. There exists no useful set of experience which is common among pedantically defined "UNIX" and which excludes UNIX-like systems. The pedantic definition-lawyer type responses you've gotten are absurd.

A role might specifically require extensive AIX experience in particular -- and if it did you would say you needed "AIX experience" -- never some vague umbrella family of "UNIX experience."

It is entirely unbelievable that the requirements for this role would exclude your experience. Doubly so as they're recruiting from interns. Triply so if you know anything about Facebook engineering teams. "Production Engineer?" "Frontend Engineer?" At Facebook? Yeah, those teams run Linux.

ps: The folks telling you not to language lawyer are correct. But your initial assumption that the recruiter had made a dumb mistake was also correct.

"The recruiter did mean UNIX-like systems."

Nope. The hiring manager meant that.

The recruiter in this case is a pattern-matching engine with no internal semantics, as a result of Facebook hiring them and training them but not educating them.

Eventually they'll notice that they are only seeing car salesmen with extensive experience in selling brown cars with walnut dashboards, rather than carpenters. [ https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15190438 ]

As have being mentioned multiple times already OS X is certified UNIX (https://www.opengroup.org/openbrand/register/) so I am guessing you do have experience with UNIX.

You honestly did nothing wrong. I don't think Facebook is looking for UNIX admins/developers, nor are they going to find any for an internship. CS students with experience in AIX, HP-UX, Solaris, or FreeBSD are exceedingly rare. Solaris and FreeBSD are the only two systems that Facebook would have a chance in hell at finding interns for, and even that's a stretch. AIX and HP-UX are expensive and the licensing is painful.

Getting a little frustrated with resume-screening-by-grep is not at all unreasonable. After the recruit had you play whack-a-mole for three resume revisions, a little bit of snark is to be expected. Don't let people walk over you.

A quick search around the web will tell you that FB probably primarily uses CentOS (with custom built components, I'm sure), so your experience was most likely almost directly what they were looking for.

It would have been pretty simple to tailor your resume in that regard. What I know of PE/SRE type positions at companies like FB and Google is that you are literally working with some Linux flavor nearly all the time unless you are applying for a very niche role.

wait do people actually think this position requires Unix (not linux) experience? I assumed the recruiter must just be wrong there.

It is not uncommon to come across open positions that actually do require Unix (not Linux) experience.

For example, American Express has a large deployment of AIX systems and they indeed look for candidates with experience in AIX systems, although I believe someone with experience in another Unix or Unix-like system should also be okay.

But I agree that such openings are usually quite specific about which Unix system they are working with.

This is true, but I would imagine that, if not in the job description, if a really specific kind of Unix experience is required, it would come out in the exchange - and be really OS specific and actually say - True64, AIX, Solaris, etc.

"Unix-like" today means bsd/linux. The recruiter did bad, but recruiters will always do bad.

If its a job you want, don't let a recruiter foible disqualify you, if you can help it.

This is kind of out of left-field, but are you the same Smirk from AC/MT (~17 years ago)?

Nope, not it!

AIX specifically as a preference is different than anything that works like a Unix system.

Anyone who is old enough to remember MUDs feels your pain - it's a real shame that you had to test HR inputs this way though!









Your application for an internship was spot on - ignore any and all feedback you've received from the HR rep, as it's all gumph. You obviously know what you're doing, and Internships (while beneficial in the market at the moment) are useful, you will be more than capable finding real paid work in any other area with your skillset - and best of luck to you as well. Aiming high doesn't necessary mean applying to the Facebooks and Googles of the world.

--- Wonder if the HR filters take regex?

'It'"'"'s a $"[nN].[Xx]" system! I know this!'*

*Edit: This also qualifies you on Xanax, which may not be what you want.

>I know this! Velociraptors are always the real enemy

Don't be dense. You acted wholly appropriately. Facebook happened to hire a bad recruiter. What could you do but correct him or her?

You didn't do anything wrong. In fact, you should have asked the recruiter to speak to a supervisor with deep knowledge in Unix, where he could confirm your knowledge and get back to you and you would've gotten the job.

If you never work on Unix, then you should insist on saying so. Holding integrity is much more important than getting an internship from FB. And, as an engineer working in the infrastructure space, I do not believe FB is looking for someone has UNIX experience for the internship.

The recruiter is not knowledgeable. If he/she is hiring for production engineering, he/she needs to understand the basic of the keywords they search for. No reason for you to apologize.

Ah, don't worry - as others said, most of us did something similar at some point. I'd even say that it's good to keep our profession strong by not playing the game of the business and HR people.

I always envy my friends in medicine. They have a strong union and stand together, pushing salaries for all of them and don't accept anyone above them who is not also from their profession (even if that's often hell of arrogant...).

I was being pretty damn condescending and spoke out of line without regards to the context. It's been a hard lesson learned. I honestly regret the whole exchange, and posting it online was inappropriate as well.

Nah. Relax. It was gauche, but not that bad. The responses you get are largely driven by the fact you got egg on the face of a tech Golden Boy. Also, social norms say you shouldn't air private conversations that expose the failings of a (potential, current, or former) employer.

Almost everyone will admit that tech hiring practices are an ongoing dumpster fire and comedy of errors, they just prefer a less dicey context and framing for that conversation.

You're new to the world of applying for jobs and how hiring works in professional contexts. I don't hold this against you. But this does lower my opinion of Facebook. Don't buy into the meme that programmers are dorks and therefore always carry 100% of fault for any social interaction that doesn't go magnificently.

See if your school has a career services office, they can give you a crash course in all the ceremony and fuss around building a resume and getting interviewed.

I'm more disappointed with this comment! But I guess it's to be expected. You've learned a life lesson - Don't get out of line, Don't mess with authority, Or you'll get shut down!

I dislike big companies for this reason. Expect worse when you work at one. The most successful learn the game (you've taken your first step) and rise the ranks.

You don’t deserve the criticism in my opinion. Recruiters serve a necessary function, and knowing a good recruiter can be a great help. That being said, engineers drive the bus. Recruiters aren’t subject matter experts and shouldn’t pretend to be. This is a simple question that could and should have been kicked up to an actual engineer.

If I may, Stanley you were IMHO "perfect": correct, respectful, clear, plain.

Personally I would have (different character AND way too many years dealing with this kind of people) sent him this:


(and be blacklisted forever).

I see recruitment like a see sales. When you're selling a technical product (e.g. a smartphone) to the general public, it's your job to communicate what makes it great, and it's not the public's fault if they don't understand the technical terms. That doesn't mean that a chunk of the population aren't being idiotic when they misunderstand some bit of your marketing spiel, but it's fundamentally your problem and not theirs.

Another point of view is that recruitment people are going to be less technically savvy than the actual engineers. That's a good thing - do you want to work as an engineer somewhere where they make the engineers do all the HR grunt work?

How do we know the recruiter is not a chat bot?

>How do we know the recruiter is not a chat bot?

'Thanks for the tutorial' I don't think any chat bot would read the entire thing and maybe sarcastically summarize it as Tutorial

guard response.length < 30 else { return "Thanks for the tutorial" }

You were dealing with an idiot. I don't think you said anything wrong.

It's not a criticism, but I think you should have recognized immediately the mismatch between your competence and that of the recruiter.

When participants in conversation are different enough, true communication becomes impossible, and it's useful to recognize this as early as possible to either choose another tact or abort entirely. (I think this applies to any distributed system not just recruiter-candidate pair.)

I think you did the right thing posting this. If I were in Facebook, I'd like to learn about this.

Not your fault. Most recruiter are relatively idiots, and obviously do not know how to talk to super-smart people. Lesson to learn here is to stop apologizing, and start learning how to exploit their idiocy instead.

While reading the exchange, I totally thought that you were conversing with a bot. Just scanning the resume for missing items and pointing them out in slightly different ways each time. Kind of disturbing, actually.

Don't take the feedback personally, but hopefully you will apply the lessons. Even better, this serves as a practical example for others to learn from. None of us were born knowing this stuff.

Don't you know that recruiting at this stage (gatekeepers) is a box-ticking exercise?

Since you are soliciting feedback, I think you can do better than Facebook.

You have taken the time at university to learn about the origins of "UNIX" and about portability, but it seems clear to me you do not need to know about these things for this Facebook internship.

If you want this knowledge to be acknowledged and valued, if you want to put it into practice, then perhaps Facebook is not the proper place for this to happen.

There are open source UNIX-like projects that would be better suited and more appreciative.

If the position they were recruiting for was not "UNIX and Linux" then I would have a different opinion.

You did nothing wrong. Sure, you could have gotten past this recruiter by being more cooperative but if you are really passionate about UNIX then I think the internship would be a disappointment.

You come across as far more impressive than the Facebook organization and I hope that you will stick with UNIX-like OS going forward, whether as part of your day job or as an open source contributor.

"feelin_googley" wouldn't have any motive for encouraging people to work somewhere else, could they? :P (I jest)

Given what (admittedly little) I know about UNIX and the companies/software, I'd think Apple (Darwin) would be a better fit?

Oh, come on. I work at Google. I am sure Facebook is a very fine place to work. They have plenty of very smart people working on very interesting projects. Don't be a snob.

I like how you name drop "I work at Google" - which has no relevance to the rest of your comment. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

The poster they replied to is named "feelin_googley", so they're really saying "I too work at Google" to diminish the parent's point.

Lol open source contributor. Yeah nice and all but where's the money in that? The guy just fouled up a potential career track to half a mil engineering salaries but hey I'm sure the satisfaction from some open source work will be just as good! ;-)


"ya was pretty much all true, but writing this to show i'm not an asshole to hopefully not fuck up any future job prospects with other recruiters who might read this"

I don't think you was horribly inappropriate, tho you really was condescending. You was mostly quite a lot unstrategic and you did not tailored your communication to audience.

The audience is not-too-technical requiter. You introduced term he did not knew (posix) and sent him wall of text explaining history of unix/linux. First, even tech people use terms Linux and Unix as a synonyms for Unix-like daily, so there is not need to go full nerd on someone who is not into it. Local experienced senior could easily have said "we need Unix and Linux experience" and requiter then simply attempts to fulfill that requirement. Local experienced seniors would rather change job then manage communication with dozens of potential interns, you cant expect first contact to be like them.

Second, history of tech wall of text will not work even if you are the most polite and humble person in the world. People don't read long detailed explanation even when they actually need them. They want to move to next mail as soon as possible. If the long text where you are lecturing someone contains just a hint of condescension, even if unintentional, people wont read it and will react negatively (which happened by the end of conversation). It is his bad not yours, but such reaction is still fairly predictable.

Just say that yes, you worked with Linux and Unix systems and leave out historical details. When you are looking for doctor, you don't expect lecture on correct latin names of body parts and their history. You expect them to translate from human speech to doctor speech. It is same thing.

This follow-up shows a lot of maturity. Both sides are obviously at fault here, although you instigated it.

I suspect you could still get the internship if you send an apology like "Sorry for my previous emails they were out of line. You're essentially correct and here's an updated resume to reflect that."

I don't see how the candidate instigated anything. The recruiter was either being deliberately obtuse or does not understand the role he/she is recruiting for. At almost any tech company, when a hiring manager asks for Unix/Linux experience for an internship role, there is a 99.9% chance that the hiring manager is looking for general experience on unix-like operating systems. I would bet my life on it. If Solaris/HP-UX/etc. experience was really specifically needed, it would have been spelled out as such.

I'm imagining a recruiter saying "We're looking for someone with graphics programming experience. Your resume says 'OpenGL and DirectX experience.' If you do not have graphics programming experience, I can try to find another role for you." As a candidate, I would think I was interacting with an idiot.

I don't think I'll be able to convince you otherwise, but this would read to most people as two assholes arguing with each other. Also OPs explanation of why UNIX == POSIX was pretty confusing, and I had to look up more information.

Plus, recruiters are incredibly busy this time of year. I don't blame him for choosing not to engage with candidates who reply with a wall of text when given a simple request.

Would be interesting to conduct a survey among your friends. Seems a lot of commenters here read it as the recruiter being overly strict, and Stanley trying to accommodate him/her while sticking to his integrity.

Thank you - I actually did send an apology email, but since I'm pretty sure I'm not quite qualified for the position, I didn't bother pursuing it any further than that.

Are you insisting that you're not qualified for the position on the basis of that Linux / Unix distinction alone ?

If so, that's really really sad. Even more so if you thought "Unix-like" genuinely disqualifies you because it's not strictly "Unix" !

You need to be more confident about your skills. Most interns don't know how POSIX relates to UNIX and Linux like you do, if they are even familiar with the word !

Look, I'm a former Facebook production engineer. I won't exactly reveal a secret by saying that FB is wholly Linux based. It's not a bank with legacy commercial Unix systems, and you were of course right about the 1970s engineers comment.

Positions requiring expertise with a specific brand of Unix are less and less common, and these would always mention the flavor they're after anyway (mostly Solaris, possibly some AIX/HP-UX).

One more general piece of advice : let others decide that you're not qualified for, don't self-censor before you even get a chance to fight.

Pure Unix is not even thought to CS students anymore. Looking for Unix experience for internships is utterly pointless. The Recruiter should have been happy that there was Linux experience, because even that is not a given.

You had nothing to apologize for. There are tons of recruiters in this industry who do not know what they are recruiting for and are dumbly trying to match text. I've had a recruiter tell me that they are looking for experience programming "graphics drivers", and would I kindly update my resume to say that instead of "display drivers". If a company uses recruiters this clueless, you dodged a bullet.

Oh it hurts my soul that you apologized to that clueless tool. Why do you want to work at Facebook anyway?

It looks really good on a resume, and _if_ (and it's a big if) you end up on the right team, they have some really cool stuff going on there.

As general career advice going forward, I recommend letting the employers filter you out instead of disqualifying yourself based on technical skills. They're good enough at it themselves, and job listings are oftentimes half-truths at best.

If you know enough Linux to do anything useful with Arch, and you're as CS student at CMU, you're almost certainly qualified for a PE internship there.

Recruiter: We're looking for someone to fix the pipes.

You: Yes, I'm a qualified plumber and can do the job.

Recruiter: Sure, but can you fix our pipes?

You: Off course, that is is what I was trained to do.

Recruiter: You keep saying you're a plumber but we need someone to fix our pipes

You: I can do it.

Recruiter: we need someone who have worked with pipes.

You: I have worked with those.

Recruiter: Sure, but we need someone to fix our pipes.


So it says here you've worked with pipes in large commercial buildings and small residential buildings.

But this position is primarily for pipes in park bathrooms. Do you have any experience with that type of pipe?

Please draw a triangle with 2 perpendicular lines.

Actually, any right triangle is "a triangle with 2 perpendicular lines"...

Get out of here, Pythagoras! :D

Please sir, we are trying to hire an expert here!

Give me a sphere and I'll do it!

Two parallel lines though....

Would you accept one drawn on a sphere?

Only if you can show that there are three coordinate-independent vertices.

Thinks to self: "I'm sure I must have I laid pipe in a park and in a bathroom at some point back in high-school. Regardsless, I'm an f-ing plumber, I can figure it out. If I couldn't figure out crap like that I wouldn't be a plumber in the first place. I'll just tell them what they want to hear."

Replies: "Yes, I have experience with pipe in that setting."

Which is why you need to see this is an inane game, and just "beat it" and move on.

Recruiter: We're looking for someone to fix the pipes.

(re-word their statement/question in your answer so there can be NO ambiguity)

You: I have lots of experience fixing many kinds of pipes, (including the EXACT SPECIFIC kind you asked for - WORD FOR WORD.)

(Notes on your replies, they didn't ask if you are a qualified plumber, they didn't ask what you were trained to do)

Alternatively, don't fucking apply to this kind of company. They have BILLIONS of dollars in the bank (let that sink in for a moment) and the technical recruiters are paid well anyway, there is absolutely no reason for them to not give at least a timid shit about the quality of the people who are the first line of interaction with potential employees.

I interviewed at Google 3 times and I'm currently going through the interviews for the 4th time (a combination of bad interviewers and me being a total idiot), and this time I've stumbled across the nicest technical recruiter I've ever seen in 7yrs in the industry. She actively fought for me after a poor performance, and went above and beyond to accommodate me. And all my previous 3 recruiters at Google were extremely "professional-nice" and rather intelligent. In contrast, every single interaction I had with Facebook left a bad taste in my mouth (mostly getting rejected 2 times with a 5 line email, after being referred by Fb employees).

TL;DR stop enabling companies to be shitty

I was also thinking along the same lines for unpaid internships.

Companies have billions in the bank, make tens of billions profit each year, and have "staff" working who they don't pay a cent to.

The fact there are no laws against that is evil.

Facebook interns are paid, and paid quite well.

It is, in fact, illegal to not pay an intern in the state of California if the intern performs beneficial work.

Your entire rant is predicated on untrue assumptions.

> It is, in fact, illegal to not pay an intern in the state of California if the intern performs beneficial work.

It's illegal in the whole US: https://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs71.htm

Thank you, good to know. I limited my claim to California as that was the scope of my certainty.

Why do I continually hear the term "unpaid intern".

I believe there is more to the US than just California, right?

> Why do I continually hear the term "unpaid intern".

Because those things still exist, just not doing employer-sponsored g work in for-profit firms.

> I believe there is more to the US than just California, right?

Yes, and unpaid interns doing work that directly benefits the employer is a violation of rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act in the whole US, not just California.

> The fact there are no laws against that is evil.

Except that is not a fact, at least in the US.

This here is the right answer for situation.

Of course, depending on your objective: if your objective is to have at least the option of interviewing further for this company, it helps to remember the concept of Pyrrhic victories: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrrhic_victory, i.e.: don't win the battle and lose the war.

A more apropos version:

Recuiter: we need someone who can work with copper and pex pipes. Your resume says that you work with PEX

You: I can do plumbing. I have connected PEX to copper before.

Recruiter: Do you have experience installing copper?

You: Building codes allow you to substitute PEX for copper pipe. I have used PEX with copper.

Recruiter: we need someone to work with copper. Thank you.

To me, the problem (in part) seems to be that the recruiter is not qualified to understand, or at least cannot clearly communicate, whether they actually need someone who has worked specifically with copper or whether they want general experience with pipes such as copper and pex.

Recruiter: We need someone who knows apropos is an adverb, and won't use it where they probably want 'appropriate'.

I remember in about 1998 seeing a job ad for a dev with 7 years of Java. Yeah good luck with that one! I'm sure they found someone willing to put that on their CV.

The first several years were probably IT operations for a company that has something to do with coffee.

Good one! Sounds like a Monty python skit!

I would add that in this case they wanted someone with 'clay' pipes experience. He only had 'regular' pipes knowledge.

The thing is, in your context, materials do matter; there are enourmous differences between material x and y, eg. a metal pipe and a plastic pipe. Different structural capabilities, different resistance towards chemicals, etc., so if you do need clay pipes experience, because of the very special material that is about to flow in it, or due to structural/pressure/etc specialities, you may actually be in the need of someone who knows these.

There aren't that many differences in software and they are easier to learn (eg. be aware of `killall` linux vs bsd).

In this case though I doubt they were looking for a specialist; it would have been marked as, for example, AS/400 experience if this was the case.

You must be the life of the party in every social gathering! I understand what you mean, my example was not very good...

This guy has a better analogy (and funnier) then mine:


Its weird to see people encourage the guy for this. If you can't bite your tongue in order deal with someone who is clearly not getting it, what else are you going to slam the brakes on progress for? It was in your best interest to just let it go, then clarify in the follow up interview or when it came to a technically adept person.

I get the arguments that the HR recruiter was a bit off a buffoon, but at the abstract level, you lacked the pragmatism and interpersonal skills to brush through something that clearly isn't important seeing as you have the relevant skills.

I see a few people like this in every company and they most definitely hold up progress. Most of them get fired, technical understanding isn't the only facet of being a software developer. Working in a team is a mix of being assertive when its important and placating others when it doesn't matter, much like life. A failure to distinguish between the two types of situations is a pretty big flaw for anyone who will be working as part of a team.

I agree in principle but it seems like his only way to go forward was to either lie about having direct experience with UNIX, or try to explain that POSIX is transferrable. I would have taken the latter route as well, reasoning that if it ended up costing me the job it would have been a big red flag anyway.

I used to interview at Google and I've dealt with entitled candidates, but this reads about as polite as I could expect without being a complete pushover.

I agree with your agreement in principle, but the real mistake was not simply adding Unix to the skills list to begin with, and keeping POSIX and Linux. It's not really a lie, and it's pretty obvious from the first email what's going on with this recruiter. Besides, if he's touched a Macbook, he's used UNIX in some form, because at least 7 versions of OSX have been certified as Unix [0].

I don't think I'd have thought of one ignorant recruiter out of a company of many thousands as a red flag. We have a great recruiter at my company, but I have no idea if he knows the difference between Unix, POSIX, and Linux, or if he knows OSX is a Unix (tm).

[0]: https://unix.stackexchange.com/questions/1489/is-mac-os-x-un...

I don't see a recruiter not knowing the particulars of POSIX/UNIX differences as the red flag (heck, I'm not even sure I could answer that question). The red flag to me is that the Kafkaesque exchange that followed, I suspect, is the product of the overall recruiting culture rather than a lone recruiter.

Oh, right, the "deleted Linux -> we need people with Linux experience" bit is pretty stupid. Still, I'd probably chalk that up to one ignorant recruiter and just put all those words on the résumé to satisfy them.

When I read this, I just assumed he could see what was going on and just didn't feel like playing the game. But it could be that he was thick. At the very least, no more thick than the HR person on the other end of the conversation.

Por examplo: I get the arguments that Stanley was a bit of a buffoon, but at the abstract level, the HR person lacked the pragmatism and interpersonal skills to identify a possible problem with a job description, and at the very least run it by the hiring manager if they were not allowed and/or comfortable adjusting the must-fit qualifications themselves.

I see a few people like this in every company and they most definitely hold up progress. Most of them get fired, rigidly filtering resumes by well-defined criteria isn't the only facet of being a recruiter. Working to help build teams is a mix of being assertive when its important and bridging the gap between what was said and what is desired, much like life. A failure to distinguish between the two types of situations is a pretty big flaw for anyone who will be working as part of a team.

"... technical understanding isn't the only facet of being a software developer."

True, but consider that some commenters might be commenting as end users of open source UNIX-like OS, not as salaried software developers.

In that case, there is nothing in this email exchange to suggest he could not be a valuable contributor to a UNIX-like project, paid or unpaid.

As an end user, I could care less whether developers are adept at dealing with recruiters (though I might sympathize them for the BS they must endure).

What I care about as an end user is whether they can write portable code.

Given that these companies are dedicated to selling web ads, it really makes me wonder how "progress" would be defined in your chosen context.

I am not sure that UNIX or Linux would even exist were it not for the type of person you are describing.

There is nothing wrong with having technical understanding or working elsewhere besides companies selling web ads. That is where true "progress" has come from in the past and I think it is likely to come from in future.

Just my opinion.

On the contrary, this was an obvious power play by the recruiter to get the candidate to agree and submit to whatever arbitrary KPI has been passed down by the HR manager, regardless of whether or not it's meaningful. I would not take anything away from this other than that the candidate was probably not a good fit for the position anyway, as they don't seem to gel well with the BS corporate politics. Some do, some don't.

> On the contrary, this was an obvious power play by the recruiter

This may seem obvious to you, but it's not to me. Why are you assuming malice on the part of the recruiter?

There is no malice, this is just what happens at big companies. When you have 10 layers of management, everyone is expected to fall in line because this is the only way it can work.

I work at one of those "big companies", what you're saying just isn't true. You'll find pockets of bad management, but that's far from "everybody is expected to fall in line".

FB haven't used external recruiters for some time now (they did in 2008). It's expected that internal recruiters be capable of understanding the skills they're looking for.

> I get the arguments that the HR recruiter was a bit off a buffoon, but at the abstract level, you lacked the pragmatism and interpersonal skills to brush through something that clearly isn't important seeing as you have the relevant skills.

Maybe that was the test all along :)

The guy lacketh 'hustle'. I agree.

It's a new-grad. They're generally not going to be masters of etiquette when facing social challenges.

It doesn't take a master of etiquette not to send a recruiter a 4-paragraph explanation of the finer points of POSIX v. UNIX. "I'm right and I'm going to explain to you exactly why whether it's relevant or not" is not generally a good attitude to have in the business world, even if you're working for Facebook.

That actually makes it more problematic. New grads trying to break into an industry should be especially respectful. If someone can't strategically avoid confrontation when the situation calls for it, that does not bode well for their ability to work in a team.

There are many new grads who are capable of appropriately dealing with social challenges. Those who can't have only themselves to blame.

True, but the recruiter on the other hand should show more experience and cognition. The emails might refer to systems the recruiter doesn't understand, but the actual words make complete sense.

This is not the right attitude to bring in to the workplace. You'll have a range of people from executives, to clients to co-workers in other departments who don't know what UNIX, APIs and POSIX are. If you can't communicate technical matters nicely then you have not yet developed the right attitude for a professional working environment. It's the same thing with doctors when they create metaphors to explain complicated problems. You need to speak in the layperson's terminology, and if all they know is UNIX then call it UNIX and leave it at that.

Verbatim exchange:

Thanks for the quick response and clarifications. Experience with Linux and other UNIX-like operating systems is largely transferrable thanks to the standardization that resulted from the POSIX specification. As a result, the terms "POSIX" and "UNIX-like" by-and-large refer to the same thing.

My experiences are in particular with developing software for Linux platforms, which are the most popular of the UNIX-like operating systems. I also have experience using POSIX-specified APIs to ensure consistency and portability. Beyond software developers who have programmed in the 1970s, most people do not have experience with a true UNIX OS, and I would find it hard to believe that such outdated technologies are underpinning Facebook's advanced innovations.

I've updated my resume to indicate my familiarity with Linux, POSIX, and UNIX-like systems. Please let me know if there is anything else you need.

Thanks for your time and consideration, Stanley Zhang.


Hi Stanley,

Thank you for the tutorial. We're looking for experience working on Linux and Unix.

If you do not meet the above, please let me know if there are other roles you'd like to rank.

Best, ________

I'd love to see you defend why the guy who wrote the first half is bad at technical communication and needs to develop a professional attitude, and the recruiter -- who copies and pastes the same incorrect response over and over, showing no indication that they read a single word -- is a professional communicator with a good attitude.

>I'd love to see you defend why the guy is a professional communicator with a good attitude.

He's not, but that doesn't matter. You're going to be hard pressed to only ever communicate with professional communicators with good attitudes your whole career. So if you ever want to be taken seriously and have a successful career, you're going to need to learn what battles are worth fighting. Hell, maybe it was even a test to see if the guy worked well on a high-stress team. If he can't handle one person not understanding the difference between Unix and Unix-like, how's he going to handle someone who puts a tab as an indent instead of two spaces?

The recruiter was wrong. But it doesn't matter. Stanley (hopefully) learned a valuable lesson here, and that lesson is "pick your battles". Life, especially corporate life, is full of nonsensical requirements and TPS reports and if you fight every single one of them your performance review will read "not a team player" every single year.

I don't think "pick your battles" is quite fair. I didn't read this as him being stubborn for no reason, at least not in this initial message. He knows Facebook has a reputation as a strong technical team, and since he is applying for a technical job, he probably thought they'd appreciate the attention to detail of giving a thorough response.

But yes, it certainly is a lesson in dealing with nonsense.

> What are your weaknesses?

I don't play well with idiots, or nonsensical bullshit.

Recruiter is not a technical person. If you want technical people recruiting you work somewhere smaller. The real weakness is inability to communicate with non-technical members of staff.

I would expect a recruiter for one of the biggest tech companies in the world to have at least some basic understanding/idea of even what linux is - that's not a big ask at all.

Moreover, if I'm a recruiter, unless I'm a domain expert, looking to hire someone into the field and they say they already have it on their resume, I'm going to go and double check their resume and double check my own understanding before I go any further to avoid issues like this.

The only person who looks bad here is the recruiter, and it's entirely their own fault.

The recruiter needn't even be a person. A blind monkey can detect that "UNIX" doesn't match "Linux and UNIX-Like" and reject an application. Pure text matching. Recruiter literally doesn't even need to know how to read.

Most people can't communicate with blind monkeys though, so I wouldn't fault anyone for failing here either.

I would assume at this point that this is some advanced AI experiment Facebook was running to interact with future employees.

What is up with this societal mentality that the employee is beneath the employer, and the employer has the license to be rude and it's the employee's job to accommodate their bullshit? Sending a resume for a job interview and dealing with an obnoxious recruiter is definitely not a battle I'd pick. If that's how they treat prospective job candidates, then that's probably not a company I want to work for.

The employee is not below the employer, but the employer is the one who decides if the employee gets hired.

Want a job there? Play by their rules. Don’t want a job there? Have an email exchange like this one.

Given the exchange is now on imgur, I don’t think the lesson was learned.

A professional communicator tailors their communication to their audience. Stanley's initial explanation was pretty good, but since the recruiter didn't seem to understand it, Stanley should have adjusted his approach instead of doubling down.

I'm not sure how much more clear poor Stanley can get:

> Recruiter: We're looking for students with experience work on Linux and Unix

> Stanley: I have experience working on Linux and UNIX

> Recruiter: Your email and resume say Unix-like, which is not exactly UNIX.

The recruiter, by the end of this exchange has been given the explanation of why "UNIX-like" is the correct term, why it is being used, and why it is relevant. Stanley has also tried to take a more layman-like approach, and backed off the technical jargon to state "yes, I have that", using the exact terms that the recruiter used, despite them being incorrect.

The recruiter's last email contains things that are incorrect, and the response from the recruiter is irrational.

It's tricky because from the layperson's perspective Microsoft Windows, VxWorks, and whatever runs on a TI-86 graphic calculator could be "UNIX-like" in that they are operating systems, yet none of these things are what they're actually looking for.

Still it's sort of amazing that the recruiter could be both so wrong and so confident.

Stanley said in an email he worked on Linux systems, but despite repeated prompts from the recruiter, refused to put exactly that on his resume.

He was technically correct, which some people believe is the best kind of correct, but the failure here was his. He was more interested in being right than getting the internship, and as a result he gets a lot of pats on the back from people who share his philosophy here... and no internship.

> refused to put exactly that on his resume.

But he did!! And the recruiter still gave him flak!

Stanley said, "POSIX is more-or-less a standardization effort for UNIX/Linux systems, so I've updated my resume to reflect this."

And then he shows a screenshot that just lists "UNIX", not "UNIX-like".

Then the recruiter bats at him again!

I think he was more interested in being as honest as possible, not being right.

He didn't, though.

At first, his resume included "Linux". The recruiter asked him to update his resume to include Unix as well. Stanley changed it to read just "UNIX", but no Linux.

The recruiter asked him to fix this by specifying both Linux and UNIX in his resume. Stanley updated it to say Linux and UNIX-like.

The recruiter, very professionally instead of just dropping the conversation immediately, then asked again that Stanley rectify his resume to include the terms they are looking for: Linux and UNIX. Not "UNIX-like". But Stanley again did not do this.

The recruiter gave very clear instructions on what to do, but (from the recruiter's perspective) Stanley was more concerned with condescendingly educating the recruiter rather than following simple instructions.

I sometimes screen resumes from college students at my company, and if I ever received an email exchange like the one from Stanley here, I would have immediately put him in the "no" pile. I already have 400+ people to screen, why waste time with him when I can easily find someone with equivalent experience that also knows how to follow instructions and, most importantly, isn't so rude about it?

Yeah why waste time on someone that's correcting you, because you know what's best. Good luck to you and your company finding talented people.

Good luck on your candidate search. Despite a bit of stubbornness, it's clear that he had good intentions, which can't be said of the recruiter.

No internship at FaceBook.

The recruiter's response isn't irrational. Very clear instructions are being given: put UNIX and Linux on your resume. Not tell me via e-mail. Then candidate goes ahead and 'educates' the recruiter, and puts something other than UNIX (UNIX-like) on the resume. i.e., does not follow instructions.

Clear no hire.

> Very clear instructions are being given: put UNIX and Linux on your resume. Not tell me via e-mail.

Even if that were the recruiter's intent, I don't think it's that clear. At no point in the conversation does the recruiter ever make an explicit request to have a resume with both of those on it. You might think there is an implied request from the recruiter for that, but I do not, and neither, it seems, did Stanley.

The only point in the exchange that I can see where the recruiter requests a change to the resume is here:

> […] we require having Unix experience. If you have it, could you update your resume and resend?

Which he does.

> Clear no hire.

You'd rather higher a liar and someone that will follow instructions to the letter, even when they're incorrect?

It sounds like you'd hire this useless recruiter.

What? I don't care who gets hired. But when hiring at scale, if a candidate can't follow instructions, they don't get hired. It's a basic filter that is necessary when that many people are being considered.

How many tens of thousands of university kids go through the hiring pipeline at Facebook each semester?

When you are doing things at that scale, you need well-defined processes. The process here was we need you to put exactly what this position requires on your resume, probably because the resume needed to be OKd by some keyword-checking system.

The candidate either was incapable of or refused to follow the process. Therefore, no hire.

But he put UNIX on his resume, and not UNIX-like. There's a screenshot that shows this.

There are multiple screenshots of his resume. One of them says "UNIX", but does not include "Linux". The recruiter asked him to put both Unix and Linux on his resume. He then updated it to say "Linux and Unix-like". The recruiter again asked him to specifically put "Unix and Linux", but he still didn't.

The recruiter does appear to be a little clueless with the terminology, but there could be several reasons for this. Oftentimes resumes are input into an automated system that searches for very specific keywords, or the resume might be going to an executive who is very specific about what they are looking for.

At the end of the day, the recruiter gave very clear instructions on what to do. If Stanley had just followed those instructions and re-sent his resume, he'd probably be fine. Instead, he chose to be snarky and condescending in his response. The recruiter was very professional and STILL gave him a chance to fix his resume and re-send, but he still didn't.

Hey, my grandparent comment clearly instructed you to email me responses, not post them here. Now you go ahead and "send" me this response, but you don't even email me a copy, i.e. do not follow instructions.

Clear no hire.

The kid was pretty green (when you apply for internships you usually are), he had no idea that first-line screeners at a big-5 company could be that awful. With age comes experience and low expectations but as an undergraduate you can be excused. You might even demand a minimum standard of discourse, interviews go both ways.

Storytime: back then us students were doing a factory tour, we went to Hoechst in Frankfurt (yes, it was that long ago). There was lunch with company research staff in the Jahrhunderthalle (they did have longer time horizons then). Strangely, the majority was from our university. That was puzzling, do they mostly recruit from our university?! They solved the mystery for us, this was a recruitment visit, they wanted us to consider them and wanted to put their best foot forward.

Something happened to the employer-employee relationship in the meantime.

It’s not always that bad. I have had pretty pleasant experiences with Google, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Apple (my current employer). I have also had negative experiences with Google and Amazon as well (the Amazon one puts them squarely in the I-don’t-want-to-ever-interview-with-them-again bucket).

On a more relevant comment, I think the student could have been a little smarter in realizing that the recruiter didn’t seem like he/she understood what was really being asked in the position he/she was recruiting for, but I think a lot of respondents on HN forget that people are sometimes held to account for items put in the resume. I remember when I interviewed at Apple in my last interview search, all 3 of the teams I had onsites with held me to account for items I had put on my resume.

I'm sure he could have done a better job communicating to the recruiter. You could tell he was slightly irritated, and maybe somehow he could have figured out a different framing that the recruiter would understand. (But note that at the end, he changed his strategy and said simply that he had experience with Linux and UNIX, and the recruiter still didn't care. It really isn't clear whether there was any approach that would have worked.)

He did like a 75% good job. But the recruiter did a 0% good job. It's not easy to personally take it upon yourself to make every interaction work perfectly when the other party is trying their hardest to make it fail.

> He did like a 75% good job.

I'd say a 75% good job for a fresh grad is a really good score. Explaining technical jargon to the computer illiterate is not really something you can learn at school.

Not to mention he shouldn't have to in this instance. He's talking to someone who's recruiting for technical positions.

At a big-name company like this, is it really too much to ask that someone understand the basics of the technology and they're recruiting for?

I mean, I explain technical jargon all day long, sure, but I work at a trucking company. Still, my interview process certainly didn't run in to any problem like this, and had it, I can assure you I would've been met with no resistance with the given explanation...

>Explaining technical jargon to the computer illiterate is not really something you can learn at school

...but, yet, probably should be.

> Explaining technical jargon to the computer illiterate is not really something you can learn at school.

How can you not learn that - how else can you talk to IT/Conputer teachers?

> and the recruiter still didn't care

It wasn't not caring; at that point the recruiter didn't believe him about the Unix experience.

That's not incorrect, but at the same time it's not improbable that he was essentially trolling at this point and expecting to show this nonsense to his peers (which worked!).

Solid engineers, even ones still in school, know who they are and that their skills are valuable. To this candidate the value of any one recruiter is near-zero. He was chasing lols, basically.

The story here is that Facebook messed up by having this person front their recruiting efforts, not that Stanley Zhang was denied a job.

> Beyond software developers who have programmed in the 1970s, most people do not have experience with a true UNIX OS

This line is where he started to come across as a jerk.

I think if he had skipped this paragraph and just replied with the "I've updated my resume..." bit, he would have been fine.

> Beyond software developers who have programmed in the 1970s, ..

Stanley should update his industry knowledge. My school used AIX/Solaris in the late 90s, switching over to Linux (mostly because it was free/cheap) only in 99/2000. I have friends who interned at Sun Microsystems in 2001/2 and they were still using Solaris on all their computers including what the receptionists were using.

There's an old saying about no one getting fired for buying Microsoft (or was it IBM). Similarly, the (entry-level) recruiter/sourcer would rather not get fired or get a bad rap from the hiring manager for confusing Linux and Unix than risk it believing some 20 year old jerk.

Don't you think the risk you are talking about in believing a 20 year old is exaggerated? Is it that hard to go back to the manager and ask if "Unix-like" is acceptable although the job description says "Unix"? Or just do a little bit of Googling to figure out if what the candidate is saying could have merit?

From my perspective, it appears that the recruiter is the jerk and not the candidate. I have met many computer-illiterate recruiters but never one like this who would repeat the same response over and over again despite the candidate having clarified his position.

I Googled and I find that the candidate was wrong. The recruiter was right.

AIX, Solaris and HP-UX are bonafide Unix systems and there indeed are software developers today who work with them.

In any case, it is not very hard to write something like the following in the resume: POSIX, CentOS (Linux), Solaris (Unix), FreeBSD (Unix-like), etc. It is always good to be more specific about your skills in situations like this than being ambiguous.

[1]: https://archive.org/details/bstj57-6-1905

The reason you're getting downvoted is because you're saying he's incorrect by making a distinction between UNIX (uppercase) and Unix when referring to commercial OSes. There is no such distinction. UNIX is a trademark for the Unix family of operating systems. All of the systems you referenced as a family of Unix systems are certified and therefore can be referred to in the trademarked way as UNIX.

The candidate is incorrect in his belief that nobody uses UNIX (or Unix) in 2017 and he could have been less flippant in his responses to the recruiter, but his technical accuracy is spot on.

Regarding the minimal distinction that exists, FreeBSD is Unix, but not UNIX, because it has never been certified as there is a cost associated but it is directly derived from AT&T Unix in its lineage. Mac OS X which is derived from FreeBSD in turn was certified and is therefore a UNIX, ironically enough.

While that is true, I find it highly unlikely that they are expecting interns to have experience with Unix™.

Can the downvoters care to explain what in my comment is incorrect?


Please don't comment about the voting on comments. It never does any good, and it makes boring reading.

> switching over to Linux (mostly because it was free/cheap) only in 99/2000

Your school was trail blazing! At my uni, UVic, it was still all Sun and IBM Unix labs (with plaques) when I graduated in 2000.

When I started uni in 2000 (exeter) we had some Solaris workstations (with CDM), and some redhat ones. The printing system was all redhat based, but the server with the fast 10mbit internet connection I ran BitchX on to DCC voyager episodes on was irix. The student radio station was some form of Linux on the tx side (in addition to the AM transmitter)

There was even a room with NT4 - I went there once.

When I started work as a trainee at a major UK broadcaster in 2003 the news production system ran in Solaris, radio was on some vax thing, the image store ran on irix, the logging system was on aix, and there were half a dozen distros across about 20 servers with no real standards. The majority of staff were either windows IT staff (who got outsourced), help desk staff, or broadcast engineers with limited computer knowledge.

Over the next few years I changed the news system, others followed suit, and there's now 1200 ubuntu boxes/vms over 6 continents. Hooray for monoculture. Looking back it's amazing how quickly things change.

IBM licensing can be absurd. Unless his university provided AIX systems to work with (and I can almost guarantee they didn't), its unreasonable to assume that an applicant would take the slowboat to licensing/software support contract hell and back just to get hands on with a niche, oddball UNIX system.

Solaris died roughly 3 times, depending on who you ask. 2002 was 15 years ago. Oracle officially killed it by laying off over 90% of people assigned to the project two days ago. Future Solaris development is deader than shit.

The only true UNIX that sees "widespread" use, and the only one that you will ever find a student with any experience with it is FreeBSD, and FreeBSD is popular because of its licensing, not its "true UNIX nature."

As somebody else said, it wouldn't have busted the recruiter's ass to forward the email to the manager and ask if "Unix-like" experience is relevant.

Most public companies running Oracle Financials will do so in Unix to control license expenses.

The guy writes well. The recruiter is the one with bad attitude. But I would say that a practical communicator knows his audience, and in this case might want to give up explaining POSIX, change his resume, and move on.

Stanley might change his tune if he broaden his experiences a bit. A close friend of mine is a 20-something, now, Chief Engineer at a defense contractor working with the big private names and USAF.

He was a hardcore Linux guy before taking this position 5 or so years ago. He'll tell you himself, there's little transfer between deep Linux knowledge and deep Unix knowledge. They're two different beasts.

Trust me, Unix is not limited to programmers from the 1970s, it's very much alive, and it's not outdated. There's a hell of a lot of interesting stuff going on outside of Silicon Valley. I wish I could talk about it.

Yep, still use AIX here.

Mac OS X is UNIX and people use it well after the 1970s, so he's just wrong.

"defend why the guy who wrote the first half is bad at technical communication"

Too many details the target person is not just not interested about, but also have low chance to fully understand - judging from targets initial confusion about Unix and Linux.

Totally cool at that age, but not perfect communication either. All that is orthogonal to quality of communication from recruiter.

> You'll have a range of people from executives, to clients to co-workers in other departments who don't know what UNIX, APIs and POSIX are.

Yes, but if a recruiter is attempting to convince the smartest people at top universities to come be an intern at their company, they should know the difference (or practical lack thereof) between linux and unix. Or at least they should be smart enough to not triple-down on that difference when they clearly don't know wtf they're talking about.

Bottom line is OP is a candidate that should have gotten through to the next stage and should not have been disqualified because the front-line recruiter was being an idiot. It's a missed opportunity and there are probably many more like it.

> Yes, but if a recruiter is attempting to convince the smartest people at top universities to come be an intern at their company

aaand now I understand why he is how he is.

> they should know the difference (or practical lack thereof) between linux and unix.

I hate this attitude. How can a recruiter know all the intricacies for the roles he is hiring, he would need to be an expert. He has to know everything he they have to learn a whole pile of new terms.

That’s why you pay a technical recruiter. It’s their job to know all the terms and their relationships. They don’t need to know how to program them, just what fits what. Think the difference between a athlete and a sports reporter. The best sports reporters know the intricacies but no one expects them to play the sports they cover. Generic recruiters are not very useful.

It is stupid to expect a technical recruiter to know everything, especially in this ever changing world of languages and frameworks.

I like how easy it is for people to blame someone else here, rather than try to understand it from the recruiters position. I understand, we all hate recruiters.

I don't hate recruiters. I know quite a few that keep up with the industry. I literally only ask the competence of a sports reporter. What baffles me is the acceptance of little to no knowledge in recruiters.

Yea man, I hate it when people are expected to know enough to do their jobs effectively too. Thank god there are heroes like the recruiter in this post who have the courage to stick to their ignorance even when the situation is politely explained to them.

Wat. That's his literal job. To screen applicants that use these terms.

If he doesn't know what the terms he's screening for mean, then he probably isn't a very effective recruiter.

Nah, they were pretty patient - updating their resumé so that they weren't lying, yet still giving the recruiter what they thought the recruiter wanted.

Presumably they were worried that the resumé wouldn't just be seen by a recruiter, and a more knowledgeable person might flag it.

There is an extremely fine line between speaking the layperson's terminology and lying.

Wrong: "Yep, I have UNIX experience!"

Right: "These days, the phrases 'UNIX' and 'UNIX-like systems' are used interchangeably. Please double check this with your hiring manager to confirm that we're on the same page."

Agreed there's a fine line. I somehow find myself a little further along the spectrum - Perhaps I'm jaded from dealing with too many recruiters who are trying to check boxes.

If I really thought this job was worth my time, I would've updated my resume to say UNIX and Linux, and then clarified during the first interview with a technical person.

Which incidentally is why so many actually technical people are tired of all these resumes that say an applicant has a skill they don't actually have.

Wrong: "Yep, I have UNIX experience!"

Right: "Yep, I have Unix experience! I have worked on Solaris which is a bonafide Unix system. I also have experience with Unix-like systems like FreeBSD and Debian GNU/Linux."

Solaris and AIX /are/ UNIX. Solaris is derived from SunOS, which is derived from 4.2BSD, which was directly licensed by Sun from AT&T via a UNIX source license. Solaris and SunOS were both certified as UNIX.

Similarly IBM licensed AT&T UNIX and derived AIX. It is still certified as UNIX.

The Open Group holds the UNIX trademark and copyrights and conducts the certification and licensing process these days.

See here: https://www.opengroup.org/openbrand/register/

You've posted functionally the same comment multiple times in this thread. No matter how many times you say it, you are technically incorrect. UNIX is a valid piece of terminology when referring to commercial Unix OSes.

> Solaris and AIX /are/ UNIX.

Did you read my comments carefully? I am saying the same thing as you are. I am saying that Solaris and AIX /are/ bonafide Unix systems in all my comments.

They are focusing on the distinction between UNIX and Unix.

How about recruiters that recruit for a role at Facebook of all things just learn what the hell they are recruiting for instead?

I don't think the onus is on developers here to explain why Unix and Posix are interchangable.

It's like the carpenter telling the recruiter that yes, his skills in building a chair transfer to building a table.

if you're not autistic you just say "yes im an expert in unix" and move on your with your life. it isn't worth it to do anything else.

He may have assumed that at some point someone in the hiring pipeline would _not_ be an idiot (or in your words, "would be autistic") and may notice his false claim. Especially for a college student applying for an internship, it's a little much to expect him to know exactly where lying on your resume is appropriate. (At some point he said "I have experience in Linux and UNIX" and the moron on the other end still referred to his resume saying Unix-like).

I think you may be extrapolating your own experience of "not being autistic" (by your definition) a little too widely.

I think it's silly and demeaning to think of college students as being that naive. I was one very recently and believe it or not we aren't that way. Especially ones who study engineering at top schools like CMU.

Everyday I talk to someone who isn't informed about one subject or another. It should be a common skill for people to put their selves in the other person's shoes and explain it at their level. When a non-cs person asks me about what exactly my job is I don't start going into details about Hadoop and Spark etc, I talk at a level they could understand about data.

As far as the autism comment, it was a little offensive but I meant it in terms of ability to read the social situation, not cs knowledge.

I may be a little harsh here, because everyone makes mistakes, especially in college. And there is nothing wrong with that. I've done embarrassing things with recruiters too, believe me. I just want to make sure people realize it's a mistake and learn from it.

The problem here is the that person thinks they are talking to a technical person when they are actually talking to a non-technical recruiter.

IMO the recruiter should have basic understanding of the technologies they are recruiting for. But it's the norm for them to have no idea.

I'm not sure I agree. You bring up an important point -- that specialists will always encounter slight errors when interacting with laypeople. There's a tricky balance to be struck there -- how do you communicate with them without adopting the same errors yourself, but also without bruising their ego, while hopefully educating them at the same time? The best mix seems to be the "correct by agreeing" approach.

"Is the tumor beniggun?" "Yes, that's correct, the tumor is benign".

This is a broader concept that I've had to get used to recently: I don't think this is a specialist/layman thing as much as a smart/dumb thing. I know plenty of very smart people who are happy to show their ignorance about a topic that they don't know about when talking to someone with that knowledge (including examples like the benign/bennigun thing).

For the first time in my life, I'm working with people who aren't particularly intelligent[1]. The lack of intelligence doesn't bother me much per se, but I was absolutely not prepared for how incredibly childish their psyche is when it comes to making mistakes and learning from them, admitting they don't know things, asking questions, etc. It was absolutely shocking how routinely people would read all kinds of ulterior motives into every possible question: "the only reason you would ask X is because you're trying to put me down" and stuff like that. I've learned to heavily sugarcoat things, stroke egos with compliments before describing things that need improvement or fixing, etc etc. Goddam is it an exhausting waste of time.

My plan at this point is to steer my career as far away as possible from people who are this stupid and immature; I spent a long time at the start of my career surrounded by very smart people and I just got used to the idea that everyone is secure in their intelligence and everyone can focus on being productive together without needing to keep stopping and feeding the egos of infants.

[1] Just to forestall the complaints: this isn't a value judgment of who they are as people, it's just a single weakness. A comparable weakness of my own is that I have to exert quite a bit of effort to maintain a strong work ethic when being hardworking comes more easily to some.

(this comment is a dup of one that i submitted elsewhere in this thread)

As a tutorial for those of us like me who sometimes stumble in situations like this, could someone who found the OP's responses to the recruiter unprofessional please post example phrasing of what the OP should have said? Let's assume the constraint that the OP will refuse to lie (so they won't just change their resume to 'Unix' instead of 'Unix-like').

This is a genuine question; I often can't think of how to phrase things and I think an example would be educational.

Recruiter: "We're looking for students with experience working on Linux and Unix. If you do not meet the above ..."

Stanley: "As per my previous email, I have experience working on Linux and Unix ..."

Recruiter: "Your email and resume say Unix-like systems, which is not exactly Unix."

What is the point of the recruiter's last email, claiming that the email doesn't say Unix, when it clearly does? It looks to me as though Stanley was crystal clear at this point, and the recruiter still wouldn't have any of it.

A technical recruiter should definitely know, especially after you've explained it in exceedingly obvious language. It's not like just updating your resume to say different words is necessarily going to work. He more or less did that at the end by being specific about Linux, and yet the recruiter was like "oh it still doesn't say Unix". My grandmother, who didn't even graduate from high school, is less clueless than this guy.

It's unclear to me if the recruiter meant "experience" in the "professional experience" sense vs just "have used personally," I'd say there was a definite failure on both sides to figure out if that was the expectation. Both parties in this are basically just repeating the same stuff back and forth at each other "you need Unix experience" "I have Unix on the skills section" and repeat...

Nothing in that guy's email was rude or unprofessional.

Is just communicating a fact politely, "not nice"?

Irrelevant that you are "right". You have to guess what the recruiter wanted and just say yes.

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