I put that in quotes because yes, I've seen it also result in an age bias and as I went from one side of the equation to the other, I spent some time evaluating what was and was not important to me as an employee.
About 15 years ago I came to the conclusion that "over qualified" was never a legitimate disqualifying disposition of a candidate. Simply put, if you are applying for a job that needs less skills than you bring and are willing to take the salary that is offered, how far 'beyond' the requirements you go is irrelevant. I asked a hiring manager at Google once if they would tell a sales guy "No I don't want the Ferrari at the same price as this Mazda Miata, its more sports car than I need to get around." Even if you never expect to challenge the top end of the sports car you probably won't turn it down. Similarly with employees, if you are up front with them about what the job entails and they are ok with it, who are you to say they will be "bored" or "twiddling their thumbs all day" ?
Answer is, you aren't. Hire them and get get a discount on skilz they are offering you. Your company will be better for it.
But that's not the real reason. The reason is they are afraid because the experienced person can see through bullshit better. They are harder to fool and brainwash to work for free. With stuff like "There won't be a paycheck next month, but don't worry we are turning corner, once we exit you'll all drive Ferraris!", "We are changing the world, just need to finalize this feature by next week, so let's all work a little harder (and by all I mean you all)". Someone with experience will say something "Thanks but no thanks, I've heard this before" a new college graduate will say "Yay! Let's do it, I'll impress everyone with how little sleep I can get each night".
And I am not being too hyperbolic here. I've heard from owners before confessing that hey love hiring college grads because they can drive them hard, they are full of enthusiasm and are not "tainted" by other corporations.
Another friend from another startup, confessed that they like those take-home interview problems. Stuff like "Implement a distributed database over the weekend and show us the code on Monday during the interview". The reason is because they can get the really desperate and dedicated people willing to invest that much time into projects. As when crunch time comes, they'll need those "skills".
Obviously it is more complicated than that. Just saying there could be legitimate concerns.
So set up an employment agreement that addresses those concerns. Use a vesting schedule or clawbacks on a signing bonus.
> Most managers are probably not thrilled with the idea of investing in someone who may not even stay a year.
Most managers aren't optimizing their technology for productivity, especially when new team members are concerned. This is a solvable problem. That is, "we're concerned they might quit in nine months" can be rephrased as "we're not capable of onboarding an experienced new hire in a reasonable amount of time".
> In another thread, a Google employee said the manager didn't expect them to make a real contribution in the first six months. Is that unreasonable?
I can't comment without more details. In particular "real contribution" can mean a lot of things. I think a trivial bug patch (forgot to validate an input) or implementing an already designed feature (we have five of these, implement the sixth) should be possible in the first couple weeks.
I am surprised that Google has code bases like that. I was under the impression that Google has engineers from completely different parts of the company transforming each others' code all the time so they can make breaking changes to libraries.
In the end, a truly "senior" developer doesn't need training on anything, just point them at the code, build and deployment scripts, and that's all they need.
I did not want to waste time and lose my skills, so I talked to a few people here and there, found a few sharp corners in the product that many wanted to improve and started working on them.
Turned out, the reason behind the "relax for 1 year" rule was stack ranking. In order to promote the right people and award them bonuses, the management needed a steady flow of newcomers that would perform poorly and get abysmal review scores.
Being an employee, generally (not always but it must be 99% of places) you need to:
1. love the company you are working for.
2. be willing to receive emails constantly.
3. not be attracted to other companies.
4. accept begin laid-off as and when the company desires.
Contracting on a fixed length contract, I am almost guaranteed to have work until the end of that contract - working for a company, 0 guarantee i will have a job in 1,2,6,12,18 whatever months.
(how the hell do you get lists on multiple lines here ha ha)
Years ago, I tried running my own consulting company. I found that I was fine at the technical side, but I really and truly sucked on the business side. I just couldn’t keep the contracts rolling in, and I couldn’t do the marketing and PR, etc....
More importantly, by trying so hard to do those things that I was really horribly bad at, I ended up hurting myself on the technical side.
So, how long can you afford to not have any income? How long until you go hungry and get kicked out into the cold?
Leave a blank line between each item.
My experience tells me otherwise. As soon as you have a job, everyone wants to hire you. If you have no job, nobody wants to touch you. It's kind of like dating, where scarcity makes you attractive.
Don’t tell me that I’ve got a great resume and that you’re looking for someone who is just exactly like me but five years younger, and then ask if I know anyone who is looking.
If you said those other ones were a legitimate concern for avoiding hiring young people I would say "... I guess, so learn to interview properly and lower your risk of that". The scale of that risk doesn't fit the scale of the issue at all.
So offer them the job and provide a path for more responsibility and pay as they prove themselves. I don't see the downside for the company. There's probably a downside for certain middle managers, I guess.
And more particularly, Im probably not looking to pay for one, and Im probably not looking for a senior manager to do intern level work for intern level pay with the expectation of approaching senior management work and pay.
More likely than not, Im looking for an intern who I can pay intern wages, and maybe slightly more as he improves.
The problem with this interpretation is that a lot of these so called "intern-level" jobs are not labeled as such. In fact, many of these opportunities require this so-called intern to have senior level skills based upon the job description and (no joke) seven-part interview spread over several weeks. So if these companies are just looking for interns, why not decide in one simple interview? And the other problem here is that many who apply to be older "interns" who are career changers are also rejected. There is really no way for the hiring company to explain that away as over-qualification.
At least that's my read on the situation. If I were a manager and I could choose between hiring somebody with 10 years experience and fresh college graduate I'd hire the experienced guy for sure (or hire them both). The only reason I can see why you would only hire junior is if your budget is limited (because of course the person with 10 years industry experience will require higher compensation than fresh graduate).
Most managers can't see past next quarter's numbers. A year is long term planning that is well beyond them!
Just like the topic at hand, that kind of requirement is correlated with other characteristics, think young, fresh grad, not married probably, no kids, really wants the job, maybe a bit desperate, doesn't mind expending their free time etc.
In some cases the companies are aware of what they are doing. They know it is not about the take-home test but about picking those types of candidates most of all, and they are ok not selecting the rest. This was my friend's company.
In other cases, companies are not aware of it, they just copy what others are doing or say believe that this testing method is better, so use it strictly for that reason. Which is fine too, it might work for them better. However, they'll still end up selecting certain candidates and not others, but they just don't do it explicitly.
The test was designed to be a 6 hours task. I spent a Saturday on it (with regular pauses to go out a bit, play games, watch tv, etc)
I got the job. I have started there very recently so I can't really speak about the amount of work / week in that place.
Again, compared to a very skilled friend who had to cram for 2 hours each evening for a couple of months (and speaking with other people I know having gone through that, it seems pretty standard), I really see my time investment as ridiculously less than an on-site whiteboard.
I am obviously only referring to programmers, knowledge workers etc.
yes it’s entirely possible to be at a stage where you can’t pull more hours out of your sleep or other obligations to fulfill X task you truly want to. I really have a lot invested in believing it.
Could you burn the candle at both ends ? Sure! But I the case that you already are, what more can you do?
If you are a knowledge worker - and on HN, perhaps you do have the spare time.
But if you are older - Do you need to take care of your family? Help around the house, sleep? Maybe not! But usually the older you are, the more likely it is that you don’t have those hours lying around to just burn a weekend at your convenience.
Which supports the idea that this is going to be a request (take home exercises) that will favor one type of person. The person with the freedom to burn that time.
A very competent friend had to cram for months in order to pass the whiteboard interviews at one of the tech giants.
I had to spend a Saturday on this test (it was scoped to be a 6 hours project, I spent the day on it with frequent and long pauses).
My time investment is orders of magnitude lower what it would have been for a whiteboard.
I do think that "homework" interview problems are better than pointless algo.
Something which takes 2-3 hours is much more reasonable and I am willing to do that because it leaves me with enough time for family / life over the weekend or to do homework for few different companies to not put all my eggs into single basket when interviewing.
If you are looking for a job you would rarely only concentrate on one opportunity. For sure you would try to compare at least 2-3 comparable jobs to choose the one which fits you best. So these sort of tests / home work assignments should be quite simple, probably algorithmic questions which can be completed in 50-100 lines of code.
You will easily spend 10-20h for "normal" coding interview.
5h to refresh basic algorithms BFS, DFS, sorts, Trees.
2h for hackerrank challenge from clueless HR person
3h for another preparation before whiteboarding on site
1h whiteboarding before any design question is asked
Any owner who thinks they can get more real work done by driving a college grad hard than they can by hiring me is an owner who's short-changing their bottom line.
I agree you. Was just presenting someone else's perspective. Don't think such things are usually shared or discussed so I found it interesting. I personally advocated for a more diverse team - more women, more age ranges, more cultural backgrounds, rather than just young college guys.
Age discrimination probably starts close to 50 I think.
With the current lack of bonds between employer and employee, you must consider that all your employees are in this condition.
The story is just a rationalization for whatever you want to believe. You could simply evaluate the candidates record of tenure at earlier companies, ask them about their motivations etc. to get some idea of whether they plan to jump ship just like any other candidate.
We all know that our idea of what a job is before we pick it is much different after we work there for 3 months.
People are always looking to leave. More money is made leaving. Companies aren't willing to adequately pay to retain talent.
[Edit: that's the employer's logic. Right now I'm on the wrong side of that equation, but I can understand their concern. Even if it's true that you really want the job and not that "better" job that might not even exist or you may not really consider "better".]
Assuming you are not a complete muppet and have built mechanisms into your company culture to provide for rapid knowledge transfer, of course.
Or, it could be that you offer something that a lot of other work environments don't. Kind, friendly people, a fun-yet-professional atmosphere, remote work, generous vacation, etc.
Personally, I expect that every member of my team will matriculate out at some point. What's the harm in bringing somebody in that, assuming culture fit, will bring more benefit to my organization than I'm paying for?
That's good - if your organization (even if not your team) has a need for the people that now have souped-up skills.
It may be that overqualified workers don't in fact leave sooner - or it may be that the hiring manager correctly identified those who would and wouldn't, and only hired the latter. By studying only the people already hired, it's impossible to tell.
The study was done properly. Have a read of: http://today.uconn.edu/2010/08/over-qualified-not-really/ which provides better detail.
From what I can tell, they tracked the jobs they took, but not the jobs they were denied for, so I don't see how they could've accounted for the selection bias.
There is a limit on how much salary anyone can command in a purely technical position. And at some point in a career there is so much critical information in your head at a company that they start paying for you to 'not leave' rather than 'compatible salary'. You can't pick up that 'don't leave' premium at the new job until you're indispensable.
Working through that value equation can be hard, especially if you don't have a lot of self awareness to begin with.
I'm still figuring out ways to not get into a rut like that...
The longer you're at a big company, the more you get used to it, and the harder it is when it's time to move on. I worked at a big SV company for ~4 years, did extremely well, stack ranked in the top 5%, got raises, my last review I got a "critical talent stock award" -- it's easy when that's happening to imagine yourself there forever.
Then over about 6 months my division was divested, my manager was replaced, and a bunch of us in the old regime got laid off at once. It was heartbreaking, I was in shock. I bought my first house there, had 2 kids as an employee. Transitioned really to a fully-formed adult there. The work was interesting and I had a wonderful team. The job was a part of me, and I went from blessed top performer to the soup line in a matter of months.
But that's what happens when you don't manage your career really hard. If I had been smart/ruthless, I would have moved diagonally to a new company and started making a name before they had the chance to make a move on me. But I fell for the siren song (and vesting schedule) of the Big Corp. This isn't an unusual story.
Of course, it is up to the employee to determine if they can handle their expenses on the salary granted to them. However, just as an employer may look at something like commuting time and say to themselves "wow, they're going to commute for 2 hours, that's going to be tough", an employer can look at someone who is older and assume more expenses and say "wow, they might be digging into savings, that's going to be tough".
Now, that should be just one factor of the hiring equation. And someone may be interested in transitioning fields, doing a startup, have a trust fund, live well below the normal standard of living, etc, etc, and may be ok with the salary.
But as an employer, hiring, you aren't just looking at what the employee is saying now, but trying to figure out if/when they'll be moving on (and picking someone who will be less likely to do so is just human nature--that's why job hoppers are looked down upon by some companies).
That said, how can you combat that? (I'm in my early 40s and am terrified of this.)
* start your own company
* don't job hop, settle into a company
* keep your skills up to date
* be productive enough to justify the extra money (be a true 'senior' developer)
* move into management, again, a higher leverage area.
I don't know, maybe there are other ways.
For that matter, someone who keeps getting rejected for being “overqualified” might be extremely loyal once they find someone willing to give them a job.
my monthly expenses are ... relatively low compared to lots of other folks my age and in my area and profession, but I do without some things they have (bigger house, newer car, newer cell phones, etc). We could tighten our belt even more if need be, but many others can't.
as in that other example, the 22 year old might be supporting massive student debt and maybe some consumer debt. That 48 year old developer might have a high earning spouse and together they're pulling in $240k in a medium cost of living area, with no debt.
You just can't tell by looking at someone's age what their financial situation is.
I can relate to KIDS blowing up one's monthly budget. But retirement and housing?
I set aside the same percentage of my income for retirement as always (the raw number may be higher as my income climbs, but I've always approached it as a percentage). And my mortgage will be paid off free and clear in my 40's, while most of my 20-something colleagues burn obscene amounts on monthly rent for tiny apartments. Because they'd rather live in some trendy gentrified spot in the urban center, than have a house in some non-sexy and supposedly-racist suburb.
If it weren't for daycare expenses, my monthly needs would be a fraction of what they were two decades ago. And I'll be done with daycare in a couple more years.
> don't job hop, settle into a company
This is atrociously bad advice. If you are going to remain an individual contributor, rather than exit into a management track, then it becomes more important to move around and keep yourself relevant as you age. Not less.
> move into management, again, a higher leverage area.
If you genuinely want to move into management as a matter of advancement, because you are tired of coding and a completely different career intrigues you, then fine. But if you don't really want to be a manager, and are just doing it for salary reasons, then I can say from experience that you're setting yourself up for misery. I was fortunate enough to come to terms with this in time to turn back, before the detour caused long-term damage.
As far as not being a job hopper, I think that you have a point, staying at a company can cause your skills to become narrow. But showing loyalty over your career might lead an employer to believe you when you say "I am overqualified for this job but I stick to the jobs I have".
As far as management, I think everyone should try it, just because it gives you an appreciation for how hard management is, but I concede your point that it is an entirely different profession and you shouldn't move into it solely to stay employed.
The only flavors of management I would ever be willing to climb out of the trenches for would be a very technical, very creative form of management or possibly a founder-level role. All the rest seems so boring, a lifetime of meetings, meetings, meetings, and spreadsheets.
Huh? My expenses have never been lower. My housing costs sure as hell aren't higher because I bought my house when they were a lot cheaper than they are now. ($1900/month for a detached rambler in Redmond, WA; suck it, youngsters.) Haven't had a car payment in, what, about ten years? We've bought all the high-end stuff we're going to buy. TVs wear out, but high-dollar musical instruments don't, so no obsolescence there.
I'm sure our retirement savings is higher than yours, but it's not because retirement's coming up; we're set there. It's because I don't know what the hell else to do with the money, and I have a tax-deferred savings account? Okay, sign me up for that and max it to the Federal limit. And even that's not enough to siphon off the surplus, so we make extra principal payments on the house.
Granted, that's two incomes and no kids. But we could get by on half of what we make. I'd do it, too, but no one is offering a 20 hour/week software job, and at this point I don't have any marketable skills other than writing software.
EDIT: sorry, went off on a rant and didn't answer the question: "That said, how can you combat that?" Mmm, I don't. Maybe employers overthink it like you do, maybe they don't, hard to tell. Frankly, do I want to start an employment relationship with a company that's already second-guessing me? I just inquire about positions that interest me, and at some point some sucker hires me. I do think one would do well to avoid job-hopping. When I've been a hiring manager, my guess is going to be that one looks good on paper but is insufferable to work with (and hence gets fired), or can't be pleased. Having "my own company" on the resume, even if it's one that didn't quiiiite work out, seems to be a plus, too. Other than that, I dunno, just go look for a job like everybody else. <shrug>
The specific concern is that if you ask and they talk about living in a place that is primarily occupied by a specific protected class, you have now accidentally strayed into the danger zone of federal concern. Long commuters are not a protected class, but people are highly variable in their sensitivity to commute times. Since it does not specifically relate to their ability to do the job, experience, or other factors you should be focused on, you should stay away from it.
A safe question you can ask if you’re concerned is something like “our core working hours are N to M, will that pose a problem for you?”
> A safe question you can ask if you’re concerned is something like “our core working hours are N to M, will that pose a problem for you?”
That is going in my toolbox.
I think this is bigger than most people realise. Bring in the bright young things straight from university (or with a couple of years' experience) and they won't know that "working 20 hours overtime per week is normal" and "you don't need a lunch break if the company supplies food" are a crock of shit.
That was certainly my experience. I remember in my first job out of college, working 96 hours one week to rescue a client project (that was a lot of pl/SQL coding). The project launched and I got a six pack of beer and a t-shirt as a thank you.
Should hiring decisions be entirely divorced from context? Should employers not worry about anything but 'can the person do the job right now'?
>However, just as an employer may look at something like commuting time and say to themselves "wow, they're going to commute for 2 hours, that's going to be tough", an employer can look at someone who is older and assume more expenses and say "wow, they might be digging into savings, that's going to be tough".
I think it really boils down to context. If you are a 6 figure developer taking a $40K job, yea, maybe, but if someone is paying $40K for US developers, they don't get to bitch about turnover, that would be a given.
So let's take something more realistic (and I'm framing everything in terms of development, because that's what I know). Say a $150K guy drops down to $100K. To me that isn't a red flag, maybe the guy wants to do something different in a new language. Say a Windows guy wants to do iOS or Linux or vice versa. Unless they are crazy with their money $100K is easy to live on for most people, even as a sole provider with a family.
Another example is they are unemployed and looking for work. A lower paying job is better than no job, so they would already be digging into savings, so I would consider that a moot point. I would imagine that person would be more likely to stick around because they have to dig out of that hole and knows the sting of being unemployed. (It happened to me in 2001 and it sucked.)
It also greatly depends on where you live and what industry you are in. I happen to live in a low cost of living city.
Whenever I interviewed (this was a long time ago) I would always take control of the interview. So when they would ask me about my prior projects, I would go on and on about them, enough so the person had a pretty good idea I knew what I was talking about.
The best antidote for being over the hill I have found is I usually ask friends first if they have any openings. They usually do and they will vouch for me. I also stick around a while: 6.5 year and 8 years for the last two. I make sure I push for new technology projects and make sure I do a good job so I'll get more. I really find the recruitment process distasteful.
A college friend of mine gave me the best advise for starting a new job. The first task they give you, make sure you bust your ass to get it done fast and well. That will set the tone.
If by 'context' you mean things not related to the applicants ability to do the job, yes. They don't have anything to do with the ability to do the job.
> Should employers not worry about anything but 'can the person do the job right now'?
No, they should not. Whether they can do the job is your first and only concern.
There are so, so many reasons why someone might be forced to take a less than 'optimal' job. Maybe there are no appropriate jobs in the area available anymore and the applicant is trying to switch fields to one where they can find work. Or maybe they have a family now and can't do the 70-80 hour work weeks for lead dev positions they could do when they were single. Or maybe they've developed anxiety from having the weight of a business' systems lying on their shoulders alone and want a generally easier gig. I've known people in my peer group their late 20s and early 30s that found themselves in all these situations.
These are not the applicants fault, and to reject him on that basis alone makes no sense.
The first chart does show expenses increasing by age group but income appears to keep pace.
What's that saying about never assume? :)
In this analogy, you can buy a Ferrari at the same price as a Miata but the Ferrari is much more likely to get stolen.
The analogy is a bit stretched, but imo still works even when talking about the consequences (which often easily translate into cost) of owning Ferrari/working at high paying job.
1. I don't see how that applies to the analogy of higher maintenance costs.
>if you really want/need a job that doesn't require your education and experience, then you can't brag about your education and experience that is irrelevant.
2. That is a double edge sword. If one removes expertise to pretend to be junior, then they are vulnerable to a junior who inflates their resume to appear more competent.
3. Also, putting your past experience isn't bragging, it's, as you said, honesty.
It's good business to (all other things being equal) hire the best person you can find at the price you can afford. To do anything otherwise is nonsensical. I can't think of a good business reason not to.
Having said all of that, I'm so glad I haven't had to use a recruiter in nearly 20 years. It sounds like a cluster out there.
I have strong social anxiety that is at its worst in interview situations. When I try to 'edit' my answers to questions like that instead of giving a straightforward and honest answer about the stuff I've built and the experiences I've had building, my brain spins endlessly trying to model all possible 'edits', the possible responses, and possible counter-responses.
Dijkstra was a crazy smart guy, but I would have to disagree with this point. Analogies are useful tools for aiding understanding.
The first thing that came to mind was a cast iron skillet. Would you rather get a brand-spankin' new unseasoned skillet or would you rather get one that had cooked breakfast everyday for 3 generations of Appalachian homemakers for the same cost?
Given that, it doesn't seem like the worse problem in the world to hire someone who is over qualified, and if they get real unhappy, they give a professional 2-weeks notice and then leave.
I think we're all probably ignoring the real reason this happens though, those hiring are intimidated by the over qualified candidate. "A's hire A's and B's hire C's" as they say.
Now, if I take their low-ball offer, if they pay me as if I had 5 years of experience when I really have 30 and for whatever reason I have to take that job, then yes, I'm out of there as soon as I find someone who will pay me what I'm worth. I like the work, but I do this to make money, not just for entertainment.
And why am I worth more money than someone with 5 years of experience? I don't even work as hard as those people; why am I worth more? Because I get more done, and it's done better when I do it. I don't write the bugs those people write, so I (or somebody else) doesn't have to spend the time finding and fixing them. I don't design the bad architectures that they design. And so on.
Nothing wrong with that... It just likely isn't a good fit.
What does this mean? It sounds like expectations around pay and responsibility. If someone says, "Yes, I'll take your marching orders for 30k per year," why not hire them and let them do that? You might have something with more responsibility open up in the next year or so and have an immediate (and usually harder to find) candidate for that job.
Someone with a mountain of experience coming in has to work against the suspicion that they are taking the role for the wrong reasons, namely that they will bounce as soon as they find something more in line with their actual experience.
It goes beyond expectations of pay and responsibility.
If you take someone with a ton of experience who says they will do the job for $30k/year, their growth expectations are quite likely different than that of a junior person. As such, there's a greater likelihood they will leave sooner if they find something more senior.
And the hard part of this is, they might genuinely be interested in the role. But enough managers get burned by taking in someone with too much experience for a lower level role that leave in under a year, and they tend to avoid that type of candidate.
You pay me, I'll do what the job calls for and we're square. Motivation is a weasel word. I'm either meeting your (hopefully reasonable) performance requirements or I'm not.
I'm 36 now, with a mortgage, and have stayed in the job I am in now longer than any job I've had before.
You can always use other peoples prejudice to get market rate discounts.
The odds are lower that they'll leave than someone with less experience needing more time to become senior. There is no substitute for experience.
EDIT: To expound on this, as a manager, I will look out for the company, but also for you. If you have limited experience and want to climb the ladder, I will help find you a path internally and if one is unavailable (happens all the time), I will introduce you to opportunities outside the org to get you into higher roles and pay grades. Same deal if you're a senior person with "too much skill" for the role: tell me your goals, and I will help you get there. No one sticks around forever, and its unrealistic to ask people to do so.
This is, in my opinion, what a good manager is. Not someone who can code well, not someone who is a technical wizard, but someone who manages away problems outside of the team while helping individual contributors maximize their potential.
You're under the impression (it seems, correct me if I'm wrong) that labor is entirely fungible in an org and you can just shuffle people around to match skills to tasks; rarely is that the case, whether you're a company of 80 or 8000.
Managing people is super hard, and technical skill overlap with management skills is almost non-existent.
Of course, this would be incredibly illegal and unethical.
I didn't mean that entirely seriously but it does seem that the labor market still hasn't recovered from the recession when it very suddenly became a buyers market. In theory, it could have by now but it feels as if the job market is still being kept at an artificial scarcity, maybe because companies are still afraid to spend on people, or because they're trying to eke out every last cent of profit regardless of future.
I've only been at one job so far, but my opinion was that I would suffer literally zero short-term effects for getting fired/laid off. I probably would just end up at a better job since I've got a bigger network and time to spend grinding out interviews if that happened.
So in the end my employers would act the way you described, but I would be confused about how to respond to them as they had zero objective leverage over me. As a result I could pretty much just work a regular 40 hours and my boss could just blow smoke out his ears if he didn't like it.
As an aside I actually don't have an issue working extra hours sometimes, but 100% of the time I'd been asked to, I thought it management was responsible via poor planning or making shitty technical choices. I'm fine helping out to cover someone else's bad work, but people would just become more rude/demanding. So I would just stop since I was only working extra out of kindness in the first place.
If you insist on paying more experienced people the same as less experienced people, then all you're going to hire are less experienced people. That has nothing to do with either age discrimination or over-qualification, though. It has to do with you, the employer, being penny wise and pound foolish.
And while they may not be honest with you about that, in general there are many things that interviewing people are often not quite as honest with the interviewer as you might expect. A good example was a guy who said he was ok with commuting from Los Gatos to Redwood City and took the job, and then called up the Thursday before the Monday when he would have started to say he had taken a job for lower pay but was closer to home.
...who is also going to leave as soon as they get a nice offer.
It turns out that sometimes, a manager wants to pay an employee more but is blocked by corporate policy or HR. Threatening to leave clears up some of that blockage.
If you are only going to leave because of money, there is little downside to taking a counter-offer. After all, if you were able to get another job now, you should be able to get another one if you happen to be laid off in the future.
I've seen advice like yours many times, but I've never seen any evidence that workers who accept counter-offers are more likely to be laid off or fired.
Yeah, because if someone wants to be respected or appreciated for what they bring to the table, that's unreasonable.
If you (royal you) buy into this thinking, the problem is you, not the employees.
I say applicable because having a PhD in Chemistry is not being "over qualified" for entry level programming. But having 10 writing code could be interpreted as having more qualification than the job merits.
That's something you can optimize for. An overqualified engineer shouldn't take six months to earn their keep unless the codebase is a huge mess. If the overqualified engineer is worth the salary they're really qualified for, they'll be able to describe exactly what parts of the system need to get fixed so the next engineer can be patching code in much less time.
That's the problem you have to tackle as fast as possible. An overqualified candidate would be a good fit there: first task, streamline the onboarding problem. Document, test, document.
I'm getting to the age where I wonder about these kinds of things. And yet I've interviewed older highly qualified people and thought exactly that. I will use this discussion as a reference point and adjust my attitude. I could be in that guys position any day/year now, what will I want? I'm beyond the point of caring about certain things that seem to matter to younger people who think they're going to change the world. I just want to do solid work and get paid my rate. It makes sense that those I interview want the same.
Initially, it will seem like a great deal to get a Ferrari for the cheap price, but if you actually intend to use it, there are very practical reasons why it will cause a lot more problems simply having it, than having a Miata. If you can't afford to use the Ferrari properly, it will end up costing you more.
In the same vein, hiring an overqualified candidate WILL cost you more money and opportunity because they will leave quickly, and you could have spent the time training a more properly qualified candidate. I've been in the business 25+ years and I've seen this mistake time and time again. Maybe soon I'll be the one who is overqualified as well, who knows, but it is a legitimate reason to not hire someone.
I'm not sure I'm convinced that overqualified candidates either higher maintenance or more likely to quit. That hasn't been been my experience and I know my experience is limited, the HBR article cited however seems to back up my personal experience for what that is worth.
The variables around why someone works somewhere and whether or not they quit has, again in my experience, been more very strongly correlated with how well they like their job. And it is the factors that they "like" or "dislike" about there job rarely relate to how experienced they are or are not, and are much more likely to be based on whether or not they feel they are respected for their work, if they like or dislike their peers, like or dislike the day to day of their job, and like or dislike their office configuration (environment). That is the basis for my belief if "over qualified" is the single factor left over then it doesn't seem to correlate how successful they will be in the job.
All that said, and specifically addressing the analogy, the things that I find make for 'high maintenance' employees are an inability to hear constructive criticism (so poor self awareness), a lack of curiosity (so unable to see the questions that need to be asked), and a lack of respect for their work (so they aren't really trying to improve at all).
Does that make them Ferraris or Jaguars ? :-) Sometimes the more expensive car (like the Model S) has a lower total cost of ownership, sometimes it doesn't. But it has been really interesting thinking about the "maintenance" cost of employees from that perspective.
"Now, here's where it gets interesting: if you figure that all cars depreciate, and you drop the $8,500, I only spent $4,629.81 for the year. And if you get really crazy, and you take out "unusual" repair items — namely the tires, brakes, and battery, which will last several years without another replacement — my total cost was limited to two oil changes and a tire patch – or approximately $835.75. Not so bad for a year with a Ferrari."
Most 40- or 50-somethings in tech would be happy just having medical and getting to retirement w/o having to sell their house or raid their 401K.
Might I suggest that you might not know enough 40- to 50-somethings to sling around that word "most"?
Sure, as an old fart, I don't like the new culture of the young snots that change jobs every 18 months before they've started to add value, or even really learned anything, but that's about as much time as you'd get from an overqualified person looking to bide his time before he moved on anyway.
It also doesn't fit other software devs I know who are similarly old.
In Toronto, I've worked with 60+ years olds getting paid six figures as 'c++ developer'.
I've also worked with 40 year olds hired as 'frontend engineers' unable to get more than $35k.
So yea, maybe your statement is true if you are only after job, but if you treat this as a career, there are no limit to opportunities.
I am torn between thinking this is just bullshit to not say to someone "you are too old" or believing that people really think that additional skills are a bad thing.
Yes. And it isn't just Silicon Valley. I started getting "you are overqualified" in my former profession at age 35, when I was at the top of my former field. Many of my similarly experienced colleagues got the same treatment. So I switched to software hearing that qualified developers were in short supply only to find that this same lame "overqualified" argument was being used for over 35 year olds I came to know in my new profession. There doesn't seem to be a place for anyone who isn't already securely positioned at 35 in any profession these days. Career changes after 30 are becoming impossible in many fields.
Which is about the same time I decided the opposite, having been burned a couple times. You're neglecting the amount of time and effort other people in the group put in to make a new employee productive. Where I work it takes an absolute minimum of about three months to understand how all the moving pieces of the business data flow fit together, and maybe another three before the new person is truly independent.
And during that time other people in the group are spending time on the new guy instead of doing work themselves. If I hire someone and then he quits in six months, all that effort is wasted.
That a crazy huge amount of ramp up time, so much so that it sounds like there might be a major problem with your project or employer. There would have to be a super uncommon, really good reason to justify a six month ramp up time for a skilled experienced developer.
I mean, it would have to be something like "I literally work at NASA on the International Space Station" levels of complexity to justify that length of time.
I've had that problem, too, but I considered it a failure of architecture and design, not an inherent property of the space we were operating in. Often this is a sign of a lack of separation of concerns at the system level.
It's not "have something of an understanding of what we're doing here", it's "feel comfortable, and _competent_, in the interactions across the code base, why some approaches might not work or have failed in the past, etc.
I'd totally agree with three to six months before that comfort sets in.
(I can't imagine a career in only one domain; how boring would that be? Hopefully will be getting a new job in HPC soon.)
Documentation is one of those concepts that can be the answer to any problem, but seldom is.
I've yet to work at an organization where everything is documented, the documentation is up to date, and the documentation is of high quality.
There are always gaps somewhere in the documentation and in the end it does take time to ramp people up.
Now, if you work on project based work and it's always on something different, that's a different story.
They can also cause a lot of friction because their higher level of knowledge and experience can make them refuse to follow established processes and procedures, even when there are very good contextual and historical reasons for why those processes and procedures exist at that particular organization. This can cause a lot of resentment among their coworkers.
Personally, I have never worked with an overqualified person who didn't quickly develop what is commonly referred to as an "attitude problem". That's of course just my own experience.
Personally, I have seen that more with less qualified, younger, new cow-orkers. Particularly those who have had only one previous job. "At my last job, we did X. Therefore X is the one true way to do it."
I mostly see this in younger people, but the number of older people I have seen like this is ridiculous. Boggles my mind (being on the younger side)
I was more prone to that when I was younger. As I am older, I understand better what I can expect from position (so I dont expect more fun then is possible), know better how to deal with more boring tasks and better understand why they are (and why process) are important.
However, as I got older I oftentime can tell much faster that the process can indeed be done better and seek companies that are willing to improve their processes as they go and are willing to learn from other companies processes. (I dont need to get it my way, but I like to see people talk about process issues openly.)
Oddly enough, it was mostly young people who were downright hostile to the idea that processes are something that can be improved, negotiated over or simplified.
For example we had an analyst join the business intelligence team recently, and unlike everyone else on the team she has a masters in finance as well as many many years of experience. She refuses to run financial forecast reports for the executive team because she thinks such tasks are below her, and that others should run them instead. Really nice girl otherwise, but just terrible to work with.
"Run the reports."
"This is your verbal warning. The next step is a written warning. Run the reports."
"I am going to my office to write a written warning, of which you can accumulate two."
"Instead, can I please help replace this broken system with a modern one that is automated and good?"
"Your system for reporting is manual, tedious, and error prone. How could you be proud of this?"
"The quality of the system is terrible and I can't stand behind it. The fact that you've refused my offer to improve it means that I should probably just leave. I quit."
I have nothing to do with their regular operation, I'm just an investor to help a friend out. I suppose I could get you a job as a sandwich artist, though. Maybe someday you'll make Assistant Manager! ;-)
Err... Your other option is being a logger. However, I don't employ them, they actually pay me.
It shouldn't be a big deal. The person's manager needs to sit them down and say: "This is what's expected of you. We expect you to run these reports, same as everyone else at your level. I know you have prior experience, but at our company you are <job role / job level>". If they won't do it, fine: "so long".
The difference is they'll do the quitting rather than you doing the firing.
There's a difference between 'it should be done like this' and outright refusal. I'll listen eagerly to the former. After all, I probably hired them to do things I could not. If I could have done them, I'd have not needed to hire them. I have no time for the latter.
i think it's a bit sketchy to equate ("over")qualified with opinionated.
Is the solution here to bias the "overqualified" candidate's compensation in equity rather than salary? If the company thinks that salary x is too low and may tempt the person to leave, put the employees skin in the game to stay with more equity. This seems like a potential solution.
Ferrari comes with very high maintenance costs, well beyond what regular Miata buyer can comfortably afford. (note: age/experience wise i'm probably close to the "Ferrari" myself :)
What I'm trying to tease apart are which are issues the manager causes and which are ones an over qualified employee would cause.
Crimes have legal consequences, more than a morality lesson is needed.
Personally, I'd be worried that the Ferrari would still end up having a higher TCO due to the elevated maintenance and insurance costs.
Most importantly, I am old enough to know that my personality is such that I would be strongly tempted to drive that vehicle too fast and in an unsafe manner.
There’s a whole host of things wrong with this analogy.
I suppose people who are at risk of being considered overqualified should learn to make exactly that kind of case for themselves.
In either case it's a red flag that should be carefuly evaluated.
A car doesn't leave after 2 months, but you would worry about it being a stolen car, wouldn't you?
They can challenge authority. They can get work done twice as fast, and you'd get a good deal if they show up only 80% of the time. The star players can also be divas, challenge bosses. Some cultures have more difficulty dealing with it and sometimes it comes with drama.
They tend to be a little stubborn. I met one senior with almost 10 years experience who refused to use source control or log into Trello. Project management for that project fell apart because the key members were not on it.
Are they being stubborn because they've seen this before and know it leads to a bad place? (probably not when they're objecting to Git or Trello)
Or are they being stubborn because they don't want to learn new things? (which sounds more the case here)
If the second one, then that's a problem. But it's got nothing to do with their age or experience. I've seen total newbie coders unwilling to learn Git because they don't think they need it (or it scares them, or whatever). It's easier to justify the mindset with age and experience, but it's not caused by age or experience.
If, however, it's the first kind of stubborn, then that's gold. That's what you need. That's the thing that stops teams from repeating the same mistakes over again.
Instead of dismissing it all as "stubborn", it might be worth checking the rationale behind the reluctance.
But that's an extreme case for example. Much of the time it's in a gray area.
Is this guy refusing to use JS because it's a buggy language or because it threatens his 7 years of PHP experience? Is React Native really that bad or does it just threaten this guy's native iOS experience? Is it some expert instinct to put semicolons on JS code or just FUD?
The true experts usually develop a kind of instinct for danger, so you probably want to trust them when it's FUD.
It goes a lot deeper than just seeing this person have X years of experience. You have to filter them for quality years of experience.
Is it a bad sign that this guy is willing to take a 30% pay cut from his qualifications? After all, the best people want to be challenged. Maybe he wants less workload so he can focus on a side project. Or it could just be that he has no intent of actually improving, just wanting a good enough job to pay the bills.
Similarly "you over-qualified for this positions" seems fair, it may even seem like you're doing the applicant a favor, but if it disproportionally affects a particular community, perhaps it's time to reflect on it.
edit: spelling, thx icelander, and damn you autocorrect
You might question the validity of the study, but it appears there is enough information out there to make a case.
The whole reasoning as to why exactly racism and ageism is bad, in my opinion, doesn't have to be based on morals, IMO (since everybody has different morals). It's sufficient to base it on self-interest: in an ideal simulation, where there would be bazillions of employers competing over bazillions of employees and vice versa, racist and ageist agents would lose, because they wouldn't make optimal decisions. (Of course, ideal simulation isn't real world, and that's why we have anti-monopoly and other laws that help to make the system run as if there were a bazillion rational agents).
But if some rational decision making merely correlates to segments of the population, and is not directly based on information such as race or age, I fail to see what is bad about it and why it should be avoided.
Which is if a company's procedures though applied to all has a worse effect on a certain race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, disabled and caste.
It can be legal discrimination eg a fire fighter being abele to lift a certain weight.
Well, I'm not that interested in what is legal and what is not - I'm more curious about how do we arrive at the conclusions at what is ought to be legal or not.
> It can be legal discrimination eg a fire fighter being abele to lift a certain weight.
I think we can safely say that women, on average, are not as capable at such physical tests as men. And yet, we, as a society, see this kind of indirect discrimination as completely logical and do not see this kind of discrimination as evil.
If we were to derive a general rule from this example, what this rule would look like? And how does this rule differ from other kinds of indirect discrimination that you define as bad?
You need to have an "objective justification" if the job really needs you to be able to lift a 210lb person on your back and carry them down a ladder
The pay and work at the automaker would have been great for him. Instead he ended up carrying mail until retirement.
I constantly think about him and remind myself to not get to comfortable in an industry.
What are the practical outcomes of this? Side projects?
If you work in an industry in which jobs are likely to be outsourced, or where ageism is a significant factor, you should not assume that you will be able to work until the normal retirement age. It's just not realistic.
The vicious cycle doesn't end for the vast majority of us. We have to keep working to keep up with expenses.
Additionally, nowadays you don't get hired by car manufacturers but by third party companies that loan their workers to them. In the lower levels (factory work) there is some pushback against that, but in the higher levels its generally accepted
I was rejected for a job when I was aged 39 for supposedly being over qualified. When I applied for the job in question I was upfront about my experience, qualifications and desired salary which was market rate for my experience. I didn't sell myself short. The product I would be working on was unified message distribution system not too dissimilar to Twilio.
After a code test, a whiteboard exam and two rounds of interviews I was told "Yeah, we really like you and you undoubtedly have the skills. But we were really looking for someone a little less qualified". I pushed a bit to find out what that meant and the HR person claimed it was my salary expectations, but I had my doubts.
During both interviews I was asked if I had children. I said I had two. I was then asked their ages and where they went to school. This led on to questions about how they got to school and what happens if one or both of them are sick etc. The questioning style was casual, but they were definitely probing me. In Ireland this line of questioning is illegal, but it happens a lot. At the time I answered the questions with a feeling of reluctance. I do believe that having young children lost me the job. I was asked what would happen if my children were sick off school, I answered that either me or my wife would have to stay home. I was asked why my wife wouldn't take on that responsibility exclusively. I responded because we share our responsibilities to our family. I could see the interviewers brow furrow when I said that.
I have a strong suspicion that the reason why age affects IT recruitment so much is not because of "over qualification". It's because the older you are the more likely you are to have family that you want to spend time with. Or if you don't have children you might have other interests that take priority over work. I've had managers who have straight up admitted that the older you are the less likely you are to put up with overtime and more likely to challenge over bearing bosses.
Put simply younger people have fewer adult life distractions, will work longer hours and put up with more crap.
That's the reason I am ( or got ) into freelancing. No one asks about this details.
If my interviewer asks for my marital status/family size, could I simply refuse to answer? Or, if not, could I just lie about having children or not? Can a contract be invalidated by the fact that I lied about something during my interview?
I would guess that providing an excuse for firing someone would be harder than providing it for not hiring him, and you cannot simply fire someone for "having children and not having declared it".
I wish there was a way to prevent interviewers from asking these kind of questions, but until then this seems to me like a viable alternative.
I would _think_ if you so chose, you could sue the shit out of them for discriminatory practices. This is so illegal it makes my head hurt.
Plus, once your name gets out as a potential trouble maker then it's even harder to get a job.
They're likely asking because they've already hired people who expect to be able to come in late after taking their kids to school, work from home without notice if their kids are sick, etc.
I know this is an unpopular opinion, but: To me that's reasonable employer's discretion. If they're expecting you to work after hours and probing if you have kids to gauge that, that's one thing. But I've seen coworkers get allowances for kids for all kinds of things. Both parties (employee and employer) should be aware of what the expectations are ahead of time.
And if that means that I (as someone who doesn't have children, or lives near additional family who can handle those contingencies) come out as a better candidate, then that's not unreasonable.
Sick leave policy is up to the company. You cannot assume you are entitled to more sick days simply because you have children. If you will be taking off additional time due to having to care for sick children, that should be discussed ahead of time.
Emergencies do happen, but that doesn't excuse poor planning. A child becoming sick is not unforeseeable, and it's not unreasonable for both parties to acknowledge what the expectations are.
Many (most?) companies absolutely do make for allowances for employees with children, but that doesn't mean employers should be on the hook for whatever expectations the employee has. This is absolutely reasonably in-scope for an interview.
And I do agree that a perspective employee should not make assumptions about their schedule, if there are morning meetings you will never be able to make during the school year, then that needs to be discussed. But discuss the concerns and don't hide behind another excuse about why you didn't hire someone. Be honest and say their schedule does not fit the company needs.
If company policy allows, sure. But if you have two kids and only five sick days per year, you're budgeting for three people when others might not. And the employer could quite possibly be just fine with that! But it's not unreasonable for that to be discussed ahead of time. Not all company sick leave policies are written assuming however many sick days you need for all of your children, and it's the company that takes the hit if you unexpectedly need to be at home with your kid for an additional week during a critical time six months after you're hired.
> Be honest and say their schedule does not fit the company needs.
When not risking a lawsuit from unintended perception, absolutely honesty is better. If it might be spun into a claim of "age discrimination" (like this thread), then maybe not.
I am really astonished that this is considered normal. Sick leave should not be up to the company, at least not for normal employee contracts. In many countries it isn't up to the company and they work just fine.
EDIT: to further elaborate, I'm not saying that companies should not be able to hire only single white males in their twenties, what I'm saying is that if you want employees that don't have a normal life, you should be expecting to put on the table more than the average salary for the role.