So you want to get rid of 19 resumes out of 20, without ever interviewing them. And for that, you need heuristics. And those heuristics are, in all likelihood, going to be biased and stupid in some ways.
For example, I will automatically reject any resume that has more than two typos. I consider it evidence of carelessness - I don't care if you can't spell, but I do care if you don't bother to run it past someone else who can for editing.
The danger is that a heuristic - any heuristic - for filtering out resumes will inevitably lead to missing some candidates who would excel in the role. Oh well. I'm not going to waste time interviewing every possible candidate, just hoping to catch that magic person. It's irresponsible.
I've been working on Key Values (https://www.keyvalues.io) for many months now trying to do just this: surface details about actual team members, day-to-day processes, and a team's engineering culture. At least this way, we as engineers can be more informed when deciding where to apply, where we'll devote hours/energy interviewing. Of course engineers might be skeptical or have questions, but at least we have something to respond to.
Ultimately, neither job-seekers nor employers want to waste time and energy interviewing people they aren't culturally aligned w/. Maybe the lesson here is that engineers should seek out the teams that care about what they care about, whether it's mentorship, high quality code, or work/life balance. I know it's controversial (especially here in HN), but is salary really more important than doing work that is exciting/challenging/energizing/stimulating or feeling valued/appreciated/respected/passionate?
What's to be confused about?
They don't give a fuck - about you, or your time.
Why? Because they perceive (rightly or wrongly) that there's no business incentive for them to do so.
Either way... if they leave you dangling, or make you answer just a few silly questions too many, and/or sign up for (nearly) unlimited numbers of whiteboarding or hacker ranks sessions, or "take-home projects" they never (or at best only barely) look at, it's because... look, do you think these people have time to think about what they're doing, let alone how it affects the time and patience of those candidates they don't necessarily want to hire... or even, in some abstract sense, their long-term reputation as a company that makes at least some kind of effort to create a not entirely-unpleasant interview process?
Of course not. It's much easier to just throw shit at the wall -- or as it were, at the whiteboard -- and see what sticks.
So that's what they do.
But there is one: to save the precious time of valuable people. I think it's an interesting suggestion.
I, too, really like the idea, but I wonder if, in practice, it wouldn't work because companies don't introspect deeply enough to understand what makes them distinct? For instance, if what's remarkable about your company is that you have a great culture where people goof off a lot and have a lot of fun, and still manage to get a passable amount of work done, would anyone dare to self-identify that way?
Re: your example, I see it as my job to encourage them to communicate who they are loudly and proudly! There's pressure on both sides (job-seekers and employers) to check all of the boxes. It doesn't make sense to do that at all though.
The other issue is that companies may truly be trying to find the most intelligent (for whatever that word means) person as long as she or he isn't malignant- someone who will be successful in future endeavors after the one they are hiring for is finished. In that case they are just dragging a wide net and trying to get the biggest fish. This is all throw out the window, of course, when some of their screeners have ad-hoc and very personal criteria for rejection (two typos, or not being gender-inclusive, or whatever). Then the process becomes ipso facto a cultural screening process.
Some companies are pretty strict about their qualifications. For some, the qualifications are more like guidelines. But if the position is interesting, I'll take that chance.
Unreasonable expectations created by hyperspecialization and role blending as part of corporate restructuring, or as pushed by the investors/stakeholders that follows economic recessions.
The expansionary period that follows provide people opportunity to leave, providing more liquidity in the labor market.
So talent leaves for greener pastures and now you have a hiring manager who's direct report has left them with a gaping hole and finance dictates that you have 1:1 for this spot.
So you type of the list of roles and responsibilities and send your requisition to HR to help find candidates. Meanwhile you assign out duties to remaining team members because work must get done.
The search lingers because the hiring manager looking for the proverbial purple squirrel, meanwhile the team seems to be handling the workload with no measurable impact on quality.
This then just repeats itself over and over, at companies large and small.
This is only one use case, there are many, but I think one that plays a big part in the problem of job search and matching talent with opportunity.
Let's compare it to dating. A lot of people like dating apps where you can rifle through hundreds of options within minutes. But most people would agree that a matching process that is more personal and human leads to longer lasting relationships.
Despite how many people play the numbers game, there are tons of people who don't, myself included. (And I happen to mean that for both my personal and professional relationships.)
... get sued or prosecuted by the EEOC. There are reasons things are stated in a certain way and the net has to be cast wider than necessary. First fix the landscape of U.S. labor law, and then a discussion of efficiency and values can be productive
"Do exciting work that has real impact, learn a lot, and have fun doing it."
Do you know how many companies say that on their job descriptions?! All of them.
Here are some examples of being (mildly) divisive and using strong language:
- "We consider it a disqualifier if a candidate does not value our mission to grow and sustain local food systems" (Good Eggs)
- "All of our communications are out in the open, and we have a rule that you cannot send emails to a fellow Remixer and instead must communicate over Slack where everyone can see. (Emails are only used for people externally.)" (Remix)
- "We advocate that everyone leans towards releasing and reverting. It is better to revert small changes than to spend time perfecting code. While this might rub some people the wrong way, we believe that the best way to learn is by doing." (Amplitude)
All of these things will either resonate w/ an individual and make them really excited about applying/joining, or turn them off because it doesn't quite align w/ their personal values/preferences/goals.
I must say, this would give me pause. That kind of language tells me that they don't value testing, and likely don't value quality requirements capturing either.
So you still have to go through the same number of candidates until you can find a good one.
There are lots of things that would attract/repel a candidate from a company that aren't discriminatory. "At our current stage of growth, we value speed over reliability," "we measure employee productivity," "we work early/late," "people here do/don't wear suits," "we do/don't do code reviews," "we do/don't do Scrum," just to name a few.
- "You need to be based in <European country>, we don't do remote" -- applies from US/Pakistan/Russia, wants remote work.
- "Make clear what attracts you in our business/industry" -- ignores any mention of industry, business or such.
- "Don't repeat your CV in the cover letter" -- guess what? Cover letter is repetition of his/her CV...
I wish I was lying, but this is daily routine when hiring.
For the second example, because most engineers value honesty because a lack of complete transparency cost time/money or worst kills people. And frankly, most engineers like technology and could care less about the company and/or the industry. And that's why they are horrible at sales. And what your asking for is a kind of sales.
Btw, I'm not saying you shouldn't look for engineers that have people skills, just why your having a hard time finding them... :)
?? The problem is not employers casting a wide net, but everyone applying for the job.
For employers, it's casting a wide net and then struggling to filter out "noise" quickly. Employers will use pass on great engineers and interview not-so great ones (see parent comment). Instead of saying, "Work for us, we're the best!" why don't engineering teams say, "We prioritize speed over quality, are great for individual contributors, and prefer asynchronous comms over lots of meetings. Work for us if this sounds like you."
For job-seekers, the problem is applying to dozens to companies that you don't even want to work for (and just don't know it yet). If I value quality over speed, prefer working in teams rather than independently, and believe in-person meetings are incredibly valuable, then I would know not to even both applying to the company above.
And, in the enterprise, the elaborate rules for recruiters, created by too many layers of HR (process is the scar tissue of organizations), means that small, boutique recruiters that are more careful about fit can't even get in the door.
A large pile of crap resumes is the result.
Originally I had a similar conception about résumés — they should be one or two pages max, should look nice, and should contain no errors. For obviously this indicated a candidate who cared about how they represented themselves. How could a candidate with a slap dash résumé be any good?
But time and again the better candidates had the worse résumés ... résumés that were pages long, or completely unformatted, or filled with errors. Perhaps these candidates with poor résumés have simply prioritized their time on their work, not tending their résumé. Or perhaps they feel that they should be judged on the content of their résumé and not its presentation.
Regardless, I no longer put any stock in how a résumé looks, only wheter it indicates an appropriate background for the job.
However, you get a biased sample with obvious rock-stars quickly finding a job. Thus, negative signs on a resume are positively correlated with candidate quality. On the other hand resumes that look great are likely linked to people who regularly fail interviews.
PS: This is less common with collage job fairs where you get closer to a random candidate selection.
Or even more simply, just use your eyes. The superior line breaking algorithm is extremely obvious, with or without microtype. Then less obviously, look at ligatures, kerning etc.
I don't care for the rigidity of Latex and don't want to hand craft my own TeX documents. I once had a resume generation system that would convert ReST to Docbook and from there used XSLT to produce plain text, docx, and PDF output using XSL-FO. Sadly the code was on a failed Seagate drive and is lost. And yes I had a backup, also on a Seagate drive that also failed due to a firmware bug around the same time.
You CAN get fancy with LaTeX, but I doubt most people will be doing those things. For every day research papers or resumes, just pick up an online template and make whatever minor tweaks you want. Then fill with text.
Perhaps this is selection bias?
Their resume being bad caused them to not be able to get a job at other companies, even though they are good. The only reason the resume ended up on your desk was because nobody else wanted to spend 30 minutes of their time interviewing them, therefore they were passed up.
Getting someone to look over your stuff and looking for spelling errors sounds like a simple and easy fix doesn’t it?
But in my experience that doesn't work as well as one would think, prof reading is a lot harder than it looks. After all it's isn't enough to catch some of the errors, you need to catch them all.
As someone that has close family members with dyslexia, and have struggled with spelling all my life. I have to say that seeing those challenges characterised as carelessness is infuriating. For a lot of people getting spelling right is easy, and that is great. But for some of us it is not, while prof reading and spell checkers might help, they are not a magical fix all. Some errors often sneak through, no matter what you do.
If you know a misspelled resume can cost you a job, and you don't take additional steps to make sure it's spelled correctly, that's careless.
I have to admit I thought I was done with getting graded on spelling in high school.
I haven't seen anything on either side of the fence, in my carer to indicate that some spelling mistakes is enough to cost people an opportunity. But I'm sure your right and there are companies out there that does that. But I don't need to work in every company, only the good ones. So it hasn't been a problem for me so far.
He is, by far, the worst speller I know. Even after 20+ years of online conversation, I can barely understand what he's saying sometimes.
He also passes bits of professional writing past me for validation, usually to check his intent. His professional writing is always perfectly spelled, with impeccable grammar. He relies heavily on both software and human checks (secretaries and copywriters) to insure the basic quality of his writing. That's one reason why a truly wretched speller makes more in bonuses alone than I make in salary.
So yes, I have a hard time forgiving a misspelled resume. If he can do it, you can do it, too.
A first-generation college grad paying their way through school by working full time in a new town.
A single parent trying to get into a field while working and caring for their family.
A non-native English speaker who perhaps understands the general structure of the English language, but not the nuances of grammar (or what is expected in a Western CV/Resume).
I hope you could see that your earnest appreciation for proper spelling is unfair to apply in such a black/white dichotomy. I kindly ask you to reconsider your approach.
The parent is surrounded by family who can review his writings.
The non native English speaker with poor spelling knows first hand that he needs his resume to get reviewed. And he should not expect to easily find a highly qualified job that requires to write English in an English speaking country if he can't read and write English.
So far, your examples only manage to show that people could manage just fine and if they can't they were not qualified for the job.
English is not a rare skill. There is no shortage of people who can write decently.
The spelling heuristic gets rid of between 5 and 20%, right away. A lot of those resumes would also be caught by other heuristics (no ten page resumes, etc). Most of your concern cases would also fall to my other filters as well. And quite frankly, if a resume jumped out at me in a positive way, but it had three or four or five typos? I'd interview. It's not a hard and fast rule.
It's not as black and white as you think it is.
It's a relevant filter and it's a terrific value for time.
A good old exercise to print number from 1 to 100 and then 100 to 1. That's the sort of things that get rid of half the candidates.
That does sound like a solution that will work, but maybe not practical for everyone?
You keep looking for excuses, not solutions. He knew, and knows, he has a problem with spelling. So he does everything he can to get the help he needs to keep his spelling from limiting his career. He did it when he was a poor college student. Now, he can get secretaries to check, because he has a successful career built around his strengths, rather than letting his limitations define him.
Careless and bad at collaboration. Noted.
If we criticize job applicants for mistakes which are unrelated to their field, why shouldn't we do the same for employers? Rejecting applicants for spelling mistakes is not in and of itself a problem, but it indicates carelessness in the hiring process so maybe it's not a good place to work.
It's interesting to think about crafting a resume, not only to get a favorable response from places you'd want to work, but to deliberately create an unfavorable response from places you wouldn't
Perhaps we are using the word careless differently, but I don't see how using heuristics like this implies carelessness on behalf of the employer. If anything, it seems to indicate that the employer is making a well-reasoned choice to balance economic constraints with company values.
I run a small software consulting firm and have now hired three people (not too many). I believe that attention to detail and pride in how you present yourself, either via your resume or your code quality, is essential. For this reason, I think applicants should spell-check their resume (or use Grammarly).
In fact, we even mention this in our company values page:
> We value correct grammar and a strong grasp of the English language.
> We write with a clear and professional tone in our external communication.
> We try not to send vague or confusing emails.
> We invest in improving our writing, presentation, and conversational skills.
But my friends from India, they'll send me emails to proofread if its important, because, y'know, it's sensible, correct and most importantly, it's polite to do so.
It seems absurd to me that the significance of typos needs to be defended; Maybe the treatment of resumes as any more important than a text message, but if we assume it's important, then why the hell would you let something as simple as typos through easily?
The argument for the latter seems to be circular: we reject people on that basis because typos indicate a broader lack of care, which they indicate because we reject people on that basis.
It takes more effort to do so, and its nonsensical for the person not to put effort into it, because its only written once ebery few years, and because its the first point of contact.
If you're going to operate at the level of a tenth grader, why would I assume you have anything more to offer than what a tenth grader might?
Of course the metric might fail, but hey, there's a hundred other resumes to have to go through too, and you managed to imply you're incompetent right off the bat, so I'm probably better off looking elsewhere.
Theres also the aspect that I personally don't want to put up with shoddy writing, and also the fact that these are not long documents. Its like 1-3 pages half-sentences and spacing everywhere; I'm hardly asking the world of you by requiring you bother verifying what you write.
>But at the same time, why the hell are you judging the suitability of a professional in a complex technical field based on typos in something they only write once every few years
Because, with the exception of some rare positions, there are a lot of people suitable for the job. There are also a lot of people who will apply without being suitable. And a lot of the people who apply at random, aka sloppily, are presumably also sloppy about the rest of the process.
So filtering on sloppiness is probably a decent utility; of course it'll remove the sloppy suitable candidates, and it won't remove the non-sloppy unsuitable candidates, but hey.
Alternatively we can do modern hr stuff like filtering resumes on key-word searches, so if you're an expert in Oracle 11d but not Oracle 11e....
Every filter is fucked somehow; but typos seem to me one of the least fucked, precisely because its so easy to avoid. You only write it once every few years.
I'd also recommend that they go to whatever lengths necessary to eliminate typos in their resume because it's a prime opportunity to demonstrate that they can achieve exacting precision when necessary.
That being said, they are all happy in careers where character-for-character precision is not as important.
Re: typos in resumes, I'm less strict than I used to be and try to focus more on work experience or other real world metrics than using typos as a proxy for programming productivity.
No other other field has these tools, and high paying professional work does in fact require "typo free work" to make it anywhere, in almost any field.° Sure in plenty of fields you can try to paper over this with process - but this just means as a dyslexic your promotions are limited by the caliber of your secretary, PA, MA, editor or whatever person fixes your work in your field. You get a good one you flourish and bad one your career dies.
As I've moved to management I've had to delegate every piece of writing which is a frustrating experience, and that writing I end up doing usually ends up passing before multiple peoples eyes before being sent -- even for a simple email. This is not easier than coding - it's way harder.
° Spelling and grammar checkers help, but really are no where near as good as linters and all the other tooling.
Even Chrome has a spell checker. Not sure the distinction here between code typos and English typos is a valid one.
The OP is saying not bothering to check is the issue, not the specific errors. And this is, by definition, careless. This is a lack of caring for correctness and a lack of awareness of mistakes. It could even be considered a lack of respect, which would be a lack of professionalism, but the OP did not go there.
If you have dyslexia, then a perfect resume that includes your challenges as a dyslexic would be most impressive.
Employers are looking to be impressed.
Don't be an unimpressive bag of excuses.
It's more accurately a proxy for the applicant understanding the context of various processes and the relative importance of a task. That may or may not be a skill you need in the job.
Finally, if the resume error rate is higher or lower than what you observe in the candidate's live, observed writing/coding then you should take note assuming such errors are a proxy for what you're looking for.
Bring a resume with typos and your rebuttal and see what happens. The trouble you go through to defend typos will be far more work than fixing your typos. It's mostly automatic.
Reasoning doesn't excuse you from making mistakes, because excused don't make up for those mistakes. In any professional work environment, your mistakes are someone else's paid job to fix.
OP is talking about attitude and mindset. The "I can reason away typos" mindset is not appealing. The "I will do anything to not make mistakes" mindset is.
I mean, that is still what we are talking about here right? Being attractive to employers.
I do know someone that works as a high school teacher and has dyslexia. You would think that, that would be a horror show. But as far as I know, that is actually a success story. Where it works well both for her, and the school.
We also have the Norwegian prime minister Erna Solberg, which is dyslectic.
So I would be careful about telling people what they can and can't succeed at, even if they have dyslexia.
I'm thinking a box that acknowledges up-front that you have diagnosed dyslexia, which would explain any spelling mistakes, but that you're still highly competent as an engineer.
Not sure about others, but if I were hiring, I would welcome the honesty and instantly stop caring about any errors.
Note: I'm not an employer, but I have been asked to interview candidates.
Oh well, 20 years ago I would have been horrified being caught out posting something with spelling errors in public.
Actually, I would probably not have posted in public at all.
But at some point you just have to stop caring about trivialities like that.
This has always bothered me because I grew up understanding the correct phrase to be "the proof of the pudding is in the eating" and assumed that the shorter form arose because of people who simply didn't know what it really meant.
So I googled it and it turns out that the short form, "the proof is in the pudding," has been around since the 1920's (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/the_proof_of_the_pudding_is_i...). So, it's got some legs! I still don't think the short form makes any sense, but at least it's not a recent phenomenon caused by clueless hipsters :-)
For example: "Well, that's the exception that proves the rule!"
There are a number of ways to make that make sense, such as the use of "prove" to mean "test", as in "proving grounds", so that's the exception which tests the rule, or, alternatively, the fact it is an exception is proof the rule exists in the first place. Both sensical interpretations.
Of course, it isn't used like that. It's used more like this:
A: "Women can't program!"
B: "Wrong. Look at Grace Hopper, to begin with."
A: "Well, that's the exception that proves the rule! Women can't program."
There are a lot of people who don't speak English as native language. I, as a non-native speaker learn about very subtle rules of the English language all the time, where the author often explains that even many native speakers are often not aware of these rules and thus write in their own native wrongly. It already occurred multiple times to me that I asked, say, 5 people at the floor of the institute where I work at, about some subtle grammar details in English. All of the persons who I asked were much more fluent in English than me (though not native speakers), but nobody could answer me the questions. I even sometimes confuse English native speakers with my questions about subtle details of English spelling, grammar, or word usage (side remark: it is my impression that native speakers of German are often much more aware of all the subtleties in their native tongue than native speakers of English).
So it is really not easy (even if you have English native speakers to ask) to find someone to proofread your English texts.
Can you give an example of rules of "standard English" being easier to learn than some rule of non-standard English?
Also note that English as far as I know doesn't even have an official codification of its rules and usage: https://www.wikiwand.com/en/List_of_language_regulators
Anyway, we migrated from arguing about the claim "The rules of language are simple" to arguing that some language rules are simpler than other, which to me makes room for the claim that language is, generally speaking, complicated and its rules are complicated.
I don't know how native speakers of other languages think about this, but for German (my mother tongue) I don't think this is true. The reason is that in German loanwords often keep their spelling. So if you want to know how to pronounce a loanword you better have a good intuition from which language it might come from and how it is pronounced in this language. By some "language nerds" in Germany it is even considered as a sign of education to apply the correct rules of the source language to form the "correct number" instead of the "Germanized number" when declining the word.
An example: The commonly used German word for "the courgette/zucchini" is "die Zucchini (singular)". And it is common usage to use "die Zucchinis" to form the plural.
Language nerds will disagree: In Italian, from which this word is loaned "zucchini" is already the plural, so the "correct" German word for this vegetable has to be "die Zucchino" and "die Zucchini" must only be used to refer to the plural. And then even more hardcore language nerds will come and and point out that "zucchino" is male in Italian, so it is wrong to make it female in German, so "der Zucchino" is the "ultimately correct" German noun for this vegetable.
I am really not kidding.
OK, for more sane examples:
You better know that "Giro" (as in "das Girokonto") or "das Cello" come from Italian - otherwise you will pronounce these German words wrongly. The same holds for "das Trottoir" (an old-fashioned German word for "the sidewalk"; the common German word is "der Bürgersteig") - you better know that this word comes from French and how French words are pronounced. I don't even want to start with English loanwords...
The beginning of your comment is still talking about the writing system. If you are a kid learning to speak (or in the rarer case that you never learn the writing system of the language) then you don't notice that the orthography is inconsistent. Furthermore, if you are a literate native speaker of a language whose orthography is very inconsistent to begin with, due to an extreme liberal use of loan words, introduced at different times, and pronunciation shifts (I'd say English is a good example), where technically knowing the origin of a word (and when English borrowed it) can help you match its spelling to its pronunciation, you still feel like you're only speaking and writing one language. I'd say an even a stronger example is writing systems that aren't phonetic at all, where no matter what you do you can't figure out the pronunciation from the orthography alone.
Your point about language nerds making up rules about how load words should behave is interesting and true I'd say in most modern languages whose societies contain... academics. That's why you "can't" split infinitives in English, end sentences with prepositions, or say "pendulums" and "octopuses". Unlike German, English doesn't have gendered nouns (pronouns excluded), but still people will try. See "alumnus". The argument about "Zucchini" might exist literally in English, but an analogous one for "Cannoli" certainly exists.
So I'd say your statements about German apply just as equally in English, and so perhaps other people can chime in whether they actually feel like they're speaking a "mixed" language, and at what point they felt like that. In a way, inevitably, almost all modern languages are "mixed".
I think you'll find with all your examples that there is contention. Aren't there German speakers who say "Pommes Frites" the German way and to hell with who ever says that's technically not correct? In the cases that it's not exactly contentious, there's still a funny feeling. Why do people want to say "Computer mouses" so much, even though they utter it and think afterwards "wait, computer mice??". When you take a suppletive form (irregular form) and put it in another context, it s up for debate (academic and probably inside your brain) what you do with it. Not exactly the same as what happens with loan words, but this demonstrates that when you look at language, you'll arrive at multiple answers for how things "should" be, and which one you actually say depends on some decision, by language nerds, or by youself consciously or unconsciously. Language rules are anything but simple!!
As far as I am aware, "Pommes Frites" is pronounced in German nearly the same way as in French. So this is clearly not true.
What is true, is that if you appreciate it to "Pommes" (which is rather colloquial; at least when I hear "Bitte ein mal Pommes mit Mayo", I intuitively think of uneducated, fat (because of bad eating habits) people), this word is pronounced "German". But, as I said, this contraction with German pronunciation is rather associated with uneducated people.
Of course language that deviates from what's spoken by the educated (and powerful) people in the country is considered uneducated. I think you'll also find that in many languages. That's the same principle behind the people who think you are stupid for not saying "der Zucchino". I won't get into the stereotypes about fat people...
But, if there is, I’m assuming that candidates are just applying randomly to any positions that are available. The ‘Tinder’ strategy is probably a good one if the goal is to maximize earnings. However, if one is a ‘5’ it makes sense to spam all of the positions. But, if one is a ‘10’, it makes sense to avoid interviewing all together because there is diminishing returns: too much work for too little potential gain.
So, the other question is if the hiring process is so ineffective, why aren’t companies innovating? There must be lack of competition in the market if companies are willing to wait several months and spend thousands of dollars to fill a role while also missing out on the best candidates.
Bias is a factor in that many interviewers have no idea what they want from a technical perspective, or simply lack confidence themselves. When in doubt hire somebody exactly like yourself. This isn't objective or a valid representation of competence, but it is common.
Talent gaps apply when there are a surplus, plethora is a better term, of new developers and senior developers are purple unicorns. It takes time and lots of practice to transform a newb into a rockstar. Throwing money at the problem isn't a magic formula for providing extra time and practice. Years of employment experience isn't an indicator of quality either as that doesn't necessarily mean practice solving hard problems.
When you solve for bias suddenly there are a lot more competent candidates available. If you realize a single senior paired with several newbs accounts for the talent gap more quickly suddenly you can hire functional teams without false expectations.
I also read somewhere that some big bank (Goldman) just has a very circuitous, lengthy application process and the main point of it is to weed out the spray and pray applicants.
I knew someone who worked there in 2002. (Well, now having worked there, I know lots of people who worked there in 2002, but in 2002 I knew someone who worked there.) At the time, they were a small startup with a reputation for hiring only the best, the way you might think of Medallion or D.E Shaw now. There wasn't a perception that you could just walk in off the street and get a job like in The Internship movie.
As for companies innovating in this regard, it's kinda funny to think about it. When it first got started, I think LinkedIn was trying to be exactly this. Rather than encouraging people to add any and every person they ever thought about (or that asked), the idea was that you should only add those people that you know and trust. In this way, you could use your LinkedIn network as a network of trust for things like hiring or looking for work. That's changed I think both by LinkedIn wanting to have a large network of data to mine and by any number of participants that will add connections since they're really after a bulk network rather than a trusted network. In both cases the business case for such a network of trust doesn't seem to work well for the company providing the service and doesn't work well for the participants... so it breaks. Naturally, that's just one approach and there could be others, but I do think there have been efforts here.
Hypothesis: these people might not have knowledge, but they're very willing to schlep, and so—with enough effort and iteration—they can take a plan and turn it into working code.
And on the other hand, some people who are very "talented" on paper are nigh-unemployable because they just can't get things done. (They can easily tell someone else how to get the job done, but they have no drive or desire to schlep for themselves.)
The other side of this is that, at this level of developer, these are exactly the positions where offshoring makes sense. If you're going to get people whose primary talent is a willingness to schlep just adequately enough to be employable... well, I can find those kinds all over the world, and can probably do better in the skills category, for much less cash. So if I'm looking for domestic (I'm in the US) technical talent, I'm usually looking for those that are worth the higher pay commanded in the US... which means I am absolutely trying to sort out the schlepers for the most part. Naturally, offshoring has its own difficulties regardless of why you're doing it; so there are times when schleppers (I like that term :-) ) are sufficient, but at some point that strategy changes (growth, etc.)
I've literally seen engineers with 20 years of experience grind for 45 minutes on FizzBuzz, not able to make any progress.
Yep, that's it. The same cost-benefits dynamics as spam mail.
We can argue about whether there are 10x developers or not, but it doesn't matter for this discussion. If you assume that a developer is going to be with you for a year or more, then it starts to be worth a week or more of your (collective) time to improve the expected productivity of the people you hire by 10%. Not 2x, not 10x, just 10%.
If you aren't spending that time, then you're tacitly either admitting that you're not good at accurately assessing talent, or that you think any warm body will do equally well at your job. Either way, I don't think you're really disagreeing with the core of Dan's post.
And if you're committed to not missing a candidate who might be really good but your heuristics would lead to a false negative on, how much does a half-hour phone screen really tell you? I mean, can you really reject more than half of the candidates based on a half-hour phone screen if you're committed to a very low false-negative rate?
What are you going to do, bring 50 candidates into the office for half-day interviews? You've now brought your sunk cost of interviewing from one person-week to 6 person-weeks. And you've also actually probably spent 3 months doing this process, so you've probably also delayed actually hiring someone for at least a month. 10 person-weeks worth of productivity starts looking a lot less good compared to a 10% productivity bonus.
At my last company, we "screened" ~200-500 candidates per job with a work sample. It was really hard to put together, and worked amazingly well once we had it going. We did a structured interview everyone who passed the work samples and it never felt like a waste of time.
Still, this method at least has some structure to it. As opposed to the anecdotes that the rest of the thread is.
This comment is spot on: most companies are forced to create cheap heuristics for filtering engineering applicants, and most of these quick-to-evaluate rules will have surprisingly high false positive and false negative rates. You'll miss out on great engineers you auto-reject, and spend hours interviewing people you shouldn't.
Part of the reason for unfairness is that everyone doing hiring is creating these heuristics independently.
Better filters are possible -- we've found that it's even better when you avoid resumes entirely and go background-blind! But these are no longer simple "if typos >= 2 then reject" or "if GPA > 3.x" heuristics, and are of sufficient complexity that they're beyond the scope of each individual company or hiring manager to develop independently.
"our HR department tosses the bottom half of resumes in the pile into the trash because we refuse to hire unlucky people"
> The optimal cutoff tends to n/e as n increases, and the best applicant is selected with probability 1/e.
So, you deliberately reject a first cohort of applicants, and then pick the first person you encounter that's better than the best one you rejected. Obviously, in the joke that's not possible as they are neglecting to interview them, so I think the sibling comments are correct about it being a skewering of the hiring process, but it's neat that there's such a close parallel.
Its just a numbers game if you don't have a relationship with someone who can get you a new job.
> refuse to hire unlucky people
Not getting hired there seems to be the 'lucky' move. Arbitrary hiring guarantees, over time, some pretty terrible characters that a proper hiring process would filter out. If you're pissing away 50% of your potential and, say, there's a 20% chance of getting a 'good' person, now there's a 10% chance of that. Over time, a place with such hiring standards would most likely build out a corporate culture that's subpar. The rare 'good' hires would probably take off much earlier than need be because there's so many more 'bad' hires. Eventually the 'bad' hires rule the roost and then people act surprised at gross incompetence as the norm in many companies, shameless dishonesty, and various forms of harassment being normalized.
I worked at a place that didn't take hiring very seriously and this is exactly what ended up happening.
Of course, you still get 50% less total good applications, but ratios != total.
This is what I was trying to express. At the end of the day there are only so many 'good' applicants.
You'd think that many, if not most of the people in the applicant pile could do an adequate job, perhaps with some training, considering what the job market looks like in the life sciences. Instead they play precious and then they have to make do with some last-minute lecturer, and that at times plays out really bad.
And HN discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3804134
I will give you a tip. You can't read them all. Don't even bother trying.
I've yet to see a resume screening process or interview process that reliably weeds out the 1-5% of bad picks. I have seen screening processes reject perfectly good candidates.
A company could probably do very well by letting go of the idea that you need to find the best candidate in a stack of 100 resumes, and instead just pick anyone with the needed qualifications and support them with training. As the article mentions, the current approach performs poorly and wastes time and money.
Dan's point is largely that for each new & shiny technology you add to your stack, and then add to your hiring filter, you shrink your hiring pool substantially. You can do new & shiny, or you can hire day 1 productive staff experienced in your tech stack. Many firms look at their budgets and choose the latter, but if you don't have budget to train staff, you probably don't have budget to hire experienced staff either. So while the recruiting slogan is 'we only the best', in practice you get 'we only hire the tiny fraction of new grads who've been researching our exact tech stack in their spare time'.
Normally this isn't a problem as screening criteria like experience in language X is a bona fide job requirement, so even if such criterion filtered out minorities disproportionately, it's not a liability. Tacking on filters like 'must know programming language not used at this company' is going to be a huge stretch, and if your African American candidate pool is filtered out more regularly, that's a lawsuit waiting to happen.
So yes, crafting heuristics is hard, but manager's paychecks are larger for a reason.
That said, the African-American candidate pool in America is so vanishingly small that subtle tech bias at hiring time isn't the issue - the heuristics to filter them out started before they ever finished high school. (This has actually been a point of interest for me for a long time. I mentioned elsewhere a friend who has terrible spelling but a very successful career. He also happens to be black, which has been something else to overcome. We've talked for years about ways to encourage more black students to go into IT, which we both believe is a route to middle-class success with substantially less racial animosity than they'll face in other fields.)
Your approach is ctually the problem. Hiring should be very very important - maybe even the top priority. The two most important things in the company should be: hiring and sales.
In that respect, you need to invest into hiring in same was as you invest into sales. For example, sales have much much better heuristics algorithms while hiring is all about weird and random rules.
Tech staff shouldn't waste their time in hopeless cases, but assuming your applicants aren't all about the same the return on hiring the best one could be huge.
When I have interviewed in the past I literally stopped reading once I see contact information and save reading it for during the interview. If the contact information is not the first thing on the resume it goes in the trash.
For valid heuristics I start by telling candidates something they don't want to hear. If that means they drop out then good riddance as I have 30 other people who are more interested in the position.
* A rough equivalent for Java is Spring MVC or forcing architecture considerations.
You can filter people pretty fast just by focusing on foundational simple vanilla code questions. It is astonishing how many unqualified people apply for jobs whose resumes are a complete waste of paper.
The current employer would only take contractors for new hires (let agencies find the people) and would give out some interview questions to the contract agencies so that candidates knew what to study for before showing up for the interview. Even still only 9 out of 73 interviewed candidates were selected (who knows how many resumes were filtered out).
His question takes away the people who are not interested. It's useful.
If this is a measure to eliminate candidates who are ultimately less interested in doing the work then so be it.
It was pretty clear in that the primary motivation was to eliminate candidates who either lack confidence or competence so that you can spend more quality time with those candidates who care more about the respective skills.
I don't know you, but I am guessing from your highly defensive tone that you likely fall into one of the categories I described in the previous paragraph. If this means of candidate elimination is emotionally offensive you should ask yourself why. When candidates exceed the number of openings somebody must be eliminated.
While someone must be eliminated, you need to ask yourself why you're selecting for those who would opt to work under random and arbitrary bullshit when they don't have to.
Unless the job description made clear why it wasn't available, I would take this as a sign of a toxic workplace and avoid it. It isn't about jQuery being banned, it is about the type of workplace where jQuery is not only banned, but such a ban is mentioned early in the interview process. I guess if you want people who are okay with such a workplace, then you are using an appropriate heuristic.
You avoided explaining this. If eliminating unnecessary abstraction is offensive to you then I would be more happy to eliminate you from employment consideration at the earliest possible moment so that I don't waste your time.
If the hiring individual dictates what trade offs are made so far in advance that it happens in the interview, it means they aren't just eliminating unnecessary abstractions. Premature optimization isn't generally a good thing. Premature optimization showing up in an interview as a way to get people to quit is even less likely to be a good thing.
Disrespect permeating the industry. A candidate is either a rock star 2% or worthless the rest. And everybody does successfully hires only rockstars. Mathematical paradox. Though seeing how you mention 10 years experience as something important I'd guess you're young, and that would explain your gimmicky and capricious approaches to candidates selecting and interviewing.
I am less interested in copy-paste coders.
People will self select way more. As is now, many job ads work as something attempting to sell position - but you are flooded by people you don't want (else you would just pick 5 random to interview).
In general, I feel the hiring process focuses on the wrong things. Buzzword compliance is a major problem. Experience in problem spaces is much harder to capture in a resume than a list of technologies that can be software-grepped for the benefit of technically clueless recruiters and HR.
Similarly, I'm not a fan of most technical reviews. They tend to focus on gotcha questions and think-on-your-feet trivial programming exercises that have virtually no bearing on real life as an engineer. To be fair, they can help, but they often exclude excellent engineers who aren't as good at the on-your-feet game as they are at the big picture game.
When interviewing candidates, I tend to pick up on an interesting experience on their resume, and ask them to talk about it. What went right? What went wrong? What was your role in the solution?
Heuristic: Candidates who blame others for failures, especially when they don't praise others for success, get a big black mark. I don't usually like working with people who are looking for someone to blame, regardless of their skill.
Heuristic: When someone starts talking about some project and really geeks out about it, getting into the details of how the solution worked and why it delighted them, gets a huge plus. First, it means they were actually at the core and understood what was going on. Second, it says what they care about.
Sometimes, I'll get them talking about their best experiences as an engineer, or their worst, just to hear the geek come out. It's very telling.
And I have usually decided on a candidate in the first five to ten minutes of an interview. If it's no, it's no. If it's yes, the rest of the interview is mostly about validating my initial impression.
But, if I had enough social skills to tone down "geeking" withing 10 minutes of interview with stranger, you would not hire me? That is just side note through. The older I am, the less I like to frame myself as "geek", there are some cultural aspects I have grown to dislike. A lot of "geekinesss" is actually trying to be cool rather then anything else.
(truth be said, I'm not the one selecting resumes right now, and sometimes I get garbage that I wouldn't even interview)
It doesn't sound very good. It sounds like you should be investing more time into interviewing more people instead of throwing away folks who could excel, but fail an arbitrary heuristic.
That is to say, instead of throwing away 19 out of 20... don't throw away so many. Obviously you don't need to call in all 20 people, that would be a huge waste of time. But your approach seems too sensitive to the heuristic for the tradeoff of saving a few hours of time to find a person whom you'd hopefully employ for years. I wouldn't take that decision lightly, especially with a small company, though I suppose you can always let them go if it doesn't work out.
If I have 100 resumes for two roles, and I can, through heuristics, knock it down to five, then I'm starting with enough "good" resumes to stand at least a chance of filling the two roles. Mind you, we're now about a day's worth of work for a manager, and five interrupted afternoons for the senior/lead engineers doing the interviews.
On top of that, the good candidates are going to have other companies competing for them. If my response is "Well, we like this candidate, but let's spend two weeks interviewing another twenty people, just to be sure", my odds of missing the good candidate are pretty high.
The grammar checker in Word is also worth a try. Did you mean "P. G.'s maxim" when you typed "pg's maximum"? :-)
And yet, the comments in response to my OP are full of easily detected errors. It's like you have to make an effort to screw it up.
If the authors of the documents you mention are anything like me, we're so used to ignoring false positives that the net result now permits minor errors to slip through.
And yes, I consider that it's difficult to write correct English. But if you're willing to send out an erroneous resume without getting it competently reviewed, I have to suspect the depth of your commitment to quality overall.
Is this theory or practice?
People who individually craft CVs and cover letters (I do) go through a very resource consuming process.
Having all the CVs and cover letters externally reviewed makes the process even more resource consuming.
It's crucial to differentiate spell-checking from proofreading.
The parent specified spell-checking; there is a reason to be strict on this, and it's that spell-checking a document takes less than a minute with a word processor, so one really needs to be careless to leave more than a couple of spelling mistakes.
Proofreading on the other hand, is much more demanding (finding people, coordinating, reviewing and applying changes), and often, gives feedback that may not be very useful or even conflictual between reviewers.
I don't think proofreading for more than a handful of CVs/CLs is realistic (expect for the CV-maniacs).
I wouldn't want anyone to pay for a resume review because the advice you get from that can be quackery or even conflict with other articles about resume writing (apart from 'no typos', they can pretty much agree on that).
Really, the point was if you're going to use a superficial filter like that, you may as well automate it to something like a code test so you can save yourself even something as small as 10 seconds x N resumes per year.
You don't appear to have spelt any of the words incorrectly. However, you did make a couple of typographical errors. A close look will show them up.
In regards to spelling errors, do you distinguish between the American and the more correct non-American spelling of words?
While I agree, it would be irresponsible to exhaustively interview isn't a key metric for a _good_ hiring process how efficiently you can find/place candidates who _do_ excel in the role?
By that turn, shouldn't a responsible hiring manager constantly be evaluating and improving their heuristics so that their front-line filtering is less biased and stupid in the ways that materially affect the quality of hires?
I don't think the point is that we can remove heuristic filtering from the process. Heuristics are necessary in hiring but this doesn't justify being dismissive of a discussion about whether a certain class of heuristics is really serving the needs of the organization.
That's the real kicker in the whole article... when "We want this person!" doesn't work because crustimoney proseedcake.
You may well be rejecting candidates based on their recruiter.
Does "trusted network" mean alumni clubs? Church groups? Gym friends? What would be an un-biased trusted network to filter candidates with?
Networks and referral are the way many folks find jobs and they're especially important for candidates who have educational pedigrees and career trajectories that are different enough to cause HR drones to reject them in less than 2 seconds.
Now you have a defacto "If you're not in the boss's religion or congregation you can just piss right off" thing going on which is toxic for the workplace. Even if you were, say the same Christian denomination as him, are you willing to drive to the boss's wealthy suburb to go to the wealthy suburban church every Sunday solely for your career?
Nothing says the organization doesn't care about merit or diversity than church hiring.
Where I work, interviewers are sent candidates without knowing who is and isn't an employee referral (except for a couple of cases where the candidate has told me or something), and employees who were recommended by another employee statistically perform much better. But we intake a lot of people who just applied too. Referrals are good, but they can't be everything.
If you care about diversity (as most companies like TrendCo claim to) then hiring only referrals from your trusted network is likely to lead to entire teams of people that ARE JUST LIKE EACHOTHER. When I talk about diversity I refer more to diversity in viewpoints and experiences, than I do to race, gender orientation, sex, etc.. Whether we like it or not, our friends and networks are made up of people who think and work exactly like we do, that is just how humans are.
So hiring only from networks like that can lead to a huge disservice to the company, especially a growing startup company that usually tends to already suffer with the "diversity of thoughts" problem.
In addition, you are back to the original problem of potentially missing on valuable candidates because you narrowed your search to only people inside of your network. Who is to say that your network is best engineers in the world? By narrowing the search within the network you are missing out on likely better candidates that might come from a normal resume search.
From a pure statistical perspective, lets say you get 300 resumes the first week after posting a job (that's about what I would get depending on the jobs I was posting when I was last hiring). To make your life easy you cut it off after only a week. Well you have 300 potential candidates here that we can assume have self-qualified themselves based on your amazing job posting you wrote. So let's assume at least 80% of them are qualified for the job. That's 240 qualified candidates of which you need to choose 1. How many people are realistically in your network that are available for new jobs when you have an opening? Most of the time I was getting 2-3 at most for any given job coming in as referrals. Compare that to the 240 other candidates you had and you are MORE LIKELY STATISTICALLY speaking to find a better candidate out of the resume pool than the referral pool.It contains a large sample size, simple as that.
Hiring only from trusted networks is really a cop-out for the hiring manager. It makes their job easier because they can blindly narrow down the search to a handful of people without truly inspecting other talent out there. I would argue its more irresponsible than what the original comment suggested.
Plus in my experience I have hired some great people that came in as referrals. But if I also look at my top 5 worst hires I have ever made, all of them have been referral candidates. The truth is that most of the time the friend that referred them will prep them for the interview to coast through the interview. Telling them not to mention certain things and focus on things that our company is looking for in new hires. It creates an extremely biased job hiring process.
Tl;dr - Don't pat yourself on the back for only hiring from your network. You are likely missing out on the best talent by doing so, and creating an echo chamber in the process. Plus you stunt the future growth of your own personal network.
It's how you kill diversity, arrest your growth, and let fallow the connections to recruiting pipelines that might help you escape once you realize how deep you've gotten.
It's a long story, but both my wife and I have most recently been at places, in a small-medium city, that have had huge turnover in the last several years due to mismanagement (her entire unit, except for her, left twice while she was working with them; we've lost about 30% of our employees in the last few years). She was pressured to resign after returning from her maternity leave because, as far as I can tell, they figured out they could cut her position and offload the work onto others while she was gone. So she's stayed home to raise our child. I haven't lost my position, but every week brings a new clusterfuck of horrors that I'm running out of ways of coping with.
The problem is, now she's wanting to return to work, and has a job offer, but it's in another state, and it's created a situation where basically I have to give up a job and probably career, or she has to run the risk of her career dying off because of lack of opportunities in the area.
So if I take time off to watch our child while my wife rebuilds her career, and maybe move to a different career myself, somehow I'm penalized? Pardon my language, but fuck that.
I'm also in my early 40s, so there's that.
I'm starting to feel like my life is ending, really, like opportunities are just vanishing left and right. It's odd because up until this point I always felt optimistic, like there was always something out there for us. My wife comes from an elite school, we both graduated with Ph.D.s from a program in the top 5 in our field (according to dubious rankings), if you're into that. I don't mean this narcissistically, but I just feel like there's this huge discrepancy between what I know my wife and I are, in terms of work ethic and competency, and what our opportunities are.
Best of luck with everything. If you don't want to freelance and don't mind travel, DM me for an opportunity.
This point alarms me a bit. It doesn't even have to be a family circumstance. What about departures for your own mental health, or sabbatical?
So if I take some time off to learn a new stack (I'm leaning toward Elixir), and build a few projects with it in my free time, I'm a lesser candidate?
This being said, I do have a friend who did take a year off to pursue music. However, he's what they'd call a "rockstar" and has freedoms most of us don't.
Seems like a clear decision
Those types of choices aren't usually clear.
Hang in there.
Agreed. Anyone who wants to implement some kind of asinine policy like that should instantly be forced to spend the next 6 months unemployed, and then try to find a new job.
There are a lot of candidates out there and to ignore your competition for employment is to do yourself a great disservice.
It's the kind of thing that only comes up with people who have never been in such a situation, and can't imagine that such a situation would exist.
At the end of the day employment is a mutually beneficial deal for the employer and employee. It’s not some sort of social safety net. Performance counts.
Semantics aside, my point stands: it’s reasonable to hire the best person for the job. A person’s personal problems are just that, personal.
I would sign for it in a heartbeat.
For most careers, it's not very reasonable to quit a job and try to build a company.
Let's say you go ahead and move and take time off to watch your child. Two years down the road you want to start looking for work. What you've done with those two years is going to really matter. If you've invested time in activities like writing about your field, speaking about your field at conferences/meetups, creating an online course about your field, contributing to related open source projects, teaching a class at a university, etc. you are going to be in a very different place than someone who just checked out for 24 months.
Being currently employed sends certain signals to a prospective employer, but there are other things that can send much stronger signals. The unknown is still going to be scary and I don't know your field, but your Ph.D. can probably open a lot of doors to make yourself visible to market.
Caring for their child is what he'll have done with those two years. It's an exhausting full-time job. These suggestions are great for someone who's unemployed, but unrealistic for a full-time caregiver.
I'm not downplaying how much work it takes to care for a child, but I don't think it is helpful to downplay the need to stay at least somewhat active in your field if you want to back to the workforce someday.
Leaving the workforce to take care of family and not doing anything to keep yourself marketable is "checking out" when it comes to your career. You are going to have to be proactive in making sure that you are doing things each week that will put you in a good place to return to the workforce IF that is what you eventually want to do.
No offense but this reads as fairly entitled. Why would your value continue to rise as an employee if you take time out of your career? You will be competing against people who are bettering themselves without taking > 1 year breaks.
It’s not any employer’s responsibility to plan your life, you must do that yourself.
Given how this may affect my future hire-ability, I doubt I will pursue it. I can't really afford to have my resume thrown in the trash because I felt something else was worth devoting my limited time to, even if only temporarily.
Would your company succeed because it does not have such silly rules? I have no idea.
15 hr/week while unemployed working on your own app may be far more beneficial than 60 hr/week working on a trivial CRUD app.
I don't envy the years I could look through the want ads and say to myself, I can do that, I can do that, I can do that. I prefer now, even though it's a bit a crap shoot whether someone is looking to fill a position with my skill set.