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61% of “Entry-Level” Jobs Require 3+ Years of Experience (talent.works)
482 points by giffarage on Mar 28, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 348 comments

It seems to me the whole problem amounts to companies deciding to redefine the word "entry", then acting all disappointed when no one else uses that definition.

"Entry" means "to enter the workforce". It means you have pre-work experience such as a specific degree, speak a certain language, etc.

If you advertise an "entry level web development" job and I just boot camped for that, I am qualified and will apply.

If you want "Junior Developer", say so.

(Comment by someone that this is a gimmick to reduce salary sounds pretty right on.)

Entry Level ought to be 'willing to train', Junior, some experience, Senior, 8+ years of experience.

Sadly title inflation is also a thing.

I think part of the problem is the titles themselves...

"Senior" implies "Highly Experienced" meaning "lots of years of experience".

Whereas it's completely possible for a person with 3-4 years of experience to be a "Very Good Engineer" within their specific domain and be as valuable, respected, listened-to, etc. as a "Senior Engineer". It doesn't happen often, but it happens.

If we had titles more like "Apprentice", "Journeyman", and "Master" Software Engineer, then we wouldn't have this issue. Someone could be a Journeyman after 2 years or 4 depending on how rapidly they progressed through their "apprenticeship" phase, and to "Master" as soon as they had completed sufficiently complex work to have completed a "masterpiece" equivalent.

> "Senior" implies "Highly Experienced" meaning "lots of years of experience".

Not necessarily. Medicine has "Senior Resident" or similar in some countries as the last step before becoming an independent physician. Law and finance have senior associate before junior partner.

Well we're talking about developers, not physicians or attorneys. We don't have multiple steps like resident, physician, associate, partner, etc.

We should! Lots of bigger places have senior engineer, then staff engineer etc.

Maybe we should.

I'm starting to think that the French Compagnons should add software developers to their list of professions.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compagnons_du_Tour_de_France if you don't know what it is.

English equivalent: https://www.wcit.org.uk/members/anon/new.html?destination=%2... "The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists".

Slightly weird mapping of the traditional Establishment to our industry. Their home page includes items such as "Capercaillie Shoot" (not clear if this involves real grouse as it's in Essex), and "Report on the Funeral of Brigadier Tim Hackworth OBE PhD"

They have their weird titles because they're a livery company, similar to the Worshipful Company of Marketors (marketors.org/). Perhaps one the day WCIT will get a Royal Charter as well. You can read more about livery companies and their relationship to the City here: https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/about-the-city/history/Pages...

I'm pretty sure the shooting is just clays, and not live birds.

There's nothing wrong with "Senior".

Lots of years of experience translate to having a proven track record of delivered value, along with management skills and experience of failure, things that can't be substituted by talent or knowledge acquired from reading about the works of others.

> a person with 3-4 years of experience to be a "Very Good Engineer"

Not the same thing — this is actually the same problem as with hiring practices that people love to hate. Good college degrees, open source contributions, algorithmic exercises during the interview, etc... are all designed to prove your worth. People don't like you for what you are, because you have to show them what you're capable of first. And with 3-4 years of experience, you can slap that "Master" label on your job title, but without being able to show something for it, people will just laugh at you.

Also this trend of disrespecting the elderly is nothing new. Ageism is a thing and your opinion is actually in line with what the entire world is already thinking. Younger means cheaper, more prone to abuse, to working long hours and for many tasks just as capable as a more expensive senior.

Of course, this is beneficial to young people, but the tragedy is that it doesn't last. You'll be playing a whole different tune in 5 years max, either because you'll end up competing with people that are 5 to 10 years younger and cheaper, or because the bubble will finally burst due to automation, leaving this sea of STEM graduates out of a job, just like steel workers in the nineties. We are automating ourselves as part of our job description, so it should be no surprise when it happens.

Lots of years of experience prove nothing. If someone was working for 10 years in Java backend apps, using outdated tech and in an environment that delivered value is secondary to risk, he/she is not senior.

3 years is minimum for getting close to being competent. I would argue that before that you will deliver very little.

They are a senior engineer... in their specific scope.

These levels are not exactly transferable necessarily.

You should be able to trust that an experienced developer like this would be able to adapt to newer methods and API.

There is absolutely no reason to believe that someone with 10 years Java on the backend can't go do, say, .Net at an equivalent level. It wouldn't take long to pick up the syntax, libraries and tooling.

If you take language out of it, the experience is easily transferable.

The problem is everyone thinks their project/product is special and they're inventing something completely new. You're not. Sorry. This is software where everything old is new again.

Your experience is not limited to what you do at your job. My previous job was working on a 10+ year old Java backend app and my current job is doing data mining and ML (which I was qualified for and hit the ground running). There is almost no overlap between the positions, yet I've performed well enough in both roles.

One should not expect that people use every skill they have at every job they do.

Interesting ideas. Maybe this would also change the hiring practices of Software Engineers. You wouldn't have to white board fizzbuzz if you were a "Master" S.E.


AFAICS, the only one that's explicitly gendered is "journeyman". We've had a pretty good track record swapping out "person" in such situations when it's an issue. One might take issue with "master", and some senses of "master" are gendered, but some are not, such as senses 1c (particularly applicable here) and 1d:

> "c : a worker or artisan qualified to teach apprentices (see 1apprentice 1b)"

> "d (1) : an artist, performer, or player of consummate (see 1consummate 1) skill (2) : a great figure of the past (as in science or art) whose work serves as a model or ideal"


The word caries with it a history of a workforce dominated by men.

If there's going to be a new made up system for standardizing and measuring the proficiency of software developers, then we may as well make up new words too that don't have this baggage.

I agree that language is important for effective communication. I also am cognizant of how language changes over time, in meaning, connotation, usage, morphology. One can find problematic usage in a lot of places if one chooses to look. I don't believe that's what you're doing here, and don't mean to put forth some reductio ad absurdum argument. I'm interested to learn what heuristic you use to decide what language is acceptable and what needs to be changed. Would you mind sharing?

> If there's going to be a new made up system for standardizing and measuring the proficiency of software developers, then we may as well make up new words too that don't have this baggage.

This proposal is explicitly not making up a new system, but rather adopting an existing one.

Journeyperson? Next we’re gonna call mom and dad “parent and parent”

I mean, why not call my parent my parent instead of my mom or dad if my mom or dad don’t identify as cis? “This is my parent, Alex” is reasonable.

I'd rather have two dads, two moms, a mom and a dad...give people a name, a role, and not live in such emotionless and unlabelled society.

Do you have better suggestions?

Calm down. You are part of the problem. You piss off otherwise inclusive and reasonable people with such nonsense. JourneyMAN doesn’t mean an actual “man.” That is an archaic interpretation to suggest a journeyman means “man.”

We don’t call “fishermen” “fisherpersons” — that’s just silly. You can have female fisherman.

Please don't cross into personal swipes regardless of how wrong you think someone is.

Your comment after this one began with "You can fuck off if". The vector formed by these two points leads toward getting banned here. We've already had to ask you many times, and have cut you a ton of slack on this site.

Please use the site as intended—for intellectual curiosity; please don't be uncivil; and please don't use HN primarily for political or ideological battle. That's not too much to ask, and most users have no trouble getting there.


Isn't "-man" an abbreviation of "human"? Justin Trudeau made a gaffe recently when an audience member referred to "mankind" and he erroneously insisted that she instead use the term "peoplekind". Surely "humankind" would be the term requested, if one felt the need to be pedantic.


Just stop, please.

The point of journeyman in connection to a trade is as a point on a scale of relative skill and has no meaning in the place of determing the accidental characteristics of the wielder of the title EXCEPT relative competency in the trade.

"Man" has been a catch all for human practitioner when who the practitioner is isn't essential to the context.

The title of journeyman elevates whomever bears it in the eyes of a trade. It grants equivalence no matter whom it is applied to. If you wish to call yourself a journeywoman, do so. Don't be surprised when the rest of the trade still refers to you as a journeyman. Tools don't care who wields them. And finished works' quality depends only on skill. Not gender.

Hate to see of what your views on Bachelor's Degrees are.

If it had a historical background and was a common word in everyday language, I guess not.

If however you would just call it like that to make it female on purpose and out of defiance... Then I guess I wouldn't accept it.

Was going to non-helpfully comment that as the title says:

  61% of "Entry-Level" Jobs require 3+ years of Experience
And <insert stat> of "Senior Software Engineer" jobs require only 3 years of Experience.

In the Bay Area culture, 3 years is enough time to jump jobs once:

  year 1 = figure out how to navigate tech corp
  year 2 = figure out that it's a sh!t show.
  year 3 = jump and find greener pastures.  repeat year 1.

It isn’t the worst thing to have a progression you can step up through every couple of years. The problem is that there needs to be many more degrees of “Eng II” before invoking the word Senior. If Senior came after Eng 5 or something it might not be so bad.

I have seen senior engineers with 1.5 years of experience and totally confident (in startup).

And my lifelong experience is that such pepole have pretty good careers, better then humble more self aware people.

How did they get to be seniors in their companies? They didn't give the title to themselves, so someone must value their skills. Is having the title mutually exclusive to being humble or self aware?

Some years ago they introduced job titles at the place where I work. My boss asked me: which job title do you want? I said: senior developer. Her said: ok. Master of the universe would have passed too.

Same thing happenend to me. I went for "Grand Poobah of Software Engineering". The boss said ok, but I think the printed business cards ended up with senior developer.

As an aside, a friend got listed with the title cosmocrator (ruler of the universe, when translated directly from greek) in the phonebook. All it took was for him to request it when they asked for a title, and, when asked what it was, reply that it was a form of kinesiology.

All in all, you probably should not but to much stock into titles. Even less so, if they are not protected.

I think I would have gone with something unique like, "Computer Programmer."

Undetectably Sentient AI.

They didn't give the title to themselves

LinkedIn is full of people who have mysteriously sprouted a Senior prefix that they definitely didn’t have when I was at the same company at the same time. So it probably is self-granted in most cases.

Very true. I hope references catch up to them!

Paying someone more costs money, giving them a title is free.

It is startup with little experience, so if you act confident and never go against leadership they will think that you know everything. There were also people with 0 experience and 1.5 is significantly more then that.

I am confident in claiming that title was dependent more on confidence then skills. You got it basically for never admitting you don't know something.

and here in my country, 2-3 years of exp get you senior title, no matter how good (or mediocre) you are. It's just sad.

"Entry level" means entry level pay, not experience :)

Junior Developer is an entry level job title.

As a qualifier, it is a demotion from “Developer” alone. A Junior Developer is less than all the other ordinary, plain old general Developer roles.

It’s basically a paid intern role.

The only people who would ever accept such a title are kids who don’t mind being marked, appropos of nothing, before first impressions are made, as a lesser subordinate, untrusted with serious decisions.

When a recruiter, hiring manager or HR contact offers a Junior role, it means you get paid less.

In a world where business cards and email signatures serve as pretext for introductions, you see a title with Junior in it, and it reeks of green college grads.

The buried lede here seems to be "In real life, folks need to apply to 150-250 jobs to get a job".

I'd be so, so interested to see the breakdown here, and what causes these types of numbers. Are there just enormous numbers of applicants for every job? Are people applying for jobs they aren't qualified for? How does this compare in tech vs the rest of the job market?

The signal/noise ratio must be absurdly low if this is possible.

I was a recruiter for 8 years, and maybe 1 in 100 applications turned into a hire. I suspect a big factor is the barrier to entry for applying has been lowered. Just fill out a quick form and click submit, so people will apply to any job that looks remotely relevant. An increase in applications makes sifting through those applications increasingly burdensome, and tools have not really made mentally parsing a resume easier, so mental energy gets sucked up trying to filter more content. The more energy you burn, the more tired you are. The less energy you have, the less you can focus on the applicants, and you start responding to fewer applications. Fewer recruiter responses to an application means job seekers need to send more applications. Repeat.

The barrier is lower for applying, but as many other posters saying, there is simply just interest in quick ROI and zero willingness to think long term.

I recruited for several years for my companies too. First thing I noticed, there is huge variability in CV for each country. When I receive a CV from an indian person (from India), I don't know if I should expect 100% lies or what, even from qualified seniors. On the other end, I could put my hand on coal if the same CV was written by most germans. Which is bad, because the CV or cover letter become essentially useless as a metric.

To reduce the number of applications we introduced simple tests to submit along with the CV. It does wonders, but I personally hate it. As a senior dev, I keep asking: would I apply to my current application? I have to answer that no, I wouldn't. I have plenty of public projects to investigate my abilities if needed, and I do expect some minimal amount in investment from both parties when hiring.

We also raised the requirements from applicants ridiculously, essentially expecting them to work on core features from tomorrow. Again, completely unrealistic. And again, by our own wording, I would be afraid to apply. We are definitely selecting over-confident candidates (or desperate).

And it's sadly also true that the industry has no apprentice jobs anymore, although there is plenty of need. There are some career paths where I would jump ships despite my lack of expertise to follow my interests. Starting from zero doesn't stop me, but there are simply no opportunities: junior jobs are not really junior anymore. They are simply paid less.

> As a senior dev, I keep asking: would I apply to my current application? I have to answer that no, I wouldn't.

Looking at it from the other point of view, are you getting enough candidates that you are comfortable with via your current application? If so, the question becomes whether it would be enough of a benefit getting "you" (people like you) to apply to your current job... vs the cost of having that many more people to filter through.

Just like the code you deliver, the application process doesn't need to be perfect (because being perfect has a large cost associated). Instead, you have to weight the tradeoffs and pick the solutions that best match the resources you have available to the outcome you want. You need "good enough" (I hate that term, it sounds like "bad" to my ears, but it's literal meaning is correct here).

We're getting enough candidates, but many good ones are simply turned off at some point because the salary or position doesn't match the high expectations we implicitly set.

This, in turn, results in a process of exclusion during the process more than actual evaluation (which then begs the question: why put such high requirements?).

I'm pretty sure we're discarding individuals which are just too afraid or see themselves too conservatively. I'm not afraid to say that I ended up in my position by pure chance, and probably wouldn't pass the hiring method we currently use, despite being here for quite a long time.

>> When I receive a CV from an indian person (from India), I don't know if I should expect 100% lies or what, even from qualified seniors.

Be careful about going there. Discrimination is illegal & unnecessary.

I work in a company with a lot of staff from India (TCS consultants). I can confirm that some of them have a fairly flexible relationship with reality and facts, and it can be incredibly irritating at times. I agree that it is most likely a cultural thing: decorating / distorting facts to achieve goals is looked upon more favorably in some cultures than others, with all the moral hazard and distorted incentives that implies. It is, however, worth noting that not everyone from India I have met is like that or that one attitude or way of communicating is automatically better than another. Once one learns to parse the code, life gets considerably easier.

TCS supply L1/L2 internal support services where I work, and while the more senior members of the teams are very good at their jobs and take a proactive part in providing supporting, the ones who have been there less than 5 years (made up number, the less experienced/greener staff) struggle to follow simple instructions without several confirmations of the actions, even when pretty comprehensive documentation has been provided. It's quite an interesting, and often frustrating, dynamic.

I'm not really making any. This almost seems like a completely different way to present yourself which is taught to people.

Can you share your opinion about other countries as well? It's an interesting statistic which I, suspect, not many would be willing to discuss publicly and non-anonymously.

I would say that indian CV are simply on another level, I have no clear idea why. We're posting positions online, and the openings are often automatically indexed by several job search engines. Maybe this is because indians are just more exposed to online hiring, working abroad and generally simply try to get an interview.

Let me reinstate that also this is not universal. We had very good candidates which didn't inflate the resume, thus my point that I really cannot look at the CV by itself. This is very detrimental for both.

I took "germans" as a stereotypical example here. Thinking back, most qualified applicants anywhere in EU are in a similar ballpark. I would say a small amount of inflation is common, but senior applicants generally match much more closely the qualifications they presented. I didn't have many applications from other eastern countries to say anything else.

I'm also not an HR guy. I just participate in the hiring process when the need arises.

I was also a recruiter for a while and when hiring I am always amazed at the absolute dismal amount of effort given when people apply for good jobs. Hiring is hard, someone with the right skill set will have a terrible mentality, hiring for the mentality is extremely tricky and can lead you down the road of groupthink if you're not careful. I'm still amazed how entirely incompetent people rise to managerial levels on who they know but its very, very hard to break into even with a modicum of talent.

If you have to apply to 250+ jobs just to get one, you can't invest much effort into each application.

I've been a part-time developer for three years (and worked full-time on top of that), and I'm looking for a full-time position. I gave up on tech after applying to 500+ jobs and getting three interviews and zero offers. The closest I got was a consulting outfit in a small city in the Inland North, where one of the interviewers got hostile about my major (philosophy) and eventually rejected me over it.

But even now that I'm only applying for positions that just need warm bodies with degrees, my ratio of applications to phone screens is upwards of twenty to one, and every phone screen I've gotten in the last month has rescheduled last-minute on me, sometimes more than once. And I have to put up with shit like getting rejected at the door because the interviewer doesn't like my [perfectly ordinary and unremarkable] shoes.

How in the world am I supposed to find the time to put effort into applying for hundreds of jobs?

> ... where one of the interviewers got hostile about my major (philosophy) and eventually rejected me over it.

Sadly, the hiring process for developers has turned into not much more than hazing.

You're spot on with that ratio and, as you say, it can become utterly draining. Depending on the number of applicants I'm getting, I developed a way of dealing with the problem that works well for software engineers:


Send every single applicant a nice, warm email with a link to a coding assessment[1]. Doesn't have to be anything particularly in-depth: just something that requires an hour or two's work from the candidate.

Result: all the people who put slapdash applications together will self-select out at this stage (you won't even hear back from them) and you don't have to send rejections. This will probably eliminate 95% of candidates right out of the gate for you, and when you have 500 applicants in a single month this is going to make your job a lot easier. You'll be left with 25 people who are genuinely interested and, depending on what you're looking for, you might have 10 that are worth interviewing.

IMPORTANT: for the relatively small number you reject at the assessment stage, you should send them some real, and reasonably detailed, feedback as to why. This will generally take around half an hour per applicant. People don't do this out of fear of getting into an argument with the candidate (and, of course, because they don't have time): in practice this seldom happens, and can be diffused quickly when it does. Most candidates appreciate the feedback and, key point, you won't start dehumanising applicants and turning yourself into a worse human being.


If you're not doing an up-front assessment, which we don't at the moment because we're a relatively unknown company so we want to make it as easy as possible for people to apply, send everyone a nice email inviting them to a 20-30 minute telescreen.

Your email should lay out the format of the telescreen: we'll spend some time finding out more about your experience, and do a screenshare (or Google Doc share) on a short programming task.

Result: all the lazy or uninterested applicants will again opt out, doing most of your work for you.


- In both cases you can focus your finite time and energy on the better candidates, rather than on sifting out the worst.

- You can give every applicant a more positive experience overall (think how many times you've heard the complaint, "I applied for X job and the company never even got back to me"). You also avoid ever having to send out those crappy two-line pro forma rejection emails that just about everyone hates.

- It'll keep you more positive and energetic because you're not spending loads of time having to be critical and negative about swathes of applications, and the people you do end up interacting with, you actually have the time to invest in ensuring that they have a positive experience, whether you offer them the job or not. This is hugely important because I think, of all the jobs I've done - and, granted, this does depend somewhat on your personality and temperament - recruitment is the one with the greatest capacity to turn you into the kind of person you wouldn't like very much (I realised it was happening for me when I did a long secondment in recruitment for a previous employer).

- By giving everyone a positive experience you'll gain a better reputation for your company, which should translate into attracting better candidates. Certainly, the other way, word travels, and if you offer a ghastly candidate experience people will be put off applying. If you're Google you can get away with it because so many great people want to work for you regardless of how drawn-out and overwrought the process is, so it doesn't matter that some great people will be put off because of the process (still I don't recommend it, and I question the value of all the hoop-jumping). If nobody's heard of you, making the process straightforward and pleasant is the way to go.

[1] This might sound cynical but you can totally automate this process, and if you're getting that many applicants it's probably worthwhile: just make sure the emails go out within business hours, and that there's at least a few hours lag between an application being submitted and the email response going out, so it feels like it's from a human being. Also, and this goes without saying: use the applicant's name. Lots of ATS's don't (or didn't) have APIs, but since you'll only need to target (say) Firefox, browser automation with something like Selenium can work really well here.

FWIW when i apply to a job and get sent back a coding exercise, without first even talking to me, that's usually a red flag for me and i do not proceed with them - although I do communicate that I prefer to have some kind of chat so i know there is a culture fit, before i potentially throw hours of my life away.

Fair. But one of the things you end up realising is you can't come up with the perfect process that will please all applicants.

One thing I should have mentioned as well is how I handle referrals, because it's quite different. I always skip the assessment or telescreen in favour of some sort of face to face:

- Invite them in to the office, have coffee, find out more about them, let them meet some of the team, show them what we're working on, maybe have lunch,

- Have a more low-key meeting in a cafe or pub.

In both cases it's about getting to know them better and giving them the opportunity to figure out whether they're really interested in the role: i.e., not a traditional interview. If they are interested, then we go straight to a technical interview.

The above is important because it's a key route for more senior hires. As a result, certainly at the beginning of the process, it's very much tailored to the candidate at an individual level.

How about reading their resume and cover letter? Looking at a github link, checking out their LinkedIn. You know, actually do YOUR job rather than wasting every single applicants time. Maybe good engineers are self unselecting because your assembly line screening process turned them off.

Look at the hiring process at Apple or Google for examples of how to do it well. Apply; respond to applications with a request for a phone screen or a rejection letter. Do the phone screen. Those that pass, do a technical interview via FaceTime, then those that pass that, send them to the final round. If you reject anyone during the process, notify them immediately.

Be respectful to the candidates and you will end up with better hires. Don’t treat them like you are doing them a favor: you aren’t.

> You know, actually do YOUR job rather than wasting every single applicants time.

I'm not wasting anyone's time. Nobody has to do anything - you can just ignore the invitation and that's fine. I'm certainly not wasting anyone's time any more than they're wasting my time submitting a subpar application for a job they're not really that interested in.

Maybe you were having a bad day but, in case not, let me say: nobody owes you a living. Like it or not, you need to earn it.

> Apply; respond to applications with a request for a phone screen or a rejection letter. Do the phone screen. Those that pass, do a technical interview via FaceTime, then those that pass that, send them to the final round. If you reject anyone during the process, notify them immediately.

nailed it. is that really so much to ask?

You may not have read what I wrote properly: that is exactly what I do at the moment. (We get vastly fewer applicants.)

Thing is, that doesn't scale too well. And when you reach the point when it doesn't, you need to do something else - particularly when you have a day job to do on top of recruitment.

I also kind of agree. If I do something for you, it's nice if you do something for me. So if I put work in to thoughtfully apply, I'm kind of expecting you to do more work than flinging a coding exercise at me. As a recruiter, I saw companies spam every candidate with a coding exercise only to never review many applications w/ completed exercises.

> As a recruiter, I saw companies spam every candidate with a coding exercise only to never review many applications w/ completed exercises.

I'm really sorry you had that experience. For what it's worth I've sat on the other side of the fence: spent a couple of hours working on something only to hear nothing in response. It sucks.

I hope I made it clear above, but my very strong recommendation is that if somebody has sent in a solution to a coding assessment, then you should be taking the time to give them personalised feedback rather than some stock response. If that didn't come across then I apologise.

> I saw companies spam every candidate with a coding exercise only to never review many applications w/ completed exercises.

this is my experience - and why i don't do them out the gate. Because there's a strong chance my work won't even be seen or reviewed - and i have had this happen enough times to know that i should just say no.

Me too, but I guess it would be different if I didn't have a job/hadn't had one before.

EVEN AS A COLLEGE STUDENT I'm not going to do your coding assessment for free. There are plenty of workplaces that skip such bullshit and instead they talk with people and take a quick look at Github/past experience. I have more important things to do and recruiters keep emailing me about interviews every week.

And yeah, I have a job in software development.

> EVEN AS A COLLEGE STUDENT I'm not going to do your coding assessment for free. There are plenty of workplaces that skip such bullshit and instead they talk with people and take a quick look at Github/past experience. I have more important things to do and recruiters keep emailing me about interviews every week.

Great: I'm really pleased for you, and I hope you have a fulfilling career. But all you're telling me is that if you don't respond to the invitation I've sent you then you don't want the job I'm advertising that much. And guess what? I'm selecting against people who don't want the job I'm advertising that much.

Now here's an interesting thing that I've spotted before on HN: the silent majority have upvoted me, but a few commenters have taken me to task. Clearly I'm not suggesting that the majority are always right (the majority of people used to think the world was flat and look how that turned out), but it's certainly worth further consideration.

I think software developers have a very interesting relationship with the hiring process - there's an unspoken attitude that our skills are highly in demand, so therefore companies should be trying to hire us rather than us trying to get a job with a company.

In reality, while software development skills are in high demand, there's also a very high supply segmented across different skillsets and industries (and yes, in lots of industries being a software and domain SME is important). Companies have had lots of success using take home projects or short assessments for technical skills like HackerRank to separate both the wheat from the chaff and remove those who don't want that particular role that much (as you said).

Definitely. I don't think there's a one size fits all solution to hiring. Hopefully my suggestions will be helpful to those feeling swamped by applications, but it's certainly not the gospel.

At the moment we get few enough applicants that I'm fortunate enough to be able to talk to all of them. What has surprised me is that a relatively high proportion simply don't respond to that invitation. The numbers aren't yet anywhere near high enough to feel confident here, but it does seem - at least superficially - like there might be a correlation with weaker applications here.

> recruiters keep emailing me about interviews every week

Be aware that most of those are basically a scam. Trying to force you into some random job just so they can get the provision.

I think some are just interested in your data, such as current salary and location.

Well, he was saying when he has too many applicants. Either he picks a few and gives none of the others a fair chance, or he gives everyone a fair chance with something some people don't like. Our time on this planet is finite, what do you expect of him?

>> Our time on this planet is finite, what do you expect of him?


> Better.

Thanks. Anything concrete or specific to add to the discussion?

“An hour or two coding assessment?”

You can fuck off if that’s is your first contact response.

I’m interviewing YOU just as much as you are interviewing me. There is no shortage of companies hiring. There IS a shortage of quality candidates. I don’t need your job — but you do need developers. I am not going to invest 1-2 hours of time on some bullshit variation of fizz buzz or some equally ridiculous and real-world irrelevant academic game from HackerRank.

If you can’t be bothered to have even a quick 10 minute conversation, I can’t be bothered to do your stupid coding exercise.

That's fine. What you've just told me is you don't want the job I'm advertising; you just want a job. And you can get one. That's cool. I wish you luck, and I'm sure you'll do well.

What I'm interested in is candidates who really want this job. Those people are the ones who will put in the effort.

With all of that said: "You can #### off if that’s is your first contact response." I suggested this in response to your other comment: maybe you were having a bad day. Nevertheless, taken at face value, that remark perhaps demonstrates something of a sense of entitlement. Entitlement is something I aim to select very strongly against, because it's absolutely poisonous in a team environment. Food for thought, if you think it applies.

> Nevertheless, taken at face value, that remark perhaps demonstrates something of a sense of entitlement.

Many people feel entitled to being treated respectfully by their (prospective) employer. Asking people to invest hours doing useless work (which, as others have indicated, they may not even receive feedback on, just a rejection) just to get a chance at an interview, can easily be taken as a sign of disrespect: clearly you feel your time is worth so much more than that of a potential employee that you ask them to invest hours before you'll invest minutes. The potential employee is treated as a beggar rather than a trained professional.

> Entitlement is something I aim to select very strongly against, because it's absolutely poisonous in a team environment.

I'm sure those who feel entitled to basic respect are glad you are selecting against them then :)

Clearly that is not what I'm suggesting since I already said that anyone who submitted a completed assessment would receive personalised feedback from me.

I'm really not sure how you've made the leap from me trying to help people who are swamped with applicants (by taking action that gives every single one of those applicants a fair chance) to a suggestion that I'm not treating people respectfully.

> Clearly that is not what I'm suggesting since I already said that anyone who submitted a completed assessment would receive personalised feedback from me.

Sure, you know that you're going to put in some effort to look over the solutions and provide feedback (but even then you probably won't spend nearly as much time on giving that feedback as the interviewee spent on their "audition"). As others have indicated, not all employers will put in that effort, and as the applicant you can't tell in advance whether you will. Or perhaps you will look at the code, but will instantly reject their code based on indentation (tabs or spaces?) or brace style, or choice of language ("lol Python, real programmers use Ruby"). Because you aren't yet invested in the candidate (after all, you've only sent them the same email you've sent the other 499 applicants) you lose nothing when you're an asshole, while the applicant loses the time they invested (and they won't be able to reuse that code assessment on their next job application).

> I'm really not sure how you've made the leap from me trying to help people who are swamped with applicants (by taking action that gives every single one of those applicants a fair chance) to a suggestion that I'm not treating people respectfully.

Telling applicants to send you a picture of themselves dressed as a clown and selecting the funniest 10 for an interview would also be an effective way to weed down applicants (many wouldn't respond, so clearly they didn't really want the great job you're offering), and one could even argue that it would give every single one of those applicants a fair chance. Would you agree that such a thing might nevertheless be seen by some as disrespectful?

I'm not saying requesting a coding assessment as part of a job interview is always disrespectful, and I think most people would agree with that. But, as you may have noticed from the reactions to your original post, an unpaid coding assessment that must be performed before the applicant gets a chance at an interview is a bit more controversial.

> Just fill out a quick form and click submit, so people will apply to any job that looks remotely relevant.

They all look the same.

There is now way to tell if a position is any more than remotely relevant, because job postings are all the same.

If you want a group (prospective employees) to sift itself (only apply to jobs they want or are qualified for), you should make a concerted effort to give them the information needed to do that. Unfortunately, no one really does.

Recruiting sucks, so let's focus on making it better, rather than just complaining about the userbase.

There seems to be a pretty simple solution to this - you blacklist the obviously unacceptable.

Not the ones you 'don't like' - the ones that don't even make sense.

That process of filtering out folks using the blacklist should be automated and the blacklist should be public.

I wonder if that'd make recruiting jobs almost pointless in a large number of cases however. It sure would make one think twice about spam-applying, knowing you might get blacklisted for spam.

This is not only a PR disaster waiting to happen but probably illegal in most jurisdictions.

Neither of which are arguments against doing it.

With your logic, ending slavery in a time when it was legal, would be a PR disaster, and illegal in most jurisdictions.

Oh wait... It may even lead to a civil war. Oh wait... That has happened... Oh wait... It was actually a good thing!

That's how progress gets made - by changing existing norms and laws because they suck. Recruiting AND job searching at this moment clearly sucks. Which's not to say blacklisting is THE solution. It's A solution, which's a lot better than nothing, at least it gets the conversation going.

Ending slavery didn't cause the Civil War, the Civil War made it politically possible to end slavery.

1) Yes. Any job with entry level requirements will get 20-100 applications on craigslist in seattle (my experience). More or less applications on more or less popular platforms

2) Yes. Half or more of the applications I've reviewed are totally unqualified. Either they ignored the requirements or fudge it and flop on the interview.

3) Tech has even more noise than my personal experience due to higher pay scales and increased interest in "working in tech" (without any personal interest / passion in technology)

> 2) Yes. Half or more of the applications I've reviewed are totally unqualified. Either they ignored the requirements or fudge it and flop on the interview.

I mean if you are calling something "entry level position" and have "requires 3 years experience in the field", I'd expect people to apply anyway. I remember when I was fresh out of college all the entry positions I saw required several years of experience. If you don't apply to those positions then you really aren't applying to anything.

>when I was fresh out of college all the entry positions I saw required several years of experience

Same. That struck me as particularly BS'y. I asked career counselors at my school about that and they said to "embellish" my background a bit, but not to lie. The specific advice I got was if you worked as a developer on a short term project a year ago that would count as a year of work. If asked about it the advice was to just explain what you really meant. It made me feel uneasy because if seemed disingenuous, but I went with it because I needed a job.

This made me really question what does a "year of experience" really mean? 60 Hrs/wk for a year is not the same as 20 Hrs/wk for a year. If you could use a month of work a year ago as a year of experience, what else could you stretch? At that point you could question what does anything really mean on an application? If it has super high qualifications, how could you take it seriously? You can just rationalize away anything! Can't you? 4+ years of experience? I basically got that. 2+ years in some specific programming language? How different could it be from C++? I got the basic concepts down, I can figure out the rest, just give me money!

You miss 100% of the shots you don't take and the worst you will hear is the word 'no'. You need a job to pay off the loans you needed to get the degree to apply to the jobs in the first place. If experience inflation is a reaction to an insurmountable volume of applications then what businesses are really doing is filtering out the honest people.

I've noticed that people conflate "years of experience" with "time elapsed since the first time you did the thing" all the time.

I would love to see job postings that require 2,000+ hours of experience for junior level or 10,000+ hours for senior level.

I've noticed that people conflate "hours worked" with "skill level" or "effectiveness level". I mean they definitely correlate on average, but 100hrs experience for one person is equivalent to 1khrs to another.

Figuring out skill level is hard. And no matter what job you are at and skill level, it requires training. But if we're talking junior positions, that means "we are going to teach you." I feel like that part is being lost.

Sure but I'd argue that there are likely to be more similarities amongst people with 2,000 hours experience than there are amongst people with 1 year of experience. 1 year could mean anything from "watched three udemy courses" to 4,000 hours of hands on keyboard in a full time position + hobby projects.

>2) Yes. Half or more of the applications I've reviewed are totally unqualified. Either they ignored the requirements or fudge it and flop on the interview.

Common advice is that job posters put insane requirements on their posting because they don't really expect an entry level applicant to have 15 years experience in HTML5, Joomla, C++14, Bootstrap, Hypercard, Quechua, nuclear physics, and Go, just a little bit of exposure to half of them. It's not surprising that unreasonably underqualified people respond to job postings with unreasonably high expectations, and that all job postings end up not being taken seriously.

> 15 years experience in HTML5, Joomla, C++14, Bootstrap, Hypercard, Quechua, nuclear physics, and Go,

This is what you put in a job advert when you want to hire your mate who matches that description but feel obliged to publicly tender the job instead.

Has c++14 existed for 15 years yet?

>without any personal interest / passion in technology

Can I not work in tech without being passionate?

Passion is a relative term.

Nobody goes to work at Facebook or Google thinking "wow, I'm so passionate about adverts and tracking, I want to build a world with more ads and tracking in more places". It's normal not to be passionate about your work in that sense.

However, some people find computers frustrating, stupid or boring. Such a person probably wouldn't enjoy a job working with them all the time - and it's difficult to build the skills that let you advance your career if you're averse to or bored by practising them. You need to be passionate in the sense of finding the work sufficiently non-loathsome that you can readily motivate yourself to do it.

> You need to be passionate in the sense of finding the work sufficiently non-loathsome that you can readily motivate yourself to do it.

That is a major abuse of "passion". While the original definitions are even stronger, something you are "passionate" about is something you actively seeking out to do. Something that is merely "sufficiently non-loathsome" is not a passion.

  That is a major abuse of "passion".
That's just the gap between what employers hope for when they place a job advert, and what they get.

I would like someone who loves their work so much they do 150% of the expected amount of work, freely chooses to stay late to make the Foo they're working on the best Foo the world has ever seen. Someone I can promote, and trust with more responsibility and less supervision.

But I'll tolerate someone who does 75% of the expected amount of work, because I'm realistic about the hiring market.

> I would like someone who loves their work so much they do 150% of the expected amount of work, freely chooses to stay late to make the Foo they're working on the best Foo the world has ever seen.

I had a job where I did this. Know what the employer did? He whined I wasn't doing enough, and gave me more to do then expected me to stay even later to do it.

I was eventually spending more time at work than I was at home - I no longer work for free. If an employer wants extra hours out of me, they pay or I head home at clock out time.

Employment isn't about your dream being fulfilled, it's a commercial agreement between two parties where one agrees to pay the other for time spent at the workplace. I don't live to work, I work to live, and I have other stuff to do.

On my death bed, the one thing I can guarantee that I will never think is "I wish I'd worked an extra evening for free on that project for my employer." It's far more likely to be "I wish I hadn't worked that evening for free, so I could have seen the sun set just one more time."

This. How can people say something so wrong headed like "Passion is a relative term." No you're just manipulative.

Passion: strong and barely controllable emotion.

"sufficiently non-loathsome...motivate yourself to do it" is a far cry from passionate. Tangentially related @sarahmei on twitter wrote a thread about passion in tech. IMO she nails it: https://twitter.com/sarahmei/status/921366047122268165

Passion comes from a Latin root meaning "to suffer". If you work in technology long enough, you will become passionate about it.

I am not sure this lady knows what it means to be passionate then. Dismissing passion as the domain of stuffy white men is to dismissing anyone with an overridingly strong interest in anything

I think you are missing her point. She isn't saying that all passionate people are affluent white males. My interpretation is that passion in a swe job description is code for affluent white male. I think she has a point, individuals who have time for passion projects, self study, or other endeavors are privileged. Many of them are white, male, and affluent.

I think the problem is that she falls in the same error as the companies she's criticizing - she conflates passion with external signals like "spending a lot of time on personal projects". At first she uses quotes around "passionate", which seems to distinguish the two, but then she fully conflates them. Inevitably, she will rile up those of us who were passioned about tech despite not having the means to dedicate ourselves to it.

Which is a shame, because her point that filtering candidates based on their dedication of personal time to tech is discriminatory is valid.

  she conflates passion with external signals like
  "spending a lot of time on personal projects"
Job interviewers fear being mislead by people telling them what they want to hear, so they will often look for provable actions and demonstrable knowledge, rather than claims.

If someone tells me they're passionate about embedded electronics, I'll ask what they've worked with - arduino? raspberry pi? esp8266? atmel? pic? mbed? - and what they've done with it.

If they haven't used any of them, or they've barely used them, are they really passionate?

Sure, but that's where her criticism is valid - there are many reasons why a person might not be able to fulfill their passion, and some groups are disproportionately affected by that filter.

This woman completely catches what my college experiences were for me. Great read. From all the data I've seen poverty level is the biggest factor that determines your future potential with race right behind, one would think that we would try to make opportunity the main goal in an advanced society. Not everyone will or wants to be financially successful but when the two things that weigh heaviest on where you end up are where you start financially and what color/gender you are that's not a sustainable or fair system.

>However, some people find computers frustrating, stupid or boring. Such a person probably wouldn't enjoy a job working with them all the time - and it's difficult to build the skills that let you advance your career if you're averse to or bored by practising them.

It's funny really because I thought I was perfect for software development as a teenager. Already knew how to program, spent a huge amount of my free time on a computer, good at maths and sciences in general, etc.

Once I actually got into software development I found the whole thing rather irksome. The company I worked for was a great place to work full of really lovely people, free lunches, paid internships (yay NZ), etc. But software development? Nope. Awful industry. Computers are shit.

As soon as I got out of software, I immediately found my interest in programming as a hobby come back. Unsurprisingly people don't really like doing something as a hobby when they're paid to do it for 40 hours per week already.

What's your current job if i may ask? I'm in the same boat as you now.

Yes you can, I’ve been in tech companies where a fair few of my colleagues are not interested in tech. They want to be part of a “winning” organisation and make money.

I sure as hell wouldn’t hire someone who has no interest in what my company is doing and that level of interest would have to increase relative to the role.

What tends to happen is you get very slick operators who don’t produce anything because they don’t understand/don’t care and all they do is get information from A spin it in a way that makes them look fantastic and push it to B.

Given enough people like that in a tech org it’ll collapse.

I used to work on email archival. Anyone who says they’re passionate about that is either lying or doped up on barbiturates.

I think there are two sides of equation. You can be passionate about the literal problem (search, AI, whatever) or the underlying problem with tech (I could imagine finding interesting problems around new indexing techniques, rapid access, etc if you wanted to really get into the nitty gritty)

How did you get hired for email archival? Started looking at online applications and every single one has something like "Why do you want to work for us?" and yesterday I saw "How do you add to our diversity?"

What's the problem with those questions?

I wouldn't be surprised to find that in the UK it's illegal to ask a candidate "How do you add to our diversity?" because it could be seen as a thinly veiled way to, for example, discover a candidate's sexual preference - something you are outright not allowed to ask about, except in very specific circumstances[1].

(Also, it's an insufferably pretentious question, even if not actually illegal.)

[1] E.g., it might be legally acceptable for a role in a religious organisation.

I'd argue that they're stupid questions.

What do you stand to learn about the quality/fit of a candidate from the question "why do you want to work with us?"

They could give a 100% bombshell answer and yet not at all fit the role.

The latter is not a question the applicant is qualified to answer. Specifically, "how do you add to <our team>" can only be answered by someone that already knows the team. To me it signals that the recruiter is lazy and expects me, as applicant, to do his job for him.

Sorry, was trying to figure out how the commenter got past those filtering questions.

It depends on the content of the emails.

Tech work is like sex work: you don't need to feel the passion, but you do need to be able to fake it.

I'm stealing that line.


Anecdata: to me and others I've spoken to 'passion' is short hand for a person having personal work standards. i.e.: a person who won't half-ass their work, who'll often go the extra distance for polish or feature completion, and who'll proactively help raise issues if their experience indicates the team is heading down the wrong path.

And yes, a person who'll very occasionally stay late and pitch in when the whole team is crunching on something.

I think it always helps to care about the quality of your craft. "Passion" seems to be the prevalent HR-speak for that concept.

You have to have had some level of passion to bother learning about it.

It takes time to learn a topic, that's a form of passion - a drive.

That's not to say you have to burn all hours on it tho. Which I think is what you're assuming there. That's honestly somewhat unhealthy and only super passionate people (and lucky ones at that) can do that for any length of time.

Not really.. I have friends with no interest in computers but who studied CS because they knew it would lead to a well paying job. They work at Amazon and Google now so I guess it worked out for them.

One requires motivation, but that motivation does not necessarily have to be interested or passion.

In that case they have a passion for making money ;)

That’s what motivated them to learn. I doubt that’s what causes them to stay. If it is tho... That’s enough.

Passion requires enthusiasim, not merely drive.

And spending effort to learn something requires some level of enthusiasm

I disagree. I have learned plenty of things I had no enthusiasm for because they were a means to an end.

> Can I not work in tech without being passionate?

You can, but from the employer's perspective many markets have more applicants than positions. The employer can choose those who are closer to the ideal employee. One of the qualities of such an employee is often someone who throws themselves with passion into doing the job.

Put another way, why should an employer with a stack of applicants pick those who aren't as motivated or qualified as others? That is why entry-level positions require 3 years of experience.

Yes but you have to be able to fake it for at least the duration of an interview.

Yes you can. Many people work in tech and are not passionate. And plenty of them are very good and responsible.

Tech is not something special, you can lean it like anything else.

It's a cultural-fit thing. You can, but there are the zealous who will deny you.

I don't ignore requirements or fudge them, but I do interpret them based on what they want done.

If they want 10 years of Ruby/Rails experience with a focus on performance/scalability, maybe your 5 years of Python/Django is not applicable.

But if they want 3 years of Ruby/Rails experience and you've got 5 years of Python/Django, and feel comfortable with the transition to Ruby, absolutely you should apply for that position.

Be upfront about it and be prepared to demonstrate your ability, but that's what the interview is supposed to be about in the first place.

These numbers vary dramatically by location and specialty, e.g. a Marketing Assistant in Chicago has very different prospects (and expected # applications to job offer) vs. a Software Engineer in SF vs. an HR specialist in Ohio.

We did an analysis on this awhile ago, specifically about # of days to get a job, but it also has some analysis about # of applications:


Amazing website, I'll have to keep talent.works in mind next time I'm looking for a job!

I'm currently trying to hire cloud solution architects, including in Bangalore. I have had >2000 applicants for the role. About 15 made it through resume & phone screens. I have found 1 so far that could make it through onsite interviews. This is just one data point from the opposite POV: especially in tech, it's extremely hard to find qualified people at the time and place you need them, especially if you need specialists.

This is because recruiters are lazy. In my bunch of years I found exactly 2 non-lazy third party recruiters. Thus actually manually finding the company you want to work with and then sending the resume and cover letter directly has a decent chance of success if you're not a hack or fake.

The trouble is, they so not like to give out salary brackets.

In the U.S. at least, in order to continue receiving unemployment in many states, you need to apply for a certain number of jobs to show that you are "actively looking" for a job. These leads to many applicants to entry level jobs who are applying for a result other than getting hired. Indeed, many applicants of this type have no intention of ever even answering the phone/email if you try to contact them. Though some will just so they can say to the unemployment office that they "Have an interview next week."

I've similarly always struggled to make sense of these kinds of claims, because in my life so far I was offered a job every time I applied, so I'm wondering if I'm either living in an area where the job market is much less competitive or if I'm aiming too low. It's out of the question that I'm some kind of hotshot, on the contrary my CV is a mess and I dropped out ouf college.

I think its a mix of different perspectives. Theres people like you and myself who hear all this about applying to hundreds of jobs and it sounds absurd. For you it sounds like this is because you got lucky enough to not even need to look. Then theres those who apply to hundreds of jobs and then wonder why they don't get many responses.

Something to note there is, how much attention is being paid to each listing. For the jobs you've applied and gotten, you probably were a really great fit.

Having reached a point of being on the other side, looking for people to hire, I think there are really warped perceptions all around. If your hiring, you aren't swamped with great candidates but with resumes. Basically, most resumes go in the trash, but because most of them are hollow, there was nothing there to start. If you're actually skilled and can demonstrate it in any way then its far easier to find a job. I think most of the people who apply to 200+ jobs to get one either are not skilled or don't know how to demonstrate that they are.

I'm like you two - the second job I applied to out of college, I got an offer for. Still there 7 years later, and in that time the our tech interviewers have occasionally told stories or shared some of the more absurd programming tests (with names removed). This:

> If your hiring, you aren't swamped with great candidates but with resumes.

is exactly the case for us. 90%+ of them fail a test where each question is only slightly more difficult than FizzBuzz. Some of them don't even attempt to answer all the questions.

I have little doubt they're the ones sending 200+ resumes out, hoping someone bites.

Congratulations but you’re probably an outlier. I’ve applied to hundreds of companies throughout my career (~20 years), probably an average of around 40 applications per job switch. I’ve applied to some companies multiple times, sometimes right after getting the rejection. Most people I know are in the same boat. Tech companies are so picky and there is so much inherent variance in hiring. It’s a numbers game.

From my personal experience in the entry level job market, I have never successfully gotten a job offer to anything I applied to. Only have my current job because a friend recommended me.

If that's your first job and you can hold it down for awhile, then I think your next job hunt will go better.

Especially if you start the next job hunt while still employed. That's an important signal to your employer, that someone else was willing to hire you. It also helps to ensure you're not desperate, because your next paycheck is not hinging on the current interview.

Same - I've interviewed exactly twice, and gotten both jobs. This isn't to say I've only had two jobs but all advancements/movements stemmed from those two jobs I interviewed for (the second after moving cities and being out of my original network).

This has led me to actually be nervous about the prospect of having to interview, because was my success a fluke? Or had I found great fits for jobs? Both interviews I remember getting in to quite technical but off the topic conversations with the interviewer so I presume that was the success bit?

It's probably influenced greatly by industry and region.

The entry level job market is paradoxically the hardest due to the competition and limited opportunity to differentiate.

My first three job searches out of college required several months with 150-200 applications each, and I was an ivy league grad with a finance degree.

It was really tough to get an interview without knowing anyone. I initially tried limiting my search to positions and companies I was passionate about via career websites, but my hit rate of even getting a response was ~5%, so I realized I needed to up the number of applications to get a reasonable pipeline of opportunities.

Thankfully I've passed that point in my career and have specialized, so my last two positions have been through recruiters that approached me. I won't forget how stressful the early career can be though.

My ratio for applications to offers, over 20 years and 7 jobs, is less than two. My last job search lasted 12 hours, from start of search, to signing a contract. I've explained to people in the past that I'm extremely selective about applying. I only apply to jobs I think I would love, where I can clearly communicate why I'd be a great hire. I'm sensitive to early red flags, and avoid job descriptions that don't make sense or have contradictory reqs. I also have only worked in Boston and Seattle, two of the very hottest markets.

Jesus! That's really awesome!

I'm at ~700 jobs and only had 1 offer that was pretty bad. (Optics and/or Bio-tech)

...surely you didn't mean 700 jobs?

70 jobs? 700 applications? Or am I completely mistaken and you are a much more well-traveled person than I am?

700 applications, about 25 phone interviews, 2 offers to fly out, 1 (bad) actual offer. Still waiting to hear back on a lot of the jobs.

Granted bio-tech is a bit different of an environment. There are a fair few certs you can get. Also, I recently found out that a few large companies only hire interns and the job postings are just for legal compliance. That info felt like a punch in the guts, sooooo many hours wasted.

Probably a function of your industry and where you are.

If you're applying to that many jobs, you're not being deliberate in the search. I've found all of my post-highschool jobs either from people in my network advertising something, or recruiters reaching out to me.

When I was in highschool I did not understand that it was really about who you know (I was homeschooled, so I didn't have a school network to reach out to for jobs), and went applying for typical highschool retail/fast food jobs willy nilly and never got an offer. It's because I was lacking someone who could "intro" me in to the organization. Now I can't really imagine trying to apply for a job cold.

There's a distribution there that needs to be mentioned, because most job applications are submitted by unqualified applicants.

My last half dozen gigs have taken 0-2 emails to secure. The 2 was a genuine job search where I identified two possible fits and reached out. The zeros all were people seeking me out.

Contrast that to the guy applying for your Sr. Developer position who can't FizBuzz. He has applied to 1000 such jobs already. Every one he's seen. All over the country. Every once in a while a company will make the blunder of hiring one of those people (they make up 99% of the applicant pool, because they are always on the market, whereas skilled devs are not), he will skew your number.

So yeah, that guy averages a couple hundred applications before scoring.

But you don't want to emulate his tactics, or you'll find yourself lumped in with him and filtered out of every job you apply to.

Phone post, so may be a little disjointed...

Until very recently I was frontend lead for a fairly large UK site, and one of the best hires I ever made was a 32 year old former-recruiter with no commercial programming experience, and no CS background.

However it was far from plain sailing. We had mutual friends and whilst chatting in a pub, and they won me over with their passion and enthusiasm for what I discovered was their dream job.

I brought them on as a jr, into a small talented team with measures in place to ensure there was the opportunity to learn on the job and appropriate tasks to work on, but it quickly became apparent they were out of their depth. I worked on mentoring in work and and pointed them in the direction of stuff they might look at outside of work to dodge the bullet.

My work started to suffer because I was spending so much time mentoring, fixing code that had become irrevocably tangled and trying to manage a very stressed & frustrated jr dev.

Eventually I had no choice but to move them into a different team where the work was less technically demanding and more html/css focused, with a small salary cut. Everybody was disappointed with the situation but the alternative was letting them go.

Three years later, that dev rejoined the core engineering team a more experienced developer, passion intact, and having learned their trade in a lower pressure environment, comfortable they could handle the role. I'm incredibly proud of them for the way they handled the situation and am absolutely confident this time will be a success.

That said, it'll probably be the last time I hire a dev with zero development experience. As an investment in an individual it's incredibly worthwhile, but despite the happy ending, the whole experience was fairly disastrous.

To me, this is very different than someone who has graduated with a CS degree or self-taught with a portfolio of open source contributions/personal projects.

An understanding of basic concepts obtained in the ways described above is very different from 0 experience. And on paper to a recruiter, what I've listed above counts as 0 real-world business experience.

edit: it is nice to hear this situation worked out for you though!

There's a huge difference in no work experience and no experience at all.

Hiring college grads without a lot of real world experience gives you the opportunity to mentor and train in good methodologies that I find older developers will refuse to implement without incessant fighting.

It is more work initially but the long run payoff has been fantastic in my experience. When you manage based on yearly expectations that are attainable life is so much more enjoyable.

The biggest key is management and upper management buy-in. Sadly that's exponentially more difficult to get when most places see IT as a sunk-cost instead of an opportunity to deliver more efficient workflows internally and externally.

I'm on the fence about working with developers that don't have college degrees. The gaps in their skill-set frequently causes issues no matter how much experience they've had.

I'm curious to hear what kinds of skill gaps you see and the severity of issues they bring, and if there are common knowledge gaps or it's more random.

Everything tends to come more slowly. And having to explain things that are very rudimentary gets old quickly (db normalization for example).

The smart ones pick it up very quickly, so it's just part of the learning experience. The downside is a lack of structure to most things as well. Learning everything through online blogs instead of deep dives into the tools and frameworks they're using. Also a more limited skillset across technologies. They tend to be focused on the one answer they've learned, not having the time typically to branch out to other tools.

I say this as a mediocre developer myself who has many shortcomings. Although I'm getting away from development as much as I can.

I would have to assume, coming from that sort of background. College makes you take classes and learn skills that "you" don't care about or don't see immediate value to, but you have to do it anyway. Maybe not all of them are CS classes either.

It's possible for a self-taught to developer to learn a lot but stay in their safe bubbles of expertise, work or school can push you out of your comfort zones quite frequently and force you to expand your horizons. In a way that you might not do for yourself, at least not all the time.

Individual experiences may vary. I'm not saying there aren't some amazing talented self-taught programmers just you have to be very careful in assuming that they all are.

As an evolving self-taught I think it's too early for me to speak confidently on this topic, however I will add my two sense for what it's worth. Additional background; I'm the local Admin for a Free Code Camp (FCC) group so I meet lots of aspiring self-taughts btw.

1. Many many self-taughts (ST?) aren't joining coding for passion, they are joining because they want to change careers and think coding is easy. They think this (IMO) because it's famous for hiring non-graduates.

2. They then proceed to join groups like FCC in massive surges that closely correlates what's happening in the job market; which doesn't fuel me with confidence in their conviction to become a ST dev. It's kind of like joining the gym Jan 1; if you wanted to be healthy why wait until your NYE resolution. So like a gym 90% of those that join then go silent in our group nearly immediately.

3. I'd say about 1-4% of those who join even complete FCC and of those I genuinely believe they've all found success. Ironically FCC draws in a ton of weak links because it's free, but also because it's free very very few of us ever finish and get a certificate.

If I had a chance to hire an ST that was junior I'd definitely be curious about their story. Their story will tell you so much about the 'man' they are:

- Did they go balls deep and pay $15k+ and give up sleep and life for 3+ months? What did they do afterwards? What did they do before?

- Did they chip away at FCC for 1-2 years building out a portfolio, FINISHING at least the FE certificate?

You see where I'm going here? In my life I've never met someone who did truly well without an internal desire to get it done and that can't be taught. The real advantage of an ST can be their resilience and determination to do what is needed to succeed and if you ignore that amazing skill/asset just because he's without a paper then it's definitely a mistake.

So while I'm not advocating for STs over Grads, I am saying they can be very special and valuable assets that are worth taking a long look at when you get their resume.

You'll see more of me soon; I'm quiting my job May 1 to focus on finishing my skills to a commercial standard, which I've waited two years to do; I'm finally near the finish line and I can't be more excited to be going full time on my passion.

This was written on my phone; so apologies if I'm vague, impolite or grammatically a fail. It's hard when you're trying to work and quickly add two cents of value on a topic you love.

No I think this is also a great point. I didn't even think about all the people who try to give programming a go because they hope it's easy and they know it's lucrative, but don't really have the stomach for it. And I would have to assume at least some of those people half ass it and still try to get jobs and exaggerate their abilities hoping they can fake it till they make it, never mind the faking will likely be indefinite.

I'm sure people in HR have seen more than their fair share. Folks who have any visibility into bootcamps or anything probably see it. I think programmers as a class can be a bit insulated from the reality of how many people make the attempt or try to get jobs they're patently not qualified for relying on the potential for self-taught, non-degree'd, programmers to still have a shot.

Hey guys, I'm the author of this post! (And also happen to be TalentWorks CEO.) A friend sent me this link, I'm happy to answer any Qs.

Also, we're hiring. :) If you're sick of spending all your hard-earned education and experience to help Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc. increase ad CTR by 0.001%, we're working on some pretty cool technical problems. Just email me at kushal@talent.works.

Hmmmm... what have you got for someone with no experience?

j/k, but I am curious how much time you think is average for a job search in terms of both hours spent and days/weeks before finding something. You talk about "time and stubbornness" but I'm interested just how much time and how much stubbornness. I realize this varies widely by industry, but I would expect there's some sort of white collar average.

We're actually hiring for no-experience positions too! (TBH, some of my best hires were no-experience, high-potential fresh grads who've turned into powerhouses.) I don't suppose you want to be a Marketing Assistant? ;)

To your specific Q, yes, it does vary dramatically by location and specialty. In fact, we did an analysis about exactly that a few months ago! Even for white-collar positions, it ranges from ~14 weeks (software engineers) to ~90 days (HR specialists) to >>90 days (mechanical engineers):


When you dig in, even specialties that take the same time have very different reasons. For instance, mechanical engineers see a pretty high interview callback rate to job applications, it's just that there aren't _enough_ mechanical engineer job openings out there! OTOH, there are tons of HR specialist job openings but you need to apply to a million jobs to even get one reply.

And those date ranges can vary wildly for extremely differing reasons. Especially for white collar jobs, you may have a negotiation period that last weeks-to-months, especially if you're currently employed while applying.

Oooh, what might those positions be? Also, is there a list of jobs available on your website somewhere? I couldn't find one.

Are you open to hiring a high school senior? I sent you an email with my credentials.

It’s not jobs, it’s job postings.

You need to demonstrate that no candidates with skills are available to get a visa waiver. It’s called compliance advertising. There’s a whole industry of body shops that do this stuff and collude on rates. The folks they hire are the foot soldiers of banks and government.

This kind of job ad is seen in other countries as well, not just the US, even ones where foreign applicants are really uncommon.

It's not limited to visa-cheating; in certain industries, you have to advertise the position even if you already know who you're going to hire. Look at the backpages of publications like The Economist - do you really think huge companies will find a CEO or Senior Executive with a magazine ad? Of course not.

That's how I got my current job. I was working as a consultant for a company, and we all mutually decided that I should come in and fill a rather high ranking permanent role there. They asked me to write the job description for it, and work with HR to get it posted. That night I went home and applied for the job. That being said, I've never properly applied for a job in my life, and I'm pretty sure this is rather common.

3+ years doesn't mean 3+ years "in a job". That makes no sense. (Well, maybe for some companies it does, but you don't want to work there anyways). For some reason people can never get over that.

It means 3+ years with a technology. It means don't walk in the door out of a Java college having used nothing else and apply to work on a Triple A game written in C++. It means don't show up after a weekend html course and apply for a job using Node/React. And before you say "well that isn't me for so and so reason", it happens ALL the time to employers.

An entry level position does not mean you get to learn on the job from scratch or near scratch. It means that you are at least capable enough to work on small or easy problems and features and an employer or other devs can coach you along the way and you'll know what they are saying to you.

That's all it means (to any reasonable employer).

Bull. I've been using Python since high school, but very few employers I've ever spoken to were willing to actually label me as having any years of experience in Python.

Did you have anything to show for your work since high school? Any projects online? Github codebase?

I know a Github profile shouldn't necessarily be required to count as experience. But if your only experience is non-work related then you're probably going to want to back it up with something tangible.

I have something of a github, yes. https://github.com/esennesh

You need to be able to convince an employer that your experience is valid, that you can work on their critical code base without destroying their customer base and income stream. If you can't demonstrate your experience through results that you've achieved, that's the same as having zero years of python experience.

Sure. Demonstrate experience how? Link them to patches accepted by open source projects? IRC conversations and emails? :) (now harder with all that slack thing)

See people tend not to put patches on GitHub. (Some fork repos butit is harder for the recruiter to figure out the thing.) And there are only so many projects that are valuable at all.

If you're expected to work on yet another worthless project (TM) then the recruiters should quit. After all, they weren't working on recruiting and PR projects before they took the job. And yes, they can ruin the company just as well.

It gets even harder when you worked on a proprietary thing you cannot publish. Especially if it was freelance.

Technically breaking or not things is a matter for DevOps not developers. And anyway it is mostly a matter of mindset.

One things folks tend to overlook is the communicative aspects of the job. You can be a rock-star engineer, but if you can't deal with other folks you're in for a rough time.

To walk in off the street and convince folks you've got the chops, talk intelligently and articulately about the things you've done, the how, the why, the tradeoffs and considerations and consequently talk to them about what their working on and ask those questions or intuit answers or, problems is a very hard skill to acquire.

When I started out, sure, I could write code. Decent code, and was willing to spend a lot of time writing a lot of it. Still, and as I like to describe it, I was a coder and not an "engineer"[0]. Knowing how to bang out Python scripts, or setup a Rails app, or some Hibernate entities is fine and probably a pre-requisite but the soft-skills of knowing how to operate within an organization are also incredibly important.

When you're fresh and starting off with no real experience, passion is about the best you can demonstrate at which point you can hope the folks on the other-side of the table are able to recognize that, and willing to take a risk. For all they know, you're a petulant little shit who can't hack it on the job site.

[0] - I still feel weird calling myself that since I know "real" engineers, but that's my title...

> Sure. Demonstrate experience how?

That's the point. If a candidate can't concisely state how they solved a problem or the effect of their having done so, then they likely didn't solve a problem in the first place.

The barrier to entry represented by using Github is incredibly low, so that isn't a differentiator between people in most cases. What was _accomplished_ by all those pull requests and managed repositories?

> Link them to patches accepted by open source projects? IRC conversations and emails? :) (now harder with all that slack thing)

In many cases, those are just about the least worthwhile thing you can do to convince a potential employer. Employers are busy, almost always busier than the candidates who are looking for a job. Make things easier for the employer, not harder.

> The barrier to entry represented by using Github is incredibly low

Related to this, I hate how merely opening an issue is shown as a contribution on the offending user's profile.

Some script-kiddie who can't bother to read opens an issue with a "Gimme teh codez" beg, and now it shows that they "contributed" to my project That's not a contribution, that's the damn opposite! I've had my time wasted!

>It gets even harder when you worked on a proprietary thing you cannot publish.

Which is, you know, the modal case.

Their statements aren’t unique to tech. 3+ years of experience were not restricted to three years -with a technology-. I saw the same shit back when I was doing healthcare QI, and there is no tech to speak of there.

In fact, they stated nothing to suggest they were looking at tech firms specifically. You seem to be reading into this what you want to see.

I'm speaking on the subject based on experience in my own field (I don't presume to know other fields). But I believe what I said applies anywhere.

> An entry level position does not mean you get to learn on the job from scratch or near scratch.

in most fields it means exactly that - or it means "there is a well known educational syllabus that you have already followed and the next X years are the well known practical side of that education. At the end you will be rewarded with membership of a profession"

it works for lawyers, civil engineers and accountants. not for software engineers it seems.

Layers and accountants have specific post-graduate examinations. Doctors and dentists have an extended education combined with on-the-job training.

In the UK engineers can apply for chartered status, which assesses professional experience.

The reason software developers have none of these things is because the entry qualification for some jobs is "I know some javascript", while for others it's a post-graduate understanding of statistical distributions and vector calculus.

There's no professional accreditation system, no reliable way to assess professional competence, and a lot of the tools (and ideas, and systems) are hacked together with no formal rigour by people who like solving puzzles more than they like making things that work reliably.

You're imagining reasonable behavior, but that's demonstrably not what's going on. We've all seen job ads that request more years of experience in a technology than the technology has existed.

These are just number made up on the spot by people who can't be bothered to think about it.

Maybe every employer I've talked to is unreasonable.

When a job lists a requirement for 2-3 years experience, it means 2-3 years of industry experience.

I don't have 10 years of Python experience because I started coding when I was a teenager.

I learned more about programming in Ruby from 6 months on the job than I learned about Python from 3 years of using it at university.

You are missing the point. The article is not referring specifically to tech jobs.

> That's all it means (to any reasonable employer).

There's the rub. Early in my career when I had little working experience this CONSTANTLY bit me. It didn't matter that I did consulting on the side or that I worked with the technology or even that I went to school and used the technology there.

In my experience almost all of non-tech companies and maybe half-ish of the tech companies would require the experience be on the job at a company.

Now I don't know how indicative my experience is. I don't know if this type of information is tracked anywhere.

As an aside I'll never forget the one company I applied for who was looking for a developer with 5+ years experience in using .Net Framework... in 2003.

Funny. Were they looking for a dev that worked at Microsoft Research?

Speaking as someone currently in that position (developer with two years of experience) my personal experiences seem to align quite well with the data they collected.

When companies say 'entry-level', they seem to be referring to around 2-3 years of working experience. Not just college + internships, but actual professional experience. It's an extremely silly market to be in right now if you're a fresh grad.

All this talk about passion or numbers aside, I've had the opportunity to experience things from the other side and see how many senior-level developers with 10+ years of experience couldn't write an if-statement in their choice of language to save their lives, or even elaborate on basic design choices/decisions.

Can you please elaborate? Honestly, I'm interested to hear how anyone with such a low level of technical skill managed to get anyone to believe they were anything more than a junior. It also interests me because recently I've had a number of recruiters try to convince me that I'm a senior just because I've been programming for a living for 12 years. I'm honest enough with myself to admit that although I've used several languages during that time the jobs were all similar, freelance/sole developer CRUD jobs which didn't really challenge me so there was no continuouse progression technically. Sometimes testing was an afterthought so on that basis I wouldn't even qualify as mid-level. The thing is that "senior" means something completely different to a recruiter and maybe also to a manager?

The reason why they were able to seem like they were senior was because they had the work history. Even though their technical skills were lacking, the sheer amount of development history automatically made them a potential candidate worth interviewing.

Once you have guaranteed interviews, from there it's just a matter of finding a company with the most lax interviews or one where you can fake it the easiest. At least that's my best guess; I don't fully understand how someone can work for a company for over a decade yet can't understand basic OOP or fizzbuzz-level challenges. It became a serious issue at my company because most of the senior-level candidates we got were utterly useless.

Most of them? This is getting more bizarre. Surely code tests would weed out anyone lacking decent technical skills? At one extreme we're told that a senior works on open source projects and knows the languages he/she uses inside out. At the other end we hear about seniors who can't even code? Is this really so common?

Over here the labels are 'junior', 'medior' and 'senior'.

They are primarily used as a pay-scale indicator. It's not that recruiters are dumb and looking for fresh graduates with 3 years of industrial work experience, it is that they are looking for people with 3 years of experience that will accept working in the 'junior' pay-scale knowing that it will be 2-3 years before they move up to the 'medior' payscale.

Many/most companies in the IT industry fail to have a decent technical 'ladder', so upping the 'label' once every two years while basically not changing the job is way of pretending that your developers are having a 'career'.

Traditional 'entry level' does not exist at most places as the bulk of companies don't want to pay for the training/mentoring phase. Too much overhead given the projected short career span.

In the UK, I've noticed more companies moving to Entry -> Junior -> Mid-level -> Senior.

To me, this makes sense, as it allows easier access for people re-training or coming in outside of school without a degree. Graduates come into junior roles due to their degree, whereas school leavers or those that have re-trained spend some time as an entry-level developer.

I've worked with a few entry-level developers, and they've worked their way up through companies to land senior-level roles in a few years. Sure, it took them a bit longer than a university graduate, but there was a route into the industry for them. It was a bog-standard job (agency dev for clients) but when opportunities are few and far between it's a great way to get passionate people in.

Do we need more evidence that "Entry-Level" means "poorly paid"?

I personally think there two issues here:

a) Expectations of 'Entry-level' actually being greater than 'junior/apprentice'

b) Mentors not part of the role

Both of these issues have arisen from a lack of willingness to have a long-term view and wanting immediate ROI, which I imagine has come about from the perceived view that staff don't stick around anyway.

Set up proper trainee/cadet/apprentice programs, provide mentors and support and these staff will probably a) take the low pay at the start, b) appreciate the learning and support, c) stick around and d) create greater ROI in the end.

Seems not to be how business operate now, and I feel it's painfully evident when I observe how many 'experienced' managers there are in charge of things that have no idea what they're doing. They also appear to often actually have no idea what capabilities they require and so just create industry 'roles' with the hope some experienced person will know what to do.

> I imagine has come about from the perceived view that staff don't stick around anyway.

And that's because of the decades of employers destroying the relationship between them and labor. I'm never going to see a pension, and there are almost no more apprenticeships. Why should I as an employee invest in my company if the company treats me as a replaceable cog.

The lack of employee loyalty can be directly linked to the Reagan-esque destruction of the labor movement, IMO. I have to watch out for myself, and therefore if push comes to shove, my needs are more important than the company's.

> lack of willingness to have a long-term view and wanting immediate ROI

This is the core of your comment, and the rest of it describes the whole mess more concisely & articulately than nearly anything I've read.

It's indisputable that being willing to train less experienced people leads to wasted money in the many cases where it doesn't work out. To those with attention spans longer than 6 months, however, it's equally indisputable that when it's done properly and does work out, it tends to more than make up for all the 'wasted' cases where it did not.

There is a ton of untapped, eager talent out there just waiting for a chance. You may have to wade through a lot of duds to get a good hire, but in my view there is no better way to acquire dedicated employees who actually care about the longer term well being of the company.

To be fair, I think even the senior levels aren't exactly well paid.

According to https://taketheexit.de/ 55% of developers feel heavily underpaid and that's something I can believe easily.

Everybody feels underpaid. You earn more money, then you spend more money, then you wish you had more money.

I recently doubled my salary, and I still feel underpaid. In reality, I earn above median wage for my age and experience, and live a comfortable life. But we can always do with more cash.

There is a big difference between having no money and feeling underpaid.

There is a difference between wanting more cash and feeling underpaid. The fact the stat says only a percentage of people feel underpaid kinda rules out your statement that "Everybody feels underpaid".

Sorry couldn't you elaborate on why you can believe it easily? I feel like people in tech are paid very well so this is a surprise to me. If anything I feel overpaid despite being paid much less than most of my peers

The average Developer/Engineer/etc works about 60 hours a week, they work on things that generate millions of dollars. They, for the most part, get paid less than the accountant does. I've literally made a company millions in profit, the entire IT department probably earned less than 10% of the amount of that profit amount. The ROI in IT is extremely high, yet you'll see salespeople whose ROI is much lower making a lot more money. A lot of people will say our salaries being below that of accountants, lawyers, etc is because our barrier of entry is much lower. I believe this not to be true, look at the average job board and you'll see a lot of companies who are literally only looking for seniors. Once you get in, you're fine, but getting in when you don't have the qualifications can be a lot harder. It seems like those industries have spent decades/centuries building prestige into their industries while IT seems to put up with an OK salary with lots of pressure and overtime.

For the majority of skilled workers, IT workers are poorly paid. While we make more than the median salary, the amount of skill, effort, the time it takes to become good at the job is a lot higher than those making the median. You then have the culture of overtime. It's not uncommon to see PRs from people at 10 pm, be told you need to work the weekend, for projects that aren't fully defined and/or have months left to go in development.

Overall, I feel that as an industry, we've massively undersold ourselves and made top-level execs not fully appreciate the value that we as an industry bring. Nevermind the average person, they completely don't value the industry what so ever. The amount of people who default on Web Agency bills who would never default on any other vendor bill is massive. People wanting an ecommerce website for a few hundred pounds.

> The average Developer/Engineer/etc works about 60 hours a week, they work on things that generate millions of dollars.

Hardly anyone I know regularly works 60 hours a week..

Even if I generated a company millions of dollars, that doesn't give any indication of how much they should pay me because it doesn't count for much if a million other people can also generate them the same amount or more.

If you feel like you should get paid more then perhaps you should consider switching to a job where you would get paid more? If there are no takers then presumably you don't offer something which is valuable enough that companies are willing to pay the amount you think they should.

Of course, I suppose one of the big problems with programmers is that it's very difficult to measure job performance but either way, I have a very hard time complaining about my compensation.

I have a competing hypothesis. It seems to me that a lot of people writing the vacancies have too big of an ego to acknowledge the fact that someone without work experience can do the job they've been doing for years (and maybe still are). The seem to have forgotten that they also started without any experience.

Checks out in my case. I can probably train a horse to do my job and yet they require 2+ years of experience with a B.S. degree for it.

If it according to market...It is not

Apologies for a post that s pretty much 100% anecdotal...

This article rings true to me.

My wife ran into this after college only for her industry (biomedical engineering) it is 5 years for "entry level" and they didn't even count her paid college jobs even though they were relevant experience.

Robotics is even worse. Unless you've been building robots as a hobby for the last 5-10 years (which is a VERY expensive hobby btw) it doesn't matter how much other engineering or programming experience you have, they won't take you.

I got lucky with the opposite. I started paid programming in high school and employers counted my high school and college jobs as experience and I had three competing mid-level offers at graduation. So I skipped entry level entirely. And this was in 2007 right before the recession really kicked in so companies were already starting to hold back on hiring.

On the flip side, an actual entry level coder we just hired expects to be working on fun new R&D stuff even though he has 0 experience and I thought we set expectations during the interview. We have him working on bug fixing and client change orders (he will eventually get to R&D but someone needs to fix the bugs, we can't all work on just the "fun" stuff).

This also explains why I started to get so many callbacks on job applications at year 5 in my programming career:

> 3, 5 and 8 are your magic numbers. After 5+ years of experience, you (officially) qualify for most mid-level jobs. After 8+ years, you qualify for senior ones. And 3+ for entry-level, obvs.

Right? We see it all the time.

Waterluvian commented below about the hiring markets self-optimizing themselves to efficiency.


In short, we see so many market inefficiencies in hiring, it'd be hilarious if it weren't folks' lives we were talking about. There's no practical difference between someone who has 4.750 years of experience and 5.250 years of experience, but the market dramatically prefers the latter.

What you think this does: filter out inexperienced people

What this actually does: bias you toward hiring people who are comfortable lying

This is the tragedy of it. They are trying so hard to only get the "best of the best" that the only way you can possibly be interested in that position and quality for it is by lying.

Another interesting factoid I gathered from this is the "avoid ageism" tip about removing dates from graduation + only list last 10 years of job experience. I've always suspected it, but this supports it as a reality. Sad reality that we throw away experience...

And this is why you lie on your entry level resumes kids.

Well, I once interviewed a guy who claimed to have done iOS development since 2007 – basically since the iPhone launch. There was no iOS SDK that year, it only came later. Guy was a bit embarrassed when I pointed that out. This could have been a honest mistake, but then I started looking for more "mistakes" and found a bunch more non-plausible stuff.

I then went ahead and hired another guy with literally zero job experience, but with interesting academic pursuits and who contributed to Compiz. Guy turned out to be amazing.

Don't lie. If a company won't listen to you because you don't have an arbitrary number of years of experience in your CV (what's this, the aviation industry?), then it is not a company you want to be talking to anyway.

EDIT: I should have said "Don't lie during the technical interview"

This isn’t an argument to not lie, it’s an argument to know what you are lying about. I’ve seen plenty of people lie their way into great jobs.

Me too. And frankly, I could not care less about whatever someone says to HR during the non-technical B.S. interview process that some companies have. "Tell me a time where you did X". Make up whatever story you want, they will not fact check you, as long as you don't overdo it.

For technical interviews though, it depends on how deep the interviewer will want to probe. Banking that they won't care or don't know their stuff is not really a winning strategy.

People may overlook some of the job requirements (many interviewers won't even look at what's written in the job offer itself!). They will not look the other way if they catch you lying, even if it about something that's of no consequence for the job. You get branded as not trustworthy from the get go.

Is this true? My business partner and I started doing iOS app development in august of 2008, and we were distinctly afraid we were late. edit: Ok, the SDK arrived in March '08. I guess we weren't that late.

Mr. Jobs was adamant that web applications would be just fine, no SDK needed. You may remember that. So no SDK that year :)

There was no iOS SDK that year, it only came later.

Jailbreakers figured out how to build native apps almost immediately, so it's not impossible. But it sounds like that's not what he was talking about.

You absolutely shouldn't lie. But you also shouldn't let your lack of experience stop you from applying to entry level jobs.

If you don't lie you may be out competed by those who do.

On the other hand, not checking 100% of the boxes would boost the credibility of your other claims a lot. Clever HR departments might even deliberately add some extremely implausible optional requirements to flag those who are most comfortable lying in their CV.

Then the focus should be on making it harder for liars to win.

How does one searching for an entry level job do this?

For starters, gravitate towards fields that prioritize substance over style.

Wouldn't that be a nice universe to live in...

You're absolutely right! You should never lie, especially when random company HR wants 10 years of NodeJs and its been around for 2 years.

Perhaps lying to get past the know-nothings in HR is acceptable. Probably not a good idea to lie to tech people you would work with.

> especially when random company HR wants 10 years of NodeJs and its been around for 2 years.

My bane!

I swear. I've been doing some form of programming since I was a kid, and as a hobby and moonlighting for more like 10 years, and professionally for a notable company for a few years and I still get automatic responses (* rejections) from HR within hours or a couple of days with 99% of the applications I send out with a generic message full of platitudes. And from any size: small startups to multi-national conglomerates. If I hear anything at all.

Thankfully, my current place did exactly the opposite. They stated what technologies they used, and had a distinct understanding that you would not know their inhouse app.

They also wanted to see your experience. So the first thing they do before an interview is a audition. You're sat down, on prem, (sys ad job) with Windows 2012 server, IIS, MSSQL, and a toy app. You have to make it work. They record the screencap, and review it as a team to see how you perform the job.

Frankly, I love how this place works and gets things done. Roadblocks are a thing, like all jobs.. But some of these are from those much higher up. But communication and support of your coworkers is absolutely amazing.

But the other thing, I work now in a regulated space. I knew that going in (3 good friends work there as well). Lying on my resume would not be, uhh, good :) There's these nice guys and ladys in suits who specialize in a wee more stringent background checks.

That's an interesting approach. I also don't mind the idea of a take-home project if it's not, say 6+ hours. The performance anxiety that can set in when someone is peering over your shoulder or going to review your recording later could be a bit of a handicap for some. Still, it's a fresh, and more realistic take.

My problem has been getting past the gatekeepers to get to that point—any face-to-face.

Though in my current role, I'll say they were happy after speaking to me and discovering I had heard and was familiar enough with their solution to have fiddled around with the platform outside of a professional context. In spite of my amateur knowledge of it, it seemed to be the distinguishing factor in my interview... just not until I actually got past the gatekeepers— in what increasingly seems like a game of chance! :P

I think it's absolutely OK to lie until you get to the in-person interviews where there's less emphasis on buzz keywords and more focus on your actual skills.

This. The take-away is that job descriptions are a poor indicator of the skills required by the company. This is why networking and referrals are so valuable, since they let you understand what the work _actually_ is.

Do not treat the years of experience as a barrier to entry.

There is already an information asymmetry, what's wrong with using it to your advantage? Employers do, through withholding salary data during the entirety of your employment -- from initial negotiations, to annual raises/compensation re-evaluation, to performance and retention bonuses, to etc.

Beyond disqualifying yourself, there's not much in terms of risk and the reward (getting your career off the ground) is quite good, especially when faced with writing >200 job applications.

You can get all the necessary keywords in without lying; and actually lying on your resume is liable to lose you the job or in some cases to cause you trouble even after you have it.

Easy solution: distinguish the stuff that you have "exposure" or "light experience" or whatever (translation: I screwed around with Django for a weekend) from the stuff that you are actually claiming serious experience with ("I've built multiple apps in this technology, successfully submitted a patch to their dev branch, and if pressed could quote various parts of its documentation"). Result: filters and HR people check whatever boxes they need to, and any remotely competent technical person sees what you're actually saying. No lying necessary.

What I often cite (for fun):


most notably "This is how most job ads sound nowadays:":

We’re looking for a person with more than 100 years of experience in software development, coding everything from BIOSes to cloud applications, knowledge of all past, present and future operating systems and setting up secure networks. The applicant must also be able to juggle up to twenty balls and read hieroglyphs, be fluent in Swahili and dance like Michael Jackson (especially moonwalking – nice to have at corporate Christmas parties).

It's not just now... I remember 10-20 years ago, and even more recently seeing jobs requiring X years of experience in Y tech. When Y tech only existed for half of X or fewer years.

Don't forget that people with 3+ years experience probably aren't applying for entry level jobs

Entry level doesn't mean people with no experience, and it means something different for every company. Entry level for the NFL means having 8+ years of football experience for instance. Not every company hires people straight out of highschool or college. But there still are many that will hire people with 0-1 years of experience for entry level roles.

X years of experience might also count part time work done during college.

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