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The reverse job applicant (reversejobapplication.com)
518 points by middlegeek on Oct 19, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 302 comments

If you really care which programming languages I already know or which applications I have used before, I can only assume that you're overlooking my ability to quickly pick up new technologies and adjust to new ways of thinking. I would encourage you to correct this, as it is a mistake.

I know it's tongue in cheek, but my god does the current generation not have any humility at all? This is going to ruin your world view, so brace yourself:

You are not fucking special in any way shape or form. Even if you graduated with the best marks in MIT and have been programming since the womb, guess what? So have people every single graduating year for the past 20 fricken years.

The only constant in your never ending job search is - wait for it - YOU. Get over yourself. You are not entitled to anything. You are the lowest of the low, and have proved nothing to anyone that matters.

Start the journey at the beginning. And Yes, you are at the beginning. Your accomplishments so far are shared by every single person in the work force. Be humble and gracious until you actually distinguish yourself.

You know nothing of his situation and yet are willing to cast aspersions on his character. Before you go tarring a whole generation with the "entitled" label perhaps a little context from the generation that lacks humility might be in order.

Friends of mine are in the same position as this guy. They recently graduated with good degrees from a decent university with no allusions that finding a job was going to be anything but difficult. Rather than feel like they're owed a job the ones I know have spent hours _every_ day applying for jobs for the past (up to) 2 years with no success. Most of the time they get no reply from these companies (fair enough), but the few times they do get an interview someone else with more experience gets the job.

This is clearly a frustrating position to be in. They feel like they've done everything that was expected of them. They went to university and graduated with a good degree. Now they see their friends who left school and started working immediately progressing in their careers and can't help but feel like they should have done the same.

All the while this goes on people from other generations who have jobs harp on about how it's a disgrace that there are so many people on social welfare and these people could find a job if they wanted.

When my friends get asked what they do and they reply that they're unemployed they're treated like plague monkeys. They're villified by members of the media and politicians looking for votes. Still they perservere. Far from feel a sense of entitlement these people feel despair. You think they don't know that they're "not fucking special" as you so eloquently put it?

If after two years of applying for jobs without an end in sight he feels like venting a little bit of frustration at the attitudes of recruiters towards people like him that's not the worst thing in the world. If his situation is even half as bad as some of my friends' I wouldn't dare condescend to him by calling him entitled, far from it.

It's not often I get angry after reading a comment on HN.

Well, based on what I can see on the internet, it'd be a no-hire from me. His resume is pretty crappy: http://www.andrewhorner.com/documents/ahorner.resume.pdf has nothing really concrete in terms of projects that he's worked on or code that he's written, libraries which he's used, just a bunch of HR waffle.

He has one semi-completed project, http://www.andrewhorner.com/sds/ which might be enough to find him work as a flash programmer, but he's stopped work on that in favour of a new project... with no progress in 12 months - no blog posts, nothing.

And it gets worse - if I were looking for a Python developer, just his code on PyGAF would be enough to put me off.

a) He doesn't seem to understand Object Oriented style at all (look at the __update_pos method in http://code.google.com/p/pygaf/source/browse/trunk/graphics_... for a good example). In fact, looking at that code a second time, I'm not sure he understands how to use functions properly.

b) His code style is really nasty in lots of other ways - hard coded variables and lines smushed together so that you can't follow what's going on. Also, no docs - not even a blog post somewhere.

Now I've written some bad code myself, particularly early on when I was learning, but at least I didn't stop - I've been writing more code and getting better and better over time.

So this is I think the grandparent's point - if he was an awesome developer out of college and couldn't find a job, or was working on a side project, and still couldn't find a job then his griping might be justifiable. But if this is all he has to show for his "years of unemployment", and all he's doing is banging out resumes to anyone with a post box, then yeah, he's not likely to find much success.

Could you elaborate a little about his misuse of OO and functions? I ask as a CS student whose code doesn't get read very often. I want to be able to spot this sort of thing but don't see much wrong with his method of enqueuing function calls.

However, two things do jump out at me as improvements:

    * Enqueue the function object and arguments rather than a lambda of the function (his version not actually being a "great hack as the comments claim"). Or perhaps use functools.partial().

In __update_pos, he has a series of if statements which look at the image filename to work out how far it's supposed to move[1]. This is the canonical warning sign that you should be using classes. The worst part is that he has created Ball classes - they just don't do very much: http://code.google.com/p/pygaf/source/browse/trunk/ball_obje...

[1] Update: actually not - it's just working out the image rectangle. Which means that it's not updating 'pos' and that there's another 'update_pos' hiding somewhere non-obvious.

A much cleaner way is to have something like, say, a Ball or Bullet class which knows how far it's supposed to go. Ditto for all of the canvas.create_foo classes in the second half - you should have objects which set themselves up, have update, draw and think methods and so on, inheriting from a common class.

In terms of functions, you're pretty much on the money - there's a lot of function creation for very little gain in terms of readability or (at a guess) speed. You'd be better off either queuing dictionaries or strings as arguments for function generation, or else just using threads for your AI and having one method which handles all the drawing and updating within your environment.

In addition to this, there are lots of places (__update_pos in particular) where he should be using functions (or methods) and doesn't - anywhere where there's repetition and/or common functionality, in this case updating the position of an image, really should have a function. Doubly so within large function or method bodies, like __new_population in http://code.google.com/p/pygaf/source/browse/trunk/optimizat... - "if blahblah:" followed by a huge chunk of code is just crying out to be a function.

Half of the problem was that I was looking at the wrong function (update_pos() vs __update_pos()), so all I saw was one line of code...

Anyway, thanks for elaborating!

The magic numbers (what the hell is 22?) are also not a good sign.

I'm pretty sure they're the width of the agent's image. So the ball is 19x19px, bullet is 11x11px and ... everything else is 45x45px. #OOfacepalm

I cannot explain how much you have hit the nail on the head. I graduated from college in May and have been having the exact experience you describe.

My generation has been described as entitled. Quite frankly, I do feel as if I am owed something, and that society at large has failed to keep its end of the bargain. For my entire life, I was told that if I work hard in school, bust my ass to go to a good university and graduate with quantitative degree, I should have no trouble finding work. Now, half a year out of school, I find myself rotting away at my parents house, sending applications to any organization that might conceivably hire me, with no prospects and with no illusions that I'll find work that is fulfilling or properly matches my skill set.

The grandparent's post is condescending and presumptuous. My generation seems entitled because the reality we are now confronting does not match up with the fantasy world that adults have been preparing us for for our entire lives.

Ugh. I can’t wrap my head around the concept of expecting some mechanical path to success and subsequently being flabbergasted at the realization that, even if it ever did exist at one point, it doesn’t anymore. Who cares if anyone told you things are that easy? Everyone telling you that was wrong—get over it. For your own good, get off your ass and do something worthwhile to distinguish yourself. Instead of doing the old spray-and-pray with your résumé, find a job you want and then do absolutely anything it takes to get that job.

Exactly. Everyone told me that I should study art in college because I had an affinity for it. Luckily, I also had excellent math scores, saw the writing on the wall in terms of employability, and changed majors to Computer Science (yeah, bet you never saw that major switch before). I had an affinity for that, too, and I engaged in every extra curricular in the department that I could. Surprise, surprise, I've never had trouble finding work and I have former classmates who are still working at Radio Shack.

If you're a programmer, you're a programmer regardless of whether you have a job doing it or not; it's a part of your identity. I have a friend working as an economic advisor for a major city government; he doesn't identify as an economist, he identifies as a writer. I have a friend who works as a mutual fund trader; he doesn't identify as a trader, he identifies as a beer brewer. My sister works in university fund raising; she identifies (somewhat ironically) as an economist. We were having a conversation one day, where they were lamenting the situation that I got to do what I loved and got paid very well for it and they were stuck in jobs they hated. I told them, "STOP ASKING PERMISSION TO DO WHAT YOU ARE. Start doing it now." Why do I get paid for what I do? Because I have experience and connections to network to find job. Why do I get paid well? Because I've had a lot of practice. Why do I have so much experience? Because I never asked permission to do it, I've been doing it all day, every day, whether I've had a job or not, for the last 10 years.

My writer friend, I told him to start writing user-oriented documentation for open source software projects, and to write promotional materials for non-profit organizations. It had never occurred to him. He's looking in to it now, and he's finding a huge need for good writers everywhere.

My brewer friend, I told him to quit spending time on the stool-side of the bar, spending money, and convince his friends who own these brewpubs he frequents to take him on as an unpaid, weekend intern. He won't be getting paid, but then he wasn't getting paid for the time he spent in the same exact building anyway. One of them immediately agreed.

My sister, I told her to just do the research she wants to do. There is nothing preventing her from doing the types of number-crunching and paper-writing that she claims to love in her free time. There are tons of data sources that are published for free by the various governments of the world, and nobody to even look at them. Write a few papers and then see where you stand with job applications.

Hell, I think the garage tinkerer is in a better position than a big-university researcher specifically because of the constraints of lack of funding. You'll probably make important cost-cutting innovations as a matter of necessity. Necessity: the mother of what now?

The future eventually gets here. Make your career pay for your calling, and soon you will have the experience you need to make your calling your career.

My wife was one semester away from an art degree and we moved due to me being in the military. When she went back to school after the move they were going to make her take quite a few credits over since it was a different university program. Instead she switched to an accounting and business dual major with an art minor.

I'm glad she switched because a CPA gets paid a lot more than most artists. Her long term goal is to do the books for a museum or art institute. It would let her be near the "art world" but using the analytical side of her brain.

Why is that so hard to understand? Think about how you would feel if you went to work tomorrow and your company was bankrupt and the doors locked. Would you just leave without feeling any disappointment or surprise that the job you though you had was gone.

My generation has been described as entitled. Quite frankly, I do feel as if I am owed something, and that society at large has failed to keep its end of the bargain.

This quote also hits the nail on the head for many of the older generations posting here. The fact you feel entitled to anything is the source of much grief. I'm part of your generation, but through the professional experience I've gained in the past 8 years, and having been put in the position of hiring people from both Gen X and Y, I've realized that this entitlement hurts you much more than it helps.

Success is newly defined for each generation. Our job, in wake of this economic disaster, is to find out just how that definition has changed and move forward.

>> I've realized that entitlement hurts you much more than it helps.

I think this is the biggest problem with entitlement. Not that it's annoying and presumptuous, not that it's A Sympton Of Everything That's Wrong In Our Society (TM), but simply that it hurts the entitled.

A lot of what we interpret as entitlement is just a focal inaccuracy. In school, we're judged, more or less, on the quality of our own work. A teacher or other official who makes a decision based on his personal preference is viewed to be unfair. With the job market, however, as with dating, it's never about the applicant, only about the decision-maker.

We come out of school thinking we'll be judged on our merits, but we won't. Interestingly, that realization not only helps people ignore rejection, but also prompts them to take initiative to stand apart from the crowd, thereby making rejection less frequent.

"The fact you feel entitled to anything is the source of much grief."

IMHO the younger generation isn't nearly entitled enough, and it's going to result in a lot of violence within our lifetime.

what do you mean by violence? care to elaborate (and explain the correlation)?

The history taught in our schools is mostly a mix of propaganda and mythology, so there is nothing in our national identity that allows us to make sense of the 50 year decline that America is heading into. Consider that we now live in a society where:

- It's basically impossible for most intelligent, hard working people to make a decent living.

- Everyone is a criminal and is subject to arrest at any time.

- The world has changed enormously but there have been basically zero major legislative changes in the 25+ years I've been alive.

I think we're going to see a lot of frustration vented via everything from street violence to assassinations.

> Everyone is a criminal and is subject to arrest at any time.

That's hardly new. Remember when everyone from union organizers to groups of civil rights protesters could be arrested and charged with vagrancy? Probably not, because that was before you were born; the US courts cracked down on that sort of thing in the 60s and 70s. It may seem like America is getting crazy dystopian, but people in your parents' and grandparents' generations saw things that would make your hair curl.

For my entire life, I was told that if I work hard in school, bust my ass to go to a good university and graduate with quantitative degree, I should have no trouble finding work

I agree that you were lied to.

But I think you were a fool for believing that success could be prepackaged and so easily attained. You busted your ass, but did you bust your ass on the right things? There's a difference between working hard and doing work on your intelligence. You did what you were told but did you ever question whether what you were asked to do was the most optimal use of your time or talent? And if you did, why didn't you act on it?

I'm sorry but you're absolutely not entitled to anything.

I busted my ass in high school. I got semi-decent grades but more importantly I worked hard and learned and explored on my own. For me it was a gamble because even though what I was doing with my time felt like the right thing, I couldn't be sure. It's not fun having the same letter sent home to your parents: "Your son is not performing to his potential [subtext: he's lazy]" .

Now I'm a freshman in college and I already have job offers for the summer at a few well known tech firms paying really good money and they're not just McJava jobs. It's feels amazing to finally have some sort of validation that all the time I spent learning on my own gave me real value. Tech companies are hiring like crazy. Don't blame society or the market, it's your fault.

I have to agree that the higher-education bubble is just as cruel in its way as the real estate bubble was. Please don't let yourself rot away at your parents' house: work on open source projects, build a web app, do some on-your-own learning, etc.

A thousand times this. If you can't get someone to pay you to improve yourself, do it anyway. "I contributed significant patches to Major Open Source Project" sure as hell counts as experience to any hiring manager. Programmers have it damn easy compared to a lot of people - we don't have to be hired to get experience, and the barrier to entry to practicing our trade is non-existent. If you download a programming language installer and a text editor, you can get experience.

Find something you're passionate about, and work on it. For example, in the WoW community, there are a lot of people writing addons for the game. They don't have any appreciable economic value, they aren't world-changers, they aren't the Next Great Instant Millionaire idea, but I've personally seen dozens of people hired out of the community because of their hobby work (and I've gotten probably 6-8 job offers as a result of my similar work). As it turns out, there are Real World Problems to solve behind the shiny game veneer, and that counts for a lot.

It doesn't have to be a game. It can be a Javascript physics engine, or a database driver bugfix, or an experimental compression algorithm, or anything. Find something on GitHub you're interested in, take a look at the issues list, fork the repo, write tests, fix the issue, push your code, and issue a pull request back. Congrats, you're now a bit smarter and a bit more experienced. Repeat. In no time, you're going to have experience and perspective that will blow away the 98% of your hiring competition that you used to belong to.

> For my entire life, I was told that if I work hard in school, bust my ass to go to a good university and graduate with quantitative degree, I should have no trouble finding work.

At best, that means that you have a beef with folks who told you that. However, you might want to think about why you believed them. Also, consider that they were trying to get you to buy into something for their benefit.

Do you really think that those people were giving that advice for selfish reasons? I'm guessing that they had good intentions, and honestly believed what they were saying.

> I'm guessing that they had good intentions

Everyone has good intentions.

> honestly believed what they were saying.

So what?

> Do you really think that those people were giving that advice for selfish reasons?

In many cases, yes. Sure, they also honestly thought that things would work for you, but that's the nature of "win-win".

Society didn't lie to you, society never struck a bargain with you.

Your parents may have lied to you, maybe your teachers too. Whoever it was that lied, it wasn't us. It probably wasn't malicious, some people are/were genuinely extremely misguided about how the world operates (protip: not as differently as before).

Here's what happened: you abdicated your responsibility in one of the most important aspects of your life - your career. You placed in someone's hands other than your own, and now you got bit by it.

Is it your fault? Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps you were too trusting in believing every bullshit thing that came out of your career counselor's mouth. Either way, one thing's for sure: it isn't the fault of society either. If you had ever bothered to go talk to software companies (assuming that's your field) in high school, or shit, during college, you would've realized that it takes more than a fancy shiny piece of paper from a prestigious school to get a job. You failed to own this responsibility.

So, it's either your fault for entrusting your career to the incompetence of others, or it's nobody's fault that you're unemployed. In either case, sitting around complaining about how society has failed you will get nothing done - your own action will.

I'm a year out of college, FWIW, and I hate this aspect of my generation (which IMHO is one of the few notably different things about us) - when we encounter unfairness and injustice, we shut down and complain, expecting that the exposing of this unfair injustice will somehow fix everything. It won't.

I was rather fortunate in the sense that I was forced to find jobs during college (degree requirement), and was exposed to how the infernal machinations of employment worked. I was 3 months out of high school, weeks into my very first semester of university when I had to find my first paid internship.

It sucked. But here's are some lessons I learned from that:

- don't just send resumes. Sending resumes is what every Tom, Dick, and Harry does. In this economy, being Tom, Dick, and Harry doesn't work. Besides, do you believe yourself to be strictly mediocre? If not, why are you doing only what strictly mediocre people do?

- find a list of software companies in your area (and within, say, an hour's drive of your local area). Hell, expand this beyond software companies - anybody who can employ a person of your skills. It doesn't matter if they're hiring.

- polish your resume, learn how to introduce yourself. Find a friend, practice if you must.

- hit the road. Seriously, just walk into these places and ask to speak to a hiring manager. Don't ask if they have open positions - it doesn't actually matter. Make sure you get someone in charge out to shake your hand. Introduce yourself, explain that you are looking for a job, know something about what they do, and give them a paper copy of your resume. Learn about what they do.

You do this right, your phone will start ringing. I've known several practitioners of this strategy, and not a single one is ever looking for a job for very long.

I'm also a tad surprised that people are finding it this difficult to find a job in software. I haven't even finished my degree, and I get at least two requests for proposals through a freelancing site per week (even though my listed rate is fairly high, compared to my competitors, and I'm listed as unavailable). When I went looking for a new job, I applied to two companies. I got a callback from one and an offer (which I accepted) from the other.

I'm not saying this as a way to gloat. I've met plenty of students who are as good, if not better, developers than I am in my department. I've met plenty of them who have better GPAs, more letters of rec, do more extra-curricular activities, have won more awards, etc., yet I basically landed a job because it's the job I wanted, and they're sending resumes to basically anyone that could potentially offer them a job and are getting no where. There has to be a disconnect here. They have to be "doing it wrong."

Build something, freelance, work on a few open source projects (or start your own), found a non-profit, start a club. The barrier to entry for all of those is shockingly low. Hell, if you're living at home, start a company. Chances are it will fail, but it will be something that makes you stand out from the crowd. I would imagine that most startups would be much more willing to hire a fellow entrepreneur, even if that business didn't pan out. And if you get really lucky, you'll never have to find another job again because you'll be your own boss.

I've suggested this to several of my peers that are having trouble even getting someone to call them back, and hardly anyone ever takes the advice. I think the simple reason people don't actually go out there and do something, even if it's just physically walking into somewhere they want to work, is that's a lot harder. It's easy to write a cover letter, stick it on your resume, and send it jobs@somecompany.com. You never face outright rejection or failure; you simply never get contacted. By the time you realize that company isn't going to respond, you've already sent off another 20 resumes.

This is a good post, but society did kinda lie.

From your mom to Mr. T to the President of the United States, the school-is-cool, just stay in school and you'll get a job meme has been pretty prevalent since I was a child, and I'm old.

You know what pisses me off.

There's this continuous drumbeating that we need to produce more scientists and engineers. So I went and got a PhD in Physics.

By the time I got my PhD, the American Physical Society announces that they estimate that 3% of my graduating class would get permanent jobs in their field.

So, the physics PhD mill encourages a few thousand of our brightest young people every year to spend 5-9 years of their youth getting a credential that's worth less than a roll of toilet paper. (At least you can wipe your ass w/ a roll of toilet paper)

At least I got an all-expenses-paid vacation in Europe for a year (a postdoc,) but I drifted for another three or four years afterwards before settling on a somewhat remunerative and satisfying career.

This sort of experience, where you're set up to fail, but made to feel like it was your own fault, can have a devastating effect on a person. I've mostly healed from it now, but so often I have to answer questions like "Why aren't you teaching?" and "Aren't you too smart to be a computer programmer".

The older generation does owe the younger generation realistic guidance and training to start careers and keep society running. When it sets up machines to chew up young people and spit them out, it wrongs them.

> By the time I got my PhD, the American Physical Society announces that they estimate that 3% of my graduating class would get permanent jobs in their field.

What was that percentage at the time you started your PhD?

My brother has 2 degrees in Physics and can't even get a job at Trader Joe's. Apparently the anthropology majors are more savvy in identifying backup jobs and have already filled all those positions.

Quant hedge funds, maybe?

I know a few that suck up physics and math PhD's dissuaded by dwindling academia/research. Perhaps it's a soul-draining job, but the pay is good. Most likely you will have to program, but since you're here I don't think that will be a problem.

I end up talking to recruiters from D.E. Shaw just about every six months. One time I showed up at a conference Sun put on in the city and asked a question about using the hardware for main memory databases and that got the attention of one of them.

Hedge funds are pretty cool and pretty lucrative, but the only thing I really want to do now is information extraction, semantic databases, stuff like that. Finish the job that Doug Lenat started. And if you think that's crazy, you're one less competitor that I have.

So it's not about not being able to find a job if I read this correctly. You just haven't found one that will make you do exactly what you want to do.


I think you, and a lot of other people in our generation, have misinterpreted the generalization ‘You need to go to college to get a good job’ as ‘You will get a good job if you go to college.’ These two are not the same thing.

College may generally be a requirement for a good job, but college alone does not entail a good job.

i.e. the difference between necessary and sufficient conditions.

Well, if you think society is unkind because it's tough with a degree, I'm not sure what you'd think about what it's like without one. :-)

I don't have a degree, I only went to one college class on psychology before dropping out. Currently I'm the IT Security Officer for a half billion dollar health network.

I'm not the normal person without a degree, but the time I didn't spend in college/university was spent learning about computer security. I didn't blame anyone for things not turning out how I wanted, I did something about it.

Someone once told me that there are only two ways to change a situation: you can change the conversation you are having with people or you can change the people you are having the conversation with. You have to be in the conversation though.

I don't have a degree either, but if you have one and are complaining about lack of opportunity, I'm the wrong person to talk to. :)

Well, you'd have 4 or 5 years of job experience, 4 or 5 years of a salary and no student loans.

I think he's referring to when you join the workforce at the same time your peers are going off to college. Sure you might come out ahead of them in 4 or 5 years if you are driven but your likely to be in line from some fairly menial work to start off.

That's retarded thinking. School is cool, are you telling me that you would have been better off without any schooling? Think of all the habitual class cutters, and delinquents in your class in high school, (I'm sure there were plenty in all schools.) Sure, they may have jobs, but working at fast-food or cleaning places when you are 30yrs, 40yrs or 50yrs old isn't very attractive. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with working at these places if you have no choice. My parents worked at these places, because they were new to this country, and their options were truly limited. I know for a fact they would be hurt/disappointed if I didn't learn from their situations.

Sending you to school was not bad advice. Are you saying that you wouldn't tell that to your kids? What would you say to your kids? How do you want to approach this? At some point, you need to take responsibility for your actions. I'm not happy where I am now, but I don't blame anyone else for it. I made choices, and I will continue to improve myself, because after all what is the alternative? Give up?

- polish your resume, learn how to introduce yourself. Find a friend, practice if you must.

To be honest, this is huge - looking at his resume, the only thing that makes it look like he did something significant is his sweet dreams/soundscapes project. Everything else under "experience" - which stands for "work experience," which is what he's applying for - discusses learnings.

What did he do during that time? He spent 6 months working in his university's computer vision lab, which sounds awesome - and he "learned how to take several ideas and combine them into a single result that highlights their strengths while nullifying their weaknesses."

That's incredibly vague - I'm glad he learned, but it's a cliche by now that you should be using "action verbs" in your resume ("built," "designed," "debugged," etc.)

Launch and iterate, right? That works for this process as well - send out your resume, and if you don't get the responses you want, tweak your resume and send out another wave.

Join Toast Masters. It is a public speaking and leadership organization; which looks great on resumes. Besides looking good on resumes it will help you learn how to think quickly on your feet in a conversation and be more comfortable with random conversations.


edit: It is also good for networking.

I was never in Toast Masters, but I'll definitely second the value of good speaking abilities. The problem, of course, is that you have to make it past the HR barrier, and land an interview to show those skills. But the HR barrier is less of an issue if you look at smaller companies, where they may not even have HR people getting in the way.

This is what I don't get about Americans - they have no toasting tradition. I grew up in Ukraine, and I remember being required to give toasts at dinners ever since I was a little kid. They didn't have to be long or complex, but original and from the heart. This taught you to speak in public in front of groups.

I also sat at the table with the adults (there never really was a separate kiddie table) and I learned to behave myself and talk like an adult.

Seriously, just walk into these places and ask to speak to a hiring manager.

That is how I got my very first job in the industry. It was a small ISP, do you need anyone who knows Unix? My "interview" with the IT manager was in front of a terminal (no spare chairs, so I sat on a DEC server), showing each other stuff on the command line. Started the next morning.

It works.

I'd add to that networking, if you have a solid network of friends, peers and acquaintances that all know your great at what you do, all it really takes is a "hey guys, looking for some work in x, let me know if anythings going" on Twitter ect to make things happen.

Add to that don't stop building things and perfecting your craft, much more valuable than just sending out resumes and you might just find a way to produce a bit of income in the process making your situation less dire.

"My generation seems entitled because the reality we are now confronting does not match up with the fantasy world that adults have been preparing us for for our entire lives."

I couldn't agree more. I can't help but feel the generation our generation spawns will be a really cynical bunch ;)

I have seen people become cynical in the face of consistent joblessness despite many applications. It worries me because it could cause permanent negative attitudinal shift with bright people -- the early parts of a career can be very formative, and it's not good if, instead of a good, supportive and developmental manager at a stable company, people feel stuck with bad bosses or cannot escape the tyranny of unemployment.

By the way, while we're talking about fixing unemployment, I'm hiring a system administrator just south of Seattle, for my manufacturing company in the green space. Smart folks who enjoy a happy working environment and solving interesting customer-facing problems are welcome to get in touch with me.

Once a month, HN posts a "who's hiring" thread. You should post this position in the one coming up on November 1.

> I'm hiring a system administrator just south of Seattle, for my manufacturing company in the green space. Smart folks who enjoy a happy working environment and solving interesting customer-facing problems are welcome to get in touch with me.

Unfortunately you're in the wrong continent for me I'm afraid. Perhaps someone ought to create a HN job board? Something that would allow people like yourself who want good people to access a pool of hackers, and something that would make those periodic "who's hiring?" posts redundant?

I'm not sure how it would distinguish itself from something like the 37 signals job board, but I think a lot of jobs mentioned in those job threads aren't advertised there anyway?

Perhaps I have missed something, but I don't see any contact info in your profile. The email field on the profile page is private to each user - only the about: field is public.

Good catch, fixed.

Go - find some friends in a similar situation, and start a business. It's what i bitterly regret not doing when i graduated, but the job market was too good to pass up. Your situation may be a blessing in disguise, when in 10 years time you may be a rich co-director at a flourishing IT company, whereas i'll still be stuck as a wage slave. It is much easier for you to start a business, as you presumably are young with no kids/mortgage/wife to support.

In addition to all the comments to your post, I wanted to highlight this sentence: "Most of the time they get no reply from these companies (fair enough)"

I don't agree that it's "fair enough". Rejection letters used to be actual letters in the mail -- it was someone's job to fill in the applicant's name, put their address on an envelope and stick it in the mailbox. The point being, these used to cost the worker's wage, and companies went out of their way to send them. (If anyone could find a reason why they did this other than courtesy, please fill me in)

Now, in an era where communication is INFINITELY easier than it was even 20 years ago, companies suddenly don't have the decency to click "reply" and insert your name in a template.

Why is that?

I think that this lack of professionalism translates into posts like "reverse job application," because, yes, it IS very frustrating looking for a job as a new grad and being rejected without apparent reason or the common courtesy of an answer, watching your peers climb through the ranks, while you slip further and further into unemployable territory because you've been out of a job for so long. If the "reverse application" seems unprofessional, it is only because all he has seen is unprofessionalism in return.

I would have done things a little differently (i.e. included my skills and a resume), but applaud his decision to do something different.

EDIT: Just to be clear, I do agree that my generation is too entitled; I just wanted to also point out that the hiring process would be a lot easier for both sides if we had the same professional courtesy that we witnessed 20 years ago.

I don't think it's being rude. It's that 20 - 30 years ago, all executives had secretaries who would be tasked with responding to resumes. Now, communication is so easy that nobody needs their own secretary, but the executive is less likely to respond to every resume.

Also, the number of applicants has greatly increased because communication is so much easier, which greatly increases the pain factor trying to respond.

The short answer to your question: liability. In an age where anti-discrimination laws give people ample ammunition to sue for not being hired, it's financially prudent for companies to be rude.

And yes, I too find it frustrating, given that I'm currently looking for a job as well.

"They feel like they've done everything that was expected of them. They went to university and graduated with a good degree."

This is the problem. Just showing up isn't enough. This fill-in-the-blanks approach to careers is why the university degree doesn't mean anything anymore. It's never about being the norm, it's about exceeding the norm. Yes, that means more than 50%, by definition, won't cut it.

What did they do while they got their "good degrees from good universities"? If the answer is "the bare minimum to pass", as it seems most of my former classmates did, then it's no wonder they can't find work.

Perhaps I wasn't clear. By good degrees I meant not only was the subject they chose challenging and useful, but their grades were good too.

As an example, a friend of mine has a Masters degree in Chemistry. He was unemployed up until about 5 months ago when he started participating in a "back to work" scheme. The deal was he continues to draw social welfare, is free labour for the company he works for, and clocks the same hours as a regular employee. He has a 40 minute commute to the job each way and is not reimbursed for fuel despite his income being less than minimum wage. He has been applying for jobs in his spare time too. In a month he will have to quit this job as the law here says he can only work in such a scheme for 6 months. Presumably so companies can't abuse schemes like this to pay below minimum wage. While at this company he applied for a job internally. His competition included some of his colleagues with many more years' experience. They fear their division is about to be shut down and want to get into a more secure part of the company. How do you compete with that?

EDIT: I should add that prior to getting this position he was unemployed for nearly 2 years despite applying for hundreds of jobs. Given that in his industry it is already hard to find jobs this isn't doing him any favours.

No, getting a job is about being the norm. Or, well, it used to.

There are plenty of jobs. Just not necessarily in what they want to do with their level of experience. If the goal is to "get a job", then I can show you tons of places to get one of those, and you didn't have to bother going in to debt with a degree. But these jobs that require a degree, they are looking for exceptional people. That's the point of the degree, to break away from the norm. But somewhere along the line, we allowed the notion that non-professional work was somehow "lesser" work, and that everyone should be given the opportunity to go to college. Bleh. Completely misses the point.

This thread hit close to home, so I wrote a blog post I've been meaning to write for awhile, and framed it as a response:


I think this is the key: "They feel like they've done everything that was expected of them."

I understand this feeling but it is misguided. The reason is that their understanding of what's actually expected is not correct, because the expectation they follow has not been provided by the people who will ultimately hire them. The understanding of expectations is often provided by councillors or teachers/professors at high schools and universities (or parents). These people in general are horribly out of touch with the true expectations of an employer or requirements of entry level positions in the particular industry of interest. As a result students misguidedly follow these expectations and are suddenly struck with reality when they are done.

The reality is that universities do not train students for the work place. They are money making operations whose goal it is to provide an education as a service (note: that an education from a university does not equate to workplace readiness). This means that if they think that they can attract students with a new buzzwordy program, they'll create that program and tell the students about all of the great opportunities that exist in industry (e.g. nanoscience or nanotechnology), when in fact no such opportunities exist. Universities are completely out of touch with the needs and desires of industry (one counter would be some eng. disciplines) or at the least their primary focus is not on those students who exit the program but rather almost entirely those students entering the program (more fuel for the machine). The same goes for more traditional programs (e.g. physics or CS), I've spoken to many professors over the years about job opportunities and they always talk about academia (which they know well) and the nebulous industry.

My advice to students is to clarify what it actually takes to enter an industry early in the academic process. Perform market research and actually talk to people about their experiences (look at early resumes and CVs if you can). At the same time think about building up your CV with projects/initiatives/etc. that strengthen your softer skills (communication, leadership, project management, etc.). I didn't do the former very well but I did do the latter and it has helped me immensely (you must be able to distinguish yourself from the pack). Also work at building your network, this is key. Then once you get that job, look at the next rung up and "rinse, lather and repeat" the above process.

Even if you want to go the startup route I would still recommend the above unsolicited advice.

This begets the question: is it better to spend years learning then apply, or apply and learn ( no degree). Just curious..

Are your friends who can't find work comp sci grads/aspiring programmers?

I agree with you almost entirely. One tiny exception:

>I know it's tongue in cheek, but my god does the current generation not have any humility at all?

Come on...how many times do we have to go through this "young whippersnappers don't have any humility anymore" nonsense before we recognize that young humans, in general, have less humility than they should? Just because you (perhaps) had more humility than this kid doesn't mean your entire generation did.

Disagree. I'm generation X. We all knew that we were the first generation to be worse off than our parents. We entered the economy when nobody was hiring, especially if you were a white male. Most of us were happy just to get a job. I was - get this - happy to get into the army. (Canada)

It's more likely than not that we were the exception to the rule, I'll accept that. But I believe that my generation overall was most certainly more humble than the current one.

You have a tremendous number of potentially severe cognitive biases in just these few sentences. In fact, it strikes me as wearing a sense of pessimistic self-fulfillment in as much as the article author suffers from self-entitlement.

You're not the only generation Xer I've conversed with. I'm right on the cusp between that generation and the next, so I know a number of people from both; it's an interesting place to be for perspective.

And yes, the other generation Xers say these same thing. They were more humble; they were less entitled; they dealt with pain we never had to, and it made them better. I don't think I can say what I want less strongly, so forgive the profanity when I do say it: fuck that noise. With this sort of line of arguing, there is nowhere we can go, because the whole thing has decayed into a battle of generation identity. Reason has exited the building, because you have a vested interest in preserving your sense of superiority in your own identity. At what point could any of us convince you to rethink that? If you say never, then you have a sense of entitlement brought about by your generational brand. You don't get a pass for that any more than the author here gets for his sense of entitlement to some form of employment.

It's ridiculous: I'm supposed to pay more attention to your thoughts, simply because you felt forced into certain sacrifices. How about I pay more attention to your thoughts because they seem more right, and we yank generation identity out of this?

There are a few tidbits I pulled out of the conversation that I think would be interesting to discuss apart from the context of self-entitlement, but I worry they're going to get drowned out in the noise. We're too busy beating down someone else, ostensibly because we think they need to be brought down a peg, but then we say shit like this that is so logically fallacious that it makes this whole thread seem not for the purest of ends. I was with you when you made your first reply above; now I'm not so sure.

Well, I don't think you can discuss this particular topic without making gross over generalizations and employing some type of bias. We're talking about generations of people after all.

Gen X'ers will see the world the way we see it. It may be ridiculous, but keep in mind that we've lived through both yours and our own experiences, when you have not. That doesn't mean we're right, but it does mean we have a lot more data to work with.

Of course, there is a tendency to imply "walk 6 miles to school uphill in snowstorms" with our memories, which I acknowledge.

The particular challenges of Generation X are well documented. The fact that these aren't also attributed to Millennials tells you pretty much all you need to know: The environment has changed.

It's not a good/bad thing, it's just a thing.

Finally, I put this forward: We wouldn't have had this discussion had this been written in 1990. He would have been dismissed as delusional.

> We wouldn't have had this discussion had this been written in 1990.

Right, and why would that be? Perhaps because the 1990s were golden economic years?

Except that to new grads, they weren't.

All the gold was going to your parents. :-)

It's highly dependent on the exact year and geographic location. You definitely can't generalize to Generation X here.

as a member of generation Y, I wonder if you realize how hard it is to get a job.. especially as a teen. I can't go flipping burgers/menial labor because generation X has all the jobs. I can't go work for many tech companies because of degree/age requirements, they don't make exceptions for kids who have been programming in insert laundry list for over 6 years.

"We all knew that we were the first generation to be worse off than our parents" I may be young and naive, but from what I hear about the current state of economics (I even heard we went into a recession), things suck pretty bad for the people, like me, just starting to jump into the work force. But honestly I'd say each generation was better off than its previous one. So I have a cell phone. My cell phone probably has more computing power than the universities whole computer lab that my dad attended? And that my grandfather while my age didn't use a computer. I'd say being able to access all the worlds information among thousands of other things that have been made better makes mine and your generation better off. Gratitude is important too.

"Generation X" doesn't tell me a whole lot about when you grew up as it appears to encompass a range of 20 years of births (1961-1981 according to WP). In the US (and I'll focus on the US because I think that's where the reverse application guy is from), the unemployment rate reached a peak of 10.8% toward the end of 1982, due largely to the monetary stabilization policies of Mr. Paul Adolph Volcker. In 1981 it was in the 7's and it was back down to the 7's by 1984. A bad recession, yes, but it led into an era of extended low unemployment rates (all the way down to around 5.2% in 1989) until the recession of the early 90s when it jumped back up to 7.8%. This didn't last for long, as the greatest period of extended prosperity the US has known in a long time dropped unemployment rates to the 3's, 4's, and 5's for much of the 90s. For a while there in the 80s and 90s, members of "generation X" actually came out of school with a better chance of landing a job than most graduating classes in the history of the US.

In Canada, things actually happened to be quite a bit nastier then than they are now:


Now look at the current era. I graduated college in late 2007, at almost the exact moment hiring froze in almost every industry. By 2008, you'd be lucky to get a job if you had 5 years experience, nevermind zero. By 2009, the unemployment rate had jumped up to 10%, a level the US had not seen since the early college graduation days of "generation X". In 2010 we've seen moderate levels of hiring, but no sustained push. Now those of us who graduated in 2007 are looking at possibly a 4th year of sluggish hiring.

So again...I maintain that young humans, in general, have less humility than they should (primarily because they don't know the difference between "good" and "bad"), but this level of humility in the application process (however you can even measure that) probably varies heavily on market conditions. If you graduated college in 1981...my condolences to you. You had it rough there for a few years. But try to keep in mind that there are lots of people out there right now who are in the exact same boat.

And with regard to "being worse off than your parents", I don't think there's a young person alive in the US who isn't at least partially bitter about the massive debts your generation and the ones that came before it have left us with, all while being bragged at by older people about how amazingly humble they are. And let's also not forget that your generation isn't "worse off" than your parents if you're counting by measure of inflation-adjusted income.

Also important to note: this kid wasn't getting responses from employers after going the humble applicant route. I had the exact same problem: people just wouldn't return my calls. So if he does have a lack of humility, it's a direct result of not having a job in a poor economy.

You're missing a small but meaningful difference: It's not when you graduate, it's how you grow up.

There is literally tons of data that has been written about gen x. Your comment most certainly proves that you're probably not as familiar with the time period as those who lived it. That's not an insult, just a truth.

Your generation has the unfortunate distinction of being shocked by the current economic situation. It is so far from what you grew up with: a relatively stable period of the post cold war world. Don't worry, I don't envy you. You'll be humbled enough (as we all will be, I fear) over the next little bit.

That's much different though than the world I grew up in, which was transitional to the core. I'm late x, coming of age in the 90s. That means I remember when most of the neighborhood kids had parents that worked in factories and the world was certainly going to end in a nuclear calamity one day. When that world changed in the late 80's, everything was in surplus. It was an attitude very similar to finishing a large project, best described as: Okay, what the heck do we do now?

I maintain that young humans, in general, have less humility than they should

That of course is most certainly true. However I maintain that X, as a generation in time, had much less of an expectation, was much more pessimistic and therefore more gracious and humble than any other generation before it and since. Nothing I've learned collectively seems to suggest otherwise.

I am gen X, and my younger brother is gen Y. I actually agree with the poster above you, and not with you.

Although it was true that we grew up with reagan and bush 1, and associated global-political fears and sluggish economies, we also mostly graduated from high school and universities during the clinton era when the economy was booming and anyone with a pulse could get a job. I mean, drop outs from "media criticism" programs were getting 80k offers to become "web producers." There was a ton of work, a ton of money flowing around, and not very many young people coming out of school (relatively).

My brother on the other hand has a dual degree in tough sciences and has been un or underemployed since 2008. There is a glut of graduates and the only places hiring are silicon valley and silicon alley. Even if you have a degree in physics, if you don't know PHP you are not getting an interview, anywhere. God forbid you are interested in something like Law, where nobody is getting hired.

It IS when you graduate. If there are no jobs, there are no jobs, regardless of how serene and abundant or oppresive and anxiety inducing your childhood was.

It IS when you graduate. If there are no jobs, there are no jobs, regardless of how serene and abundant or oppresive and anxiety inducing your childhood was.

But I'm not arguing about who actually has it worse. Hell, I think anyone graduating this year wins that hands down.

Humility is an action based on perception, not reality. If you forever had it easy, yet land in a world of shit come graduation day, you become flummoxed and dismayed. That's when you figure all hope is lost and you may as well throw caution to the wind. You're owed more dammit! Why can't others see that?

On the contrary, those that have never had anything are grateful for the little they receive. In fact, some in this boat could use a shot of arrogance.

These are extremes of course, and certainly gross generalizations, but hopefully I make the point. It's not that one generation is better than the other. It's that one started low, and got low - exactly what they expected. The other started high, but is getting low, and that's not what is expected.

When you don't get what you expect, the best place to look for answers is in the mirror. In this case - the solution is to decrease expectations. In other words be more humble.

So you're arguing "My generation is humbler than yours!" What a pointless debate.

Ah, no. I'm saying your generation is having a harder time because your expectations are so ridiculously high.

Getting an entry level job when you've been looking for a job for 2 years is a ridiculously high expectation?

Surely it's a combination of both when you graduate and how you grow up? My problem with your line of reasoning is that I believe you're mistakenly generalizing in this important respect:

You're lumping the entirety of "generation X" into a shared-cultural-experience group, when someone who was born in 1975 probably had quite a lot more opportunities entering the job market than someone born in 1965 or 1985.

I mean what are we even saying here? In general people had better childhoods in the 90s than they did in the 70s and early 80s? Ok, but we're talking about variations on the edges of various largely immobile population blocks. Your personal experience might have been difficult, but how do you know that mine wasn't just as difficult or worse? How are you so sure that I'm not already as humble as you are? This whole generation generalization strikes me as something like "Ohio State can't win the national championship because the SEC is faster".

Yeah, if I was an employer (and I have been from time to time) I'd probably read this, smile wryly, and move on. But someone else might not.

I don't have a problem with the guy asserting that he can pick up new technologies quickly, as long as he expects he will only be offered entry-level positions. You do not write Python the way Shakespeare wrote prose after six months.

I do however have problem with him not providing anything to back up his assertion. But he probably figures in a tight job market he needs to find a way to stand out, and this is it.

> Yeah, if I was an employer (and I have been from time to time) I'd probably read this, smile wryly, and move on.

I am an employer and that's exactly what I did. This is amusing, but I would never want a person like this to work for me. He's basically saying "I know nothing and proud of it... but I can learn! I can pick things up fast! Hire me! Why wouldn't anyone hire me dammit?"

> He's basically saying "I know nothing and proud of it…"

No he isn't. He just deliberately, explicitly refused to tell. I'd say this is a weak evidence that he indeed doesn't know anything. However, he clearly demonstrated writing skills. This piece is engaging and to the point. The ideas exposed are clear. Both emotions and facts are effectively communicated. To me, that's mildly strong evidence that he does know something.

As for why no one would hire him, I think he knows: because no one hired him yet. After the first month of job-searching (during which he made some obvious mistakes or just didn't have luck), he has to disprove the premise that there is no actual reason for his not being hired yet. As time passes, this effect becomes stronger and stronger. Some comments here that blame him actually ignore this, and if most employers do the same, they actually trigger the effect they ignore.

Ask yourself: say you see 2 applicants, one who currently has a job, and one who hasn't for several months. Which one will you most probably want to hire? Add in a few cognitive biases (they're not easy to overcome), and your decision may be based on this fact alone.

> Ask yourself: say you see 2 applicants, one who currently has a job, and one who hasn't for several months. Which one will you most probably want to hire?

The one who hasn't, obviously. (S)he's had several months to develop undirected skillsets on personal projects, is less likely to be burned out, and would be far more likely to happily accept a lower offer.

That would be great if you actually mean it and are in position take decisions to this effect). Unfortunately, to most employers, unemployed applicants smell as if they stopped bathing the day they stopped working.

The only solution I see to this problem is lying on your employment record. But I must admit I'm uncomfortable giving this advice.

I have helped plenty of people solve problems in languages I don't know. I would not suggest that this makes me an expert or even all that unusual. However, I suspect that a great C++ programmer would be more useful to a Python project than an average Python programmer in about 3 weeks.

Is the person who hires you willing to risk their reputation or job that a C++ programmer can do the job when there may be other Python programmers out there?

I have never gotten a job because I was a specialist in the specific language they wanted. From what I have seen the most important questions are can the program and will they flake out. After that it's just a question of how well they fit into the team.

PS: Outside of a tiny startup few people really risk much with any given new hire.

This stunt is an attention catcher but he can't seriously expect to get a job without at least an interview. And not some bullshit where he interviews the company. There's no way in hell I'd hire him without first checking his competency.

> And not some bullshit where he interviews the company.

A good candidate does that during any job interview. Two-way filtering helps all parties find better matches faster.

Sure, but I'd expect to have a chance to really grill him as well.

That's what the contact form is for. He's merely sick of the hiring process, as are all of the people hiring.

I'm not sure if you're suggesting using the contact form to ask him interview questions, or just to setup an interview, but if it's the former that's ridiculous.

He says in his pros/cons list at the end that he'll wear trousers to the interview.

I don't think he 'expects to walk in to a job' because of this, heck from the sounds of it his attempts to get a job have been largely fruitless.

This is just his way of standing out from the crowd and getting himself noticed enough for an employer to ask him in for an interview.

A person who "graduated with the best marks in MIT and has been programming since the womb" is special. The other people doing it "every single graduating year"... they're special too.

Not to me they aren't.

If I needed a Rails app, DHH is special, not Mr. MIT womb programmer.

There are very few "special" positions that a nice degree and IQ points alone are the only prerequisites.

You were just talking about humility and now you're talking about how they're not special to _you_?

Good luck getting DHH to code your Rails app...

Sigh... my original point seems to be lost arguing semantics with academics in this sub-thread it seems...

I'll not speak for everyone else. But, for me, your point got lost in the righteous indignation that came in subsequent replies in the sub-thread. It is very difficult to assert humility while maintaining an impression of the same. I only started replying when you made this about identity.

Actually, I think what's happening is that a good number of people are taking my comments as some sort of personal attack, even though they aren't even directed at them specifically.

Like I said: It attacks their world view.

I'm playing the persona of a person that has been around the block a little too well perhaps to make a point. The fact is that there is always somebody more experienced, smarter, better than you are, no matter who you happen to be. Even if you are at the top of your game, changing the subject matter can easily knock you down a few pegs.

I appreciate that what I'm saying may be lost on the youthful part of this audience and may be taken as me saying that I am better than you all because I have a few years on you. Be clear: this isn't what I am saying. I'm no less of an audience to my own comments as anyone else reading them.

"Be humble and gracious until you actually distinguish yourself"

How about: "Be humble and gracious.(Period)"

I think it is important to understand the tone in which he wrote this. He is not serious, but he is doing this to garner attention. Your response doesn't match his intended tone.

It is like someone being upset at a joke; you are taking it too serious.

I disagree. This guy is indeed special. If for no other reason than for the fact that he had the fucking guts to write this.

Sometimes, wisdom is preferable to guts.

The young are foolish but brave, and the old are brave but cowardly.

In the end, to each his own.

Well said there.

I agree, very well written. It has a fresh, unique take at getting work. Should not be overlooked.

Guts? That would imply that he had anything to lose by doing this.

Be humble and gracious until you actually distinguish yourself.

And even moreso afterwards.

That might have worked in a different world.

Today, the only thing you want to do is hire public relations firm to tell people how you humble and gracious you are...

Agreed. Although you have a little more room to be an ass if you can back it up.


I prefer non-asses myself but I think there are other options in the world besides humble and ass ...

it's all contextual. If you are really good, your social skills matter a whole lot less. When you are not good, though, in many contexts, arrogance is better than appearing to lack confidence.

Wow... I'm sure no one anyone's heard that kind of attitude before, great to have you get that off your chest...

The funniest thing is you also hear people toss around statistics about 9 out of 10 applications not being able to X...

Well, if a potential employer treats someone as the "the lowest of the low", they might find out the person acts like that, aren't "up to our standards" and they stay with an unfilled position and the frustration of interviewing (and abusing) fifty more people, who are also "the lowest of the low"...

Good timing.

  user:    run4yourlives
  created: 1337 days ago

lol. This is the coolest thing I've ever done.

...and it was completely unintended. :-)

eh, admit it -- you're just bummed you didn't think of this first. :)

Personally I didn't take this very seriously & figured it was a creative exercise or attention getter. Kinda like the guy who wears his resume as a sandwich board and walks around NYC. Makes you want to hire the guy even if he's just competent technically.

Thought it was hilarious -- could probably get him a job at a marketing/ad tech firm. It's already getting him a bunch of good advice at HN, so looks like it's working...

Channeling our inner Tyler Durden this morning?

While I see your point (I agree for the most part), I do hold that while it is being a bit... overconfident(?) I do see that is a problem sometimes in companies.

I think it's mostly a fault in recruiters as some of the more-technical positions are frankly over their heads, but nonetheless I myself have had a few failed interviews because the people weren't willing to take me on my word that if I am passionate enough about something, I WILL learn it and I will be GOOD at what I do. But that alone will not net you a job.

I think part of his problem is a lack of persistence. We are (for the most part) hackers of some flavour here, and hearing "we'll get back to you" when we know that's "you will never hear from us again" is unacceptable. So go hunt down the recruiting manager. If that fails, hunt down someone who likely holds a similar position and who you can impress to the point that they might vouch for you.

Take alternative routes, and be DAMN persistent and passionate about the job you are trying for, even if it may not be 'teh bestest job evar.' Make them believe that you think it is.

As someone commented below, they get tons of resumes (especially now). You've gotta stand out. If that means rolling up to some business in a suit and tie one day and wanting an interview so you can circumvent lackluster recruiters, so be it, or setting up an interview with (insert manager here) because you can Google things / social engineer a bit (obviously you don't want to lie, but you'd be surprised how few questions receptionists ask - usually just your name).

If you really care which programming languages I already know or which applications I have used before, I can only assume that you're overlooking my ability to quickly pick up new technologies and adjust to new ways of thinking.

This is going to ruin your world view, so brace yourself

So, this is ridiculously tongue-in-cheek, and the reply is over-the-top to the degree that I can imagine with no effort the same being uttered from underneath a drill sergeant's hat against some fresh recruit who copped a serious attitude.

It's not an unfair response to brash cockiness, but it has set me thinking.

Whether a language, or a framework, or a library, or any other handy tool of the software trade, there seems to be two camps that drown everyone else out in the din.

There's the camp that declares that learning new things is a matter of extrapolating from the understanding one has already developed to fit with whatever assumptions this instantiation of thing X makes. For instance, you understand what Object Oriented programming is, and how it works. You are presented with a language you have never used before, but know it has support for OO. This puts you from a level of having to understand OO to a level of understanding this language's semantics for OO.

Then there's the camp that declares that learning new things always starts from a position of absolute ignorance. Prior knowledge and understanding of concepts that would seem to apply to this new thing you are learning don't apply, almost as an axiom. As with my example of OO above, it doesn't matter that you know what OO is, and what it means to the structure of your program. If you don't know OO in the language of discussion, you get no points toward credit of understanding OO.

If I may be blunt, both these stances seem like bullshit. You don't magically know the syntax of how to do OO in a new language simply because you know OO from a theoretical level; it's something you have to look up. But different languages' implementation of OO aren't so disparate that the only thing they share is the name. There is a basis there you can rely on, but it doesn't get you 100% of the way there.

I guess the question I don't think people answer enough, which I would like to inject into the conversation is "how far does it get you?"

I realize that the answer will vary for different theoretical ideas, and different practical realizations of the same. The point of my question is to challenge the presumption that understanding of related concepts either gets you to the finish by default, or leaves you gasping at the starting along with the people who didn't have that understanding. I think this gets left behind when we start having all of these political battles based on generational identity, and I'd like to see what people think when smacking other generations around isn't the primary goal of a thread.

The real question seems to be: What is this hypothetical corporation looking for?

If my company wants someone that can come in and start coding from day 1 then yes I want someone that already knows language x well, and can show me samples right now. I am deliberately overlooking your alleged ability to quickly pick up new technologies.

If I am looking for someone to join the company for the long term and I am willing to train, then I might care more about your ability to learn quickly (but you better be ready to prove it...) and little about what you know now.

In the real world, what I am looking for most of the time is in between. I want someone that I can assume will be with the company for a long time so they need to be able to learn and adapt as we change. But I also want someone that can be productive without a huge lead up time so they need to already know something really close to language x if not language x itself.

In short, I normally want some of both and your alleged ability to quickly pick things up is not being overlooking, but it is only one part of the equation and I seriously want you to have something close to language X already.

Agreed. Having experience with frameworks and languages will give you a headstart in being able to produce something quickly and might even provide some insight on the pros and cons of the said framework or language.

My two cents would be that it's almost always somewhere in between the two extremes you describe.

Certainly having experience with OO in one language will be an advantage when it comes to picking up another OO language but yeah, you're not 100% there. I would posit that you're more than 50% there, though (with this particular example). Understanding the OO concept is more important than the syntax.

You know what I find onerous when I think about learning a new language? It's not so much picking up the new syntax because a lot of the time I find that I can do that pretty quickly (at least if the paradigm between old and new language is not too disparate). It's picking up the ecosystem around the language:

How do I deploy an application written in language X? How do I package code written in language X (e.g. Ruby gems, Python eggs or whatever)? Which unit testing frameworks do I learn? What IDEs or text editors are usually used with language X? Documentation conventions and related software (e.g. rdoc)? What community resources are valuable, trustworthy and stable? etc.

When I first started learning Ruby (along with Rails, some years ago now) my web development experience mostly consisted of LAMP and ASP.Net. Deploying Rails apps seemed like such a massive hassle compared to PHP. Part of this was that Ruby as a web dev language was much newer than PHP and was still settling in, parts of it really were a hassle. But I came to realise that a big reason for the difference was that the two communities were conceptually coming at the issue of deployment from very different perspectives and a lot of the differences I was seeing were no accident, and not so difficult to grok when you understand the motivation behind them.

A lot of non-programmers don't get that there is usually a fair amount of transferable knowledge when it comes to picking up a new language that utilises similar concepts to one you already know. But I can also understand that some (probably most) employers want their staff to "hit the ground running" and may be looking for people with a very specific skill set.

Putting myself in the position of an employer and knowing what I do, I'd rather hire Person A that's obviously enthusiastic about learning new stuff, who's maybe contributed to something open source that can be reviewed, and who surely has some background knowledge that they can build on but who may not necessarily have language X listed on their resume, over Person B who does have language X on his resume but that's all they've really got. It would be good if more recruitment firms and HR departments started to realise that having the right acronym/keyword listed on your resume doesn't actually mean much on its own.

Jeese - this is a tough crowd. I can think of several Irish businesses that I have worked for that would grab this guy straight away to train him. He may not be the worlds greatest programmer (he does not claim to be) but his attitude is great, he is creative and resourceful for thinking of this idea and he does not take himself too seriously.

I have trained several hundred people in software development when working as a contract trainer and it was always attitude that allowed me to guess who would be the more competent programmer.

I would prefer to hire a well rounded competent young person who could become a solid competent developer that some rockstar programmer with no personality. Fair play to this guy, he is doing something original instead of feeling sorry for himself.

The funny thing is that I think his job hunting strategy is essentially correct. However, you just can't be so brazen, arrogant, and transparently narcissistic about it.

Narcissism is the new "N-word", but it's not a bad thing. It's really a fancy way to say "self esteem". Psychoanalysts, since the 1960s, have come to see that postmodern people don't (usually) have the Oedipal problems that Freud talked about, but instead they have trouble with self esteem. There are a number of causes for this, but one of them is the massive exposure we get to the mass media. We all see people who are fantastically talented and successful (Bill Gates, Payton Manning, Jerry Garcia, etc,) we get massive doses of the "pornography of success" but we don't get realistic role models growing up. A lot of the people who read HN were people who "knew" they were smarter than anybody else in their peer group, but were in the shadow of Einstein, Bogart and Warhol. Bright and talented kids often don't feel like they have comparable peers, so they compare themselves to inaccessable superstars.

Narcissism isn't bad, it's just a part of your mind, just like your heart is part of your body. However, Narcissism can malfunction, and a common form of malfunction is another preoedpial phenomenon called "Splitting", where you perceive things as all good or all bad. One day you feel like you're the best in the world, and really special because of that, then the next day you feel like the worst in the world and you're special because of that too. It can really mess up your head and make you miserable and ineffective. I'm not a professional, but I think this guy is experiencing splitting... He puffs up this big image of his self-importance because he also feels like he's small and unimportant.

His process of healing and growing up means that he's got to integrate his feelings of "I'm awesome" with his feelings that "I'm worthless" and develop a realistic appraisal of who he is. Unfortunately, that's a very difficult task in the postmodern age.

Anyhow, sending out resumes is a crappy way to get a job, particularly in a down economy. You really do want leads to come to you, and there are a few ways of doing that. I really like Neal Schaffer's approach to using LinkedIn, which is all about "digging your well before you are thirsty"


My experience is that arrogance is an absolute killer in the job hunting process. I had a time, years ago, when I had a crappy resume, and just getting interviews was a challenge. After a while I had great experience, and I'd get interviews for maybe 50% of the applications I sent in... I'd just blow the interviews. I looked at why I was blowing the interviews and I found that arrogance was a big factor, so I made a point to tone it down.

My issue now is that I feel programming is a dead end and I'm more interested in a management role. In my area, there's definitely a problem of "too many indians and not enough chiefs"; software projects often have nobody leading them at all, or if somebody is driving the bus, they're second-rate salespeople, experts in entomology, or otherwise people who don't understand the issues of IT management. People around here are much more interested in hiring junior developers who will go screw up their projects than they are in somebody experience who can help a team get the little things right consistently.

My answer? Start my own business. I'm old enough that I'd only apply to Y Combinator as a prelude to filing an age descrimination lawsuit. However, I'm learning to combine my programming ideas with some very hard-nosed business ideas and bootstrapping something that, someday, might become really awesome.

Hm. 'Fraid I don't see what a sense of entitlement has to do with the difficulty of picking up new programming languages.

Programming languages can't all be picked up that quickly, since semantics may differ a lot. You can't say "Give me any programming task and I'll pick it up".

What if you're a Web guy and the task is a C++ medical application? What if we're a finance company and the language is Haskell or ML? There's no way someone with no experience in a related language could become proficient without a fairly long training period in the company. What if I'm a hardware IP company and the language is Verilog?

To pretend that what takes many years and domain knowledge to become proficient in, you could just "pick up" on the go, is what sounds a bit entitled to me.

> Programming languages can't all be picked up that quickly, since semantics may differ a lot.

The second day with my new employer I was tasked with writing an analysis project in a language I'd never even heard of before joining. Within two weeks, I was writing code in that language every bit as good as my coworkers'.

Your statement may hold true for people who know one or two languages (like most CS graduates these days), but once you know a wide array of languages (my list is Python, C and C++, OCaml and SML, Lisp and Scheme, Perl, and the semantics but not the libraries of Lua/Ruby/Java/Erlang/Haskell) picking up a new language really isn't a challenge at all: the semantics almost certainly fit somewhere in the space of the languages you know, and what small bits do not are easily learned.

(As a side note, that's why I still put OCaml, Erlang, and Lisp on my resume; not that I imagine very many employers would be interested in working in those languages, but because I want them to know that whatever they do their work in likely lies within the range of my existing semantic knowledge.)

Yes, my point was focused on this specific case (explaining why it sounds entitled for a fresh graduate to say he can just pick up anything), not on someone with a very wide experience.

You seem to have neglected the part where I was talking about domain knowledge: I still think it wouldn't be easy for even a good programmer to start coding the control software for a microscope if he has no experience in that domain (DSP, image processing, etc). Even if the language is C, the algorithms require very careful consideration and more than a couple weeks' worth of study. Same would go for a programmer-analyst at a financial company, etc.

For the extreme example, just go ahead and tell a verification engineer that you'll write good Verilog within 2 weeks ;)

> You seem to have neglected the part where I was talking about domain knowledge

I didn't neglect it, I just didn't disagree with it.

Verilog, financial analysis, openGL programming, DSP programming and other specialized fields of programming are different than the typical web app, C#, java, php, ruby on rails, enterprise, GUI app programming that are a large part of entry level jobs.

>Within two weeks, I was writing code in that language every bit as good as my coworkers'.

Just cause your coworkers sucked doesn't invalidate the point. I challenge anyone to write good code in a new language after 2 weeks of learning it. You can hack, sure, but I've never seen anyone write anything respectable in a language they've only been in for 2 weeks. In the worst case they think it's good and it's hard to teach them how to do it right because they think they know it all already.

Also, if you claim to know the semantics but not the library of a language, you probably don't actually know the semantics. Corner cases matter.

EDIT: An HNer says without evidence that my coworkers suck and gets upvoted; I come to their defense and get downvoted? What strange world is this in which baseless accusations are encouraged?

> Just cause your coworkers sucked doesn't invalidate the point.

My coworkers don't suck. In fact, I've yet to meet a technical person here that I can confidently say I'm smarter than.

> I challenge anyone to write good code in a new language after 2 weeks of learning it.

I've taken your challenge and passed. Are you calling me a liar?

> Also, if you claim to know the semantics but not the library of a language, you probably don't actually know the semantics. Corner cases matter.

Libraries are molded by semantics, and not vice versa. It's certainly necessary to know the libraries in order to be proficient in a language, but it's not at all necessary to know the libraries in order to know its semantics well.

>I've taken your challenge and passed. Are you calling me a liar?

I'm calling you not particularly self-aware. After a year of coding in that language, the code you wrote after 2 weeks will likely look like crap to you. Unless that language is so domain specific that there's no room for design or so derivative that you can apply another language's style 100%, you almost definitely still have more to learn after 2 weeks.

RE: Semantics, that's all true, but if you don't have enough experience in the language to even say you kinda know the library, you probably don't actually grok the semantics. For example, Java, can you tell me the difference between volatile and synchronized as it regards the memory model without looking it up? What's a happens-before relationship and how is it relevant to those keywords? What's the transient modifier do? Transient's pretty irrelevant these days but if you can't answer the first 2 questions without going to google, you don't know the semantics of Java.

As I've gotten more experience, my estimation of my own knowledge has consistently gone down. I think it's a good approach.

> I'm calling you not particularly self-aware.

Based on no real data except your prejudices.

> Unless that language is so domain specific that there's no room for design or so derivative that you can apply another language's style 100%, you almost definitely still have more to learn after 2 weeks.

There's a vast chasm between "understands the language's semantics" and "has no more to learn." I've been programming for over a decade now and there's no language about which I can say "I have no more to learn." If all you're saying is that it takes more than two weeks to know a language completely, you're not saying anything useful at all.

With regards to the language's domain specificity, it's a standard procedural language, with types and functions and values and loops and all the ordinary stuff that languages like C and PL/I and FORTRAN and Modula-2 all have had since the 60s and 70s. It has first-class and higher-order functions, like Lisp has had since 1958. It has a few declarative features mildly reminiscent of Prolog to enable transparent parallelization.

Hell, look it up yourself if you're especially interested. It's Sawzall: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=

There is extremely little that is new in production programming languages these days. Practically every feature of every language that anyone significant is using in production has some analogue in the languages I know. What little remains is not difficult for me to learn because programming languages are my personal area of interest in computer science. I'm not being arrogant here, I'm just being real.

Take a look at Go. A fun post was made soon after Go was released which compared it to "Brand X", an unnamed language few people have heard of: http://www.cowlark.com/2009-11-15-go/ . It turns out that practically every idea in Go is also present in Brand X; it wouldn't be unreasonable to call Go "derivative" with regards to its nature, if not the process by which it was created. I'll spoil the big reveal for you and save you the time of reading the post: "Brand X" is Algol 60, designed and implemented half a century ago. Practically every language can be dismissed as "derivative" if you're looking for a way to negate good programmers' abilities to learn something new.

> Semantics, that's all true, but if you don't have enough experience in the language to even say you kinda know the library, you probably don't actually grok the semantics.

You're wrong. Understanding of a language's semantics is prerequisite to understanding its library. Before a person can even consider understanding and learning the libraries for a language, he must understand the semantics of function calls, conditionals, loops, etc. He must understand whether the language is call-by-value or call-by-name or call-by-need or call-by-object-reference. He must understand how the language handles scoping. He must understand which entities are first-class and which are not. All of this is necessary (though not sufficient) for even beginning to grok the standard library. On the other hand, understanding the standard library is absolutely inessential to understanding the semantics of a language: if a programmer doesn't know what functions and types are available in the standard library, with knowledge of the language's semantics he can reimplement them easily.

> For example, Java, can you tell me the difference between volatile and synchronized as it regards the memory model without looking it up? What's a happens-before relationship and how is it relevant to those keywords? What's the transient modifier do?

I didn't claim to be a Java guru. Very few Java programmers actually need to know the answers to those questions in day-to-day programming; I could probably (if asked to, which I'm not, thankfully) write thousands or tens of thousands of lines of Java without ever needing to know the answer to those. There's certainly a difference between my understanding of Java's semantics and the understanding necessary to answer the questions you're asking, but for the vast majority of tasks, productivity happens far closer to my end than yours.

>> For example, Java, can you tell me the difference between volatile and synchronized as it regards the memory model without looking it up? What's a happens-before relationship and how is it relevant to those keywords? What's the transient modifier do?

>I didn't claim to be a Java guru. Very few Java programmers actually need to know the answers to those questions in day-to-day programming; I could probably (if asked to, which I'm not, thankfully) write thousands or tens of thousands of lines of Java without ever needing to know the answer to those.

You're wrong, and this proves the point. This isn't 'guru' level, the workings of volatile and synchronized is even on the basic SCJP test. This may not come up in your domain, but if the project deals with threading, an experienced dev will be more productive than you right off the bat, after two weeks, and probably after a year.

In fact, threading is pretty tricky, so it's likely you will be counter-productive to the team until you've made all the Java threading mistakes you need to make in order to understand why your code is bad. And, you might never know your code is bad unless a domain experienced Java dev explains it to you.

Domain experience matters.

Also, worth saying, if it's running in a web container, threads are involved. You don't need to know what you don't know until there's a tricky bug.

Well, I suppose we're operating with a different definition of "understand", regarding the semantics.

RE: Sawzall, haven't used it, but assuming it's similar to Pig, that's pretty domain specific. You'll probably write different code a year from now than you're writing now, though.

It's more than your respective definition of "understand". You learn differently.

You sound like a "practice" guy. To learn a language, you need to see and write code in that language. You take a good look at the standard library, you practice, you learn the trivia, how things are done, and as you become proficient, you acquire a good intuition of the language semantics.

jemfinch, on the other hand, is more a "theory" guy. To learn a language he needs the (reference) manual. He reads it, compares the various features of the new language with the ones he already know, which let him get the semantics fairly quickly. Proficiency only comes when he learns the trivia as he needed, with practice.

The difference between the two of you is that for you, understanding takes practice, while for him, it's a prerequisite to practice. You could argue that both approaches eventually amounts to the same (to write actual code, you need proficiency anyway), but they do not.

Programming languages aren't just rigid tools your boss forces you to use (or at least they shouldn't be). They're something you should chose, and sometimes transform, or even build. In such cases, you often need to choose between several languages, some of which you never practised. Some in which no code were written yet. So you need to judge the languages for themselves.

Furthermore, the "practice first" approach tend to make you blindly parrot current styles. That makes you more likely repeat past mistakes without realizing it. The "understanding first" approach may be more error prone at first, but at least here you can confront 2 styles (your own, and the established practice), and challenge either of them.

It's not so much that we learn differently, I think everyone in CS who's any good is a "theory" guy to some extent.

But understanding the basic flow of a language well enough to write "hello world" doesn't mean you fully grasp the semantics. Sure, you need to get a basic understanding down before you start coding but you don't actually understand things until you've had to look at them from a few angles. I used to assume I had something once I had the basic idea, but I've been bitten enough times by all of those unspoken assumptions that I have a healthy respect for the practice as well, is all. First inclinations notwithstanding.

> Programming languages can't all be picked up that quickly, since semantics may differ a lot. You can't say "Give me any programming task and I'll pick it up".

Speak for yourself. I learned AutoLisp with one bit of sample code someone left behind and a bit of Googling in about a week, starting from zero. Nobody else where I worked knows it at all. But from that, I coded a full set of functions that did everything we need.

I reverse-engineered the semantics of some crazy internal scripting language to some of our industrial machines. Nobody bothered to document that thing at all and it was custom to my employer.

I learned to use a different testing tool from nothing more than a bit of sample code and being told that it was based on VBS. I then improved the code I was given.

Some of us really can figure out the semantics of something just from reading a few examples. This also works with foreign languages. Particularly if I can get parallel translations (e.g. subtitles), I can start working backwards to extract meaning and solve for unknown words.

In short, you'd be surprised about how quickly we can figure out things, especially if we've seen something like it before. Sure, there are pitfalls, but anywhere where you have nice syntax aware IDEs and whatnot, it's not nearly as much of a barrier as you seem to think.

The more languages you've used, the easier it all is. This goes for both human and computer languages.

Once you know one language well, many of the skills transfer. Besides, he states he is looking for an ENTRY level position and fully realizes he's not a guru.

Yes many skills transfer. Like how one ane write C++ from readin the docs without ever learning C++ or how one can write C++ having only ever learned C. The part you're missing is that it doesn't make you any good in C++, in fact I'd argue that it makes you terrible if you're going to try to write X code in Y language. The fact that it's entry-level doesn't mean anything. A lot of times these entry-level jobs aren't something you can just go and start pasting code together.

Within a given discipline (eg web development), picking up the syntax new language isn't too difficult. Then you have to navigate the new libraries which also isn't too hard. Basically.. What's the [new language] equivalent of [some method call] in [old language].

The trouble is picking-up the idiom: If you're a Java guy learning Python in this manner you're going to end up with a lot of java-looking python code.

Nothing wrong with hiring a developer for a language he doesn't have a lot of personal experience with. But there's also nothing wrong with a company wanting to know which languages a developer knows. They shouldn't get a lecture for asking IMO.

How about the fact that I'm not interested in paying you to learn - in either time or money.

I might invest in that if you are worth it, but you need to prove that to me first. Assuming that I either am or that I should be paying for you to learn a new language when there are thousands of applicants that I don't have to do this for is the sense of entitlement that I'm talking about.

(Assuming he wants a technical job) not bothering to show proof of being proactive and learning a language in the two years he was out of work: posting an example of his work ala open source project or failed startup

This can also apply in other ways too (graphic design, web design, charitable organization activities, etc...) My point is that I don't see a portfolio other than a single short story example.

I agree with the intent of his statement: Employees need someone who can adapt and learn new technologies. But if your "languages" are HTML and Visual Basic, you are not a good match for my open position. Since nothing is listed I have no idea if I want to spend the time filling out this form.

you already spent the time stating you might not want to spend time…

> A job that offers many travel opportunities stands a stronger chance of winning me over.

Anyone that loves job traveling, is either an idiot, or have never done job traveling...

I smell a lot of non sense from this application...

He has no family or other ties that make it more inconvient, he's a person who is volunteering to do something that people many people find unenjoyable, it can be a plus to an employer.

I loved the travel aspect of my job when I was in my 20's. I did nothing but work on the weekdays and nothing but play on the weekends (in almost any city in the country.)

"I know it's tongue in cheek, but my god does the current generation not have any humility at all?"

My god does people from older generations not label an entire group taking solely one sample?

I think the author did not go the extra mile here..

He should have made the text/content a program..

For example, I have a recruiter android game that I sometimes send to recruiters when they enter my inbox...answers their questions in a neat way and still allows me to poke fun at the process....

If I was a hiring manager(and I have been once or twice) I would turn him down without a 2nd glance.

Sorry, I must say it is kind of funny. With this reverse approach you don't get the chance to turn him down.

If you know it's tongue in cheek, why not call it a creative humorous expression of frustration instead of being angry at the kid? Frankly, I'd consider hiring him for being bold and thinking outside the box - if I had any position he was qualified for...

Indeed, this stunt DID distinguish himself. He's here on the top of hacker news. Clever stunt if you ask me.

This is a nice idea, with one big BUT. Not to rain on the parade here, but you've been unemployed for two years and all you have to show for it is a funny reverse job application. Sadly, it doesn't show what your actual skills are, nor whether you have ever produced something of value for anyone. These are more or less prerequisites to getting a good job.

Go look at http://jacquesmattheij.com/My+list+of+ideas+for+when+you+are... and pick one. Or come up with another idea. Then build a website that does it. Find some freelance work on the back of that. Something small that can show off your talents. Rinse, repeat. Either you'll start applying to jobs again and get accepted on the basis of your demonstratable skill, someone will give you a job (which you'll have earned,) or you'll be one of the cool consultant-entrpreneur-successes.

As you know, rejection sucks, but the worst thing is the social proof it is against you. I'm thinking to myself "there must be something wrong with this guy, so many people didn't hire him, there must be a reason." Do some things that prove you are a success and people will hire you. You've been unlucky, but sometimes you gotta make your own luck. This is an admirable attempt, but if you want me to believe you are the kind of creative achiever you say you are, you need to do more than say it. You can do it!

EDIT: Damm. As halaric points out, his personal web page does list these things. It still needs at least a direct link and preferably a mention on the application page though.

I dunno. I was out of work for a year once and then settled for a few years of staggering underemployment. I even came to believe that I would never again be hired as a developer, that no company would look at me, that my resume was too weak and I'd never get past human resources. It got really depressing.

Then I met a guy who knew a guy, and they got me back on track. Now I have a very nice job with a very nice company where I do amazing work (if I may say so). So anyhow, there are eight million stories in the naked city. This guy's story sounds like my story. I wish him luck.

Thanks but I should have been more clear--this is not me. I submitted this because it seemed like an idea HM would like and be inspired by.

I didn't assume it was a self-post. No worries.

There's a link to his personal site which includes resumes at the bottom. I guess he's hoping that the uninterested employers will self-select.

wait, it's the employer's job to dig for your resume? this "reverse job app" gives me no substantive data on what this guy's skills are, so why would I even bother? if you want a job, it's your responsibility to make the case for why you're worth hiring.

Likewise most job ads provide very little actual information about the job, use vague descriptions for everything, do not explain what company or project the job is really for, cannot explain what actual skills are required to do the job, do not give any idea what pay-scale is being offered.

Bingo. If job positions advertised themselves with clear examples of projects I'd be expected to tackle within my first year on the job, I'd be a lot more likely to consider switching.

Yes, but unlike the would-be applicant, they have the upper hand. So they don't care (though they should).

Hey, I see a job ad, I have to look for their website and try to figure out what they do, and where they fit in the industry. Why should a reverse job ad be any different?

a good job ad will tell you at least some basics about what the company does and what the job entails. this reverse job app doesn't tell me anything about what I can expect from this candidate, except for some empty job-seeker cliches about how he's creative and a quick learner. no links to a portfolio, no examples of previous work, no recommendations from peers.

You are right. You don't have to. You're (or is it your) probably don't have the time for it, cause u have a pile of resumes that u need to go through and filter out the keywords... If I came across this link and I was hiring, I would be interested to know more.. Why? Cause I am intrigued.. Cause the person stood out for me... The approach is creative, unique and definitely ballsy... Should all of that suggest that the candidate is worth the position.. of course not.. but he proved that he can be unique and exercise creativity, I would want to know more, while leaving the task of filtering out the keywords from the resumes to recruiters who don't know sh... (shtuff is a word) :)

After having you point out that fact, I had to do a search on the document source for "<a" to find the 6 point font footer at the bottom! I hardly expect anyone to do this much work looking through my job applications...

I'd add another BUT... The real reverse application should show how you will bring value to the company. Why should they hire you, how will you make the company better, what do you bring to the table?

You have to understand that it has to pay to hire you, you are just not entitled to a job because you have a degree.

While I think the reverse application shows a lack of dev prowess, it screams marketing prowess.

Your resume could be part of the problem - http://www.andrewhorner.com/documents/AndrewHorner.Resume.pd...

Some constructive criticism: Thats a lot of ink to print that out, drop the black and grey banners. Try using a resume theme from Pages or Word for a start and just use black fonts on a white background. Use Myriad Pro or something more modern than Arial. Make it one page. Your first entry shouldn't be that you can use OSX and WinXP, my mom can do that.

Drop "Proficient in...", it sounds like you just know enough to get by. I would also drop your high school info to be more concise. Your HS GPA says "4.58 (weighted out of 4.0)" Either its bad math or its not out of 4. And I would switch up your order of things - employment, education, skills & projects combined.

Good luck!

The rule of thumb that my university's career center used is that after your junior year of college no one cares about what you did in high school anymore.

And I second all the comments of the parent...resume definitely needs some work.

If you still want a non-cookie-cutter resume template, try making one in Latex. I personally use a heavily modified version of the template mentioned here: http://www.thelinuxdaily.com/2008/10/latex-resume-examples/

While that is the De facto rule in career centers, there is a rule that usurps it, which is if it really does distinguish you from the average applicant, use it.

Maybe I'm just prejudiced, but I look at snazzified, graphical resumes like that I think, "This person wastes time on things that aren't important."

Go grab a LaTeX template, replace the filler with your own information, and get it down to one page.

Hopefully you're not representative of people normally judging resumes. When you're unemployed, finding a job is probably the most important thing you can do. Making something pleasing to the eye can only help your efforts, as long as all the information is there.

There are so many posts on HN about A/B testing. I'd A/B test my resume if it were possible.

His website now seems to link to a different version of the resume, which would seem to have incorporated this type of feedback: http://www.andrewhorner.com/documents/ahorner.resume.pdf

Almost. While in a LaTeX-y format, it was still made in MS Word! :-)

Agreed. Also, sentences like "I mastered the ability to combine several strategies, each with varying strengths and weaknesses, highlighting the strengths and nullifying the weaknesses" are no good. What strengths? What weaknesses? When I read something like that, it says to me (or perhaps screams?) that nothing substantial was actually accomplished. Definitely in need of rewording to make things far more concrete.

His whole resume reads like that:

Cernium Corporation Reston, VA

September 2009 (a short job contract)

I learned how to work with a team to set goals, outline those goals in a design document, and accomplish those goals in code within a very small timeframe.

Is HR gobbledygook, and doesn't tell me anything about what he was doing, why or how hard it was. Unless I find something cool while searching for "Andrew Horner" <programming language that I'm hiring for> on Google, his resume doesn't stand out.

Weighted GPAs can be higher than 4.0: A+ grades in advanced courses are often given 5.0 points, and so on.

I had a system like this in my high school too, but technically it's not "out of 4.0". The maximum possible grade is usually dependent on what courses the student takes. For example, if you took an "honors" course, an A would get you 4.5, B would be 3.5, etc. If you took a "high honors" or "AP" course, A would be 5, B would be 4, etc. If you know what classes you took, you can calculate your maximum score possible.

If he had said he got a 4.4 (or whatever) out of 4.6, it would convey more information than what he said on his resume for two reasons:

1) It would tell the employer at roughly what rate he took harder courses than he had to (this would be especially true if he somehow found the school's average maximum GPA).

2) It would tell the employer the actual ratio of his grades to the maximum possible score.

If I recall correctly (and i graduated high school 10 years ago), so I may be a bit fuzzy on this. But in THEORY you could not calculate a max "out of 4.6" because you could take more credits than the baseline by taking summer school, college courses, etc.

So one could end up with an "average" of 6.3 or 7 since they are divided by the baseline (i think it was like 28 classes? at 4points max each so 112) so assume I took ALL AP classes all 4 years, I'd get a 140/28 (7 classes/year/4 years?)

I think my school's valedictorian had like a 6.X gpa.

Never heard of that sort of system, and I'd never before heard of a valedictorian having a GPA too far north of the 4.6 region. Well...I suppose it's difficult to say if my experience applies generally (I'm sure it doesn't). However, at least in my high school, the absolute maximum possible was something like 4.6. You could, and we regularly did, calculate it based on your own classes. External classes would usually be counted either as honors or AP (unless it was a remedial course).

I had a 5.2 graduating from hs (weighted of course). I took mostly AP classes, but wasn't a straight a student by any means.

I think honors classes were 5 points and AP were 6

I'd also add that you should try to list things in order of most importance. I would list something like the UCF Vision Lab work before "Operating Systems". I also concur with making it one page and losing all that extra ink.

Thanks, I hope Andrew is reading this but I am not him. I submitted it because I appreciated the ingenuity and thought HN would as well.

I love it. Sincerely, i can say this, that if i was in a position to, i'd definitely hire you.

But i have something of interest to impart to you.

Im from a background of arranged marriages (yes, im ok with it) and my parents are currently looking for a suitor for me.

I've been rejected by ALOT of girls, and have been through almost the exact same thought process as you.

I'd gotten to the point of grovelling, being content with anything that comes my way, but now i'm realising and very quickly that i actually have a lot to offer, and the girls should be begging to come to me.

So henceforth begins my reverse marriage proposal! ;-)

Maybe i should do a blog post!

Deffo write an article about it. I'm sure HN would like to hear more about your culture. I know I would.

Thank you. I appreciate the encouragement. There are a number of posts that i want to write regards my culture. I was never sure when was the right time ;-)

> So henceforth begins my reverse marriage proposal!

Careful, that might be confused with "arrogant douchebag". What you look for in a for-profit company aimed at maximizing profits is not necessarily what you'd want in a husband. For example, you probably wouldn't want to "work with a team" to solve intimate marital issues.

Which raises the larger point about this article, and hundreds of other charmingly idiosyncratic applications -- they certainly are refreshing, but may not always be received in the best way. Sometimes professionalism goes a long way. This isn't your college application essay.

"Sometimes professionalism goes a long way. "

I didn't see anything I'd call unprofessional in his application.

People with jobs often feel overly entitled to define what constitutes professionalism. (NB, I'm not addressing you personally, just the amorphous "they".)

To me, the larger point of the article is how difficult in can be to break through the arbitrary and diverse standards each HR department and hiring manager has.

Sometimes it just feels better to state what you want and hope they find you.

You'd be better off posting your github URL, I guess.

Which raises the larger point about this article, and hundreds of other charmingly idiosyncratic applications -- they certainly are refreshing, but may not always be received in the best way.

If I were him, I wouldn't give a rat's ass about who might not receive it in the best way.

But that's just me. I've been privileged enough to be sought after by my past and potential employers.

His resume: http://www.andrewhorner.com/documents/AndrewHorner.Resume.pd...

* For your level of experience, Everything should fit on a page.

* Take out the operating system part. They can infer them by the languages you use.

* Take out high school

* Create a section for awards and list them there

* Take out familiar with MatLab and Latex

* For each project give a link to a screen-shot or working project and ensure those links work

* Take out techniques, they should be able to infer them from the projects you did.

*The main point is show what you have done

Not trying to be mean, but looking at the resume, I went straight to the 'projects' section.

Everything else can be so much hot air - but projects speak for themselves.

The first project promises an online development blog - but the link to the blog is dead, and google doesn't find it.

The second project claims he architected and implemented a full game engine. Having a quick play of the game (http://www.andrewhorner.com/sds/ ) reveals it doesn't really work.

It looks pretty, but it doesn't really do anything, its not playable, its not finished, even though the resume implies it is.

That doesn't look good.

The reverse job application was a great pitch to get people to look at your resume, but then you have to make sure they've got something to see. Its great to be able to get attention, but you need to capitalise on it when you do.

And if you are going to be unemployed for 2 years, at least get a finished project to put on your resume, that'd go down a lot better.

matlab skills are highly desired for some jobs, If you know it well enough to put it on your resume, you should just lump it in with the other languages. same with latex(if you're possibly looking for anything academic/research lab)

Hmm, yes, but MATLAB is only a useful skill when combined with domain knowledge, e.g. DSP, control, whatever. No-one is using MATLAB to write websites.

I agree. I know many smart people in engineering who only use existing engineering tools supplemented by Matlab for data analysis.

While I appreciate the ingenuity of reverse job application, by looking at his resume I'm not surprised that he hasn't been hired. You're right, he needs to make it one page. I would put an objective, and I don't mean some BS objective, but a real heartfelt objective. Also, experience needs to go first. Each piece of 'experience' should detail what he did and MOST IMPORTANTLY its impact.

I agree about changing the layout to make it fit on one page. But I wouldn't remove high school. He's done IB, which is way more challenging than regular high school. It's a straight admissions ticket to many top universities, some even let you skip the freshman year entirely based on what you took with IB.

It's unfortunately not as widely recognized in the US than elsewhere in the world.

But he's looking for jobs after college. High school, for this guy, was 5-6 years ago! Even if he took IB or AP courses...so what? Tons of people have taken IB/AP courses.

A company won't decide to hire you based on your high school marks.

I did admission at a liberal arts college, and IB didn't even impress us. It certainly wouldn't impress me in trying to hire someone. I want someone with enough sense to know that high school doesn't belong on the C.V.

I hate to be That Guy, but HTML Tidy tells me his page has 26 errors, mostly related to proper nesting of elements. It's just too easy to make sure your HTML is valid to let his "Attention to Detail" commitment slide.

True, on the other hand, including a doctype still makes sense to avoid quirks mode. (There'd be less errors if he'd use html5 doctype though.) And as long as it renders properly in A-grade browsers you're good to go.

That's true right up until it isn't, i.e. when you're struggling to understand why your javascript is producing subtly buggy behaviour.

I know what i.e. means. The benefit to valid markup is specifically for ensuring that the javascript you write to manipulate the DOM works properly.

It's one thing to not want to list buzzwords. It's something else entirely to make no mention at all of what kind of a job you're looking for, or even what kind of a job you'd be good at. I assumed he wasn't a developer of any kind until I got to his list of "I won't."

(I followed his link at the bottom to his real page and confirmed there that he is a software developer.)

To me, it seems like he's looking more for personal fit than a specific job. On his personal site he says he wants to be a jack-of-all-trades. As one myself, I know he'll have a tough time finding a job using the traditional approach. It's rare to see a job posting for a generalist but, everywhere I've worked had one.

But a generalist in what area. My first thought was he was looking for a job in the advertising industry, based on the page itself. He gives no indication what he wants to do. Even saying "I design things" eliminates, say, accounting.

Violent agreement. Focusing on one thing dramatically increases your chance of success, and makes it easier for folks looking for that specific thing to identify you.

Mr. Horner's site seems even more reverse than a reverse application - does that make sense? He seems to be saying, "First, decide if you like ME. Then, decide if you have a job for me."

EDIT: I should have said "industry" instead of "thing" in my second sentence. He's stated he wants to be a generalist, not a specialist. He would fare better by targeting a specific industry.

That I certainly agree with - the industry point. He probably has an industry in mind, but he has not communicated that at all.

Generalists should go for smaller companies, like small web development shops. Those jobs are always, "Programming, plus some simple web design, which means a grasp of SEO, probably Photoshop, occasionally sysadmin work, knowledge of Apache, and you'll have to set up your own version control."

I sympathize. It's horrible being in this position when you first graduate, rest assured - somebody will give you a break, I assure you that. Some advice

1. Clean up your CV, make it look more for professional and less arty.

2. Stress the open source project and dev blog in interviews along with any books/resources and interesting language features/features you're currently using at the moment.

3. Don't wait for somebody to come to you. A good approach is to approach employers directly rather than using recruitment agents or middlemen. You will find somebody who will give a break. Recruitment agents are the scum of the earth, but sometimes very useful - I didn't find them so useful when starting out.

4. You weren't unemployed for two years - I can't stress this enough. You worked on open source projects during that time and learned a whole bunch. Right?

Good luck with the job search : )

This is one of those things that will work once because of the novelty, but not again. Who really is willing to hire someone based off of nothing but speak? Maybe if he attached this to his work (cool things he has built?) maybe it would work, but all I know about this guy after reading his site is:

- He went to college - He can't find a job - He is a programmer

beyond that I know nothing, why would I hire him? Sure this might work this once because it's a ballsy "viral" idea (it's here, if that's proof enough) but it isn't sustainable which is what some people seem to see it as.

Well, presumably if someone was considering hiring him based on this there would be some kind of interview process before he's hired.

Submitter here: This is not my site! I am not the person doing the reverse job application. I stumbled upon the site and thought the mindset was something HN would like and possibly get inspiration from.

Appreciated! And on-topic IMHO. An entrepreneurial effort on the site owner's behalf.

How did you stumble across it?

I can't remember if someone sent it to me or if I saw it on another aggregate suite. Probably the latter.

I liked it. Hope you hear you've found something.

I do think that you will need links to some technologies you've built. If you don't have anything built yet, why not get started? Since you're out of work why not start with something simple (a "facemash" clone for pokemon?? wait, don't do that, I want that one now. oh who am I kidding? the market can bear a dozen facemash for pokemon clones)

I went to see the social network the other day and there was one line that knocked my socks off (wish I'd known it when I was fresh out of uni) "We encourage students to create their jobs rather than find them"

Instead of looking for work, why not get started on making your own work?

Will code for food.


Good luck! Let us know when you've found something!

"We encourage students to create their jobs rather than find them" - i agree it was one of the better lines in the movie, but i am not sure i believe harvard actually possesses that mentality. stanford? probably. hardvard? probably not.

i've heard a number of times (and believe) that the most successful entrepreneurs are often the B-student rebels that manage to hire the A+ students for their startups.

yeah - I wanted to get the quote right so I googled first.

"we will offer our students the ability to land the job of their dreams or create it." http://www.law.harvard.edu/news/2010/02/09_hls.venture.fund....

At the end of the day, I think it's mostly irrelevant where they say it (Havard, Stanford, Berkley, Carleton, all, none, who cares?) - it's the sentiment that really matters.

the market can bear a dozen facemash for pokemon clones

Clearly what's needed is a comprehensive registry of facemash-for-pokemon clones. I would suggest that he get on that project.

I wouldn't hire the guy. He does not communicate well what he does and what kind of position he is looking for, he spends a couple of paragraphs telling the world how useless he is, and he did not show any initiative to start something himself while he was unemployed. Nice try, but it's not sufficient to convince me.

Susan (from Seth Godins six month MBA program) did something similar: http://main.susanhiresaboss.com/

I like this one better than the OP, because the front page gets straight to the point: “Hi. I'm Susan. My superpower is getting things done. It's an exceedingly rare and critical superpower. I battle the agent of chaos. I overdeliver. I delight. I amaze. And I'm looking for a place in need of a superhero like me.” That’s a 30-second elevator speech in 10 seconds.

By comparison, I have to scroll halfway through the original posting to get to an “About Me” section to find out what the author thinks his qualifications are, and they include stuff like “perfectly capable of obtaining my own snacks and beverages” and “usually wearing clothes”. Har har har. Now tell me, as a potential employer, why I should pay you money.

I agree. And at what point is this ingenious, rather than copying something that's already been done?

The form validation error messages are interesting, too :-)

In case Andrew Horner reads this: yes, I'm one of the people (assuming there are more such curious folks) that filled in junk info to take a peek at those error messages. Sorry!

* Nice try at anonymity, but I'm going to need a name.

* Oh, you're unemployed too?

* Not sure how you expect me to respond without this.

* Maybe I'm just old-fashioned, but that doesn't seem like an actual e-mail address.

* Let's not take any chances here.

* You're either a terrible typist or a poor listener. Make sure your email address matches in both fields.

* Hey, if you don't know what to call the job, I'm not sure I want to be doing it.

* SOUNDS INTERESTING. Wait, you didn't write anything here.

> You're either a terrible typist or a poor listener. Make sure your email address matches in both fields.

I would humbly suggest "Oh, I see you haven't mastered cut'n'paste yet."

Turning off JavaScript (I run noscript) works just as well (though it took me time to realize they actually were error messages).

If you have been unemployed for 2 years, I would expect you to have an acronym list on your resume longer than anyone with an actual job.

Being unemployed can offer HUGE advantages in terms of being completely up to date on the latest and greatest, something most employed people simply don't have the time for.

You don't need a job to tech you the tools of the trade so make sure you walk in with those already in your back pocket.

There have been plenty of crafty people on HN who have built up a resume with experience by simply offering free services in order to prove they can do something. I would suggest you do the same at this point.

All of you saying "this is a waste of time", "you wouldn't take a second glance", etc. are contradicting yourselves. If you "wouldn't waste your time reading it" why did you? And why are you taking the time to comment? You're giving this site the exact thing it was meant to get...ATTENTION. It obviously was written with humor and meant to attract attention. I am sure he would give a potential employer his qualifications (and experience) once he got their attention and they asked. If you're taking this THAT seriously (cough, cough, run4yourlives) you're obviously the exact kind of person no one would want to work for! I understand that you're upset you don't quite meet the qualifications. ;)

I know a page that already does reverse job applications, it's called LinkedIn.

A relevant title might have been better than an apology.

While I agree that stating he's been rejected for 2 years isn't the best opener, many commenters are missing the point. He may not have impressed you specifically, but the fact that this is polarizing is an indicator that it'll probably succeed.

Having people love and hate you is a big plus whether or not you're marketing yourself, your product or your company. Much worse if people shrug and move on.

Other polarizing examples: Harleys, cruise vacations, the iPad, Crocs sandals and of course avocados.

Quite literally, he only needs to impress one person with this.

I'm 25 and didn't go to school, but I spend most of my time around those who did. I have many, many friends who are unemployed artists or are business types working less than full-time who would kill for a decent full-time position.

That said, I cannot understand how a young, motivated programmer has trouble finding a job. The company I work for in Denver has been looking for Ruby and front-end web developers of all levels, and from all over the country, for months.

First priority: make writing code a lifestyle choice. Need a better resume? Write some code -- anything -- and put it on Github. Bored? Write some code and put it on Github. Sick of sending out resumes? Write some code and... you get the idea. Strong candidates love the craft, not just the paycheck. Show pride in your code and prove you'll want to write code at work and at home.

Programmers who work at companies that you should actually want to work for are not hired because they have great resumes or went to great colleges. They are hired because they are capable of solving real problems while writing maintainable code. If you can do that, you're an easy hire.

This goes for anyone. Want a serious, no-bullshit interview for a job in beautiful Denver (we can help relocate) with fantastic benefits and doing work for amazing clients? Write some decent code (Ruby or Javascript), put it on Github, and comment with a link.

I'm interested in finding out whether this guy gets a job. It's all well and good to say he's "entitled" and whatnot but IF he couldn't get a job and now he does, everyone talking shit will have simply been wrong. He states that he has tried the well-worn route and it didn't work so he's trying something else, I see no reason to fault him that.

If the pitch seems over the top to you, you've missed the point. He's taking all the hoops and whatnot he's had to jump thru, and turning them on the employer. Besides humor, it serves the purpose of him reasserting his self-worth, after having it torn down by the poor job market. He feels that he's good at what he does and is tired of feeling worthless because jobs are scarce. Where's the harm in that?

That said, I think the site is very cute but quite absurd. I know almost nothing about this person. I only figured out that he was a programmer about 3/4 of the way down the page. And I'm just inferring that he's a programmer, he never states what it is that he supposedly does well.

If a manager actually saw this and wanted to hire him ("oh hey, that's funny XD"), that would be a VERY bad sign about the company. Places that make decisions in that way are not places you want to work. To paraphrase Groucho Marx: I don't he should work for any company that would grant HIM an interview.

"I MASTERED the use of documentation..." "I MASTERED the ability to combine several strategies..." (my emphasis)

Ok, perhaps he could stand to be taken down a peg or two.

I'd suggest that you generate your own experience if a lack of experience is a problem. Create iPhone apps that find movie listings, create websites that do something, put it on github, create a LinkedIn profiles, (it's a tech recruiter's best friend) and get connections with everyone you know, employed or not. Gain a reputation on IRC channels, stack overflow, forums and other programmer communities. Be willing to take one off contractor jobs that pay relatively low (but higher than some retail cashier job) and see them through to completion. Put all of that in your portfolio website advertising yourself with pictures, resumes, links and other things. Make them without any sort of revenue goal in mind so you don't limit yourself in your creations. You'll be creating experience and if you hit it off on something, might of created your revenue stream.

Also non technical people use resume buzzwords as easy way to filter through a undefined mass of people. If you want to make an iphone app, your going to look for someone with iOS, iPhone, Objective-C and mobile in their resumes or portfolios. Even though you might pick it up and get up to speed to an experienced developer in a month or two, it's a month or two in money that they can avoid.

> get up to speed to an experienced developer in a month or two

Ho! You are not a fan of the "become an expert in ten years" theory?

I know a lot of people on here are saying that this would backfire horribly. I'm sure this would turn away quite a few potential employers. That said, I know several people who would be thrilled to find somebody like this.

Nice post, but openings for awesome jobs are the scarce resource, not people to fill them.

In my experience hiring people, there are a lot more good job openings available than even competent developers to fill those roles.

So.. you can doodle? What else? How do I know you even know how to code?

I think the fact that this made it to the top of HN is unfortunate. This was precisely what the author of the reverse job application intended. Yet, creating a reverse job application web site clearly does not take any significant skill. It is not a ground-breaking idea, or an idea that a common job applicant cannot conceive. Yet, he is now claiming on his resume that his idea went to top of HN, which, ironically, will be viewed by some as a worthy achievement...

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