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Why Are Young People Pretending to Love Work? (nytimes.com)
310 points by mistersquid 20 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 311 comments



I have recently been applying for a new software engineering job. Any job that has included in the listing for job responsibilities: "A passion for what you do", I have not applied to.

The amount of jobs I have skipped due to this "job responsibility" is ridiculous. I am good at what I do. I will come to work, work a full day maybe even longer, then go home and unwind or do something non software related. I am not trying to burn out. Why is it not enough to just be good at your job and work an honest day every day? Why do I have to love every moment of it as well? I am not going to fake it because that lead to burnout at my last job. Who has a passion for writing crummy software for someone else anyways?

By skipping those jobs, I think I have found the right one where I am surrounded by down to earth like minded people who are still good at what they do. I start in a couple weeks and I am actually looking forward to working now.


I think you're spiting yourself by opting out of every single job that lists that line. Whether or not a company encourages burn out probably has nothing to do with whether or not they put this or that boilerplate on their job ads.

It's not as if they have a consistent set of criteria they're searching for when they write that. Someone in HR or recruiting put it in there because it's what they've always done and they haven't seen a downside to it. In that sense it's just fluff. Fluff is bad for recruiting, but you shouldn't try to infer what a corporate culture is like merely from the flavor of fluff on job ads.


Whether or not a company encourages burn out probably has nothing to do with whether or not they put this or that boilerplate on their job ads.

Interesting you put it that way, since I've learned to be on the lookout for boilerplate in job ads as a personal filter. Usually I've figured this out by just copying and pasting select texts from their ad into Google and seeing how many other job ads from different companies for similar (and in a few cases wholly different) roles.

You say "spiting yourself" I call it doing due diligence because you can best bet those companies are gonna be scrutinizing the hell out of whatever resume I give them, turnabout is only fair.


If the wording of a job ad determines whether you want the job or not, then you're doing it wrong. Here's the process I follow when looking for a job:

1. Choose a company that does something interesting and meaningful.

2. Try to understand what they are looking for, and if that's really what you want to do for 8+ hours every day.

3. Put everything on your resume that will maximize your chance to get the interview. This has nothing to do with your actual experience. Remember that you only need to be better than the rest of applicants, and usually it's not hard if you're good.

4. During the interview, evaluate the people. This is the most important step. These are the people who you will spent more time with than with your spouse, so choose carefully.

You can't get any idea about those people from the job ad, because they might not have even seen that ad. And even if they wrote it, phrases like "passion for what you do" mean different things for different people. Ultimately, yes, you should be somewhat passionate about what you do. If you're not, go to step 1.


then you're doing it wrong

What's right and what's wrong in this case here? I'm gainfully employed now, at a company I actually have come to really enjoy working for, making arguably the most I ever have in my career so far.

The method worked for me, doesn't mean it's universal, also doesn't mean this success can be directly and completely attributed to screening out copy/pasted job ads (nor any of the other criteria I look for in a potential employer). Only that I have a method that I've stuck to for deciding who I want to work for, and haven't found much of a reason to change it. Personal financial and professional goals are being met, and supported by my employer.

It works for me, if your system helps you succeed as a job seeker, more power to you-but if people here have systems that are working for them and getting the outcomes they're looking for in a career, I don't know if we should be so eager to tell these individuals they're "wrong".


The difference between your method and mine is that you arbitrarily reduce the pool of potentially great jobs available to you. If that pool is large, then sure, keep filtering. You can also close your eyes and pick one from the list without looking at the job ad at all, I bet you will have similar success rate.


Well sure, if you want to get into the weeds of actively measuring what success looks like across different methods of screening out potential employees then that conversation can break down to the atomic level. A part of me feels like the number of people who do this as a conscious and deliberate part of their job hunt is going to be smaller than those who don't.

And that's perfectly fine, for both parties.

I'm deliberately trying to stay as high above ground here and proffer that individual choices kind of matter here, and taking the broadly utilitarian viewpoint of: if the way you look for jobs results in you getting the kinds of jobs you want and opportunities you're looking for-not to mention satisfies the financial goals you have for yourself, great.

That's where it begins and ends for me personally.


By adding extra steps you are also greatly limiting the openings you consider. Any large company will have good and terrible teams, overall culture has far less impact than you might think.

But, critically you can only go to so many interviews. Thus missing out on a few openings is just not a big deal.


The company in general doing something interesting does not imply I will get interesting position. And overall boring product does not imply I will have boring position either.

Mine position is going to be different then position of other people in same company, so it makes a lot of sense to evaluate things that signal what my specific position is going to be about.


I call it spiting yourself precisely because I don't think you can forecast the behavior of the modal company from that line being on its job ads. That you cannot, in fact, "best bet" anything about them based on that line is exactly why I think you're doing a disservice to yourself by avoiding them.

It's just generic filler. That makes for a very arbitrary filter when you're choosing which companies to avoid.


Sure but this can be said about nearly any aspect of evaluating who you want to work for, hindsight will always be 20/20 once you sign the offer agreement.

I'm sure most if not all of us have taken jobs where all the things on our personal checklists were checked off in the interview only to discover the place didn't live up to expectations and certainly probably the opposite has happened.

What may be arbitrary for some might be the difference between accepting or declining a job offer for others. At the end of the day the only person who knows if what they see in a job interview matches what they're looking for in a workplace is that individual, and no one else.


No, it cannot be said for nearly any aspect of evaluating who you want to work for.

You are giving up on companies based on a generic line in job offers, which is fairly standard recruiter/PR speak. It's like quitting a book after reading 5 sentences, or judging a full course meal based on the first appetizer.

You cannot accurately extrapolate from that one sentence.

You simply cannot have any idea of what the company culture or expectations are until you speak with someone related to the position you'd be working in. At that point you can begin to paint a fairly accurate picture of the company–doing that from one sentence in an ad is completely guessing. It's a night and day difference.

What recruiters regurgitate into an ad is often completely different than what the people you interview with show.

You really are doing yourself a disservice by being judgemental and automatically rejecting a position that has one sentence in an advertisement that is not written by people you'd actually be working with. The fact that you succeeded doesn't matter, because all you did was reduce potential opportunities. You succeeded -in spite of- arbitrarily choosing to limit your opportunities.


The fact that you succeeded doesn't matter

You don't get to determine that for someone. It is not my nor your, nor anyone else's place to tell someone what matters to them as an individual in their career goals or decisions.

It's fair to assess a choice as one you perhaps would or wouldnt take because your situations or living requirements may be different but one does not have any right or any authority telling someone what matters to them or why they are right or wrong for making decisions they feel are in their own best personal interests.

Especially if that individual is satisfied with the outcome and has found it beneficial for their career goals.

I don't think there's much that's going to change my mind on this.


While this can depend heavily on the size of the company, unless you're exclusively looking for jobs at companies with <30 employees, you're not filtering for company values, you're filtering for specific individuals in the HR department. You might well be applying to horrible company that just happened to have a particularly spirited and considerate HR employee draft that particular ad on that particular day.


I still think this is a counter-productive rule of thumb.

Companies are made up of a constantly changing pool of individuals. People leave, new people are hired. Even if a company has a policy of not including that boilerplate in their job advertisements, there's a solid chance that they will hire a new recruiter at some point who doesn't know about that policy and falls back on what they used at their last company.

If you rule companies out based on boilerplate in job ads, you risk missing a great opportunity because that company hired a new recruiter and hadn't yet got them up-to-speed on their in-house standards for job ads.


> you can best bet those companies are gonna be scrutinizing the hell out of whatever resume I give them

Trust me, nobody does that. Resumes are quickly skimmed by 97% of people who gets them.


You are projecting your own competent and careful mindset onto them. Almost all companies, "passion for your job" included, give only a cursory look at resumes. It's a culture signal, not an actual requirement.


> but you shouldn't try to infer what a corporate culture is like merely from the flavor of fluff on job ads.

What should you infer corporate culture from? If job ads are written by HR, and not by say lead engineer is already telling.


> Not everyone who puts "we're a bunch of idiots" on their job ad is necessarily really a bunch of idiots.

Those companies deserve to be less desirable employers for workers who can be picky.


I like being around people who have a passion for software development. That does not mean that they are working themselves to death but the curiosity will end up making them better developers.

As a .NET developer you usually get a MSDN licence from your company and that will give you a generous amount of "free money" on Azure. My passionate colleagues have read up on what you can do and tried some cool things while most of my other colleagues have never even logged in to it.

My passionate colleagues might read an article from Hackernews about web architecture at lunch because they think it is interesting while my less passionate colleagues browse Facebook.


I think "passion" is too strong (probably a result of word inflation, like "awesome" and such), but yeah, having someone to work with who actually gives a shit about what they're doing is much nicer. It's not even about the company, just the process itself.


There are people who have an actual, genuine passion for things they get paid to do esp. in tech. The issue is when it becomes a corporate mantra parroted by people who not only don't love it but don't even care about it that it loses all meaning. I suspect that's where your sentiment comes from but don't believe for a second that there aren't people with genuine passion out there.


David Mitchell agrees with you: https://youtu.be/Bz2-49q6DOI


Off topic but thanks for that. :) I didn't know David Mitchell made youtube content. He's one of my favourite british TV personas! Love him on Would I Lie To You.


Yes, it's good to work with people who give a shit. It's not so good to work with people who are constantly in the throes of passion, or carrying their cross to Golgotha (the passion of the Christ).


> I like being around people who have a passion for software development.

Cool, go to a meetup, not the place people go to because they like not starving.


Passion per se not necessarily implicates becoming a better developer. Passion or obsession have their own side effects such as NIH, rock star syndrome, lack of social life, arrogance and blaming others on own errors, being overly competitive and jealous, application of tools and skills just because I can.

> My passionate colleagues might read an article from Hackernews about web architecture

Reading Hacker News while eating lunch implicates reading StackOverflow in bathroom hour later. Better off relax and chew properly.


>Passion per se not necessarily implicates becoming a better developer. Passion or obsession have their own side effects such as NIH, rock star syndrome, lack of social life, arrogance and blaming others on own errors, being overly competitive and jealous, application of tools and skills just because I can.

Sure, it is not guaranteed and there are risks as you say. Especially the tool part where people want to implement something new just because they read about it recently.

>Reading Hacker News while eating lunch implicates reading StackOverflow in bathroom hour later. Better off relax and chew properly.

I should have been clearer. Where I work we usually have 1 hour lunches and eat in about 30 min and then take a coffee and chat or browse some. But to be honest no one would bat an eye if you read an article like that during work hours either. Sometimes you need a break or you need to read things to keep up and that is fine as well.


I'm in the latter category, but I don't fault anyone for being in the former. I sort of just assume passion/interest is normally distributed and the ones you see actively doing lots are the tail ends of the distribution.

I find the passionate ones tend to progress in their careers and thrive on that sense of achievement and the punch-in/punch-out types are happy just to hum along, take work and do it.

I think it's necessary for balance.


Interestingly, 'passion' comes from a Latin root meaning 'to suffer" or "to endure".


In my experience, conspicuous displays of tech passion are a strong signal of incompetence.

Edit: obviously in social or interview settings this is appropriate. I meant among co workers.


It would be better if, instead of using a distilled and ambiguous code word like "passion" (that several people on this thread are expending valiant effort to explain/define) employers just came out and said what they mean/want. "We're looking for people who do their work with care and attention," or the like. Passion is a whole can of worms. Passion can be sex, rage, irrational attachments to things you're "passionate" about, or boundless totally disruptive joy. Is that what they want in the office? I doubt it.


I’d argue that if you’re good at developing software, you are probably passionate for it.

Creating software is very hard, and I’ve never worked with a person who has gotten good at it without having an above average level of interest. I believe that’s partly because developing good software, efficiently requires team members who can work independently with little guidance. And, to be able to do that, one has to have some interest in what they’re building. But, I may be wrong, and I’ll have to think about it more.

It’s good to know that people get turned off by that description, though. I’ve put that term in my job posts for a long time. It comes from my experiences in the 90s and 2000s when waves of people entered the industry only for the money. And, it always seemed to show in their work. Plus, because of shortages, often it’s easier to train passionate, entry-level developers than it is to find good experienced developers. And, that’s not because I low-ball on salary. It’s just very difficult to convince people to come work for you, especially when your a scrappy little startup with little revenue and high risk of going under.


> I’d argue that if you’re good at developing software, you are probably passionate for it.

Developing software is all the same, right?

Just like everyone tuning the engine in their race spec roadster must love doing oil changes and swapping rusted brake discs on their neighbor's 15-year-old nissan micra?

I know a lot of people who are passionate about the beautiful software they get to work on their spare time, on their own terms.. software not tainted by dysfunctional corporate culture, legacy, deadlines, budget constraints, ever growing technical debt, etc. I suspect most of them don't expect to find such passion-worthy projects in a commercial setting. It is quite likely that they won't love their job, even if they can do a heck of a good job at it.

So yeah, that kind of description can be a bit of a turn-off.


I concede. That is a good point.


My thoughts exactly. Those without passion for their career (not a specific job) are going to know just the bare minimum needed to complete a job. It leads to mediocrity. At the same time, I acknowledge that "passion" is an overused buzzword.


By your reasoning, people that are 'bad' at developing software are also passionate about it otherwise they would never become good.


What companies are trying to avoid is the failure scenario with an office full of miserable people, constantly complaining about each other and finding creative new ways to slack off. That leads to burnout just as surely as 100 hour weeks do.


I don't think hiring for "passion" will avoid this. In my experience, these kinds of dysfunctions are systemic and/or cultural and can arise even in companies full of people who are engaged and passionate about software development.


Yep. What happens when you hire a bunch of people for their "passion" and then it turns out they need to spend their days setting up A/B tests and marketing emails while maintaining a crappy house of cards that they aren't allowed to put time into improving because that's not what has customer-visible ROI? Well, you get an office full of miserable cynical people whose passion has been stamped out.

I just watched the Netflix documentary about the Fyre festival last night, and it seems analogous: it's actually worse to get people excited about a dream that doesn't exist than for people to be open-eyed about what something actually is.


IOW: “passion” is basically meaningless then. And thus no disqualifying word when selecting companies to send your resume to.


If you're running a company where engineers do work long and hard, you have to make a conscious effort to hire people who are fulfilled by that, or you're sure to see the dysfunctions arise. I'd agree that hiring for passion can't fix things once they're broken.


Why are you running organization where long term crunch is required and norm? What is primary motivation for having crunch as goal?


This begs the question, though. How many people realistically enjoy being worked long and hard?

I highly doubt that's a large number.


Also, the most qualified people for such a job are not going to need to work long and hard so will likely be turned off by the position description.


I've read some books that attribute this with command and control leadership.

If employees are not responsible for their work, can't take chances and have every decision second guessed by more senior people fiercely guarding their little sphere of influence, that's when you breed such resentment.

You see this too with 'bikeshedding', there appears to be delegation taking place, but it is a farce. In this case there are too many captains on a single ship, nobody can take charge and nobody is responsible and free to give it their best and possibly fail.


The _job_ is why those people are miserable! This is insane! It's like running a gym and requiring people to already be fit to join!


Funny. They can start by not having open offices if they care one iota about human misery.


And yet such ads and mentality is the best way to get an office full of miserable people.

The most important parts of most project work are grunt and grit, not "passion" and other such BS oriented at Disney-nurtured adults.


What's grunt in this context?

As for grit, nobody has ever paid me enough to deserve mine. Interest will get me to go above and beyond, otherwise I'll just perform well enough for 8h and I'm outta there. My grit is reserved for stuff that matters.


grunt noun (POWER) informal power or determination

But also in the sense of grunt work.


That makes sense to me, although I don't necessarily think that companies achieve this by looking for people who are passionate about their work.

An office full of miserable people usually indicates poor management, which no amount of passion can really offset.

I think there's a lot of pressure to "enjoy" work because good-paying work is a lot harder to find these days. Not to mention that our work is deeply ingrained in our identity (at least in the US). I get asked what I do for a living 95% of the time when I meet new people in the US, and exactly 0% when I meet new people in Europe.


What do you get asked about in Europe?


I think you're absolutely right to avoid those postings.

Fluff like "passion" or "drive" or "initiative" is indicative of someone who has no idea why they are hiring someone. Let alone the fact that none of these things is reliably demonstrable, and all of them depend on what the job on offer is.

You're far better off responding to an ad that says "we want someone who has done x, y, and z, and wants to use it for a, b, and c". Specific things with a specific purpose. If someone has that, they've thought about what they actually need, not how they want to look.


It's tricky. On one hand, it seems odd to say "you must care about the work you do". On the other hand, I think there's a noticeable difference in quality between software that just meets the minimum requirements vs software that was developed with care and pride. There is real benefit to figuring out some mechanism for software engineers (and all workers) to be passionate about what they're doing, and people who are chronically in the "I don't care" camp make that quite a bit harder. My reading is that "a passion for what you do" is meant to filter out those sorts of people. It's much more related to working style/attitude than number of hours worked.

Maybe a refined/alternate job req would be something like this: "You must be open to the idea that the work that you're doing has value and is intrinsically motivating. We will do our best to convey that value and provide that motivation, and you should try to harness that motivation to produce high-quality work." Certainly, as someone who has planned engineering tasks for teams, a lot of focus has been on making sure that everyone has a feel of ownership/vision and is working on things that they enjoy.


>Any job that has included in the listing for job responsibilities: "A passion for what you do", I have not applied to.

You're mistaking "passion for what you do" with "passion for a job". I've worked with a lot of people who love their field and I've never seen a correlation with hours worked. If anything the people closest to burnout are always complaining about their job and fantasize about leaving their field entirely. Those people are not passionate for what they do.


> Any job that has included in the listing for job responsibilities: "A passion for what you do", I have not applied to.

As a developer and former recruiter, I will say that most job ads are not written well. Many people cut & paste the text from other jobs ads and tweak it for their own purposes. The people with whom you'd work may not even be aware of what's in the job ad. Crafting a good job ad is hard.


Well that's why I didn't apply to jobs that wanted to go through a recruiter. Not after the shenanigans that happened to me last time with recruiters.


If you care enough about the position to cut and paste, will you care enough about the employee?


a job posting is half the battle - you want to have a competitive job description that's scraped by job engines and discoverable to the potential candidate. This may mean you have to look at how competitors are doing it and replicating what they're doing to maintain competitive presence -- which can include copy/paste and customizing as appropriate.

You can make a job description a special snowflake, but then not reach the right candidates. In my experience, I will find job postings on a job aggregator website, which will lead me to a companies website for the position. These positings will usually include a boilerplate on what the job includes + other details on the company. If it seems interesting, I'll research the firm to see what they're doing, opinions on glassdoor etc.

Judging a company and their treatment of their employees by job description alone is a very narrow view of how business operates.


I don't think one has any correlation with the other.


I have started asking why specifically the position I am interviewing for is open. Not knowing is dodgy, and ads like this would be a side effect.


I interviewed for a job where the description said both, "we take work-life balance seriously" and "you must be able to work on multiple projects under very tight deadlines."

I asked the interviewer how both of those could be true and he said, "I'm not sure, I'll have to get back to you."


As a technical hiring manager, I write out a job description general enough to attract a wide pool of candidates with specific requirements to keep the candidates relevant.

This description gets passed on to HR for posting and they append the company spiel to it. That's where generic HR keywords like 'passion', 'exciting', 'innovation','elite team', 'cutting edge', 'game changing', 'inspiring' get added. I don't have control over that.

So ignore the HR rubbish and checkout what the hiring manager and his/her team are like. Also note in mid-size (1000+) to large (10K+) companies each manager and team can have their own work culture based on the personalities in the team so don't write off such a company based on interviews with just one group.


Why is it acceptable for HR to add bullshit? Who thinks that's a good idea?


In a large company with a range of hiring needs (engineering, legal, sales, program management) HR recruiting has to come up with a one size fits all company sales pitch. In a small company you can override the job postings and even do the job postings yourself. In a large company, you follow process and pick your battles selectively otherwise you get exhausted tilting at windmills.


Probably nobody; it's just that nobody cares about preventing them.


I think you're over-interpreting a standard phrase.

To me "a passion for what you do" means that you care about your work and you don't half-ass it.

But I expect that it probably means other things for other people, including your interpretation of "tons of overtime".


Maybe it’s cynical but I feel like halfassing your work is a very good tactic in some situations. Eg your manager halfassed the project idea, he halfasses spending the time to understand what’s going on, he halfasses setting the team up correctly, etc. In that situation I’m going to halfass the project and spend the other half going out to eat with my friends at other companies, learning something new and relevant, and planning my finances so I can weather any sort of lay-off etc


The phrase “a good work ethic” to me describes what you are saying exactly.

I am not passionate about computers, I like solving problems and streamlining the tedious. Personally I don’t have a passion for my company either. I like them, I like what they pay me, and I like the benefits and culture.

I see my paycheck as a business transaction that is favorable to both myself and the company I work for.

With that being said, I do actually enjoy the work I do, but would never use the word passion to describe it.


It is more enjoyable to work with people who love what they do. I also don’t believe you can be actually very good at something if you not I live with it. That’s it.


I used to think that until one day I asked probably my most skilled, experienced coworker whether he likes his job, not the job but the work he does. He was confused. He said no it's just work. I like completing the schedule.

Yet he works long hours, everything he does is extremely high quality and just watching him work you can tell he's pretty masterful at what he does. Though honestly, I'm not even sure if he sees himself that way.


It's so sad that the word passion has become an euphemism for working long hours and weekends, and it really should be all about caring about the project. The paradox with that is that more you're burned out less you will care about the project (or anything else really), less "passion" you'll have.


Personally I think that "A passion for what you do" is HR fluff that has no bearing on the real job; it's the new "ninja".

Similarly, when I see "Made with (heart image) in (location)" at the bottom of a website, I'm pretty the developers weren't overflowing with emotion when they hit commit.


Honesty and self-awareness. I'll take those over naive emphatic workaholism.


Have you watched the documentaries on the Fyre Festival?Everyone in the company can be honest but if the top isn't then it doesn't matter. You can't really know that up front.


... I probably should have read this when I turned 20...


Fret not. I was a naive emphatic workaholic my first two years out of college--working as an investment banking analyst. It's taken me ten years to figure out that I wasn't honest with myself (or others) about what I wanted, and I've paid a price.


> Any job that has included in the listing for job responsibilities: "A passion for what you do", I have not applied to.

I've an extra criteria of late, which is not applying to anything that I don't find socially useful or that is obviously engaged in some anti-social behavior. Try that, and you'll skip nearly all jobs.

Sad world...


I've tried using that criteria also, and found similar results. Hardly anything out there actually seems to be all that useful (despite their sales pitch or mission statements) nowadays. Most of it is just a me too with a barely different take on something that already exists, and that thing often isn't something terribly needed either. Although maybe I'm just getting older and persnickety.


Software development is a job that changes frequently, and that requires engineers to stay "on top" of these changes. People who are not passionate about it may get their skills outdated sooner. So honestly, I think being "passionate" is actually important in this profession, more than others.


>Software development is a job that changes frequently, and that requires engineers to stay "on top" of these changes.

Hype oriented programming as it is.


What's your opinion on "crafted" job listings versus boilerplate job listings? Passion for a job is often a generic thing pasted into those listings along with 15 years of experience in Angular, but in a personalized listing an emphasis on passion I do see as kind of a warning sign.


Ages ago, I was hiring for a senior systems engineering position. I wanted to use a one-line requirements section: "Knows how a computer actually works"

Was blocked by HR/recruiting... :(


Requirements "Knows how a computer actually works"

So you want someone who

- Understands modern computer architecture and operating systems: Hyperthreading, power management, cache coherency, memory bottlenecks, filesystems, graphics hardware tradeoffs and related debugging tools, Intel/AMD/ARM.

- Understands the computer software stack including webservers & frameworks, high performance software libraries, GPGPU programming, clang & LLVM, JIT compiler, CPU and GPU virtualization stacks including VMware, Azure, AWS.

- Understands hardware tradeoffs, DRAM memory, multicore, ECC, PCIe bus tradeoffs, display techonolgy, Freesync, Gsync, server storage technologies both nearline and long term, WiFi and ethernet. Backups. Servers and server management.

- Database servers both commercial and opensource and their setup for for reliability, backups, production and testing servers.

- Computer administration, linux, windows, bash and perl/python scripting for sys admins. Machine testing and validation for production use.

- Computer security, firewalls, Meltdown & Spectre vulnerability fixes, VPN setup and admin.

So did you finally hire your senior systems engineer? the one who knows computers ?


We did; we're not accepting résumés at this time, if that's why you're asking...


In fairness, that sounds like a bad job ad on the other end of the extreme. Sometimes job ads are overspecified and fantastical. That one is so underspecified I can't figure out what's different about the job.


That was not the entire listing, but just for the requirements section. You know, where people typically list "8 years experience in 3 year old technology" and the laundry list of every other keyword/language/framework they've ever heard of.


>You know, where people typically list "8 years experience in 3 year old technology" and the laundry list of every other keyword/language/framework they've ever heard of.

I have a really funny story about this involving a recruiter deciding I wasn't a good fit for one role, and recommending I take another because I didn't specifically list any experience with CSV files of all things on a DevOps resume.

Turns out a friend worked at first company, in the support team-made a referral and I was hired two weeks later after interviewing with the team lead and department head. During onboarding week I'm talking with a few team members at lunch and one of them mentions how they've been needing to hire the role but never put much effort into it, HR connects them with an agency and the recruiting company they hired never sent them any candidates, and only even emailed to say they "maybe" had one person, but that they were missing a few 'key' skills.

I smiled discreetly and listened on, but the whole time I had this image in my head: https://i.imgur.com/JbzO6uM.png


Did they give you any feedback as to why they blocked this?


They couldn't enter that into their applicant tracking system... <sigh class="large"/>


I agree, this line is probably added by someone in HR/Recruiting (no disrespect) who adds it to every job list he/she posts.


You can take this to mean two things, right? "A passion for what you do" could mean that, for example, you write work-irrelevant npm packages in your spare time because it scratches an itch. I want to work with people like that! I don't think it's wrong to try to identify and hire these kinds of people.

On the other hand, "a passion for what you do" could be code for, "you have to go full tankie on our company's 'we are making the world a better place' mission statement BS". And for companies that's true of, you'll probably be able to identify that trait pretty early in the actual interview process.

So, maybe you should apply to some of those jobs!


You’re overestimating the amount of actual effort most companies put into writing their job descriptions. The majority of such blurbs strive to fall close to a certain mean that is defined by a variety of canned phrases, one of those you seem to take issue with. Don’t read too deeply into the text. Instead, talk to the people and decide for yourself. The interview is a two way street, especially in this labor market. You can afford to be selective based on meaningful criteria.


I like to work with people who love doing what they do. That’s what I understand under passion.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to work until 8pm every day.


What people write in those ads is fairly generic. Having interviewed a fair bit and knowing people in other companies in the industry I can say outside of the strict job description all such 'requirements' are completely dependent upon the group of people you end up with.


Actually if it makes it any better, you could take "a passion for what you do" as "will put in best foot regardless of how unstimulating and braindead the job is". So not so much as burn out as patience. How does that work for you?


It's not about asking you to work yourself to death. At least in front-end development you need to have a passion in order to stay up to date or you will be irrelevant. That's the passion I'm looking for when hiring.


i think there's a difference between passion for what you do and passion for what the firm does.

I try to learn and become a better developer.

I could give a rats ass about programmatic advertising and the "value" we bring clients.


Passion notwithstanding we can all agree that it is sensible to enjoy doing work.

The problem is that many people swing from being passionate to the other side of the spectrum by becoming cynical of work.


We're so privileged to be in a market where we can be so discerning.


I'm 25 and while I enjoy software engineering I would much rather just spend time with my wife and child. I work only for the well-being of my family. My first priorities are God and family, and it is here that I know my purpose in life.


I suspect you’ll get some scorn from this audience, but I appreciate you sharing this. In the end we all need to find meaning in life, and I’m glad to hear when anyone has found that.


This is true wisdom. It's a worn out saying, but no-one on their deathbed looks back and says, "I wish I'd worked more." Much better to be surrounded by the children you lovingly raised.


> no-one on their deathbed looks back and says, "I wish I'd worked more."

This is a bit off-topic, but I've read a few stories that contradict this on the /r/financialindependence subreddit [1]. I can't find the link now, but there was a person who asked their Dad if they had any regrets. Their Dad said that they wished they hadn't retired so early, and that they had spend more time working. They enjoyed their job and they missed feeling useful and having a sense of purpose. I think it's common for people to quit their jobs too early and lose their sense of purpose, and it's even linked to a 20% higher mortality rate when you're 60+ [2].

Of course family is more important and you should spend as much time as possible with your children. But I was just surprised to learn that some people really do say "I wish I'd worked more" on their deathbed (or in their old age.)

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/financialindependence

[2] https://www.marketwatch.com/story/retiring-early-could-kill-...


Yeah, I mean that seems completely tangential to what the OP was referring to.

It's one thing for people who regret stopping to work, because they put too much of their life's meaning into work. Or maybe because their work was truly meaningful (although that seems to be pretty rare).

Sounds like their real regret is that they didn't learn how to find enough meaning outside of work during retirement, rather than the fact they stopped working.


Maybe they retire early because they are unable to work because they are dying.


i wonder if that urban myth originated from actual research.

my wish would be to not be in a deathbed ;)


Very true.


Brave of you to come out of the closet as a deist, very brave indeed


We have come full circle. At one point not believing in a God was a reason to hide. Now, according to your comment, believing in a God is a reason to hide.


> We have come full circle.

That's actually half a circle. Coming full circle would mean having to hide again because you're not believing in God.


No, it's a full circle, because once upon a time believing in Christianity was a reason to hide. There was that whole cross ordeal and everything.


Who said anything about Christianity?


agensaequivocum, buboard, rement, adwn, Asooka, and you (ok... not buboard, I suppose)


In my country the few religious people keep it to themselves.


I was making a joke out of the "silicon valley" tv series. To my surprise reality is no different.


I appreciate how clearly you know your priorities. They're slightly different for me and having a larger set of uncertain priorities can be fatiguing.


I've come to the same conclusion also by age 25, even though I have no children, am not married, or are religious. Building software is enjoyable and I do my best, but I work to support a lifestyle I enjoy and be financially secure.


Well said. It's the means to an end, not the end itself.


I'm older than you and still trying to find the purpose you have. For now I fill my emptiness/time with a "love" of software engineering.


I appreciate your candidness.

I have met a good few people in tech who are smart and hard working, but are chasing the next shiny thing without any long term overarching direction to their life.

I won't say that's necessarily a bad thing, but I can't imagine putting in insane hours every week when I can't answer the "to what end ?" question.


26 year old here... same.


I think there's enough room to love God, family, and work. We spend over a third of our waking hours at work. Might as well love it.


I'm curious why your god comes before your family?


My own sense is that without a relationship with God, I'm going to miss the mark with my family.


Not OP:

Logically, God only wouldn't if you weren't convinced about who God is? I applaud your curiosity (and am eager to here other's answers) but if someone believed in God and still put their family first wouldn't that be more curious still?

Like, "sure you want me to fulfil your purposes for creation and be a co-worker with you, give this money to that needy person (say) but I was going to take the family out for a slap-up meal so God, I'm putting them first"?


I think it would sit better with me as an atheist if you'd said first priority was family and then God, but perhaps the athiest doesn't understand.

Molotov put his adherence to communism ahead of his love of his wife. They got back together when she was released from the camps but I can't but wonder about that relationship.


How can you tell when someone is an atheist?

> me as an atheist

Oh wait...they'll tell you.


Unlike the person who I replied to, who is suffering in silence in the catacombs, carving fish logos? Please.. they said they were Christian, isn't admitting my bias point materially relevant and polite? It's not like I painted my tribal mark into a conversation about pavlova recipes


Precious!


I'm going to say this in the politest way I know how to - because I'm not trolling you, I sincerely care about the sanity of my fellow human beings.

When you make God a priority, it is most likely that you're prioritizing a fictional lense on your worldview.

Thats fine if it's a choice, but it's cruel to train that kind of thinking into children before they've had a chance to experience the world in it's raw form, and have learned how to discern fact from fiction.


As a parent I have a strong desire to raise my children with the same values that I have. For people who practice organized religion, you can’t really have the “values” part without the religion part. It all fits together into a cohesive whole. Young children also have a strong desire to mimic their parents, while at the same time wanting to know “why?”. How does one explain to kids why you’re celebrating a religious holiday or headed off to church/synagogue/etc... without teaching them about God? Most organized religions also have imperatives for passing on the knowledge to children. It’s totally incompatible with a person’s own belief system to not raise their children in their faith.

Many people for thousands of years have devoted their lives to the search for Truth. It is a journey that takes a lifetime. I don’t believe there is some moment in time where one is able to discern fact from fiction when it comes to the big questions of the meaning of life.


in terms of stickiness, God build a product that retains users through generations. That’s serious user retention!

And think about the vitality factor for some sects!


>As a parent I have a strong desire to raise my children with the same values that I have. For people who practice organized religion, you can’t really have the “values” part without the religion part. It all fits together into a cohesive whole.

Then you should probably examine whether your values can stand up without the false axiom you're using to shore them up. I'm not saying they can't! But you need to check. And if they do, so much the better: you can pass on good values and avoid teaching your children nonsense.


You should look up the definition of axiom, and possibly look up the concept of phenomenology.


I'm quite aware of the definitions of both. What did you mean to say?


Firstly, your expectation that an axiom be true belies your misunderstanding of what an axiom is. Secondly, your expectation that something at all be true independently of personal experience shows your lack of acquaintance with phenomenology, or at least a refusal to understand it.


Values are more meaningful when held for their own sake.


Not if the meaning comes from God. Which, to a theist, it does.


I think you read far too much into gp god and family comment. While it is possible that they meant living a religious orthodox life with proselytizing, and that is acceptable. I think more often "good" here is used as an abstraction of a simple, "good" life, with morals, no decadence, etc. Which is a perfectly fine goal I think. Whether the reasoning for that is experience, religion, philosophy or some other thing I think it's unfair to judge.


> it's unfair to judge

We are a social species. Judging each other is one of the most fundamental things we do.


"God" means a lot of things to a lot of people. Appreciating the world around you and doing what you can to be good to others can be "God".


Yes, I'm painfully aware of this kind of fuzzy thinking.


Religious or not the last thing I want teaching my children anything is the world in its raw form.


Why?


Putting a fictional "God" above family is what killed Delilah (in the fiction, though the killing might have been real).


I actually do really like work (wouldn’t say ‘love’), am 23 and have a consulting side-hustle which pays somewhere like 220% more per hour than my salaries job.

I’m not doing this consulting work because I love software so much my day job isn’t giving me enough satisfaction, I’m doing it to earn well-needed money.

I got into heroin addiction a couple of years ago and built up a decent debt (in total probably about 50% of my annual income). Put simply, I need somewhere to live and something to eat. I’ve interviewed at other companies which offer me about 40% more than where I’m working now, but my company has stuck by me so I’m going to stick by them.

Basically, I wonder how many people are working like this due to circumstances beyond their control.

Workers fought for centuries to get the 40-hour work week, something seems wrong when we’re stating to go the other way.

(I have been clean of heroin and all drugs except nicotine, alcohol and cannabis since around mid-August, I don’t keep track of the date anymore because last time I got clean I got completely fixated on it)


Wow, that comment took a real turn at the mention of heroin--haha. Good for you, no bs. I have no doubt it will be a long-term struggle, but stay on the path. I can only relate with my "addiction" to video games, which has similarities, but I admit is not the same. Don't let that debt get you down. Pay it off and get clear. You have so much time.

If you have a consulting side-hustle, you must have something financially valuable to offer the marketplace--which is more than most 23 year olds can say. If you need support, please seek it out. Our world needs as many people with their act together as we can get. So I'm rooting for you!


Thanks man, the debt is manageable, just about. I actually need to get on to the credit card companies and claim financial hardship, i'm just a bit wary of admitting addiction to people who will control my life in future.

Are they going to offer me a mortgage if they're worried i'll go and shoot all my money up my veins? I don't know, I know a financial advisor who owes me a favour so I'll ask him.

My side-hustle came from the serendipity of meeting some PHP FIG guys who kind of took me under their wing, they're still the ones finding me side gigs while I build up a reputation.


You don't need to be ashamed of your addiction history. Personally, I wouldn't be touting it unnecessarily either though--in most cases it's not their business.

There are several options for consolidating debt, but beware. You don't want to be skipping from one master to another. YouTube some Dave Ramsey videos. It's up to you what kind of financial future you want. I decided I want to have no debt, except maybe a manageable home mortgage at some point. You have to figure out what's right for you and chart the course. That way, the results will be entirely owned by you.


I commend your loyalty (and the grit and determination required to pull back from addiction), but I have to agree that such loyalty will not benefit you long term. Stay loyal to your boss and to those who helped you through tough times - but don't mix that up with a loyalty to the company as a whole.


Agreed. I worked with an incredible boss and company, probably the best period of my life.

But later, the boss took a step back, hired someone for the CEO spot. The company aggressively hired people and attracted a lot of really bad types with their hiring policy. Whole thing started to go downhill rapidly within two years. Same company, entirely different culture.


This is really good advice that I had managed not to think about before; the people who really helped me number in the double digits and there are well over 1,000 people working where I work, and I doubt they would all be as understanding.


> Workers fought for centuries to get the 40-hour work week, something seems wrong when we’re stating to go the other way.

This bears repeating.


If you're going to stick by your company, why are you interviewing?

PS, good luck staying clean. Hit me up if you want to talk, I've been through similar stuff.


Just preliminary phone interviews I get from recruiters on LinkedIn, I don't take them seriously. It's just always good to keep up with the industry.

Thanks for the offer of talking, I feel pretty secure in myself right now (no desire to use due to the adverse effects it has on literally every factor of my life except feeling really good for a few hours. I don't miss having to ask colleagues to get me a coffee because I couldn't walk the 10 minutes there and back to Starbucks, or having people staring into your eyes to see if you're high, or more obviously, the bruises and trackmarks,

Weed, alcohol and I'm trying to quit nicotine, then I'm hitting the gym. Already signed up.


You are 23 and you are talking about loyalty to some consultancy company? I can tell you right now you have a bad perspective from inexperience. You are worth probably (definitely) more than any company can value you at so get over the idea of "loyalty" in this industry young buck.

Be eager to do great work not a ton of work.


I am loyal to them because they have been loyal to me, and monetary compensation is not top of my priorities, being treated right is.

They knew what has happening, gave me almost two months to get over it (paid, I just didn't have to go into work), and now they've stuck by my I like to think myself a pretty decent SE who's going for SSE next round.

I'm not loyal to the generic idea of a company I've been at for a few years, I am loyal to my current company because time and time again they've proven themselves to reciprocate that loyalty.

I do have a side hustle where I do some small contracting work at £25/hour (my friend who is kind of my mentor in this says I should be charging way more, but this is Northern Ireland and my first gig.)

I do see myself migrating towards my side hustle in the future, but I don't see myself leaving my current company to join another consultancy company, regardless of the money (within reason). My company does a lot of GOV.UK apps so almost all the providers know each other (Kainos, BJSS, Valtech, CapGem, Clarasys etc.)

I can just about afford everything I need and a few things I want, and I'm hoping to be debt free (sans-student-debt) in a year or two.

Also, bearing in mind I am a few months clear of one of the most life-destroying substances in existence I am quite happy to take it slow for a year or two.

I have overdosed and almost died due to pulmonary oedema, really puts things in perspective when you wake up on a gurney with tubes everywhere, no idea where you are, and a pain like you've inhaled a knife-blade.


"have a consulting side hustle" sounds to me like they're doing their own thing, not working for "some consultancy company".


Yes, I work both for a consulting company that takes contracts from the public and private sector, as well as run my own consulting company as a sole trader. They are by necessity entirely independent, I use personal hardware for personal stuff, I don't have anything that could connect to the Internet on my work laptop and give me away etc.


My very first job was in finance on Wall St at a bulge bracket investment bank (read: big name fancy boohah bank).

I did it not because I like finance and I thought working 100 hours a week on excel was fun, I did because I had no idea what I wanted in life and a job the most prestigious / best paying job at the time available to a graduating student was in finance.

Most the people I started with (trading), didn't last more than 2 years. I burned out and quit the day I got my bonus after 1 year. But you see a pattern in all the people who stay. They don't love the work, they love the money and the prestige of the work. After a while, it becomes your identity and even though most bankers hate their jobs, they pretend to like it because there is nothing they can do elsewhere that offers them the same perks.

I worked with a guy who complained to me every single night when we worked together almost 10 years ago. He said he was going to quit once he reached XYZ arbitrary milestone and go work at an NGO. Last time I checked, he is still there. Now he has a wife, kids, and a lifestyle that requires a lot of money so he can't leave. He also says now that he "loves" his job, but like in the article, he is fooling himself. It comes out after a few drams of scotch.


>But you see a pattern in all the people who stay. They don't love the work, they love the money and the prestige of the work. After a while, it becomes your identity...

Sounds like what I saw in the medical field.


> Why Are Young People Pretending to Love Work?

But I do love my work. I'm not pretending. I do look forward to sitting down to work on Monday morning. It's creative, fun, fulfilling, and satisfying.

I just feel sorry for the author that they're so relentlessly incredulous that anyone could find joy in doing something.


Often times, the most exploited workers are the ones who love their job. Because of that, they don't ask for raises, seek workers rights, or diversify their lifestyle. They sleep in their car in the parking lot making the boss millions of dollars a year on entry level salary because "they love the job". The boss then gets to laugh all the way to the bank.

Its not that liking your job is bad, its treating employment in the traditional sense - salaried or hourly - as if being charitable with your time or ability to your employer because you like doing it so much is a virtue. It isn't, its just giving those with power more power out of laziness. Because its lazy to just give yourself away like that. It takes courage and strength and effort to fight for fair compensation and a balanced lifestyle that doesn't revolve around making someone else filthy rich.


This is very true. Every time I talk to my game industry friends I just shudder at how exploited they are.


> The boss then gets to laugh all the way to the bank.

I don’t know whether it is true that such bosses expertly manipulate passionate workers into slavery. Based on experience, I have an alternative theory: those kinds of bosses have an “ambitious” personality (for the lack of a better word). They are never happy no matter how much they achieve, and so they demand more and more from others. It may very well be that in the end they end up with a lot of wealth, but in their minds they failed because they’re comparing themselves with even more successful people. So it’s more a case of “crying all the way to the bank even thiugh the account is filled”.


How do you fight for this? What leverage do you have? There's another kid that can do the job just as well, directly behind you. I am possibly wrong, but I would really like an answer about how to fight for more compensation, it seems that we are expendable ...


If you are expendable expect to be exploited. Its why so many programmers go out of their way to become needed - if you are the only one who properly understands critical code in your business, you have leverage. If they can replace you with a week of onboarding you are going to be treated like dirt most places.

Sometimes that means not going out of your way to explain how you implemented a feature. If your company is going to treat you like an expendable money sink treat them like a hostile actor too.


Makes getting a job very difficult in the first place.


I'll go on even to say this. A lot of people who actually love their work aren't posting a post/story on instagram every Monday #hustle.

It's almost the same as a lot of people who actually go to gym regularly won't post on instagram about their work outs compared to people who go once in a blue moon or only go for 2 weeks and then stop who will post "hustle never stops/keep grinding everyday"


I'm sure they believe some people love what they do, it's just unlikely that the majority of the people grinding away as office drones do.


I am not so sure. People tend to adapt to things they can't change. They put their hopes and dreams into it and end up loving the idea. I know people who "love" their apartment, but it is just an average apartment with a huge mortgage.

The question as always is of course whether it is real love. Chances are a lot of people will be disappointed at one point.


Interesting point. I love my wife and children in the sense that seeing them thrive makes me happy and I'm willing to sacrifice my own comfort (and probably even wellbeing) in order to increase theirs. Some people seem to have a similar relationship with their employer, which baffles me.


I think you're getting the sentiment mixed up. People aren't sacrificing their own wellbeing in order to increase their company's, but rather, they find the work they do personally sayisfying and rewarding.

For instance, I enjoy my job, I don't dread Mondays. I like my coworkers and the work atmosphere, I enjoy creating tangible value and I find the success of my work projects intrinsically satisfies me. But at the same time, I don't work weekends, I don't work outside my ~40 hours, and I don't sacrifice my wellbeing for my job. So I work hard because of the personal satisfaction, I don't do it to make already rich people even richer. I don't know how it is for others, but personally if I didn't get some level of internal satisfaction and motivation from how I spent the working time of the best years of my life I would be quite depressed.


People are definitely depressed, especially relative to how things should be. You don't see it much on hacker news, but you do on other forums. 20 year olds who are relatively well educated who see no future.

I don't want to take anything away from you. If you are enjoying your job and your life, that is truly great. But I would encourage you to take care of your future. Make sure you have progression, or something else, to show for it. You wouldn't be the first one to change perspective when life, or work, changes.


"85% of People Hate Their Jobs, Gallup Poll Says"

https://news.gallup.com/opinion/chairman/212045/world-broken...


I'm sure I heard a much higher figure recently but 2000 UK employees surveyed gives 40% looking to change job this year - https://www.thehrdirector.com/business-news/jobseekers/chang.... That doesn't necessarily mean they don't love their work, most dissatisfaction is with bosses usually in these surveys, but it's certainly an indicator. Loving your work and not loving your job also leaves you more likely unhappy too, or at least malcontent.


What's your explanation for the mechanism behind this?

Jobs are universally good and bad, and most unlucky people just have to do the bad ones? Do we really need as many "office drones" as we have?

Alternative mechanisms:

People pick (or are guided into) their career path when they're young and don't know any better, and by the time they figure out what they really want to do, they have obligations and can't make a big change. People don't know what other jobs are available to them in the world, and don't realize that they might enjoy something else far more than what they're doing.

I wish there were a "Dirty Jobs" show for all kinds of careers, not just physically messy jobs. School (all levels) did a terrible job of informing me of what is involved in various careers.


Do you think that’s true for more than a small minority of people?

The author isn’t incredulous that anyone could find joy in doing something. Of course some people love their work. The author is contending that a lot of people don’t, but feel like they have to pretend that they do for cultural reasons.


> The author is contending that a lot of people don’t, but feel like they have to pretend that they do for cultural reasons.

How does the author know that they're pretending? That seems rather presumptuous.


Are you claiming none of them are?


But would you turn up to your work on Monday morning if it didn't pay you a salary?

Even people that "love" work usually know that it isn't the thing they would most want to spend their time doing if they had the choice.


> But would you turn up to your work on Monday morning if it didn't pay you a salary?

I literally did while doing my PhD! And I quit a previous paying job to do it even.

I couldn’t literally do it for free now as I have commitments and dependents of course.


At Google and other recent tech giants, you'll find thousands of people who could live comfortably without working a day for the rest of their lives. They're clearly not doing it for the salary.


This is pretty unfathomable to me. Similar to how youth is wasted on the young, wealth is too often wasted on the wealthy. Don’t these people have any hobbies or ability to entertain themselves? Is going in to work their favorite thing to do or simply the only thing they know?


> Don’t these people have any hobbies or ability to entertain themselves? Is going in to work their favorite thing to do or simply the only thing they know?

Why are you so snide towards them? What's wrong with them enjoying their work as a hobby and entertainment? Why is building whatever at Google invalid as a joyful activity someone might chose to do, but building a model aeroplane or anything else outside work would be a valid hobby instead?


Have you considered that maybe their work is their hobby, and a huge part of their life and purpose?

I work somewhere where a lot of my coworkers and management are incredibly dedicated and passionate about what we do. They will show up and go apeshit on a project for 12+ hours a day for a month at a time because they're excited about the challenge and the outcomes. Even when they're not working on such a schedule, they often go home and work on personal projects that parallel what they do in their work. There are plenty of days where I can't wait to get to work; all issues outside of it take the backseat. No matter how bad those issues are, I have no choice but to get over them, because my work is never finished.

I'd imagine that some jobs would be grating, but there's a lot of them that would never get old for some people.


Yeah, I guess as someone with a purposeless life it’s hard to understand how somebody could feel their life has purpose.


It's not an accident... Success people are successful in part because they like doing these things.

I see it all the time here and on Reddit: people eschew giving a shit about what they do, then turn around and complain that they can't get ahead. News flash: people that care about things are better at those things. I don't think this should be a surprise to anyone, but it sometimes feels like it is...


I’m not complaining about not getting ahead. I know I’m a lazy loser with no ambition and even less follow-through.

It’s just a foreign concept to me that someone with enough money to do whatever they want chooses to keep earning more money for their boss.


> chooses to keep earning more money for their boss

But they aren't choosing to keep earning money for their boss. They're choosing to keep doing what they enjoy. That happens to earn their company money as well - why's that an issue?


Would you say the same thing about A-list actors or pro athletes? After a couple of successful movies or seasons, they could afford to retire too, but most choose to continue working as long as they possibly can.


Yeah, I don’t get that either.


I wouldn't work at Google for free if I was a junior or mid-level engineer doing something boring like maintaining an old codebase or trying to keep servers online. But some of these employees get to work on truly interesting projects with some of the best engineers in the world. Especially if they are inventing new products or researching and discovering new things. I imagine that the AI researchers earning millions per year probably love their work and would do it for free.


My hobby is essentially the same as my work, except I have way more resources (equipment) at work.


I'm pretty sure I would. I derive a lot of satisfaction from the things I'm making in software and if it wasn't my job then I'd definitely do that as a hobby (as I did in the past, when my job at the time didn't involve development, I was active developer in different open source projects). Software engineering is a very satisfying activity that I wish more people would have a chance to experience.

It is _because_ my job already takes care of all my software development "needs", that I don't feel the need to do that anymore when I get home and instead pursue other passions.


That could be a good test of whether someone is being truthful in this claim. In my case, yes, I volunteer my time doing this, too.


This is the real test. If money was taken care of, I'd probably be doing something else with my time. In my case, I've found the most fulfillment volunteering in very remote areas. My job is good, but I'm under no illusion that I love it or that it loves me.


If money was already taken care of, I would absolutely be building software (and playing music). I just wouldn't be doing it at my current job (the software part...my music would be frowned upon at work).


I love the work your lab does, but you are seriously lucky no matter how hard you worked to get there. There are only so many positions like yours in the world. The vast majority of the people didn't and don't have the opportunities you had.

This comes off like a humble brag. I don't think you feel sorry.


Meh, I am an utterly replaceable software writer at a SF company, and feel like the OP wrote down what I was feeling.

It's fairly easy to find out where I work, and I think you'd agree that I'm not curing cancer or anything. I do wake up Monday mornings excited about work (and try to change teams/companies when that stops being true)


Before I went into research I used to have a previous career that was hard, dirty, dangerous, and poorly paid, and I took as much joy in Monday mornings then as well.


Really missing the point of the article here my dude

> But I do love my work. I'm not pretending

The article is about people who are glorifying the striving, not the work. It's about the hustle, not the doing. It's specifically humourless, not fun.


It's important for the author of this article and those who think like him that you're lying to yourself, because that way they're not the ones with the problem.


There's a good book[0] I continually recommend which traces why people really do love their jobs, and especially the transition between the concept of work in earlier capitalism to the concept we have today. In short, companies (directly or not) put a lot of effort into making sure that your desire aligns with theirs, past the desire to materially sustain ourselves which Marx theorised originally.

A summary of the book:

>Why do people work for other people? This seemingly naïve question is at the heart of Lordon’s argument. To complement Marx’s partial answers, especially in the face of the disconcerting spectacle of the engaged, enthusiastic employee, Lordon brings to bear a “Spinozist anthropology” that reveals the fundamental role of affects and passions in the employment relationship

It is provocative and refreshing to even unsympathetic readers.

[0] Frederick Lordon - *Willing Slaves of Capital: Spinoza and Marx on Desire" https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/228873/willing-slav...


It seems to be a trend in media to try to convince people that fulfillment must be found in life - but not in work. Anywhere but work. Work is supposed to be mindless drudgery which you only do because you’re forced to, and if you think otherwise you’ve been taken in by the evil capitalists.


We must consume different media; I'd honestly have placed it the other way, that media in general preaches that fulfilment should be found in work and that those who haven't found it there, and aren't rich and successful in a job they love, are themselves the problem.

That said you can enjoy your work but still be being used as a peon for a greedy capitalist; they're pretty orthogonal.


You're projecting! The author did not strike me as being incredulous. I think your own comment, your reading of the article, and your insistence (nobody is arguing with you) that you love your work -- this is the phenomenon being examined in the article.

Edit: sorry to see this downvoted. Guess it's a little on the nose.


I think the author is the one projecting. They don’t like work, they don’t want to feel anyone else does either because that would mean they’re missing out on something, and they’re so convinced that they think everyone who does must be lying.


Perhaps we're both right, in a way?


While I enjoy my work, you’ve got to have breaks even from things you love. It seems doubtful that even if someone is in love with something, they try to spend all day, every day thinking about it or doing it. Heck, I love my SO and my dogs but I need breaks from them as well lol.

Some people love work, some people don’t. That being said, the excessive propaganda that work, work, work doesn’t typically benefit the person working as much as those they report to, like the article points out. That seems to be the main issue rather than an entrepreneur trying to materialize their dream.


But listen - someone has to babysit the datacenter, just like taking out the trash, or fixing people's plumbing.

When even low level retail job listings demand A Burning Passion!!!!!11oneoneeleven for the terrible job?

They're trying to find the people who would do this work anyway, without getting paid for it. Why?

So they can pay us all less. When we work partially for the privilege of what we do, money matters less... and we can get away with expecting less.

Anyone else? Is too busy fitting this mold to even be able to ask for a raise.


There are multiple things happening here. I don't think a majority or even a double-digit percentage of young people have what this author is calling "hustler" mentality, but we'll ignore that, and focus on the people who do have it. Thoughts on "hustle" culture in no particular order...

- Some people are legitimately trying to build a business and be first to market. There are arguments for and against burning the midnight oil, but it could be a rational thing to do.

- Some people are filling a void in their lives left by the evaporation of community, family, and church. The "hustler" types typically live away from their family, don't have kids, and certainly are not going to church. Immersing yourself in a lifestyle with other people struggling, in the same way, is a decent way of feeling like you're a part of something.

- This is probably just a thing in places like NYC and SF where you're surrounded by hyper-successful people at all times. That's why they call it a rat race.

FWIW, I've never been able to work anything like a 12-14 hour day unless it was something I truly wanted to do. There was no pretending.


You raise an interesting point about filling a void.

I have talked to more than a few hustlers who had fairly deep rooted issues around failure and rejection and not amounting to enough.

This is present in all populations, but I personally have noticed that it's strikingly common among people trying to create startups compared to other groups of people I talk to.


The same is true for many great athletes, they are "running from something". It makes a lot of sense that at the very top of any human activity only those that have had the talent, a bit of luck and _very importantly_ sacrificed everything else over it will make it. And that's much more "easier" to do when there's something in their lives driving them strongly towards that goal.

I wouldn't even say that's a bad thing. The achievements of those people push humanity forward and even if you focus on the person, if they wouldn't have done that what makes you think they would have otherwise been happy and productive members of society?


I dread thinking about how that second group of yours feel during a layoff.

About the rat race, isn't that name just because it doesn't matter how much you run, the wheel just spins faster and you never get ahead? That's how I always understood that phrase.


I think of a little maze for the rats to find the cheddar, which they endlessly repeat just to get more meaningless rewards while never being able to escape the maze. What you describe sounds more like a hamster wheel. Do rats also run on such wheels?

In any case, IMO the streets of SF make a good visual for the OP's definition of rat race.


As uninteresting as most modern day employment work is, what bothers me most is the lack of concern for the meaning of one's work.

I'm all in favor of people "hustling" and working hard if it's for something that benefits humanity and/or something they genuinely want to work on. But most people aren't taking us to the moon or curing cancer, they're selling crap people don't need. The dystopian motivational quotes in the article are like the business version of "keeping up with the Joneses"

Not that there's anything wrong with selling shakeweights. But I wish that instead of this #hustle culture, our culture was more geared towards making the world a better place. Of course for this to ever take place, at a minimum we'd probably need to end the precariousness of our economic system and free people from the servitude of boring 9-5 jobs (eg. UBI).

But until workers see through the billionaire employer-brewn Kool-Aid and stop giving in to this propaganda, the young will continue to get exploited and waste their lives pursuing crap that will make a few rich, but ultimately doesn't add any value to society. But the fact that this article was even written by such a prominent publication gives me hope that the mainstream is beginning to see through the facade, or at least finally stop perpetuating the gospel they've been forced to preach.


The notion of meaning in work was covered originally by Marx drawing on ideas from Hegel. Even Marx's fiercest detractors found his theory of alienation brilliant, along with the theory of commodity fetishism. It's a shame to me that many people end up rediscovering these ideas independently rather than seeing just how deep the insight of past thinkers has been and applicable to the modern day too.


Wouldn’t you think that you’re offering a myopic view of things? I’ve read your comment history and it seems that you only talk about Marx/Communism, while there are plenty of other philosophers/economists out there worth discussing (Frankl, Mill, Camus, James to name a few).

I’m saying this because your replies, when wholly considered, take on the form of dogmatic agenda rather than good-faith insight.


You are totally right, my phrasing was too strong, but Marx's theory is to date the most popular in sociology, though J accept there are others that predate him (though whatever strengths Mill had they were not philosophic).

A lot of my comments concern Marx or Communism broadly because they are important ideas, and my chosen mode of analysis is to take advantage of totality in the critical sense. True, Marcuse said that not everyone's problem with his girlfriend is due to capitalism, but the analysis remains there to use advantageously. Secondly, the hat I wear as a programming hobbyist is generally secondary to the social sciences dabbler hat. So some thread interest me more than others.

Now good faith insight and having an agenda are not of course mutually exclusice. Yes, I admit my ideology but I think its analyses in whole or part can probably be interesting to an audience far removed from it on HN. I only aim to help and spread what I know and am interested in; Marx was one of the most important thinkers of the modern age, along with Nietzsche and Freud, even the most ardent capitalist would say so.

Maybe I will vary the topics I post about more, since looking at my history I can see your analysis might make sense. But as a side note, there are probably vim/Emacs/SQL/nosql/Linux/bsd fans here who engage very much in a similar way.. but still aim to help and educate. Having a preferred topic is fine.


You make good points regarding insight and agenda, theoretically self-interest, agenda and collaboration can intersect and be net-positive for all involved and I appreciate your tone didn’t devolve, I couldn’t help but bring this up because I noticed your username on two different threads, oftentimes people become adversarial during meta-discussion.

I believe it was Heidegger who purposed that an important part of living was making peace with dying, and consequently, dying and having done nothing in life and being completely accepting of that fact, with no attached anxieties is an ‘enlightened’ state that we should all strive to embody. I suppose this channels Camus’s notion of absurdity and life devoid of any inherent meaning.

Maybe this article resonates with readers here because our work is so detached from Gattungswesen, we work in abstract, complex and mathematical realms, for corporations who purport that they “make the world a better place through SaaS data-science, blockchain, machine-learning analytics” and request from us labor performed with feigned enthusiasm. I argue that the nature of high-technology work is inherently alienated, we aren’t farmers or mothers or teachers and oftentimes the most satisfying activities are inert ones like meditation and sleep, doing anything at all can feel alienating and laborious because of the very human biological imperative to conserve energy.

For many people, economically-productive work itself is alienating, some would rather be artists, writers or do nothing at all, and no economic system can change that, however we aren’t in a post-scarcity economy so we work because we have to and because we wouldn’t want to work any other job.


I question the author's conclusion of a truly subjective experience. It feels like fancy gatekeeping. The cross-references to social life are in interesting way to tease out meaning, but ultimately the dude is calling people "posers" with a richer vocabulary.

I'm 53 and I still don't know if I have really "liked" my work/career in tech that started in the late 80's. I got off on my 80-hour weeks when I was in my 20's, but there was a direct result from my efforts (first silicon!). It's always been a challenge, and at some points broke me down (e.g., awful task, asshat manager), but I've always thought: "Welp, I gotta do something, might as well be something that pays well." I suspect the rest has been after-the-fact self-conditioning. But I'm almost done, and I look forward to retiring and doing more tech projects I never finished, so I guess I really did enjoy the career?


I think some people are confusing the point. It's not about whether or not you enjoy your work. It's about the glamorization of working more than others.

I think a critical mass of people have bought into the belief that overwork is equivalent with success. That dedication to work is heroic. So there's signalling going on, a desire to cultivate the image of being a winner (in this narrow sense). There's also naivety... people who buy into this and aren't just signalling but truly think working in this way is somehow reflective of the superiority they desire to possess. So there's a cyclical effect, one group feeding back into the other.


> I think a critical mass of people have bought into the belief that overwork is equivalent with success.

Basically it's another one of those misunderstanding implication fallacies.

They are saying:

hard work <=>success (equivalence)

When really:

success => hard work (hard work is necessary for success)[1] hard work =/> success (hard work is not sufficient for success)

[1] Mostly.


“Welcome to hustle culture. It is obsessed with striving, relentlessly positive, devoid of humor...”

I remember a time when humor helped build trust and friendship at work.

I remember laughing at work...


This is one of the things which really rubs me the wrong way. I've rejected a couple of offers over the years simply because the interviewers came off as weird robots with poles up their asses (that unfortunately includes Google, where the people I met couldn't take a joke but had no problem laughing about others). You CAN crack a joke without being unprofessional, especially if it's about the profession. I don't understand why people choose not to do that. Humor is one hell of a stress coping mechanism and inside jokes are a side effect of having a cohesive team.


I dunno. I absolutely love what I do. 95% of my days don't feel like work. I work from home so I see my kids a ton more than I used to. I go to the park with my oldest after lunch. I have flexible hours. I do interesting stuff that challenges me. And I get a ton of freedom to design and implement solutions that I think are best (and learn from my mistakes). Finally, I've never once been pressured to work more than ~40 hours a week.

My one issue is that I can't picture any other job ever being this compatible with how I want to live my life. I worry it'll never be this good elsewhere. Happiness handcuffs, if you will.


Oof! This is where I am with teaching post-secondary at a non-research institution in California. 6 weeks of Winter and 6 weeks of summer off, with added pay to teach those intercessions? Scheduling classes so I get every Friday off? Yes please!

I still dream of getting into more technical work where I get to solve interesting problems, but figuring out how to best teach a class and reduce equity gaps is a meaningful, interesting problem. If I ever find a different line of work I at a tech company, I worry about having the freedom and flexibility in my current job to raise my family in the same way.


Is your employer hiring?


Here are some of my reasons why I love working (and working hard):

1. I actually enjoy programming and working with others.

2. Sense of purpose. Working with others towards a common goal.

3. Reward. The harder I work, the more I increase my chances of greater financial output.

4. Recognition. When my boss or peers acknowledge my accomplishments, it makes me feel proud.

5. Growth. A lot of my personal development has come from wisdom gained through work.


If you're lucky, and many tech workers are, at the beginning of your career work can be insanely fun because, unlike school, you're finally spending most of your time doing the one thing you're good at it, you're gaining skills rapidly, and you're getting paid to do it. The thrill wears off after a few years.


Eh, I'm like...7 years in or so. It's still pretty fun. It feels good to develop expertise and to have valuable insights that people are interested in. If I were still doing the same job as when I started, I think I'd be very bored.


Work is not some uniquely arduous activity. I blog for fun, as a writer I'm sure she would find that to be "work". Even playing video games could be work nowadays. Sex and going to restaurants could also be work to some people. If the "work" is cool and rewarding it could be good. The writer probably grew up in an era where work is divorced from achievement and the results are all sucked up by some far away corporation. Then it sucks, but the problem with that is not work, but that somebody is stealing the credit for your work.


I'm happiest when I'm working hard on meaningful problems that I care about.

I also understand that everyone doesn't feel that way. I think that's okay too. I don't understand why this needs to turn into a debate or perpetual flame war.


Being an outsider, the thing that stand out most about North American culture is that it is extremely self-promotional. Granted, self-pormotion exists more or less is all cultures. But what makes it different here is self promotion is actively encouraged as a virtue. I think 'I love my work', along with many other behaviors, can be attribute to this self-promotional culture.


I wrote about this previously, but here it goes again:

I think the 7 day "work" week is the most life-relaxing way to work.

I try to work 7 days a week. Some days I work 3 hours, some rare days I work 36 hours.

When I'm not working, I'm enjoying that time and not stressing out regarding income taking time off, because I know I have given it my 100% and not held anything back.

It is satisfying. I feel relaxed at work. I feel well rested.

I think the 5 day work week is soul-crushing: there's just enough time off from work that you dread coming back, and there's enough time at work that you feel overworked.

40 hours over 7 days is a little over 5 hours per day, and sprinkling in a couple 12 hour days spreads the remaining work to 5 three-hour days.


You're going to grind yourself to death.

The huge advantage of the 7th day is that you know you cannot work, nobody else is working, that it's pointless and you can relax. It's 'the time for not working'.

When you work 'every day' - the nagging of 'maybe I can do something' always exists.

If you put in your time on the 5 days, then you can have this 'I know I gave it 100%' feeling.

Also, knowing that you can 'finish stuff on the weekend' I find makes one even a little bit more likely to procrastinate!

I've lived extensively in both worlds (i.e. 5, 6 , 7 days) and I think 7 will catch up to you. It caught up to me.


When I go home at 11am, I know that I won't be working until the next morning. I can do whatever I want during my free time, I can go shopping, spend time with family, watch Netflix, work on house projects, exercise, etc.

If instead I have to work until 5pm every single week day, I will feel stressed/exhausted when I come home, and when the weekend comes around, I need to fit in all the things I couldn't fit in during the week. In other words: I would have to hustle on my personal time because I know that Monday will come very soon and unless I get it done now, I won't be able to get it done until the following weekend.

I worked 5 day weeks before and I was miserable and exhausted. I work 7 days now and I'm invigorated. And I make a ton more money as well.

I do wish I had more time to travel, but I can take care of that once I've built up enough savings to retire at age 50.


Given your experience, what are your thoughts on five 6-hr days vs four 7.5hr days (but these 7.5 hours must be fully productive otherwise I cannot bill them).


I would say it's likely a personal issue, you may want to try to see what works for you.

I think the most important thing is that there are 'hard lines' i.e. you have time which you know to be 'yours'. The bleeding of personal time into professional time takes its toll.

Also, not relevant to your case, is the 'every day' nature of 7 day a week work - I believe this to be grinding as well, and it extracts a hidden cost on your health.


There's a book, Flow. It was written in 1990, meaning that the research doesn't even involve millennials, but rather the Boomers. It's not even research for productivity; the goal was to find when we are happiest.

In it, it describes that most workers actually enjoy work. About 47% for blue collar up to 64% for white collar. Whereas during their leisure times, it's 20% for blue collar, down to 15% for white collar.

However, the catch is that when at work, they describe that they would rather be doing something. There's a paradox that motivation is lowest when at work, even though they feel happy, strong, creative, satisfied. And that they look forward to periods like watching TV where they feel more weak, dull, and dissatisfied.

The book doesn't have a solid theory as to why this is so. Maybe we have a cultural stereotype that we're supposed to hate work. Maybe we feel forced to do it against our will.

Modern society seems to actually restrict flow. We're constantly interrupted by social media and messaging. We have open offices where everyone can interrupt one another. There's less situations where we can just sit down and lose ourselves in work. A blue collar worker can tune the world out while they cut grass and assemble cars, while the engineer has to deal with a barrage of emails and stand up meetings.

So, it's quite possible that work now is less enjoyable than 30 years ago.


I decided to leave my last job with a month’s notice due to a few reasons, one of which was constant noise and interruption. I was in the process of finishing a project with no further input needed, and I wanted to leave behind something I was proud of.

Given that I had no reputation to protect there, without asking anyone, I moved into a disused room, no windows, completely isolated from the rest of the office and spent my whole days cracking out code alone. I was never happier, and I’ve never got so much work done in an office in my life.


Society has systematically devalued things like family, marriage and community.

It’s like a variant of Orwell’s vision. The proles are probably the happiest ones.


I can't believe no one has said it, but I have a theory that says working hard and making yourself inaccessibly busy is a new status symbol.

In a world where it's difficult to buy even the most modest of homes and unreasonable to buy a sports car if you have no home in which to put it, making yourself seem like you can't possibly get away from your desk because too many people need you is the nouveau status symbol.


Some people are just conscientious, they love work and feel they have to be engaged in some work - whether it be meaningful work or pointless drudgery - for their life to be worthwhile. My mom is like that. I think the article is overly focused on these sorts of people. There are tons of people out there who are more relaxed and want to take it easy - in fact I would say that's the majority.

Sure some companies and employers are highly conscientious and they seek out conscientious employees. It's sad because conscientious people are more readily taken advantage of by employers. But at the end of the day it's just a personality and I don't know how well we can apply the label to all millennials. My experience has been that early boomers are the most conscientious people, probably more so than any generation that came after them.

I would argue that with millenials some of that hustle culture we're seeing is not necessarily a work nature, but more desperation. Here we have a generation coming of age into hard economic times. Many have high hopes but believe that their lives will be worse financially than that of their parents. It's natural that some of them would adopt a hustle mentality as a way to struggle against that.


Isn’t the answer obvious?: Work has become much more precarious again and looking like you aren’t into it is a competitive disadvantage that few can risk.


Or maybe some people actually do love the work they do... Are people really this disenfranchised that they can't possibly imagine that some people really are doing work they enjoy? I love my career and the work I do is fulfilling and gives me a sense of accomplishment


Do you think most people love their work the way you do?

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