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We Don't Have a Talent Shortage. We Have a Sucker Shortage (resumeskills.us)
1289 points by sixtypoundhound 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 774 comments



I had a recruiter call me a year ago with what sounded like a really amazing offer. Working for a well funded startup on a problem in which I happen to be a domain expert.

They're aren't many expects in my field with my background and skill set and they said the right things to get me to interview (compensation won't be a concern).

Anyway... Went in for 4-5 interviews. Took me about 10 hours in total to interview with them.

Kept hearing that they have a difficult time filling the position. Reports directly to the CTO, etc, etc.

They came in at 1/2 my current salary. It was about 30-40% of what you would pay a decent engineer with experience.

I told them my salary level BEFORE the interview...

Gave them a hard now. They came back and said they can offer more stock and remote work.

Why in the heck would I turn down a bird in the hand for 1x in the bush?

Part of the problem is that if you're interviewing you need to know what you're buying!

You can't go to a ferrari dealership and offer to buy one or $20k.. that's just not how it works.


I had the same thing happen to me a couple times. Long and tiring process. Blackboard, make a project, lots of dirty laundry about "long gone incompetent developers" that made the current system a giant mess. Lots of red flags but lots of promises including a large maximum salary, including bonuses and stock options.

The final offer, however, was 60% of my current pay. Lower than the average for someone with my experience and position.

I had good rapport with the HR recruiter and flat out asked why they proceeded, even though she knew I was already getting more, at a better company, with more benefits.

The answer: they assumed I was lying about my current salary and I was just bluffing. Recommended me that I lie in my next interview.


Is this an American thing? I live in Eastern Europe and make decent buck here (close to 5000 EUR/mo after taxes in a country where you can cover all expenses under 1000 EUR/mo). I never had any trouble getting quality work in my country but a few times I got approached by companies from the US and oh boy, weeks of tiring recrutation process and the pay was ALWAYS worse than local. I feel like they do it on purpose maybe some people really fall for it after investing so much time? Once or twice an US SV startup asked if I’ll allow them to install some tracking software on my machine. Meanwhile no developer in my country even responds to offers if the salary is not given in the offer even before the interview kicks in. What’s wrong with the American market? Are there too many developers or what? (sorry for the typos, fat fingers and small phone)


> I live in Eastern Europe

Well, a number of people use Eastern Europe location as a filter for 'cheap labor'. And SV startups tend to have crap wages to begin with, but offer equity to compensate. I could imagine a few startups seeking to crimp further.

> Meanwhile no developer in my country even responds to offers if the salary is not given ... before the interview

Posting salaries is rare in the US. It's becoming the law in California, but this is hardly universal. There's an expectation that you'll negotiate, but they're really hoping you won't. And plenty of US engineers assume if you don't post a salary, it's because the budget for the position is low.


> Posting salaries is rare in the US. It's becoming the law in California, but this is hardly universal.

Citation needed on that. I really hope you’re right and I’m ignorant here, but I think you may be confusing it with the recent state law that makes it illegal for prospective employers to ask about salary history and theoretically requires them to give a salary range to an applicant when asked. I say “theoretically,” because there’s no way for anyone outside the company to verify that the salary range they give is in any way related to the budgeted range.


>Well, a number of people use Eastern Europe location as a filter for 'cheap labor'.

It's particularly hilarious when you realise that some eastern Europe places outsource to the US Midwest because it's cheaper....


>Well, a number of people use Eastern Europe location as a filter for 'cheap labor'.

Thanks for the idea. As East European I'll use this opportunity to improve my English speaking skills (on the phone).


I highly highly recommend Lab Rats by Dan Lyons. Dissects the forces behind the current state of the workforce in the US.

Very well written and exposes the brutality and destruction resulting from focusing on short term profit at any cost.


https://pando.com/2014/01/23/the-techtopus-how-silicon-valle...

>...wages were artificially lowered — an estimated $9 billion effectively stolen by the high-flying companies from their workers to pad company earnings — in the second half of the 2000s...

All these firms settled for a measly $334 million to make this problem go away, despite damning evidence.


This was a shameful crime that occurred at the highest levels in Silicon Valley. This illegal cartel should have been prosecuted under RICO laws with CEOs taken away in hand cuffs. Instead, the worker bees got peanuts. I received a $1300 settlement instead or the hundreds of thousands in lost wages that I was robbed of.


Thanks, added to my list. The topic looks kinda depressing though...


A lot of what people in power driven by greed do in the absence of long term vision or compassion, is depressing.

However, such actions are also detrimental to sustainable/thriving business. So smart people find more constructive and humane ways to be profitable. The book ends on a high note and carries the potential to help leaders correct course before self destruction.


> What’s wrong with the American market?

Well, here in SV, everyone kinda knows what other companies pay. You just didn't have friends in SV to tell you before the interview how much that company pays.

In general, there are top-tier companies, FAANG + Uber + Lyft + AirBnB, that pay X. Then there are lower-tier companies and startups that pay roughly X / 2. So, you're unlikely to get FAANG total comp at a no-name startup.


>> You just didn't have... >> So you're unlikely to get...

You have crafted a strange model. What are the upsides to such a system, to you, the employee?


What are the upsides to such a system, to you, the employee?

You get to learn first-hand why being a non-founder at a startup is almost always a bad deal in terms of compensation.


> Is this an American thing?

happened to me in Italy, about same script. salary expectations set from the start, two phone and two on site interviews with stellar feedback then they offered 2/3rd of current total comp.

like, thanks for waiting me three vacation days.


I apologize because I've worked for people who truly think eastern europe is nothing but goat farmers etc. Literally I think american corps in some aspect are trying to scrape talent from places (they think) are 3rd world countries.


Those people are overpaid and should not work in any corporate setting, since they are clearly missing basic highschool level education about how society works. Eastern Europe is/was very obviously the second world and is kind of defining what's the 3rd world (neither team East nor team West).


I don't know about the EU business culture, but in the US you are expected to negotiate. You really have to fight for every penny you want...


But we're talking about someone who already has a job, and the new company wants to entice away from that. What kind of negotiating tactic is it to start at 60% of current salary?


Well, the OP mentioned that the recruiter thought the candidate was lying which is why they low-balled. So that explains the logic at least. They're not stupid, but they don't trust candidates I guess. Which is a whole different thing.


> the recruiter thought the candidate was lying

> they don't trust candidates

...which is a great tell for what kind of relationship you would be starting if you did take the offer.


My understanding is that it IS common to lie, or else to redirect the conversation from what was made in the last position to what is desired for the new position. Why should it matter? You're being hired to fill a position that's worth x amount of compensation; the primary reason to ask for prior compensation seems to be to to get a "deal" (i.e., rob an employee of potential earnings).


There's no such thing as "worth X amount of compensation".

The way it's supposed to work is that you and your employer (who represents the capital) generate a return from your joint venture.

But the actual return is hard to predict. And there is no fair and obvious way to divvy up the return. So it comes down to negotiation power.

There also may not be any condition where you and the capital agree to join. The capital may have better options to generate a return and you may have better options to get a salary.


>And there is no fair and obvious way to divvy up the return

How about x% of average revenue per employee. Usally around 100k to 300k. So ARPE minus expenses = average salary.

Probably around 60k to 70k for most companies.


There is no shortage of ideas how to distribute profits, and no shortage of arguments which one is "fair" or which one is the best for whatever reason.

This particular scheme means you are paying janitors as much as people who went to school for a decade or more. Some people would not find that equitable and fair. Few academics would find that offer competitive.

And depriving the executives of large salaries also means you are increasing the incentive for corruption. If somebody has the power to squander a billion Dollar, you better pay her more than 100k.

And you forgot to include capital gains, or you included it with expenses. Whoever owns the equity will want some return, otherwise they will invest elsewhere (or not at all).


In my country there are very good statistics provided by the technical unions as to what compensation can be expected by region, technology domain, and seniority. I tend to quote those to set my salary and then argue up if need be.


Once you make lying common, not sure you can claim higher moral ground or even a flat stable ground to stand on ever.


Yeah, the recruiter told me the whole hiring team thought I was bullshitting about my salary.

It was a problematic company from the get go. I was cold called and the recruiter was very insistent. Their engineers were very unprofessional during the technical interview and complained A LOT about technical debt left by past co-workers during the interview.

Now, when I tell recruiters my minimum salary I refer recruiters to Glassdoor, just in case they doubt me.


I had that same experience interviewing with a startup in 1996, if you can believe it. They were looking at their "burn rate" by literally spending extra on airfare, but when I told them what I was earning, they said, "with that site?" No, doofuses, with my consulting; the site was just brochureware.

They didn't actually give me any answer until I asked them to give me one - then they said my attitude with the top management made it clear I wasn't a good candidate for the position.

Dodged that bullet.


IIRC it's becoming illegal to ask about current salary.

IMHO it should be irrelevant. The question is, what is the market rate for someone w/ your skills and experience?


> illegal

The inevitable result of that is the people making bank will be sure to tell you, and ones making low salaries will not. The employer will therefore still know if you're making above or below the usual salary.

Businesses don't like risk (just like employees don't) and hiring a new person poses a lot of risk. It's expensive, and the employee may not work out at all. The more risk there is in hiring someone, the lower the salary offer will be to compensate. Salaries are a proxy for one's value when hiring. Removing that piece of information increases risk, and hence will lower the salary offers.


> The employer will therefore still know if you're making above or below the usual salary.

Thats still way better than being forced to give an exact number. Now the employer has to kinda sorta guess. Instead of getting underpaid by 30%, you might only get underpaid by 20%.


The more an employer has to guess, the more risk there is in hiring someone. Risk is mitigated by lowering the price, i.e. you get a lower offer.

Also, if you wind up getting a salary that's more than you produce for the company, you'll be first in line to get laid off.


> The more an employer has to guess, the more risk there is in hiring someone.

An employees current salary is only barely correlated with a employees skill. They have a multitude of other, much much better factors that they can use to determine if someone is a "risk" or not.

> Also, if you wind up getting a salary that's more than you produce for the company

You are describing something that is close to impossible to measure, for the vast majority of situations. A company does not go around making exact measurements on programmers, and thinking to themselves "Is this person *really 18.2% more effective than the lower paid employee?".

Thats just not how it works. Instead, a person might be 3 times more effective, or half as effective, as the other employees, and salary will be almost entirely unrelated to how much they "produce", which can't really be measure very well anyway.

And this is without even getting into more complicated things, such as sunk costs, and the replacement costs. IE, you may be 10% less effective, but the costs to replace you are equal to 6 months of your salary, so in reality, it makes zero financial sense to do so.

And finally, you are ignoring the fact that an employee can just lie about their previous salary, and there is basically nothing the employer can do about this. I have never, in my life, had someone demand my tax returns, or call up a previous employer to verify my salary, and in many places this can even be illegal. I can just lie about my current salary, and easily get away with, as I have done so multiple times in the past, as well as has many other people that I know.


> I can just lie about my current salary, and easily get away with, as I have done so multiple times in the past, as well as has many other people that I know.

You're not fooling employers, they likely know you and your friends are lying, and discount the offer accordingly. Try bringing a paystub next time, your prospective employer will appreciate it. It's worked out well for me.

There have been some high profile cases of people who've worked for decades for a company, rose to the top echelon, and were discovered to have lied on their resume. They were out the door without their severance package.


> You're not fooling employers, they likely know you and your friends are lying, and discount the offer accordingly.

It's worked out pretty damn well for me and my friends, actually. I've gotten multiple 25% raises, each time by doing that. (Along with a healthy dose of job hopping)

> were discovered to have lied on their resume

I've never lied on my resume. Only about salaries, while talking to someone in negotiations.

That's just how the negotiation games goes. The employer makes blatant lies all the time in negotiations, also.

For the record, I've gone from a starting salary of 100k, when I just got out of college 6 years ago, to where I am today, which is 270k total comp, at a big 5 tech company.

I am pretty happy with those results. Especially so, because I've only ever considered myself to be an average engineer.

Or are you going to try and flatter me by saying that I could have been doing even better than going from 100k to 270k in 6 years? Perhaps. But I'd hardly say that I haven't done alright for myself.


> The employer makes blatant lies all the time in negotiations, also.

I've heard such justifications for submitting fraudulent college applications, cheating in college, doping in sports, etc.

I've done significantly better than my peers with salaries, without lying about it.

Remember that fable about Steve Jobs' dad painting the back of the fence that no one would ever see? My father once told me that honor is what separates men from animals. Honor is what you do when nobody is looking. How much is your honor worth to you? I'm no saint, but wanting my father to be proud of me is worth a lot to me, even though he's passed away.


> I've done significantly better than my peers with salaries, without lying about it.

Thats great. But the other strategy, of engaging in successful negotiation tactics, has also worked out quite well for me.

So it seems like the strategy can be successful.


> people making bank will be sure to tell you

Actually if you work a while and are lucky enough to have done well, you may want to pick a place to work for reasons other than it has the highest salary. In that case you may not want to advertise your salary history because it can scare away employers. It shouldn’t but it does.


>The employer will therefore still know if you're making above or below the usual salary.

Then again if it's illegal to find out, how will they check if your lying or not?


Because experience is a very weak signal and skills are hard to quantify and extremely hard to measure in the relative brevity of the interview process.

There are obviously problems with a reliance on salary as a signal of quality/value produced. But I don't understand the impulse to pretend that there isn't nontrivial signal in a previous salary.


There are now services like Equifax Workforce Solutions and The Work Number (and another I can't remember) that records this information for inquiry by future employers. If you have third-party payroll your salary info is almost certainly reported to such a bureau.


> Their engineers were very unprofessional during the technical interview and complained A LOT about technical debt left by past co-workers during the interview.

That was them just warning you: "Dude you won't hear it fom HR and I am not allowed to tell you directly but you most likely don't want this job."


The OP also mentioned the offer was below the average market price for somenone with a similar work experience, which is simply absurd if their goal is to entice you away from your current job.


They may not know the precise work experience nor the market price. They may also not be able to need or afford either.


Which means that they haven't done the bare minimum research into the position, they hired incompetent people, or they themselves are incompetent. None of these options really screams good place to work.


In Eastern Europe, you can also negotiate and make gains that way. The point is that you come to the interview with a known baseline of what they intend to offer to the candidate that meets their expectations. Thus, you can skip offers where it's so low that it's clearly not worth the trouble even trying to negotiate over. And if you do go to interview, you know the number below which you shouldn't go (and they know that you know).


You can negotiate for a reasonable increase but if an offer comes in at half of what you're making, negotiation is a waste of time for both parties.


Thats not always what's happening. I've turned down jobs that came in beneath the expected salary range I gave them and then tried to sound offended when I said it wasn't good enough, they weren't interested in negotiating.


My anedata for EU is that varies a lot between States.

In Germany, I had salary negotiation closer to what I was used to in the US (e.g.: two competing offers, etc).

In Denmark, very little room to maneuver. I had no luck negotiating salaries in big corps here (Final comp in DK mostly from salary). Every attempt I made to initiate a salary discussion/negotiation seemed to make the hiring managers uncomfortable as in “we don’t do this here”..


>In Denmark, very little room to maneuve

About the only thing I could see you getting in Denmark is a cost of living raise or maybe something to the whole department or team.

Some EU countries have a much stronger emphasis on sectoral bargaining. (Often there's a formal mechanism for everyone to work together to negotiate more pay)


>don't know about the EU business culture

It varies much more than the American one does.


Hi, can you kindly answer the following questions: How much experience do you have? What is your current technology stack? Is the salary which you stated based on an 8 hour workday 5 days a week schedule? How much late sitting do you do, if any? What is your typical work load, I mean do you solve complex problems all day long or do you just stitch libraries together? The salary which you stated looks a bit unbelievable. Thanks.


Not the GP, but I make 10k a month, 15 years experience, Python/Django stack, 4 days a week 8 hours a day, no staying late at all necessary, I usually stitch libraries together, although solving complex problems all day long would be better.

I hope that helps!


10k p/m in Greece?


Yes, I work for a SV company.


It is not just American companies but big companies treat different labor markets differently.

For example, I used to work for a big company in Denmark that has a sattelite office in Bucharest.

It is questionable to see that even the equipment the developers get there was subpar. The fulltimers there were treated as contractors (e.g.: no career incentives), expendable (high turnover).

The office just existed because when the company was smaller and needed more than now cheaper labor, they made it so that remote managers could be there as a proxy.


Are you from my former employer? :)

Joke aside, what you said above also applied in my case to my ex German employer in Eastern Europe. We got cheap machines with half the specs of the German counterparts but the management in The Mother Land expected the same productivity as the German colleagues.

Now, having migrated West to Austria(similar culture to Germany) tings don't get better an all accounts, even if you speak German. Sure, now you get nicer machines, and even if you manage to negotiate a salary close to local levels, your career development opportunities are close to zero as management will only propose the locals for promotions and trainings as those are the guys managers spend their lunches and cigarette breaks with, even if they're mildly incompetent. You'll be left as that guy who just needs to sit as his desk, do what he's told and be grateful to his masters he's been given a job as if you're coming form a country of goat hearders.

This horrible discriminatory culture in EU countries is not something the EU can't fix unfortunately and it's one of the reasons countries like Germany or the EU as a whole will never catch up to the US on innovation or salaries in tech.


Hehe, I’d sadly say no, chances are we don’t have the same employer but the general tech in Europe is still old IT / cost center.

I am not in a stage of life for pursuing promotions to give more anedata on that, but I can see that a lot of senior managers here in Denmark are not immigrants. I do see however that there is a wave of immigrant founders here. Let’s see if the economic environment will perdure long enough to see a greater change.


Can you tell us which Eastern European country do you live? What are your skills? Thanks!


Was curious myself, based in on his other comments, it's Poland.


[flagged]


This site disagrees with your opinion http://airindex.eea.europa.eu


Does it? I see a large concentration of red dots over Poland, and some over Belgium-France border, all due to coal plants. Then there's UK.

    Poland takes second place with an overall score of
    5.5/10. The carbon dioxide emissions in poland are 
    7.63 tonnes per capita per year, which is higher than
    the winner Turkey. The concentrations of PM2.5 are 22
    µg/m3 which is almost half of Turkey’s concentrations.
    There are 69 deaths attributable to air pollution per
    100,000 capita per year. Poland consists of 30.8% 
    forest area and 38.10% protected terrestrial and 
    marine area. Each year, the citizens of Poland discard 
    304.9 kg of waste per capita.


Yes.

From your own quote: Poland, second place (over all)

World Atlas has them at #3 https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/cities-with-the-worst-ai...

So...not "dirtiest"


As a third party, I appreciate the links you've provided but you're being pedantic about Poland having to be strictly 'the dirtiest'.


Second after Turkey, which is not in the EU.


5k after taxes is nice! I’m in Western Europe and make only 3K after taxes but rent and utilities is half my take home. Suffice to say I’m juat getting by.


US salaries are on a whole new level when it comes to senior programmers. $200K+ base is normal, if you're good. $150/hr for consulting gigs is also normal if you're good.

So your $5K after taxes wouldn't even register on my radar.


This is relative.

5000€ is $5623. You can maintain a "normal" life standard around here for about $800 (renting a studio / two room flat in the city centre + all the expenses, no car but I never needed one - the subway takes me to the furthest parts of town in 25 minutes, walking to work is not unusual). So you're saving more or less 5000$ every month.

How much do you have to earn in SV to rent a place for your own next to your office and still save 5 grand a month? :)

Anyway I get your point and in general yeah, US salaries are of course on a whole new level and I won't even argue with that.

I'm not trying to say Warsaw is better for programmers than SV because it never was and never will be - yet we still managed, within last 5 years or so, managed to do something you somehow can't do - we trained HRs, agencies, recruiters etc. And they willingly act as we please. Because there's an incredibly high demand for programmers and no one has time for games like US companies play. And I still can't wrap my mind around this - if company Y or X is so desperately seeking for employees and pays them bazillions of dollars - why they even consider burning so much time on the process of hiring? Hiring is hard, I get that, but it's much easier if you disclose the salary. And in Poland right now hiring is impossible if the salary is unknown. And it's not even required by law (though it is supposed to be).


> And I still can't wrap my mind around this - if company Y or X is so desperately seeking for employees and pays them bazillions of dollars - why they even consider burning so much time on the process of hiring?

It's a leverage thing. Companies in high cost of living locations can just wait for someone else and they will. That doesn't work in a low cost of living locations, since their isn't much urgency from the perspective of the applicant.


First of all, who cares about base, what matters is total compensation. In Silicon Valley, I would say it takes about 5 years of experience, for good engineers, to rent a nice place close to work, if they want to. See actual data here: https://thestartupconference.com/2018/09/21/about-that-silic...

After 10 years of experience, you are looking into buying a house. Granted, the price of the house is exhorbitant compared to its size, but that's the market.


I'm a bit dubious of that site. A decent studio can be had for 2000-3000k even I'm SF. A good 2 bedroom apartment with 2 parking spaces and a patio close to Google that I was looking at was only 2.7k.

The salaries are also low in my opinion. At just under 4 years experience I'm making 225k yearly in TC, over 170k of that is salary.


Bargaining doesn't seem to work at scale (countries with bargaining habits don't do good economically) and it rapidly becomes a big waste of time for everybody.


As someone who always disliked visiting markets where bargaining is expected, this intrigues me. Can you recommend a book or documentary about this, or maybe explain a bit of the theorized causal connection?


Seconding nitrogen's request – I'm very interested in any pointers to further reading.

A potential cause for this effect might be that widespread bargaining reduces a market's efficiency, since prices are less transparent for buyers and sellers.


> How much do you have to earn in SV to rent a place for your own next to your office and still save 5 grand a month? :)

If you want a nice 1BR apartment ($3000) + a very generous budget for monthly expenses ($3000), you need to earn $11000 after tax to save 5 grand a month - i.e $132k a year.

A total compensation of $200k as a single person gets you that much after tax: https://smartasset.com/taxes/california-tax-calculator#BKf2k...

Take a look at these sources to see what top companies are paying software engineers in SV (spoiler: it's more than 200k, and you can add ~60% of each dollar above that to your savings): https://www.levels.fyi/ https://www.paysa.com/salaries


These are not normal base salaries even for senior programmers in the bay area. The 60th percentile for senior software engineers is around $180k per year in the Bay Area. Total compensation is commonly $200k or more, easily, but not base. Outside of the Bay Area, even in NY, Chicago, etc., base salaries are lower. In most places they're much lower--below $100k.


In large companies, there's another factor to consider, which is that if you're a few years into the company, the stock grants that you received a few years back and that are still vesting now are now possibly worth a lot more... your total yearly comp increases quite a bit if your company stock did well for the few years you've been with them.


Those are not nett salaries are they? So keep in mind in Europe it can be 5k times 2 times 12=120k.

(How to use asterisks here?)


A 50th percentile base salary for a senior engineer in the Bay Area is around $150k-$160k per year. Most companies offer a cash bonus (10%-15% of base); including this puts a typical cash compensation total for a 50th percentile senior engineer is between $165k and $184k per year. Most companies offer stock, but the grant and value of these varies wildly. Public companies' stock is actually worth something but you have your places like Google where RSU grants are a huge portion of salary and other places where it's closer to the cash bonus portion of salary.

This is all gross, pre-deduction salary; not salary net of taxes, deductions, etc.


Base salary is a ruse. Median total compensation for qualified experts in the bay is currently $450-750k at reputable firms. Everyone knows this. Any company offering less is simply not in the running and is staffed by absolute morons and won't make it. So sad to be them.


What's your bar for "qualified expert" in this context?


Their linkedin profile says so.


I can't say I've seen people talk about their net salary in Europe, but we do typically galk about monthly salary. (Even if they did say net salary, paying an effective income tax of 50% would be quite exceptional; I would need to make a bit over $300 000 for that in Sweden, which is insanely high.)


"How to use asterisks here?"

There is a Unicode small asterisk: ﹡

And some other variations: ∗ *


https://news.ycombinator.com/formatdoc

If you surround an asterisk by spaces it works fine: a * b * c * d


[flagged]


$600/hr is the equivalent of about $1.2M/year salary. That's exceptionally rare. Unless you're being cheeky with "should be", I think you have beliefs that are misaligned with reality.


Hourly billing rate has to cover all the hours you can't bill for, PTO, health care, everything..


Most contractors I know don’t work 40hrs day, every week. Also if you look around at advice you’ll find that you shouldn’t quote an hourly rate, you should quote “for the job”. If you’re good and the work you’re doing is even mildly specialized you can get a job done quickly enough that the effective hourly rate is pretty absurd.


What counts as "independent expert in specialized field"? Because as an independent backend contractor (java/spring/scala/akka) that straddles the line between architectural consulting and staff augmentation (usually long-term contracts), I see real resistance to going above $200/hr since even in the bay area you can hire full teams from vendors at around that price point for man hours.


8*600 is $4800 per day. What kind of expert in what specialized field do you have to be to make that much? Can you give a specific example?


Seems below average for law firm partners [1], and there's a lot of them out there, so it doesn't surprise me at all that technical consultants with genuinely rare skills could command hourly rates like that.

[1] https://www.mlaglobal.com/en/knowledge-library/research/2018...


Has anybody ever seen such a thing in reality? I have seen quite a few consultants and nobody ever got even close.


Don't forget it's 200k a year whereas the EU salary is 5k per month - still way below, but as op said: once you factor in the cost of living, it starts to make more sense :)


The salary he mentioned is 5k/month _after_ taxes, so 60k/year. Which according to a Polish income tax calculator I found would be about 85k/year EUR before taxes. With current rates that's about 95k USD.

According to Numbeo living in SF is about 2 (groceries) to 5 (rent) times more expensive compared to Warsaw: https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_cities.jsp?cou...


Not to mention we get free health care and decent holidays with that.

A 7 weeks holiday allowance has more than a monetary allowance.


> Not to mention we get free health care

The (many) issues with US health care do not affect upper/middle class professionals.

From a "patient perspective", as long as you are employed as a software engineer in SV, health care is not a concern at all (insurance is covered by the employer). If anything, it is superior to anything I experienced in Europe.


I've experienced American healthcare and European healthcare. I'll take European any day of the week, over the Silicon valley version (and seriously if that's the best, god help the rest. I'm actually lucky I survived the US system.)

The issue in America is essentially that the system is paid by piecework. So the entire system optimises for the number of tests/procedures/operations etc. that can be performed. And that might not be so bad in and of itself, if 21st century medicine was reliable. But it's not, and the sad truth of the US system is that many of the (very expensive) procedures it performs have worst outcomes than leaving the patient alone.


That's interesting, because I had a different experience. What Europe are you talking about here?

In the Netherlands, a patient should not expect from a doctor to conduct any tests at all. I had no experience with the Dutch healthcare myself, but I've heard horrendous stories about it, for example how Irish expat went to a doctor with a problem of pain while swallowing, received nothing more than an advice "well, swallow less, then" (like in a bad joke about doctors), went home to Ireland a got diagnosed with a throat cancer there.


Except when you really need an efficient health insurrance system, like cancer level efficiency. At least it's what I learnd from following US politics these last 3 years on reddit.


I mean, I have cancer and my health insurance in the US is about as good as can be expected, which unfortunately means almost nothing because we're terrible at cancer we can't cut out of the body. If I didn't have this healthcare I'd probably be dead already and leaving a mountain of debt for my family. The costs to my insurance company are insane for treatment. I'm easily costing over 100k/mo for basic treatment.


Having a lot of money is really the sole area where US health care actually is the best in the world. Efficiency is somebody else’s problem.


Though the costs are invisible to you, our model raises prices and essentially gentrifies care, making it more difficult for those lower on the ladder to afford care (bringing along the associated public health issues) and robbing other priorities (like medical research) of cash.


This is because a sr programmer with experience and likely a family needs to think about saving for healthcare, retirement, education costs for children, housing costs that may also be more inefficient or expensive in the US than other nations


What does that have to do with anything he said?


That's SV/NYC numbers. Plenty of great programmers in other parts of the country don't make that.


Even in Silicon Valley there aren’t that many companies other than FAANG offering $200k base salary. $200k total compensation, including stock and bonuses, is a different matter.


[flagged]


why not a million


It's not based on how much they make, but about their abilities.


You literally described their abilities in terms of how much they make.


I described their abilities with the word great. And said they all make over a certain amount. They didn't always make this much. One used to make 140k working in gaming just 3 years ago. He was still great, just getting paid a fraction of what he could make. But that's gaming for you.


It is really difficult to have a meaningful discussion without any objective measurement of great. I am impressed that you are still trying.


I've posted this elsewhere (forgot here or reddit). I'm gainfully employed. A former colleague who is now in a hiring position at a new company reached out to me. Said they have several openings and are having a hard time hiring good people. It would be a much longer commute, working/rewriting some older tech to be cloud ready (I did that at my current and previous employer). We started talking about salary. I told him what I made. He told me...he could match that.

I thought to myself...that's not how it works. I'm sure I could have negotiated higher. But I wonder if he thinks I inflated my salary and those said match.

Keeping in mind my current company has some of the best benefits I've seen outside of Silcone Valley...


> I told him what I made.

Never make that mistake. Never ever disclose your salary information to someone that you potentially could work for.

I think a situation where we were required by law to disclose, or a company where such a thing was common (GitLab) would be exceptions. But otherwise, I've found it to be a huge mistake to disclose your exact salary or numbers to anyone.


> Never make that mistake. Never ever disclose your salary information to someone that you potentially could work for.

In general I agree, except he did say the person was his friend. My close friends and I all know what each other makes. It helps a lot when negotiating for a new job, because I now have additional data to know that what I'm asking for is not crazy.

One of these friends I have worked for in the past and could work for again, but he readily admits he can't afford me right now.

EDIT, I read colleague as most likely a friend now. Perhaps not, but my above point still stands about friends.


It's worth disclosing it to rule out pointless conversations early on if you have strong reasons to believe you're on the higher end of the salary distribution. I wouldn't say it precludes you from asking for more if you can articulate a value proposition that makes you an even better fit for the next opportunity.


Agree: What I do now is pointing out I'm not considering it at all for anything less than my current salary + a good raise.

With that I might or might not consider it.

I've made a simplified version for recruiters here: http://erik.itland.no/step-by-step-instructions-choose-your-...

If anyone likes it they should feel free to adapt and customize it for so it can work for even the most annoying recruiters :-)


Given what I've been reading in this thread, it seems like if some employers are going to think that you're going to lie, there's no point in sharing your salary. And the salary that should only matter is the one you'd accept to change companies.


Why?


Because it creates an information asymmetry. They now know what you (are willing to) work for, but you don't know what they're willing to pay, or what everyone else in the company makes.

It does not benefit you to disclose the information, even if you think your number is high. They might assume you are lying, or they might already be anchored at an even higher number - you don't know.


I kind of wonder about these things, but I'm not in sales.

I've heard two stories about car dealers that each say different things.

One story was about a car dealer that told its salesmen the actual wholesale price of the cars they were selling. The salesmen would deal from that price upwards and would always sell the cars close to that price. They changed to only telling them the retail price of the car and then sales from that point on were much higher as the selling prices clustered nearer to retail.

But the other story was from a friend who used to work at a car dealer. The top sales guy would move an enormous number of cars. He would sell them for $250 over invoice. My friend said he was amazing, and it was common for other salesmen to spend hours haggling with a customer on one car, and meanwhile the top guy would move 4 or 5 cars.


Trouble is you can't sell yourself 4-5x as often as a total job length without that starting to reflect poorly on you. You don't get paid per job. Maybe a valuable lesson for contractors, though: there's value in simplicity if it leads to volume.


It’s not a clear cut never do. If you know you’re expecting the higher end of a salary range then it’s absolutely in your interest to signal that from the outset. Telling them your current salary is doing just that.

But otherwise I agree. The company always has such a strong hand that it’s in your best interest to play every one of your cards as strategically, carefully as possible.


Can't you just tell them not to bother with the interview any further and refrain from wasting everyone's time if they're not prepared to offer what you've asked for?


However, not discussing compensation with your peers ONLY benefits the companies you work for. It encourages anti-competative behavior.


Because they use for the basis of their offer. Most people don’t really know what the market is paying for the skills and experience, so they are already operating blindly. A 15-20% increase over current salary sounds like a lot, particularly if the potential employee is unaware that the market supports 50% (or more) above their current salary.

This practice favors the employer so much that it is illegal in California (and a few other states) to ask for salary history.


>>This practice favors the employer so much that it is illegal in California (and a few other states) to ask for salary history.

That's interesting....when submitting resumes for US Federal government (GS) jobs, their resume guidelines include salary, hours worked, and points of contact for each position. I wonder how positions advertised in the State of California can be reconciled with what you've shared?


I would imagine the federal government has enough transparency and process regarding pay scales to make this moot.


Lemme clarify: your application FOR a Federal position is expected to include your PREVIOUS salaries, regardless of whether they were public or private sector. So if you are a California resident and you submit an application for a Federal position in California, but you don't disclose your previous salaries, I wonder if they consider your application incomplete? If that was used as justification for rejecting your application, would you have grounds to dispute that rejection legally?


That’s easy: California has no jurisdiction over the Feds. The Federal Government isn’t a private employer subject to California labor laws and regulations.


First off, you'll almost never get an indication of why your resume was rejected. Secondly, as someone already commented, federal positions don't have tho play by state rules.

They do sometimes even ask for pay stubs to prove salaries claimed


I'm saying, the reason the restriction is present on private employers is so they don't make a low offer to someone who had been paid less before.

My understanding of federal employment is that the pay scales are published and public record, and job postings state which scale it's on. This level of disclosure seems to minimize the possible harm here, as there's far less room for negotiation for anyone.


I believe that by applying for a federal job, you are agreeing to federal jurisdiction.


State laws don’t apply to the federal government.


Check out this great overview on salary negotiation:

https://www.kalzumeus.com/2012/01/23/salary-negotiation/


Because it has no bearing on how much you are worth to them and is only used by the new employer to gauge how little they think they can offer you. There is no benefit in disclosing it.


I’ll happily tell someone my current salary but I’ll never accept a new salary that I’m not happy with. I also try to accept 10-20% below market. You can get away with a lot when they think you’re the schmuck who didn’t know what he was worth.


What are you “getting away with” that makes a 20% discount off market rates acceptable?


I think I’ve said too much already.


> He told me...he could match that.

I think he was just honest.

In those cases, I'd answer with "Ok but I need X% more because of the commute and the hassle of changing jobs".


And that X% needs to be post tax


Make sure you don’t end up in the same hierarchy as your friend


I woulda been reporting to him :)


Rule number 1, IMO, never discuss salary. I find listing your salary requirements before starting a process weeds out a lot of silly interviews. If you know your worth and have a goal for your salary, it is the most effective way I know to avoid dumb offers.


My favorite was something that happened 2+ years ago. I had closed down my business, and was speaking with folks, including a well funded startup in Milpitas area. I was in the area for a different interview, and spent the evening before that interview with this startup.

I knew the CEO from a previous effort. After much discussion, I thought they had something interesting, though I was hard pressed to find real differentiators. I thought I could help, and the senior leadership of the company did as well. We talked over a number of projects.

Started negotiations, I was asked about what it would take to get me over. I gave them realistic sets of numbers and conditions.

CEO's response to me was priceless.

"But that's more than I make."

Um ... yeah. And this matters ... how?

I know, startups push the equity side hard, as they tend to be cash poor and stock rich.

He then suggested a number that was under half of my minimum acceptable (covering costs, maintaining something that looks like a quality of life). And not so much equity.

Yeah. Didn't go there. CEO was out within a few months.


I like mentally replacing “stock” with “lottery tickets”.


"silicon valley toilet paper"

or see this dilbert cartoon:

https://dilbert.com/strip/2001-03-15


The Simpsons had a joke on this back in the day where their dotcom startup had shares of stock on a literal toilet paper dispenser.


My company has no investors. The first years were a bit hard revenue wise. The first engineers were paid a lot more than myself and the other cofounders until we got proper traction. Never had any issue with that.


But that's exactly what I did? Sorry, I didn't phrase it right.

My non-negotiable requirement was 20% more than I was getting. I gave a hard number and they said "yeah we can give that" before the interview.

However the recruiter just assumed I was bluffing and went ahead with that colossal waste of time.


They promise that amount up front, and then renege? That's not even deceitful, that's just intentionally wasting your time. I would send them an invoice for the time spent on the interview.

What a bizarre way to run a business.


I've been promised a job by the CEO after all the interviews and he reneged a few days later. Companies lie all the time like that. At least I got a nice trip to SF out of it, but I expect this to happen. I always set salary expectations beforehand but I'm not surprised if they are not met.


>They promise that amount up front, and then renege?

"we can give X" is not a promise to give X.


If they replied that they could match the asking price but after all the song and dance they actually low-ball with an offer of 60% what the candidate was already earning, which is nearly half of what they initially mentioned, then that's pretty close to fraud.


Oh yeah people love that. They're usually so thankful to have been taught a lesson about this technicality that they not only don't mind having been told the wrong thing, they instantly become loyal to that person for life. Immense profit follows.


How is it not a promise? I fail to imagine it being said in a way that isn't one.


It is a verbal promise, not a contract. They just broke it.

They were unprofessional.


A verbal promise can very easily be interpreted as a contract by a court. (IANAL, and clearly YANAL)


The legal side is almost irrelevant. The situation is that they're trying to initiate what should be a mutually-beneficial, longish-term working relationship. Leading into it with this kind of letdown isn't a good start.


The commenter hadn’t even done the interview yet. There’s no way a court would interpret this as a contract to pay the person that amount.


The only reason it's not a contract is because the job offer wasn't closed yet. This is more similar to false advertising.


The hiring company just counters they "can give X" for an imminently qualified candidate but after the interview process they feel the candidate has too little experience or aptitude and is being offered a job in spite of their shortcomings and should be so happy with the offer.


You should list the company so other people know not to waste their time.


Sorry, didn’t get that when I read your previous post.

If that is the case: screw those guys. If you can’t trust a company with _writing an employment contract_, how can you trust any future interaction.

If your skills are in demand, move on. Not worth your time and being able to walk away is the single most valuable card one can play during a negotiation.


Sounds like an incompetent recruiter.

Recruiters make money as a percentage of your hiring salary, why on earth would they try to place you somewhere that you are making less? They should be shopping you to whoever will give the most money.


Actually, most recruiters I've run into tend to try to force a candidate to accept a "reasonable" offer rather than holding out for the best offer. They only get paid if a deal closes; while it may be in your best interest to hold out for another $10K, that will likely cost them a commission (and be opposed)


100% correct, recruiters want to close the deal, not let it slip away over salary negotiations. And they want to get hired again (they get paid by the company, not the recruit) so saving that company 10, 15k is definitely in the best interest of the recruiter.


Also true of real estate agents, or really anybody who gets paid a percentage of a successful transaction.


The incentives don’t always work out that way. There comes a point of diminishing returns for the recruiter; trying to get an extra $20k a year for you, might take time away from them closing two or three other candidates. Also, a recruiter does not get any real benefit out of negotiations that involve things other then salary. Extra vacation, bonuses, guaranteed severance packages, etc.

Key take a way from this: never let your recruiter negotiate on your behalf. Once you are at the stage, tell your recruiter to F off and get the best deal you can for yourself.


It was an HR recruiter that works for the company, not an independent recruiter.

I agree about the incompetence part, though. Terrible waste of time for everyone involved.


This approach has come up a number of times in the comment that it makes me think that many candidates are bluffing and so this might well be a rational (if very sleazy) approach.


To add to the 'sucker' anecdote, when I was young and stupid (at least I am not young anymore), I was contacted by a NYC recruiter looking to hire for Bloomberg. Here was his tack to extract salary information: "being a financial company, it is required for us to know what you currently make." On this aspect, I think I know better now, hopefully.


That's illegal now in NYC.


Yeh right :-)


It's $125,000[1] for a violation of the law.

1: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/cchr/law/chapter-1.page#8-126


I recently explicitly gave my salary requirements up front, went through an arduous process and got an offer of about 2/3 of what we had BOTH agreed upon in the first informational interview.

This from a very profitable mid-large sized established tech company in the US.


If the rule is to get 2/3 of what is asked for, then maybe we should ask for 3/2 to be offered that amount.


I agree with the rule and wish it was easier to put into practice. What I've noticed however, is that a lot of recruiters stonewall you if you don't tell them a number, or at least a range. They even say things like "Well I need to put something into this internal web app." It's super frustrating!


patio11's suggestion for this:

> Objection: “This form needs a number.”

> What you should think: “You’re lying to me to attempt to get me to compromise my negotiating position.”

> What you should say: “Give me git access and I’ll fix it in a jiffy! both people laugh No, seriously, speaking, I’m more concerned at the moment with discovering whether we’re a mutual fit… Oh, it’s physically impossible? Put in $1 then to get the ball rolling, and we’ll circle back to this later.”

https://www.kalzumeus.com/2012/01/23/salary-negotiation/

related: https://www.kalzumeus.com/2016/06/03/kalzumeus-podcast-episo...


Patio11 has done fantastic writing in this topic that shaped a lot of my own opinions. Worth reading if anybody hasn’t seen it before.


It's not that straight forward, especially if you charge on the high end. Without them getting to know you and your benefits, a high price up front would just drive them away. If you're shooting for mid market rate, it's obviously different; but if you're selling them on your value, that value needs to be demonstrated before money talks.


> The answer: they assumed I was lying about my current salary and I was just bluffing. Recommended me that I lie in my next interview.

My first interview for a job after law school, first interviewer. Guy begins to look at my resume, tosses it aside, and says “I don’t read resumes. Everyone lies in their resume. Hell, I lie on my resume.” After that, the whole time I’m thinking to myself “what kind of moron lies on a legal resume? The bar calls every employer you’ve ever had since high school.”


This - we really need a law requiring companies post what the jobs pays. It would solve so many problems - including ones like this, gender discrimination, etc.


In California, employers are required to disclose salary ranges for jobs if asked by prospective employees.


The range can be pretty wide though.


How do you know they’re disclosing the budgeted range and not just what they “want” to pay?


> This - we really need a law requiring companies post what the jobs pays. It would solve so many problems - including ones like this, gender discrimination, etc.

A much simpler solution: if lots of programmers would strongly avoid to take jobs at companies that do not tell the salary upfront, the problem would disappear by itself.


You are supposed to lie to inflate your salary even more? So rather than offer of 60% current pay they'd be offering 30% wink wink current pay. I hope you no longer communicate with that recruiter.


This is common practice, but it’s playing into a bad power dynamic where the employer is trying to anchor the negotiation to a number. It’s a predatory question, and giving a bullshit answer to a bullshit question is a reasonable response.

As I mentioned in another comment, I personally prefer just setting a salary range I’d be willing to accept. I walk away if given an offer below that range. It gives me the initiative of anchoring the negotiation to a number I want.

It also saves me a lot of time by screening out companies that aren’t willing to actually negotiate.


So why not just tell them a number, because the company is going to go for the lowest in the range anyways?


You can ALWAYS negotiate before you accept the offer.

"Yeah thanks, but that offer is not enough for me to leave my current job. I need at least X more. Let me know if you're interested."

(In fact, you can negotiate even AFTER you accept it!)


> they assumed I was lying about my current salary and I was just bluffing

That's commonplace, I've heard many engineers say they overstated their current salary. When I'd apply for jobs, I'd include a copy of a paystub, because I knew the companies knew about the practice and would discount the offer accordingly.


I like the balance California now strikes: while employers can't ask about salary history, if a candidate voluntarily shares the information unsolicited, they can verify it and make the offer conditional on the verification passing.

So, California employers won't be able to avoid a complaint if they press for a current (as opposed to desired) salary number and disadvantage or reject the candidate on that basis, but they can still check for honesty.

While I definitely don't want to discriminatorily let low salaries have a bad knock-on effect at subsequent jobs, I also don't want to hire or work with liars.


Inflating one's salary on a resume was so common it's like the Tour de France - you have to dope to even get on the field, because everyone does it, and everyone expects it.

So I just sidestepped all that bs by including a paystub. And the resulting offer was a nice raise.

> I also don't want to hire or work with liars

I'm with you there. Lying on a resume is an automatic "no hire" from me. By including a paystub, I don't feel forced to lie, and the employer doesn't feel forced to assume I'm lying. It's a good start to the relationship.


Sure. I just realize that so many people have been underpaid for no good reason, whether due to negotiating inexperience or discrimination or simply coming from a different geography or the nonprofit sector, that requiring pay history is not something I can support as a routine requirement.

Verifying any pay history info that is provided, however, seems fine to me. This could certainly be via pay stub, or it could be by contacting the former employer with candidate consent after the official offer letter is issued and accepted (worded to be revocable if the verification fails).


> While I definitely don't want to discriminatorily let low salaries have a bad knock-on effect at subsequent jobs, I also don't want to hire or work with liars.

You may not "want" the discrimination, but if you don't allow everyone to say the magic words that get them treated fairly, "I was paid the market rate", you're encouraging the discrimination.

I think it's pretty easy to make a moral defense for telling a lie about what group you're in purely to avoid discrimination.


These laws put no restrictions on what candidates can say, absolutely none whatsoever. They just affect the employer side of the conversation.

Employers in California (and NYC and a few other places) cannot ask about salary history, but they can ask what salary the candidate wants, and the candidate can decide on their own initiative to share salary history info. If candidates share such info voluntarily and unsolicited, employers can use (and verify) it.

So any candidate who wants to can say those market rate words you quoted. Similar phrasings that answer the still- permissible "what salary are you looking for" question also work fine.

One of the most likely wordings to get a good outcome without losing respect is: "I want whatever number is market rate for someone with my skills and experience at an employer like yours. I'll make inquiries through my professional network to learn what's appropriate so that I can consider your offer in the correct context, and I'll try to be fair to the company as well as myself in the resulting negotiation."

Notice how that doesn't depend on salary history info at all.

For California specifically - not currently the other places with this type of law - employers must also share the "pay scale" with "applicants" upon their "reasonable request" (these phrases have been clarified legislatively in sensible ways). So that's even more help in avoiding discrimination while staying honest.


> Notice how that doesn't depend on salary history info at all.

Does that get you the same salary as showing off your previous good pay stub?

If it does, then we're fine.

If it doesn't, then it doesn't matter that it's voluntary, the system still strongly encourages discrimination based on previous pay.

Imagine a similar system with a protected class. "You don't have to tell us your age, but if you prove you're under 45 we'll treat you better. If you say the wrong age, you're a dirty liar and don't deserve to be hired." That would be blatantly illegal and universally shunned.

I'm not saying this kind of discrimination is anywhere near the same magnitude. I'm just saying that whether it's voluntary or not is a distinction without a difference.

> For California specifically - not currently the other places with this type of law - employers must also share the "pay scale" with "applicants" upon their "reasonable request" (these phrases have been clarified legislatively in sensible ways). So that's even more help in avoiding discrimination while staying honest.

Good, that sounds much more effective.


Yes, my suggested phrasing above should get you a fair salary without reference to previous good pay stubs, assuming you make inquiries as stated. If you weren't overpaid before, you should get at least a similar outcome, but you would get a better one if previously underpaid as many people in protected classes unfortunately still are.

If you were overpaid, and want to try to keep being overpaid, see below for a scenario that you can mentally adjust from fixing underpayment to preserving overpayment (in which case verification is even more important if the employer decides to bite that bullet).

Underpayment of disadvantaged colleagues is so much more common and so much more long-term impactful than overpayment of anyone involved in this style of negotiation; I care more that the law addresses the former than that it prevents the latter. People have useful indirect ways to signal high pay anyway even if they were forbidden from saying it explicitly, far more than underpaid people.

The prior pay information is illegal for employers to solicit in these jurisdictions, even if they are willing to make it voluntary by accepting no for an answer. The only way the info will make it to a law-abiding California employer is if the candidate decides it's to their advantage to volunteer it, as they probably would if the initial offer is a low-ball. If the candidate doesn't volunteer it unsolicited, the info can't legally come up (and if it somehow does [e.g. turns up in a third party background check] the employer can't use the info during the hiring process).

As for why that needs to be allowed, consider this scenario:

Company: What salary are you looking for?

Candidate: Market rate.

Company: How about $X? We like you and it's the highest we usually offer for this position to a new hire.

Candidate: Hm. While I agree $X is within the market rate range, I currently make $X+10k which is also within that range. Can you at least match that?

Company, after consideration: Hm. Yeah given that we don't want to force you to take a pay cut, we'll make that exception.

Or, even more compelling last two lines:

Candidate: Hm, my current company is already paying me $X, and has been doing so for 3 years now despite my skills growing significantly in that time. Can you recognize that growth with a modest pay raise?

Company, after consideration: Hm, we realize you won't trust our willingness to support you if we keep your compensation stagnant for a fourth year and counting. We can't break our salary band, but we'll at least give you $10k/year extra in restricted stock units [assume a public company].

In such scenarios, verification makes sense to require and allow.

Also note that these jurisdictions generally have explicit bans on paying differentially based on protected attributes like old age or gender, and that these laws about salary history (which are just a tightening of their former greater permissiveness that still prevails elsewhere) don't override those rules.


Consider Fred and Bob:

1. Bob voluntarily supplies paystub for his last job.

2. Fred gives no hint about his previous salary.

Other things being equal, which is the less risky hire?

I.e. don't be too surprised if the law doesn't work out as intended.


I don't see why someone who makes no claims about their previous salary is riskier than someone who proactively provides a pay stub. If Bob is inclined to lie in general, either he could be giving a true pay stub to engender confidence and hide some other prior/contemporaneous/subsequent lie, or he could have doctored the pay stub.

Other things being equal, neither Bob nor Fred is more likely to be a liar. Should I want to verify salary history, I'd seek permission to verify directly with the former employer (a routine request for any HR department assuming employee consent). If anything, it might feel suspicious that Bob was proactively trying to give me the easier form of proof to render fraudulent; but that alone wouldn't seem concerning in the absence of other signals, I expect.

Note that before the new law, the employer could legally have insisted that both Bob and Fred give their salaries or refuse to consider them. If Fred was severely underpaid and Bob was not, the employer would almost certainly have given Fred a lower offer than Bob. Since persistent underpayment also correlates with a more precarious personal financial situation, and since any other employer could legally have insisted on the same policy, Fred would probably have ended up accepting a comparatively low-ball offer for lack of a better option, thus staying underpaid.

The law still helps.


> I don't see why someone who makes no claims about their previous salary is riskier than someone who proactively provides a pay stub.

Because the person not giving salary information likely believes such will negatively affect their offer (as you say), and the one who does likely believes it will positively affect their offer.

Sure, a lower salary may have nothing to do with job performance. But it is an indicator, and a good one.

BTW, paystubs are "stubs" because they are on the same paper as the check which is more difficult to forge.

> The law still helps.

Not providing salary info makes one a riskier candidate, and risk means a lower offer.

It's like buying a car. The less you know about the car's condition, the less you're likely to be willing to pay for it. That's why having receipts for work done on the car by a reputable shop, being the original owner, owner is a grandma rather than a teenager, etc., commands a higher price for the car.


There is very little correlation between relative pay and relative performance. I know first-hand many people who have been underpaid and many who have been overpaid.

I mean, sure the correlation is nonzero, but it's low enough as to not be usefully predictive for hiring. The correlation is much higher between relative pay and relative privilege, which is not at all about who would be a good employee.

Also, most of my pay stubs throughout my recent career have actually been electronic-only pay statements, and my pay is usually electronically direct-deposited too.

Therefore, any employer-provided pay statement which I pass along would be in the original PDF form, printed from the original, or redacted in a visible and non-fraudulent way by me to remove any irrelevant sensitive info (e.g. before the accepted offer stage I might redact any full bank account number or SSN).

If I were a fraudster, the modified PDF I would share would look just as credible as the original. Far safer to just obtain permission and ask the former employer.


Would it be possible to tell the recruiter/company something like "This is my current salary and I will not settle for less. So far you have hyped up this position as high paying. From this point forward if you offer me anything less than my current salary, the interview process will be ended and you will be billed for the time of mine you wasted"?


Than you'd get 10% more max, no? Without the disclosure it could be more.


There was a similar discussion 2 years ago (article https://www.shellypalmer.com/2017/04/id-pay-500000-year-cant... comments https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14246760)

The ultimate problem is that people want "unicorns for peanuts". Google, Facebook and a few other large tech companies have hired most of the top of the labor market, the "ferraris" in your analogy. Most companies want the ferrari but can't afford the price when others are willing to pay much much more.

The only way to really balance the market is for more of the talented engineers to start their own companies (reducing labor supply and possibly increasing demand). Arguably the proliferation of one-person or small bootstrapped startups is a reflection of the state of the labor market.


How will that balance the market - cutting supply while demand is growing?


engineers can capture more of the value they generate for themselves if an engineer founds their own company.


This happens to me a lot. I get a recruiter who calls, tells me they are looking for someone who can do what I do, and they are competitive compensation wise. Except the way that they get to be competitive from a compensation perspective is to offer a "huge" stock grant that will be worth "at least a few million" going forward. Oh but the base pay is kind of what you get for being on your second or third position (say 5 years of experience).

People buy that line of reasoning. It is sad but they do, and I have colleagues who have worked in several such positions and failed to increase their 401k savings by much (given the low base pay) and after 10 years of work and haven't seen a dime from the so-called "valuable" equity. Worse they are now considered 'old' so they are pushing headwinds when they even get to an interview (much like the original author).

When I talk with newly minted engineers today about compensation I will often recommend that they "do the math" which is to say they compute their living expenses and assume they are going to save the maximum allowable 401k and they are going to pay taxes at what ever the current rate is. To take those numbers, try to plot them out with inflation and the stock market return, take a million off the top for each kid they expect to have if their future spouse isn't working, a half million if they are working. And then see if they exit 20 - 25 years with enough to live on or not.

Once you have the basic model you are in a much better position to understand how the base salary you are being offered helps or hinders your future self.


I find it strange, as software developers, that we discuss the effects on automation all the time, but no one seems to understand that automation has made searching for new employees incredibly inexpensive and efficient compared to the past.

So in technical roles there are a lot of companies that are always hiring. Recruiters work for free until they find you someone and placing job listings online is so inexpensive it barely registers as a cost.

On top of that, most states are "at will" employment, so even if a company does not have any openings, if they find someone better, and cheaper, than another employee that is currently working at the company, they can hire them and then eventually let that other employee go.

For example, I'm not in the market for a new laptop, but if a brand new, top of the line laptop came up for sale at half price, I'd probably buy it.

Its so cheap to look for new talent due to automation, so most companies will shop around in case they get lucky and land a fantastic bargain. Many are not seriously looking to fill an immediate need.

With that said, there are still plenty of companies out there with an immediate need, so please do not get discouraged by that group of companies that are "always hiring".


Interviews take 2-3 man days from a company per candidate you end up doing a full onsight interview. That is on the order of $1000’s per interview, and you generally have to do several per role. Then for high demand roles even the best will take several months to ramp up which costs a large fraction, say 25-50% of their total compensation. So replacing a dev can cost you in total $100k+ at least.

That is not really cheap, I am sure technology has helped reduce the amount of man administrative man hours, and helped fill a pipeline, but you still need to train new hires and actually interview them, which is no cheap.


This happens because high costs that are not easily measurable (such as the productivity hit from interviewing candidates) don't show up on spreadsheets and thus don't result in recriminations from on high. But the relatively low, one-time cost of a new hire shows up immediately on the spreadsheet and that means whoever did the hiring is going to get yelled at for paying too much. Given this incentive structure, it makes sense to drag out the hiring process as long as possible.


I agree with this, but practically no one ever does this math. (Paradoxically, even the people who claim to understand this, and who mention how expensive interviewing is -- even they still fall back into the old patterns)

Interviewing at all companies is always "free", because once your an employee, your time has "no cost", irregardless of what anyone's wages are, and regardless of any opportunity costs for the time.


I agree with your calculations but some managers seem to not have done this math yet.

As result, what we have are poor hiring evaluations, horrible onboarding, etc.


It's exactly those managers that are the problem. They're incompetent and not needed for self-managed agile teams. So they keep rotating developers to safeguard their positions.

Meanwhile those managers are getting the salaries that better be spent on a team of great developers.


I think it is also how budget for hiring seems to be allocated. New funding round, hire a bunch, got budget approved, hire a bunch. Senior management and above seems to not like to give money with time conditions against their expectations.


There's some derived value in the interviewing. It might be to gain insight from an expert in a field. It might be test out interview/hiring practices. For OP, it seems like they were never really intent on hiring someone at the time but put out a lowball offer on the chance it would get picked up.


I wonder at what point would it make sense to start exposing a part of your "software development pipeline" to the external world and then hiring people after they've proven themselves on your pipeline (with compensation). Think lambda school but for your own company.


Open source projects started by or significantly invested in by tech companies must be a huge recruiting tool. I can think of several people in the React community that ended up working at Facebook.


The current data we have about hiring practices seem to disagree with you. So either, this process is not as expensive as you think it is, or companies believe it is less expensive than it actually is.

Either way, the effect on hiring is the same.


searching is easier in terms of internet ads and reviewing candidates. But hiring dev candidates is extremely hard. Virtually everyone has a job who is experienced already, college students get offers somewhere in the early junior year, so you hire them with at most 2 internships. It's very difficult to pull people out of an existing job, it's kind of begging them to consider you. Then for random applicants to a company, you can check their resume, but many people end up failing our interview.

So it's not easy to actually hire. I'm not at amazon, but we do offer reasonable rates - example, new college hires get 130k+stock, benefits at our company.


Are you in the Bay area or Seattle? That's higher rates than what I have seen for new college hires (I have seen in the 40-60k range).


We compete with top companies, although we are a startup. Don't want to say the name. But each year it creeps up. If you want top students who work on backend infra, that's what you pay.

Yes, we are in seattle and/or sf. Don't want to say the name.


$60k seems low to me for any decent size city in the US too. From experience, new grads were offered much more even in late 00s, after recession started.


I made 52k fresh out of college 16 years ago. Seems really low today.


Hmmm. I don't have a ton of data points, but we:

* don't care if you have a CS degree (we have hired plenty of bootcamp grads)

* are 100% remote which is super valuable to some folks

* aren't looking for super specialized skills--we build websites and web applications on some common open source stacks.

* explicitly don't pay top dollar. As the CEO says in the typical hiring conversation, every so often we'll be talking to folks who are also talking to Microsoft and Facebook, and we'll quietly back away--we choose to compete on different axes than dollars.

But maybe we're on the lower end. We definitely pay above that band for folks with 1-2 years of experience.


Fwiw, when I interned in a suburb of Atlanta, as a sophomore at a company no one cares about, I made $25/hr. I believe the people who went there full time started at ~75k.

So I'd consider 60k low for any urban area.


Even at the top end of that range it's less than what a competitive internships annualised compensation would be. Are you really able to hire people at those rates?


>Are you really able to hire people at those rates?

Not the poster,although I've found a lot of people will take 50% pay for fully remote jobs.

I was suprised just how valuable fully remote is to so many people.


> but many people end up failing our interview

If you are having this much trouble hiring, are you 100% sure your interview process is correct?

What is the KPI for your interview process?


That’s another hot topic here in HN. Not claiming is the GP case but interviewing nowadays feels like human Tetris.


I do know we must miss some good candidates. We have been discussing lowering our bar, I'm in favor of changing it. We do the usual 5 or 6 questions. One thing that is interesting about our company is we have a list of x questions (x is less than 20), and we generally ask the same questions, everyone is calibrated on them the same way. Most people who make it through the screening pass the interview loop and get an offer. All our interns got offers the last 2 years. Maybe half the industry people say yes and a smaller percentage of students. For students I think we just don't offer enough.


> We do the usual 5 or 6 questions

But what metric are you determining that those 5 or 6 questions are correct?

For example, have you put together a pool of current workers that are successful at your type of work at different companies and seen how many can pass your interview test? Its pretty easy to find a recruiter that will reach out to their network and you pay 10 employed quality engineers $1,000 that do similar work to attempt the questions. If you find a significant amount of successful engineers cannot do it, then you may want to recalibrate.

I have helped several different companies fix their hiring process, purely by recalibrating their interview test questions to their specific needs. This sometimes actually means, more difficult or simply different types of questions. But very often people just do some Google searches for interviewing at FAANG and repeat those questions without tailoring them to their specific roles.

With that said, in the case of your company, it may very well be the case that the work you do requires particularly high IQ candidates, which is actually what most interview questions at the big tech companies test. In that case, you will always have a difficulty finding candidates as there are only a limited amount of high IQ people in the world. So changing your interview questions may not apply. But when that is the case, you can often save yourself quite a bit of time by asking potential hires to take an IQ online. This will cost your organization almost nothing and will likely screen out the vast majority of people that will not be able to pass those types of interview questions.


I think it’s illegal to hire based on IQ score.


Are you being sarcastic? At least in the US, you aren't allowed to discriminate based on a protected class(race, religion, sex, age, physical/mental handicap) but iq isn't a protected class.


To be clear, while not outright forbidden, the IQ tests are instead called "personality tests" or "aptitude tests" or "coding interviews" because of this landmine legal vaguery (for example, you mentioned mental handicap -- i.e. lower IQ score -- as a protected class).


Sorry, I didn’t mean to deflect the convo towards your company’s hiring practices.

What I was trying to say that lot have been said about hiring metrics and standards around here and elsewhere. Yet, at the end of the day still like arbitrary in both ends and makes the job transaction cost higher than what could possible be.

Anyways, as I read your company’s interview process. Something came to my mind, why not let the candidate decide which questions to pick? I say so because I find the a lot of interviews are so hit or miss but if I was given a bit of control over the process, things could be different (or at least I would like to think this way).


As someone in Canada looking at an offer for much lower than that, I'm not sure what to do to negotiate upwards. I can't find concrete enough numbers that others are making up here for example.


This isn’t right. The cost of finding an employee at my current company (which Is considered an excellent company in the games industry) is near $70k.

The reality is outside of very early resume screening very little of the process is automated. Recruiting spends most of their day contacting people on sites like linked-in trying to find talent as not nearly enough shows up at our door.

My colleagues at FAANG companies tell me similar stories.

The cost of replacing an existing employee is also very high. In most domains can’t just plug that cheaper developer in, they need training and expertise building.

Outside of some very simple domains I don’t think your hypothesis holds up.


And yet, despite all the difficulties, most job ads just look more or less the same- 3 pages of tech requirements, a ton of self praise about the company and 3 lines about what successful applicant would get: bean bag in the corner, Foosball and a spot in an open space office...


I think the talent is intent on showing up. They’re just absolutely atrocious at detecting it even when it is right in front of them.


If it's cheap for them to waste our time with bogus interviews, it's also cheap for us to compile lists of deceitful employers and recruiters. Let's blackball them.

There is actually a Dutch site that tries to do something like that [0], but those recruiters are not even remotely as bad as these stories. They may be annoying parasites, but at least when they mention a number, it's fairly reliable.

[0] https://blacklist-recruiters.nl/archive/


"I find it strange, as software developers, that we discuss the effects on automation all the time, but no one seems to understand that automation has made searching for new employees incredibly inexpensive and efficient compared to the past."

Yes, just like Tinder and other assorted dating apps and sites have made it incredibly easy and efficient to search for a mate, but relatively few people end up in a relationship because of it. The act of swiping endlessly appeals to people, apparently. I vaguely remember hearing that once you are given 2 or more options, it induces strong paralysis, whereas if you have one option you tend to just jump at it and move forward with your life. I imagine the dynamics of dating and hiring are quite parallel.



> once you are given 2 or more options

You mean 3 or more? Because saying 2 or more just means you have options and therefore any options induces paralysis


only a programmer could produce such a pedantic comment such as this.


> Anyway... Went in for 4-5 interviews. Took me about 10 hours in total to interview with them.

The experience of the poster you are responding to doesn't seem to align with the situation you are describing. Sure posting an online job ad is pretty cheap. The rest of the hiring process, not so much.


Believe it or not, those interviews usually aren't that expensive. You probably have a mix of managers, which spend all their time in meetings anyway, and engineers, which are paid salary so they typically end up putting in a couple extra hours when they fall behind due to interviewing.

Sure it isn't free, but remember, this person had made it all the way to the end of the process. The determination was made that they represented such a large gain, for the low salary they were paying, that it was worth the risk of that small cost to get an employee at a 30% reduction in salary.

If you are going to save 30% of $140k, that means you will save $42k. It would take a lot of interviews to make up that gap.


>so they typically end up putting in a couple extra hours when they fall behind due to interviewing

Mind letting me know where you work so I can avoid it? Interviewing is part of the job and needs to be accounted for. You don't just make your employees do overtime because you don't want to plan out your companies work well


Yeah... no. Most engineers and programmers don't interview for free. They do it on company time.

If their other work falls behind because they spend too much time interviewing, well that is the company's problem. I have never worked with anyone that would stay late because they interviewed someone that day. That is ridiculous.

And as for staying late "to get the work done", what job do you work in where the work is ever "done"?


If there are 10 hours of interviews, and each one is attended by an average of 1.5 current employees, who make, on average, $100K, then the labor cost (not including opportunity cost) of that round of interviews with that candidate is on the order of a few hundred to a thousand dollars. So you might have a point there.


Searching for new employees is incredibly inexpensive == I now know you don't do any interviewing or hiring.

Eg when we post a senior eng job on eg glassdoor, stackoverflow, or linkedin, we are deluged with resumes. Just the ad easily costs $250. Then we get applications who ignore that we don't sponsor visas, clearly don't have the skills required (6 year SAP programmer who wants to be a senior fullstack eng? No thanks), or are junior eng trying to make a huge jump. 1.5 years experience does not make you a senior SE who can be trusted to design and land large features with minimal oversight.

The first problem is an eng manager reviews all those resumes. It easily requires 10 minutes per, including writing nice rejection letters. And that's just for inbound. Outbound can take 30+ minutes per.

If someone passes the resume filter, we do a phone screen with one of our senior eng shadowed by a junior. A 45 minute call plus prep plus decision afterwards costs me 2 hours of eng time.

If you come in, we do about a 3.5 hour interview across 6 people. We cover travel expenses and lunch if an interview runs over lunchtime.

The whole thing easy costs us $1.5k, plus tons of eng time. And that's if we source. If a recruiter sources, we're looking at 20%.


>6 year SAP programmer who wants to be a senior fullstack eng? No thanks.

Which part of senior full stack are they missing? Front end, back end , API?

https://cloudplatform.sap.com/capabilities/technical-asset-i...

>1.5 years experience does not make you a senior SE who can be trusted to design and land large features with minimal oversight.

Yes and 25 years experience doesn't make them one either, especially if it is the same 25 years.

You could find a 2.5 jr with the skills required.

I mean if they started their own start up they could be designing and landing features with no oversight within 18 months.

>The first problem is an eng manager reviews all those resumes.

Yes it's better to have actually engineers do the initial review. They understand the job, will see through the BS and scale better. The more people you hire, the more resumes you can review.


$1.5k is a significant expense for your organization? A $250 ad listing is a lot for your organization?

I'm sorry, but this sounds very strange from someone claiming to know about interviewing and hiring.

You need an engineering manager to filter out SAP programmers who want to be a senior full stack engineer? You need an engineering manager to figure out someone only has 1.5 years of experience?

How many people are you interviewing? How many positions are you filling? Seems like you would realistically need about 5-10 phone screens plus 1 or 2 in person interviews to fill a position. 3 if your phone screens were really off the mark.

I'm actually curious who hired you. Because this sounds like dismal operations management. Seriously, you seem to be a great example of how much a bad hire can cost a company.


Reading the original post it seems to say 1.5K plus "tons of eng time", I'd imagine that it's the opportunity cost of the engineering time that ends up being by far the most expensive part in this and that the 1.5k figure was just the other fixed costs.

"Seems like you would realistically need about 5-10 phone screens plus 1 or 2 in person interviews to fill a position. 3 if your phone screens were really off the mark." Just curious what your thought process is to arrive at these numbers?


This should have been obvious, but buttresses my thesis: we do more than one ad. Run rate order of $140k for 2019. obviously $2k is not a significant expense, but that's per position per interview. So we pay that well more than once.

Also in this thread: piles of people complaining hr runs hiring. We have an eng manager run hiring for our eng. You: bring back hr to review resumes!.

We're hiring on the order of 15 eng over the next calendar year. Ask anyone who has actually done this (say, for example, the folks at yc) hiring is incredibly expensive. I saw an interview where an Asana founder said he spent perhaps 20% - I can't recall, but significant percentage -- of his time hiring. That's super senior executive time focused on getting employees in.


I wonder if automation actually distorts the recruitment market? As the initial cost of recruitment goes down, thanks to automation, more recruiters gets involved because it's cheaper to enter the market.

As more recruiters offers their services to employers the employers starts to feel like there are more potential hires than there actually are.

As a thought experiment we could assume that there used to be two recruiting firms for each employer but then costs went down and now there are ten. This gave the illusion that there are five times as many potential hires even if everyone should take a step back and realize that the recruiters are still all trawling in the same pool in their search for talent.


I don't totally buy this argument. It's not cheap to hire. They might have increased the number of candidates in the pipeline sure, but I don't think the turnaround time to hire is any less. Also, there's the paradox of choice. The more candidates you have, the harder it is to hire. You actually need to apply filters to reduce the overall quantity you will pick from.


There's also cost of switching itself which could be pretty steep. Pay someone to learn his role being essentially useless for the first month or so, and having several other people distract to show him/her the way around.


You've clearly never worked on the hiring side of a company. I mean that literally and not snidely: you're completely unaware of the costs and complications and risks that go into hiring from the company's side.


those are some good points, I been wondering if they are doing things like that myself.

I also wonder how much of it is also #1 data gathering, #2 advertisement, and #3 slightly counter to what you are saying - bad tools/people using said tools.

for point one, I can learn a lot on what microsoft is doing by pulling resumes from microsoft workers, even more if I interview them. you can quickly glean direction, head count, tech stack, etc.

for point two, tech companies especially have to remain relevant in the news. Imagine if you post positions for great ML shiny positions, that gets seen by tens of thousands of people for 0 cost. "Did you see that great posting at company X? wow they have an impressive Y team"

point 3, I have seen recruiters get thousands of resumes for a position they posted on the web, really want to hire someone, but instead send people through the hiring loops because of direct contacts. Its like they search for skills, the resumes on the website dont get searched well so they assume there are no matches. its baffling to me this happens given the tools you mentioned


My last job search, I was cold-called by a recruiter who was working with a local bank. Salary range was acceptable, and there were a few factors pressing for finding a job quickly.

Interviews went well, liked the people I met; things looked good. As a condition of the offer, the recruiter told me they needed my current salary. I provided that, and they dropped their offer ~$15,000 below the low end of their range because my income (in another state and a different industry) was lower.

I told them, "that's not how this works. You base your offer on what the work is worth here, not on what I was making in another role."

Walked, and got an offer two weeks later - $30,000 above their original range and no bullshit trying to tie it to my current income.


Did you say that on the phone or email? Did they reach out to you first after two weeks of radio silence? I’m always curious how these negotiations go since I just got off the job market.


I want to give a slightly different perspective on this as a cofounder of a startup. First of all it sounds like there was some really dishonest communication and there is no excuse for that.

As far as salary goes, I absolutely cannot afford to compete and hire at market rate prices so I rely on:

-People who are motivated by other factors than money (everyone at our company took a pay cut to join). We have schedule flexibility, we are like-able, our tech is interesting, our mission and vision are inspiring I hope, we are good at selling ourselves.

-People who like the gamble of stock options

-People who are unaware of their market value

This is how every startup in seed round works pretty much.

That said, I don’t go around complaining that there is a talent shortage. I’m well aware of the situation we are in.


How do you reconcile this statement:

First of all it sounds like there was some really dishonest communication and there is no excuse for that.

With this one:

People who are unaware of their market value


As an employer it is not my job to assess and pay an employee their market value. I’m not a career counselor. I have positions I need to fill and those have salaries associated with them. Someone who is overqualified might accept a role when I think they could do better, but that’s me projecting a vision onto them. The employee has mobility to reject my offer, or leave and seek a better job.

Also people are complex I don’t necessarily know why the engineer accepted the job for 70% of what I think they could earn elsewhere. It could be an intangible reason.


>As an employer it is not my job to assess and pay an employee their market value

Then how do you do competition market research?

Are you okay with it if it turns out that the offer you make is either 3x or 1/3 The market rate?

>The employee has mobility to reject my offer, or leave and seek a better job.

As long as you never whine about a 'talent shortage' when they reject the offer or leave, that's fine.

You made the offer, they decline or leave because they can get better elsewhere.

You look at that information and decide if you want to raise wages or not. Then put out whatever adverts you wish.

Simple and easy. No need for press,PR,H1B, lobbyists and the like.

If everyone was running like that, these kind of articles wouldn't exist.


An employee’s market value has nothing to do with the job openings I have available. You’re equating the two. When I do salary research I do it based on similar roles that are open. Let me give you a concrete example: A CS Phd applies to be our front desk receptionist. I’m offering them the value of the position they applied for, which has nothing to do with the fact that they could be making $300K+ doing CS research.


I think there's a big difference between floating a number like "2X" to entice someone into an interview, then presenting an offer for "X"... versus just floating "X" in the first place, and maybe someone is too timid or unaware to ask for more.

Honestly, we're not SKU's. Once you get some experience, the main difference between, say, a $100k developer and a $150k developer is that the latter simply decides that's their price and interviews longer until they find it.


I've seen very-underpaid people go through the realization that they've been taken advantage of.

Sometimes it's worked out; the company gives them a big raise, a lump sum in the key of "Sorry!" and the person remains a happy and productive -- and wiser -- member of the team.

Usually they're gone within months, though. And often other people follow ("You got /how/ much at OtherCorp?").


There's nothing dishonest about making someone an offer lower than what you think they could get elsewhere and then accepting it.


There is if the candidate makes their salary a very clear upfront condition of employment and the employer pushes them through a lengthy interview without disclosing zero chance of them being paid that much because the company does not have the money. They are leading a candidate on in bad faith.


I have noticed two things,

1) every company I have interviewed with has lied to me at some point in the process. Sometimes those are small lies, sometimes they are very big ones. I get that hiring is a complex process but a company's recruiters and hiring managers should make an effort to not over-promise and under-deliver to people that want to work there.

2) I have never received an offer from a company that asked me my salary expectations. I consider that question a loud signal that I am just being regarded as a data point by the recruiter, and I basically write them off.


>> Sometimes those are small lies, sometimes they are very big ones.

Been there. But lies cut both ways. Once a company is dishonest with you, it is 100% fair game for you to be dishonest with them:

- Side consulting gigs

- During work consulting gigs, especially if you have "unlimited vacation"

- Sneaking off during the day to do whatever

That said, that isn't healthy for either party. The best situation is where both sides are honest and both sides work their hardest to reach a shared goal.


> 2) salary expectation

Oh lol. I just applied for a job that asked for salary expectation. Well I guess its ok. I spent minimal amount of time uploading my resume and entering data into 4 webpage.


> I absolutely cannot afford to compete and hire at market rate prices

maybe you need some funding then


Article author suggest he could just do the thing himself instead of working for company... Thus, he should seek more equity :)

Well, maybe..


>I absolutely cannot afford to compete and hire at market rate prices

You could if you were willing to take rawer unproven talent.

You chose another option and that worked for you and that's great. You could have perhaps hired a student at market rate.


Maybe I'm out of touch but 4-5 interviews when they have sought you out and you're a domain expert seems like a big red flag.

I've had a few short interviews that quickly turned into a sales pitch on why I should work for them. I've also had the same you experienced: they act like they really want you specifically then feed you into the human resource machine. Basically made me feel scammed so I bowed out after the first 30 minutes.

I get the sense that a lot of tech companies' hiring playbook is all about making you feel special and elite then feeding you into the machine.


For my current job I took a 30 minute phone interview followed by an offer. The offer was what I was making as a consultant + benefits/vacation. So really it was a huge net pay increase. The project isn't super inspiring but I almost never work overtime, get 6 weeks vacation and it's 100% remote. This is honestly the best job I've ever had. I really don't understand why people put up with 4-5 interviews, homework, etc.

I guess I could understand it if I REALLY wanted to work at company X and company X happened to have annoying interview practices. But is that the condition for most people seeking jobs? Or is there some selection bias of who is posting about their experiences?


> really don't understand why people put up with 4-5 interviews, homework, etc.

not everyone is negotiating from a position of strength.


Everyone who currently has a job, that isn't at imminent risk of losing that job, is in a position of power against a company that needs labor.

I'm certainly not widely known in the industry. I don't have any public projects/repos. I've been doing this for almost 20 years, so I do have a pretty extensive resume. But I didn't have extensive resume when I was starting out in the early 2000s just after the internet bubble burst and times were relatively rough in the industry. And I wouldn't have done 4-5 interviews or homework projects even then.

We don't need to accept this kind of treatment from potential employers.


> Maybe I'm out of touch but 4-5 interviews when they have sought you out and you're a domain expert seems like a big red flag.

I was interviewing with the CTO/CEO etc and some of them were out of town. Normally I would agree btw.


Same thing happened to me. Exciting company, leadership opportunities, etc.

The asked how much I was looking for, I told them X, which was 25% more than I was getting now and on the high-end for a similar role. They say ok.

Interview goes great, everyone loves me, offer time. They offer me X-20%. WTF? That’s basically what I’m making now and they didn’t offer big company perks like 401k match, stock grants, etc. So in fact, the offer was less than I was currently getting. They were willing to go up to X-15%, but no higher.

Why say ok when someone says they want X, then make an offer way lower than X?


You really need to ghost a company like that.


Yeah, I see this all the time too, they offer 50-60% of market rate and wonder why they get no takers.


The ones who are good salesman do get takers. I don't really know why or how but they get them. Not the greatest engineers but also not bottom feeders. It's surreal. Granted it's usually people who don't realize their own worth or are naive about how much equity is actually going to be worth.


Hey, uh. So, I'm going to be graduating with a B.Eng soon. Any tips on how to realize my own worth? I have a tendency to let myself be taken advantage of... I mean, I'm currently doing a research internship at a computer vision lab at my uni for very little compensation (grant + departmental top-up). I told myself I was doing it "for the experience." I... I feel like I might be a candidate for the behavior you describe, so I'd like to snap myself out of that if possible. Any resources you could point me to would be stellar, please and thank you.


The best way is to interview at good companies and get offers from them. That means the usual Google, Facebook, Apple, etc. and also up-and-coming ones (Uber, Lyft, etc.). You don't even need to want to work for the company but getting an offer will tell you your worth for the future. You will need to study hard for those interviews but it's well documented online what you need to study specifically (read Cracking the Coding Interview, practice Hackerrank, LeetCode, etc.).

There's generally threads online where recent grads say what offers they've gotten from companies and websites like www.paysa.com that try to aggregate them but those are all biased.

Equity is a gamble not in your favor, read up on how many startups fail outright, how many sell for basically nothing, and how much you're going to get diluted in funding rounds. Founders will say otherwise but it's their job to sell you so don't trust them. So if you do want to gamble on a startup make sure to heavily discount the value of equity when negotiating.


Equity is literally a scam at this point because there's the stock options that they give you, the private stock they give themselves, and the stock the VCs get. You're literally last on the list to get paid and first on the list to get shafted. It's not like it used to be where stock meant everyone shared risk and reward.


> You're literally last on the list to get paid and first on the list to get shafted

Isn't that a given with equity? You're literally saying that you're a residual claimant in the enterprise. Yes, with stock options and such things you might be even "more" residual than others in the capital structure, but it's not a "scam".


The unhappiest people I know are the golddiggers. They cannot escape the feeling that they’re being taken advantage of. That the pie is so big anyways, and they deserve a little more, you know? And oh look, here comes somebody offering just a little more. What kind of sucker wouldn’t want to get paid what they’re really worth?

They’re unhappy because they let other people control their sense of self-worth.



If the company is pre-ipo then look for top 10 venture capitalists as investors (Kleiner Perkins etc). This signals a company with good prospects! You do research - if you have to, pay the money to join CrunchBase - and figure out what each share is worth in the last funding round in dollars. Sometimes it's published in news articles and sometimes in Delaware Corp filings ($$$ to retrieve; crunchbase is easier). Their offer should be market if the (stock grant) x (last funding round price/share) + your base and bonus is average for a person at your level. Check levels.fyi. check Glassdoor salaries. If it's a unicorn check the university of bc unicorn report to see if there are ratchets or preferred shares (bad for you, a common stock grantee) in previous funding rounds. Then make a guess if they can IPO. 95% of silicon valley companies cannot. I picked one that was already getting ready to file an s-1 (IPO disclosure).

My biggest mistake as a new grad PhD was local cost of living. I wanted the prestige of working at a well known university. Turns out I didn't have the safety net or family wealth to work there.

Use an online calculator to estimate after-tax take home pay. Look at home price per square foot. A good offer nationally will pay 300 sq ft of real estate (take home pay) per year. My salary has varied from 110 to 1800 sq ft per year. I quit the 110 sq ft job after 2 years I just couldn't afford it; that is unsustainable! The 1800 sq ft job was in Phoenix; one house (new) per year! My current salary is ~250 sq ft a year which sucks nationally but is good for one of the most expensive cities in silicon valley (400+ sq ft just a few blocks away in a lesser school district); I am very Senior with 30 YOE.


+1 I like your metric, $ as sq ft / yr.


Brush up on Cracking the Coding Interview, interview at the top N companies wherever you can face living, research salaries for that area (levels.fyi is good if you're in the bay area, I'm told)


That's different. Academia pays less at all levels.


I've been doing this for a while.

I just measure positives and negatives and once exceeds the other, I'm done.


I imagine the people that would accept that are 'lifers'.

Where they get comfy, rationalize that they know their job, and the company never has to spend more than 98k on this person for the next 35 years.

Weirdly enough, it seems like Fortune 500 pays best for the brightest and they have them working on high level concepts and paying suppliers to perform the nitty gritty engineering.

I don't quite understand the rationale behind this hiring phenomenon.


Its not that hard if you've worked in corporate america.

Executives like to work with people that they "like", so its frequently people who went to similar schools, have a similar sense of humor, don't say stupid shit etc. Even if these people are totally ineffective and have no skills, they will keep getting hired. Then, they make use of the new labor markets, where you can just outsource everything and hire consultants/contractors to do the actual implementation.

If the project succeeds, the hired person is a star and gets showered with money, poached by other firms where they try to replicate a similar, completely short sighted way of building business value.

If the project fail, blame the contractors get new ones.


And because everyone knows this, a contractor can easily charge 2-3 times what an employee makes - aka what they're actually worth. The system works (Except of course for the employees)


Is there any reason to be an employee? I feel like its a suckers choice.

Benefits are not worth 2-3x the pay. I find myself being a contractor due to the better pay.


I've been on both sides. Depends on the company, of course, but all else being equal:

- Contractors don't always get the best projects. Often the coolest, most strategic projects go to employees. Of course, if no one internally is qualified, contractors then get the best projects.

- When cuts happen, contractors are at the front of the line, and when cuts need to go deeper, employees then are at risk.

- It is a pain to collect. You are often not the primary contractors, there is usually a pass-thru company that is well-connected and gets the receivables and then pass them onto you. Sometimes they delay payments 45 days. Sometimes 60 days. I've had some months paid 4 months late. On rare occasions you never get paid.

- You pay the employer payroll tax if you are in the US and on 1099 (on W2 you only pay half the payroll tax).

- Benefits you purchase are often not the best benefits. The benefits you would get at a large company are often well negotiated and much better and much cheaper than what you purchase a la carte.

Obviously for a contractor premium high enough, none of the above really matters. But contract work isnt worth it, for say, a 40% premium IMHO, especially with a family. At higher premiums (250%, 300%) it can make sense assuming you like what you will be doing.


This is the nail on the head.

Until we can show that there is something more effective (and possibly transparent) I fear we are doomed to continue repeating this cycle.


The single most valuable attribute in a corporation is loyalty. Skill is an illusion.


Aren't most startup founders straight out of school and never worked anywhere full time in software? Maybe that's why they behave like they do with only small guidance from their VCs that could well be detached from reality too.


Or, as the title of the post suggests, the VC guidance is to look for suckers.


The average age of a software startup founder is 40 [1].

[1] https://hbr.org/2018/07/research-the-average-age-of-a-succes...


There's a possibility that someone agreeing to work for less than market, in software, given everything else about them is stellar, is a phenomenally positive signal.


I'm a tradesperson with knowledge-worker experience.

Had a software company offer me a position, tech support + some maintenance of existing codebase. I have a demonstrated capability to meet the requirements. Remote + onsite work at client premises. Existing employees doing the roll are way overloaded and obviously stressed.

The person I'd report to travelled to interview me. This person admitted they hadn't received a pay rise in four years.

I told them my current pay grade BEFORE the interview.

Their offer: $45,000 BELOW my current pay, then another $5000 per year I'd spend paying for my dependants to be cared for during the time suggested I'd be at clients premises.


At this point, I flat-out tell recruiters what I'm looking for and ask if they're going to be able to offer something in that ballpark before we proceed to an interview. I let them know that it'll be a hard no if it's below what I'm asking, regardless of stock/benefits/whatever. That's drastically cut down on the amount of time folks have wasted.


This happens on Hired.com all the time. Company makes an offer that meets your expectation. Phone interview comes to an end and then HR say "Actually we want you to move on salary before proceeding" and that's if you are lucky.

I finished an interview in London, UK and they start umming and ahing over a measly five grand. It happened in Toronto too last year.


I was put in touch with a business by a recruiter. I stated my salary expectations, received the typical "that's a little high..." from the recruiter; as per usual, the offers I received justified my stance.

They offered me 15% below what I wanted alongside a very uninspiring business in advertising. I was honest and said I was interviewing elsewhere and wasn't about to accept that offer quickly, though it wasn't off the table. They waited one week and pulled the offer. I accepted a better offer pretty much the next day.

The recruiter got back in touch with me a week or two later and said quite frankly that they regretted their decision as they've struggled to find anyone comparable in my salary range. Because, as it finally dawned on them, my salary expectations weren't even that high - I intentionally put them in the mid-range for my skill-set because I care deeply about work/life balance and I'm picky about tech stack.

Unrelated, but I also had a similar experience last year when buying my first home. First place we put an offer in with was poorly advised by their agent, and they came back begging a few months later by which point it was too late. It's only two anecdotal data points but it does seem to be that people are willing to lose a lot in order to gain a pittance.


5k... and god knows how much lost productivity. That's just penny wise and pound foolish... but also IMO a bad sign if that is how they make decisions.

After the housing bubble burst I decided it was time to buy a new house. I made an offer on a house and we went back and forth but we hit the ceiling I was willing to pay so we went our separate ways.

After the seller had an agreement with two other families fall through they called me 9 months later asking if I was interested. I went back to my first offer from the start and told them I'd close in two weeks. Deal was done.


Hell, I've literally asked for a non-pay title increase and been shot down before. I was doing significantly more than the job description and literally doubled my salary at the next place. I was not paid well and didn't realize my worth. Now I'm on the other end and despite 3 people accepting offers they all back out on the hire date for a reason no one seems to want to share. There's things I can fix, things I can't fix, and things I just plain don't know about.


Non pay title increase, that's like free to them... wtf.


I've been there before.

After one instance of that routine I learned to unashamedly [at least loosely] state my asking rate, and ask about salary up front (or early) after hearing the interview process.

It's saved me. I would have faced the same interview length for [same as you] half of my current salary, and would have had to share a machine as a matter of principle. For an intermediate->senior role. With longer hours, and fewer benefits (but there would be a ping pong table and exposed brick walls...).

Though the situation I experienced seems especially endemic to Toronto's dev mills. I've since learned to recognize them at the outset and stay away.


I wonder in what situation exactly would a company legitimately have a need to interview a candidate for a total of 5 rounds? Wouldn't they run out of questions to ask? Are you applying for a CEO position?

All it does is displaying for everyone to see their indecisiveness and wasting other people's time. They obviously couldn't make up their mind even after the first four rounds and that's just bad in any businesses.

If I ever had to go through a five-rounds interview and they ended up turning me down, I will not care if it burns bridges as I will track down their boss and he/she will receive some nice hand-written letters from me to let them know how their company performed. A working relationship always goes both way and they obviously have not valued much of your time.


I don't do the 4-5 interview thing any more either. If you cannot make a determination in 1 or 2 interviews in person - in combination with my work history and references then you are wasting my time and yours.


Completely agree with you, and if am going on a 4-5 interview step thing and blackboards are presented etc then I want you to be able to offer same sign on bonuses and perks big companies can offer.

If the only thing you have to offer is equity (risk) and a lower salary than what I was getting/market salary why don't I just save me some time and risk it all by starting my own company.


My girlfriend had 10 or maybe even 11 interviews at Stryker without getting an offer. That's pretty twisted


I have also had some dealings with Stryker and without getting into too many specifics I will say they seem horribly disrespectful to their candidates.


Wow, I honestly wonder how this is possible?


Years ago, I was at a social gathering of some sort. Another guest worked in tech for an organization that had an opening, for which a friend of mine seemed qualified. I took the information about the outfit, and emailed my friend.

She replied that she was pretty sure this was an organization she had interviewed at some time before. They found her qualified, and made her an offer substantially below what she had clearly said she required. They said, Well, we thought you'd find the work so interesting that you'd be willing to work for that. They thought wrong.


> Why in the heck would I turn down a bird in the hand for 1x in the bush?

It is a startup. That is what they do. They offer low comp but with more stocks. How is this a surprise to you?


>You can't go to a ferrari dealership and offer to buy one or $20k.. that's just not how it works.

That's how employers work though. Next step is to whine about a Ferrari shortage and bribe (I mean lobby) the goverment to increase immigration of Ferrari knock of builders in order to reduce the shortage.

Then when the locals get indignant about all these new Ferraris depressing sale price of Ferraris, if your the UK you blame the EU and have a vote on brexit.....


Orthogonal to the point of your anecdote, but this:

> They're aren't many expects in my field with my background and skill set

contradicts the title of the submitted post.


It seems to me that they're not contradictory. A "talent shortage" would be if, when you consider all roles requiring some particular qualification or experience, there aren't enough people to fill them.

If there aren't many people that meet the requirement, but there are at least as many as jobs that need to hire them, then there's no shortage - that small number could even be too many, if some of those people are overqualified for the jobs they end up doing.


They may honestly not have the money/resources to afford you.

Most startups and new businesses fail. Part of that is a lack of funding and a lack of information/knowledge about the specifics of the markets they are working in.

They may not know that they are looking for a Ferrari or what the market for Ferraris looks like.


This is totally fine, but it isn't a "shortage". It is poor product market fit, poor pricing, or just a bad business. If a business cannot support input costs, the business is just a bad business.

If I start a business that sells Ferraris for 20k, then complain how I cant buy them cheap enough wholesale, there isn't a shortage.


This example certainly constitutes a "shortage", especially from the point of the employer. He has a demand which he can't fulfill. Due to not fulfilling it, he has problems investing his capital as productively as possible.

The idea that job applicants get offered wages which they perceive as too low does not mean that there is not a shortage of similar talent on the market, even at reasonable wages, if there even is such a thing.

The analogy with the Ferraris breaks down for developers and engineers because their qualifications are hard to quantify and their added value is hard to predict.

Employers will especially talk about talent shortages when they can't hire additional talent at the wages of their existing workforce. That may be because they got lucky and found very cheap engineers ("suckers"), but it also may be that they are running against the wall of the talent shortage, meaning they can only hire new people if they embark on a potentially ruinous wage competition with other employers...

If wages are perceived to low compared to profits, than I'd rather question the potential collusion among employers. There have been dramatic cases of such sollusion in silicon valley, as I recall. Less drastically labor market regulations and workforce protections will also play a role.


>> The idea that job applicants get offered wages which they perceive as too low does not mean that there is not a shortage of similar talent on the market, even at reasonable wages, if there even is such a thing.

In the Bay Area, I rarely hear friends complaining of wages "perceived" as too low, usually it is more absolute in terms or it wont pay rent. This isnt usually the case for entry level or medium level jobs. But I constantly hear of this so called shortage of experienced engineers. The fact about experience engineers (10yrs, 15yrs, whatever) is that experience is also correlated with age, family, children and throwing $150k at someone with family simply doesnt work. It isnt a perception issue, you literally cannot fit a family into a studio apartment and afford braces, health premiums, co-pays, etc.


So, what are the experienced engineers with families and an expensive life style doing then?

Unless they prefer to be unemployed, or work outside the industry (and Silicon Valley), their turning down a job offer because of too low compensation does not preclude a real talent shortage. Usually they are already employed at a wage that pays rent, right?

All this talk about low wages seems to assume recruiters and employers are stupid. But they aren't, for the most part. If they think they could make a higher profit by doubling the wage offer and thus hiring an additional engineer, they would do it. Stupidity or stupid greed is not a smart way to reject that basic economic imperative for an industry as a whole.


>So, what are the experienced engineers with families and an expensive life style doing then?

>or work outside the industry (and Silicon Valley)

There are plenty working in the industry outside of silicon valley there are more bootstrapped SaaS than before.

The young developers fed up of silicon valley looking for a family are a great snatch for these kinds of companies.

>All this talk about low wages seems to assume recruiters and employers are stupid

I think it's more about the combination of low wages and complaint about talent shortage, either is fine but both is pretty stupid.

>If they think they could make a higher profit by doubling the wage offer and thus hiring an additional engineer, they would do it.

Yup,which tells us that they are not really that concerned about the hiring of another engineer.


On the other hand, other tech-hubs than Silicon Valley have the same talent shortage. Even outside the US, the picture is always the same, except for maybe developing countries.

Again: Individual movements, individual market mismatches, don't disprove a talent shortage.

Your arguments only make sense if you assume the worth of an engineer to be virtually limitless, or else there is no shortage. That companies should ruin their business models by treating engineers like kings and handing them all the profits.


I cannot fully agree on this. What is your definition of "shortage"?

From a supply/demand perspective, there is no such thing as a shortage. At least not without further qualifications. Prices adjust so that the demand meets the supply. In theory that should always be possible. Concept of a shortage per se does not have a place in this theory. You can only speak about a shortage/oversupply at a certain price level but such a thing has no significant meaning because that price level is just an arbitrary number.

Thus to speak about a shortage you must add some other components to your model. Those other components will always be partially subjective (i.e., what you want to maximize?) and fairly complicated. (I believe.)

In any case, one could for example argue that there are not enough engineers to fill the roles "needed" in the economy at a sustainable price. (What is "needed", though?) But I am very sceptical about such a claim, considering the huge profits many US companies are making, even the software companies for that matter.


>This example certainly constitutes a "shortage", especially from the point of the employer. He has a demand which he can't fulfill.

There are certainly localised shortages (hence the popularity of remote work)

>they can only hire new people if they embark on a potentially ruinous wage

Or cut profits or lower CEO wages to fund it, or move the company to a lower cost of living area.

If your a software company your biggest expenses are probably staff and offices and well cheaper areas also have excellent connections to cloud services.

You can pay half as much in salary in 1/4 area and everyone is better off.


when they do that, i have sent an invoice to the recruiter for the hours they wasted of my time... didnt get the payment lol


Are you like earning 500k? 200k might be really pushing it for the startup but yeah that was bad overall.


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