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Doesn't that defeat the premise of the tech industry as a meritocracy?

I'm not sure there's any reason to believe the tech industry is any more a meritocracy than most other industries. Look at sales just about anyplace. Your success is very tightly linked to how much stuff you sell.

In any case, how much merit someone has often isn't obvious. Pretty much anyone involved in hiring will tell you that internal referrals are one of the best ways (if not the best way) to at least figure out who to put into hiring pipeline.

> Doesn't that defeat the premise of the tech industry as a meritocracy?

If you don't do any marketing of yourself, nobody is going to know about your merit. "Build it and they will come" is a Hollywood fantasy, not reality.

I think this is unfair. There are lots of jobs out there, and lots of employers looking for people with specific skills. The reason networking works is because discoverability is a problem. If I apply to every job that listed my skills as required I'd waste 90% of my time because my area of expertise is so specialist that only 10% of the people who have all the skills listed are experienced in the right ways.

Whereas if I network with people the jobs they recommend are far more likely to be a fit because I've networked with them - they know my skills.

> I think this is unfair.

Fair or not, it's how most everything in life works. For good things to happen you, you have to put yourself in a position where good things can find you. That means marketing yourself. It applies to getting your dream job just as much as it applies to getting your dream partner.

Even if you get your dream job, talent and hard work simply isn't good enough. You'll need to be able to sell your ideas to others in the company.

Like it or not, it's how a lot of job hunting works. I haven't gotten a job in over 30 years that didn't come about primarily through one or more personal connections.

I realized that what's inside a person doesn't count because no one can see it.

I didn't realize you were such a philosopher.

That's my point!


Upvote for Classic Dilbert!

Only if you think the merit of being able to form social connections and work with people is orthogonal to the skills being hired for. I'm not sure it should count for as much as it sometimes does, but how we measure "merit" and how it translates into outputs is a complicated process and I'm fairly sure it shouldn't count for nothing.

Although the networking stuff is arguably the most circular of all of the criteria for hiring someone then.

"Why should we let you join our group?"

"Because I'm part of your group."


Also, frequently these issues become very Rashomon-like. Why did Bob not get along with anyone at site X? Is it because of Bob, or X, or because they were a poor fit for each other?

What's infuriating (or depressing) about this stuff from my perspective is that there's an implicit assumption always that the person complaining about not building networks has not built the networks because of poor social skills, rather than problems with the networks themselves.

I'm not naive about social connections, but in my experience the social skills stuff is vastly overrated. Serious problems get ignored when it's a friend, and molehills are made into mountains when it's not. It tends to devolve into petty gossip and junior high infighting.

There are 10's of thousands of CS majors every year, and probably hundreds of thousands of people who think being a data scientist would be "fun". No company is going to weed through that pile to find the literal "best" candidate, because acquiring that information is expensive.

> Theoretically, this is what testing is for. How many companies do that?

definitely not. soft skills are as important as hard skills are in the workplace. demonstrating effective networking skills shows that you are personable and could be tolerable in a work environment. its just as important for your co-workers to be able to get along with you as it is for you to get your work done correctly and on time.

It starts to resemble a meritocracy once your cv is in the “for interview” pile.

The expected shredinger-distance of your cv is given by G * N^2, G being cv weight and N your networking coefficient.

The tech industry is only a meritocracy at the edge. IT's large enough now that schmoozing is enough to get a job.

It’s a faulty premise. Or, at least we should include ability to network and/or make friends in high places in the definition of “merit”. Does anyone seriously believe that Facebook achieved its early success because Mark Zuckerberg was that excellent of a developer? The very name of it and the apparent utility and appeal, came from Harvard having a print Facebook. Not to mention an elite, influential userbase. Zuckerberg was obviously a talented and inventive developer, but at a large public university, he might have instead created the next Hot or Not competitor.

Not necessarily. I'm not going to vouch for someone who is terrible. That reflects poorly on me.

I will vouch for someone who I know and is not terrible. I'm not going to vouch for someone who I don't know. So there is an element of having connections. There is also an element of social skills as in any endeavor that involves more than one person.

It's most definitely not a meritocracy.

No it just reveals the weights of the economic indexes for new hires

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