There are really so many ways to conduct "hiring", the process of onboarding someone new into a group; and this serves as impeccable illustration that if you are willing to innovate in that regard, we can do so much more and so much better today than just 10-20 years ago (and ever before).
The process of Automattic makes you want to work with them if only because they seem to have a fantastic culture, really play the game at a higher level on the 'human' part.
$25/hour for a professional software developer is kind of insulting. Particularly so if Automattic is looking the same tier of talent as the top tech companies.
If that's there attitude then fuck them. You can guess which demographic they are talking about.
Maybe $25 per hour won't attract local talent from silicon valley, but there's a huge global market of talented engineers that would happily apply to work remote at a company like Automattic.
Let me do the math..
Oh wow, I didn't realize that $60k/yr is $28/hr. I guess this does make sense after all...
In my country, $40k/year is a super high salary, even the average senior developer wouldn't make that much.
$10/hr = $20k/yr
$20/hr = $40k/yr
$30/hr = $60k/yr
$40/hr = $80k/yr
$50/hr = $100k/yr
$60/hr = $120k/yr
$70/hr = $140k/yr
$80/hr = $160k/yr
$90/hr = $180k/yr
$100/hr = $200k/yr
$110/hr = $220k/yr
$120/hr = $240k/yr
$130/hr = $260k/yr
$140/hr = $280k/yr
$150/hr = $300k/yr
$160/hr = $320k/yr
$170/hr = $340k/yr
$180/hr = $360k/yr
$190/hr = $390k/yr
$200/hr = $400k/yr
And let me tell you there are developers barely making one fifth of it.
Market structure also plays a big part in the final number, e.g. Switzerland or the US have much higher 'net' salaries (after taxes) but conversely must spend ~2x what more socialist markets like France or Germany have already included in taxes for various insurances (health, retirement, savings, etc) and rents (housing, commodities, subs...)
Some examples (loose statistics from memory but the gist is good)
In Zurich, Switzerland you can expect a net salary almost as high as the US or Asia (top 10 cities; I'd say it's 80% to all the way there, just less exponential because top paying jobs are not in Switzerland vs SF or HK).
In France, accross the border, you can expect between 25-60K€ (junior-senior) if not in Paris, bump to 35-80K€ there. It goes higher, but you're much better off starting a small contractor/consulting business (being 'sponsored' by ex-company is a thing in France for top dogs) if you want mid-six figures.
AFAIK developers in the first world still get better than the average salaries.
I would imagine many (not from 'traditional' academic background, or fresh out of some unknown college, etc.) would do this for free for a decent shot at getting hired in a well known tech company.
I realize that English isn't the native language of either speaker.
How are you supposed to live/support a family on $1,100 a month for 1-3 months? Would be a hard pass for me if I was looking.
Fact is the companies that are the most open on HN about compensation pay the least (like Gitlab and Buffer).
My theory is that instead of paying more they simply cast a wide net via hiring. If the net's large enough you'll find enough people willing to be paid low rates.
You know who doesn't talk about salary? Companies that pay well and hire devs who know what they're worth.
If someone is optimizing to maximize a few weeks of trial pay, probably not the best fit.
Also, keep in mind that $25/hour is almost double the median wage of the USA. The software world is a bubble right now. By all means, I advocate to take advantage of that and save up, but don't get angry when a company's wages aren't 10x that of a non-software role. Sure, you can make a lot more money going to a company that earns a lot of money (generally via exploitation of unfair intellectual monopoly laws) while creating little surplus value for the world, or you can join a company like Wordpress that creates far more value for the world than they capture.
A lot of people are willing to take a pay cut to create more value for the world. It's too bad that things are so out of whack, but in tech right now, those 2 things are very uncorrelated (the prime reason from the data I've seen is unjust intellectual monopoly laws).
If you are a YOUNG developer, I would say go take the money! Good times won't last. If you are instead more concerned about what value you are creating for the world, there are a some well known great places to work (WordPress, Wikipedia, Mozilla come to mind but there are many many more often in research, government, or academia).
So if there is a “bubble” it’s been going for two decades for me - and this is in Atlanta.
That's not the correct comparison. The median full-time wage in the US is closer to $50,000 (~$47k-$54k depending on what adjustments you're using). The median software developer salary is around $107,000 +/-.
The median wage overall includes part-time labor for example and people working very few hours. That considerably lowers the number versus what developers would expect to see, given the extremely low unemployment rate for tech workers (they overwhelmingly tend to work full-time jobs).
I suppose it works out well for you, you will get only those that really want to work at Automattic and are willing do sacrifice for a chance, since they risk running a substantial loss if they aren't offered a position after doing a three month try-out. That is, for all areas where $25/hr is hard to impossible to live off of, especially for people with children, you end up either with those that are set up by previous engagements or are true believers.
Work is mostly asynchronous. Not sure if that came through properly. If you have about 90 minutes time every evening you can go through the trial within a month.
In the end, the trial’s outcome is more determined by results — what you did and how you did it.
I’m creating value for Automattic.
For the record, however, a lot of lousy paying companies also don't share their salaries here, so I don't quite know what actual point you're making because your conclusion does not follow from your assertion, which itself is also false.
Why would anyone believe that Automatic is such a great place to work if they value the time of their candidates so little? If they think it's fine to throw an extra 10 hours/week of work at candidates for little to no pay, how will they treat you once you're salaried?
They may think that this is the one true hiring system, but it's seriously weird.
Other companies have figured out how to hire people without this nonsense. Imagine if this was the standard in the industry. Some company would have the brilliant idea of hiring people without a 2 month trial period and write a breathless blog post about how they're so cool that they hire people based on interviews alone!
HN would go nuts over this forward thinking company that treats its candidates so much better.
And it also helped me find out whether I would like to work there — it’s a trial in both directions, really. For the applicant it’s a much better way to figure out whether they like the company and its people than, say, things a recruiter tells you on the phone.
I can’t find the study right now, but there was one that evaluated predictors of job performance and found that only work samples and general cognitive ability were really usable and reliable measures.
Get out of the bubble anonCow. $25/hour is nearly double the USA median wage, for a trial position.
Here's a dirty little secret for you: the only reason software developers are making unnaturally high amounts relative to everyone else is because of unjust intellectual monopoly laws.
For full disclosure: I am an Automattic employee and love working remotely on the side so much that I devote my private time to promoting it [ https://www.quora.com/How-is-life-as-a-web-developer-who-wor... ]. Opinions here are my own.
The way I see it (and this is my private opinion), Automattic can successfully pull off what it does, because we really filter people who are self-driven and NOT motivated by money.
If you want more $$$, Google or Facebook is definitely your best bet.
But in Google or Facebook, your role will be tightly defined. In Automattic you have LOADS of freedom and flexibility to try to have a positive impact. We sometimes succeed, sometimes need to work on something else, but the work tends to be very fulfilling.
Now, back to the money topic. My salary went up about 6x after joining A8C (yes, that is 600%). Part of this is of course due to the fact that I live in Poland.
- I can travel the world without needing more vacation time,
- I have company off-sites in Disneyland, Athens or wherever it may be.
- I can visit my grandpa during the workday because I don't have to sit in an office all day or move to Silicon Valley.
- NOT EVEN ONCE was I pushed to do overtime in Automattic. I did it because I got myself into way to many projects, but I have multiple coworkers that do not go over 40 hr/week
I promised you expected return on investment formula. My calculation went like this:
- My quality of life will go about 80% up for the number of years ( I just clocked in 4 years at Automattic, so lets use that number )
- To achieve that, my quality of life will go down 40% over 2 months, because of the trial
- I have the confidence of about 50% that I can make it.
You do the math.
I learned that to achieve better results that everybody else, you just need to do a little more upront work. People tend to not do that. The funny part is that after you do that upront work you are usually in a place where you have to work less than everybody else.
I think what you and Matt are missing here is the case where things don't work out. What if Wordpress decides after the trial that I am not a good fit? What if I decide that I don't like the job? What happens to the 3 months I spent working for less? How many under-payed jobs in your mind should an engineer do before the "math" stops working?
Because we all have the responsibility to improve the working conditions in the software industry? I love this field too mu ch to leave it up to "markets will figure it out".
I think the industry is pretty sick with all these interviews, tests, "trials" etc. Wasting both company's and candidate's time. Let's do it the old-fashioned way. 1) Likeability of the person 2) seems knowledgeable to do the job 3) start work next week, with full pay (or why not 80%?) and we'll see how it works out.
The trial is very very accommodating to whatever life situation you are in. I was young and obsessed with the startup I was working for so I was working 60-70 hour weeks (I do not do this at Automattic). I also had a pre-planned 3-week long vacation during this time when I couldn't go online or do the trial, so I had to start my trial later. And then I had an unexpected health issue. Automattic accommodated all of this.
I am from one of those countries where they have a 3-month long probation period. It is not something to aspire to. You need to quit your job to start a new job you don't know much about where you can be let go anytime.
For many of us, the fact that you get to see what your day-to-day would look like, what the company culture is really like, and what kind of people you'd be working with - without having to make a huge commitment - is invaluable. I am not sure I would've left my previous job where I was really happy if I wasn't 100% certain that Automattic was a good fit for me. And I wouldn't have been able to gauge that if I had not done a trial.
I would say that how we work now 1 month is on the outside of how long I want the entire process to take, from application to offer letter. So that means the trial project can be a lot shorter.
People come in from all sorts of situations in terms of when and how they can participate, the key there is just communication. The team is very flexible in tailoring the process to be inclusive of different time restrictions people may have.
Finally I’ll just say as someone who used to be deep in the code and systems myself as WordPress and Automattic started and scaled, one of my favorite things today is seeing the impact new engineers joining can have on products and teams that impact large swathes of the web. If you’re curious at all about working with a fully distributed company with open source deep in its ethos, please drop in an application and come meet our folks. I’m always happy as well to exchange DMs or hop on a quick call to talk about our opportunities.
Automattic's draconian conflict-of-interest policy is well known in and out of the organization:
We are not allowed to do outside work at any time during our employment without legal approval, including things as basic as part-time DOG WALKING (I won't ever forget that town hall debate). We have to shut down our money-making apps, are not allowed to do any type of consulting or freelance work, and are essentially barred from doing any kind of for-profit behavior without lawyers getting involved.
And yet you require your applicants to do paid work in their off-hours to even be considered for the job? How is that OK?
There's no forcing there. Most other companies allow you to work outside of the company, or know that it's unenforcable to tell you not to, so you do the trial. Otherwise, you do the trial at your own peril or quit.
I have a hard time believing that they're getting the absolute best engineers using this strategy, but who knows.
Source: I work at Automattic
It's still a commitment to be sure, but we try really hard to make it as accessible as we can.
I wouldn't work 40 hours spread over 2-8 weeks. It's just too much effort for too little reward. If it were paid at contractor rates then I might – I have done a small amount of contracting in my free time – but we're talking $100+ an hour (and I don't live in the bay area).
I understand the value to the company of a trial, and if I were unemployed I think it would be a great way for me to trial a company, and I'd be totally up for it, but fitting this around an existing job, let alone a family, child, being a carer, or just having an active social life, seems so much more effort than any other tech interview process I've seen.
If Automattic paid 2-3x more than others, then maybe it would be worth it for that chance, but that's not something I see advertised so I assume that's not the case.
Seeing this as part of the process I would be seriously concerned about the sorts of people I would end up working with, as I imagine it selecting for a very non-diverse set of developers who struggle to find jobs elsewhere.
That said, if this is not how things end up, I'd be keen to read a "deep dive" sort of thing on these topics, why the extensive trial works, etc. A full rebuttal to this would be a fascinating read.
One question: is the 40 hours of work something that your company would like to use, that may go into production at Automattic? Or is it just some toy project to work on over that time?
source: I work on hiring at Automattic.
You wouldn’t. If you’re interested in the job and Automattic are interested in you, you can do a trial. Because it’s a non-trivial time investment, they offer a small compensation.
If Google flies you in for a full day interview, do they pay you a full day’s salary? Or, any salary at all? They don’t.
The biggest risk for me is lowering my full time hours, and that can limit my ability to try/find new opportunities.
Being able to work on the weekends would be awesome - it wouldn't interfere with my normal work and if be making some extra money.
For context - I'm a 20 year old programmer without a degree, I'm sure those with families would find it more challenging to fit the 10 hours in.
I know this because I've applied to Automattic before and got that far. :-D
People don't do these trials for the money. We do it because the payoff is getting a great job, and we want to know what the company is like to gauge if it would be a good fit for us and if it indeed is a great job.
I work at Automattic and the hourly rate was not at all a consideration for me when I did my trial. I understand it may be different for others, though!
You wouldn't get the best or keep the best but the game is getting more people on the training track so you can call them when new work is available.
“In this episode, I talk to Leif Singer, an engineer at the fully remote company
Why some of the big tech is still not very remote friendly like FB, Google, Apple etc.
edit: I meant more of the admin area, sorry.
Do you want titles like "How Automattic develops software for websites"? Boring.
Clickbait is often a result of ommiting some information. Then you click, find the missing info within 10 seconds and bounce off. If there's info in the content that may cause many people to do that, then it should be in the title.