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All the jobs I failed to get (shkspr.mobi)
168 points by edent on Sept 19, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 173 comments

When I got a job at one of the FAANG companies I told a friend how many rejections I got. The friend said: “it’s easier to narrate your failures once you’ve emerged victorious”.

She was right, I realized.

Now I’m looking for job again, have been rejected by 4 companies, no offer in hand yet and I’m open about it.

Thank you for this. I recently graduated in May with a bachelors in CS and looking at LinkedIn has been very discouraging. I know it's unhealthy to compare yourself to others but it's hard, especially when you see a lot of other people having success. Before the pandemic I was banking on going to EYEO and SIGGRAPH to network with people in the creative technology space to break into it (my goal is to be a creative technologist like the Google Creative Lab), now I'm just trying to finish a personal project to showcase my skills (can't wait to share it with Hacker News), find a job, and apply for grad school in a program like NYU ITP, or a Human Computer Interaction program.

> I was banking on going to EYEO and SIGGRAPH to network with people in the creative technology space to break into it

The secret to networking is to "network" when you don't need anything. If you meet people in your (intended) field, get to know them, learn, learn, learn, and generally establish yourself - even a little - before you need it, you'll be 100x better off when you do.

If you wait until you need it, you can come off as needy, desperate, or one of those "I only hear from them when they need something" people. I have a former friend that literally the only time I heard from her was when she was looking for work. I got in to habit of "Oh, she emailed.. must be looking for a job!" Don't be them.

> The secret to networking is to "network" when you don't need anything.

I can’t emphasise this enough. Over the past decade I have built up a small network of mostly former and current colleagues. We all have mutual respect for each other, so if an opportunity or need arose neither party would feel bad about reaching out or being reached out to. After all, a positive outcome will likely be mutual.

I used to think that networking involved going to conferences and shaking hands with strangers in hallways while exchanging business cards. This was terrifying because I knew I’d be bad at it.

I was pleasantly surprised at being wrong.

I think the old saying goes something like: When you want money, ask for advice. When you want advice, ask for money.



I actually don’t see this is a negative thing, and prefer it sometimes so long as the expectations are mutual. If me and another person are on the same page about only being in touch when the other needs something, and it goes both ways, why waste time trying to facilitate a friendship for the sake of it? Often I find those “friendships” lack substance and just serve to fulfill a social norm that it’s bad to ask for things only when you need them. Perhaps what I’m suggesting is that so long as the social contract is agreed upon (usually implicitly) between parties, there’s nothing wrong with having transactional professional relationships.

On a larger note: I find looking into LinkedIn quite depressing. Everyone is happy and excited and successful. There is no real value in most posts. Rather, they’re usually a variation of this:

”#supergrateful and #blessed for meeting super inspiring %SomeoneImportant today #growth #entrepreneurship %hipsterstartup #nopause”

I try to stay away from it as much as I can.

Those people are showing their “highlights reel,” of course. I see people who’ve been laid off saying how #blessed they are to start their own business, people getting promoted or pumping the release of their latest project but are very stressed and unhappy, etc.

I also stay away from LinkedIn, though. #worthless #selfpromotion

This is the way I think about Linkedin: It’s not really about networking. Most fruitful networking take place on other places. It’s mostly a way for recruiters to find people. The modern equivalent of a Rolodex. Which can be good for people who might want to get in touch with a recruiter that has something to offer them. (Some people don’t want do be contacted by recruiters and for those people Linkedin probably doesn’t have so much to offer.)

Same, I've found this uBlock origin filter very handy to avoid the feed


The scourge of social media :). Quite some research linking depression/anxiety and social media [0] and even though my own experience is not exactly data, I am happy I don't mindlessly scroll through pics and boasts and get time to spend on other things (like HN ;-)) . LinkedIn, I am afraid is becoming very similar :(

[0] https://scholar.google.com.au/scholar?q=social+media+depress...

Hang in there!

I’ve had a long career in technology, and for most of it I was doing project and product management, with some light coding on my own time as a hobby. Five years ago I’d finally had it with all that and went to a great coding boot camp. I did end up landing a job after that, but it was a grueling experience to go back to zero in finding jobs.

Comparing yourself to others can be incredibly draining. Not only are many of these people at different stages in their careers than you are, but you’re seeing the best faces they can put forward when you look at LinkedIn.

My advice is - own who and where you are right now. You have done a hell of a lot of work to get where you are now, and you can be proud of that. And if a company isn’t looking for someone like you - if 20 companies aren’t - that’s not on you. Keep working on your craft, keep following what networking angles you can in this crazy year, and keep the faith.

Hi! Thank you so much for your comment, it means a lot! Thank you.

Hey! You might want to look into the public Creative Developers slack -- http://creative-dev.herokuapp.com/ -- there's a good community there.

Also, look into what the School for Poetic Computation is doing -- https://sfpc.io/

Happy to send you (a lot) more references / ideas of places to which you could apply, digital artist centers to follow, etc. Reach out! (email in profile)

Oh, and also -- https://www.recurse.com/ :-)


I had 11 onsites (over the course of 6-8 months) at mostly normal tech companies before getting an offer at a FAANG.

Now I've been here 6 months.

Really crazy, and I have no idea how this ended up happening. Probably a combination of studying more and getting better with every interview, finding my weaknesses and fixing them. Along with a combination of bad luck with getting rejected so many times, and good luck with the final acceptance of where I am.

Interesting thing is that I think my offer was more towards the higher end of band for this company, so who knows.

What are your specialties? Place I work has openings for .net and java web app devs and full stack

I've been rejected by Google once, Amazon like 10 time (I even had an onsight in 2017), Facebook once, and Microsoft once. Apple didn't even say they didn't want me.

> “it’s easier to narrate your failures once you’ve emerged victorious”.

This is similar to survivorship bias, and its relationship to cause and effect stories.

GoDaddy rejected me a year after I applied and only realized it when a recruiter was trying to input me into their system. I took great pride in informing her that a) I made more than their proposed offer and b) I’d never work for a company who couldn’t operate with basic human decency in their recruiting process.

Because of that experience, I make it a point that every single candidate deserves a yes or no response and the company I work for has kept that up.

> I took great pride in informing her that a) I made more than their proposed offer and b) I’d never work for a company who couldn’t operate with basic human decency in their recruiting process.

I used to work in tech recruiting. I guarantee you 100%, no one cares.

As a candidate your only option is to move on or write a bad glassdoor if you are so inclined and move on.

Well, it tells a lot about how much you(and probably your management) care about your job.

My org was once hiring for a tech position, it was a new role, we weren't exactly sure if the process was right and one candidate sent us an email criticising the process and interviewers. We have apologised and thanked for the feedback, which was brought onboard and used to calibrate and improve the process further. Not every company is the same.

Besides, when we have received that kind of message it immediately raised some red flags. What if the candidate complains on glassdoor or other social media? It would damage our reputation. And frankly speaking, GoDaddy doesn't exactly have a good reputation.


About 15 years ago I managed a software team and decided I wanted to consider new opportunities. I wasn't sure I was leaving, but I wanted to see what was out there. A recruiter saw my resume, called my workplace to speak to the hiring manager, and offered his services to help the company fill their soon-to-be-vacant development manager position.

The recruiter was happy to reveal that I was considering leaving until he realized I was the hiring manager he was talking to. He quickly hung up.

Wow, just wow.

I was a hiring manager in tech for many years and my impression was that talented people care, as do managers. Seems like everyone involved except the recruiter wants an optimal outcome ....

Maybe i misinterpreted what GP said. curious if you have an example where you took a candidates feedback and improved your process.

If you company does leetcode puzzles ( I worked at such a company) for hiring and a candidate tells you that they felt like that processes lacked basic human decency. What would you do?

Evaluate the areas of human interaction or places where some could be and try to make those better. Instead of just thinking that a technical challenge is there be all end all of recruiting.

“ I used to work in tech recruiting. I guarantee you 100%, no one cares.”

This does not reflect tech recruiting. People do care and while there are many hurdles to changing a process, we shouldn’t give up because its hard.

ok how does this address my example above about the most popular "inhumane" tech hiring complaint on HN.

What are you going to do about that other than give up?

As a candidate? Tell them you don't do puzzles before talking to humans and to advance you to the next screen? It's not like those rules can't be broken or changed, they aren't laws of physics.

No. Not as a candidate. GP is referring to recruiting.

> This does not reflect tech recruiting. we shouldn’t give up because its hard.

> I used to work in tech recruiting. I guarantee you 100%, no one cares.

Yes, everyone noticed.

> I used to work in tech recruiting. I guarantee you 100%, no one cares.

Sounds correct. That's why professional tech recruiters are best avoided. Have never seen anything but empty talk and bad matches from them. On either side, recruiting or being recruited. Unfortunately the bigger the HR of a company, the more similarities to outside recruiters.

> That's why professional tech recruiters are best avoided.

I worked as a recruiter at a big tech company not a tech recruiting firm.

Recruiting is just a big numbers game, it is nothing personal. Its just the way it is.

Most people here hate white board, leetcode puzzles with passion but you cannot simply "best avoid" it if you want to get into a big tech company.

Do you really think making engineers with 2 decades of experience solve 'trapping rain water' in 30 mins is "basic human decency" ? Do you think they care if you write to them about that?

It's never silly to inform someone when they fail basic human decency.

Attitudes like yours are why tech recruiters are notoriously inconsiderate and difficult to work with. It’s not a good look and not something to be proud of.

> Attitudes like yours

Why the personal attacks?

I am merely telling you what goes on. Its not my personal policy or my personal preference. I hated being a recruiter and pivoted out of it.

Do you think FB engineers personally set the policy to ignore rumours against muslims in India from spreading on their platform.

It wasn't an attack. They're just stating a fact from their own experience.

I hated being a recruiter and pivoted out of it.

That's definitely helpful to know. Thanks for clarifying.

There’s like 2 very discrete camps in recruiting in my experience, people who optimize for short vs long game basically. I’ve maintained a fantastic relationship with the best recruiter I met, and it’s definitely not like this, there’s some great people in the long game camp.

Candidates talk. If we hear that a company has a terrible recruiting process, we'll generally avoid it. This is especially true of qualified candidates who are heavily recruited. You'll send an email or a LinkedIn message to a candidate and get one of the suggested "No, thanks" replies or outright silence.

So if you don't care, you should.

I'm on the interviewer's side of the table and we absolutely do care.

While I agree with you in the sentiment that they are venting to space... metaphorically speaking. A recruiter either works for themselves, as an agency, or for a company. In all three scenarios your business is only as good as your reputation since “service” is your business. I’d highly suggest taking a second look at your stance. While it takes years to build reputation, it takes minutes to destroy it.

I'm hiring now. I don't think no one cares. Our recruiter is processing 400 candidates at once and relying on a lot of new hiring managers to follow a process. It's a lot of work to keep up and stuff does fall through the cracks. And we're a tiny startup.

Agreed, "no one cares" was probably not the right way to put it. I should've said that its highly unlikely that someone will actually look at the feedback and take it seriously.

You shouldn't make such sweeping statements. I can assure you that candidates do care. Feedback should be mandatory for the time invested by candidates.

As a hiring manager, I care quite a bit about how candidates think of our process BUT I also know that most folks who bother to write something like 'basic human decency' to a recruiter, who usually has little power or status in a company, are probably not the people I want to hire.

Nothing wrong with complaining but people often hurl needless insults when they've had a less than optimal time.

Why couldn't the feedback bubble up to someone who has enough authority to improve the process? No one expects recruiters to fix the company by themselves.

As a candidate your only option is to move on or write a bad glassdoor if you are so inclined and move on.

Not in the EU. You can file a GDPR SAR for any electronic records created during the process, which will probably include the interviewer’s notes.

Wow I had no idea. This would be a game changer for the whole industry here.

> GoDaddy rejected me a year after I applied and only realized it when a recruiter was trying to input me into their system.

I don't understand this bit. Did the recruiter input your info in their system and then the system send you a rejection email?

Yep lol. They added me as a “prospect” as they were trying to poach me and then I got the email. My best guess is that some sort of automated process picked up a rejection email or an email was queued in the system so when the new recruiter tried to send me an email with info via whatever tool they use it triggered it to send as well

I'm currently working at a very well known international company where I got hired after getting rejected from a significant number (+50) of big international companies and a good number of local ones (by local I mean from my small EU country). Strangely or perhaps completely understandable, getting rejected from the local companies 'hurt' more as I was aware that the pool of candidates was significantly smaller, there was no culture issue and it felt personal when rejection email was extremely late or non existent. I pull my hat down for the people who can be completely transparent in their 'failures'. I do wonder though, if the motivation behind the 'failures-cv' is to send a sort of a message to the companies and grant boards mentioned in it, when it's done after the person writing it has had significant success. By message I mean sort of 'look guys, I'm doing relatively ok and you didn't even call me for an interview'. Also, the article sparked an idea. Perhaps a good 'heuristic' for judging companies hiring processes and especially governmental ones would be to look at not only CVs of people getting hired but also those that get rejected. Part of that thinking comes from a conversation with one of my managers who said that sometimes he has a look at CV-s classified as 'C' (he get's only A & B from HR) and he wonders why some of them were not in the A and B group.

The sorting of resumes into A B and C piles is incredibly noisy. I could look at the same resume on two different days and reach a different conclusion, especially for an A<->B or B<->C transition, so it’s easy for me to see how someone else could reach a different bucketing.

My list of recent jobs I failed to get is about 200 unglamorous mid-level roles in small unknown companies that I applied through the last 2 months. 90% of them I was rejected on the resume filter. About 5 rejections after an intro interview. About more 5 or more rejections after a technical interview/coding challenge. Only 2 places on a final interview with chances of offers as of now (luckily in companies that I believe I would enjoy working).

If I were to publish such a blog post it would be more depressing and probably make me look like a bad developer (at least a bad candidate), not like someone who is “open about failure”.

When I started out I worked at a call center(A tech support center). When I interviewed there, I went in through a hiring consultant. I met a girl there who had failed in interviews in like some 40 companies and then finally got hired in our batch. From what I know she went on to do some amazing things. This always brings me some perspective on the merits or acceptance or rejection in any process.

Getting rejected any number times means nothing at all. People interviewing candidates are no better than the candidate, and in many cases not even as good as the candidate. Even if they were better it wouldn't matter, 1 hour is barely any time to judge any one and any decision you are likely to make even a 'yes' decision will never be 100% right. Even a hire decision doesn't mean you are awesome.

Plus a person measuring their worth based on job interviews is totally wrong. We like to think that people wish to hire people at least as good as them, if not better. In reality no one likes people better than them, and they'd rather not have some one better than them at work. They will be hiring competition responsible for them not getting raises, bonuses, promotions or RSU's. You are more likely to get rejected being good than bad.

If I've learned anything at all its the Clinton principle How many chances does one get? As much as one is willing to take

Pretty much any rejection any where means nothing. I'm not saying one must not take them seriously enough to improve oneself. But there is not need to get depressed or under evaluating yourself.

Just be chipping away at a good system of improving yourself in never ending cycles.

>Getting rejected any number times means nothing at all. People interviewing candidates are no better than the candidate, and in many cases not even as good as the candidate. Even if they were better it wouldn't matter, 1 hour is barely any time to judge any one and any decision you are likely to make even a 'yes' decision will never be 100% right. Even a hire decision doesn't mean you are awesome.

>Plus a person measuring their worth based on job interviews is totally wrong. We like to think that people wish to hire people at least as good as them, if not better. In reality no one likes people better than them, and they'd rather not have some one better than them at work. They will be hiring competition responsible for them not getting raises, bonuses, promotions or RSU's. You are more likely to get rejected being good than bad.

I am sure this happens, but it hasn't matched my general experience. I've been on both sides of the interviewing process, and have met people with better skills on the other side.

I also haven't worked any place so dysfunctional that skilled candidates' applications were torpedoed because they were potential competition.

I seem to apply to a about 3 to 5 places and get an offer within that. I can't imagine 200.

Though I work on a team with a guy who told me he had to apply to about 80 places. I've read his CV and it doesn't have a lot of signals that scream hire me. His pathway into software engineering is very non-typical. Despite that he's a decent developer and a great colleague.

The reasons I believe impact my poor performance:

- Graduated in Brazil (nobody knows my university)

- Graduated in non-CS degree

- Self-taught developer after careeer change with 37 yo (used freeCodeCamp.org, not even a known boot camp)

- No famous (in the US) companies in my resume

Probably more things that I don’t know. I have a similar numbers of interviews coming from my “Who wants to be hired” post [0] and from these ~200 applications

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24343085

Yeah, that makes sense.

It's amusing looking back at the failed ones, at the time it feels terrible, but as time passes it becomes an footnote of your own personal history.

My favourite one was sitting in a conference room in a hotel basement being interviewed by a FAANG for 5 hours. Completely bombed the interview but it makes me laugh looking back at it

OP is clearly trying to get a job in government. I hate to say it, and I mean this with the least amount of offence possible, but typically UK government jobs require you to look the part more than having sufficient technical knowledge. OP is applying for deputy head of governmental departments without the required background experience and to my untrained eye, the gravitas required. Perhaps a trip to the barber is warranted. Otherwise, great post! :)

It takes courage to share your failures publicly so kudos. Though the part about “CTO of a large government department” seems like a role that depends more on length of tenure and knowing the right people. Something that a headhunter would reach out for serious candidates.

Its fascinating because you see people get new jobs all the time but you never really know how many they applied for. I'm still not sure if my colleagues just apply for a few jobs they want and get them or apply for 100 and get just one or two.

New grad who spent 6 months applying for jobs everyday checking in. I got rejected/never heard from 120+ companies. Of those probably 25 I spent time actually writing a cover letter and tailoring my resume to. Finally got a job at an amazing company for good compensation and I love my job!

The opportunity even to fail at achieving the positions and distinctions listed is a privilege itself. Granted, it isn't the duty of one particular demographic or class to police how another responds to these sort of things because we're all human and have the right to express how we feel about rejection and not meeting the expectations set by ourselves or others.

I can understand and appreciate how this can be a boon to the esteem of their peers. But let's take it a step further.

Is there a way that the authors of these "CV of failures" can bridge the gap between themselves and those who may not even have a "curriculum" to ascribe to their life?

It's a lot easier to accept rejection when you give up on the idea that you're a rock star. I think I do good work and so do my coworkers. Knowing that is enough for me. It's OK if I get rejected by the big boys.

Lots of comments about how people are only transparent about their failures after they're successful.

There are plenty of reasons to conceal the failures in real time, but the two that jump to mind for me are:

1) not wanting your current employer to know you're looking, and

2) not wanting to advertise that you've been rejected to other future job prospects. (Could prime people into wondering "What's wrong with this candidate?" if you don't make it somewhere else.)

humblebrag, they're all high status positions

Deputy Director jobs in the UK Civil Service aren’t actually that senior. They tend to pay around £75k, or $100k US, which is a pretty decent wage for the general population but not quite at levels.fyi rates.

1. Deputy Director posts are the bottom rung in the Senior Civil Service. Any SCS post is, by definition, senior. The SCS accounts for 1% of the entire Civil Service head count[1].

2. Why mention the pay rate? Civil Service jobs have never been well paid - especially in comparison to private sector equivalent job roles. People go into these jobs for a lot of reasons beyond remuneration - behind-the-scenes power, for instance, or social cachet, or even in the belief that they can help make things work better.

3. The key level in the average UK central government department is the Grade 7 Team Leader. They're the ones with (wide) responsibility for a specific policy area, and/or running a specific government programme. They're also the ones who get hammered when anything goes wrong. (Deputy) Directors will be responsible for managing a Division of such Teams in a related area. Above them are the Director Generals (C-suite folks for each Department, though far more limited in numbers) and the Permanent Secretary (the CEO, if you like).

Running a country is not the same as running a business.

[1] - https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/explainers/grade-s...

Sorry since when is over double the median wage 'decent'. Some people on this forum have their head in their arses when it comes to money.

If you're in a certain industry, you're typically looking at the median in that industry and not the national median. USD $100k is ~4 year experience software engineer salary.

Is it? Most of the new-grads I know, many with no prior full-time experience, make around $120k, and of the 9 I regularly keep up with only 1 works at a FAANG (and makes a decent amount more than $120k). The others range from startups to BigCo fintech to backhouse software role in legacy Fortune 500s. Granted, most of these jobs are on the coasts, though (but not SF)

> Most of the new-grads I know

Only about 1/4 of US adults have an accredited 4-year degree. Just being a new grad is already a huge credential. Still, that credential doesn't generally generate $120k, for any major.

Where did these new grads get their degrees? My guess is that your personal social circle has a certain pedigree that isn't the norm.

A small liberal arts college (<1600 people) in California. While it's very well regarded in academic circles, within the general public you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who recognizes it unless they're affiliated in some way.

I only bring this up to push back against the common idea on this forum that you need to be Ivy/Stanford/MIT/Caltech to get into a top FAANG or consulting job or law/medical program -- first careers like these were the rule at my school, not the exception. And many were hired with one of those "useless" liberal arts degrees rather than a degree in the specific field they went in to.

>USD $100k is ~4 year experience software engineer salary.

Not in the UK, though.

Point still stands. UK software engineer median wages are above UK national median wages.

Yes, but 100k USD is a very high (though not impossibly high) wage for a software engineer in London. In the US it's an unremarkable salary in major tech hubs.

not by much. software salaries in the uk are not that great. 75k is top top bracket for uk.

As a UK based developer myself, all I can say is that remote work for US companies is possible and can be a massive win/win for both parties. You can be an absolute bargain from a US perspective, yet still be earning well above the domestic rate. Works best when the US employer is ET; the time difference between the West Coast and the UK is hard to bridge effectively.

75k USD is high end of the Senior Developer bracket in NZ too. It's depressing seeing levels.fyi. Though it's still double the national average, and it's equivalent to the median household income.

It's not that hard for Aussies or Kiwis to get a work visa in the US. Easiest path is probably to work for a US company locally and then do an intra-company transfer.

I know a few who did that, worked 3 years and went back with a healthy savings.

H1B is tied to the employer though right? And it's a lottery system, so no guarantee?

The one time I went to the US I nearly had a panic attack, so I can't really imagine living there or dragging my family there, but then you look at the money and it sure looks worth dragging yourself through hell for.

I was talking about intra-company transfers, which are different from H1B. E.g., you get a job at Google and Google wants to transfer you to the US. That's a different visa, it's much less competitive and there's no lottery.

> The one time I went to the US I nearly had a panic attack

I guess if you have psychological issues that make travel difficult or feel like "dragging yourself through hell", as you put it, then maybe just stay at home.

Another option is to work remote. You'll get paid less for being in an Asian time-zone, but you might still earn more than a local company would pay you.

A third option, which is the one I'm currently pursuing (from east Asia), is taking your skills directly to the market as an entrepreneur.

My final interview with AWS for a Sr PdM role went so poorly that they told me I had to wait 12 months to apply again. I feel like that’s some sort of accomplishment on its own.

They probably have a standard period to wait. Is this significantly longer than what other people have encountered?

All the FAANGs do, though it sometimes varies. A year is typical though (and I think at different times in their hiring cycle it varies, too).

For one FAANG, I had 3/5s my interview panel all clearly very positive about me, and 2/5s who clearly did not care from the very first minute of the interview, and the internal recruiter was like "Let's talk again in a year". Like, the implication clearly being he expected a pass, it was just luck of the draw on the panel. But even with that, year 'cooling off' period.

Potentially. The person who replied to you before me said it’s standard, but I remember reading online somewhere at the time that 6 months was the cool off period.

Reminded me of a friend who had applied to over 1,000 job openings in LinkedIn in 2019 and got zero response from them.

Then he decided to take the risk and run his own business, which is starting to gain some traction right now after the covid crisis.

Zero responses or zero offers? I find it hard to imagine not one of the 1000 positions he applied to wouldn’t even bother to respond provided he is qualified (or even in the ballpark) for the the job.

Would it be nice if you can link it here though, just saying (:

I once applied for a position building digital kiosks for American Airlines - I did not get it and in retrospect that is probably better because the company is always on the edge on bankruptcy, doing furloughs and layoffs, etc. I would have had a hard time during numerous financial downturns and world events like mortgage bubble, 9/11, and COVID. I would never have worked for Tumblr which was double plus awesome. But just the same, every time I check in at a kiosk in the airport I think to myself - I could have done this much better - and lament the missed opportunity.

It’s only a missed opportunity if you think you’d get approval to improve the screens! I’ve indirectly worked with American on their screens, and I’m not so sure improving UX is their top priority.

I had a (scheduled as such) short consulting stint at AA back in ‘09. Horrible experience. I wouldn’t work there if they doubled my salary and let me take Fridays off.

I have a folder with over 30 screenshots of job listings for all the positions I applied for last year.

Took me almost two months to find employment and in hindsight my greatest mistake was to bother with all that in November - companies started replying only in December when apparently they were finished with planning for the next quarter.

I'm seeing the same phenomenon now that again I'm looking to get hired - I currently have one offer on the table and at least three other interviews even though a month ago the best what I could hope for was a canned response rejecting my application.

I remember getting rejected by Google because I completely blanked on a binary search question. All my other rounds were great, but you can’t miss the search question at the search company.

I worked at Microsoft for a while a couple decades ago. I reapplied a few years ago and got through three developers reviewing me and the PM but didn't get the job. It can be disappointing if you really want to work somewhere badly. I still do but not sure if I will get a chance to interview there again.

I mean, you can’t miss any question at the big companies. There are endless candidates who have done 1000+ problems on leetcode in the waiting.

Its less an interview more an exam where the only acceptable mark is about 95% to 100%

> I think that people need to be more open about failure. None of us are perfect – despite what our social media presence says – and all of us suffer rejection. But, by being open and honest about it, we make it easier for others to realise that they’re not alone.

Yes BUT...

I haven't been in too many situations where I've been actively looking for employment/engagements, but some of the times I've been in those situations, everything was bad. It's difficult to go back and 'share' those with people - publicly - as it brings back a lot of bad memories of those time periods. Low funds or debt, downsizing, loss of friends/community, home/life issues, family issues, whatever. Scenarios where someone is looking for a job are often stressful, and that often can spread out for months, and affect the family and friends around you.

I'm happy to share extreme details of my situations with people in person, offer up support and give advice and insight about someone's situation by drawing on my own experiences, but... typically only in person. Publicly... generally not.

There's not just 'shame' issues for yourself; when you have a family, posting information about your failures can have an impact on your family as well, which they may not want.

I can't even remember the 80-85 jobs I've applied for in the last 7 months.

When I got out of college, I applied to about 250 jobs and only got 3 calls. Luckily one of those did pan out.

I keep hearing how there's a war for technical talent. I guess I don't have any.

I think the problem is not that there isn't enough if it (this may or may not be true) but more that it is very hard to figure out where it is. There are probably a good number of people who aren't presenting themselves well, despite having the talent, and get lost in the many applicants that don't seem to know how to program at all. Finding the right people is really hard.

I do think the need for technical talent is there, though - I've had a very different experience from what you describe.

To add some more detail, my experience was during the mortgage meltdown and fallout from that.

I agree with your perspective. I also think there are issues on the recruiting side. Sometimes it seems like they don't know what they need and they just list a ton of unnecessary stuff in the list of required skills.

I had a similar experience but during 2014-2016. It’s very common with new grads to spend 6+ months applying to get a job (even if you have internships or work experience). Almost no companies will take the risk due to whatever stigma.

It took me about 2 years after college until I got steady employment. I think I had sent over 750 apps and interviewed at over 100 companies. Most of the time they were trying to get a senior software engineer (5+ years xp) but considered me because I was probably one of the only people who had applied to their place. My interviewing skills were/are still garbage compared to the competition though.

> When I got out of college, I applied to about 250 jobs and only got 3 calls. Luckily one of those did pan out.

> I keep hearing how there's a war for technical talent. I guess I don't have any.

When I left academia, I struggled for 6 months to get a job. Then, 6 months into my first data scientist role, my company had to downscale and the whole data science team (me included) laid off.

I got three offers in two weeks following that, even though I was more or less the same candidate as 6 months earlier. That one line on my CV of having a modicum of commercial experience made such a big difference.

This is the reality. Having any work experience at all is huge. I thankfully/sometimes-by-accident worked 5 internships during my 4.5 years in my upper-middling college, and had no problem picking a place to work afterwards.

I had many friends who over-indexed on grades and had 0-2 internships. Many of them were really smart, but couldn't get the foot in the door for an interview.

Experience (including internships at legitimate companies) will get you past the the resume screen and recruiter call. From that point on, it's your interviewing skill that counts most.

True. The only experience I had was as a freelance web and android dev.

There isn't. If there were, they wouldn't put experienced candidates through all day interviews and fail them if they don't solve every leetcode question thrown at them.

Out of hundreds of applicants I screen, very few even have the skill to implement a standard algorithm with recursion in a language of their choice that I explain meticulously.

If it's really that standard, then wouldn't we just use a library for it to cut out a large portion of the development, testing, and maintenance?

If you can't do the curriculum standard, how will you build the non-standard? CS is very much an on-the-shoulder-of-giants field.

Then this still wouldn't be a great test. A person can use rote learning to memorize the standard portion but then be terrible when they are left to think for themself to create the non-standard.

I actually like fizz-bang interviews - just don't expect me to have algorithms memorized in a formal way. They give an interviewer the ability to see how the candidate translates the requirements into code, what their process is, how they think about the subject matter.

I agree about the shoulders-of-giants statement. That's sort of what I'm was getting at with my comment about using standard libraries. If I'm using pandas dataframes, there's no reason for me to build an algorithm/code to join multiple dataframes. If I were the interviewer, I would certainly view a candidate in a better light if they bring up this point rather than just jump into coding duplicate functionality.

Hip(n) {

If n == 0

Log(“std rec ex ” + n)

n -= 1



On phone (so untested pseudo code), but this is my standard way of thinking about it. I think implementing bfs and dfs also helps to get it a bit more.

And I have needed to do recursion on web dev, because it’s the easiest way to deal with trees on your own.

But is that a skill that is required for lots of positions?

Recursion is a fundemntal part of programming, beyond the self-taught junior yes I would absolutely expect every programmer to be able to do it.

You learn it in highschool level programming classes & first semester intro to CS college courses.

Even if they won't specifically need to use recursion in their next job it marks them as someone not serious or about programming.

I'd argue that not being able to program in C marks someone as not serious about programming, but that's mostly because I know and like C.

I didn't say it was the only criteria, just that it is one.

My point is that these criteria are largely meaningless. It all depends on what you're working on. In some jobs, you'll occasionally need to write a recursive function. In others, it's probably a benefit if you can't.

I never personally used it in an interview (that's generally not how I do interviewing) but for someone experienced having not heard of recursion (and it's not such a complicated subject, you wouldn't need much "experience using recursion" to be able to understand it) would mean they haven't really dug into the art & craft of programming.

Just like I'd expect a moderately senior developer to be able to program in procedural, object oriented & functional styles even if they strongly prefer one to the others (and how would they know if they haven't tried all of them?).

Honestly I think recursion is overrated. Does anyone here really write recursive functions in production? I mean it takes up stack space (which on some systems is a systemparameter), creates functioncall overhead and has rarely advantages. Trees have more natural recursive structures, but then you basically always have cache misses making your program orders of magnitude slower than if you can fit the data in a linear structure.

I mean, I would be worried if a candidate is not shy to use recursion that this will blow up software perfomance. (But then probably after hire the senior will tell: dont use recursion here)

I think I've used it twice in production code over the last 20 years. The first was to traverse a directory tree. I wouldn't write it that way now since there is now a standard library to do what I was doing then. The second was to traverse an object's children logging certain pieces of data from the sub-objects. I didn't design that one, I just wrote it so I don't know if there was a library that would have done it for me. Fun to write though.

Generally, developer interviews are just stand-ins for IQ tests since it is illegal to give a candidate an IQ test. Seeing if someone can easily write a recursive function is a pretty good IQ test.

I guess it also weeds out the smart-asses like me who would question why I need to reinvent the wheel.

Finally it all makes sense. I was wondering about it and it also explains how the 'brain teaser question' like how many google engineers do you need to change a lightbulb or were there different questions, anyway, came about.

If you can take a problem where I'm thinking of a recursive solution as the interviewer, but you can come up with an iterative solution and explain why you think it's better, I would give you full marks.

Tell me, how many recursive functions are in your companies code base. (Or course you might not be allowed to tell; but do you know the number?)

No idea, I know I've written a few.

Thanks. How did you take tje stack size into consideration?

I would guess they'd try to use tail call recursion: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tail_call

Thats not the point. I think it is possibly harmful to focus on recursion in teaching and interviews. (Of course if the understanding is, that you do not use it in real life, then its ok, but still why not test people on skills they need for the job; its like making people jump through hoops for a swimmers position).

Of course I will be embarressed soon, when it is only me who doesnt use recursion in production. :-)

I don't know what goes on in the minds of interviewers, but if I had to guess, they use recursion to test the interviewee's ability to reason inductively --- which, of course, is necessary for writing even simple loops. Maybe a question about loop invariants might be a good replacement.

Regardless, yes, I doubt many people write a lot of recursive functions, since the data structures people use tend to either be flat, based on arrays, or neatly hidden away in libraries.

The data structures people use are choosen by people. So it is a choice to have flat datastructures (probably by people how see the diadvantages of recursion)

If you are slapping together web templates with a Python back-end, then maybe not, but if you are automating industrial processes, build tools to improve data handling or work on any technical computational stuff, then absolutely yes. I expect someone to be able to reason abstractly.

There are still plenty of jobs that require excellent technical skills.

I learned recursive programming decades ago in high school.

(Solve the Towers of Babylon with recursive algo).

So, yes. Somebody calling himself a programmer or engineer should be able to produce this.

Someone calling themselves a programmer or engineer really only needs to be able to take the requirements they're asked to implement by their employer and implement them in an agreeable timeframe.

No more, no less. Doing so will get you paid for the activity of programming.

Along the way if you don't know anything, because you can't know or remember everything, you just look it up.

The end.

To me this seems similiar to if you want to call yourself a physician, you need to be able to speak latin. Its true (at least need to pass an exam), but it is only signaling, and no just having a few latin derived labels.

Keep a spreadsheet or Trello board.

I like this quoted response:

You have reached the required standard, but we are unable to offer you a job immediately. We have placed you on a reserve list from which future appointments may be made.

When I was leaving academia it took a number of rejections before I realized that I wasn't being rejected because I wasn't qualified, but because the company only had one spot and I wasn't their top choice.

I had a first interview for Product Manager for Google about a week ago and got the reject couple of days back. The recruiter said it was close. I played back the interview in my head and realized I could have been more methodical in my answers. Finally, just decided to let go.

In the end its just a footnote.

> The recruiter said it was close.

Is this something a recruiter might ever not say?

For an in-house recruiter, yes. They generally say that because they want you to interview again in the future. I don’t think they would waste their time if it wasn’t close.

Head hunters on the other hand will generally say anything to get you to keep interviewing.

If you find this interesting you may also appreciate:

Susan Tan Rants and Ruminations From A Job Applicant After 100 CS Job Interviews in Silicon Valley https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzz5AaCWMps

My recent job search adventures https://medium.com/@arctansusan/my-adventures-in-job-searchi...

I really liked the airtable at the end of that post: https://airtable.com/shrL4aSSKldQHTtM3

If you been at more than a few jobs, almost certainly you have had failures/ disasterous interviews. I certainly have.

Once I’ve gotten a job, a question coworker asked: how did some of these other people around me get through the interview process.

The last time I got rejected was after the final interview. The recruiter scheduled a call to talk with me without letting me know they had an offer. I could only have imagined they'd be making an offer. He thanked me for the time and told me why they decided to reject me, and that they'd likely reconsider me in six months. I'd rather receive an email telling upfront I was rejected instead (still would be happy to schedule a call).

I’ve gotten three of these calls in the last 6 months. I learned after the first one not to get too excited and grown to appreciate actually getting feedback.

I can’t stand the interviews where you invest a significant amount of time and get zero feedback. I realize they often don’t want to share everything but give me something so I have some direction for improvement.

All of my jobs: My first job was at Jewel as a bagger. My mom got me the job. The place was next to microcenter so I spent my paycheck there after work.

I quit this job because of stress.

Next job was at Michael’s a crafts store. It was seasonal and I didn’t get hired.

After that I did contract jobs on upwork doing web design and development.

I got fired from Subway because I was too slow at making sandwiches.

In college I got burned out and eventually found my career as a programmer for an insurance company.

I've never been rejected in a job I interviewed for, but I tend to stay a long time once I find one I like. Is that so unusual?

I'm really picky about jobs. I hardly never interview unless I think we're going to be a good match (me and the job) and that there's something I can bring to the table.

A serious and urgent question, when did "data" a collective noun warrant a plural verb ex. "the data are ambiguous"

"Data" was not treated this way in the past and now it is everywhere. Where did it come from and why did it change?

Data has always been plural! Datum is the singular. But actually treating it as plural is mostly a question of where the person speaking/writing is based. Americans treat it as singular, Brits plural. See also, corporations

Note that in the English language, there is a rule in regard to forming compound nouns, which is that only the head of the compound can carry the plural marker.

So for instance, whereas the compound noun phrase "law school entrance exams" is perfectly fine, "law schools entrance exam" is not. It has a plural on "schools", where it is not allowed to be, because that is not the head of the noun phrase.

According to this rule, we should not have words like "data processing", unless we treat "data" as plural. If we treat "data" as the plural of "datum", we must make it "datum processing".

Is that how it is in British English, or do they still make it "data processing"?

In any case, one cannot be a proper pedant about "data" and "datum", while continuing to use terms like "data storage".

From a random internet site: " The data are correct.

But most people treat 'data' as a singular noun, especially when talking about computers etc.

For example:-

The data is being transferred from my computer to yours.

And I have to be honest, I've never heard anyone ask for a datum. "

It could be the case that the scientific pluralization is leaking into regular usage because more people are collectively reading / reporting on scientific studies. Alternatively, Google / Grammarly and similar tools might be suggesting it because it's been seen in their training data / examples.

In any case, IMHO 'datum' is a singular point of information, any reference to multiple points of information would make the noun plural.

Seeing posts like these, I feel incredibly grateful to have a personal network that I've never really had to go beyond in search of a job.

Networking in the early years as a young founder paid off big time.

Rejection is a fact of life, be it in relationships or in a job hunting.

Just give yourself some time to go through the sad period, and then power through the next one.

Luck is a high factor in getting a job anyway.

"So, what have you failed at this week?"

I failed my real analysis II exam, I failed to make progress at the gym, I failed a quiz on agile software development, I guess you could even say I failed to go on a date since I got stood up.

But you showed up for all of them! Your date failed you, and the only true gym fail is to not go. Good luck on your studies, you can do it.

You can check out https://mirtitles.org for books from MIR Publishers. These are amazing books.

For analysis, you can check out:

- "Problems in Mathematical Analysis" - Demidovich

- "Differential and Integral Calculus" - Piskunov

- "A Course of Higher Mathematics" - Smirnov

Excellent books.

[Link edited as I posted in a hurry. Thank you, sedeki]

Soviet era math problem books? Buy a few reams of paper too!

Exactly. I actually did buy reams of paper and quantified my revisions days with how many sheets I had written.

I made booklets folding A4 paper longitudinally in half. Easy to put in my back pocket. Solve problems everywhere. It's more economical, too, a lot of paper is not filled with ink if you leave it in A4, and folding it to make A5 doesn't sole the problem (short lines) an is impractical to carry (can't put in back pocket).

Correct link seems to be https://mirtitles.org. Thank you.

Impressive! It must be tough to keep your spirits up after a string of such "failures" - but I want to congratulate you on trying time and time again.

That's exactly the path to success, by continuing to challenge yourself, push the limits, explore opportunities and aspects of your potential; to meet difficulties as they arise, and to grow beyond them.

Well if it makes you feel any better, I've been using a dating app daily for the past two months and the last time someone actually matched and messaged me was early August lol

Readjust your profile. Different photos, different "copy". This is marketing, think about it as such.

I failed to set sufficiently ambitious goals to have a good answer for that question

Same here. My failures of the week are forgetting to season my chicken properly (like how do you forget that...), I bought shoes which are too large (I got my feet 3d scanned to remedy that in the future), did not take old electronics for recycling (apparently the container where you leave it is closed on weekends) and for the second week in a row I failed to finish a book I'm reading (I decided to abandon it altogether since it's boring)

Have been rejected by 4 companies I really would have loved to work for. All great mid level companies.

Not losing hope, I shall prevail!

A lot. In my case it would be better phrased as what didn't I fail at. I had zero successes this week.

I can't imagine that is true. And even if it is, acknowledging that is a success, good job! If everything seems to fail, we have to focus on the things we accomplish every day and just take for granted. Even if they're small accomplishments.

I didn't get the data loaded for my personal project, I didn't get my story completed at work, and I can't think of anything that I actually accomplished this week.

You’re not alone.

I planned on my two week “vacation” being a mix of a week long getaway and then with vigorous leetcode studying in prep to get a new job. Instead, my partner decided this was the time to have a mental breakdown and question everything. So, didn’t get any time or energy to do any of it... plus the fires everywhere.

Can’t get much more insufferable in this 400sqft inlaw unit I’ve been trapped in for years due to low income.

Hopefully you don’t feel like you’re wasting all the vacation time you get. I certainly am feeling it. This job is insufferable and this time off hasn’t allowed me to progress in any form.

My vacation time is used for home projects/chores, medical problems, and legal problems.

I got a good laugh out of the Meta-Failures section.

I think that people need to be more open about failure.

Rejection isn't necessarily failure. I appreciate that the article is about objective self-evaluation and self-improvement, but that requires a good understanding of why you really didn't get the job. And it's possible the feedback you are getting is not the whole story.

Back in 2003 I was a young C++/C/Java developer with a couple of years of experience looking for a new job in a new town. I felt like I was talented and capable and was hungry to prove myself. It was a tougher market in those days so I was applying anywhere that posted a job that seemed like a fit. I got rejected time and time again and most of the time I didn't even get a rejection. I never even heard back at all. I was ignored. It was demoralizing.

I knew if I could just get an interview, I'd have a great shot at a good job. But I couldn't even get an interview. I felt like a failure.

I finally landed a C++ gig at a company I accidentally applied to twice (they gave me an interview because they thought I was resilient). It turned out to be a great experience. I got to tackle hard problems, learned a lot, and was promoted quickly. I was soon managing the team I was originally hired to write code for.

After a few years of that I was headhunted to work for a consulting firm that specialized in what later became DevOps (we were pushing CI/CD back in 2006 and automated virtualization for build and test in 2007). As part of that job, I ended up with a few gigs at companies that had rejected me only a few years before. Here I was telling them how to make software at 4 times the rate they could have hired me for full time just a few years earlier. I'd won!

But really, I learned most of these companies hadn't hired me for reasons that had nothing to do with me. I didn't know who I was competing with. I didn't know what specific traits they valued. I didn't understand the stresses and risk and pressure those hiring managers were under when they compared the PDF I submitted to the PDF someone else submitted.

For example, the company that hired me after I applied twice rejected me first because I was from out of town. They had so many bad experiences with hiring and firing that they didn't want to hire someone that had to move to take the job. They were actually being considerate of my risk, not just their own. They thought they were doing me a favor!

And in a few of companies I was now consulting for, I saw poor culture, poor talent, poor processes, and poor hiring practices. I saw HR people filtering out prospects because that person's resume didn't have everything on some magic, unadvertised checklist. I saw politics. I saw bias. I saw incompetence. Some of these places wouldn't have been able to spot talent if their lives depended on it.

Really, I wasn't the one that failed when I was rejected. They had failed by rejecting the wrong people. And I was fortunate they'd rejected me because it would have been an awful place to work. Rejection is God's protection, I've heard it said.

So rejection wasn't failure. It usually had nothing at all to do with what I really could do or couldn't do. If I failed, it was in allowing rejection to affect my self-worth.

After running my own business for almost a decade, I'm back in the software industry. I'm fortunate to have a good job thanks to people I worked with previously, but I'm hungry for bigger challenges and believe I have the skills and capability to meet them. Except now I have a 9-year "hole" in my resume that doesn't say Google/Microsoft/Facebook or AWS/Azure/Cloud or whatever else the cool kids are doing. From a hiring manager's perspective at those great jobs that attract lots of talented candidates, that means I'm a risk. But having been that hiring manager, having owned my own business, and having spent time in the trenches, I understand and sympathize. Rejection isn't personal and it's not always about me.


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