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Ask HN: Has it suddenly become exceedingly hard to attract full-time employees?
51 points by blizkreeg 10 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 45 comments
If you're a hiring manager, have you felt the burn trying to find and attract people to full-time roles? And if so, what are you seeing?

Sourcing has become near impossible with most candidates bombarded by recruiters, so even as hiring manager, your message is likely being ignored. Inbound applications are down and convincing experienced folks to switch jobs has become harder than ever.

The pandemic has also made moonlighting more universal and more people looking for remote/part-time/fractional work.

I wonder if anyone else is noticing this too. On the flip side, I wonder how folks looking for full-time roles are faring.

If the interview process weren't so exhausting, then it'd probably be easier to get people to switch jobs. Getting a ton of emails lately, but have zero desire to grind leetcode, do take home tests, and interview with 6+ people when I already have a job.

You make a great point. I have a job, a good manager who's already told me I can work fully remote, or office or a mix of either. The company has decent work life balance and perks. Sure, the work does get a bit boring sometimes and I could try for a bigger paycheck. So, unless the hiring company can offer a substantially large amount of money, flexibility and interesting work, I don't really care to go through their "dance monkey, dance" interview process.

It's like the tides have changed. I want to know what the hiring company is offering to make a switch attractive.

The switch was attractive to me- and made me willing to dance - when my ex employer was unwilling to let me continue to work remote as I had the previous 18 months.

I voiced my opinions on it, changed my life around because of COVID, and they still seemed surprised when I gave them my 2 weeks.

I would have likely stayed if I got the approval to continue to work at home.

I’d say the extra ~10 hours of work over the month for it was worth it. It always is.

This is exactly the problem. For people that have worked a few different roles and seen bad practices/environments and are now relatively happy where they are, why leave?

The US software industry might be at another inflection point where in order to recruit senior roles, salaries have to move up significantly. Sure there are other factors candidates consider but changing tech stack, culture, process, etc. is much harder to do if those things are a problem. In contrast to those things, paying more is easier to do and that is even considering how hard it is to get approvals/budget as well as fairness with existing staff.

Pretty much this. I honestly cannot be bothered to study or prepare to interviews on top of my existing job and life.

If you just send me some test I will refuse to do it. If I have a technical interview with someone, I hope they're truly looking to see how I think instead of if I grind leet code....

It's truly exhausting to apply to companies and do their dance in 2021.

Me as well. I absolutely enjoy reading technical books and working on some projects. I feel competent enough to produce good work at any company i go to, but the thought of wasting my weekends away on puzzles is harrowing

Big companies made interviews hard, and because they pay more and the brand name they get the applicant to fill up the position.

Smaller companies followed without being able to compete on TC. Now although some percentage of people go through interview torture every year a really big percentage of my peers and friends don't do that because it is a pain.

Big companies won in keeping the talent for less. Smaller companies lost because they blindly followed.

Same. I have a job. When a recruiter says well first do a call, then a take home test, then a live code, then fly in to interview...uh...no. You contacted me, if you did your DD then hire me. I don't have the time, energy, or will to play your games.

Same here, talked to some folks but they want me to spend a weekend on a example project before getting into any of the specifics of the job. I don't really want to waste my time to find out I don't even want the job.

Same. I don't really have enough motivation to grind leetcode for weeks on end to be sharp enough to insure I'll do well in these interviews, so I mostly don't bother, even though I'm really overdue to find a new job.

It helps that my current company is 100% remote and has been for three years now, since they got rid of our office before anyone knew there would be a pandemic.

Also now it's looking like most companies are itching to get people back in the office, and I'm not wanting that, in part since it would likely require me to move since I live outside of Chicago.


I would say no, it is just a candidate driven market right now.

I work in an office with a load of recruiters and Candidates are basically turning down interviews for many reasons but these are the primary reasons:

- Interview process longer than 2 stages - Interview processes that contain silly code tests / spec work / whiteboarding - Seeing technologies they "don't like" in a JD and might have to deal with - Requirement to be in an office - 100% work at home (some like the flexibility of working at home and office) - Top Salary (Seriously - some of the requests are ridiculous) - Company reputation, seeing this more and more, if there are bad reviews on Glassdoor - then plenty of other companies to look at!

Short and tall of it is - either make it an attractive place to work or you are not going to find the top talent you require right now.

> If you are hiring manager, have you felt the burn…

Hiring Managers are part of the problem-

They are largely divorced from the process of identifying, assessing, and attracting talented individuals.

Instead, they delegate that task to feckless, disinterested HR flunkies. (That’s HR’s job, isn’t it?)

More Hiring Managers need to get out in front of the recruitment process—- actually find and engage in conversation with potential hires.

Completely agree.

It is odd to me how rare this is. I source nearly all of my candidates myself, reaching out to people I’ve worked with previously who would be a good fit, or those with specific expertise called out in their profiles, focusing on those marked as “open to work”.

Even with that the response rate is lower than I would like, but I do have a fairly good success rate when people reply and we start a conversation.

I think a lot of hiring managers are just as burned out as candidates. Lot of no-shows for interviews, people accepting exploding offers from other places, tired of dealing with HR policies, etc.

my job hunt seemed pretty typical -- brutal.

i looked hardcore for 4 months - for contract or perm, preferably contract. and casually-ish for 2-4 months before that.

turned down one contract (red flag situation), turned down one perm (job was eh, but proved to be another red flag situation), accepted second perm offer because i was completely burned out.

hard to put numbers on it all because i didn't track it -- but i talked to prob 150 companies/recruiters/agencies, sent at least hundreds if not 1,500+ resumes -- maybe 5k, who knows -- many with legit cover letters.

etc. etc.

i've never believed in the industry "we can't find people!" line, and i've seen nothing change - either over the years, or this past year, or past few/couple months.

the industry can't find people to work for free? yeah - that i am willing to believe.

I sometimes get bored and see some interesting postings on linkedIn.

I try to apply where I'll be redirected either to their homegrown site or some random recruitment site in which I need to create account and fill myriads of forms before applying.

I might do it if I'm in dire need of a job, otherwise no thanks. Companies needs to make it easier to apply for jobs.

For me, someone that left the SF/NYC grind during the pandemic and don't want to return, I'm not looking at anything non-remote or mostly remote.

I recently accepted a job two months ago but when I was interviewing it was a complete disaster from my perspective.

The worst were companies that were hiring frontend developers (what I specialize in) but during the interview process they ask questions about the backend or creating microservices (Qs more advanced than basic crud/pagination stuff). Like the only person available to interview was some BE dev writing microservices asking very basic questions about JS.

Github was the absolute worst at this, applied for an accessibility FE position and the online assessment was to create a REST api. I just abandoned the process. Other companies were asking Qs about the frontend at least.

I feel like I can put up with the interviewing process from Facebook or Google because those companies pay the absolute best in our industry; most companies aren't paying the best but they all want to interview like they are FB. It's completely odd. Companies like Capital One, Fidelity were asking LC hards and paying below industry averages.

Another thing that I will absolutely never do are take homes, they are often too cryptic and while everyone says "spend no more than 3-hours" it feels like you need to put in 40 to stand a chance against those that do. They also require zero effort from the company. I want them to have some skin in the interviewing game. This is why I prefer white board style interviews, at least we are both awkwardly solving a problem. There is nothing absolutely worst than having a great talk with the HM and completing a take-home to only get completely ghosted.

The process for the position I accepted was this: spoke to recruiter, spoke to HM, "on-site" where I spoke to 6 different people in a 3-hour span with a decision being made that day. Probably spent a total of 5-hours interviewing. This is a decent company too; while pay is average for my location they give employees equity, have 401k matching, and an ESPP.

I think the onus should be put on companies. They often lament about candidates but the interview process is anything but accessible or reasonable.

You see, what they want to pay for is a frontend only person and what they want to hire is someone that has 30 years of experience in frontend, backend, microservices, distributed systems, Raft, Paxos, and Windows Server 2023.

I'm currently quite underpaid (comparatively) but honestly the biggest thing stopping me is the barrier to entry anywhere else. I don't want to grind leetcode to answer questions that have zero bearing on my work, that I have _never_ had to implement IRL, that will never be used in my line of work, deal with unlocking credit to pass a credit check and re-locking it, waste 3 days interviewing just to get ghosted, put together a portfolio or code samples only to clearly see in access.log they have never been looked at once

I agree with that, I will say tho that every job I've accepted thus far never asked me to code during the interview process. Just having conversations with my would-be boss about past experiences.

I'd love to hold a full time job but everyone makes it so hard.

1. Interview processes. Job applications involve a 30 min technical test, and don't even give a thank you. I bet my résumé isn't even read. A lot of people complain about whiteboards, but I've only made it that far once. I've been rejected after interviewers comment on my beard or lack of personality, and yet the same people later commend me on my Facebook or HN posts.

2. Many Asian employers try to pay as little as possible, work you as hard as possible, and maximize office density. The message is you'd have to be stupid to stay.

3. A lot of companies are prestige oriented. This leads to some weird behavior like one office I saw where 1/4 of the office space is Avengers toys and the rest was office space for over a hundred staff.

4. Lack of growth or direction. Perhaps if a company had both of these, it would be a world class company within 5 years. But I'd say 98% of employers lack both. There are sane employers, but the corollary is that you have to be in the top 2% to work there.

Now I'm not saying the above applies to my current employer, in fact they're at the top 20% range. But switching jobs puts me at risk of falling into one of the above traps. I have a lot more control as a freelancer, but freelancing involves a lot of other skills that isn't coding.

Ultimately, I just want to write code for a living, and it's a shame that I probably have to start my own startup to do so.

Yes, nobody is even applying if the job opening doesn't state that remote work is allowed. People have so many opportunities these days, including side gigs.

I wonder if there's a market for a trusted headhunter. When they send somebody over they vouch for certain skills at some level, and all you have to interview them for is "culture fit" and other intangibles. (And they're interviewing you, too.)

That "vouch" could take whatever form, including leetcode or whiteboard or just another dev. It would be roughly the same crap as in any other interview. It would probably be a little rougher, in fact, since the whole point is that the company is staking its rep on you, and its rep is its only real value. But at least you'd only have to do it once.

Some companies try to do this, like hired and another one that is always in HN and I forgot the name.

However... they end up just being an extra step, you have to go through them to get in the hiring pipeline of other companies anyways.

I'm ready to consider a fulltime position, but I want to talk to the CEO instead of someone in HR.

Perhaps you would gain some insight by turning your question on its head: Why haven't you switched companies? What it is about the job market that makes you unwilling to leave your current gig?

I'm with harshalizee. I've got good pay, good benefits, good co-workers, and sane management. Work's a bit boring. But I've been around the block enough times to know that things can get far, far worse, and not much better.

So if you want me to move, you'd better have something spectacular. Not just good - I've already got good.

And if you think that you have something spectacular... are you over-rating or over-selling what you've got? Sure, you think it's spectacular, but am I really going to think so? If not, I'm not interested in your position.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Did you mean to reply to me?

I did, yes. I was noting that I was expressing the same sentiment as someone who was not replying to you, but I figured that the overall thread was small enough that the reference would be fairly plain. I replied to you, though, because I was addressing your question.

My question was for the person who posted the original submission, though.

Sure. But when you make a top-level comment here, other people do feel free to reply...

Your response was irrelevant to my questions, since the goal of my questions was obviously to understand just the OP's mindset, not an unrelated person's mindset.

His response is helpful to others who are reading this thread. That’s all that matters: not thread hygiene or correctness.

When you speak in public, others may feel invited to join in the conversation. This is a good thing.

Technical people are expensive (and hard to fire if they don't work out), which really raises the bar for minimum qualifications and skills. There's no room to "take a chance" on anyone anymore.

As a HM, most candidates I see are woefully underqualified. The great ones are beyond my (quite reasonable) budget. And I've seen this on the other side too: recruiters contacting me always want to hire me for mid-sr IC role when I've been managing teams for years.

>Technical people are expensive (and hard to fire if they don't work out), which really raises the bar for minimum qualifications and skills. There's no room to "take a chance" on anyone anymore.

I've never been hired for a permanent job that didn't have a 6 month probationary period, so I really don't see why "hard to fire", even in Europe where it really is hard to fire, is still an excuse companies use.

I believe he means there's a big commitment to get somebody going into a project. To create value, engineers need to be involved in many aspects of the product, which takes time for both parties, which is paid by the employer.

Especially at senior levels, there's ramp up time AND a larger scope of impact if the person makes bad technical decisions or negatively impacts the team. A bad hire is super expensive on both those dimensions. It's even worse when the candidate is hired into a leadership role and will be responsible for further hiring.

It's easy to see if someone is incompetent during their first 90 days: that's a basic recruiting failure. It's the other type who are sort of good, but ultimately disastrous, that cause real problems. And often, these mis-hires take ~12 months to identify and correct. The result is that caution dominates when hiring.

hard to fire? all contracts are at will?

People want FAANG talent at half-FAANG wages, or worse.

There is no such thing, there are more developers than ever, but yes, it is my impression that some companies are getting priced out of the job market.

yes, more shitty developers than ever, with all the become-a-coder-quick classes and programs even some of the FAANGs organize.

i’ve talked to some companies asking if they need help with projects (contracting) and every time they say they are looking to fill roles with employees. makes no sense?

The pandemic has also made moonlighting more universal and more people looking for remote/part-time/fractional work.

These are all lumped together here, but they aren't the same things. Moonlighting is something you do in addition to your current job. Part time is less than 40 hours a week for most. Fractional I assume is gig or short term contracting work. The last one is remote. Plenty of people work remotely full time, but all of the other labor commitments can be done remotely as well. How are you seeing these individual items break down and overlap?

Are you able to offer remote full time positions? If not, I think that's likely to put you at a disadvantage moving forward if other companies you are competing against in the candidate pool can offer remote work.

Inbound applications are down and convincing experienced folks to switch jobs has become harder than ever.

Are you working with any recruiters or are you mainly relying on job postings to attract candidates? As a candidate I frequently prefer to work with a recruiter because they help remove uncertainty around dropping an application into a black box and hoping someone replies back. It also takes me out of the loop of dealing with any form of applicant tracking system or really doing anything more than just giving the recruiter a copy of my resume. Is it possible that your application process is turning away potential candidates due to too many hoops to jump through?

On the flip side, I wonder how folks looking for full-time roles are faring.

I'm not looking for new work, but I have recruiters and hiring managers reaching out to me very frequently at the moment. I want to be polite and not ignore anyone. However, it is currently hard to do with the volume I am seeing.

The reason I am not looking for work is that I am not dissatisfied. As others have pointed out in this thread, the hiring process is frankly arduous. In the last two years I have done quite a few interviews and my level of dissatisfaction will need to be very high for me to consider going through any of it again. As a candidate the interview process for tech roles is frustrating because it is so time consuming. Day to day, I really don't do much fancy algorithm work. It isn't something I'm particularly fascinated by either. As a result, finding a new job usually involves spending my free time brushing up on the subject. This takes time from things I'd rather be doing. Some employers offer take home exercises that are intended to focus on practical application of day to day skills, but these are no better because they still require a lot of time.

The discussion around hiring in tech is practically at a stalemate. No one can agree on anything other than the process not being very enjoyable. Unfortunately I don't have any meaningful insights to contribute here except if you can identify an interview process that isn't a hassle for candidates but still delivers whatever assurances you need that a candidate is capable of doing the job, you can probably increase your applicant pool.

I think there is plenty that can be done to address the hiring issues you are seeing. Make sure you can offer the perks candidates want like remote work. Make the application process easy, nothing more than a resume and maybe a cover letter. Make the interview process painless and advertise it.

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