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Want good programmers? Then pay them. (irrlicht3d.org)
481 points by irrlichthn on May 3, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 483 comments

So true. I get calls from startup recruiters all the time. They don't seem to realize there's this thing called rent. They want to pay with equity. Might as well pay me with lottery tickets.

Here's the minimum I need to even bother talking to a recruiter. That means that for me to accept the offer, it probably needs more than this.

Six figures, 30 vacation days, full benefits, infinite sick days, convince me that you won't be out of business in any short span of time and you won't bounce a check. Also, under no circumstances do I work more than 40 hours a week.

The other thing that gets me is how companies expect you to really want to work for them. The fact is you need me more than I need you. I'm not going to spend my time solving your cute little puzzles and what not. My experience speaks for itself. If you want to hire me, you should be the one jumping through hoops to convince me I should quit my job and work for you. Only the past naive college version of myself thought otherwise.

TL;DR: if you want to hire me, pretend that I am a doctor and you are a pharmaceutical company.

I agree with a lot of what you said; but stating that you will under no circumstances work more than 40 hours a week bothers me. I try to get out of the office every day on time - but shit happens, and there are instances where someone needs to fix something or else the company is losing revenue. You want financial stability with a high salary - but aren't willing to help make the company stable. Yes, a healthy work/life ratio is very important to me, but I won't walk out that door in the middle of a crisis.

40 hrs a week doesn't necessarily mean 8 hours a day. I think it's a reasonable demand by someone that if they stay late one day putting out a fire they're free to leave early on Friday or something.

It was sort of like this at one of my previous finance jobs where I was expected to work no more than 60 hours a week (due to their allotment towards me of salary + overtime). Sometimes on Friday I'd get to leave a bit after lunch, which was nice. Although that did mean earlier that week was kinda rough...

I prefer a system like this. At my current company in fact, it's formalized. We work X hours a week, and if you work any more, it goes to vacation. Actually, you work X - 4 hours a week, every week the entire year with no vacation, such that it you actually work X hours every week, you end up with (52 x 4 =) 208 hours of vacation a year.

So, for example, I'm in crunch mode for the next week working X+3 or X+4 hours a day. And then I'm taking a 2.5 week trip to Nepal a month or so afterwards. Crunch time happens, and we can't afford to thumb our nose at it, but this system means that it can never become the norm.

(X/5)+3 I presume?

Your system sounds good. Do you also have the flexibility of working weekends in lieu of weekdays or at home instead of the office?

Yeah, you can work from home whenever, so long as you're generally in the office for core hours on weekdays, or let people know that you're going to be out. Eg, I wanted to go camping Fri-Sun, so I worked a few hours on the previous weekends.

My family and friends are vastly more important to me than any job, period. I work to live. End of story. If I have to sacrifice that most important thing to me in the whole world, then there is no point. I would rather be a homeless bum with the people I care about doing the things I care about than at any job in the universe.

And that's awesome - however I would not hire you. I would never expect someone to put their job before their family. Got a son't game to go to - go to it. Gotta pick up the kids from school one day, why are you still in the office? But I would also expect that if a server is down, or a critical bug is preventing the site from working that I could count on someone to help get things working. Not that you said you wouldn't, but the tone in how you said it would give me that impression. I want to work people who care about their job - it doesn't have to be the most important thing in the world, it should however be part of their passion not because they need to think about the company 24/7, but that I know they will give me their best work.

caring about family more than job != not caring about job

I'm not sure how you get that out of what he said, you could conceivably care more about your job than anything BUT your family which is still a lot of caring, IMO

I am looking at it from a prospective employer. As I said, it may not be the case, but stating that he would not work more than 40 hours under any circumstances would lead me to believe this and would cause him to not get hired. He could be an excellent worker, gets all his work done on time and be able to leave on time every day of the year - but in the back of my head I am still thinking about that 40 hour limit and will think that I am completely screwed to be able to use his talents when there is a legitimate issue.

It's cool that you wouldn't hire me, because I wouldn't want to work for you, even if you did offer all those nice things. I can see it right in that post "use his talents." I am not a resource to be used. I am a person. We have both agreed upon a mutually beneficial agreement, and either of us may leave that agreement at any time. If you want resources to be used, go to the hardware store.

I think its important to clarify, do you mean 40 hours, on average, or 40 hours in one week? Meaning, do you want him to average more than 40 hours a week? If so, thats definitely a red flag

Just as much employees are resources to run your business, a job is just a means to an end for me. To fund my startup.

Why should it be any different for me than it is for you?

I can't ever get as passionate about working for someone because at the end of the day, I get 1/1000 of the profits and when push comes to shove, will not be able to make many of the decisions that matter.

My free time is worth everything in the world to me. I don't mind doing extra emergency work once-in-awhile. My problem is that at many companies, this is the norm (because they hire kids right out of college that don't know any better) and you are a salaried employee and will not get paid any extra for it.

This is exactly why I keep this a secret from every company I've ever worked for. From their perspective, I'm a great employee.

See the subject line of the article. Are you prepared to pay people one way or other (extra vacation days, on-the-spot cash bonus to take family out to a fancy dinner) for stepping up? No? Why not?

I think he meant that if there is a serious crisis he might stay. Sure, every once in a while a tornado sweeps through your data center. That happens once every other year. "We need you to stay till midnight because a very serious VC is coming in and this project needs to be done" is not a crisis.

Serious stuff happens, it does not happen every other week.

"under no circumstances do I work more than 40 hours a week."

Should we take him at his word or assume that he isn't precise when speaking? Both are bad signs.

Precision isn't accuracy, and pedantic precision isn't super common in casual conversation anyway.

Look I can't speak for the OP, maybe ze would quit the first week ze's expected to work 40hours and 1 minute. Saying "no more than 40 hours, unless a tornado hits the data center; or my close friend and co-worker's mother dies and he asks me to stay a little late to finish some of his paper work; or a bomb will go off killing a dozen orphans if we stop coding" might be more precise, but it's also less accurate because by listing off every one of a billion unlikely situations in which OP might be willing to work over time it creates the impression that 40 hours is a much more flexible limit than it is.

pedantic precision should be common for a programmer. This is really easy, he could have said, "I will only work overtime in exceptional cases, and those should be very rare." This is what I usually say in interviews.

"under no circumstances will I work overtime" has a very clear meaning.

How is this more precise? You said "rare", and the other party heard "rare", but guys never agreed on what "very rare" was. Believe me, people can have very different ideas about what "very rare" means in this context. :)

There is probably some circumstance I would work a little extra. Seriously, you want ever comment on every blog to be written like a legal contract or a game rulebook? I wasn't about to devote an entire paragraph covering every possible scenario where I may or may not work more or less hours. You get the idea.

Umm, I was supporting your phrasing. :) i.e., that most people get that you will work extra hours when truly required.

And that even a supposedly more precise phrasing suffers from the problem that the listener may not interpret the words the way the speaker intended them to be.

I personally feel that a categorical statement such as yours is less amenable to misunderstanding than a equivocating one. Thanks.

Anyway, we're generating heat rather light in this subthread.

rather than implying that the people who took you at your word did something wrong, you should admit that you used a poor choice of words.

As I said, you could simply have said, "I will only work OT in exceptional cases, and these cases should be rare". It doesn't take an entire paragraph to get this point across. You get the idea.

LOL, do you hear yourself?

The OP said "under no circumstances will I work overtime". Someone says that he really meant "i will sometimes do overtime".

I said, "he could have said I will rarely do overtime, only for exceptional cases".

And you claim that this isn't more precise? Did you pass reading comprehension in grade school?

Check your tone, please. I can't downvote, but I don't want to see comments like yours on HN.

You can check my comment history and see that I don't insult people often. However, sometimes when people are being really stupid the correct response is to call them stupid.

Think about what numerous people are arguing here. OP said, "under no circumstances do I work more than 40 hours a week" and a number of people insist that these words mean "sometimes I will work OT", and that it's perfectly clear. That's stupid.

Ok, my phrasing was incorrect. I meant to say "how is it precise enough." You get the last word (if you choose to reply to this).

Gotcha, and I agree with you on that. Like I said in my comment, this is exactly what I say in interviews, and I haven't had a problem with it yet. If I do then I'll find a new job. After a little practice you can get a feel for reading people and companies and you can usually tell if you are on the same page. I also always ask how many hours on average people work per week, or something along those lines.

Also, I absolutely would not tell a company that I want to work for that "under no circumstances" will I work any overtime. Nor will I hire someone that says such a thing.

I see some ambiguity: this is the contract negociation; the work may be referring to the entire duration of his employment. Exceptional circumstances are exceptional, and he may choose to give up his Friday then.

Exactly - I would completely understand someone insisting on a work/life balance - I want it, and I have no problem with people wanting that; but seeing it worded that way is a red flag to me.

His wording is quite accurate if you ask me. At least, I can completely agree with it.

Life is about living, not about working, after all.

Well you can do plenty of living when lots of businesses do not hire you due to the fact that they realise sometimes stuff needs to get done. We all want to avoid the constantly crisis mode businesses, but you do this by being reasonable.

Agreed. If a business is constantly in crisis mode, something else is wrong, and 40-45 hours a week seems like a good goal to shoot.

Crisis mode is addictive.

It was fun to play the hero and get 'That One Critical Feature' out of the door for an important demo. It is a rush. Investors like it. Engineers like it. Soon a company is always in crisis mode; pushing hard to get the next great thing out. It becomes the culture.

At one company I worked at the VP of Engineering was the hardest, longest working person I'd ever met and a driver of that culture. No matter how hard or long you worked, he could beat you at that metric without breaking a sweat. There was a lot of pressure to live up to that example. Mostly I didn't mind because solving problems on a deadline is fun. Mostly.

Eventually, inevitably, that lifestyle started catching up to us. Nerves were frayed. Small technical disagreements started to stretch on into weeks long religious cold wars. We started losing good people who had the good sense to see what was happening.

Those of us who believed in the company and product stayed on, even thrived at some level.

After a few years of this something drastic changed. Our VPoE mother died unexpectedly. It hit him hard. He realized that he had been ignoring absolutely everything but the business. Everything. And the culture shifted on a dime. Engineers were no longer /allowed/ to be called on weekends whereas before we had to respond in 20 min. He would make it a point to go out with us after the workday, or even during the workday, to chat about life, the direction of the company, whatever. Most importantly, he ran interference when it came to the clients and laid down and enforced very sane timetables for completion of projects and features. And if there was a delay, it was ok...not the end of the world.

The product did not languish. Things still got done. Turns out clients, for the most part, could not care less how hard and fast we worked. Having good information for when something would be complete was sufficient. Sometimes better because we were not breaking ourselves trying to impress them with impossible deadlines that we would sometimes miss. Good information was better than fast information.

On top of that, the quality of the product improved. Crises mode was used too often as an excuse for shipping half baked product.

Creativity blossomed. Several revenue generating products were conceived and executed in the breathing space we all now had.

People started recommending talented friends to fill positions again...

Altogether, it was just a much better scene.

Now our criteria crisis is much more strict. It is basically "Will someone (client) die or lose their house if this is not done by some certain time?" If the answer is no, go home.

If you are managing people and part of your evaluation criteria, formally or informally, is "does that person work a lot of hours" or if your 'business stability' requires that kind of sacrifice on any kind of regular basis you are doing it wrong.

TL:DR Unless a client is going to die or go bankrupt if you or your employees don't work extra hours, go home.

"The product did not languish. Things still got done. Turns out clients, for the most part, could not care less how hard and fast we worked. Having good information for when something would be complete was sufficient. Sometimes better because we were not breaking ourselves trying to impress them with impossible deadlines that we would sometimes miss. Good information was better than fast information."

This. After years of working at shops where putting out fires was the norm I took a position with a company that handles their client deliverables in the manner you describe. For the first six months I was constantly jumpy, waiting for crunch time to hit and slinking home at 5:00pm feeling vaguely guilty that I was done for the day.

I just couldn't famthom how we could be working on all of the large project initiatives in our pipeline with no screaming clients and no marathon code sprints.

After a year in a sane environment it'd take more than six figures to get me to go back to the soul-eating grind that is so typical in small dev shops.

I've seen this too. One company I worked for had a product that was deployed too soon. We as a dev team decided it was time to roll it out when it wasn't. Our fault. This created a crisis mode. It was a rush - live editing code on production servers to save an engineer rollout (nature of the product was one mistake locked us out of the box), seeing small fixes improve conversion by noticable amounts (or reduce the call queue significantly), etc. Bad engineering practice, but it made me understand the cowboy appeal, and I don't think I want to do it again.

However, this resulted in a bit of crisis addiction, followed by burnout. However, the CEO learned that crisis mode was a death march motivator. Suddenly it turned into crisis-this and crisis-that. Every small feature was a "drop everything we'll lose customers" crisis. It started wearing pretty quick. At some point he dropped the crisis act and just stated flatly that "your terms of employment state that you will work as needed, i need you now" the day before I had scheduled time off, and the "crisis" was getting a new feature complete for shipping in a year. Needless to say I got a new job.

Basically, I agree with clavalle - crisis mode if not used exceedingly sparingly can lead to a new set of expectations that will chew up a dev team.

One place I worked had an unofficial policy: Every hour of overtime allowed you to take 2 hours off some other time. If there's a crisis, things can get done quickly, but nobody gets overworked, and there's a strong incentive for management to avoid crises.

I think in cases where you may loose a client or seriously damage a relationship it could also be warranted. Honestly, if they give you flex time, I don't mind all that much. At a job I started fairly recently I had to push really hard for a couple of days (put in probably 3 extra hours a day for 2 days) but then they gave me a day off after those 2 days and then the rest of the week I basically was given nothing else to do so it was really relaxed. I think the main thing is they recognize the sacrifice and act accordingly to not burn you out.

He said 40 hours a week, not 8 hours a day. For example, he could end up working 20 hours for two days in a row. Or he could mean as an average. This is what I do. I may put in a 60 hour week, but I'll be taking time off where I can until I get back to a 40 hour average.

I'd rather suggest that we point fingers at an industry and employers that don't pay overtime for such scenarios before pointing fingers at each other.

I've grown accustomed to not getting overtime after over 15 years in the industry, and I make sure that my base salary covers a job where occasional overtime is possible. Should it be different - of course - but if you know that you are for example joining a startup, where the hours can be crazy and the expectations are high, then you should account for that. (Oddly enough, I am working less crazy nights at a startup than I did in the agency world).

You're kidding yourself if you think you can't pack productivity into 40 hours worth of work a week. Some people have this notion that their job is so important that the work they're doing can't be put off til tomorrow. Certainly, in some seats, emergencies arise, but by and large, you should never have to work more than 40 a week at your 9-5.

Yes. That guy is 100 percent liability.

"I screwed up, but it's 5:00 so I'm going home. Remember my childish contract? So long!"

I'm really glad you mentioned "cute little puzzles". I am sick of them. I'm not really sure who has sufficient time to spend blazing the employer with feats of their programming prowess (I was going to say only undergrads would do that - however, many undergrads in top programs have little time to bathe).

If this was big companies being stupid, I'd get it. The HN crowd ... some of the smartest hackers around do little better sometimes. I was very interested in Stripe after hearing some of their folks speak (I don't mean to single them out ... they are a pretty amazing bunch from what I've seen) and saw the cute puzzles (https://stripe.com/jobs#engineer) as a listed way of impressing them. I immediately hit the back button and decided not to apply there. Perhaps it means we would not have been a good fit. Or perhaps, we need more respect in the recruiting process. I understand the need for fiz-buzz tests and all ... but things have gone a bit too far.

If a recruiter goes after you, and didn't bother to Google your name and look at your GitHub/OS contributions etc. he's obviously cold calling and wasting your time. He's the guy who asks DHH how much Rails experience he's got.

But, on the other hand, if you apply to a company, especially one that's more or less famous, puzzles are a very good way of separating the wheat from the chaff on a level playing field. Evaluating a strangers performance based on their solution to a common puzzle is very time efficient and allows the company to process large numbers of applicants fairly.

A common notion here is that great people can just pick up the phone, or will be actively courted by companies, so they don't need puzzles and recruiters. That is great for them (honestly, not a snark), but it's not scalable: Not everyone can know everyone, and there has to be a way for newcomers to enter into the network.

Case in point: Stripe - you want to work for them, but apparently you don't know anyone on the inside that can recommend you. And apparently you're not on their radar already. They do great stuff, they seem like an amazing bunch - so there are likely to be hundreds who want to work for them - and most of them, regrettably, are not qualified enough.

Do you really think it's fair to require Stripe to assign a member of their engineering team (that means you after they hire you) to review every strangers GitHub accounts, when you refuse to invest even a little time in signalling to them that you're the real deal (the puzzles aren't all multi-day endeavours)?

Do you really think it's fair to require Stripe to assign a member of their engineering team (that means you after they hire you) to review every strangers GitHub accounts, when you refuse to invest even a little time in signalling to them that you're the real deal (the puzzles aren't all multi-day endeavours)?

There's no such thing as fairness in the job market. If Stripe can't find enough programmers to fill their needs, then yes, they need to allocate their own labor to recruiting. At some point, the business cycle will swing the other way, and it will become necessary for programmers to put our time into hunting for companies who want to hire even one programmer.

C'est la vie.

> If Stripe can't find enough programmers to fill their needs...

... then allocating the programmers they have to sifting through a completely open "jobs" mailbox is still probably not a good idea.

> At some point, the business cycle will swing the other way, and it will become necessary for programmers to put our time into hunting for companies who want to hire even one programmer.

For the level of programmer competence we're talking about here, that hasn't happened yet.

For the level of programmer competence we're talking about here, that hasn't happened yet.

Define that level non-tautologically then, please.

> Do you really think it's fair to require Stripe to assign a member of their engineering team (that means you after they hire you) to review every strangers GitHub accounts, when you refuse to invest even a little time in signalling to them that you're the real deal (the puzzles aren't all multi-day endeavours)?


Then you're being unrealistic, because the expected value of a random applicant's ability is not that high.

But it works the other way around, too. The expected value of a random company is not that high unless the candidate considers themselves to have a good chance of success. Given how opaque the hiring process is from the point of view of an applicant, how do they know if it's worth spending their time solving a random puzzle?

Investing time in open source software is a better use of time from the point of view of a candidate, as they can show the same code to many different companies.

So it comes down to who is more in demand. Is your company so desirable that good programmers will invest a significant chunk of time just to have a chance with you? If the answer isn't an automatic 'Yes', maybe you should rethink your hiring strategy.

It also doesn't seem particularly hard to automatically filter out candidates with no GitHub account, or a GitHub account but few contributions.

Sure, I didn't say anything about that, but in this scenario it's implied that you're applying to this company, so presumably you know something about it and like it. You likely know a lot more about the company than it knows about you.

The Github filter is a bad one, though - lots of good programmers don't do the whole open source thing, and we need to stop this pretense of a good Github account being necessary for hiring. What started as a suggestion in some hiring blog posts has become overblown into dogma now.

At some point an employer needs to see code that a candidate has written, so unless the candidate wants to write code specifically for each company they send a resume to, maintaining some open source software is surely the most efficient mechanism to do that.

Artists maintain a portfolio of their work; why shouldn't programmers?

Artists don't usually have to show what brushes or paints they used to make a particular work.

Sometimes it's best to evaluate the work rather than what goes into it. Granted, this isn't always the case and can't be attributed to multi team environments, but I've often been asked for code when I have a large number of (successful) projects solely developed by me.

Also, small code samples are fine but some employers are in the habit of asking for major work (demos) just to show off your coding chops. That's bad.

That's because it usually doesn't matter how an artist creates a piece of work, as long as their methods are not too idiosyncratic; what matters is the end result.

For a developer, the how matters as much, or even more so than the result. You could create a complete mess that still manages to just about work, and it wouldn't be obvious from a cursory execution of the binary just how bad it was.

Ideally, if I was going to hire someone, I'd want to know how they develop a reasonably-sized project. An interview or puzzle can give me some idea, but a GitHub account is far superior because it would show me how they work over a longer time frame, and perhaps with other people. I honestly can't think of anything that comes close to demonstrating skill.

I understand the urge to minimize risk as much as possible. However, the truth is that in any field whether it's business development, sales, marketing, etc. what you do see most often is the person's track record and not how they actually went about doing things.

So the fact that you can actually see more for a programmer is actually a bonus, but that doesn't mean it should be abused like plenty of companies try and do these days.

Risk aversion is fine, and obviously you want to hire the best candidate but like mentioned elsewhere on this thread:

1. Not everyone has public github projects and I hardly believe anyone should have to work on open source stuff just to show off their coding skills.. Thats really not the right reason to work on open source stuff.

2. For web projects while you might not have access to backend code you can always look at the front end and see if the guy is any good. This is especially true for me considering the fact that I have multiple projects developed from start to finish live and available on the Internet.

Again, small demos or code sample requests are always fine. However, an entire project to get a job somewhere ? Might have been okay when I had nothing to show for it, but after a bit of experience on your resume, it gets old..

I agree with you that cute puzzles are annoying and unnecessary, but if you look at the puzzles Stripe has on that page, you'll see that they are anything but cute puzzles. Something like the CTF that they built is an awesome and fun way to see if a developer has the chops to run with the big dogs. These are cool real-world problems. They're not sitting you down in front of a whiteboard and forcing you to complete esoteric puzzles in a limited amount of time, yet they're giving you a few different ideas as to how to impress them. You have all the time in the world and it's up to you to prove it. Stripe, to me, seems like an amazing company with some of the best talent out there. Just my two cents.

They are boring though. If I have to take a programming test, I'd rather take that time build a real feature onto your product, even if for free. If you like the results, at least I've created real value for my time, not just played a silly game. There's a risk that you won't like the results and it will be thrown away, but that's a reasonable gamble.

No way. I'm not going to do free work for your company to make money off in the hopes that you'll give me a job later.

What if you did the work for free, but the company would have to pay you for your work if they liked the results, even if they ultimately did not hire you?

Wouldn't that still be better than working on some contrived game that has no real-world relevance for free?

Then you aren't really working for free. More like on contract.

But that would only be true if they decide to use the results. Otherwise, it's just another contrived quiz with no real-world merit. The worst case is remains the same as the status quo, but the better case is that you'll be paid for your time in the interview.

It still seems like a positive step. No quizzes at all seems like an even better way, but I did qualify the point with the assumption that the quiz would happen regardless.

This is how we hire, and I think it's great. Both sides get to see if it's a good fit, we see how you work and if you have a product sense. You get to see if you like our product and company culture. Win-win.

I think some of the ITA programming puzzles (for instance) are fun on their own merits.

Not to get too meta, but what if the company essentially buys your argument? "Yes, this is a non-real world problem for entertainment purposes only..."

But they want to find programmers who find such problems entertaining.

Filtering only goes so far. If you rely on these tactics instead of asking the actual questions. You will very soon end up hiring people who know nothing about the real world, but would have memorized tons of interview trivia.

The problem with puzzles is just that. You ask questions and hire candidates based on issues that have nothing related to the job. The end result is you up hiring the wrong people and then say you can't find good programmers.

You can't find good programmers because you are not asking questions meant to hire good programmers. You wanted puzzle experts and that is what you got.

Maybe we are talking past each other. This is the page I was thinking of:


These aren't classic Microsoft "puzzle questions". They are programming challenges that say a lot about your approach to programs and problems. In particular, all of them ask you to make tradeoffs between correctness and performance.

They are cool enough to attract engineers, hard enough to discourage the idly curious, and unique enough that no published solution exists. That's why I said that someone who does this kind of puzzle for the sheer enjoyment of it might be exactly what a high-level software shop is looking for.

Would I want a "puzzle expert" who could solve the problems on ITA's page? Hell yes.

As others here have mentioned, the questions on the jobs page are explicitly designed to not be cute puzzles. If you don't have a Github profile or other code samples, these questions help us get a sense of how you think about programming. But they're also entirely optional - we should perhaps make this clearer. We'd love to hear from you if you're still interested in Stripe.

Maybe I'm just incredibly naive, but are fizzbuzz tests really that necessary? I have a hard time believing anybody could get an interview, let alone graduate with a BS in compsci, without being able to do something THAT simple ....

Yes, they are necessary. I've seen "senior" people bomb on it. There's a segment of "developers" that are good at selling themselves as programmers, manipulating the interviewer so you talk yourself into thinking they are awesome. You've probably met some of these types at conferences, and think they'd be a worthwhile hire. But stick a simple programming problem in front of them, and they can't back it up. if you're not that great at spotting these people, they can slip by the average interviewer without something concrete like a FizzBuzz to show they can back up their talk. And once they make it into your organization, if you don't catch them early, they can be extremely destructive.

Yes, yes they are. I don't even see all of the resumes submitted to my company since they are filtered through the recruiters and our HR guy but the ones I do see still need a fizzbuzz test more often than not.

Granted, it is not a thing you should give everyone. I can usually tell when I look at a resume that such a thing is likely to be pretty pointless (It points me to a github account I can look at instead? Why bother? The resume is clearly written by someone who knows what they're talking about and isn't stuffing everything they've ever done onto a page in a game of buzzword bingo? Probably safe.) so I don't give fizzbuzz tests to everyone but sometimes you have to be sure.

While this is a little disappointing in that it speaks to the quality (or lack thereof) of developers coming out of college, or elsewhere, it is also really encouraging too! the fizzbuzz problem is actually incredibly simple and I was able to write code out by hand that worked in my python interpreter.

Hopefully I'll have some good github stuff to point potential employers to soon (i'm working on some things now). But at least I know that I should be able to pass some of the incompetency gauges fairly easily!

also, i've never heard of buzzword bingo before, but it sounds interesting! maybe i'll make a program for buzzword bingo. You can use it in your interviews! :P

Well, not to burst your bubble, but fizzbuzz is a negative filter (ie passing it is the minimum needed to even be considered for a dev job).

Congratulations. You're better than 50% of the programmers I interview. Want a job in SF?

You'd be surprised...

But actually, fizzbuzz is just the bottom level. You also want to do basic coding exercises for whatever specific area you are hiring for, such as:

- Set up an extremely basic web app that lets the user enter a name and echoes it back to them.

- Make a sprite move across the screen.

- Display a 3d cube with different colors on each side and make it rotate.

- Make it play some music.

- Aggregate the data in this simple database.

- Here's some naive producer-consumer code. Make it thread-safe.

- Debug this code that has memory issues.

- Critique this (flawed) design.

- Update the CSS to make this page look nicer.

Basically, you never want to get into a situation where you've hired someone who has managed to talk his way through life. It's far less headache to just use a few sanity checks on every potential hire.

I wonder if there's a harder equivalent to FizzBuzz — one that doesn't take any longer to explain or do, but requires a much higher level of skill to pass. One we used at http://airwave.com/ was "Write a Perl subroutine to determine whether a string is a valid dotted-quad IP address," which is something you can do in various reasonable ways in one to five lines of code.

Is that really so much harder? Somehow, I expect you'd get a lot of opaque regexes like:

  sub isIP {
    return (shift =~ m/^((\d{1,2}|1\d{2}|2[0-4]\d|25[0-5])\.){3}(\d{1,2}|1\d{2}|2[0-4]\d|25[0-5])$/)? 1 : 0;

I think we did get someone solving it that way once, and modulo Unicode, it's arguably a reasonable solution. But there are other one-line solutions that are more transparent.

The Stanford CS Ph.D. candidate whose solution included a Perl function for converting decimal numbers of up to three digits to binary was rejected.

I failed to note in my earlier comment that yes, it is so much harder. Fizzbuzz requires that you write a loop, print some strings, and either maintain a couple of counters or use the modulo operator. Your solution requires:

- writing a subroutine

- understanding Perl parameter passing

- understanding Perl regexps, including =~, anchoring, alternatives, metacharacter escaping, character classes, and repeat counts;

- the ternary operator.

And then you could probe things like:

- Do they know how to fix the bug in your version where it incorrectly accepts an IP address with a newline appended to it?

- Do they know it would still work without the return and the ?1:0?

- Can they figure out that they could simplify and clarify the code substantially with qr?

- Do they understand why someone might prefer a non-regexp-based approach? :)

There are plenty, and yours is a good example of one. In fact I think actual FizzBuzz is not used much in the wild any more as it's too well known and thus drillable.

You have clearly never had to interview people. Fizzbuzz is super basic and that's the point. It quickly separates the person who was around when programming happened and someone that actually did the programming.

I interviewed a 'senior' developer who had been a consultant for several years. When we asked how he implemented past projects, his answers were really vague. We got suspicious and dropped down to a simple problem like, "write a loop to print the numbers from one to ten."

The guy was writing some really weird stuff. When asked to explain, he confidently told us that in C++, every time you reference the iterator variable inside the loop, it gets increased. His solution was something like:

    for (int i = 1; i <= 10; i++)
        printf("%d\n", i);   // <== i gets incremented!
        i--;  // need to compensate for the extra increment!
(except I'm pretty sure he didn't get printf right)

So, yeah, I see FizzBuzz as a wonderful way to weed out the incompetent right away, allowing you to focus on deciding whether you need capable or exceptional.

Incidentally, one of the guys on my senior project team in college didn't understand how variable assignment worked. He would write:

    int flagsVar = COMMON_BASE_FLAGS;
    CallAPI(flagsVar);  // Why doesn't it work?!
He graduated.

>"Six figures, 30 vacation days, full benefits, infinite sick days, convince me that you won't be out of business in any short span of time and you won't bounce a check. Also, under no circumstances do I work more than 40 hours a week."

There was a time, after the crash of 2000, when programmers actually had a difficult time finding work. It doesn't matter what the career, training or job, this stuff goes in cycles, always.

You're at the the top of the cycle now; there's a gap in the supply/demand for good coders. It's a great time to be a programmer. But the invisible hand of the economy has a way of sorting these things out.

>"The fact is you need me more than I need you."

This won't always be the case. Keep that in mind.

All the more reason to get the most of what you can out of the inequality before the cycle swings back the other way.

Absolutely. After all, that is what most employers will do when the pendulum swings their way.

Great observation. It's very easy to forget after a year or so of good times that bad times ever happened. Yet, this too shall pass. The key component of my philosophy is to always provide more value than paid for, be it 10 days of vacation, or 30. This will create consistent demand for one's services negating the impact of economic cycles.

Doctors don't have infinite sick days, many don't have 30 vacation days (I barely take a week off a year), and most don't have 40 hr work weeks.

Yeah no-where on earth are there 30 holiday days per year and 40 hour maximum. No-one works that.

Except several EU countries which have that as the legal minimum…

(e.g. France: 35 hr legal working week, 25 days holidays and ~ 13 paid public holidays per year)

I'm in The Netherlands, have a 40 hour work week, more than 30 days of paid leave, plus extra days when I move/marry/etc. It's pretty common in Western Europe.

And it's not as if we have less welfare, healthcare, worse education, low productivity, or an instable economy. In fact, in pretty much all rankings Western European countries are doing fine.

Unfortunately, government policies that make such thinks possible are called 'socialist' on the other side of the pond.

Unfortunately, government policies that make such thinks possible are called 'socialist' on the other side of the pond.

They are called 'Socialist' here (EU) aswell.

* The 2nd largest political party in the European Parliament is.... "Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats".

* The UK Labour Party (many times in government) has a footer to "Affiliated socialist societies" in it's homepage ( http://www.labour.org.uk/home ) (Though it's not really viewed as socialist party in UK as much now that it's "New Labour").

* The "Core Party Principles" of the Irish Labour Party (which is in government) starts with: "The four principles on which Socialism is based are …" ( http://www.labour.ie/principles/ )

The difference is that "socialist" isn't a dirty word in European countries.

Most of western Europe, if not all, gets at least 4 weeks vacation. 40 hours is a bit more demanding but 42 is pretty common.

All of the EU gets 4 weeks. It's called the European Working Time Directive. That'd give you 20 days paid annual leave. Some member states have higher. (I think) all member states have paid public holidays aswell.

All of the EU gets 48 hours maximum working time per week, that's the European Working Time Directive again. The UK has a sort of an opt-out to it. Some member states have a lower maximum.

Fun Fact: I'm from Ireland (20 days holidays per year). Talked to some Germans, and they were shocked I could get by on 20 (they got 30).

I have 10 in the US. You lucky bastard.

UK here: 35 hr week (which I generally stick to), 28 days holiday (rising to 30 in a couple of years, plus I usually buy 5 extra, plus public holidays).

What's interesting is I work for a large multi-national (listed on NYSE and TSX) - local expectations override the rest of their US-centric culture.

Brazil: 44h, 30 days PTO, ~12 public holidays, 13th salary (yeah...). If you're not working as a contractor, that is, which is way too common in the IT field.

It's not really 30 days PTO, isn't it? It's "30 consecutive days", which might even include holidays/weekends. And you don't have much flexibility on taking them. Also, it's not uncommon to have 40h agreements.

In Brazil you get paid monthly, not weekly, so weekends are part of the math. 30 weekdays would make it 42 consecutive days vacation - now that would be awesome.

Funny how people allready say EU countries instead of countries in Europe.

Why is it funny? Not all countries in Europe are in the EU.

(And slightly funny enough, not all of the EU is in Europe. French Guiana is in part of France and the EU and borders Brazil http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Guiana)

I didn't say treat me the way a hospital treats a doctor. I said you treat me as if I'm a doctor and you are a pharmaceutical sales rep.

Or, treat me like I'm an investor (which I am) and you're a startup (which you are).

However, median compensation for really good doctors is vastly higher than median compensation for really good developers (in the US, anyway).

And really good doctors have really high bills to pay, as well. Not many developers need 8 years of the best schooling (one could make the argument that really good developers don't need any schooling, although it helps).

Your point still stands, but student loans from med school are nothing to brush aside.

That's not a universal truth. Studying medicine in Europe is not significantly more expensive than studying history, CS or whatnot.

E.g., in Belgium, any year spent studying at college- or university-level costs €550 (±$720), plus the cost of the books. If your parents earn less than a middle class income, you pay significantly less.

The major difference that does hold true everywhere, is the fact that doctors start earning a salary much later.

For really good specialists, student loans from med school are forgiven after 10 years of practice in academic medicine (which your residency counts towards), and often paid off for you if you go into private practice.

Yeah, well, developers aren't given a giant book on solutions either.

Oh, I see, you're having an issue where you're executing 10,000 queries. Let me just open up this book and copy/paste the solution to you.

#1 Neither are doctors.

#2 Yes you are. It's called StackOverflow and a million other sites on the internet where you can google for an answer to your question.

I have a relative who is a doctor in an ER and they are essentially an independent contractor (not on a W2), they don't really get any sick days, per se, they are paid for what they work (at a very high rate, or I think a share of the income for that month for their department, something like that) but they have to manage it as a business, essentially (own health insurance, etc), I think its different for some as they may be an employee (like for Kaiser) but a lot are contractors.

So, I'm outting myself as outsider here but:

In five sentences or less, could you describe how you got to be the programmer you are today? I.e., skilled enough to be commanding the kinds of benefits you do? It's mostly out of curiosity, I'm not looking to get directly involved with programming.

I have been programming since Kindergarten. I can program in any language. I also have the skills of a systems administrator, PC repairman, etc. I can do almost anything you need to do with computers, except setup email servers (screw you postfix!)

Also, don't assume that what I am demanding from recruiters is what I am currently receiving. Just because I ask for 30 vacation days doesn't mean I currently have 30 vacation days.

>I can program in any language.

Maybe it's just me, but if you actually think this is relevant/interesting then I can't help doubting your credibility.

Yeah, to command six figures, you've either many years (10+) of experience under your belt, a masters + experience or you're applying in NYC or LA/SF where cost of living is astronomical. In the midwest, you'd be hard pressed to find a starting salary at 6-figures except at the very bottom of that 6-fig range.

You shouldn't get paid based on your cost of living. You should get paid on value added.

TBH, I don't see why living in the midwest should drop the salary a company owes you that much. If you are a good developer, you should command a salary comparable to the value you add plus a profit margin for the business.

The only two explanations I can see is that, collectively, software engineers in the midwest are simply not negotiating for the salaries they deserve because given the cost of living they don't feel like they have to negotiate for better or that they are on average of much lower quality in the midwest that there is no room in the salary range there for being an outlier commanding a salary outside that range (i.e. no room for a unicorn in a stable full of horses).

If I worked remotely from Timbuktu, I would laugh at any employer that offered me less based on the cost of living in Timbuktu. It should be no different working in the midwest. Our world is flat.

You aren't actually paid based on cost of living, per se, but as that factors in so heavily, it can swing the value proportionally.

If I move back to Memphis, TN, I can make approximately half of what I make now in the DC area to live as comfortably as I do. Does that mean I'm worth half as much? No. Does it mean I should expect to make half as much? Pretty much, yeah.

Beyond meeting my basic needs (rent, food, whatever) then it's just a matter of how much expendable income does that salary leave me. I don't know if 'percentage of salary' is the best way to measure it, but it factors in.

Paying me 'market rate' in a place where a 3 bedroom 3 bath house can be had for $150k is a vastly different proposal when that same house is $450k in a different place. That is the 'cost-of-living' difference. Sure, I might add the same x amount of dollars of value to the company in both locations, but if I can't live comfortably in my market, then it doesn't matter.

Note, this argument ignores the competitiveness of the markets as well. There are naturally more potential developers in silicon valley than there are in Bumfuck, Nowhere. Supply and demand does factor here.

Lastly, except in situations of outsourcing, you're generally not paid based on where YOU are, but based on where the company (or the location you report to) is. If you're working remotely from Timbuktu while reporting to an office in Silicon Valley, you should expect SV (or near-to) rates. If you're telecommuting to the midwest, you should expect midwest pay.

The big difference there is in what it costs to replace you. If you're Linus Torvalds, that cost probably goes way up. If you're like most of us, that cost is probably a close approximation to 'whatever they can hire a local developer for', assuming there are local developers in the area with the skills you possess.


A radiologist makes $350k whether he's in Manhattan or Memphis. A hedge fund analyst makes comparable, whether he's in LA or Louisville. A BIGLAWyer makes comparable, whether he's in Chicago or Charlestown. They are paid for the value of services rendered, and the doctors, bankers, and lawyers I know seem perfectly content to maximize their income while minimizing their expenses. Only the programmers seem interested in making as little money as possible.

Put differently: a radiologist thinks about moving from Manhattan to Memphis and says "Boy, that $350k will let me live like a king down there!" Meanwhile, a programmer says "Boy, I only have to make $75k down there to live like I'm living up here for $150k!"


I don't think that's true at all, actually.

I just did some (admittedly) anecdotal job searches for radiology, and there's a $150k price difference between New York and Indiana.

I knew a few attorneys that have moved into the DC area to raise their rates (and one who commutes two hours in to DC because otherwise, his billable rate is halved.)

The positions people are paid also depend on the cost of living in the area. If the median income for an area is $28k vs. $50k, they're simply not able to afford legal services that cost twice the market. This might mean that lawyers in rural areas only work half as much at the same rate, but that means that without some clever accounting, their yearly income is still (approximately) halved.

I'm not saying that no such positions exist, but I know that doctors, lawyers and the like ARE subject to cost of living variance. I don't know of any position in any field that isn't at least somewhat affected by the median income of the municipality in which they operate.

You've got it exactly twisted about docs, read this for clarity: http://www.medscape.com/features/slideshow/compensation/2012...

Choice quote: "As in Medscape's 2011 survey, the highest-earning physicians practice in the North Central region, comprising Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and South and North Dakota; the mean income of physicians there is $234,000. The next-highest earners were doctors in the Great Lakes region ($228,000). Physicians in the Northeast earned the least, at a mean of $204,000."

As for attorneys, I said BIGLAW. Not "get local joe bob out of jail." (But law does have a bifurcated career path, i.e. T14 or bust these days.)

I note your silence about hedge fund analysts.

Here are the people who are paid in accordance with COL: labor. Programmers seem to think of themselves as laborers, despite having the intellectual caliber to be professionals. Or maybe I am overestimating my tribe. Perhaps we just anemic right hemispheres in our brain, leading to savant-like abilities in the left, leading to the warm embrace of pathetic compensation.

>>Programmers seem to think of themselves as laborers

Worse than that in fact. Never heard of any labor union that would be OK with workers putting in extra hours without overtime pay.

First, let me start off by clarifying that I didn't imply that pay should be based on cost of living. Rather, that I believe it's more market forces at work, but that cost of living plays a huge factor in that.

From the article you linked, that statement is reinforced:

"There's less competition among physicians in smaller communities and rural areas," says Bohannon. "There isn't that same downward pressure on reimbursement that you have in metropolitan areas. Generally, smaller communities have to pay more to attract physicians."

This is the market at work. It doesn't matter what the cost of living is in those areas, what matters is the demand for the position.

I also can't ignore that that study is done against 'regions' so large that the cost of living within any of those regions probably swings wide in both directions. This is to say that a doctor in the "Northeast region" could either be in NYC, or way up in the Aidirondacks. Both New York state, both factoring into the ranges on the study, but huge differences in CoL. If you have something more specific, I'm happy to be proven wrong, but in my experience, I don't have anything to refute it.

Regarding BIGLaw, I wasn't referring to ambulance chasers either, but I concede that I don't personally know of any biglaw attorneys that have jumped locality. I also don't know anybody in hedge fund analysts, nor do I know anything about the job market.

Most of the software companies in Memphis are probably selling to relatively local customers, thus tying their income to the local markets. The software companies selling to everyone everywhere are in the big tech hubs.

You're probably not terribly wrong there if you're specifically speaking about software companies, but the largest employers in the area are multi-nationals.

FedEx is headquartered in Memphis, as is International Paper, AutoZone, etc.

Of course, they aren't exactly software companies.

Your salary, by its very nature must be less than "value added", and more than "cost of living".

Anything within that range fulfills the minimum requirements of both parties.

The incentive to negotiate is based upon proximity to those limits. An engineer who barely makes enough to get by (like one making 90k with a family of 4 in the bay area) has greater incentive to negotiate than one making enough (65k in Boise, ID where a 3 bedroom house is 150k) in a less expensive area.

In more expensive areas, overhead increases. $6k/month for a office in Palo Alto reduces "value added" for an employee significantly. Electricity costs almost double in CA than in Idaho. These and other factors affect the value added. (This doesn't factor in so much when you work remotely).

I'm not going to get into supply and demand too much, but another big reason they pay less is because they can. Because very few employees are irreplaceable. Leaving a crappy 3 bedroom apartment in the bay area and moving to Idaho and buying a house in exchange for a 30% pay cut isn't a bad deal.

That's an overly simplistic way to look at it.

There's a reason jobs in Timbuktu don't pay the same as jobs in NYC for any job type - all jobs from janitor to CEO. This is not unique to IT. You have to start by paying people a FAIR wage to cover their living expenses, and it goes up from there based on skills and experience.

If you flatly reject a job that doesn't pay you based on some mythical calculation of "value added" whatever that means, you'll be unemployed a long long time. (Unless you want to be a commission only sales person.)

I don't see anything wrong in getting paid proportional to 'value added' for one simple reason : My employer makes the same money as somebody in another geographical area but wants to pay me less than what he would be paying me in that geographical area. The difference goes in his pocket, while extracts the same work from me.

FAIR wage is not meant to cover your living expenses, they supposed to compensate you for your time, effort and results. This isn't slavery, we are no longer working for merely surviving at somebody else's mercy.

... and working to put profit only in someone else's pocket.

If a firm is in Memphis instead of NYC and selling their services to essentially the same clients, then the owners of that business are already earning a greater profit on other cheaper operating costs like commercial real estate. By accepting a lower salary that simply covers a comfortable style of living you're simply putting even more money in the owner's pocket instead of yours.

It's a classic case of pareto optimality. The only explanation I can think of is that many developers don't see themselves as professionals commanding the salaries of professionals as skerrit_bwoy pointed out. There is no reason that good developer in any market shouldn't be living at the exact same standard of living as the good doctors, lawyers, finance people in that market. They should be living in the same homes and sending their kids to the same schools, etc.

There is no reason that good developer in any market shouldn't be living at the exact same standard of living as the good doctors, lawyers, finance people in that market. They should be living in the same homes and sending their kids to the same schools, etc.

These words should be stapled to every CS degree, and reinforced with classes if necessary. The lawyers/doctors have an ingrained culture in their professions of, well, being professions. We should totally steal that. (They can keep the guild systems, though.)

Since you already got the audience, twould make a great blog post.

It's should be an obligation of every professional in our industry to negotiate higher and be seen as valuable as we actually are to society. The fact that most professional software engineers know their value and demand it severely hurts the salary bar for every other software engineer.

Silicon Valley and NYC are the only two places where I see developers actually beginning to demand what they are worth.

Many entrepreneurs in a lot of areas outside software were able to do what they did because they were highly paid professionals in a prior life that could afford to invest a chunk of their own money in their endeavor.

If we, as a profession don't ask to be paid according to value added, then in general there are going to be a lot less of us starting our own businesses and when we do, we'll have to cede control to non-technical types that did demand their worth like lawyers and finance guys.

My theory is that the first dotcom boom paved the road for the growth we are experiencing now because it took money from Wall Street and used it to line the pockets of technical folks with cash.

Since you already got the audience, twould make a great blog post.

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

Not necessarily, this is the heart of the supply-vs-demand concept.

If there are a hundred other people that can do what you do for cheaper? Of course you wont find a job. But if you're the only one? Well after all the companies tell you take a hike, and then find they can't hire anyone else - they'll come back. If the cost of paying you is less than the value you add, and they can't find any cheaper alternatives, it's in their interest to hire you.

As usual, Patio11 is the best voice on this subject - read some of his posts about salary negotiation.

For the view from the other side of the table, read Peldi's posts from Balsamiq.

It's not cost of living but supply of jobs. The job market is smaller so there's much less competition for talent. Employees that aren't willing to move to the hotter markets don't have the same bargaining power.

You can add more value to firms outside the midwest because there are very few firms in the midwest where tech is their core business. I was living in Cleveland and severely underpaid, but I could not find another company in the area that would give me a $20k raise because IT was just a cost to them and not how they made money. I moved to California and more than tripled my salary.

My experience in the midwest was that they generally have very low estimates of what anything they pay for is worth (probably because they get this idea from the lower cost of living).

The problem with this is viewable on freelancer.com and other sites. Once you can be sure a coder will do good work remotely, then you can get a coder to do some work from anywhere on the planet, and those who have a much lower cost of living will happily undercut those who dont.

It may be the single biggest driver against the growth of cities.

What you describe isn't a problem, it's the greatest possible outcome. Think about it from the point of view of the employer and the remote coder.

Yup, they say on their front page that the average job is under $200. That's about 3 to 4 hours work for me.

Employers value proximity. They'll pay extra for it.

Oh, I want to add one more thing, since everyone seems to like my comment.

You can pay me too much money.

If you give me say, a million dollars a year, I will work for one year, and then you will never see me again. I will go home and live my life as I please, and only code what I want to code. The code may or may not make money. I may or may not try.

If I work at a startup that cashes out big, then I will travel the world, settle in the tropics, and you will not see me again. If someone acquired us as a way of acquiring talent, they will be sorely disappointed.

maybe you should start your own company?

seems to me you chaff quite a bit about being a "wage slave"

Indeed. Also, he seems to want the pendulum to swing from the employee courting companies to the company courting employees. Personally, I think there should be a mutual respect between an employer and employee. Further, someone whose sole goal is not to work, as it seems here, is probably not someone you really want to work with nor to start his own company.

There are certainly a lot of people who do in fact do nothing when they become independently wealthy. But many also continue working regardless because they actually enjoy what they do.

People should absolutely be paid fairly and treated with respect. But if you expect someone to worship you for some reason, wether employer or employee, you should probably adjust your attitude.

He didn't say he would do nothing when he got rich. He said he would code whatever he wanted, without regard to making money. Big difference. An independently wealthy person could become a star of the open-source world.

That is true. However, his comment still seems downright hostile towards anyone he might work with. It comes across as though he tolerates working with people only by force and has no respect for his coworkers at all.

No doubt his phrasing is overboard, perhaps due to a poor working environment or mistreatment by management. Personally, even I "won the lottery" tomorrow, I would not just abandon the projects I'm working on and the people I'm working with. I enjoy the work and respect the people.

Actually my working environment is pretty great, and my co-workers are cool. That's why it's hard to convince me to leave.

I am incredibly risk averse. I will not take the chance of becoming homeless.

In the current climate, the risk of that is incredibly low. For one thing, if you're risk averse and amenable to trading risk for equity, you can keep a sizable war-chest at home and simply run off VC money. That way even if you crash and burn you have a safety net to fall into.

The current state of the software industry is funny that way. The worst case outcome of being a failed startup founder is a six figure job ;)

I disagree. Why do we have this idea that one needs to be at a company for 20 years? I'd love to see some company pay a million dollars a year to all employees and have a limit of, say, 5 years for working there. It would be interesting to see what effect that would have when every employee knew after 5 years of working there they never had to enter the rat race again if they didn't want to.

If someone acquired us as a way of acquiring talent, they will be sorely disappointed.

Typically in that scenario, there would be an "earn-out" period. Leave within n years, get nothing.

The comment thread here reminds me of how just about every time someone suggests that a prospective employee might have demands of an employer, he or she is "entitled," "arrogant," or "a dick."

It never fails, be the topic salary and hours, choice of technology, vacation time -- being as explicit about your requirements as employers are theirs is a very good way to get poo flung at you.

We're not serfs, people.

I definitely hear from startups who are hiring and will pay O.K. but it seems to me that for every startup that pays, there are 3-5 that won't.

I get myself fired up on this issue because I hear from enough companies that I need to quickly qualify opportunities. I'm a curious and generous person, so I'm inclined to listen to these people, but I don't have the time.

Some startups probably just can't afford a high salary...

If they needed one then they screwed up their business plan.

I think the "cute little puzzles" are absolutely fine if you dont have any code you can send them, but if you have a public github or even willing to send them some private code then yeah, puzzles are a waste of time.

Sometimes, though, the "cute little puzzles" are useful in order to filter out the clowns who interview well but can't write FizzBuzz.

It's a bit of a tall (impossible?) order for a programmer - regardless of skill or experience - to expect to interview without going through some serious technical conversations and writing some code to solve problems.

Technical interview is OK, ask the guy about his job. Give him a coding problem in his language of expertise. Check his knowledge of tools, techniques and best practices in his area of expertise. Do all the tech routine.

But please don't go on and on with Math problems endlessly over weeks and months. Asking arcane and rare facts about stuff and then deciding his worth over his perceived inability to solve problems in math which don't have any connection with programming in the real world.

I have great difficulty with the idea of hiring someone who says they will under no conditions work more than 40 hours a week. That won't work in a situation where we are all working together as a team to achieve something worthy of achieving. I don't hire people by the hour; I hire them to accomplish things.

TL;DR If you want to punch out when the clock strikes 5, get a job in Detroit.

Lottery tickets might be a better deal, they tell you the odds straight out and you get your picture in the news if you win.

I think being dogmatic in these circumstances is perhaps a little short-sighted. As with all things, finding the middle ground – balance – ought to be the goal, and not rigid conformity to rules. In this circumstance, it sounds like you'd might be hard to work with.

That being said, an employee with balance and boundaries, particularly if they can be seen in your life outside of work, is far more desirable in an employee than someone with none. How we live our lives outside the work place is indicative of how we function inside the office, and setting boundaries around the office shows a healthy valuing of our personal time.

What's ironic, is that I'm reading your response, and I'm thinking of how unreasonable it sounds. But after taking a step back and thinking about the symbiotic relationship companies SHOULD have with their employees, this reminds me an awful lot like the demands I've seen from most jobs. They'd like to offer you 2 weeks vacation, a week sick time (because we all choose how long we'll be sick) and if they bounce a check? Bummer, you can either go back out and seek employment or hope things get better.

I get that devs are in demand and that folks should be paid fairly, but after reading this, I don't know if I'd want to work with you in an employer-employee relationship or even as a colleague.

This smacked of a level of entitlement that I think would be cancerous to any group of people working together. Just my $.02.

You need six figures to make rent?

A 1 Bedroom starts at $1600. A 3 bedroom house is ~$3000. 6 figure tax rate is %40 not counting deductions. If you have a family, your rent already takes out over half your 6 figure income. You only live so long, so you need to make some savings too.

So a $100k salary actually gets you $5000/month? Is that true in practice (not on paper)?

I'm in SF right now and that number seems correct (mine don't line up exactly, but close enough). So yes, $100K salary nets roughly $5K a month (assuming no extraordinary deductions).

And a studio is hovering around $2K a month around here, and rising.

guys, the parent was attempting to write satire.

little do you know, that except for infinite sick days or 40 hour weeks, you are "lampooning" a lower-than-average rate for anyone qualified in the bay area. Look at it this way. If Amazon can use you to create a million dollars in value, and therefore vies with Google, who can use to to create a similar amount of money in value, and between them and about a hundred similar startups the going rate is 150,000 per year for your work (with the rest of the 750,000 that you generate going 1/3 toward paying your other miscellaneous overhead associated with you, and half toward their bottom line), then how is 100,000 reasonable?

I bet you consider the following offer reasonable: in your geographic area, start selling goods (through any venue you like, including online forum, web shop, etc) which you buy wholesale. You can pick any goods in any industry or category that you want, and work with whatever wholesalers you like! You have complete autonomy over the entirety of your "stack". Please deduct 15 euros per hour for your labor - totally reasonable - and send any profits above that amount to me. If you make less than 15 dollars per hour doing this then you can keep 100% of your sales. (Naturally, it is not possible to lose money, since the local price cannnot be less than the wholesale price.)

How is this not a reasonable offer, please explain to me. (Not a rhetorical question.) If you cannot explain why this is not reasonable, please reply to me with your contact details so that I can start paying you per above. I look forward to your reply.

Incidentally, I also look forward to any explanation for a lack of response with contact detail, as I have a LOT more jobs available at this price than I can fill.

Some context/perspective on the Austrian employment situation:

* Salaries are typically quoted per month, but there is a bonus of 2 months's salary paid per year, so yearly gross is 14 x monthly. The bonus is taxed at a lower marginal rate (6%, no social security contribution, IIRC, vs 37.5% lowest marginal rate).

* There is no fixed minimum wage in Austria. Instead, there is a collective bargaining system, which sets minimum salaries for each industry. Within each industry there are defined categories of jobs, education and levels of experience, along with minimum employment contract conditions and payment for each. This has some bizarre consequences, such that equivalent jobs (e.g. secretary) have different minimum wages in different industries.

* Employers are required to pay a lot of social security/tax on top of what the employees themselves pay. (just checked this: 21.83% social security, communal tax 3%, about 6% other "social" contributions according to http://www.gruendungswissen.at/gruendungswissen/blog-post/20... )

* Employees are almost impossible to fire. If that programmer ends up doing negative work, he's going to be on your books for a while.

I've never been anything but self-employed in Austria (we get screwed in entirely different ways) but culturally I think there is an expectation that you won't negotiate on your salary. This is further reinforced by the built-in graduated minimum pay: why permit the employee to negotiate a raise if they'll legally be due a raise anyway?

I've had a similar experience in Finland - the shitty salaries (and lack of interesting work that isn't somehow tied to the sinking ship that is Nokia) are one reason I avoid Finnish companies like the plague, and just work for foreign clients.

This is the reason Finnish companies don't advertise salary, which is common in the UK and US for example - it's all collectively bargained in some way out of your control.

Just a quick heads up. If you are interested in distributed systems, computational geometry or working on a custom WebGL app fire me an email, we might have something interesting for you at Tinkercad. Our tech team is based in the heart of Helsinki and we are actively looking for new talent.

If we aren't a good match for you I know a bunch of other interesting startups that I can put you in touch with. Ping me at kai@tinkercad.com.

Not to hijack the thread too much, but with the sort of thing you're doing, I'd seriously consider reaching out to people from the demoscene. There's a pretty large demo culture in Finland, and they'd be perfectly suited to the task, particularly the computational geometry and WebGL side of things. I'd be interested myself if I were in Helsinki.

I was implementing a proof of concept in WebGL for my product and thought, I wonder if someone has implemented a WebGL modeler yet? After a bit of search ran across Tinkercad... Was a super impressive product, and don't know why more people aren't aware of it.

To be clear: collective bargaining normally only sets minimum conditions. You're free to negotiate for more, the employer just might not go with it.

And I know what you mean about foreign clients: the majority of my contracting revenue has been from clients in more progressive countries. Part of it is also that Austria is a small country (though higher population than Finland), so of course there are more potential good clients elsewhere.

I don't know about Austria, here it's a case of "well, this is the industry standard, why do you deserve more? - oh you're a foreigner? Just be grateful we even give you a job" (even if you speak Finnish).

So, most employers don't go with it ;-)

I'm quite happy with foreign clients as they pay better and the work tends to be more interesting - the only killer is the different timezones.

Yes, there is also a strong bias against employing non-natives (or at least non-Germanics) in Austria, orthogonal to the other issues, which was quite shocking after living the previous years of my adult life in the UK, which has a much more liberal culture. This bigotry is much less of an issue (I'd almost say a non-issue) in actual technology companies though. It's telling that the proportion of immigrants among the self employed is much higher than the total proportion of immigrants (though that effect is seen in many countries, and I don't know if it's much higher in Austria).

Interesting! This is nearly a 180 degree opposite in the Netherlands. Companies can't find the talent they need inside (because they pay them too little, but ok), so they try to attract foreigners. Foreign "knowledge workers" also get tax benefits for the first many years, and many employers (particularly consultancies and larger OEMs) have people specialized in getting foreigners a worker's visa.

Ah, the "30% ruling". For those that haven't heard of this wonderful piece of legislation if means you only pay tax on 70% of your salary if you qualify as a knowledge migrant. Yes, you get 30% of your salary tax free. There are also other benefits, e.g. you don't pay income tax on dividends from your home country.

It's not just consultancies and OEMs that will help apply for this - I work at a startup and I am classified as a knowledge migrant.

Any Django/Python devs who are interested in living in a beautiful city and only paying tax on 70% of your salary, please get in touch - we're hiring!

Wonderful for you maybe. I call it positive discrimination.

Btw, is that startup cloudfrag? Where're you guys located? (I'd rather be a garbage man than write Python for a living, but I'm always curious about Dutch startups that I didn't know about)

Out of curiosity why would you rather be a garbage man than write Python for a living?

Maybe because he prefers languages where he has to do his own garbage collection ;-)

Usually when I explain this, I get downvoted by the HN Pythonista downvote mafia, but since you asked, I'll take that risk.

In essence, I think Python is the mediocre features of all languages combined. It's a mish-mash of ideas, badly mish-mashed together. I don't want to use a mediocre language.

- It's object-oriented, but not consistently so (len() anyone?)

- It's object-oriented, but not really the standard library (derive from dict? Oh, no, you should derive from UserDict then. dict isn't a class, didn't you know that?)

- The language's evolution shines through even more than that of PHP. First it was "functions! short little functions! those are easy!" (except "print", come on, that's so common that we must make it a statement), then came some data structures, then came objects and classes, so they backported those datastructures onto OO stuff, but not entirely, and oh by the way here's some additional magic functions for some more magic because magic is cool! And lambdas cause hey, you asked. (note: if this isn't the real history of Python, then I apologize to the apostles; to me it feels like this is the history)

- It supports functional programming constructs, but in such a limited fashion that any code not written in a imperative style quickly gets very hairy and difficult to understand.

- It's batteries included, but half the APIs are hell (admittedly, this is getting fixed with the whole "for humans" hype)

- Package management is hell. easy_install isn't easy, oh and it's not installed by default so good luck figuring that other library's "getting started" tutorial out. But hey, you need pip for this! Doh, pip is the new best thing. Except for those database drivers there, they have an installer. Oh, and they'll only work on Python 2.7.1 32-bit, but they won't warn you if this doesn't match cause that would make the code longer! We hate long code. BTW, I've heard this is less bad on non-Windows, but still, what's wrong with a single package management system, shipped with the language?

- Its documentation is complete, but very limited. Few examples, a lot of information vaguely hidden in very short sentences. What are this function's argument's types? Is this index value here zero or one based? What type does it return, and why can't I click on that to get to that type's documentation?

Now, none of these are horrible sins. In all honesty, maybe I'm overreacting with the garbage man thing. But Python is so popular, and only growing in popularity, and IMHO entirely undeservedly so. If Python was as popular as, say, Lua, I'd probably have complained less.

For a language with pretty much the same "general" featureset (dynamically typed, big community, multi-paradigm, low entry-barrier), I think Ruby does it better on all fronts except docs. Though in reality I prefer C#, but that's simply an unfair comparison.

Any attempt to compare <insert your favorite tool here> with something else is going to make you disappointed. I am not a Python fan either, but Python has its own use cases for which its well suited. Its barrier to entry is low, and a lot of web frameworks are around.

To give you small example. Today I just solved a problem by chaining sed and cat statements through pipes, whereas the guy next to me considers usage of anything apart from Java as a waste of time. Any attempt to convince him why spending one whole day writing a Java program is not worth, when something like sed can do the task in minutes is futile.

Because your mind is trained to think in one specific language and its ecosystem, you find it difficult to embrace anything else. No matter what its merits are.

Python has its own warts. But it useful for a lot of problems.

Ehh, are you saying that you can't compare programming languages for their merits? Then why aren't we all using COBOL today? Taste? I'm not so sure.


> Because your mind is trained to think in one specific language and its ecosystem,

IMHO, someone who can only deal well with one specific language and ecosystem doesn't deserve the name "programmer". My suspicion is that it's people like this who call themselves "Rubyists" or "Pythonistas" and identify with the language like it's a football club. It's a novice thing.

Personally, I'm very comfortable in C++, PHP, JavaScript and C#. Rather comfortable in Ruby, Python and Java. And by "comfortable" i mean "did a significant amount of real work", not "read a tutorial". Still, think Ruby is better than Python on nearly all fronts. I know for a fact that many others disagree with me, but I sincerely doubt that that's only because they're "trained to think in Python" and I'm not.

Except for the Pythonistas of course, but they're not programmers.

PS: I had someone email me to see if this post was serious. It is - if you know Django/Python and want to live in Amsterdam, please email me.

Yes, to both - unfortunately personal circumstances keep me here in Finland. I'd recommend Amsterdam to anyone, however, it's a great city.

Sounds tempting.. is there a hidden jobs link in the site somewhere? ;)

No, but here's one: http://www.fashiolista.com/content/fashiolista-jobs/ :)

You can contact us via that page, or feel free to email me directly (email in profile).

Ah, thought your startup was Cloudfrag. I've seen Fashiolista before and was on my list of potentially interesting startups to join. I'll probably contact you when I'm back in the market :)

Don't worry, you don't need a sense of fashion to work here. It was one of the first things I asked in my interview - if it was a pre-requisite, I would have had no chance :-)

I meant the job market but that's also good to know :)

Being brazilian and having lived in the UK, calling the british a "much more liberal culture" is incredibly funny :)

In Finland IT-companies must pay a minimum salary for full-time workers, it's something around 2000 euros (source: http://www.teknologiateollisuus.fi/file/7960/ERTO_Tes_fi_201...) but the limit gets higher when you get more responsibility.

I just saw a add of a firm that wants to get a clojure programmer wiht a Ph.D. in robotics, computer vision or something around there. I got the first part down at least :)

Salaries are typically quoted per month, but there is a bonus of 2 months's salary paid per year, so yearly gross is 14 x monthly.

Interesting. During the recent Euro crisis, when journalists discovered that some workers and officials in Greece enjoy a similar "extended year" of extra salary months, there was wide uproar across Europe about how the corrupted Greeks are being overpaid in ridiculous ways.

In the EU it's nowadays easy to see the speck in your brother's eye, but not notice the log in your own...

The Press wrongly just focus on one issue at a time. Other problems become side-notes or explicitly ignored.

Any solution to the current focus problem is paraded as a global solution.

But when the long ignored problems finally burst, the Press simply say 'the problem resurfaced' as if it had gone away somehow.

Relating to Austria, their banks were all wiped out lending to Hungary (more than 80% of loans to Hungary were Austrian)

There will be no mention of these zombie Austrian banks until one goes under. (Like Dexia)


from 2008:




I think the anger was from Greeks "paying themselves" more than they can afford, and getting into astonishing amounts of debt.

If you can afford to pay 14 months a year it's simply equivalent to an increase in your monthly salary with 12 months, which no one would have a problem with.

I don't know if it's still the case, but bankers used to receive 16 salaries in Austria. The 4 bonus months presumably taxed at the low rate.

That said, it's irrelevant if you get paid 14 salaries or 12 salaries that are 1/6th higher and correspondingly adjusted tax/social security rates. It's just a trick to make the "common man" feel better, just like the employer's share of tax & social security. Employees would be outraged if it all came off their (correspondingly higher) paycheck.

I guess the workers and officials were getting "bonuses" payed by the state in a bankrupt country.

The developers are payed by companies, they don't get money from your pockets while also working against you.

It is a similar situation in Portugal with one extra month paid in the summer and one at Christmas. It seems an eminently practical idea so that lower paid people would have ready cash for holidays and Christmas. However given the furore over the apparently profligate peoples of the Mediterranean the government is currently in the process of phasing it out completely.

Austrian (currently self-employed) developer here. You are mostly right, except that:

Employees are not impossible to fire, that's a myth. There was this big Siemens layoff some years ago where several hundred developer lost their job, just because Siemens decided they are not into software anymore. Also, it is common to pressure people into signing mutual "job quit contracts" (don't know a better word).

How did you get screwed in Austria? I haven't been screwed yet, but I'm not doing much contract work in Austria anyways.

Veering into the crash barrier of off-topicness, but...

How did you get screwed in Austria?

It's hard to overstate how much the SVA (the social security provider for self-employed people) annoys me. The amount you pay them in theory depends on your earnings[1] but in practice how much you pay right now is linked to how much you earned 2 years ago: They assume your profits will go up 8% each year, so for the current year, you pay ((profits 2 years ago * 1.08²) * social security rate) + (difference to what you underpaid 2 years ago).

So if your income is unusually high one year, you pay social security as if you earned the usual amount, which means your profit is artificially high, and thus you pay a lot of tax. Then, 2 years later, you have to pay the difference of what you should have paid in the year you earned lots. Conversely, if you're having a bad year for whatever reason, you have to pay the same amount you usually would, even though you're earning very little. So the worst situation is if you earn a lot and then 2 years later earn very little: you pay lots of tax in the "good" year and get stuffed for social security in the bad year.

This is exactly my situation right now: in 2010 I decided I'd need some runway for our startup so I took on lots and lots of contract work. In 2011 and 2012 I've mostly been working on the startup, so I'm only doing maintenance work for existing contract customers. All of my contract revenue this year has been going straight into the SVA. The SVA bill is more than the rest of my cost of living put together.

And yes, back in 2010 I did try to increase my SVA payments because I knew this would happen, but they wouldn't let me.

Of course employees simply do not have this problem: even if their income fluctuates like crazy (seasonal workers etc.), every month they pay a percentage of the exact amount they earned. Yet self employed people are the ones whose income is most likely to fluctuate.

[1] 7.5% for health insurance, ~17.5% for pension, ~1% other - so this is quite a lot of money, and unlike tax there's no free earning threshold. In fact, it's the opposite: if you earn below around €550 p.m., you owe as much as if you earned €550.

I'm in Austria too. My accountant told me that it is possible to just pay higher SVA payments. So if you assume that you will have to pay 5000/year, but they only charge you 3000/year, you just pay them an extra 2000 EUR on your last payment. And as long as you pay that before the end of the year, can deduct that from your taxes.

Interesting. I specifically asked at both the SVA and the Finanzamt and they both told me it wasn't possible. Well, too late for me, unfortunately, I got screwed in 2010 and I'm about to shut down my business in Austria anyway.

I think the trick is to just pay the SVA the extra money without asking questions and then hope that the Finanzamt accepts it. But I'm not a specialist and I haven't tried it yet; but I will try it this year.

Strange procedure, but I wouldn't be surprised if your accountant knew more about this than the bureaucrats at the Finanzamt or the SVA. In my experience, the former are friendly but useless and the latter are hostile, inefficient and useless. In any case, good luck with it!

Sounds like you're just given a payment delay of 2 years, which seems a pretty good deal to me. Put the money in a bank account for 2 years, let it earn interest, then pay it down.

It's a terrible deal because you have to pay your top marginal income tax rate (37.5-50%) of your "good" year on that money that isn't even yours, which you otherwise wouldn't, as social security payments are tax-deductible. In the "bad" year 2 years later, you obviously can deduct it, but as your earnings are low, you're in a lower tax band or even wouldn't be paying any tax at all (which is the case for me). So in my case this loses me thousands of Euros.

In "down" years you're also forced to lend them money that you'll get back 2 years later. I fail to see how this is a good deal.

Even if the tax bands happen to coincide, it's pretty hard to find even fixed-term savings accounts that earn more interest than inflation these days. Even my pension fund is actively losing money. (of course I don't have a choice about paying into it)

A layoff is not considered being fired.

It is not considered being fired by you ;) This particular layoff was a strategic decision - and a bad one too, they are now advertising in TV that Siemens is a good place for IT folks.

The point is that the existence of layoffs does not rebut the claim that programmers cannot be fired (individually) in Austria.

Or the claim that it's a financial burden. Layoffs involve expensive severance payments.

I think you might have got to the the main issue.

It is not like there is a cultural pressure to keep the pay for a programmer down, because that would break down quickly if there are a lot of positions not being filled.

I somehow doubt that the value earned by hiring a programmer is much less than elsewhere.

So really that leaves only some other operator that is messing up smooth market operations, and that is the extra costs in hiring.

Your last point is the strongest. Would you hiring a programmer if it was impossible to fire them. If you were a programmer that knew he couldn't be fired, what would your output look like.

The market is notoriously inefficient in hiring/working because companies work so hard to keep prices (salaries) hidden so one has a really difficult time knowing what the market value of a given skill is.

Well this looks like the story of nearly developer community no matter which part of the world you are in. Lets face it 'monthly salaries' suck.

Programmers are a unique lot, Well last few weeks I've been pulled up for work on weekends. Almost 18 hour schedules a day. And what do I get in return? Not even a thank you. Its presumed to be a part of my job. Any other profession and unions would be up in arms about bonuses and pay for extra time. But not here, not in our profession. We don't have any work hours, we don't have holidays and vacation, we don't have a concept of over time pay. What we get in return are stupid certificates, mementos and some bravos(as though somebody cares about them).

Compensations in the software world are a huge rip off. There is no co relation between the work and pay that we get.

And please don't tell me about start up's. If you are lucky by any means to end up with good amount of stock, and an another round of luck if the start up is successful then you are OK. But most of us fail ingloriously, spend best years of lives burning through crazy hours, without vacations for peanuts in return. The Start up lottery is what it is, its a lottery.

Over the years my net learning's are:

1. Corporate/Company loyalty is JackCrap.

2. Work only as much as your paid, use rest of your time for personal projects and other ways of making money.

3. Save money, and invest for your early retirement. Never having to depend on employment to make a living post 40's.

4. Make people pay, never do anything for free. Cash counts.

5. Your biggest asset is time. Use your time well to make money, and invest it over large periods of time to make more of it.

You're pretty jaded. And believe me I've been through all of this as well. I've been underpaid and overworked for sure.

But put things in perspective. Being a skilled programmer is one of safest careers you could have in these days of cold economic downturn. Instead of worrying about being downsized, realize that even a company in the red can afford to hire you to automate processes which currently require paid employees. In other words, you have the ability generate direct ROI which is not the case for many employees these days.

I think a work to live mentality is good. There's no reason you can't be a great programmer working your 40 hours a week and then going home. There are plenty of companies that will appreciate what you bring to the table. You could also try a lifestyle business rather than joining the "startup lottery", though if you really see it as a lottery then you're devaluing the impact that individual decision-making plays, and you will never be an A-player with that attitude.

I disagree completely.

Unlike other jobs, you need to always update your skills, learning new languages.

And there is no safety, since your position can always be outsourced by an MBA who wants to save the company a few bucks.

And thanks to blackberry/remote computing, you are pretty much always connected to your job...and can be called in to work at night, on the weekends...and any time your boss pleases.

And there is a huge age bias...so the longer you work, the worse off you are going to be.

And unlike other jobs, with programming, your salary tends to peak early. 5 years experience? $100,000. 15 years experience? $115,000

So sure...programming pays well...but not really as much as you are worth. There are plenty of jobs that will both pay you more, require less hours, require less commitment, and will be a very safe career(from outsourcing)

I mean sure...programmers make a decent salary...but let's not fool ourselves into thinking we struck some sort of lottery by deciding to go into programming.

Last time I checked median income across the US population was around $50k, so maybe you should count your blessings.

Also what does constantly being on-call have to do with programming? Plenty of professionals have to deal with this across the board. And plenty of programmers don't have to.

"There are plenty of jobs that will both pay you more, require less hours, require less commitment, and will be a very safe career(from outsourcing)."

Tell me more!

I'd imagine he is referring to sales/business/management roles which can tick a lot of those boxes in many cases but the type of work might drive a lot of engineer-types insane

Any of the medical careers, from nursing to MD to podiatrist to dentist.

T14 law school and BIGLAW.

MBB consulting drone and then BigCo Apparatchik.

Buy-side finance, like equity research, portfolio manager, private equity, etc.

Commissioned officer in the US military.

CPA Accountant.

Patent attorney.

I can't speak for some of the items on that list, but I call BS on the medical jobs. I know some doctors and dentists, and let me tell ya, the only thing they've got on engineers is the pay (and even then, sometimes not). They've got an order of magnitude more stress, worse hours, and way more required commitment than even the worst coding job I've ever had.

lol when you get laid off at 50 and they continue to pull $200k we'll see who's got more stress

>>if you really see it as a lottery then you're devaluing the impact that individual decision-making plays, and you will never be an A-player with that attitude.

I am not downplaying the efforts of so many individuals that make it big in start up's. And I know very well how hard people work, and that is precisely my point. All I'm saying sometimes you don't succeed despite best efforts, sometimes other things which have nothing to do with your performance go wrong.

There are many things that you can't control. That is OK. And despite all this, I will still keep trying, anyway.

My problem is that we are not paid in proportion to our work. And that most of the times becomes the biggest source of frustration and pain in our industry.

I don't deny that luck is a factor, but dwelling on luck will decrease your chances because successful entrepreneurs tend to focus on things they can control. That was my main point in response of the pessimism of the GP.

As for being paid in proportion to your work, that's not how markets work. You're paid in proportion to what someone is willing to accept to the task. If you want to be paid in proportion to what you're worth then you have to start your own company. That way if you're worth nothing you earn nothing and if you're worth a million dollars you make every penny. When you take a job you're essentially offsetting your upside with no downside risk, it's actually not a bad tradeoff considering how hard it is to make a $100k profitable business. A guy that could add $100m to Google's bottom line might not be able to do 1% of that by himself, so Google could pay him $90m, but why should they if he's willing to work for less?

>>Being a skilled programmer is one of safest careers you could have in these days of cold economic downturn.

This is temporary luck, which will probably be different in the next downturn. (Just consider the IT death, ten years ago.)

The only thing I saw happening at that time was that even though a lot of companies disappeared, all the good developers found new or kept their jobs, but all the crap developers lost their jobs.

It isn't that simple.

I saw something similar for good developers -- that network very well and/or had a visible backlog. But sure, my data points might have been unrepresentative or the IT death might have hit harder where I was at the time (Sweden).

What I can say: Ten years before that (ca 1992), Sweden had an even worse crash (think Ireland, today) -- and I know of good people that couldn't find a job.

Sir ... I tip my hat to you.

Can you elaborate on #3? Are you in the US? Did you move to a cheaper location? I don't understand how the future's going to play out with respect to retirement. I'm in my early 30s if that helps. I looked for a financial planner ... but could not find any in my area. Just financial advisers wanting to sell me the latest "product". Any books/tips?

Funny story: my fiance and I got went to the local Barnes and Noble to check out their personal finance section. Over half the books were on how to make a fortune in foreclosures. The other half was the rich dad/poor dad crap. We ended up getting a very very simple book called "the smartest money book you'll ever read". It was saying the right things but still - very high level. I wish someone wrote a book on how to retire for intelligent people with jobs in the private sector. I'm beginning to suspect the math is so bleak that it isn't possible :(

I'm beginning to suspect the math is so bleak that it isn't possible :(

I'm starting to come to that conclusion myself. They say you need $1M to retire today. With inflation, we're probably talking at least $2M by the time I'm ready to retire.

Given that you and I are of similar age, these are critical times for compounding our retirement funds. With so little investment opportunity right now for the average investor, it is very difficult to keep your savings up with inflation, let alone increase your wealth. Unless you want to turn virtually all of your income into retirement savings, $2M seems pretty much out of reach.

This is, perhaps, another reason why the startups are so hot right now. Given the current financial climate, it seems like the only hope of seeing a decent retirement for the average person without a lot of capital to start with.

This reminds me of a saying my friend told a while ago, 'You need money to make money'.

Like it or not, you definitely need to work hard but you absolutely must have luck on your side.

A lot of people work hard to just survive. Only a few make it. In order to get rich enough to retire comfortably. You not only have to get rich but also get rich early and quickly to invest and multiply your money.

> it seems like the only hope of seeing a decent retirement for the average person without a lot of capital to start with

not on a risk-adjusted basis

The odds are low, sure, but the odds are essentially zero if you take any other route. Granted, a lot can change with time.

I am from Bangalore, India.

I agree I'm going through the same route as a you. But I'm in my 20's now. Pretty confused as to how the future would turn out. Our country has had a very unpredictable curve when in comes to economic conditions. Especially IT industry has changed drastically. During the 90's and early 2000's, you could just join the industry get promoted to be a manager in a couple of years. Get a US trip, save enough money to amass a lot of real estate, money and assets to retire. These days its totally different, developer salaries are just as normal as any other industry. No more quick promotions, foreign travels and hit & run successes.

But its all the same in any part of the world.

Currently I'm seriously contemplating if all this is worth it. I put in crazy insane hours, totally devoid of social life, without holidays/vacation, no friends, no life, putting my health on risk and still with a insecure future and peanuts in return.

I just feel like working my life out, even if with all the conditions I describe. I just feel like I want to make tons on cash and then go on to settle down in ShangriLa.

Ask yourself: Do you really want to spend so many years buried in work, and postpone "real life" to later? Life is here and now, and you don't know what will be tomorrow.

If you really want to get rich, you are not going to cut it by working harder - that's what Einstein calls insanity. Cutting social life by a few hours every day does not scale well - the maximum you can get out of your day is twice as much (if you work 16h instead of 8h). Overworking deprives us of seeing what chances we are actually given - that's what I had to learn while having a burnout in my early 20s. It sounds like you need to step back, look at your worklife, and find new possibilities and ways of generating value. Being an employee is just one of so many ways.

I know you wrote 'Rich dad/poor dad' crap, but the original Rich Dad/Poor Dad book is one of the simplest and most useful books on personal finances ever written. But it's a book about lessons, not a prescriptive 'this is what you should do' book. The book is about understanding cashflow, and understanding what is and what isn't an investment. It's about being able to see through the crap that financial advisers throw at you, and about making people realise there are no 'secrets' to retiring comfortably or making money.

If you haven't read it, I recommend. It only takes a few days to get through.

I agree most of the rest of the series is just about milking the franchise and aren't really worth the trouble. But the first is definitely worth reading.

Read http://www.mrmoneymustache.com. An inspiring blog by a couple of ex-engineers.

The comparison to equity being getting paid in lottery tickets is apt (IMHO).

Nevertheless there has never been a short of pioneering spirits willing to risk it all to strike it rich (just look at the gold rushes in the Dakotas, California and elsewhere). This is really the modern day equivalent.

There was a thread here last year where people talked about their exits. A common story was "worked my ass off for X years, ended up with $10k". It's survivor bias.

There is something to be said for getting paid well. I work for Google, I'm not high-level and I haven't been here forever (~1.5 years) and, honestly, you get paid--and treated--really well. Now you'll never strike it rich but you can live incredibly well and, if you prove yourself, have an awful lot of freedom to pursue your goals with an amazing amount of resources and latitude.

Some of the comments in this thread bother me, particularly the 30 days paid vacation a year. In Europe maybe. In the US? Good luck. Never working more than 40 hours a week nor staying late? It just smacks of entitlement. I'm not saying you need to kill yourself for the company but it really is a two-way street.

I tried pursuing that once. The end result of that is what Chris Dixon calls "transactional" work [1]. You owe them nothing. They owe you nothing. I've worked in banking and finance and that's as good as it gets there. It's really soul-destroying actually.

So I work more than I should. Thing is, I'm never looking at my watch because I enjoy what I do. And if I want to go off for a nap or wander off and see a movie or do something else to relax or recharge I can.

Now someone will inevitably bring up that not everyone can do that. Fine. Whatever. You've made other life choices. I get it.

The biggest problem startups are facing in hiring (IMHO) is that there is a disconnect between equity offered to early employees and the risk. Last cofounder? 33% or 50% typically (before dilution). First employee? 1-2%. Maybe 3%.

We're not in 1999 anymore. You don't need $5-10 million to launch a startup anymore. What used to take $5 million now takes as little as $50,000. The lowering of the barrier to entry means talented engineers are nearly always better off starting their own startup rather than working for yours, unless you have an amazing track record.

[1]: http://cdixon.org/2009/10/23/twelve-months-notice/

I really disagree with the notion of the post here, and I think this part really nails why:

> "Thing is, I'm never looking at my watch because I enjoy what I do."

So do I. In fact, I love what I do. I'd be extremely disappointed if I had to stop going to work.

But it isn't the only thing I enjoy. You want stable hours and liberal time off because there is more enjoyment to your life than writing code and creating software. I dislike long hours not because I dislike what I do at work, but because my life is more than my work. I have other passions, hobbies, people, other things I want to be able to commit to.

> "Fine. Whatever. You've made other life choices. I get it."

And so have you - so we'd appreciate it if you stop referring to the rest of us as entitled and petulant. I respect your choice to throw the entirety of your life at your primary craft - so respect our choice not to.

Exactly, One more thing that I didn't like about it was the feeling that its OK for the employer to overwork you and then not compensate it, under the pretext of 'interesting work'.

This is an old plan used by most companies.

I like doing what I do, but I would love to something else if I had the money to free me up.

For most people, their area of least incompetence becomes their passion.

I'll add that if you LOVE doing what you do for 40 years, straight through retirement, you are one odd duck indeed. The idea of "passion for work" is a power play to get folks to put in more for less. Don't get it twisted.

Furthermore, workaholism is for people who don't understand what it means to be human. Steve Jobs was a sucker - almost as much as his followers who didn't realize that he was.

Steve Jobs was a sucker because his values were different than yours? Really?

No. But he probably was a sucker for imagining that everyone was (or should be) as passionate as he was. That's a very common flaw among passionate bosses: they forget that many employees don't enjoy their jobs as much as they do.

One reason they may not enjoy as much is because being a simple employee following orders it's often not as exciting as being the boss and calling the shots.

I mean, both can be very exciting, but I'm sure they're at very different levels.

> Steve Jobs was a sucker

That's really respectful, yea.

(irony alert)

The plan is a lot older than you think. For millennia, people have married above their station by being interesting.

"Never working more than 40 hours a week nor staying late? It just smacks of entitlement."

Working 40 hours a week is considered being "entitled"? What is entitlement is employers pushing down pay rates by paying on salary while pressuring for extra hours without overtime. Fostering this culture and attitude just collectively serves to push down everyone's pay rate and detracts from the attractiveness of our field.

Then color me entitled.

I've had these arguments about how many hours a salaried employee should work. Despite the law saying 40, the lawyer was insistent that they could make me work any amount of hours.

The next two weeks I put in 20 hours a week. Then I explained to her that any means any, and that if they didn't like it they could terminate my contract, go spend a month finding a replacement and then explain to the client why they had materially breached the contract. Or they could be reasonable and let me work an amount of hours that is reasonable (and probably more productive).

Often when employers demand the most ridiculous of hours are the times in which they are in the poorest of negotiating positions.

Businesses use their negotiating position all the time to lower wages, it's not called entitled, it's called business.

IMHO we need more of this (standing up for ourselves). I think there are some who don't fully realize the extent to which we have been lobbied against by just about everyone involved in this business to allow rates to be suppressed either through sanctioning of unpaid overtime or the facilitation of outsourcing.

If you like to work a lot, fine by me - I myself spend a ton of time outside of work building software. But think about how healthy it would be to be paid fairly for going the extra mile when needed on top of your regular duties - its been so long since that has existed in this field that I think hardly any of us have even considered it. I have a few family members who work in other fields in the private sector where overtime still exists - its the only reason I realize we've been hung out to dry by the government and corporations in some respects.

Some will argue that the free market removal of protections somehow makes us all better paid - I'm doubtful. I think if we had overtime pay it would create more jobs, promote a better working culture in our sector and attract a hell of a lot more people to want to work here.

I wish at least in the mid-size to big businesses, the workaholics would stop looking down at "Joe" for leaving after a solid 8 hours of work and instead would at least start to question why they themselves aren't getting paid extra for staying past 8 hours.

I try to raise this point every time someone says WLMT exploits their employees. Wal-Mart extracts about $6000 per employee in profit, this is about half the national average, and when you get to companies like GOOG, MSFT, APPL you're looking at an average of $200,000-$300,000.

Who exactly is being exploited with numbers like these? And why are we 'entitled' for demanding a fair share of the value we add to the modern economy?

Steve Jobs didn't make the iPhone anymore than the King built Windsor castle. Windsor castle was built by masons and the iPhone by engineers.

Even Henry Ford, 80 years ago knew the key to growing the economy was freeing up time for consumption. If a 40 hour work week was necessary 80 years ago then you can be sure that a 20 to 30 hour work week is appropriate now, and would actually cause our economy to boom.

Woah, what. I was completely on the side that expecting reasonable hours and time off is not "entitlement", but yours strikes me as the exact attitude OP is railing against.

The exploitation people complain about re: Wal-Mart cannot be measured in profit-per-employee, because that's not how exploitation is commonly understood (though you are, of course, free to define that term however you see fit).

People complain about Wal-Mart because they routinely use socially unacceptable ways to curb employee costs - keeping a vast number of people in contract roles, even if their jobs are actually full-time, in order to deny them benefits, and more. This isn't about profit per employee, it's about taking advantage of unskilled labor and their relative lack of choice to treat them in ways that most of society finds reprehensible.

As compared to your standard MSFT, GOOG, and AAPL engineer who rides to work in a cushy bus with leather seats, WiFi, catered food, a 6-figure salary, a big house in a good school zone, exceptional health, dental, and vision benefits? You can say these guys are getting an unfair deal in that they generate exceptional profits relative to their compensation - but exploitation? Get real.

It's a free market, and software engineers have exceptional mobility (unlike, say, your Wal-Mart greeter). You are free to demand a $285,714 salary from Google (so that they still get their 5% cut). If you are exceptional enough I'm sure they'll agree, but otherwise... good luck!

"a big house in a good school zone"

A low end "six figure salary" in the bay area probably isn't enough to buy a big house in a good school zone. Two workers who earn this salary would have access to that kind of real estate though.

This is silly. You're only able to make 200-300k/year for the company because of the infrastructure and audience they've built for you and all the other engineers to use as leverage. It is orders of magnitude harder to make that much on your own, regardless of how good a coder you are.

Also - we need more consumption? Wealth comes from production, everything else is just shuffling money around. People in the US are complaining about decreased wages and underemployment, not that they need more vacation.

200,000-300,000 gross isn't that much really. ~150.00 an hour with 40 billable hours per week ~60 actual work hours if you're freelancing. Most good programmers should be able to hit that.

As to providing infrastructure/etc, they aren't providing anything odesk and some research could provide. If someone talented set off on the own they should be able to put together similar marketing/framework/teams within a few years.

The reason we don't is because honestly we make six figures, it's easy, it's reliable, etc. and it more than enough to pay our bills.

When I say infrastructure/audience, I'm talking about the many millions of users in the ecosystem which your code will be used by, and the marketing machine to push it out there. The same code that's used by 10k people if you set out by yourself has a 100x impact if it's used by a million Google users. That's why Google has such a high revenue per engineer number, and you're not going to replicate that without a lot of brand building and marketing, which is hard, expensive, and takes a long time and a good amount of luck.

I don't know many freelancers that make 150/hr and have 40 hours of solid work a week every week at that rate - you'd spend a lot of time lining up that work. Sure it's possible, but it's much harder than if you're just working at a large successful company. I believe total compensation at Google is roughly around there for a good programmer anyway, without all the hustling for work or risk.

>As to providing infrastructure/etc, they aren't providing anything odesk and some research could provide. If someone talented set off on the own they should be able to put together similar marketing/framework/teams within a few years.

Not without a huge amount of investment, you're underestimating even just the technical infrastructure at the SV giants.

I work at a SV giant. I'm aware of the infrastructure we have in place. This infrastructure is primarily here to combat the increased complexity brought on by having x employees running around. Configuring something like github, automated deployments, change management policies, marketing/advertising campaigns is significantly easier with fewer employers.

Further provided you're targeting niche markets where the economies of scale don't matter nearly as much as meeting the needs of the market you can see decent returns per developer with out pushing your wares out to millions of users.

>Businesses use their negotiating position all the time to lower wages, it's not called entitled, it's called business.

[Citation needed]

Wages are sticky. Very rarely do wages go down, at least in nominal terms. So unless you meant, employers negotiate to not raise wages, and this lowers an employee's real wage in an inflationary environment (in which case you should be more clear) then I don't see any facts to back up your assertation.

Is there something intrinsically wrong with giving someone 30 days' holiday per year? Surely this is the same kind of freedom to spend your time as you wish that Google (with its 20% time) is famous for?

As you said, in Europe this is common, and the viewpoint that it "smacks of entitlement" is puzzling. Is it just a cultural difference? I'm don't think there is any evidence either way that this affects productivity.

In my experience Europeans have a different view of life than North Americans. Especially East coasters. In work I find they are more interested in perfection and creativity, and less so on productivity, output, and efficiency.

Thirty days of holiday a year is affordable if North Americans would be fine with houses that were 13% less spacious, but most North Americans I met heavily optimize living space, where Europeans outsource their after hour times to pubs and social atmospheres. An "excellent" amount of vacation in North America is 20 days + 7 or so Government mandated days off. I've yet to meet someone under 35 that has a better deal than that, even in tech, and for most workers it is 10 days + 7.

Interesting observation on how Americans optimize on living space. In a certain way I optimized for more time with my family. That comes as #1 priority. That means to thing: more vacation time and minimum commute to work (it take me 7 minutes to get to work). This mean reducing the living space and living in an older house. Granted I am not American by birth so perhaps it is something in the "blood" as they say.

Commutes and spending time in traffic is killing me. It is a dead, useless time, it creates stress and eats away at my life little by little every single day. If you spend 1.5 hours driving to work each way, add that time up for 10 years and you'll be shocked. If I wouldn't have a family I might think twice, but thinking that I could spend that time with them instead and being stuck on the freeway is unbearable to me.

I am a 31 year old programmer working 40 hour weeks in the US. I get 21 days PTO + 2 floating holidays + 7 Government holidays + 5 days training days + 3 months sick leave at full pay + unlimited sick leave at 60% pay (long term disability). I also pay 2k/month in rent for a small, but nice apartment in the DC area.

Ignoring sick-leave and training that works out to 30 days / year off, they don't let you cash it out and there is a 25day cap designed to get you to actually use that time off. (Most people end up taking a month off every other year or so, they also let you go a little negative to encourage longer vacations.)

PS: They also do maternity / adoption leave, and give separate time off for funerals etc.

Where is this?:)

http://www.boozallen.com/ they start you at 16 or 17 days PTO after 5 years it's bumped to 21, but all the other benefits stay the same.

PS: I know plenty of people who work insane hours there. But, it's not 'required' just useful for promotions etc.

An "excellent" amount of vacation in North America is 20 days + 7 or so Government mandated days off. I've yet to meet someone under 35 that has a better deal than that, even in tech, and for most workers it is 10 days + 7.

27 years old, with 25 "PTO" days + 6 fixed 1.5 day holidays + 2 fixed 2.5 day holidays. Middle-ish USA (Memphis TN).

All US employees at Mozilla have 21 days + 10 government-ish holidays off so it's not unheard of.

Does vacation here mean paid only or total? Personally I wouldn't mind that much if it meant paid only and I was allowed to take a pay cut in exchange for more (unpaid) vacation days.

In the US, "vacation days" and "sick days" are PTO (Paid Time-Off). So workers can sometimes "cash out" vacation days rather than taking them off, but it is uncommon to take unpaid days off.

I understand it's uncommon as the culture is generally more money/debt driven. I'm just curious if suggesting it to a prospective employer would be negotiable or an instant disqualifier ("How dare he be satisfied with less money?? He must be a pinko commie!")

Most employers are fine if you take extra unpaid days off as long as you tell them in advance.

Disclaimer: I work in software in silicon valley.

> I'm just curious if suggesting it to a prospective employer would be negotiable or an instant disqualifier ("How dare he be satisfied with less money?? He must be a pinko commie!")

Depends entirely on the employer.

I know some engineers that get 30 days off (including federal holidays).

Interesting fact: Holidays do affect productivity - positively [1]. As an Austrian, I have to say that I can't imagine life without holidays. I'm self-employed now and don't go on vacation as much as employees, but I really need the occasional week off (also, I'm working way less hours). I once heard of a study that Europeans are as productive as Americans, although they work much less (could not find it, here is an article on the issue [2]).

My girlfriend is psychology student and they told her in a lecture that studies have shown that productivity ROI massively declines if working more than 30 hours per week (again, no citation, shame on me). That surely depends on whether you really do focussed work, or if you spend the workdays socializing at the water dispenser or coffee machine.

[1] http://www.vacationgap.com/ [2] http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/aug2009/gb2009...

30 days holiday per year also solves the "hero programmer" problem. Having to function without one professional for 30 days out of each year teaches that organization to function without that person and not rely on them in a way that makes them a single point of failure.

Indeed. How is Airbus able to compete with Boeing? It's not by working longer hours... But the flipside of European culture is entrepreneurship is harder (e.g. failure stigmatized still).

> particularly the 30 days paid vacation a year. In Europe maybe. In the US? Good luck.


I get 25 and in 4 years I'll get 30. You just have to work for the right company.

As you get older you'll notice that extra money you make from working at a workplace that is giving you only 2 weeks of vacation and expects you to work 50+ hours a week means less and less. As you are getting closer to death the utility of the money you make goes down. A company that makes you take time away from your family is not worth it.

Work is fun and is great but that is a hobby. My family is my real focus in life and I will do all I can to spend as much time with them.

I am just saying that you can find places to work that is not a startup (if you don't want to expose yourself and your family to that risk), you just have to look.

Enjoy the Kool-Aid. And the burn-out.

No more than 40 hours per week and 30 days paid vacation is not "entitlement", it's common sense. It helps to keep people healthy, happy and productive. QED.

Sure, it's doable, and sometimes even necessary (but not even half as much as people like to think) if you're doing a start-up, but as a steady job, it's neither in the employee's nor in the employer's interest.


I do not think it means what you think it means.

Also, please show that 40 h/w and 30 days vacation are the optimum to keep people healthy, happy, productive and employed. If you're just making stuff up, fine, but at least acknowledge it.

Don't dig for gold, sell shovels.

30 days of paid vacation? This is easily achievable, say OK, normally for this position we pay $150K and 2 weeks vacation, so we'll cut the pay by 4% and give you an extra 2 weeks. Then it turns into $144K and 30 days.

Most people realize vacation costs money, those that prefer the cash to vacation simply wait til the end of the year and get cut a cheque for their vacation time.

So, in all the companies I've worked for so far you accrue vacation up to a cap, and if you leave the company you get paid out for vacation you don't take. This has lead to a nice chunk of change when I switched jobs in the past.

So what a lot of people don't realize is that you pay for every vacation day. If you would get paid out for it at the end then you are opting to get less money overall for some vacation now. Of course, if you did stay with the company forever then vacation is "free" time, but it could also be considered an investment as it usually scales to salary at time of departure.

With this mindset, unpaid time off is the same thing as vacation, you're just moving the cost to the next paycheck instead of your last paycheck.

Just take some unpaid time off. If you are valuable and productive it probably won't make a difference to the company and it might even make you more productive in the long run.

Anyone have a counter argument to this? I've been spouting it for a while and I'd hate to have a gaping flaw.

Once you hit the cap, refusing to take vacation costs you money, as you can't accrue any more.

Most places won't let you take unpaid time off when you have vacation days left.

30 vacation days with 40 hour work week is standard in most European countries.

Why should we sell out private life to corporations?

Well and also, "rich" is of course relative. I'm absolutely confident a midlevel Google engineer's salary would put him in the top 1% of folks in my hometown (even adjusted for cost of living). And that's just keeping it to the United States.

I'm late to the party, so this is probably not going to be read by anyone, but here's my 0.02$

> Some of the comments in this thread bother me, particularly the 30 days paid vacation a year. In Europe maybe. In the US? Good luck.

What's so wrong about 30 days of paid vacation per year? I have 30, I know some (rare though) people that have even more (40+). I work to live, not the other way around.

> Never working more than 40 hours a week nor staying late? It just smacks of entitlement. I'm not saying you need to kill yourself for the company but it really is a two-way street.

For me, as a someone from Europe (Sweden) this is among the most stupid things I've heard, is it entitlement just because I work as much as my job pays me for? The agreement you sign (usually) says 40 hours per week, 8 hours per day 5 days a week. If they want me to work more, then pay more?

And before anyone from the states try to say anything about the economy in Europe and it suffering because people don't work as much, etc. Yours is so much further down the drain we lost sight of it.

Dude if you are working at Google and _not_ getting paid then the industry would be about to collapse...

I think you got a couple of things wrong and that's assuming this was about making an easy million off some code.

It is not, the problem here is that most engineers (which aren't working at companies like Google) might not be properly compensated for the work they do, while coworkers in other less critical/relevant areas make more for completing tasks that nowhere as complex as writing decent code.

But hey don't look at me! look at all the would-be coders that chose other careers because of this.

The lowering of the barrier to entry means talented engineers are nearly always better off starting their own startup rather than working for yours

Yes -- I think a lot of us are starting to figure that out :-)

>Never working more than 40 hours a week nor staying late? It just smacks of entitlement.

I work 38 hours a week. Anything more is considered overtime, and not "part of the job".

"So I work more than I should. Thing is, I'm never looking at my watch because I enjoy what I do"

Google and many other companies take advantage of people like you. While I don't ever expect 30 days of paid vacation, expecting me to work past the 40 hours/week (which is most likely in my contract) is outrageous.

I work so I can enjoy my time off and anything past 40 hours is my time off.

In my 20s, I could make another companies dream my life, but now that I'm in my 30s, I can't do it anymore. Especially when you are not paid any extra and only get a sliver of the overall profits.

I will gladly help out in emergency situations, but from your post, it seems like you work late on a regular basis.

Oh, and free dinners and fooseball tables don't make up for it either.

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