None of this is about the practical details of the article. If that's the job you want then this sounds like a great way to get it. But like I said, if this is the kind of thing that's interesting to "startups", then I think the end is near.
If you actually want to build something valuable for the long term. Now is the perfect time to start a company. If you want to raise a seed round and sell fast then you're probably too late or will be shortly.
Screw that. If you aren't making something your users want to pay for, start making something else.
That said, I think SEO and "growth hacking" can be very useful AFTER you get the basic "We provide value to our users" thing solved.
As a consumer I pay for a bunch of (online) services that I use. There's bound to be others out there ...
Michael was speaking at the KWB2B Marketers Meet Up
I hopped in my dad’s car and drove to Waterloo.
Don't get me wrong, I think what Amar did shows a lot of hustle, and his case on them showed that he was willing to learn and is passionate. But still, I think ajross hit the nail on the end with saying "I think the end is near." And I think that end will be when Pinterest has their IPO.
Personally, I think the end will come when the free money the Fed are handing out at the moment stops, and not a moment before.
I imagine it's an ego thing. First-time founders are probably just pretty excited that someone's noticing what they're doing.
>but I will put in 12 hours a day, 7 days a week until I get there.
>Vidyard being one of them, even if I work for free.
>I'm even willing to work for free for a period of time.
Never, ever, ever do this stuff
If you say you're willing to work for free, that tells me one thing: You think your work is of no value to me. And so if you think that, I will also think that your work is worthless to me. Instant turn-off.
- I will work 24/7
You're coming off as desperate if you put it like that. I've similarly been on the job hunt for my first job recently and out of all the phone screens I had, every single one led to an on-site interview (21 on-site interviews in the next 3 weeks). I attribute my success in part to a similar snipped that I would make sure to drop into every interview:
"I'm not a 100% subscriber of Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hour rule, but I do believe that in order to become good at something you have to spend a lot of time and focus on it. I want to become the best software developer I can be.
I'm not looking for just a 9 to 5, and especially interested in startups because I want to join a great team that I can intensely work with and learn from"
That was roughly part of my pitch. I also researched _every_ person who I'd be talking to. Has a lot of PostgreSQL related posts on their blog? "Oh yeah I hate MySQL". Re-tweeted a tweet about a MongoDB bug report? "I prefer traditional databases for serious apps". Has a blog post about Go? "I think the speed advantage that Go can offer is really interesting" And so on and so forth. People like people who are like them, with pretty much everyone exposing their lives and opinions, stuff like this is up for easy pickings.
Respect to the guy's persistence. I'm similarly in a position where I can't immigrate to the US (but at least I'm a EU citizen so I can move to London) so I can see why OP really wanted to join a famous startup when there's already so few available to him.
On the other hand, these threads provide me with signals to watch out for. :-)
>Not my preferred candidate....
Well the good thing is if I do my job right, you'll never know :)
edit: Note that someone who is genuinely very close to me in opinions won't challenge me in ways that really produce a useful diversity of opinion. They would, however, likely agree with my sense of strategy and tactics; this might lead to a collective blindspot where a deeper problem is overlooked. Being able to professionally disagree and then work together to form a final result is very important.
I agree with you. I just don't think phone screens are a good place for these discussions. I used the tactic above just to get through the initial phone conversation where I had a high degree of uncertainty of who I'm talking to. :)
That doesn't sound very sincere.
What I pointed out are mistakes whether you know job search best practices or not (as most people will agree).
Finally I would like to submit that your post is a form of DH1 (http://www.paulgraham.com/disagree.html)
As someone who has never even held a job, apparently, let alone hired another person, why would anyone believe that what you would think in this situation is in any way similar to what an actual employer would think? (Have you ever done or used any open source work? If so, how does that reconcile with your apparent theory that work done for free is valueless?)
Yes, my post is saying 'you do not have enough experience to make the statements you just made'. Ad Hominem is a logical fallacy because theoretically, 100 monkeys typing could have come up with the world's greatest business plan. However in practice, that does not make it worth people's time to read everything typed by monkeys.
I see from your other replies that you are using HN to practice sounding confident. Consider this as feedback that while it is sometimes valuable to sound confident even when you are ignorant, it is more often valuable to be able to understand when you actually don't know and what the limits of your understanding are, and on many occasions it is even more valuable to be able to communicate your own knowledge of these limits. Learning to use simple qualifiers like 'in my experience' will help you avoid sounding like an idiot and being easily tripped up by someone who hears your foolish generalization and says 'actually if you want to work in x, you pretty much always have to start by working for free'. Then you will say 'obviously I meant this advice only for y' and they will ask why you didn't say that?', and you will think 'because I made a bunch of stupid assumptions!' but feel too ashamed to say that and start blustering. You might as well say 'database x is always the best choice'.
Of course, that is only my experience (from both sides) of how those conversations often turn out, you might go through something different ;)
PS: I am a 'she'.
Oo, soory about that.
>why would anyone believe
I'm not asking anyone to believe. I'm asking to have a discussion on the points I bring forward.
>how does that reconcile with your apparent theory that work done for free is valueless
Work done for free has value. I was discussing the psychology & relationship between employer and employee when all employees at the company are already salaried and "new person" comes in and offers to work for free.
>you are using HN to practice sounding confident
That's not the way I would put it. I think (similarly to pg) that points are best expressed tersely, and so I try to keep my writings very brief and to the point.
>sounding like an idiot
Why, thank you.
>Learning to use simple qualifiers like 'in my experience'
Not necessary. This follows from the context.
>being easily tripped up
I don't see where I've been easily tripped up. Though I do enjoy that so many people jumped to respond. Even though almost no one managed or even really tried to refute my points and rather took issue with other things (boohoo you don't have enough experience to be talking about this kind of stuff, etc.)
>Then you will say 'obviously I meant this advice only for y'
This is Hacker News. We're talking tech startups here. Yeah I won't add another paragraph to talk about other industries because it's _obvious_ to everyone what I'm talking about and "Don't work for free" is an oft repeated advice on here anyways.
>'because I made a bunch of stupid assumptions!' but feel too ashamed to say that and start blustering.
I think that none of the assumptions I made are stupid. Though I am starting to notice that if I don't carefully package my opinions I will get a bunch of people in the comments who APPEAR to talk about the points I made, when really they're just annoyed at my attitude. This leads to the kind of circulatory arguing we see here, when my advice is sound but people still feel I should be less confident about my position.
>You might as well say 'database x is always the best choice'.
I would only say something like that if the purpose of the database was very clear from the context. I would never randomly drop such a statement onto HN, because everyone here uses all kinds of different databases. Your analogy is invalid.
>100 monkeys typing could have come up with the world's greatest business plan. However in practice, that does not make it worth people's time to read everything typed by monkeys.
Again an analogy that does not work. However much time however many monkeys spend on trying to understand human psychology they will not make much headway. Though if _I_ as a fellow human, take some time to try and understand human psychology, I do think it is worth the time to hear my points and argue on their merits, no matter if I had 0 or 100 jobs before. If I'm indeed talking gibberish, you're free to try and argue against my points, but since I see you talking about everything BUT my points, I'm assuming that you don't really take issue with them, but rather with me.
I take issue with both your points and with you. I had written up a fairly thorough response, but I'm not interested in talking to someone who is basically trolling for attention. If you don't think your points are interesting enough to discuss on their merits, I guess it's a valid strategy to inject a bunch of extraneous flamebait, but you can hardly expect to be taken seriously for complaining that people address your flamebait presentation instead of your weak argument.
- sound like an idiot
- am blustering because I'm ashamed I'm in the wrong
- think open source is valueless
- am ignorant
These are only some of the excerpts but I keep noticing that you read what I say and then concoct some grand scheme in your head instead of taking the precise wording I used to closer heart. Disagree? Then please point me to the "extraneous flamebait" I injected into my very terse OP. Maybe it's extraneous flamebait to you that I don't preface my thoughts with "In my experience ..." ?
>I had written up a fairly thorough response
I appreciate hearing your thoughts - after all that's the reason I'm on here writing these replies. Though I do feel that you take the gist of what I'm saying, creating another standpoint adding some of your own summaries of what what you believe I'm talking about to that and then arguing against that.
Again. In my OP I told OP not to say he wants to work for free and not to say out right that he's willing to work 12/7 if he wants to maximize his chances of landing a job. Do you disagree with that? If you do, I would be happy to hear your thoughts.
You could call them thorns, and see if you can draw any parallels to your own communication style, like the way you constantly overreach the actual points you're able to make. If your OP was so terse, how were you able to boil down your points from three paragraphs originally to a single sentence here? (Hint: you left out all the extraneous flamebait in this version).
Also: No, that's not an Ad Hominem (which is the term you want to use rather than DH1 if you want to sound like you know what you are talking about by the way, it's a classic logical fallacy)
I didn't state 4 full months. It was however something that I spent my free time researching over the course of 4 months. I also did a lot of other things though :)
>Read about the Dunning-Kruger effect and avoid coming off as overconfident at all costs, when interviewing young developers/technical people that is a giant red flag in my experience.
Don't worry, when doing interviews a bigger risk for me is coming off as too unsure of myself. I like to state my opinion as directly and confidently as I can on HN. Mainly because it's good writing practice and because there's nothing at stake (I care very little if some of the readers on HN get a bad opinion of me because they don't agree with what I'm saying).
> No, that's not an Ad Hominem
It very clearly is an Ad Hominem. He's trying to refute my point by arguing against my person (You don't have the right kind of experience to be talking about this) instead of refuting my arguments on their own merit. This happens often as I'm not shy about what I've done in the past and enjoy saying things that I believe in but that I feel many others don't like to hear (makes for good discussions ... well at least if they try to refute my points)
In the same way that I can't meaningfully ask "am I attractive enough to professionally model?" and respond to every "No" with "ad hominem!", when you bring your person into the argument as support, either implicitly or explicitly, the scope of things classed as ad hominem fallacy is constrained. Ad Hominem's are also in the class of fallacies that can still inform a decision even if, like all logical fallacies, they cannot prove anything.
To exit the pedantic logic argument for a second: That confidence and directness is a good practice, and writing practice and avoiding seeming unsure are great reasons to do it. In my experience if you also use that confidence and directness to preemptively address potential weaknesses in your argument (as in "I know I'm new at this but here is exactly why, in this case, I am right anyway") you are even more convincing.
Nowhere do I use my "authority" to try and support any of my statements. I give a list of what I thought are his mistakes and then I go off into giving some advice (the snippet) based on my own (successful) experience doing phone screens.
> In my experience if you also use that confidence and directness to preemptively address potential weaknesses in your argument
I think that is very sound advice. But one my motivating factors is to stir up a conversation. If I leave some of the thorns on, I tend to get more replies as people inevitably find themselves caught up in them and feeling the need to reply :)
I've done that. For a week, after that I pretty much could dictate terms. It's a lot harder to argue someone isn't worth what they're asking for as long as you haven't seen them work or worked with them. And one of my terms was that if they kept me on after the week they had to pay for the week as well.
Giving free samples works very well for drugs, it works just as well if you're good at what you do but are not so good in communicating that as you are in showing it.
There is nothing desperate about it, just limit your exposure by limiting the time you'll do that and if you're as good as you think you are you even get the risk paid off.
There are different ways of negotiating here. I think what you did is sensible. Sending in a cover letter where you immediately proclaim that you'll work for free when the position and every other employee at the company is salaried, though I feel is not. (Note he added the temporary status to his working for free in a later email)
>There is nothing desperate about it, just limit your exposure by limiting the time you'll do that and if you're as good as you think you are you even get the risk paid off.
I didn't say it WAS desperate, but that indeed I believe it COMES OFF as desperate. And mainly because mentally you'll get thrown into the pool with all the other losers who can't get hired on their own merit and thus try to get an in another way. Yeah, I guess there are a few edge cases out there where really they have all the skills but they just need some time to show them off. As the employer is busy with wading through the sea of applicants he is (imo) doing nothing more than pattern matching - if you're too strongly deviating from the norm that sets off some red flags in the employer's head.
You're right, but the difference is perspective. In those situations, the "employers" expect the work to be free, because they are "paying" you in non-monetary ways (such as, continued or closer friendship). So someone offering to do work for free is meeting their expectations.
In the case of a stranger approaching a company...An employer is expecting such work to cost money...and if someone unknown offers to do that work for free...then there are multiple ways to interpret that offer, many of them detrimental to the candidate:
1) The candidate is actually not very good or is inexperienced, or else he would know that he could be getting paid good money to do what he is offering to do.
2) The candidate sees the proposed work as trivial. See 1)
3) The candidate is desperate, leading the employer to wonder if either #1 or #2 have something to do with that.
4) The candidate sees the employer as desperate.
5) The candidate is actually very good and is fully confident that his work will knock the employers' socks off.
Sure, #5 is possible. But likely?...
The side benefit is that even if he fails or works for free for a month or two he will have gained valuable experience that could get him a job elsewhere.
So, you play the pandering sycophant ? I _can't tell_ from here because you don't include any examples where you disagree with the interviewer's worldview.
If one of your examples had been e.g. "I've used Go quite a bit and it's bitten me in a number of ways, here's a couple: ...", it might look less like you're just researching exactly what you think people will want to hear.
That's not how I read it. Supposedly a work sample is the best predictor of making a good hire (I think maybe tokenadult posted something on that once?). The fact that he's willing to do it for free (assuming he actually does it) shows that he's very committed to the company. In my opinion, it's a positive -- not a negative.
> So, just to recap, that’s about 5 months and 9 interviews/meetings and countless hours spent working on projects/reports/presentations.
> by proving himself capable for the role, he hacked the process.
I don't see a hack so much as I see a broken process that made a single task monumentally difficult and time consuming. Employers everywhere have a problem with relying on credentials or experience rather than recognizing ability and potential, which is understandable given time and budget constraints. If someone could figure out a way to help companies quickly pick talented but inexperienced individuals out of a pool of applicants, THAT would be a hack. A pretty amazing one for employees and employers, too.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about cut-throat competition and giant classes feeding into one position.
I'm just thinking you can't tell how someone's going to do until they're in, and you should be able to get them in quicker and easier to find out. Finally, a lot of good people can learn quickly.
I suppose what I suggest is real hands-on mentorship which is not the norm in American management today...
1. Amar leveraged his own internet real estate by publishing blog posts about Vidyard's marketing and then tweeting at the founders to let them know about his work. He essentially provided some flattering, well-written, and useful consulting work to Vidyard.
2. He was honest about his desires, expectations, and willingness to work. When his initial email was written off as just another form letter, he went above and beyond to ensure his real feelings were heard.
These tactics are within the reach of every reasonably intelligent person. Good read.
But I wholly agree with the substance. This article feels like a justification for an unnecessarily long process that was a poor use of everybody's time. It reflects badly on a person if they're sufficiently desperate to expend so much time on the whims of a particular company, and it reflects badly on a company that would expect and encourage it.
To be clear - if you don't get a response, reaching out again to follow up is a really good thing. Being persistent is a good thing. But I think you really need to have a stronger sense of your own value than Amar displayed. When a company is that cool on you, it's probably better to move on.
But the bigger problem, really, is just that it all seems so inefficient. With all due respect, Amar sold himself really badly in the emails shown. That puts you on the back foot from the outset, and it bodes especially badly for a marketing oriented role.
That's all you need to get a startup to pay for your time. Honest. Every time I launch something, emails start pouring in from people who are interested.
Forget everything else anyone says, just launch something.
Not to mention I have tens of github repos and even though the link is on my CV I was never asked anything about any of them in my last job search.
I live in Tel-Aviv, a city only second to SV in startup mania, yet I still feel very alien reading a lot HN articles and comments.
Edit: Thought I should add: in the Israeli startup scene ties, not launching are your best bet at getting a good job.
Could you explain why?
I think the most important reason is that Israel is a small and a tight knit country, and so is the startup scene. It helps that the huge majority of talented developers served at very specific army units (the most famous is 8200). This leads to a simple truth - when I interview someone he was probably referred to me through friends or at least I know someone who worked/served with him.
When I read the article I found it funny that Amar was OK with working for free for a few months. Me and almost everyone I know served at least 3 years in the IDF which is pretty much working for free.
Obviously whatever you launch is going to have to get exposure with the people you are interested in getting interviews/offers from.
But most of my Random Offers (tm) have included some variation of "So I've been reading your blog" or "So I liked that cool thing X you had on HN frontpage last week"
To the point that one such Thing X was mentioned by half the people I interviewed with that time I was going through onsite interviews at Google.
Where in the article did you find that information? I think the problem is that they never did tell him 'no', stringing him along while they had absolutely no intention in hiring him.
IMO, Amar should've moved on to a company that would appreciate him. The Vidyard guys seem like major assholes.
"However, I was too frustrated after being turned down everywhere else (for one reason or another) and realized that on paper, I didn’t look too great (Bachelors Degree in Science and a bunch of failed business ideas)."
Guy recognizes that he doesn't look good enough which is why he is getting No's or no responses, but he believes that he is good enough so he decides to get creative to prove it.
If you are trying hard and they aren't responding, I think you know it's because you aren't making the cut, Vidyard was sending subtle, but very well understood signals that anyone else might do, you try, no response, obviously no clicking with them, so you keep trying, because you still think you can prove something.
It sounds like people want to say either Amar is stupid or Vidyard are dicks, both had their own agenda and clearly sent each other messages about how they felt without necessarily directly saying it. How many "No's" does it take to get to a Yes in sales? Dude is a good salesman.
Would he have done better if he had just "launched something himself"? Perhaps. How about being a fantastic coder and orator too? Certainly. That's not the point. He had persistence. When it comes to running a company and trying to be successful, there are few traits more valuable than persistence -- and he has more of it than the majority of extremely smart people I know.
I know a lot of absolutely fantastic coders. Many of them are very creative too. But the lack of persistence and drive is what will prevent them from dealing with the emotional rollercoaster and disappointment that is running a company.
Somebody with persistence and intelligence can learn any skill. And most importantly, they can keep performing their skills when everybody else -- even those 50 times better at it than they -- have quit.
EDIT: And I should have included: Amar, hats off to you. You're going to go far.
By the way, if anyone's interested, I posted a cpl days ago to no avail the following breakdown of job openings results in select cities by select keywords via Indeed.com's API (I'm new to python and having some fun):
Worse, he interviewed the guy and made him do free, unpaid work to further prove himself, and then ignored him for four weeks after he did the task! Absolutely pathetic. I can only think about my friend's startup cleaning company: he has prospective cleaners clean an apartment as part of their interview to see their cleaning skills, but he pays them the standard hourly rate ($20/hr+) for their time. And he follows up. And he doesn't have any funding himself yet.
Posts like this one just reinforce and validate this kind of behavior in the startup community. Just because you're a "busy startup guy" doesn't mean you get to ignore labor laws and have free reign to be a prick. Just FYI, having people work for free is almost always illegal if they're not receiving academic credit.
All people deserve to be treated with common decency. It doesn't matter how bad the economy is, how new the employer is, and how inexperienced the applicant is. As soon as we deem it acceptable and in fact encourage the abandonment of these principles and laws, we descend into a third world black market business culture. I wouldn't be surprised if the next boulder we crash into on this slippery slope involves applicants bribing their way into jobs: "In exchange for letting me work for you for free, I'm willing to "fund the overhead" of my training by providing you with a monthly stipend of $500/month during my free labor period!"
We find that having someone do real work for a decent length of time is a great way to evaluate them when they are inexperienced or otherwise hard to evaluate in an interview format.
Internships have their place, but not when it's taking advantage of the applicant. That's when we hire them for short term contracts, we pay them contractor rates (so slightly more hourly than the paycheque would be) to compensate for the lack of security.
We're finding that we end up with people who can treat the business seriously and professionally when that's needed as well as the normal stuff everyone wants like enthusiasm, intelligence and work ethic. Someone willing to run on a treadmill because I'm dangling a carrot in front of them like a jerk is not someone I want on my team, I want someone who will spend their time wisely when I'm paying them for it.
Who would have guessed that treating applicants with respect would pay off, even for a small startup? Oh yeah, we did. And we were right.
I never thought I'd be the busy guy without time or energy to filter through and respond to every application we get.
The problem that I've encountered is that at < 15 employees, the best hires are generally people we pursue. Literally 90% of people we've spoken to who apply through standard means are ill-fitted for the role.
This post is designed to open the perspective of myself, the "busy startup guy" as well as Amar, the "I want to be a part of a startup guy".
The idea is that everyone should go above and beyond to get noticed. Most people don't. If you don't really really really think you can make an impact in my business (and haven't shown me so via initiative) how can I really know that you're not just another tire-kicker?
Remember, a seed-stage startup is on an egg-timer. Every minute needs to be productive and every conversation needs to create value. We need to pick and choose our battles wisely.
Why do engineers go to startups? Cool technology, interesting problems, more autonomy, and the slim chance of a big payoff. Startups in South Florida apparently have none of these. I've told Mike Greenberg (and you too, I think?) as much about the tech meetup culture down there: you won't have strong technology culture without strong technology. RefreshMiami and a Rails meetup won't cut it.
Besides, why quit your corporate engineering job for a startup when you're making $80k+ in a city where money is everything?
i wiped my ass with everything that ceo had to say. join our moustache hipster 'hot startup', it'll take you 9 interviews but we're worth it. really? it's 2012 how about f you and your viral marketing video cloud service startup. you are parasites upon humanity making video spam and viewing metrics stats for car companies, penis pills and gambling. just admit you are shameless hucksters that are one peg above a spammer, ditch the synergies and ridiculous pretense.
if this guy enjoys the starbucks latte macfag synergies promoting corporate work environment that's great but this isn't 'hacking' this is pleading and begging to get a shitty job in yet another corporation that's just pretending to be super kawaii cool and awesome but when it comes down to it they'll lay this guy off in a heartbeat, sell the company to some megacorp and screw every employee royally. all startups do this. the guy who owns it buys back all your shares before he lays you off as a favour then keeps the money and sells out faster than Jay Leno in front of a bowl full of Doritos.
I bet they do excrement inducing "team building exercizes" at this way super coo startup. No matter what hipster clothes and mac products you put in front of the CEO he's Bill Lumberg from Office Space demanding TPS reports.
Finally the worst of this entire article was the buzzword 'growth hacker' which is newspeak for a spammer. Look at the definition article they link, some guy who basically manipulates CL ads to punt his junk, a marketer with coding experience, in other words, a fcking spammer. Protip: all of India and Pakistan are chock full of marketers who can code. This is not a revolutionary concept.
I would've shown up and given this guy a USB drive with 3 OSx exploits on it to corrupt client side memory and my "resume", then sold myself to him in person using balls not limp social media or stalking around linkedin and twitter. If they didn't hire me I'd have their source code to sell on blackhat SEO forums anyways so who cares.