As an employer, you want to find these folks. There's usually no downside to having these absurd job postings. Penny Arcade apparently went too far and is getting some bad publicity, but usually there are no repercussions. Can you really blame them for trying to do this - when it works?
As developers, you need to educate your fellow developers about how much they're worth, strategize ways to extract maximum value from companies you work for, and instill a sense of confidence in one another. If you've ever gone to engineering school, I know you knew tons of folks who couldn't believe what companies were willing to pay for them. Their misconceptions need to be abolished.
If you don't help your fellow developers understand their positions, then they'll end up taking jobs like this one at Penny Arcade for shit pay and it brings down the overall price of employees in general.
Company owners don't want you to know this. They benefit from these awesome hires.
As an employer, you want to find these folks.
There's usually no downside to having these
absurd job postings.
1. You lose a lot of accumulated knowledge when you burn your employees out and need to hire new ones every ___ months.
2. When you're understaffed (er, sorry - "running lean") and every week is basically run-around-with-your-hair-on-fire crunch mode time, you accumulate technical debt like crazy. Pretty soon everything's held together with duct tape, because you're dealing with shit flying at you from every angle and there's often no time to do things right.
3. An unreasonable job description like that weeds out nearly all seasoned, savvy developers. (For a high-profile job like PA, maybe they'll attract enough naive young geniuses who would love to work a zillion hours a week for low pay, and that will kinda sorta make up for it)
Furthermore, high turnover is very, very common in VC startups, including CEOs.
2.) I do development in the form of sysadmin/devops type tasks (bash/powershell/vbscript)
3.) I currently do IT related tasks with regards to servers (not desktops) such as building servers from parts, loading them in to racks, setting up firewalls/routers/networking, etc
4.) I'm not perfect with attention to detail. Things fall through the cracks, but I know when to skip details (because they can be easily rectified if missed) and when not to (because the work really is mission critical, or rectifying the mistake would be particularly painful)
5.) I'm self-educated with minimal college. However, I devour books about algorithms, AI, language references, etc
6.) I have terrible work-life balance. I love my wife dearly, but if there is a problem to be solved, I can't let it go. I often dream about problems that are on my mind.
7.) I work well in teams, but I prefer solo work as I can often get in the "zone" easier when not distracted. I am not socially awkward, but I prefer smaller groups. I won't do sales, and while I can do direct customer service, I find it exhausting and my day is often shot afterwards.
8.) I understand how to deal with, and juggle, multiple "number one" priorities.
9.) I generally don't do on call, but if there is a fire, I'm always available to work on it.
10.) I'm constantly on the lookout for techniques to enhance myself, and the team as a whole. I often do presentations on up and coming software stacks, or training on technologies that I think would be worthwhile to implement.
11.) I live in Portland, Or. Relocating to SV or SF is not an option.
Given all of that (and more since it's never binary), how do I go about valuing myself in the market without wasting a ton of time?
Offers are made based on your past experience and interview, before an employer can do a full psychological profile to see if you're a good fit.
So number one priority is to have a good resume.
Then you just "feel out" the current rates based on what you currently make and taking in other signals like glassdoor, salary ranges in job postings in your area (jobs listed on AngelList are most transparent about that) and talking to your peers.
The best way to get good salary is to get multiple job offers and increase your demands with each successive offer.
Yes, it is time consuming, but much less than writing code and with much better long-term effect on your salary.
Not even that one. http://www.weworkremotely.com
Adjusted for cost of living you might be making more on taking a few basis-point discount since the Valley is so insane, but location absolutely factors into remote work salaries.
I currently work for a decent sized Drupal shop. I was told upfront that the company went with remote employees because there simply weren't enough within commuting distance. Based on how the knowledge Drupal people in another state have been snapped up, I completely believe it.
It takes a ton of time, but interview people. Seriously, you would not believe what the applicant pool is like, even after resume filtering and phone screening. After interviewing 20-30 people you may have a very different perspective on which decile of value that you fall into. If you are in the top 10% of developers, then your value is the top 10% as well.
transparency wins imo.
What you do is talk to peers in the industry, every opportunity you can find, especially ex-coworkers.
You and I know it's negotiating skill, expertise, tenure...and yet it's still awkward when it happens (as I've had happen).
Whatever it is I don't think it hurts unless you don't really deserve that money and have good reason to feel guilty about it - even then its not your fault, or anything bad about you, its the employer who is 'screwing them over' in that case and you are giving them the information to realise it.
I've had similar happen a few times, its not really a problem, I've actually been surprised when I've encouraged them to go for more money and one guy in particular basically said, "yeah, but you actually are worth that much more to the company than me".
But you should probably just work out how much you would like to make, what kind of company you would like to work for, what kind of work, what kind of work life balance and aim for that.
If you put your contact details in your profile would be interested to talk based on above.
Although they are considered the spawn of Satan by most devs, they know exactly what you are worth because their business depends on it.
And they will be willing to talk to you, because you are their meal ticket.
However, what recruiters do understand is what you'll fetch depends very much on your attitude and confidence. You act like a lamb, you'll be sold like a lamb. But that still means they know exactly what you will be able to get.
Good recruiters will coach you to increase your market value, but even the shitty ones know their numbers.
As a dev in Portland, I can tell you with your skill set, if you have at least 3 - 4 years experience, you can get 6 figures. But you have to market yourself as a dev, not a generalist. Especially if you emphasize Angular and Node.
People can complain about the (allegedly, nobody knows what they're paying yet) low salary all they want, but that's only one piece of the puzzle.
- [...] and don’t mind having a really bad sense of work-life balance, this is the job for you.
- You should have no problems working in a creative and potentially offensive environment.
- It’s rarely we call on it, but if something breaks in the middle of the night, you are expected to be on call to address that issue 24/7.
That's four pieces of the puzzle already.
Some people like creative/potentially offensive environments. I'm guessing they aren't saying "We are all assholes and will treat you like shit", they are saying "We don't worry too much about political correctness" or something along those lines.
Likewise, my preferred standards of workplace behavior would, I'm sure, get me labeled a "humorless feminist" or something by some people who prefer a more bro-like environment. Though I'm the kind of person who would just leave rather than file lawsuits and such -- I don't want the hassle.
Personally, I appreciate unsuitable employers for identifying themselves upfront. It's much easier than finding our after I've already accepted the job.
Non-PC: some people like, some people hate
Abuse: nobody likes
Someone who meets the qualifications PA has listed can easily get a six figure salary plus stock and benefits at any number of cool companies with interesting problems to work on, nice offices, and fun cultures.
PA won't get good developers to apply with this listing. They'll get people who are desperate for work and willing to misrepresent their experience and ability. Bullshit begets bullshit.
Also, how many software developers do you know that'd be doing what we do even if it paid $30k a year? Because I sure as hell would. Lebron might even be ballin' for $50 a year, if he loves it enough. And that's kind of the whole point of the job posting: if you're in it for the money then PA doesn't want ya, and you probably don't want PA.
I did oncall work for large pharma for 7 years, then also for AWS. It is terrible. I can guarantee you everyone there for the most part hates oncall. Everyone has to plan their lives around it, pre-plan trying to swap weeks out which overlaps family time and basically being tied to your pager and a computer / internet location for a week at a time is the worst thing in the world.
The type of job posting above sounds like you will be doing all of the crap work just keeping the lights on and never have any time to sit down and convince people how to reasonably re-architect all of the crap you are up all night working on...because you have no time to do anything but fight fires.
Being up all night and shifting your work schedule to 11AM - 7PM for the week just because you know you will be up in the wee hours of the morning every time you are on call is something I never want to go back to. What's that you say? I'm the only person on the oncall rotation? Well unless off hours pages are few and far between, don't expect me to be picking up trouble tickets every night or weekend because I am actually going to be out drinking at the bar, or doing other things. If your oncall load is this high, you better be hiring additional peers because there is no way I'm going to be expected to be tied to my computer every day of the year.
You may not be in it for the money, but any for-profit venture certainly is. Imo, if you're going to work for below market pay, you should do it for a non-profit that really is trying to make the world better with limited resources, not a company that is capable of paying what you're worth, but would rather make a slightly higher margin off your hard work.
Again, the point is that there is more to job compensation than money (at least for me). If it doesn't pay enough, and the perks aren't worth it, then don't apply. Or apply, and then say "no thanks". Nobody is forcing a job on you, and there are quite a few people who would enjoy working for PA at some unknown % of market value. And don't conflate non-monetary compensation with doing good in the world, they can be two different things. Hell, in the case I made before they are two different things.
Speaking of non-profits, you know they run Child's Play, right? Raised $17M+ over 10 years. I wonder who's doing all the tech support, web dev, etc for that? Smart money is on whoever holds the advertised position.
For some people, talking about the latest South Park episode can be extremely offensive, for others it's epic fun.
"- You should have no problems working in a creative and potentially offensive environment."
If you're creating humorous content, then you by necessity cross the boundary into the offensive (but you don't necessarily publish it!) as part of the creative process. Otherwise you'll never strike the best balance.
Consider this Onion post (NSFW) - http://www.theonion.com/articles/no-one-murdered-because-of-...
Now try to imagine what their work environment must be like.
As someone who isn't easily offended, that sounds a hundred times better than working in a constant state of fear that you're not being PC enough. But, to each his/her own. At least they're upfront about it, so potential candidates know what they're getting into. Doesn't sound like the environment you want? Don't apply.
For example, I will work for you under the understanding that I will keep giving you shit about the "dickwolves" thing until you finally understand what you did wrong -- and no, you don't have to give your kids' entire college savings away to charity.
Or maybe you're just a self-centred special snowflake.
And if you think unions aren't for skilled workers, look at how well it works NFL players or entertainment writers.
The result is exactly what you would expect if you disregard the anti-union propaganda. Greater transparency regarding salaries and working conditions, better opportinities for networking, strict and enforceable overtime regulations and vastly improved workplace safety.
Do you think that if cricket players formed a union (maybe they already did, I have no idea), they would be paid as much as NFL players?
Of course not. NFL players are paid so much because the league can afford to pay them and still stuff their bank accounts.
The same goes for TV/Movie writers - good, proven talent is in low supply and there are millions at stake, so it makes sense to pay well to get the best. The 5th box office hit on a given week usually makes a fraction of what the 1st and 2nd does, so it makes sense to optimize for hitting the 1st spot and you do that by getting the best talent and you get the best talent by paying them more than others.
We (programmers) don't need the unions to be paid well because there's still more demand for talent than supply of such talent.
If it ever happens that we need unions to be well paid, the unions won't help much because you can't pay high salaries if you don't have high revenues.
Also, given that software companies are generous with stock options, as part owners of the business, we should be very much against overpaying the employees, even if they are fellow developers.
NFL players are paid so much because the NFL Players' Association was willing to fight (and strike) to ensure the owners gave up at least a small fraction of team revenues as wages. Before the NFLPA's recognition in 1970, players usually worked second jobs to make ends meet. It was only after unionization (and, to a significant degree after the '82 and '87 strikes) that players received the kind of salaries we see today. Screenwriters are in exactly the same boat, and you'd have to pry the WGA West card from the cold, dead hands of each and every scriptwriter before you could shut down their union.
Pilots' unions in the US are an example of a skilled profession milking the industry. You can't have an airline without pilots, and the union knows exactly how much the airlines make - and pitch their wage demands to just below 'breaking the bank'.
The value of IT staff is harder to quantify - a commercial plane needs two pilots (generally). An IT department needs... ?
Given the race to the bottom in the airlines I would consider ALPA and the airline unions necessary and I am all for treating pilots better. Since pilots, you know, keep aircraft from decorating the sides of buildings.
It's pretty sad when a Wendy's manager can do better than a regional captain.
A second year DC-9 captain makes $82k/year.
A 747-400 captain can _easily_ make a quarter million a year when including bonuses and benefits.
When performance is not measurable, all you have to go on is seniority.
Makes sense to hire the best and pay well at that point.
I was recently introduced to a job by a recruiter and they wanted me to do a "programming assignment" which would take at least 20 hours, before I could even talk to them and see who they were. I was like, "Cool story bro".
The reason why I bring that up is because I noticed the same pattern here; this job ad is screening for desperate people lacking a spine. I can't imagine any decent developer with a good job applying for this. Only someone desperately looking for work and having relatively low skills would willingly take this job, assuming he's not an idiot.
Hey, 17 year old kids, and people who have been out of work for years need jobs too, you know. (actual skill correlates... much less than it ought with employment desperation, in my opinion.)
And it looks to me (and apparently, to you) like the penny-arcade folks are being pretty clear about what they want. And that's fine. Some people (usually very inexperienced people) really like the "hero ninja rockstar" rhetoric, and that's fine. I think many intern level folks respond better to thinking of themselves as rockstar ninjas than as interns. And as we're all clear on what that actually means, hey, if it makes them feel good, who am I to complain?
The other thing you need to understand is that most of the rhetoric about 'heroic work schedules' is empty. My experience has been that the people I know who actually work the most, I mean, once you take out all the time on hacker news and facebook? they don't talk about how much they work. In fact, they usually worry that they aren't working enough.
When I hear people crow about a ridiculous work schedule? I hear "I put in 45 hours a week at the office, but half that time is on facebook or chatting with co-workers" People who actually work a lot are constantly concerned that they aren't working enough.
Yeah, they and similarly desperate people may indeed fall pray to this kind of thing. See below.
And it looks to me (and apparently, to you) like the penny-arcade folks are being pretty clear about what they want.
In this economy, ads saying "we're looking for someone to suck dry till we leave their bleached bones on the beach somewhere" can pull people in because ... desperation. See, your above.
But I don't care, such vampires need to be called on their antics regardless of this free choice.
Yeah... but like I said, I don't believe people who claim heroic hours. I don't believe companies who say that '50-60 hours' is normal. they mean that /claiming/ 50 hours a week is normal.
Yes, some people do actually work brutal hours, but they don't brag about it. They worry that they aren't working enough. Some employers really pressure people to work brutal hours, but they brag about that even less.
In fact, the places that claim heroic hours more often have beer Fridays and unfiltered internet access (and a culture that makes it okay to hang out on facebook and HN on work hours.) Generally, they also let you come in when you want, meaning that you can show up before your boss (It doesn't matter how much before your boss) /or/ show up after your boss (it doesn't matter how much after your boss) and plausibly claim crazy hours.
There is /extreme/ resistance to any sort of actual time tracking for this reason.
It's like the coaches who say "give 110%" yeah, they are irritating, and the rest of us look down on them, but there is a group of people who eat that shit up.
I'm sorry, but even if you are spending 45 or even 50 hours a week in the office (and the number of folks who go beyond that, ninja rockstar or not, is vanishingly small) if half of that time is spent socializing or screwing off on the internet? it's not really that brutal. It's basically the same thing as being at home, except you have to wear pants.
Edit: dug up the source for the article:
Also, I am not sure I agree with this taken as a context-free statement. I mean, certainly, I think that the 'mandatory fun times' that are so popular are even more bullshit than "you can read reddit, but you have to be in this chair" - but not really because it's "exploitation" - it's not, except in the sense that every profitable exchange of money for labor is exploitation.
Comparing folks who make more than $60K/year and only have to sit in front of computers to people who work at McDonalds or Wall-mart or worse for 1/3rd that is... kinda insulting, I think.
A modern valley company is trying to be a social club. And, if you are the sort who goes in for that sort of thing? they do pretty okay at it. Not great, but pretty okay. For a "cultural fit" it's really not work, it's social time. I know I usually enjoy that sort of thing.
But, that's the problem. It is rough on those who are not a "cultural fit" - and I think that's a very bad thing, I think that a business is at a severe disadvantage if they can only hire from the group of people they want to party with. but most people disagree with me on that.
Honestly speaking I don't mind "giving 110%" provided I'm "paid 110%".
So what is it, US? Is it great over there, or does it suck so badly that PA might actually find someone?
Yes, so let's take advantage of them... And if the market comes to that point that we can expect them to work for food, let's do that too... (while we're making tons of money from our business).
>And it looks to me (and apparently, to you) like the penny-arcade folks are being pretty clear about what they want.
Transparency is not a virtue in itself. Charles Manson was pretty clear about what he wanted too.
The first interview was to determine my technical ability and character.
The second interview was for them to gauge my reaction to all the crap parts of the job. They told me about the level of social life, the tedious tasks I will have to do, and so on.
They said that, previously, they had talked-up the position to attract someone only for them to leave once they realized the reality wasn't quite so great. So, if I took the job, I would not be shocked once I got to my desk.
In the end I didn't get the job, but this is the only interview I have been in that didn't try to hide the bad bits or to over-hype the good bits.
So, yeah, unrealistic expectations are an issue. But, I mostly blame the hiring company for talking out of their backsides in order to recruit.
If this were true I would be more at peace with the world than I presently am.
Now what you want is us to take your personal view of this person as read and ignore his clearly laid out position. So really you're the one being ad hominem, though unusually being supportive (I prefer 'enabling') rather than attacking.
Let's forget who this is and discuss this person's job ad.
EDIT: A pre-emptive clarification: The fact that one could do research on this person makes no difference. The ad is the ad, the details of the person who wrote it are actually irrelevant here.
Merely attacking someone does not an ad hominem make; since ad hominem is based in the study of logic, calling a personal attack such as the comment up-thread "ad hominem" makes no sense. The person posting the job is not entering into an argument.
We can reasonably consider this implicit position and draw conclusions, and yes absolutely, because something happens to be a personal attack, it isn't necessarily ad hominem. Saying 'ignore what this person has done and listen to me telling you he's a great guy' very much is.
Ad hominem: "Higher taxes are bad because you're the one suggesting them."
Personal: "You are an idiot for suggesting higher taxes."
See the difference?
How about being a decent reasonable human being/employer? Or is that just off the table altogether in this discussion?
With limbo-like justifications like this I'm not surprised these kind of diseased company cultures exist.
This is exactly why labor law exists and why libertarian/extreme capitalist societies could never function. The argument "it's a free market" doesn't hold water. Without a system of checks and balances exploitation will always take place because there are always people desperate enough to do anything to make a living. No matter what you say about "free markets" and "voluntary agreements", you can't convince me that it's right and ethical and a good idea in any capacity.
In the entire category of white-collar jobs the idea of requiring labor laws is ludicrous.
Don't get me started on the ridiculousness of expecting someone with a computer science degree for such a job. After spending tens of thousands of dollars on a CS degree, I'm sure said developer would love nothing more than to get a job that underpays, has no perks or offers real value. Surprised they didn't list they wanted someone with knowledge of plumbing and performing complicated electrical work with experience working in a commercial kitchen and being able to cook 500 meals in the space of a couple of hours...
There aren't many developers out there who would meet even half the requirements Penny Arcade listed in their job ad as a self-taught web developer with no qualifications, I would be on that list as well.
The idea is to produce a book programmers can give to whomever is making their lives miserable and teaching said person about keeping programmers happy and productive. I'm also adding practical advice for programmers themselves because I feel that we bring a lot of these problems on ourselves.
That said, if you're in the Bay Area I'd love to buy a drink and talk about the state of the industry. My book needs more material :)
The problem is if you refuse to put in the overtime, there will always be someone else who is willing and able to put the overtime in, as a result they are presented with more opportunities. The mentality in every development industry is if you are the first to leave, you'll most likely be the first on the chopping block if the business hits a rough spot. You are perceived as not being a team player, not working hard enough and putting pressure on your peers.
I understand overtime is part of the job. We as developers know when we signed up to be developers that there will be late nights, but when companies expect overtime as part of the normal job for no good reason other than to get more for less, that's not right. People are afraid to leave at 5.30pm on the dot at most companies, especially as the economy gets worse.
Sadly I'm in Australia, otherwise catching up and discussing the state of the industry would have been awesome. I'll most likely be in the US sometime next year though, my partner and I are currently trying to get some funding for an ambitious idea.
This clearly isn't the job for everybody (obviously not Marco), but there are plenty of people out there who are (as the ad puts it) "not terribly money-motivated" and would be willing to work hard to be in a cool environment with cool people. [Some of the best jobs I've had have been for absurdly low salaries, but I don't regret them for a nanosecond...]
Given who wrote the ad, I also wouldn't be surprised if they're exaggerating a wee bit and making it sound rather scarier than it really is. Having a small outfit with reasonable people in charge (and whatever faults they have, I don't think PA are really psychopathic-startup-CEOs in disguise) is one of the best insurances there is against a truly unreasonable work environment. Sugar-coated job ads are an insurance against nothing....
If anything, I'm more disturbed by Marco's rush to judgement...
A friend in the gaming industry posted the Penny Arcade ad to Facebook, and I clicked on it out of curiosity. I was appalled. When I went back to FB later, 4 different people had commented about what a terrible job it was.
I don't think the issues is with working hard - the issue is with parts of the industry expecting people to work so much that it's beyond "working hard" and becomes damaging, and I think (and I think the author in OP's link does too) that there has to be a change in developers' mindsets to protect themselves from negative consequences.
Which it is--for older more successful people. For a youngster with a light resume and a thirst for excitement, though, it might be perfect.
PA wants someone who not only has expert-level experience in several disciplines but is willing to work such a job to the exclusion of anything else while not getting paid a competitive salary nor receiving any sort of stake in their gaming media empire. This is absolutely in keeping with the worst inclinations of this industry, made worse by PA's knowledge of these practices in many of the companies they cover.
So, no, they are wildly different. This job is a good deal for no one and you do an immense disservice by carrying water for people that should know better.
I required, and was given, a great salary plus stock, a nice office environment, and a healthy work-life balance.
His issue with this job is that they're looking to hire an experienced unicorn on the cheap, then they're going to work it to death.
If this was published back when I was in my late 20s, the job spec would have been an ok match and I would have applied. I think working in that environment for a few years would be a great buzz and would give me the opportunity to learn loads.
Anyone who has been in the industry for more than 2 months knows that the "work is family" thing is a nonsensical feel good catchphrase thrown around by manipulative managers.
Your boss will not feel bad for you if you have a personal emergency which requires your absence and costs the company money (parent dying, spouse or children having medical problems, etc.).
Your company will not hesitate one second to fire you if the output you produce is deemed less valuable than the input you need to function.
Seriously, this is why Penny Arcade can get away with shit like that - because there are people out there who blindly believe that "work is family" and eat up the whole "it's not for everyone, others don't want to do it because they're not hardcore enough, but you're hardcore enough spiel". Statistically speaking, any argument that rests on the premise that you are better than 99% of the population is bullshit.
If you really subscribe to the whole "work is family" thing, go ahead. Then in 6, 12, 18 or 36 months, when you inevitably get fucked over, you'll complain about how you wish you had been warned ahead.
Sure, I love making work pleasant and grabbing beers with my boss and co-workers as much as the next guy- but at the end of the day, work is work, and anyone who tries to convince you otherwise has ulterior motives.
At the end of the day, no matter how wonderful everything is, if the company is having a hard time and they need to fire you, they'll do it. Your boss is not going to sell his car or house to pay your salary.
If the company is doing well and offers a nice work environment, it can be fantastic, as you described- in which case, enjoy the ride while it lasts. But don't delude yourself in thinking that the wind won't turn if bad times hit. Believing anything else is setting yourself up for major letdown when it happens.
My good experiences don't invalidate your bad experiences - but that sentence applies vice versa too.
A bunch of bad data points proves that bad exists, but it doesn't prove that bad is prevalent. That sentence also applies vice versa.
Based on your experience in the field, how many software companies out there do you think are like yours? 20%? 10%? 1%? 0.1%? Less?
As for what percentage? I'm not really sure. Shadowcat is how it is because it was baked into the culture from day one because that's how things should be done, so I'm not sure I can extrapolate usefully from it.
I don't expect that level of commitment to employees from my employers, but it does exist.
You're creating a false dichotomy here. I agree that places that push the "we're just like a family" line often do so because some boss means "I want to act like an abusive dad". And I agree that no place is perfect.
But there's plenty of room for compassion and human feeling in the workplace. Companies are human institutions, and executives ignore that at their peril.
Sure, I know such people. The difference that these people won't write a psychopathic job ad, and they certainly won't expect me to work >40hours a week for below market salary.
If you believe work is family, do you think your family would be OK with you working 60 hours a week for below market salaries? Of course not! Your family doesn't want to screw you over while selling you shitty psychobabble. They'll actually pay you what you're worth and make sure you work reasonable hours.
Labor hoarding is well established empirically.
Labor hoarding is a widely believed empirical behavior of
firms and a prominent explanation for procyclical labor
productivity. Conventional wisdom attributes labor
hoarding to labor adjustment costs. This paper argues that
the conventional wisdom is inadequate for understanding
labor hoarding because it ignores the role of inventories.
Since idle labor can be used to produce inventories, why
do firms hoard labor when inventory is an option?
Labor hoarding is defined as the retention of idle workers
during periods of low economic activity or slow business,
further reinforcing the impact of larger social trends.
The common perception is that retaining valuable workers
will prove less costly than rounds of lay offs, followed
by subsequent phases of recruiting and training new labor.
Observations have proven that businesses will choose to
idle their workers during these periods, instead of
producing finished manufactured goods and retaining an
expanded inventory of surplus product. This paper
questions the strategy of hoarding idle labor, and offers
improved strategies as potential alternatives to the
tendency of hoarding.
So really it's just a matter of using a common technical language that is less ambiguous than ordinary language.
Your rewrite adds a lot that isn't in the original article. E.g. the last sentence doesn't reflect their meaning. They are looking for explanations for why firms hoard, not trying to make suggestions to firms.
That said, there's no way I would apply for that position, and I hope nobody else does, so that they finally realize that they need to hire more than one person for all that stuff. I'm just saying the Penny Arcade company really is different than nearly any other technical gig, and that when they said "work is family", it's not "a nonsensical feel good catchphrase". It's them trying to weed out as many people as possible so they aren't flooded with 100,000 resumes at once.
The fact remain that if you do that, you're doing yourself a major disservice as a professional.
How do you know that's how it is? For most companies, "work is family" may be hyperbole, but how do you know it's that way at PA? I don't profess to know, but I don't find it unreasonable that there are companies out there that are different than the ones that I'm accustomed to. Just like I accept that there are people out there that have lives very different than how I've lived mine.
Don't forget that when you sign a work contract in California, it says explicitly that your employer can get rid of you at any time (and they are certainly happy to exercise that right, especially in startups). This is legally true for any company here, no matter how different they are from the ones I've experienced.
Also don't forget that we live in a city where entire teams frequently get cut because they're deemed unnecessary by the new CEO of the day. This is the same city where when people (albeit not in the tech industry) go on strike because they don't get certain benefits promised to them in the past, they become almost universally hated by everyone.
The US is not exactly a reference when it comes to siding with workers in those matters.
I'm not saying that I treat work as a dull, impersonal affair, far from that. As I've said in another comment, I've happily socialized and made life long friends and partaken in office outings and activities in my life as a tech employee.
But I prefer to not cloud my mind with ultimately useless romantic notions such as "your work is your family" (I already have a family, and it's filling its role quite well- don't need another one). When the bad times come, it makes dealing with things much easier. And when employers try to push this angle a bit too much, it's a sign to me that the workplace might not be too desirable to be at.
And that there's an organization/group out there that treats it just like that.
It's sort of like jaded lovers. Certainly there are people that poo-poo the notion of "soul mates" or "love at first sight." Fair enough. But it's always a little bit sad when that dampens the mood for people who are caught up within potential romance, no?
Honestly, I'd rather spend time working for someone (or on something) that I believed in and make less money than the usual soul crushing 9 to 5 and make a boatload. I'm in that situation now, actually, and it's not great. I moved the the bay area earlier in the year to chase the almighty dollar, and my overall happiness level has gone down. Who'd have thought?
That might be true in general but in this case it is not.
Demanding, insane-o jobs are also common in those places. They may have poor work/life balance, but goddamn it, they pay their people, either with fat salaries or substantial equity or both.
It's hard to imagine the confusion under which someone would post a job that is three standard deviations more overworked than the norm, and then flippantly say "we're not money-focused" about the compensation.
You want insane-o crazy work? You pay for insane-o crazy work.
But maybe this isn't surprising. PA does come derive from an industry where talented, young people will drag themselves through broken glass just for a tiny sliver of the glory of making video games for a living.
I don't know about you, but my mother and brother are still my family, regardless of their work output.
Many states have adult/elder protective services, too, not to mention police involvement with general abuse cases regardless of age.
Obviously, PA isn't really doing something worthy of that sort of response, but I'd want to be treated better than "shit wages, shit work-life balance" by a family member.
An insultingly horrible job and this is everything wrong with tech-startup culture, really Marco? Maybe your post is what's insulting to 99% of the world work population (who have much worst jobs) and what's wrong in the tech culture today (disclaimer: I was Marco's first employer).
insulting to 99% of the world work population (who have much worst jobs)
Many of the benefits you listed are standard in Europe. Full medical coverage is provided by the government, and they have ~30 days of paid leave.
And, Beucheler's larger point remains salient: Penny Arcade is not such a small company that this is so easily defensible. A five-person startup may require one person to be web application developer, sysadmin and operations manager. But Penny Arcade isn't a five-person startup. They've been around for over a decade, produce multiple comics, and put on massive industry trade shows. They can afford to hire more than one person if they have enough work for it, and no matter how many people they hire they can damn well afford to pay them market rate.
To answer your question: That 2% in an optional 401(k) tax-advantaged private account is above and beyond the 12.4% that goes to Social Security. How much of that 12.4% the employee will ever see depends on his lifespan and the continued benevolence and fiscal prudence of the U.S. Congress.
You can of course contribute privately to this balance as well, and in fact in some cases the government has matched contributions.
Super is not taxed*, though you can't withdraw till you're over 60.
It does have a lot of flexibility as well. It's possible to set up a 'Self Managed Super Fund' which can be used to buy property, or invest in other ways (though this is fairly tightly regulated).
This is of course not connected to the availability of a pension, should that money ever run out. Which makes it all feel pretty far left.
The difference between the U.S. and Australian systems is that you own an account from the mandatory contribution, while an American owns nothing, it's just a tax to fund current and future benefits that are at the whim of current and future governments.
It's often hard to map political positions across nations. Most recently, George W. Bush was a big proponent of moving toward an "ownership society" with a Social Security system that looked more like Australia's and it was our left that fought the idea.
Australia's system is terrific, performing well and should be a model for the U.S.
The Tales from the Trenches section is less hilarious in hindsight.
When I was 22, I was a small businesses best programmer, IT guy, server admin, CAD draftsman, document writer, butcher, baker, candlestick maker, etc. These kinds of jobs are extremely common in small businesses and honestly it was an amazing and formative experience. You people are being babies.
This is ridiculous to anyone who knows Robert Khoo. He is nothing but money oriented and motivated. In fact he was brought in to PA for exactly this reason and he is the reason why they grew to what they are now.
But saying that "we're not a terribly money-motivated" is just bullshit for, "we're not terribly money-motivated when it comes to your compensation so please be thankful with what we give you and don't ask for more.".
Maybe it's just because I'm old and jaded, but I think the ad is doing people a favor. Clearly it's an "overwork, underpaid" position, which should raise red flags for most people to say "Next!"
It's a lot less insidious than being dragged through an interview cycle where they don't tell you what they consider market value for the position you're interviewing for until the later stages, or where they won't tell you that everyone in the company is a workaholic doing 80 hours a week unless you know to ask.
Sure, it's a sucky position, and you can call him out. In my experience, people like that can't be educated. They'll feign some remorse, but all they'll do is use softened, misleading wording and end up wasting the time of prospective candidates who will be misled into thinking that this is a better job than it really is.
The reason is that creative work is incredibly hard in a way that's not possible to make up for with experience or training. It's hard on day one, year one, and hard on day one year twenty.
The thing that gets you through it all is the very nature of the work. It's like you're giving birth to a baby and seeing it grow and thrive, only this baby can make you shitloads of money. It's incredibly rewarding.
Penny Arcade wants the type of employee that can not only handle this, but who can thrive off of it the same way they do. That's why they're so in-your-face about how shitty the job is.
The entertainment industry is driven by big names. It's relentlessly competitive, the successful enjoy a never-ending crush of people who want to be a part of something they've been seeing on TV or the Internet and at cons for years. The unsuccessful have to fight for every minor victory. It's winner takes all, there's only so much public mindshare to go around.
If you want to know what the poor hapless sap who does get hired on to be their resident nerd is getting out of the arrangement, it's being part of this crush of attention. It's seriously life-changing. The social perks defy enumeration. After a few years of shoveling Penny Arcade's shit, they will be able to write their own salary at any number of massive media franchises who need every vetted hand they can get and are willing to pay top dollar. That's what's unsaid in that job ad, but if you've spent any time around that industry, you'd be salivating at the mouth at the opportunity.
But that's not the only way to make it.
What the PA hire is looking at here is a few years of $30-50,000 (if he'll even get that) followed by an immediate bump to the low six figures. Over the course of his career he'll steadily work his way to the high six figures.
This is pretty much guaranteed, although it's not stated anywhere in any contract or in the ad. Professionals in entertainment typically make an order of magnitude more than their contemporaries, after they get in and are vetted, join the trade association, etc.
You just have to get in. This involves getting a well-known production to take a chance on you. A lot of people bum around entertainment for ten-fifteen years before they catch their break. That break typically comes in the form of a very part-time gig on a huge production. You might get some face time with a big name.
That's when everything changes. Overnight, your marketability goes up tenfold. You keep working with bigger and bigger names and before you know it, you're rolling in cash and bennies.
This looks like a horrible job ad when you look at it from our perspective, but what it really offers is a short-cut. You can jump out of the IT industry and the generally shitty 'opportunities' it offers and hop immediately on the fast-track to success. You don't have to bum around with the hangers-on for years, you can get your foot in the door immediately. This is a truly Edison-type opportunity, one that comes dressed in overalls and looks like work.
Entertainment types don't typically hire outside the industry. Outsiders just don't understand it, can't quite grasp their priorities. That's why they chew through so many young people and burn them out, because they can't get outside professionals to work they way they need to.
PA is willing to, and you'd be a fool not to jump on it.
All I'm saying is that career trajectories are very different between the two industries. Of course you won't see people with entertainment-type careers in the video games industry. They're two totally different types of sausage.
Generally, I'd say worse.
Your average small business with one IT guy isn't going to blow sunshine up your ass about what a magical, special place it is to work, which is why they won't pay you what you're worth and expect you to work stupid hours while demanding high-end qualifications. They'll know that they're hiring a generic IT guy and be happy with somebody who just got their associate's degree and likes playing with hardware. They won't be expecting you to run a high-volume website with 24/7 uptime and being eternally on call. And if they do expect too much, it's not because they've thought it through; it's just because they're generally demanding people who are kinda clueless. Often, a good conversation with somebody like that can get you some space, or an assistant, or a raise.
Here, though, they know that they're asking for a unicorn, and they know they're going to treat them poorly, and they just don't give a shit.
Being asked to work a few extra hours when PAX tickets go on sale or something would be reasonable. On call 24/7 is just gratuitous.
The fact that there are red flags means that the few candidates who actually apply know full well what they're getting into and that nobody's time is wasted.
As an outsider you may think Penny Arcade's offer is bad, but someone, somewhere would love nothing more to work with the people behind that legendary comic and expo, no matter how rough it is.
Edit - I would also like to make an analogy with MMO guilds, particularly World of Warcraft. There are players who spend 4+ hours a night with their guild hardcore raiding (especially after the release of a content patch). These hardcore guilds have very strict enlistments. Unless you're as hardcore as them you're not in. An outsider would think they're insane, but there is no shortage of people applying to these guilds because they enjoy the experience of hardcore raiding. Some of these guilds have a very family-like bond toward each other, so you have to consider community/culture fit.
That being said, I'm sure someone out there really does believe it's a legendary comic strip and will want to be a part of that.
Yes, and exploiting somebody like that is wrong. They could hire them and treat them well, but because they're famous, they couldn't be fucking bothered.
This shitty behavior goes on all the time in fashion  and in the movie industry. I'm sad to hear it's coming to tech.
 e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Devil_Wears_Prada_%28novel%...
In my experience, this isn't really tech-startup culture, it's entertainment industry culture. If you know anyone who has ever worked in film, music or videogames, it's a fairly typical thing.
And the saddest of all this is that the job will get covered. In fact, I'm sure that there will be a lot of applicants. Just like for videogame programming.
Yes, we need to fight this. It's good that there are people complaining publicly. By the way, I believe that a few details from the job posting would be illegal in my country, although probably not in the US.
"terrible at work-life balance"
"on call 24/7"
"potentially offensive environment"
"being pushed to your limit is part of the job"
"sometimes tedious work"
That, and Penny Arcade's history of avoidable and frustrating controversies (http://business.financialpost.com/2013/06/21/download-code-p...), and their terrible responses to them?
Where do I sign up?
I've been at PAX. These guys are approachable, they're kind and funny and do not carry an air of superiority. I know their failings as well as I know my own.
Apologising is nice and all, but if no actual change in behaviour occurs (whether intentionally or unintentionally) there really is no point to it.
Also the Fruit Fucker does not rape PEOPLE, it rapes fruit. There has been outcry, but pretty balanced by the fact that it "takes advantage" of an inanimate object.
1. The intent of their hiring specification isn't to send a message to their audience, it's to hire someone to service their audience. I'm not sure why the two are assumed to be mutually exclusive? Don't want to apply? Then don't apply - let market forces weed them out.
2. In all of my years of applying for jobs and hiring people, not once has a candidate ever met exactly the profile nor eventually fulfilled every responsibility in a hiring specification. This sounds a bit overdramatic and too pedantic. Let it go.
I stopped reading PA after the controversy about the rape wolf and their dismissive reaction to it.
I wouldn't want to work there. Not because of the hard work aspect, but because I can imagine that the overall attitude that informs their public work would inform their internal political structure as well.
Lets face it, you're not curing cancer here. You're making events and media that appeal to a certain sub-culture. This shouldn't require repressed nerd rage to get right.
For instance, ideally, I'd love to hire a dev that has 5+ years of professional PHP experience building web apps and has experience with machine learning systems specifically relating to fraud. But in all likelihood I'll be lucky to hire someone with 3+ years of professional PHP experience with zero experience doing machine learning. The hired candidate will likely be simply interested in machine learning. The hired candidate will likely have no experience with fraud-related topics.
I can train you. I can teach you those things. But ideally, I wouldn't have to.
Likewise with PA's job listing, ideally, they want someone who can do all of those things. Practically, they'll hire someone who can do a very small subset of those things.
That said, it's a bit unrealistic to expect one person to do the job of four people (which is what this listing wants), especially for low salary, so... yeah, it's a bit ridiculous.
Also, my first impression, like Marco’s, was “Is this a joke?” Especially this line: It’s rarely we call on it, but if something breaks in the middle of the night, you are expected to be on call to address that issue 24/7.
Expectations are one thing, and they're very easy to state up front. Reality is quite another, and much more difficult to enforce.
I'll bet there's plenty of young developers out there who don't mind working long hours and would love to spend their time flying around with the Penny-Arcade crew keeping everything running - admittedly they won't be hiring the best applicants in the industry with the rates and conditions that they're offering, but I doubt they'll have much trouble finding someone who fits the bill.
Anyone who wants to work at PA, knows why very well.( hint: its not the money )
I don't trust their technical vetting abilities, as their technical staff is small, and were not themselves selected by people with much technical expertise. The issue isn't that their job posting is unfair, it's that it weeds out the wrong people.
Does it hold for Penny Arcade? Unknown.
Does it have any implication at all for the general profession? No way. It's funny to see how upset people are getting about a job ad. They are "insulted". But really what they are experiencing is, at worst, Penny Arcade misattributing themselves so much "juice" that they'd be willing to let someone grind themselves up in a job.
(That is, perhaps, the only narrow way in which this job posting is immoral, is if it describes working conditions so horrific that no-one could escape without deep emotional scarring. And no, I don't think it's quite that bad.)
There's plenty of developer talent to go around and job ads like this are getting filled even by firms without whatever prestige Penny Arcade may have. It can be scary to know that this is what your next job might look like and I think there's a lot of denial out there, but basic supply and demand is going to keep moving developer jobs in this direction.
This is not, as far as I can tell, actually supported by the job posting itself.
I really can't understand why this is getting upvoted so much. I'd love to see an intelligent discussion of unrealistic demands in tech jobs, but this isn't it.
They literally tell you that you'll work far more than a regular job.
-We are quite literally looking for a person that can do four jobs: Web Development, Software Development, Sys Admin, and the (dreaded) GENERAL IT
-being pushed to your limit is part of the job
-and don’t mind having a really bad sense of work-life balance, this is the job for you.
-We’re terrible at work-life balance
-work is pretty much your life
And here they tell you that you'll be paid poorly:
-We’re more likely to spend less money on salary and invest that on making your day-to-day life at work better.
Most of the rest is wishy-washy subjective stuff that could mean anything from "you will basically be our slave" to "this is a fantastic place to work that pays well and you get to go home early every day, but we don't want to oversell it."
(yes, this is an indictment of the already troubled news industry)
I found myself seething while reading the original Penny Arcade job listing. The cognitive dissonance required to write it is beyond my comprehension. In particular, the nonsense about somehow justifying a below-market salary in order to "make the office nicer".
Needless to say, my appreciation for Penny Arcade as a whole plummeted drastically today.
on call 24/7
work is your life
But I guess we're not the people they're looking for, and when they do find someone they give them a high-five, a latte, and scratch their hipster beards and laugh at how materialistic we are needing money and free time.
Perhaps you have a basic sense of human decency and fairness? Just because someone is naive (or just plain dumb) doesn't make it ethical to take advantage of them.
You could almost make the exact same argument about volunteering. You are asking for people to work hard and not get paid with the upside being they feel good about what they are doing. This is virtually the same thing, they are saying if the environment and lifestyle is appealing to you, and you're willing to deal with the downsides, please apply.
Sure, they say that money isn't important to them, but there's no reason to assume it wouldn't be slightly competitive.
Penny Arcade is in Seattle. If they want a chance of hiring anyone they would at least need to be in the ballpark of other job offers out there. Microsoft and Amazon pay pretty well, so I don't think this number will be as insulting as people are assuming it will be.
They're about as clear as they can be without actually stating a number. It's gonna be low.
I can't imagine they'd lowball you too much when a good developer can literally walk down the street from Penny Arcade and be at Google's or Adobe's offices in Seattle. Not to mention Amazon, Microsoft, or anywhere else in the area that pays well.
In any case Jason Scott says they did grab it. https://twitter.com/textfiles/status/405475303423619074
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