February 27, 2012

Manager Asks: Should I hire without face-to-face interviews?

Filed under: For Managers, Hiring, Q&A, Readers' Forum, Recruiting

In the February 28, 2012 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a manager loses a “star” employee and asks how to hire — but the manager cannot interview candidates in person:

A star employee left my team and I need to replace him. I can recruit only from inside the company, which has over 100,000 staff, so it’s not so much of a limitation. More of a limitation is that I will never get to meet candidates face-to-face before I hire anyone because I most likely will be recruiting people in another country. I love all of your advice about candidates showing how they can do the job in their interview, but how can I turn that around as a manager so that I can get the best possible candidates?

In recruiting the original star employee I used your advice and had my short list of candidates present a piece of work to me, similar to what they would be required to do in the job, and from there I picked the ones I wanted to interview. The star candidate made the best impression in the face-to-face interview (which I was able to do then) and I hired him because he approached the interview the way I needed him to approach the job. This method obviously worked, because I got a star employee.

These techniques are so much harder to do when there’s no interview in person, and you have no idea who might have helped candidates put together the piece of work that they turn in. Do you have any tips?

Finally, I can’t obtain reference information about applicants who haven’t told their boss or co-workers they are applying for another job. If I start asking around about them in a division I don’t work in, it can cause a nasty situation. How would you suggest getting sound information about the candidates’ reputations without creating an internal HR nightmare?

Here’s the short version of my advice: (For the entire column, you need to subscribe to the free newsletter. Don’t miss another edition!)

My Advice

First, thanks for confirming that asking candidates to “do the job to win the job” is a very effective way to hire — and stars, no less! (See the Readers’ Comments section of the newsletter, at upper right, for another confirmation that this works nicely.)

You seem to be facing two problems:

  • In-person interviews are not possible, and
  • You can’t check references.

More important, you know that meeting candidates face to face — and asking them to show how they’d do the work right there in front of you — pays off handsomely, because that’s how you hired your last star.

Your real challenge isn’t how to hire in spite of the two problems. It’s how to overcome them. Hiring in spite of those two problems could be disastrous. The reference problem is probably insurmountable because it could create a lot of trouble for you and for anyone you investigate. You’d probably also be violating company policy.

The first problem is one that I think you have to tackle and solve.

Find a way to meet your candidates. Explain to your management that the cost of hiring the wrong person could be staggering. The cost of bringing candidates in for meetings might be significant, but is not staggering. It’s a very wise investment. Do all you can to minimize that cost — but I would go out of my way to make in-person interviews happen. Hiring remotely is just too risky for the company, for you, and for the candidates.

I would nonetheless mention the reference problem to your boss

… Sorry, this part of my advice is available only in the newsletter… Don’t miss another edition! Subscribe to the weekly newsletter now! It’s FREE!)…

Sometimes we must remember that our bosses pay us to tell them the truth, even if they don’t want to hear it. I would not risk hiring sight unseen. Your job is to tell your boss the truth. Explain the potentially huge cost of making the wrong hire in the interest of saving a few dollars on travel.

Finally, I would outline to your boss the Ask The Headhunter methods you use when you interview. Demonstrate how you will apply the extra investment. Your boss will see that you hire for the bottom line: You want to see your candidates perform before you hire them. Your department will be more successful. The candidate is far more likely to be successful. Your boss will be very happy. You might get a raise later for thinking so strategically. And I’ll be proud.

Have you ever hired anyone — or been hired — without an in-person interview? More significantly, have you ever been in an interview — as the employer or the candidate — where “doing the job in the interview” was required? How did you handle either situation?

: :

33 Comments on “Manager Asks: Should I hire without face-to-face interviews?”
By Alison Green / Ask a Manager
February 27, 2012 at 10:56 pm

While you can’t check references using the candidates’ current managers, why can’t you check their references with their previous managers, from before they came to your company? That would be better than nothing.

By Deidre M. Simpson
February 28, 2012 at 3:20 am

Dear Nick,

Yes, I have been hired for remote contracting jobs without a face-to-face interview. The first was for a client on another coast, and the successive times were in distant counties within my state.

The clients used a referral site, my online profile, and email to express interest in, interview, and hire me. These were not full-time, permanent positions, just writing gigs, but I gained valuable industry experience using my preferred skills. I was grateful for a way to accomplish that.

Sincerely,
Deidre M. Simpson

By eh.ticker
February 28, 2012 at 5:07 am

I’ve been interviewed over the phone, and there were loys of qiestions abou how. I would to the job when…
It didn’t have the same feel as doing it in person.
I did get to interview vwndors remotely via Webex, for a proxduct selection project. It was akin to a candidate selection, which begs the question: Why not use technology such as Webex, Goto Meeting, Live meeting, etc?

By Steve G
February 28, 2012 at 6:39 am

I hire a lot of internal candidates with great success.

You should be able to review their evaluations and ask them and their boss follow-up questions. Don’t forget this step. Their current boss will have the more insight than you can get in a face to face interview. Any candidate that passes an initial screening should be willing to let their boss know. It sounds like you might need to have a conversation with the people that make the rules. The company should recognize that your ability to hire the best candidates needs to be a priority.

By Nick Corcodilos
February 28, 2012 at 10:26 am

@Steve G: I agree that the manager needs to be able to talk with candidates’ managers. The problem is, in this environment, it sounds like it could jeopardize a candidate’s current job. That’s what makes this tough. You’re correct that this is fundamentally a problem with the rules — the manager needs to address it at a higher level and get the rules changed.

By Sandy Young
February 28, 2012 at 10:44 am

When I worked for the Federal Government (from 1986 to 1998), I was told by some people that a hiring manager could not interview prospective employees unless the manager interviewed ALL the applicants (so as to treat all applicants fairly). I did not work for the Personnel department, so I don’t know to what extent this was true. I did have a face-to-face interview for my first Federal job, and it was more like the manager was trying to sell the job to me. He had already chosen me as their top choice on the basis of my application, so I did not have to sell myself at the interview. For my second Federal job at another agency, I was offered the job over the phone without an interview (because they had talked to my current boss in the first agency). However, I asked for a face-to-face interview before accepting the job. I met my prospective supervisor and his supervisor, and then I accepted the job. I’d like to hear from others how the Federal government now handles the interview process (if there is one).

By David M.
February 28, 2012 at 1:35 pm

I’ve been hired twice without an in person interview. The first time was during the dot-com boom. One of the reasons they did ALL of the interviews over the phone, even for local candidates, was to dodge a large percentage of potential Equal Opportunity issues (this was a very large international company with very deep pockets for someone to sue if they had a mind to). You can’t say you weren’t hired because you’re fat/ugly/short/etc. if they haven’t seen you. There were quite a few rounds of interviews, including very technical ones. You had to think on your feet during those and be able to communicate things you’d normally be able to white-board out verbally. This was for a project of limited duration, but with the potential to get hired on perm if things went well. This project also had management that was out of country, so they were used to doing things 100% remote a lot of the time anyway.

The second time was for a software engineering job (again as a contractor, for a year, renewable as long as they wanted to keep you) where being hired without an in-person wasn’t on purpose. After the HR phone screen I had the initial call with the hiring manager and his boss as an additional phone screen. The hiring manager’s boss dropped off the call after the initial “let’s make sure you can speak well and aren’t an idiot” type of questions. After that the hiring manager and I ended up talking for over an hour and a half about various technical things, and when he went to look at his schedule to book an in person interview, he said “wait, we’ve pretty much covered what would be in that”. They had me send in a code critique and a solution to a programming problem with a short deadline so that it almost certainly would have had to be done by myself. Unlike those who had in person interviews for the team and did that on the whiteboard, mine actually had to run!

The first job was a nightmare fraught with political non-sense, ego-tripping and empire building, the second one of the best I’ve had with a “get ‘er done” team attitude with incredible esprit de corps and high morale. They were co-incidentally the two highest paying positions I’ve had.

So in my career it’s been a total coin toss as to whether phone only interviewing is a good thing or not.

By Don Harkness
February 28, 2012 at 2:09 pm

As a recruiter I submitted a candidate to a hiring manager. I knew there would be a phone screen and set expectations with the candidate accordingly, but was floored when it quickly evolved into a job offer and an accept sans face/face interview(s). OK by me as a recruiter, but I’d never done it. (It didn’t stick)
I’ve mentioned before, where I work I introduced giving potential executives (worked out with the president) real work to do. Mixed results..some of the candidates couldn’t relate, ie break free from a typical Q&A interview process, and some of the interviewing team couldn’t either. It’s an acquired skill. We haven’t hired any further execs since then, & are approaching that differently.
The writer’s company is obviously large, and is paranoid about “poaching”, seemingly between division. The one’s I worked for eventually put a posting process in place that handled it. It wasn’t a stealth operation, at least on paper. Meaning you could post & your boss could not stop you from doing so, but doing so didn’t make you popular if you didn’t get the job. But once the person posted, as a hiring manager you had full disclosure, employee records, references, interviews. As Nick said this has to be done carefully. The hands can’t touch the wrist. It really doesn’t lend itself to lighting strikes. Best done with a long cycle. Since they are in the same vocation companies that large often do have internal “get to gethers” sales conferences, special interest groups.
Next best approaches can help. If you can’t approach the person directly, you may have a local trusted middleman who can do a lot of proxy interviewing…break out the PC & Skype for good offline sessions, and if you really want to go undercover there are services who provide quality audio/visual production level teleconferencing facilities. everything face/face sans touching flesh.

By Crumbs Jr.
February 28, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Just ’cause he hired successfully *once* on some principle doesn’t prove this principle. He could have been lucky. A rule should either be logically proven, or be supported by meaninful statistics; I sample of one does not constitute meaningful statistics. In general, how he can hire someone w/o meeting him is a mystery. That a company requires this sort of thing is very strange. Now, if that was a contractor, that would be different: I have worked on a number of projects where people hired me after talking over the phone, but contracting of this sort is more permissive, ’cause if the hired guy doesn’t do a good job, you can let him go. Contracting arrangements tend to be more flexible – for example, payment may be contingent on quality delivered, so the hiring side really risks nothing. To hire a perm over the phone though is crazy. I’m afraid the author of this missive isn’t telling you the whole truth.

By marybeth
February 28, 2012 at 9:55 pm

I agree with Nick that face-to-face interviews are preferable–for all parties involved. As a prospective employee, I don’t mind a phone interview if it is the first interview, but if I’ve made the cut, then I’d definitely want to meet in person for round 2. Why? Because an interview provides me a chance to look around as well as talk with TPTB. I want to see where I might be working, who I might be working with, and to see if I can get a sense of the culture (might not be obvious from a phone interview). Skye and other technology is great, but they don’t give me the impromptu opportunity to meet others, to see what working conditions are like (will I have an office or will be sharing a desk and computer with 3 other people?).

@Crumbs Jr: with all due respect, permanent employees can be let go too. Many employers have a probationary period, and even if they don’t, unless you and the employer sign a contract, if you live and work in an “at-will” employment state, you can be let go for any reason (no matter how silly it seems) or no reason except for race (protected by 3 post-Civil War Amendments to the US Constitution). And you can leave for any reason or no reason. Of course, if you’re not performing up to standard, then that’s cause for the employer to let you go. Granted, temp or contract workers are “easier” in the sense that you can declare the project over, or just that their services are no longer needed, but if you’re in an at-will employment state, it isn’t too hard to get rid of regular employees either. Employers can’t be totally stupid about it unless they don’t mind the headache of a lawsuit and attorney’s fees, but usually the employer prevails.

The challenge in this week’s letter is the manager has to hire from within, yet not violate any company policies nor put anyone’s current job in jeopardy. Sounds impossible to me, because bosses will hear about the interviews and might take it out on the employees/candidates. No one wants to lose their jobs, and knowing that a boss might retaliate might give some otherwise star employees pause–they might not apply because there’s no guarantee they’ll get selected for the open job AND they have to think about retaliation from the boss.

I wonder why the company requires that hiring be done from within but then makes it impossible to that. Nick is right–the manager needs to talk to whomever is responsible for these rules and get them changed so people can be hired from within without the subtrafuge game.

By Larry Johnson
February 29, 2012 at 1:29 am

I have done hiring over the phone and I think it worked well. You have to be well prepared with questions and it helps to have two people listen in so you hear all the nuances. You can also ask them to submit something in writing.

Video conference is also great, of course, becasue you can see the person’s reactions, but I don’t think it is essential.

However, I think it would be essential to bring the final candidate to the office to “sell” the job to them if they had misgivings.

By Carey
February 29, 2012 at 1:36 am

When I was hired for the 2010 Census, we had a brief interview over the phone. This was, as someone mentioned, to eliminate bias.

Most hiring was done by clerks reading a script. If the person sounded okay, they would be told they were hired at the end of the call. That really surprised a lot of people!

I was special because I was the assistant to the manager of the entire office, so she interviewed me. She said she talked to a couple other people.

By Crumbs Jr.
February 29, 2012 at 2:19 pm

marybeth wrote:
>permanent employees can be let go too.
Of course they can, but there’s a larger “setup” (as it were) expense to bringing them on board than it is with a contractor (zero). There’s paperwork, benefits, etc. None of this with the contractor, plus of course, if the perm in question gets really pissed about being kicked out he can always find a labor laywer to make trouble for the employer. With contractors this doesn’t come into play.

By Mika
February 29, 2012 at 9:32 pm

I was hired for my current position with a startup 8 months ago without ever meeting my boss face to face as we live in different states. Our CEO had worked with each of us previously and encouraged us to talk. Since I was moving into a new technology field, I wasn’t able to demonstrate domain knowledge because the interview happened so fast there was literally no time for research — I was interviewed by phone within 45 minutes of saying I was open to talking to the executive. Since the CEO recommended me, he didn’t check any other references. Things have worked out well and we quickly developed a great working relationship. In the beginning we did use Skype video as we were getting acquainted and got to meet in person about 6 weeks after I started. We’re part of an international team so we Skype and email with everyone regularly.

At a previous (large) company, we ended up with a terrible employee who had been given rave reviews by his former manager. He interviewed well and his performance evaluations showed no indication of trouble. Turns out the manager wanted to get rid of him, hence the glowing reference. He was a long-term problem employee who changed jobs every couple of years to stay one step ahead of the axe. We actually did go through the long painful process of terminating him rather than continue to pass him to the next unsuspecting schmuck.

By Karsten
March 1, 2012 at 7:47 am

One big problem with phone/skype interviews is that one can only talk, not sit down with a piece of paper to write and draw how one would do the job. As a petroleumgeologist I would never hire or be hired without having some seismic and geological data in front of me to discuss and draw on. One simple image can be wothr more than thousand words.

Sure, emails and video can help somewhat, but not by far enough.

Actually, to me, a company hiring people without bothering a thorough face to face interview is either not serious enough, or have something to hide.

By S. Pierce
March 3, 2012 at 10:25 am

Apparently the Hiring authority at an extremely well funded startup did the wrong thing by hiring me an East coaster for his Sunnyvale , CA. based company. My competition was tough, all local Stanford and Berkley Grads whom I assume were all interviewed on site. He spoke to me over the phone, arranged for quite a difficult test to be taken by me over the internet that night which I must have done well on, and late that night called me to arrange a 2 hour phone interview the next morning with the manager and a co-worker of the area I would be working in. I was grilled. The same day, after a background check was performed I recieved the call with a very competitive offer including a sizeable amount of pre-Ipo shares. I accepted, the paperwork was signed by myself and the company. 2 day process after I called the hiring authority. Bam. I dont even know what anyone looks like and they sent me a box of welcome aboard cookies to boot. Leaving in a few days. Apparently fast paced start ups (4 years in the making)do things differently and apparently very efficiently.

By Ask The Headhunter® | Nick Corcodilos – Internal recruiting: Is it poaching?
March 5, 2012 at 8:42 pm

[...] recruiting: Is it poaching?Manager Asks: Should I hire without face-to-face interviews?Rip-Off Edition: Who’s trying to sell you a job? (video)How can I optimize my first day on the [...]

By SteveG
March 5, 2012 at 9:51 pm

Wow – the company seems concerned about this person’s manager getting bent out of shape if they find out they are being interviewed.

What happens if you make a mistake and relocate the person from a different country only to find they are not a fit? Are they going to ship them back to their original manager who was stomped all over?

Added to this is the paperwork to get work permits sorted out doesn’t happen overnight nor is it free.

This company seems to have some strange internal HR policy issues.

By Mark
March 5, 2012 at 10:29 pm

I have been hired for contract positions and it works just fine. Since I am an ‘older’ candidate, they are unable to see my age, which almost always rules me out. Now I know all of the things people say when you bring up discrimination, but you can always tell that is what they are doing. Usually when I arrive on the job at my age, after being hired remotely, there is a lot of hurried whispering and then their sudden realization that they will have to keep me on because it is against the law to discriminate. Isn’t this the main reason that they do all of this background check malarkey anyway? If the person has the credentials and background to do the job should they have to have their entire life’s privacy violated. People have to work but the employer does not have to know about their entire personal life either. The whole thing is bunk, a return to the stodginess of the early 1960’s, which led to so much discontent!

By Nick Corcodilos
March 5, 2012 at 10:48 pm

A HEADS UP to Ask The Headhunter Newsletter subscribers
=======================================
Last week, due to a glitch, thousands of subscribers didn’t get their newsletters, so they had no link to this posting on the blog.

I just had the newsletter re-sent to those folks (March 5, 2012). We started this thread on the blog last week… but please dive in! Sorry for the glitch!

By Nick Corcodilos
March 5, 2012 at 10:53 pm

The opinions on hiring without a face-to-face are really all over — interesting stuff!

I’m waiting to find out how things go for S. Pierce, having been hired via totally remote process by a start-up. SP – if you have time once you get out there, please let us know?

By Sandra McCartt
March 6, 2012 at 12:50 am

It would seem to me that if a person is applying for a job internally someone in HR has to be aware that the person has applied for the job. I hav never heard of an internal hire in a company that size being able to apply for a posted position without HR having access to that information even if their immediate boss does not know. If that is the case why would the person doing the hiring not be able to go to HR and review the performance reviews of that employee without anyone but the employee and HR knowing of the review?

I agree with Nick and everyone else who indicates a critical hire should never be made without a face to face interview. Contract situations are totally different as they are limited in time and may be terminated quickly with another contractor brought in. But a perm hire that needs to fit with team for hopefully the long term should not consider the job themselves without meeting their new boss in person and vice versa.

Insist on some way to do a face to face even if it is meeting someplace in between the job location and the location of the employee. By going through HR to review performance reviews the no reference situation might be overcome to some extent,

Backdoor references are done everyday. Surely within a company the hiring manager knows somebody, who knows somebody, who knows the candidate so some information could be gleaned by asking indirect parties who know indirect parties without it raising red flags in a company of this size.

By Tim Cunningham
March 6, 2012 at 1:09 pm

If a face to face interview is so important – and it is – why not use Skype for a first interview where possible? You can learn a lot more from seeing a person than just listening to them over a phone.

By S. Pierce
March 13, 2012 at 9:00 am

Nick..
I am out here and I couldnt have been greeted more warmly by the top executives who read like a whos who of the networking world.. They will be changing the way networking is being done in the cloud…A new cubicle and Macintosh laptop were waiting for me and each and everyone of the employees, approx 60 introduced themselves to me. The work is tough but so far so rewarding and I am already getting feedback from my manager who happens to be the VP of engineering.. Everyone has an advanced degree and there are no prima donnas.. Nice to work in a flat orgainaztion where 90 percent of the staff are all mathemiticians or software engineeers and every one and I mean everyone is a coder. Maybe the stodgy companies with HR cubicle clones can learn a thing or two, but then again why spoil a good thing.. The HR cubicle clones at a large company basically told me I had to get on twitter, linked in, facebook, google plus, 4 square and most likely make a video to get looked at by a company HR recruiting clone.. I told the idiot after going through all that I shouldnt become an engineer rather a social media expert.. Give the power back to the hiring managers. You know as well as I do that there are plenty of testing services that will ascertain if one is right for the job from an emotional, psychological and apptitude (smarts) perspective. They arent buying my looks, are they? They are buying my talent and do whatever it takes mentality to get the job done. Any good hiring manager who has been doing this for a long time knows that a decision is made within the first few seconds when seeing a person since all the biases come out and in my case tested me (5 hours of tests over the course of 12 hours)I even took them in my underwear at home while amking myself coffee..ANd you and I know that references are pure BS becuse it opens up a previous manager to lawsuits. My hiring process took all that BS away. No more big companies for me.. I will do the Silicon Valley shuffle. Work, cash in my stock, find another company who will hire me in a New York minute becuase I have that highly sought after experience of working at a startup where everyone has to help out if the Kitchen isnt clean.. It is not beneath me to do this with the amouint of pre-ipo stock I have and the present valuation of the company. That type of hiring practice is also being done in companies in Austin, Boston and NYC..I am a hired gun and the new generation isnt even expected to work 2 years at a company and you know that to. The old farts dont like it but the new generation has no time to wait. Thanks to our parents you guys really screwed the pooch and we will have to pay for it. Besides, what would the HR cubicle clones and headhunters do? Oil the rusty parsing machines? Already got my first call for an interview from a competing company. Life is grand. So, all of you who definitely are older than I am can sit around and wait to fly somewhere for an interview and wait for the HR cubilcle clones to find your paperwork and expect a headhunter who 6 months ago was selling Mary Kay Cosmetics door to door to take care of you.. I have 250,000 in loans to pay back and they will be paid back within 3 years tops and I will buy an M3.. Donr need or want a house nor a wife and 2.3 kids.. An apartment and lots of travel where I meet new people will do me fine.. Nick, you were a headhumter in Silicon Valley a few decades ago.. Time to brush up and get back there. More ferraris per capitia than any other place in the country and we are doing it the easy way. Hard work, networking and always being on top of your game… You cam just call me Sandy Beta for I will always be a work in progress. To the older people here.. I represent some of the people you are competing with and we are growing and we dont know how to take no for an answer.. Good luck. If you are working as that Manager is for a company with tens of thousands of people, not only is he looked at as a typewriter who is aging but so are you..You dont know what the word layoffs mean, cause a whole shipload more are coming under the name of productivity. (hah).

By Michael Bullis
March 13, 2012 at 9:54 am

I agree with those who use skype, webex, Etc. You can even do testing–ask the person to complete a task while you’re on the web with them. It saves a lot of time and if done correctly and thoroughly, gives you the same sense you could/can get in person. Video will be used more and more, so, some of us need to become experts at how to use it to save time and dollars. Again, test them online, interview thoroughly, and you’ll get a sense of whether this person is truly a finalist or not.

By SteveG
March 13, 2012 at 1:00 pm

@ S. Pierce
What an interesting perspective you have. Completely self-centered and showing a lack of basic education. If you have an advanced degree with this level of communication skills – I can understand why it cost you so much.

You may believe you are a great coder, but by the standard of you English you show yourself to be much less than the high flying brilliant person you believe you are. What your parents appear to have created is someone who cannot spell, has no concept of a paragraph and does not check what they are putting into the public domain. In your hands I fear not only for the language you speak, yet cannot write, but if your code is also this full of mistakes I would hate to rely on the resulting software you produce.

By the way – you will one day also be an “old fart” and wonder why the world is treating you the way you are treating others now!

Good luck the future you see may be shorter than you think

By Crumbs Jr
March 13, 2012 at 4:13 pm

I have to concur with SteveG to some degree — S.Pierce does come across as a conceited, bushy-tailed but inexperienced type. But, let’s be honest, a lot of programmers are this way: apparently one can be at once a good coder and a semi-literate peasant with goals like no-wife-and-kids-but-buying-an-M3. Programming does not require a well-rounded personality… Future will show, but at the same time he’s right about some things, like the recruiters who were selling cosmetics last month, and HR cubicle drones. He’s right on the money in that respect. Every time I get a recruiter on the phone, just from his speech patterns (brooklyn guido), I feel that I’m demeaning myself by simply having this conversation rather tha hanging up (but of course you also want to be polite, thus punishing yourself). So, all in all, best of luck to S.Pierce, may he never be disappointed in his general stance in life (which I think he will: the “M3″ part suggests that he’s probably very young and comes from a, shall we say, lower-middle-class background (poverty combined with lack of culture often produces obsession with cash), and is in for a great discovery that money doesn’t buy you happiness; the day will come when “cash and stock” will cease to be satisfactory, opening way to regrets about the absence of wife-and-kids and general settledness).

By Nick Corcodilos
March 13, 2012 at 4:21 pm

@Steve G, Crumbs:
RE: S.Pierce

Piling derision on inexperience isn’t becoming :-) Please remember that what goes around comes around. Lucky programmers get to turn 50. Even 60. Conceit never ages well.

By Crumbs Jr
March 13, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Oh you’re certainly right. My post was more about warning than derision. To some degree because I’ve lived though a similar development myself — now, I’ve never been annoying, but bushy-tailed, yes; and I know how it feels to look back on your previous views and goals and feel embarrassed for your own dear self. As I also mentioned, I agree with a lot in SP’s message, like his take on big companies, recs, HR idiots, etc. The only negativity I felt was due to being sort of vicariously embarrassed for some parts of SP’s post. Hopefully it’s ’cause he’s young. If he’s over, say, 40, it’s awfully sad.

By SteveG
March 14, 2012 at 11:12 am

@Nick
You are correct. As someone married to a helicopter parent, I have found it a challenge to help our Trophy Kids really grow up. Ron Alsop’s book is a great insight into how the Millennial Generation is expecting the work place to change for them. It explains the background of S.Pierce’s comments.

By Mika
March 19, 2012 at 12:40 am

Unlike S. Pierce, I *am* an old fart but I left big company life some time ago because I enjoy the excitement and nimbleness offered by well-run startups. While many of us Silicon Valley types could afford the flashy sports cars and bigger houses, we choose not to. As a previous poster said, it doesn’t buy happiness. Younger employees have been surprised when they find out how old I really am because they say that I fit in as “one of them” with my enthusiasm, energy, and willingness to tackle new challenges. And they promptly forget the age difference when we’re up to our eyeballs brainstorming on how to solve a problem. And for the record, I don’t see all that many Ferraris on the roads here. The friend who had one got rid of it after a few years because it was a pain to maintain.

By S. Pierce
March 24, 2012 at 6:48 am

Looks like I have lots of you talking about me. To Steve G. I am highly educated but I have a abd case of Dyslexia (spell checker and grammar checker doesnt work on this blog. To the others, I am 29.. This is not my first position. To Crumbs. Am I conceited.? Nope. Focused, you bet. Working my ass off, you bet. I have worked since I was 13. In spite of my diability which requires me to work doubly hard, I am on a mission and that is to have 250,000 in loans paid off ASAP and some money put away for a nest egg becuase I will not have social security nor Medicare like many of you will have and my generation will be paying for yours. Is that fair? You stated (poverty combined with lack of culture often produces obsession with cash). Thats a very ignorant statement but expected. Who has the lack of culture?
Earning 200k plus in Silicon Valley with no deductions leaves me with a lot less than you may think. 1 bedroom apts in a decent neighborhood go for 2500 minimum without utilities and the cost of living is very high. Do I want an M3? Do you know what an M3 is? I already bought a used one in top condition for 27k. Lots of deals on cars to be had in Nevada.I paid less than one would pay for a typical new car and from a technology perspective it is the best in class. I like tinkering on weekends with German cars. How many of you who read this blog have that type of outstanding debt? Student loans just took over credit card debt. Over 1 trillion. Next bubble? By the way I forget where I read it, but the article stated very clearly the millenials are the most educated generation ever and I would think that becuase of that we have no time for headhunters and the crazy overpaid unorganized big company recruiters, keeping with the program and staying in the box that our parents generation put us in. Maybe that comes off as being conceited but I truly dont care. I had a double major, did research, graduated with high honors and while so many of my fellow students were out drinking and partying on the weekends I was studying my butt off, and even worked on breaks and interned every summer and I have an advanced degree. Typically takes me a person with Dyslexia double the time to do my school work and it is grueling to say the least. Vacation? Never took one until a few years back.

The main reason I responded again was to tell you, Nick that your comment..”Piling derision on inexperience isn’t becoming :-) Please remember that what goes around comes around. Lucky programmers get to turn 50. Even 60. Conceit never ages well” Nick, that is pretty low. God like complexes dont age well either, Nick. You have forgotten rule 1 about putting down and being negative with people who post on your blog. I am on top of my game. I take it by your picture that you are pushing 60. You are living off a 25 year old book, and your websites software as per the link on Microsoft calling it the best site shows that that software left this world around 12 years ago. You put a lot of companies and people down and it is not becoming at all. Have you forgotten all of the rules of blogging. By the way, the NEW kids on the block, who tell it like it really is as far as hiring etc. dont sell E books to make an income.. They give them away. Every blog I have visited does the same. They do that to get speaking engagements and consulting work, etc and to enroll people in seminars, webinars, etc. You can delete this post, I dont care, but I responded because of your negative post. Can hardly wait for your upcoming webinar.Many are doing it on your topics and 3,000 typically are in attendance.. Come down to earth. We “millenials” dont have the pleasure of sitting back and pontificating. Your blog and website are so bland circa 2005 at best. You even have broken the new rules abouth that. Refresh, make them up to date. Go to wordpress and pick out a vibrant theme.. It will definitely sell more of your E books. But then again in 5 years I will be paying your social security and Medicare so why change a good thing Nick. Thats what you get for your negative statement directed towardsds me.. By the way.. Im my fifties and sixties I will have all my certifications and then some with regard to netwrk security and you know it as well as I do that services like those will be needed forever, and yes I am a coder, because I like it and thats maybe 40 percent of what I do now. Its a dead end. We have lost the coding edge to the Chinese etc, but they lack one thing we here in America have and that is the ability to solve complex problems. We come up with the spec and give it to them to code. When will I see you at Stanford giving a speech on how to get a job? I am not humble at all becuase I cant be or else I will get run over by the hordes of H1-B visa professionals swarming into town becuase our lousy school system starting from grade school let many of us down and our country doesnt graduate enough of the talent which is sorely needed, but you, Nick should show some humility, just a little bit. Your reader is not from my generation. We have heard this so many times before. You say you have to show a company how to add profit to get a job. Really? Maybe in a typical company that you and your readers are used to, but in start up land its about getting the product to market as quickly as possible while keeping costs down. Profits if any come much later. Compnies with no profits and 20 employess have 500 million dollar valuations.. How can that be? I can go on and on but people with God complexes may get irritated with me.. Off to other sites where the conceited like me hang out and are changing the world around us. To Mika.. I never wanted a ferrari ( Apparently, you jave never been to Santana Row in A friday or Saturday night) nor a big house and dont intend to have a house. If you are reading whats happening in this country and especially in states like California , the big hedge funds and the likes of Hank Paulson and Buffett (not from my generation will be buying up hundreds of thousands if not more foreclosed properties and will be renting them out for a very nice return. We are becoming a renter society and a mobile one. I expect to be living and working in different parts of the world and maybe moving to a place like Singapore , so I choose not to be burdened by a home. And, over 50% of the millenials will live together in groups until their late thirties and a bit longer and only then will they think about mariage. Its a different world out there. I have no time for dating but I have many friends alkready and hang out at the Hacer dojo where people who invented ethernet, etc hang out and I go to meetups on computer topics to keep my skills fresh. The carrerr is over. The hired gun is the new paradigm.. Go to sites like Elance and Odesk and prepare yourself for the future. No company wants to pay for all your overhead unless you are very special in what you can offer.. Nick, Those employers on the sites have already taken the proposition of adding profit into their business model as you can see by the number of people bidding on positions for in many cases absurdly low rates.
I bid all of you good bye and wish all of you and your children prospeous lives. I wish the same for me and its getting scary out ther considering we are a bankrupt country and a bankrupt state. Mika, the fire chief in Palo Alto makes 400+ grand and the firemen and cops make over 150. San Jose is in such bad fiscal shape.. Why? Exhorbatant benefits. Who is paying and will be paying for their retirement benefits? You and I. Will I have any retiement benfits. When hell freezes over.

By Don Harkness
March 24, 2012 at 11:08 am

@S. Pierce et. all …Having worked in hi-tech Software Development/R&D I find the dialogue kicked off by S. Pierce particularly interesting. I started as a programmer and morphed into management.
Other than S. Pierce I don’t know what industries others were in. But I worked hi-tech/computer industry for close to 40 years.
I didn’t arrive at the start-up stage, more aptly put the next step after, where the start-up mindset was still alive. And I’ve done a couple on internal start ups.
If you’ve not been in a start up, you can’t really relate to what S. Pierce is saying. The work environments, hours, stress are a blend of death march & exhilerating adventures. There’s only one job…make it succeed.
What S. Pierce is saying there are programmers and there are programmers. I was good, but not as good as S. Pierce is..I don’t know him, but I’ve met many like him & I have the time & grade to tell. My son is like him, coding animal.
What he does, the way he does it, and his attitude and pride…and satisfaction in doing it, is not a millenial thing, a gen x thing, it’s inherent to the industry. I go way back & there were always some S. Pierces around.
They think fast and write fast, and as such I didn’t read “illiterate” in his wording, just moving fast. the way you code.

Post a comment