Hacker News Re-Imagined

I think I know why you can't hire engineers right now

  • 785 points
  • 12 days ago

  • @cushychicken
  • Created a post

I think I know why you can't hire engineers right now

@sylens 11 days

Replying to @cushychicken 🎙

I think the article begins to touch on it with autonomy and doing cool stuff, but one thing I believe should be called out is that engineers really like to learn new stuff. If you’re the type of business that has a use case for new technologies, talk to prospective hires about their interest in that area - it may be something they have been meaning to try for a while. If your company isn’t exactly on the cutting edge or even relatively adventurous, you probably need to make sure you mention your training and conference budget. Any place that doesn’t value me enough to let me go learn something new once a year is at a disadvantage in the hiring cycle.


@fifilura 11 days

I remember, back in year 2000, I went to a speech held by ESR (somewhat odd since I am based in Europe) with content very similar to this article. He was ranting about how all companies should open source their code because that is what keeps employees stay and happy. It was in the middle of the netscape/mozilla open source craze.

My reaction was "OK, this is the guy everyone is talking about".

A few months later - the job market was entirely different. And that stuck for many years after that.


@Syonyk 11 days

> This draws many engineers towards a very objective worldview.

Would you have an engineer any other way? I'd argue you can't be a good engineer without an objective worldview - because engineering is the art of making physical things outside your body do what you said they would, reliably. Yes, code eventually runs on physical things.

It doesn't matter what you believe, how you think the world really works, whose side you're on politically - it matters that the bridge stands. That the networking router ASIC routes 100G of traffic accurately and with low latency, without randomly locking up. That the airplane's fuel burn is what you say it will be. These are all pretty hard objective external truths that don't care what you think about them - they are what they are.

On the other hand, especially in the "consumer tech" spaces, I think a lot of engineers (at least those I know and converse with) are looking towards early retirement, or at least "not doing that which they've done." The state of modern computers can be described as "broken and getting more broken," with the fixes for the last complex hacks breaking and requiring yet more new complex hacks. Do that for 20 years, and you end up with this teetering pile of... something, and then you do the same thing with the software on top of it. Piles of libraries, running on a pile of libraries, running on gigabytes of God knows what, running on... all the way down. It's a security mess.

Then what do we largely choose to do with it? There's some neat stuff, yes, but a lot of the tech industry is based, tightly or loosely, around collecting all the data, processing all the data, and using it to predict all the things, then sell those predictions about human behavior to whoever will pay. It's the default model for a company these days, and it's increasingly hard to ignore that - even for an awful lot of money. If you've looked at the past 15 years of your work and realized that it's gone to some pretty human-toxic ends, "not doing that anymore" is pretty appealing.

The security, similarly, is a pile of crap, and everyone knows it. But, despite that, nobody is willing to consider alternatives to "Well, patch it and carry on." Say what you will about the conveniences of digitalization, things like the OPM "theft of everyone who's ever applied for a clearance's life history" wouldn't have happened if the data had been stored on paper. It's mighty convenient to have it digital, but it's a lot harder to have someone haul out 500 tons of paperwork without someone noticing.

So, yes, there's been some interesting work going on, but there's also an awful lot of "Well, it sounded interesting, but it's definitely been not used how I hoped..." work done in the past decades.

And if someone is in that state, you're unlikely to hire them for much. They're probably planning their exit already to go be a gentleman farmer of llamas or goats or something. Emus are just too mean to bother with.

I know a lot of people somewhere in this pipeline.

Another issue I've seen is that there are a good number of engineers (again, I talk to a variety of them) who are a bit hesitant about the Covid vaccine mandates - especially those who have already recovered from a bout with it before the vaccines were available. Quite a few companies are covered by some variety of uncertainty with that, so there's some decently sized pool of engineers (typically older, more experienced) who just aren't going to go work for some large set of companies. You can agree with them or disagree, but it doesn't change the fact that it's going on, and people are trying to figure out how to work with it.

I think we'll just see a big wave of retirements in the next few years of senior engineers who have no interest in the tech field anymore, and are happy to let it spin in the wind after what it's done for 20 years.


@_pmf_ 10 days

You could get hundreds of thousands of European developers (West as well as East Europe) by offering 80000 EUR comp and a reliable contract.


@ianai 11 days

Seems really well written. I’d add that stability in the work environment is something many (most?) people want. Experimental fighter pilots are a rare breed, after all.

I’m weighing this against my own career. I’ve worked with very short sighted business managers a lot (IT at a large casino). They absolutely don’t care about tech the way us techies do. They also don’t care about a technician or engineer enjoying their work past whether it means they can pay less or ship faster. They probably assume all techs/engineers are or should be equally skilled. Many might even take learning on the job as a sign that employee lied in their interview or something.

I’m definitely jaded against management. For them to “learn” from the current environment the current environment will need to hit their revenues directly for a quarter or two-as a guess.


@k__ 10 days

I know good engineers who don't get hired.

They are too different from the hiring companies to be of interest for them. Or too risky, because they are sick or from suspicious countries.


@ipaddr 11 days

If companies just offered jobs immediately instead of going down a 5 interview leetcode process people would switch more often. The process is designed for someone unemployed.


@Waterluvian 11 days

I’ve gotten 7 recruitment emails since Sunday and none of them have come close to sufficiently explaining what the company or job is for me to even consider responding.

It’s bizarre how secretive they are. I imagine the recruiters are looking out for their own interests.

Recruiters are in the way.


@mrkentutbabi 11 days

That’s weird. I like money more than “work for cool stuff”. Cool stuff don’t pay bills.

Heh, maybe this is why I am an average engineer.


@oxff 11 days

Inflation is probably around 15% for most of Europe and US, there's your reason: you are not paying enough.


@Aeolun 11 days

I like this title, it’s not clickbaity at all, but I still want to read it when I see it.


@rr808 11 days

It seems the market is strong for people with experience of the latest technology, but I'm finding its actually much harder than I expected. Applying online you usually get ghosted, if you get an interview I think I do well then get rejected. I've never had trouble getting jobs before, maybe I'm in the too old bracket now.

The other part is on blind/levels/hn etc people regularly expect 300,400,500+ but those jobs seem to be just for people with the right background.


@zkirill 11 days

Is there a linear slope between awesomeness of work and salary?

In that case, wouldn’t it theoretically be possible to convince an engineer to work for free given enough awesomeness? Or, conversely, convince them to work on something profoundly uninspiring given infinite salary?


@spyremeown 11 days

What is CosmosY?


@riwsky 11 days

The question of "what would make you change jobs" seems super-prone to social desirability bias—and the author does nothing to control for that. Does anyone have links to research that does?


@mrweasel 10 days

The whole "Quittening" is a little US-centric. The short answer is: "Too many jobs, too few qualified people"

We're struggling to hire senior talent, well, senior, entry level, anything but apprentice. The thing is: So is everyone else. There are statistic on these things, there aren't anyone to hire, you have to get people to leave other jobs, but then those companies are just shorthanded and you solved nothing.

So we hire as many apprentices as we're able to handle and legally have. When their training is done, 4 years from now, the majority of them will receive a job offer. So far we hired all but one of our former apprentices.

Engineering isn't the only line of work with this issue. My wife business is in the same situation. Unemployment rate is at 0,7%. The people not employed are all in that situation due to personality issues. The only available people they can hire are those toxic enough that most would prefer not to hire them if ANY other option is available. Other than that, take in as many apprentices as they can handle and ofter them a job in 3,5 years time.

This is debated in Denmark ever year, in July, when schools announce who got in to which universities, colleges and so on. Every year: We're missing nurses, engineers, STEM, all the usual. Not once have I hear anyone mention which subjects people need to stop applying for. My personal favorite subject that can be cancelled: SoMe marketing manager. The amount of people applying to those educations are insane and they can't even market themselfs well enough to get a job.


@cirrus3 11 days

First two points are way too heavy on "Eln Msk" as an illustration, could have easily written just as compelling (better?) argument without going that extreme early on.


@robbiemitchell 11 days

On the one hand, the largest tech companies are bigger than ever and still growing, and they set the market rates with a combination of high salaries and liquid stock. If you're incredible, you can go work there.

On the other hand, there is more money floating toward more startups than ever, across every imaginable industry. They all need people.

Taken together, demand is through the roof, and the massive companies are pulling salaries up as someone senior or higher could ostensibly get a job there vs. your random Series A-C startup.

If you can't pay top dollar, you are in the zone described by the author. You need to offer whatever a particular candidate is after: respectable salary; a chance to own some massive new development area; a chance to go deep on a set of technologies; and/or a schedule that supports their lifestyle.


@mwcampbell 10 days

> lunchroom chatter was one of the simple pleasures that made a daily commute bearable for me.

When I was at Microsoft, pre-COVID, my daily commute was no big deal. But having lunch every day with other nerds was definitely one thing I enjoyed about the office environment. So when the pandemic started, we immediately lost that, and that's definitely one reason why I left several months later.


@HWR_14 11 days

I have one big glaring early disagreement: Every engineer is at least a little bit techno-utopian.

If you mean they think the future can be made better with technology in the abstract, sure. But I think some, maybe many, engineers think that the current way technology is being developed and deployed is leading towards dystopian futures, not utopian ones. They may tell themselves that the cool problem they are solving would be solved by someone else, and they get money and a good puzzle. They may tell themselves that it's not their work. They may admit that is the future and say they just want to be in an excellent position in the dystopia. But if you look at the efforts put forth by open-source advocates to fight against closed-source, or the work that goes into blocking ads and tracking, or the way that misinformation propagates over the internet/social media and the responses written about things like that on HN, you see that some engineers are pessimistic about the way technology will be used.

Or see how the inevitable (and existing) facial recognition companies are talked about. Some love it, but some don't.


@didip 11 days

The article is concise but missing a lot of real-life examples:

* The highest paying software companies employ LeetCode style interview. That is off-putting to a lot of people even though the money would be super sweet to have.

* Some wannabe startups also employ LeetCode style interview even though they don't pay anywhere near FAANG/Unicorns.

* You know what's worst than LeetCode style interview? LeetCode style interview with really long rounds. It's super off-putting to be tossed around for weeks.

* You know what's even worse than that? Lowball offer after completing the entire circus.

* PIP culture is scary and it's hard to judge if the new company have it or not, except Amazon. We all know Amazon has PIP culture.

* Long hour culture is not desirable and hard to judge. What's the point of making 20% more if you ended up working 40% more?


@greatpostman 11 days

I just threatened to walk out at my current FAANG job. Crippling tech debt and unreasonable deadlines. Three levels of management apologized. Any other job market? They would probably be looking for a way to push me out. Very strong signal to me that the market is hot.


@everdrive 10 days

This seems to be an accurate and detailed way of simply explaining that a cohort of employees is i high demand, and therefore can and does demand better workplace conditions.


@coding123 11 days

Money IS the motivating factor, but what good is a $20k bump if you don't find a niche at the new company?

I've been there - that company you didn't like, the boss that didn't like you, etc.. Every since that company I have been a LOT more selective of who I want to work with and don't just take a salary bump over SUPER job stability.


@Dowwie 10 days

Author didn't even mention PayPal. Oh, yea-- he lead the company that pioneered peer to peer online payments.


@avmich 11 days

Good engineers can't get hired, at least judging by local selection among those who didn't have problems before.

This is literal - you can't hire engineers because you don't hire good ones. The process is more broken than before.

It's both hilarious and sad to hear complaints of employers. The non-hiring is on their side, there is little engineers can do if they aren't considered good - great experience notwithstanding.


@buzzwords 10 days

I have to disagree with a little bit with this article.

For one everyone is looking to hire talent but not develop them. This means that most companies don't have talent development plan.

There are huge amount of engineers who have kids and mortgage that they need to pay off, so for the right price they will work on any none cool tech.


@gyulai 10 days

The theme that resonates most with me here in the comments is lack of willingness on the side of companies to actually develop talent. For example a personal career goal of mine is to finally bridge the gap from individual contributor into management. But nobody seems to be open to taking on a manager unless they have X-years of management experience, and the companies I've worked for have always preferred hiring managers from the job market rather than internally promoting individual contributors to management status.

If any company offered me a shot at management right now, despite the fact that I have no management experience, I would do it in a heartbeat.


@sdevonoes 10 days

Reason you can't hire engineers is: stupid tech interviews (i.e., leetcode) and low pay (Western Europe).

My company gets tons of candidates. We reject 90% of them because: they do not pass our tech interview (I couldn't pass them either and I have been working here for 3 years!); when do they pass we cannot pay what they are asking for.


@throwaway10122 10 days

I got 3 messages from 3 recruiters this morning on linkedin for a (wellknown) company i interviewed for few years back.

I politely replied to each that, I interviewed, thought it went quite well and then got ghosted (never heard anything, zero), hence not going thru that again. Besides current job pays more and is interesting


@reikonomusha 11 days

Purely anecdotal: In my experience as a hiring manager seeing trends change over the past 10 years, and selecting from the top 10% of candidates by some vague metric, it's primarily about "does it pay a lot" and secondarily "does it offer full-remote"? A lot of my friends, former colleagues, and candidates I've failed to hire end up going to either a FAANG or a very successful brand-name company (typically a SV company) because

1. The TC is a lot higher, like 1.5-2x.

2. They don't have to move; or they do want to move, just not for a job.

It doesn't matter that the work is boring (really fungible cog low-impact stuff). It doesn't matter if the colleagues are meh. It doesn't matter if the company has a reputation for lay-offs/churn/etc. If you have those two items above, you'll likely have a good hiring success rate.

Even stronger: many of the "fads" (like cool programming languages, toolkits, frameworks, etc.), moral/virtue-discussions du jour (like hating on: FB, crypto, commercial spying apparatus, AMZN work conditions, etc.), etc. also don't appear matter in the large. Someone boycotting AMZN one day will be happy to accept a very healthy salary + benefits package writing legacy Java 6 backend code if it means a good double- or triple-digit percentage in compensatory promotion.

For this thread, I just asked an extremely talented programmer ex-colleague (Linux kernel hacker, expert at C) how his job is at Oracle and why he chose it:

> Ex-Colleague: Funny you ask, because I was stuck on-call over the holidays. I'm basically a plebe to Larry Enterprises. Mostly that and having a side gig. Not writing any cool code for sure.

> Me: Why not go elsewhere where things are a little more interesting for you? You have no shortage of talent.

> Ex-Colleague: Pay is great. Not a lot going on. Not a lot of fuss on the job. I easily own a house and pay a mortgage and have a lot left over. Definitely put in less than 9-5 worth of effort. Probably can retire early at this rate.

This type of attitude doesn't appear to be so uncommon, at least among people I know.

In my case for the company I hire for: Extreme stability (check; been around and stable for ~60 years), excellent work-life balance (check), really cool work (check; cutting edge research and engineering), and really good and diverse colleagues (check; gender balance and representation, stable personalities, highly interdisciplinary skills, sometimes world renowned), open-source and conferences (check), education and 20%-of-9-to-5 time benefits (check). Those things may matter to some extent, but contrary to the article, they don't seem matter as much as an extra $50k to $250k pretax compensation in the bank and being able to do so from a low CoL area at your comfort.

The good news for me at least is that we aren't a mega-growth-kind of company, so we can take our time. Ultimately the candidate that values the above does find us (or we them), considers it a dream job, and tends to stay for 5-25 years.


@throw28923 10 days

I'm "fully remote" but apparently I can't work from any country despite being a contractor (so responsible for my own tax). Give me a job paying 15-20% more than I'm on where "fully remote" means I can work from abroard and I'll consider whether it's worth my time. Better the devil you know, since my current gig isn't exactly stressful.

#remote should mean remote


@0xbadcafebee 11 days

I care more about working in organizations that aren't dysfunctional as fuck, and that help humanity, than what specifically I'm working on. I also care much more about working with good people than smart people. I'm most tempted to change jobs to secure things like unlimited vacation, remote work, and a 4 day work week. That isn't just pocket change, that's increased quality of life.


@rwaksmunski 10 days

Pay me 150k to remotely work with Rust and I'll drop everything and start on Monday. Getting senior resources is not hard, just need the right mix of comp and stack.


@genezeta 10 days

It's kind of funny -but more like funny-weird, not funny-haha- when I read some of these articles.

I don't mean that in a bad way. The article is well written and, to some extent, well thought. The problem is they usually -as in this case- extrapolate a fairly limited experience to a very general explanation of just about everything. This can be also noticed in some of the absolutely tiring clichés of engineers being Trekkies and dorks and whatever. But more than that, it usually ends up being that the conclusions reached are mostly a mishmash of reasonable things which miss the point, at least as a general explanation.

But, as I can't consider myself an expert in the USA job market -or should I say "the quite specific USA FPGA / RTL design engineers job market"-, I'll do something else instead. I'll paint you the picture of a very different market, the Spanish IT job market. The common point is they also whine a lot about an engineer shortage and a lack of available skilled force.

Here the market is defined by the following:

- The market is mostly dominated by a handful of big players. At the tipping point, there's maybe 6-8 large companies that hire a lot of developers -even though I personally think they don't really need so many-. These are, mostly, bank and insurance. There's also one or two more directly IT related.

- The market is actually layered through a pile of leeching^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hconsulting companies. There's an initial layer of larger "IT consulting" and "IT Integrators" who provide the above banks and large companies. Then there's the smaller ones which mostly provide bodies to the bigger ones. It is not uncommon for a particular job to involve at least 2 subcontracting steps. It's also not uncommon for them to lie about it at the beginning of the hiring process.

- Salaries are being contained or even lowered right now. It's hard to break around this because of hidden price collusion. Right now, as I said, salaries are low. Every time someone mentions "talent shortage" there's at least half a dozen of comments saying "well, pay more" or "don't pay so low, then". Personally, I'd say that most IT related jobs, and particularly those that actually create/operate/maintain the things, are being pushed into being considered as an "operator level" job. Low pay, easily disposable. Experience is, generally, an uninteresting trait beyond 2-3 years, and job offers reflect that. Entry level jobs are, again, paying low to very low. I know it can't be but it all feels kind of orchestrated. I mean, it can; it has been done before, but I'd rather think it can't be.

- Job offers hardly even mention anything. I've seen some hiring companies which will simply not put any details at all, not even technologies involved or anything. In any case, there must be fierce competition there because they all tend to be more secretive than usual. Not only will they not give you the name of the company -which may be understandable- it can sometimes be hard to even get general information like what sector it works on or an approximate location. This is most frequent, obviously, when it is not one of those big, few banks or insurance companies.

- Hiring processes are mostly clueless. They are heavily focused into that "operator mode" and usually ask for stupid things like very specific versions of tools -e.g. like "I see Spring Boot mentioned in your resume, but which version? You don't mention which and I'm looking for version 2.5.x" or "I need to ask you exactly how much experience in years you have with Angular 8 and how much with Angular 11"-. You can easily have to go through technical tests -and I mean things like building a 40+ hour demo project- even before they will even talk to you at all. In a couple of cases these were so specific and large one could even wonder if they were actually getting some smaller tools done for free through this.

- Job security is mostly a myth. During 2020 and 2021, quite a few of the big hiring companies and many of the body providers simply dropped hundreds or thousands of developers with little more than a snap of their fingers. To some extent they are trying to re-hire now, but not as much and, naturally, with lower salaries.

- There is, sure, a smaller market where smaller companies hire. This is a bit of a hit or miss. Most of them don't/can't pay too much but are, usually, better places to work at. There are also a number of startups -and companies calling themselves "a startup" because it's cool-. Most of these come and go, of course, and only a few of them aren't working on yet another "customer experience optimization" thing -i.e. tracking and advertising- or on "online gaming which actually turns out to be online gambling". One or two of those startups have even thought about a business model that is not crossing their fingers very hard.

- There's also the "agile market". Even if you like Agile, this is a circus. I've seen ratios of "agile coaches to sw engineers" which would make anyone wonder if anything is done at all in there. And the answer is no, obviously. I spent some months watching one of those big banks which don't want to be called a bank any more and it was absolutely ridiculous. I vividly remember some sort of retrospective meeting or whatever they called it where literally everyone was lying to avoid saying no progress at all had been made in the last 3 month period. And everyone knew everyone was lying. And still, these "agile coaches" were doing some happy dances and saying "good, good, this is very good, we're doing very well". I don't mean this as an attack on Agile, but more on the fact that it has been co-opted to burn loads of money at some of these larger companies. I mean, it's business as usual, but now under the name of Agile. It's sad.

All in all, here in Spain the answer to why it's hard to find engineers right now is... it isn't. But some players have twisted and broken the whole system so much that the job isn't that interesting any more.


@cmod 11 days

Job "hygiene" and "motivation." The motivation just ain't there for lots of folks.

On "hygiene" — quoting from Clayton Chirstensen's "How Will You Measure Your Life?":

“Hygiene factors are things like status, compensation, job security, work conditions, company policies, and supervisory practices,” he writes. Critically, it turns out that compensation is also a hygiene factor (as opposed to a motivational factor): “You need to get it right. But all you can aspire to is that employees will not be mad at each other and the company because of compensation.”

“If you instantly improve the hygiene factors of your job, you’re not going to suddenly love it. At best, you just won’t hate it anymore. *The opposite of job dissatisfaction isn’t job satisfaction, but rather an absence of job dissatisfaction.*”

On motivation:

"Motivation factors include challenging work, recognition, responsibility, and personal growth … The theory of motivation suggests you need to ask yourself a different set of questions than most of us are used to asking. Is this work meaningful to me? Is this job going to give me a chance to develop? Am I going to learn new things? Will I have an opportunity for recognition and achievement? Am I going to be given responsibility? These are the things that will truly motivate you. Once you get this right, the more measurable aspects of your job will fade in importance."

Many are perhaps realizing they may have decent "hygiene" in their work life, but "motivation" adjacent factors have been dragging, and continue to drag.


@avgcorrection 10 days

> Every engineer is at least a little bit techno-utopian.

I’m not. Although I’m more of a technologist than an engineer.

If anything I’m techno-dystopian.

The world’s biggest problems are political, technological. And fantasies of fixing them with technology are just that.


@oleg_antonyan 11 days

> Every engineer is at least a little bit techno-utopian.

Funny how my career started in electronics and embedded software and one of the cool things I saw back then was smart home. It was before "IoT hype" and I really thought that controlling your lights or curtains remotely via XMPP is cool. Now I'm building a house and hell no - I want to stay away of this crap, I want "dumb house" not smart. But still, technologically it's kind of cool


@ubermonkey 10 days

I think this is focussing on the wrong things.

All jobs can be scored on three metrics:

1. The nature of the work;

2. The compensation;

3. The people you work with.

The article is really just zeroing in on points under #1, but #2 and #3 matter to most people, too. You can do cool work at home alone for free, but that wouldn't be a very good JOB.

In my 30 year career, I've had some jobs that scored poorly across the board (but hey, paid the rent). I've only had 2 jobs where all THREE were at least B+.

My job right now -- 14+ years! -- scores B+ on the work, but A and A+ on the other two points. Which helps explain the 14 years.


@aryehof 10 days

Programmer shortage?

Actually, programmers are a dime a dozen these days (soon to be a penny a dozen), but companies (we’re hiring!) want only “special programmers”. They can’t actually describe what they want, other than for entry-level programmers, but they’ll remain ever hopeful someone special will turn up…

We’re hiring!


@scrapcode 10 days

I recently took a management class to wrap up my BSCS that discussed Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs [0], which I thought articulated some feelings of need I have had throughout my career(s) in facilities management, project management, and general IT. In a nutshell it describes 5 stages of needs: physiological, safety, love and belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization.

For myself, this certainly rings true. I was fortunate to get my salary in a comfortable spot early on in a career (outside of tech), and spent a few years in that comfort zone to begin dialing it back often taking salary cuts to move towards things that were more interesting and/or had better working conditions. The security kept me around, and now that I have the physiological and safety needs "locked in," I can't imagine myself pivoting into anything else - it's a rat race to the finish line from here, and maybe I'll climb up the levels of the next 3 in the hierarchy.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs


@faangiq 11 days

It’s because 1) you don’t pay enough, and 2) you don’t take hiring seriously.


@dv_dt 11 days

The early jumps in the curve from Covid were about six months ago. In six months a lot of the incentives comps unlock at least a little at a year, so I’d expect a higher movement rate in about six months.


@synergy20 11 days

It's a tight labor market now, not just engineer positions.

as far as engineer or IT jobs are concerned, I have been wondering for years: is the root cause that we can't produce enough STEM graduates? starting from k-12.

I have no strong evidence, but my current company could not even find candidates(we're doing chip design), in the past it would have to work with H1B workers but covid19 made that a slow and impossible task.

some could argue H1B is just cheaper, per my understanding it's not always the case, it is more likely that we just don't have enough STEM graduates to fill the pipeline over the last 3 decades.


@gyulai 10 days

Companies nowadays seem to have a fixed expectation that if they're not rejecting 99 candidates for every candidate they hire, they are somehow not doing it right.

Looking at it from the candidate's point of view: Being rejected is actually something that psychologically kind of sucks a lot. Even if at the level of higher cognition you are perfectly aware that it's just a numbers game, and that you shouldn't let rejection get to you in a psychological way, we are not vulcans but humans. Rejection means cognitive dissonance in a big way: You applied for the job, so that means you wanted it. But they rejected you, so that means that you're not getting it. It's also a threat to your identity, because you think of yourself as being pretty good, and now there's someone who thinks you're not good enough for them. It just sucks.

So what do you do? You engage in cognitive dissonance reduction. You look at that recruiter spam, and you immediately start looking for reasons not to apply. Because if you find any reason not to want the job, then they can't hurt you by not giving it to you.

Recruiting is broken in a big way: We need to find ways of doing it that causes much less psychological friction.


@ramesh31 11 days

I don't care about your company. I don't particularly care about how clever the people I'm going to work with will be. I don't even care about what I'm going to build, although I will do it with complete professionalism to the utmost of my abilities.

I do care about how much money you'll pay me, and how little of my time you'll ask for in return though. I don't need a corporation to provide me with "meaningful work" in my life. I need them to pay me an obscene amount of money with as little commitment as possible to facilitate my own self actualization.


@88913527 11 days

You're not hiring because the average person is looking at salary data on levels.fyi. If you can't compete with the FANG's, if you're Crunchbase rank is six-figures, I don't see a high likelihood of those stock options going anywhere (especially if your startup is a decade old). Anecdotally, >9/10 recruiters and I politely end the discussion when I name my desired total compensation, which is N+20%.


@G3rn0ti 10 days

I believe the current job market has a much simpler explanation: short term risk. Due to the ongoing Covid crisis predicting the short term future of the economy is inherently more difficult now. So people stay with their current job as it is a safe but boring haven.

Since you can only hire people willing to quit, you currently can’t find many software engineers that were rare even before Covid. Developer leaving their job by the masses is probably not a real thing at least from my experience. Maybe in some regions of the US. But a shortage of qualified personnel in general probably is.


@stakkur 11 days

On LinkedIn, I see an average of 60-70 applicants for every engineering job I look at there. I also hire. Anecdotally, I see plenty of candidates and plenty of applicants, and zero shortage of qualified ones.


@helsinkiandrew 11 days

> In spite of these truths, people flock to working for TSLA and CosmosY.

I often wonder how many of the people working at cool places are doing cool stuff and how many are doing the same things as elsewhere.

Does it help working in a place building autonomous cars, rockets if you’re not doing that, but doing the same web dev or door knob release software that you could do in a hedge fund, accountancy firm, or evil corp.

Anyone have any experience?


@rob_c 10 days

Expert physics tends to be more, can we build it smaller out of weird goo it make it 1000x faster to explore the limits of our theoretical models... I could quote Sheldon Cooper all day long that engineers are the workmen of science.


@sunir 11 days

Frankly, it's always hard to hire engineers. Either you can't find talent or you can't find money to hire talent.

No matter what the personal choices and predilections of any engineer, the software industry is fundamentally constrained by the twin forces of capital and engineering talent. When there is lots of capital, there are a lot of companies, and there is insufficient talent. When there isn't a lot of capital, no one can nor wants to pay for talent so they can weather the storm. That's been the case since at least the 1970s.

Through this cycle, there are so many "engineers" working tirelessly to put other "programmers" out of work (not the shift in labels there, because there is always an unjustified scent of snideness in the air) as well to reduce the cost of engineering. All the no-code revolution now is part of this cycle.

There's a wonderful book angling for a Marxist revolution of engineers from 1977

Kraft, 1977. Programmers and Managers. The Routinization of Computer Programming.

I love it because it's cute, and since it's 2022, proven to be a dud. Like any Marxist analysis, it is accurate in assessing the problems and hopeless at prescribing a solution.

Regardless, the main lesson I have taken in my career is the absolutely top priority a senior engineer should have is building tools and processes to eliminate the need for code to generate business results. You will never be able to hire warm bodies fast enough, so all you can do is radically increase the power of each engineer on the team.

Those have always been the most fun teams I've worked on. It almost feels like being a wizard.

p.s. All that being said, I'm hiring. :)


@kriro 10 days

I find it interesting that many companies focus on hireing experienced developers and the problems surrounding that. I think the smarter and more long term play is to massively improve the experience of university graduates (or anyone really) starting at a company. Have a very clear track and get them to be useful ASAP and make it enjoyable for them and possibly have them stay forever. Developing your own developers seems like a better strategy than trying to hire for fit (in a vacuum).


@version_five 11 days

A lot of corporate jobs I see look more like they want someone to come act a part in a play than actually do meaningful engineering work. That's why I think it's hard to hire. Offer a real job, or offer a ridiculous salary.


@eatonphil 11 days

Great post! I think part of the problem for hiring managers at any not-small company is that the things that attract great engineers are not really things that a single hiring manager can solely control. If you're an excellent manager in a mediocre or bad environment there's only so much excellence you can promote in your team alone. And larger orgs must tend toward mediocrity/average by nature. I don't know where I'm going with this philosophical exercise. Maybe individuals would be best served intellectually if there were only small companies to work for?


@yCloser 10 days

brace brace, because in EU salary are more in the 50k range than in the 100k range.

Here "what would you do for +10k" -> "ANYTHING"


@dav_Oz 10 days

Can only attest to small to mid-size businesses (up to 300 employees) in Europe.

The default expectation (from business school?) seems to be if for a given job interview you are left (95% of the time) with say 1-4 (reasonably) good choices mangement is quick to cry wolf: you see, this is the skill's shortage everybody is talking about.

You can make this - at least here in Europe there is a tendency for that - a numbers thing (i.e. performance indicator) which mangement is "measuring". Meanwhile what "specialization" in the labour market meant in the 70's and what it means now a half decade later has changed significantly, multiple times.

For example: We are long at a point now where paradoxically time spent in the educational system is simply time lost for developing and honing skills (for a rapidly changing environment) which is exactly the opposite of acquiring as much "competence" as possible in order to "catch up" with the pace of innovations.

You want to expose young people to real challenges in the world as soon as possible and when they become frustrated with a problem you offer them teaching fundamentals they obviously lack. I am mostly oblivious about my ignorance but when someone can show me how e.g. a mathematical concept can possibly package my problem to make it manageable I will bite.


@Qub3d 10 days

> If you’re a strictly B2B company, you work when businesses work. That means “9-5” schedules, most major holidays observed, and almost no weekend pager duty. Mention this to your prospects. A sane workplace with defined starts and ends to the workday is very attractive to a certain kind of engineer - the kind that likes to be home for dinner, and read their children bedtime stories, for example.

I am the "kind of engineer" that stereotypically should be throwing themselves into the cogs -- mid twenties, bachelor, etc.

I have the fortune of working for a B2B shop that is exactly like this, and sure -- I might not have quite as much experience now as a guy that has spent the last 18 months doing 60-80 hour weeks. On the other hand, I have been able to focus on my writing and speaking, build some cool projects and work on an open-source team, not to mention really improve my physical health.

Living to work is not worth it to me, and I am very hesitant to look at low-to-mid-level positions in FAAMG or startups as a result.


@jillesvangurp 10 days

There's more going on than that. A lot of companies are simply not great employers. They under-pay, under-appreciate, mis-manage, etc. These companies are going to end up paying a premium even for mediocre people. These companies tend to make things worse by having hiring policies that are setting them up for failure. Bad hiring policies ensure people won't even talk to you. You lose before the process even starts.

For example, I abort discussions gravitating towards "oh hey could you do this coding exercise" with a simple "No, I don't do coding exercises, ever. Good luck finding a junior engineer for your role.". I keep it polite but such a question basically means I'm talking to the wrong person that obviously has no idea why they should be begging on their knees for me to consider working for them.

The first contact should be with a decision maker that knows exactly why you are interesting for them. An HR person or recruiter does not qualify for this. Use them for screening CVs but don't ever let them do the initial out reach. If based on a CV, github profile, linkedin profile, etc. a you are not able to figure out why someone is interesting for a particular position or not willing to do the work to find that out, a phone call with an HR person is not going to be helpful. And if the match is obvious, you should move much more aggressively and faster.

Like everybody in the industry I get a lot of very poorly targeted outreach from completely clueless and incompetent recruiters. Most half decent engineers in this industry are busy, not looking, and blowing off recruiter spam on a daily basis. Inviting them to engage with your HR bureaucracy via some recruiter is a non-starter. The more qualified people are the less likely they are going to be interested in your coding exercises, screening mechanisms, job application bureaucracy, etc.

Cut all that bullshit and figure out what you want before even reaching out to someone and figure out how you differentiate from your competition (hundreds of other companies looking for the exact same thing). If some HR drone reaches out with some templated drivel, chances are extremely low that I even respond. It's not personal, I just don't have time to keep up with all the inbound nonsense I get. However, if a CTO of or engineering manager reaches out with a well motivated reason why I might be interested and what they are looking for, they'll get a reply and a conversation starts. I'm actually pretty approachable; you just need to do it right.

The way to fix hiring is to get HR and recruiters out of the loop as much and as early as possible. Their role is to screen and never to act as middle men. These people scare away all the good leads you might get, if any at all. They are the last persons you want people to talk to. In the case of HR quite literally, you involve them when you get to the salary negotiation phase. Screen based on the available resources. Use Google. Look at their Github profile, linkedin, etc. If you like what you see, make a plan for reaching out in the most effective way. E.g. find a way in via a mutual acquaintance (preferred) and be ready to move very quickly. If these people are available at all exactly when you need them, it's not going to be for very long. If they aren't, you need to be ready to really to sell leaving their comfy job for you. That starts with not treating them like numbers.


@philmcp 10 days

Aside from the technology, intellect & stability, I think a lot of people simply want to work less

I may be living in a bubble (I've been building https://4dayweek.io) but for me and those around me, the main attraction is a better work-life balance, then technology etc


@amznbyebyebye 10 days

What I’ve realized is the baseline Maslow hierarchy level has shifted upwards. Many of us have evolved. Management patting us on the back because we’ve made them an extra 10-20MM is not as meaningful to us anymore to motivate us to keep going.


@Liron 11 days

I thought this was going to say "because you're offering below-market comp"


@devwastaken 11 days

The cause is companies refuse to fund education and refuse to take on graduates. The system is meant to be that new engineers learn from experienced engineers. This doesn't work when all the company wants is experienced engineers. It naturally leads to applicants abusing the hiring process.

This is the plain fact that those well off with their jobs just don't understand. Education is far too expensive, causing anyone but the funded kids to have to work - not focus on education. Walk into any university and see it in realtime. We treat students like cash cows, give them no support, and expect they will want to take on a hard degree when seniors are being turned down left and right? Yeah, no. American companies have created this problem for themselves and deserve to close their doors.


@ttiurani 10 days

I'm sure this article is on point, and the comments here seem to confirm it.

But to me it's just wild that working to bring about a net positive impact to the world isn't mentioned anywhere.

And no: that's not even remotely the same as "cool stuff". Making a rocket taxi for the super rich or tunnel for SOVs is not it. We are on the brink of a global environmental collapse, and a lot of the blame is on the "cool stuff" designed by engineers.

Engineers need to seriously start asking: would the world be better or worse off if this company trying to hire me didn't exist at all?


@bluedays 11 days

Okay, now do one for juniors. As a junior developer I would literally work for the worst company, but none of them are interested in me.


@danielfrg 11 days

It's because they dont pay them enough. Pay more and you will get better engineers.


@MisterBastahrd 11 days

I know why you can't in DFW: inflation has skyrocketed and home values and rents have risen 33% in 2 years but companies, including defense contractors and multinationals, are still trying to pay $70-90K for senior developers.

I get bombarded by recruiters all the freaking time, but I tell them straight up that I will not be offering any references except straight to an employer after an offer in hand (this kills off most of their interest) and that I would never entertain an offer unless it was a significant pay increase (which means it's gonna have to be an SV company doing the hiring).


@zibzab 10 days

Off topic: As someone who doesn't even like Star Trek I feel attacked.

While we are off topic, that opening by apenwarr (linked in the article) was epic:

> Recently a security hole in a certain open source Java library resulted in a worldwide emergency kerfuffle as, say, 40% of the possibly hundreds of millions of worldwide deployments of this library needed to be updated in a hurry. (The other 60% also needed to be updated in a hurry, but won't be until they facilitate some ransomware, which is pretty normal for these situations.)


@lbriner 10 days

At a certain size, though, workplaces become unavoidably bad places to work.

Imagine you have ambition and you work in a team of 100 people. How do you get promotion if you don't want to leave? Headline-grabbing stuff, not good, solid, written down, maintainable stuff. It is said many times but it is true.

The only other way you might choose the good over the noticeable (assuming you want promotion) is when you get genuine recognition from someone you look up to. Imagine getting called out at a department meeting for sorting out the documentation or automating a load of rubbish stuff.

I guess either way you want to be noticed/make a difference right? This is easy in small companies because everyone makes it better or worse. Once you reach 50+, I think it all starts going downhill. Maybe some of these companies just need to organise as microbusinesses - something that microservices promised, so that everyone can make a difference.


@phendrenad2 11 days

Well let's see, 20+ years of big tech companies colluding to keep salaries capped, and now inflation making a typical 10k salary bump a joke. Yep I won't be leaving my job either.


@techsin101 11 days

all the sudden all companies are doing 8 rounds of interviews


@cik 10 days

I've never had a problem hiring engineers, in either of the countries or cultures I've lived in. It's been the same for tiny startups, and large organizations. I've never understood the complaints that it's problematic. Articles like this are a key part of the issue that others experience. As much as we'd like to pretend - Engineers aren't systems and people aren't robots. /rant over.

Productively - we have to understand that different people are motivated differently. Some are motivated by money, some are motivated as in the article by cool tech. But others simply want time to learn, a contractual obligation by the company to provide time to work on open source, compassion, or any number of things.

The issue becomes when an organization continuously tries to filter people into an exact box. Systemic hiring produces systemic outcome - but if we value diversity, then we can equally value diverse motivations. A key part of managing properly is recognizing and working with the differences in people, helping them (and by nature all of us!) be the best we can be.

Okay, second /rant over.


@ed_elliott_asc 10 days

Isn’t it just as simple as the Faang’s are sucking up as many people as they can and every other company is expanding their tech teams so a) there are fewer people and b) there are more jobs?

This is the first time in my career that I’m happy to finish a contract without having another with paperwork all signed as I know I can get another one with the minimum of effort.

This makes life a lot less stressful and less likely to put up with nonsense, I am alot less stressed tbh.


@evancoop 10 days

"There was a time that engineers were willing to trade years of their lives for the lottery ticket of stock options. I find that, as more companies try this approach, and it becomes more common, more engineers are becoming literate as to the downsides. More bluntly: more people are starting to understand that stock options are frequently worthless."

What's interesting here is not the engineers becoming wise to the poor value proposition, but rather, the market's failure to respond with alternatives. In some cases, there is an inability to pay (e.g. "startup X cannot match FAANG company Y"). But in many others, perhaps the optimism of the person making the equity offer is blinding?


@JaviFesser 10 days

> Engineering is knowledge work. You get paid to know stuff much more frequently than you get paid to do stuff.

This quote is great. Explains how our career evolves into doing less and coaching/guiding more.


@wallacoloo 10 days

the job market is a matching market. my desires vary from my ex-coworkers’ desires. out of every 10 companies, there are 9 that i won’t tolerate working for. fortunately, my favorite options probably vary from that of my ex-coworkers’, so that doesn’t mean 90% of companies are destined to be suckers. but it does mean that if you randomly recruit engineers, you should expect a low follow-through rate (you want a good match, don’t you?).

now throw a pandemic into the mix. everyone’s lifestyle has been disrupted to a lesser or major degree. everyone’s rethinking certain key aspects of their life, whether intentionally or emotionally. relevant to this: employees are just a lot more discriminating in their job evaluation than they used to be. the pool of jobs i’m willing to take has shrunk by 2-3x. again, that doesn’t mean the total matches must fall. but it does mean that it’s going to take more effort to locate matches. i.e. “it’s harder to hire engineers”.


@bsder 11 days

I would also comment that a lot of engineers decamped for FAANG-land software jobs.

Software pays way better than hardware in Silicon Valley. I would argue that the current engineering "shortage" is because a bunch of hardware companies haven't adjusted to the fact that they're competing against the FAANGs.


@lbriner 10 days

This article might be describing the US but I think in Europe, unless you are willing to have overseas remote working (which brings its own challenges), then there is a genuine shortage of ability. Youngsters aren't choosing engineering because other things seem more fun.

Even hiring people from within Europe is hard, many companies are hiring from the Far East or India still because there is too much work. I think we have a decent company with some great positives but we might struggle to even get 5 applications and that is via a recruiter.


@cushychicken 10 days

Just woke up and found this on the front page of HN.

Questions? Comments? Get at me on Twitter - @cushychicken


@ummonk 11 days

I don’t actually want any of that. I just want reduced work / work hours.

I’d rather make half faang compensation and work half as much.


@techsin101 10 days

but companies would rather do agile/scrum/sprints and have product manager, scrum master, and more. Oh also 3000 micro-services because gooflix. Ok.. goodluck.


@pimlottc 10 days

I find it odd that the author equates "cool stuff to work on" with "cool tech". As I have gotten older, I have become less interested in specific technology and more interested in what that technology enables. There's a big reckoning going over the effects that big tech has had on our society, and engineers are not immune from this. A lot of us are interested in more than cool new languages, hot new frameworks, and massive scale deployments.

The author touches on this a bit, mentioning Elon Musk and Tesla/SpaceX, but focuses more on cool products like rockets and self-driving cars and not about, say, the future of humanity in space, or reshaping personal transportation. These are the kinds of impacts that really matter: What is the company actually doing for its users? Does it solve a real problem? Is society better off because of it?

Start by addressing these concerns and I will be much more interesting in working for your company.


@vmception 11 days

Good article, hiring is very inefficient and that is offputting.

I would rather do anything else. Try my hand at the markets while traveling, launch a project or two, fly a girl out for free using my rewards points and be a fun host that’s not preoccupied with meetings.


@usrbinbash 10 days

Here is my take on the question:

1. Senior position with junior-compensation.

2. Junior position with intern-compensation (but senior skill profile)

3. No intern positions at all, or, if there are intern positions, they demand 10E12 years of job experience for the exciting opportunity to haul cables and monitors around all day every day...which is not only badly compensated, bu also provides ZERO useful experience for the next job.


@democracy 10 days

I don't believe in "greener grass" as I've seen a lot. I am happy with the team, the processes, the culture, so not even shopping around as I am happy with the money as well. I could get a bit more (based on what I hear) but no, thanks, no.


@cebert 10 days

I am shocked this author doesn’t mention the interview process itself. Leetcode grinding does very little to benefit engineers in their current position and will not help them at future employers either. I can tell some firms like Amazon are in need of talent as I get hit up frequently by their recruiters. My current job is good and I don’t feel like doing leetcode prep to interview anywhere. Their loss.


@irthomasthomas 10 days

What I want to know is what happened to these people of The Quittening? Did they die of covid or stress (all-cause mortality is up 40% in some places)?. Or did they just retire, or went self employed? People don't just quit from a 6 figure salary and vanish.


@papito 10 days

Software engineering has become unenjoyable. There is no longer a feeling of control. I no longer come to work thinking - "yeah, I got this, I know exactly what is going on". I have no idea what's going on. It's all putting out fires and trying to figure out how complicated systems do simple things.

It's a hodgepodge of cloud toys, stitched together by multiple teams who do not want to talk to each other, hiding behind "microservices".


@winrid 11 days

Loosing out on 10k a year doesn't sound bad until you're 100k/yr behind where you could be.


@emrah 10 days

Author doesn't make a distinction between those earlier in their careers vs those much further along.

For "senior" devs, I think there are two additional things just as important as the mentioned three: good compensation & minimal BS.

The techno-utopian perspective tends to fade away with time (and acquiring of a significant other), replaced with pragmatism and realism which brings these two elements much more into focus with time.


@allenu 11 days

To me, working from home during the pandemic has made my employer fungible. Having to commute to work used to mean that where my job was located mattered. Being physically located at the office meant more socializing with coworkers, so companies could offer perks, like free food, or social events. They could differentiate from other companies by offering these things or selling their "culture". None of that matters anymore.

Nowadays, work is just signing into my machine every morning and joining a Zoom meeting for standup. Interacting with coworkers is either via Zoom meetings or via Slack. I hardly need to interact with them apart from work-related matters. There isn't an opportunity to chat at the coffee machine, or grab lunch together, or get drinks after work. The work is now just the work that I do and not the people I work with or the building that I commute to.

What does this all mean for me? It means if I find the kind of work I do boring, or I don't think I'm paid well enough, I can just quit. I can judge companies I work for based on pay, type of work I do, likelihood of promotion (for more pay), and how many hours I need to put in. All the other things that could impact how much I love working for company X are gone. It's purely "what is the job doing for me?" now. I think that's playing a role in people wanting to quit. They're no longer tied to their jobs as much as they used to be. They're realizing if they don't like it, they can just leave.


@reducesuffering 11 days

Because we're already well paid enough to not want to leetcode for 3 months just to participate in a 50-hour/week JIRA factory assembly line shipping the next society-worsening tech tentacle for just another $10k.


@elihu 10 days

I think there's something else that's necessary that doesn't align well with the things in the article, and which is currently lacking in my current work environment, but which is kind of hard to describe succinctly.

Basically, my job requires using a lot of tools and technology and processes created by other people, but none of those tools are easy to use or well documented. In order to get stuff done you have to have a social network of people who know how to do the things you need to do, and know all the secret tricks. The right environment variables to set. The right arguments to pass to simulators. How to find the important bit of data buried webapp developed by people who apparently like to invent new words for old concepts. I get a lot of terse autogenerated emails that probably mean something to somebody, but not to me, and don't have human return addresses or really any way to discern the context of where they came from or why. A lot of tools use domain-specific configuration languages that are usually just python scripts that call a bunch of functions that are defined elsewhere and have no documentation.

These things might be reasonable in a startup with a dozen people, but we have over a hundred thousand. My opinion is that once an organization is a certain size, everything really needs to be written down and easily accessible. I shouldn't have to regularly ask people how to do basic things, it should be on a wiki. If it's complicated, it should be in a training video, or a user manual.


@loeg 11 days

The headline is

> I Think I Know Why You Can't Hire Engineers Right Now

But nothing on the article touches on an exploration of why these factors (which seem reasonable, in general) are any more relevant now than they were a year ago. Or five years ago.


@stingraycharles 10 days

  I once had a recruiter tell me: “Elon Musk is one of the easiest people on earth to poach senior leadership out from under.” After eighteen months in the gulag of rocketry/EVs, many managers are ready to cry “Uncle”.
As a non-native speaker, I have the hardest time parsing this sentence, could anyone help me out?

What does it mean when someone poaches “leadership out from under” — does it mean that leadership grows internally, rather than sourced externally? Or that they’re fleeing away (assuming “poaching out” mean the reverse of “poaching”)

And I assume that the “uncle” in this case is Elon?


@flerp 10 days

So many assumptions on what this rare animal engineer is like.


@pwinnski 11 days

It's so weird to see an author express such disdain for Elon Musk, and yet still credit him repeatedly with something he hasn't actually done, which is start all of the companies he runs. He bought Tesla, he didn't start it.


@6510 10 days

Over many different jobs I discover this:

If you earn a lot you somewhat have to deliver but more importantly you [should] want to deliver. Sure, there exist jobs where one is paid a great salary without having to do much beyond sitting around not doing much of anything. I consider those prisons. If you have such opportunity and take it you will become good at not doing anything.

The contrast is with jobs for which you are overqualified, can use and expand your skills and earn very little. There is no obligation to deliver here, its fun if you can but not at all required. There is no pressure, you can walk away whenever you like and find or forge 10 such jobs the same day. In this setting you can give the employer a sense that you are there because you actually want to be there. Its quite surreal. Almost anything you ask for in exchange for a pay cut you will get.

Now the real joke is that I work really hard for the small pay check but I work 3 days, perhaps 4 per week. I go home if there is not enough to do but work 7 days if the situation requires it. The 4 day weekend is a blast! It feels like the whole year is one giant vacation but that is not the big joke of it. In order to grow either physically or mentally you have to push yourself to your limit. If you push yourself like that for more than 3 days per week you won't grow, you will destroy your body, your mind or both.

I run circles around coworkers who work 5 days. Their performance usually declines while mine gradually improves. Their head is full of work stuff while mine is mostly empty ready to take in whatever comes next (which could be the next job)

If the situation requires me to work 15 hours for 30 days I'm up for it. Ill work a 2 day week after that for each 8 hours. Call me if you need me, ill probably show up. Even if they hate me or are the psycho dictator type they are quick to remember how much money I make for the company, how I got their things done before the deadline, the credit they took for my accomplishments.

I also learn that it doesn't matter how much you make, you can always find ways to run out of money before the end of the month.

Sure, if you have a bigger salary and work full time you can buy the fancy new car but why? To drive to work? Its just sitting there outside on the parking lot. You are not doing anything with it. It's for work. You've worked to earn it and use it for work. You can buy the big house but you are never there. You can eat in fancy restaurants but the satisfaction is mostly because you don't have time to cook elaborate meals. If you engineer your meal to the best of your ability restaurants are pretty disappointing. I'm slacking off but if you grow some of your own food the satisfaction is 10 fold.


@ramoz 10 days

Currently I can keep and hire senior engineers. I can not keep and hire good junior engineers. Their market is inflated, and they can jump around jobs making 50K more than it makes sense to pay.


@unwind 10 days

Clearly this entire post is submarine advertising for the OP's job-hunting site, and I guess that's fine.

What I found annoying was the repeated use of Elon Musk and his companies as examples, while refusing to type out the name fully due to not wanting to "help his SEO". That just struck me as being fundamentally dishonest, and made me quite skeptical toward the content.


@fleddr 10 days

I think the article is heavily biased for a rare breed of engineers: adventurous ones, looking for the bleeding edge, moving from startup to startup, and getting richly rewarded for it.

I've spent more than 2 decades in various large corporate environments and things couldn't be more different on the ground...

Most developers aren't Star-trek types at all, and not even engineers. They don't have a strong talent or appetite for tech. They're what some call "bread programmers". At best, they do a reasonable job, and then go home.

I've worked with many "senior" developers in this space and even they do a terrible job in keeping up. They seem to have a large disinterest in the field altogether. These people are invisible, you will never find them online in forums like these.

But there's another aspect: age. It's fun being on top of tech in your 20s. It's quite different when having a fulltime job and a family, in your 40s.

Most never get to work on anything cool or fun.

In this large group of bread programmers, which I estimate may be the majority of the market, there's still people with useful skills or experience that other companies would look for. The reason you can't get them to move is because in most parts of the world, you don't get a 50-100% increase simply for moving jobs. It's more like 10%. Since they're already comfortable, they won't move.

Also people don't want ping pong tables or mission statements where we "push ourselves beyond our limits". They want a life.


@eb0la 10 days

I was in a recruiting process about one month ago for a technical sales position. I quitted in the middle when I was told the company needed a fifth intervew and a technical test after it... and that was 7 weeks after I started the process.

Hiring is not agile.


@mrath 10 days

I am in late 30s, I recently switched jobs. Before this switch I never jumped for less than 20% hike. But this one I took slightly more than 30% cut. I never thought i would leave for less.

I was really disliking the tech stack, I could not change it even after trying. But there were lot of nice people, pay was above market levels. But i was still not satisfied, I could have stayed there and earn good increment every year by just doing 4-5 hours daily work.

The new company is a big Australian start up. My hope is that in the new company I’ll get to work with smart people and learn new things which I consider as an investment for my future growth.


@agravier 11 days

Unless the author got the green light from Zach, I don't think it's fine that they reproduced an SMBC comic in there. Without any credit, to make it worse.


@vxNsr 11 days

Refusing to write out Elon Musk, SpaceX, and Tesla comes off as juvenile which perfectly explains why this is such a terrible explanation for the current job market:

Nothing in this article wasn't true two years ago; This could of just as well been titled "I think I know why you can't hire engineers" and been posted any time in the last 50 years.


@manzu 10 days

you can make the same point of Cool stuff to work on / Smart people to work with / Some degree of repeatability in work environment for Apple also. Lots of other companies only focus Cool stuff, try to buy Smart people with money and lack stability and focus


@giantg2 11 days

There is a lot of truth here. I. Just tired of the corporate BS and not having a real career. It doesn't have to be cool, just useful or meaningful. I don't make over $100k as-is, so low 6 figures sounds great. I don't need to work with geniuses, just people I can learn from.

I hate my job, and would likely hate any tech job at this point. Shitty companies are having trouble hiring because people know they're shitty. People examine they're being used.


@aaronbrethorst 10 days

Position your company as one that does interesting work, offers a good work-life balance, pays market rates, has a worthwhile stock comp plan, and doesn't require an engineer to spend the next six months practicing brainteasers to pass your interview/hazing process, and I bet you wouldn't have any trouble attracting a ton of engineers. I'd certainly find that compelling.


@baobabKoodaa 10 days

The biggest reason companies can't hire right now is that there is more demand than supply. No matter how much you improve pay or working conditions, in the short term that only leads to talent moving from one company to another. If there is not enough people to do the work, there is nothing an industry can do to fix that.


@trixie_ 10 days

If this is true then I guess it would mean during times of high unemployment everyone loves their jobs too much to leave.


@jatins 11 days

Another reason companies can't hire right now is because they like to shoot themselves in the foot with their terrible interview processes.

Any < 100 person startup which is doing Leetcode interviews is letting go of so many great candidates who will actually get the job done.

A lot of times interviewers turn interview into an ego contest where they are looking for reasons to reject. Try your best to remove those biases. If you are a company, have a predefined set of 10 questions that your interviewers can ask from -- make the evaluation criteria as objective as possible. There is no place for "vibe check" in technical interviews.


@graderjs 10 days

Isn't this caused by confrontation of mortality brought on by the pandemic? People stuck in jobs but I feel "I might die doing this. Is this really what I want to die doing?"


@froggertoaster 10 days

It's hard to take someone seriously when they won't even type out Elon.

What is he now, He-who-shall-not-be-named?

> (I ain’t speakin’ his name; the dude gets enough press without me helping his SEO.)

I hope this comment was tongue-in-cheek. This person's SEO comparatively speaking does not even register.


@cushychicken 12 days

Author here. Questions, comments, vitriol - all gratefully accepted.


@hguant 11 days

There comes a point where the money just isn't a motivating factor anymore, and companies are struggling to figure out how to work in that environment. This bit from the author hits the nail on the head:

>Is an extra $10k per year worth learning a new org, a new skillset, a new set of expectations, a new set of coworkers, and a new boss?

For many engineers, the answer is: “No.”

Yes I could quit and get a ~20k raise by shopping my resume around, but I don't need the money. I have enough for a down payment on a house, I meet my expenses for the month with 1/2 of one paycheck, I can buy a new car on a credit card if I wanted to. More money would be _nice_, and I imagine I'd be singing a slightly different song if I had kids, but it's much less important than knowing the work that I do has meaning and an immediate impact on the world, and about as important as working with new/interesting technology. I imagine there are a lot of early career (26-30 year old) software engineers who are in a similar boat. If money was a motivator I'd be serially founding companies and striving to be The Next Big Thing. I'm just not. I'm happy being hire number 13, or 99, and working with people I like doing work I find value in.

Edited for spelling


@cjbgkagh 10 days

I just hired an IC dev away from google at a ~%50 pay cut, no benefits and no equity. I run a fledging ‘startup’ in a highly speculative field requiring massive upfront investment and risky enough to scare away VCs. A lot of what we talked about during the interview was why he would want to give up so much money.

His view was that he didn’t need the money, he is a 25 year veteran, pre 2001. He was sick of incessant meetings, being a bum on a seat, a pawn to empire building, a body to throw at a problem. He became an Engineer to build cool shit and was being kept from doing it.

I did promise post grad level Engineering problems day in day out and that sealed the deal.

If the company becomes successful I would bump up pay as best I can, but it’s so risky ATM that I wouldn’t make a promise of better future pay part of the offer.


@zuhayeer 11 days

Money is actually a bigger deal than you think. A lot of people are in effect doubling their salaries by switching jobs right now.

Even rewinding to just 5 years ago, there were much fewer companies flush with cash. Now with the hyper-capitalization of so many up-and-coming startups, a lot more companies are now at the bidding table for the same pool of candidates. And even large incumbents have big plans to double in headcount, effectively making the tech market talent side constrained (it always has been to a large degree, but even more pronounced now). So now companies are largely competing on compensation packages, because the ball is very much in the candidate's court. Amazon is starting to pay up to ~$400k in total compensation for an L5 mid-level engineer due to retention and hiring issues, and it's commonly known within tech that Amazon has traditionally lagged behind other large companies in compensation.

Job seekers have options and are very much in a position of leverage. That is why it is hard to hire right now, because everyone needs to hire, and your company probably isn't paying as competitively as others.


@quasiprime 10 days

It always baffles me how companies say hiring is hard when the experience I have as a candidate is abysmally frustrating. The state of hiring (in software) right now is mostly nonsensical with some rare islands of sanity here and there.

EDIT: and those rare islands of sanity are mostly small companies where the hiring process is entirely conducted by the software engineers themselves.


@Subsentient 10 days

Well I have nothing useful to add other than my personal priorities for a job, in order of importance. I'm a whiney little bitch when it comes to this stuff.

People/Environment -- If I hate the people I'm working with, I'm not going to stick around long. I've quit jobs for that reason before, and I would do it again. I have a low tolerance for assholes. For example, worked for a vending machine OEM that shall not be named. Boss was filthy rich and said "oh we'll pay for you to go out here to X!" and then had me ride a fucking Greyhound. I should have bailed right then and there, but I gave it a try, since I was young and fairly new to actually getting paid for my work. Guy had a new secretary every other week, and they always looked like they were one sharp comment away from swan-diving into a wood chipper. I've never seen office workers with that much terror in their eyes and voices before. Needless to say, I didn't stay with him long. Paid well, but getting technical specs, tools, and the data I needed for projects was like pulling teeth from a methed-out rhinoceros, and that proved to be the last straw. I remember once I was told to my horror and disbelief that they had literally completely lost core technical specs that I needed for the project, then they wanted to know why work was progressing slowly. At that point I just quit. Tried to ship his equipment back to him but the cheap motherfucker wouldn't even pay for the shipping, then just stopped talking to me when I asked him to. Guess he didn't care about the vending machine parts. Ironically they were worth more than the shipping, and totally worthless to me.

Integrity -- I look for a company that isn't actively making the world a worse place. I don't mind boring code, as long as I can write it well and be proud of what I've created at the end of the day. What I do mind, however, is predatory practices, unethical dark patterns, and user-hostile design and terms of service. If I think you're Facebook 2 Electric Boogaloo, I won't apply in the first place. If I think you're the "good guys" however, you'll have undying loyalty. *Sidenote: Sickens me to hear that so many of my fellow developers are willing to worsen the world for an extra zero on their check.*

Technology -- You must be asking me to use a language/toolkit/etc that won't make me want to blow my brains out every day at 5:01pm. I can work with tools and languages I don't particularly like, but do not, for example, ask me to build you an Electron app, PHP backend, or Java app. I will walk rather than endure that. Maybe some help in an emergency, but if you make that my main duty, I'm done. I'm fussy, but that's just me. It's very important to me personally to be able to respect the tools I'm using.

Autonomy -- I hate being micromanaged. I'm not incompetent. I've created programs with hundreds of thousands of lines of C++ and Python code by myself. If you second-guess every tiny decision I make over long periods, I will descend into quietly loathing you at the very least.

Money? -- I'm not a greedy person, but don't insult me. At least pay me something close to market. There's great irony in that statement right now, as I'm not making even close to what I'm supposed to (basically poverty wages for some of these months), as I'm trying to help a tiny startup keep its head above water because the boss is actually a decent guy and someone I respect. I suppose it illustrates just how much the kind of people I work with matters to me.


About Us

site design / logo © 2022 Box Piper