Google hiring funniness

Jeff Barr is an evangelist at Amazon on its Web Services team. He’s getting some funky recruiting email, says that the recruiters don’t have a good database of who has interviewed there before. Doesn’t make one confident that they have their act together when it comes to hiring “Googly” people. Personally I think it’s funny when recruiters don’t use their own search engines and when they put up artificial blocks to try to filter idiots out. Anyone who does an hour’s worth of research with a search engine, like, say, Google’s, knows that Jeff is worth hiring and isn’t worth treating with a bit of the usual filtering bulls##t. Either hire him, or leave him alone. I also wouldn’t let newbie recruiters even get close to anyone who has a blog — I’d make sure that bloggers get handled by a real pro, not the amateur hour kind of hiring folks that are pitching Jeff currently.

Hiring is hard, I know. There are very few people on the street right now. Two entrepreneurs that I met with today asked me if I knew any developers or designers who were looking for jobs. I don’t know anyone who isn’t fully employed right now, so if you want to hire someone you’re going to have to play a pretty good game. Especially if you want someone who has the rolodex that Jeff does.

88 thoughts on “Google hiring funniness

  1. I was contacted by a recruiter on July 1st. Phone interview was set up for July 5th. I never received a call. The following week, after 2 emails inquiring why I never received the call, I was told that they had a hectic week due to the week of the 4th. Two weeks have now passed and I still have not gotten the call or the email of gentle let-down. A couple of reminder emails to the intial contact have not received a reply.

    I am beginning to question the professionalism & quality assurance in Google’s HR processes. The comments here definitely serve to reaffirm this notion.

    Scouring blogs (via Google Blog Search, no less) resulted in many similar stories– sounds to me like Google needs to retool this process before they start causing bad breath in too many capable folks who are active in the blogosphere.

  2. I was contacted by a recruiter on July 1st. Phone interview was set up for July 5th. I never received a call. The following week, after 2 emails inquiring why I never received the call, I was told that they had a hectic week due to the week of the 4th. Two weeks have now passed and I still have not gotten the call or the email of gentle let-down. A couple of reminder emails to the intial contact have not received a reply.

    I am beginning to question the professionalism & quality assurance in Google’s HR processes. The comments here definitely serve to reaffirm this notion.

    Scouring blogs (via Google Blog Search, no less) resulted in many similar stories– sounds to me like Google needs to retool this process before they start causing bad breath in too many capable folks who are active in the blogosphere.

  3. I’m 46 years old. I have BS and MS degrees from MIT and UCLA, respectively. I have over 20 years of experience in the computer industry. However, I’ve been out of work for 16 months (twice!), and haven’t had a full-time permanent position since I was laid off by Yahoo! in 2004. (I was actually part of AltaVista, which Overture had acquired a few months before Yahoo! acquired it.)

    I’ve had similar experiences as Dori, Shelley, John Welch, and a few of the others who’ve posted here. I’ve attributed my problems in the past to things like a lowish undergraduate GPA, some gaps in (IQ-type) problem solving, not having worked on a key technology project since 1996, and some other things, but I’ve started to come to the conclusion that the interviews are designed to cause people like me to look poor, thus bolstering the hype that there is a shortage of qualified software engineers.

    I’ve encountered the same types of problems interviewing at Google that others have cited. For example, during one phone screen, I was asked what the options to tcpdump were to print out DNS packets. I couldn’t remember, because frankly, I’ve never had to memorize that. I use man pages for that sort of thing. No manager or coworker ever demanded that I quote something like that from memory. In a more recent experience, the interviewer never called, and I haven’t heard back from the contact about rescheduling. This is inconsistent with the claim that there is a dire shortage of qualified people, because if there were, Google would not risk losing a qualified person because of a missed interview. The irony of this is that I live so close to the ‘plex that if given an offer, I could sign the papers within an hour and start working.

  4. I’m 46 years old. I have BS and MS degrees from MIT and UCLA, respectively. I have over 20 years of experience in the computer industry. However, I’ve been out of work for 16 months (twice!), and haven’t had a full-time permanent position since I was laid off by Yahoo! in 2004. (I was actually part of AltaVista, which Overture had acquired a few months before Yahoo! acquired it.)

    I’ve had similar experiences as Dori, Shelley, John Welch, and a few of the others who’ve posted here. I’ve attributed my problems in the past to things like a lowish undergraduate GPA, some gaps in (IQ-type) problem solving, not having worked on a key technology project since 1996, and some other things, but I’ve started to come to the conclusion that the interviews are designed to cause people like me to look poor, thus bolstering the hype that there is a shortage of qualified software engineers.

    I’ve encountered the same types of problems interviewing at Google that others have cited. For example, during one phone screen, I was asked what the options to tcpdump were to print out DNS packets. I couldn’t remember, because frankly, I’ve never had to memorize that. I use man pages for that sort of thing. No manager or coworker ever demanded that I quote something like that from memory. In a more recent experience, the interviewer never called, and I haven’t heard back from the contact about rescheduling. This is inconsistent with the claim that there is a dire shortage of qualified people, because if there were, Google would not risk losing a qualified person because of a missed interview. The irony of this is that I live so close to the ‘plex that if given an offer, I could sign the papers within an hour and start working.

  5. Robert,

    I have to echo Dori and #33. If you have any grey hairs (in my case in my beard), finding a job even in the Bay Area is tough. 15+ years of experience doesn’t count for much, unless you know the right people, or had a big hit in the past.

    So it is a little glib of you to say “I don’t know anyone who isn’t fully employed right now,” although we don’t always advertise it.

    Thanks,
    Anonymous Coward (has a once popular blog, talked to you a week or so ago), but doesn’t want a record of this whine attached to his name by Google.

  6. Robert,

    I have to echo Dori and #33. If you have any grey hairs (in my case in my beard), finding a job even in the Bay Area is tough. 15+ years of experience doesn’t count for much, unless you know the right people, or had a big hit in the past.

    So it is a little glib of you to say “I don’t know anyone who isn’t fully employed right now,” although we don’t always advertise it.

    Thanks,
    Anonymous Coward (has a once popular blog, talked to you a week or so ago), but doesn’t want a record of this whine attached to his name by Google.

  7. Well Bill, you’re limiting your hiring to a rather small area of the country, which limits you, since having lived in the Boston area for some time, I can tell you that the programmer’s job won’t attract many people from even RI or CT, much less New York.

    It’s also obvious that helping with relocation’s not an option, so even if someone outside that area heard about the job and would be interested, why would they waste their time applying?

  8. Well Bill, you’re limiting your hiring to a rather small area of the country, which limits you, since having lived in the Boston area for some time, I can tell you that the programmer’s job won’t attract many people from even RI or CT, much less New York.

    It’s also obvious that helping with relocation’s not an option, so even if someone outside that area heard about the job and would be interested, why would they waste their time applying?

  9. We’re trying to hire. We don’t have an HR department. I’m not a recruiter. We want good programmers: we don’t care if you are 24 or 54. We want you to be smart, mature, and easy to work with. It will be the best job you’ve ever had.

    We’re not in the Valley, we’re in Massachusetts. That’s the catch, I suppose. But, having spent a lot of time in Mountain View and Palo Alto, I can’t imagine why you actually want to live there. How boring is perfect weather 24/7/365? ;-)

    Bill, chief architect, kayak.com, the awesomest travel web site in the world.

  10. We’re trying to hire. We don’t have an HR department. I’m not a recruiter. We want good programmers: we don’t care if you are 24 or 54. We want you to be smart, mature, and easy to work with. It will be the best job you’ve ever had.

    We’re not in the Valley, we’re in Massachusetts. That’s the catch, I suppose. But, having spent a lot of time in Mountain View and Palo Alto, I can’t imagine why you actually want to live there. How boring is perfect weather 24/7/365? ;-)

    Bill, chief architect, kayak.com, the awesomest travel web site in the world.

  11. Sorry, typo: I wish _people_ wouldn’t write such things about how easy it is to get gigs or jobs in the tech industry in the states, because its only easy for some folk, not all.

  12. Sorry, typo: I wish _people_ wouldn’t write such things about how easy it is to get gigs or jobs in the tech industry in the states, because its only easy for some folk, not all.

  13. Robert, I’ve had Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft attempt to ‘recruit’ me, usually because someone has pushed them to try. I was treated indifferently, and quizzed like a new College graduate.

    I’m also with Dori: people are not breaking down the doors of middle aged women geeks. And I’ve got 15 books under my belt.

    Of course, I’m also critical, which is also an effective career killer.

    John: “When the only way you can get a job is via backchannels, there’s something very wrong.”

    That is very, very correct, because that implies we have to run around, sucking up to folk in order to get a job. What does that say about us being able to be critical?

    I wish wouldn’t write such things about how easy it is to get gigs or jobs in the tech industry in the states, because its only easy for some folk, not all.

    (Now I wait people coming along saying how those with skill have no problems…)

  14. Robert, I’ve had Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft attempt to ‘recruit’ me, usually because someone has pushed them to try. I was treated indifferently, and quizzed like a new College graduate.

    I’m also with Dori: people are not breaking down the doors of middle aged women geeks. And I’ve got 15 books under my belt.

    Of course, I’m also critical, which is also an effective career killer.

    John: “When the only way you can get a job is via backchannels, there’s something very wrong.”

    That is very, very correct, because that implies we have to run around, sucking up to folk in order to get a job. What does that say about us being able to be critical?

    I wish wouldn’t write such things about how easy it is to get gigs or jobs in the tech industry in the states, because its only easy for some folk, not all.

    (Now I wait people coming along saying how those with skill have no problems…)

  15. #36, it doesn’t matter what game you’re bring to the table. I’ve had extremely difficult times in life and you know what? Most people have had a poor area of their life at some point or another.

    My blog is full of rejection, people disagree with me continually but hell that’s the only way I learn right? Get into the mentality where rejection is a good thing. Go to interviews for jobs you don’t want that you can laugh through and realise where your assets are because everyone has them.

  16. #36, it doesn’t matter what game you’re bring to the table. I’ve had extremely difficult times in life and you know what? Most people have had a poor area of their life at some point or another.

    My blog is full of rejection, people disagree with me continually but hell that’s the only way I learn right? Get into the mentality where rejection is a good thing. Go to interviews for jobs you don’t want that you can laugh through and realise where your assets are because everyone has them.

  17. Thanks for the kind offer, Robert.

    I do, in fact, have a blog, but have been feeling so down about my job issues lately that the blog has suffered. I’d rather not link to it when I’m not bringing my A-game to the site; the last thing I need is more rejection right now.

    I appreciate the thought, though.

  18. Thanks for the kind offer, Robert.

    I do, in fact, have a blog, but have been feeling so down about my job issues lately that the blog has suffered. I’d rather not link to it when I’m not bringing my A-game to the site; the last thing I need is more rejection right now.

    I appreciate the thought, though.

  19. #33: why be anonymous? Where’s your blog? Where’s the evidence that you’re participating online and sharing your knowledge? That’d help me help you get hired.

    Thank you for showing just how fucked up the job market is.

    Doesn’t matter what kind of experience this guy has. Doesn’t matter what his knowledge is. The ONLY thing you care about is “OMGHEDOESN’THAVETEHBLOGGGGG”.

    When the only way you can get a job is via backchannels, there’s something very wrong.

  20. #33: why be anonymous? Where’s your blog? Where’s the evidence that you’re participating online and sharing your knowledge? That’d help me help you get hired.

    Thank you for showing just how fucked up the job market is.

    Doesn’t matter what kind of experience this guy has. Doesn’t matter what his knowledge is. The ONLY thing you care about is “OMGHEDOESN’THAVETEHBLOGGGGG”.

    When the only way you can get a job is via backchannels, there’s something very wrong.

  21. #33: why be anonymous? Where’s your blog? Where’s the evidence that you’re participating online and sharing your knowledge? That’d help me help you get hired.

  22. #33: why be anonymous? Where’s your blog? Where’s the evidence that you’re participating online and sharing your knowledge? That’d help me help you get hired.

  23. *raises hand* I’m an over-40 marketer living in the valley who has been trying for months to get a job.

    Getting anyone to talk to me is a huge struggle. I honestly am starting to think that once they see the year I graduated college on my resume, I head into the roundfile. Do not pass go, do not even get a call from a screener.

    And yes, I have though about taking that piece of data off my resume, but doesn’t that just send the same message?

  24. *raises hand* I’m an over-40 marketer living in the valley who has been trying for months to get a job.

    Getting anyone to talk to me is a huge struggle. I honestly am starting to think that once they see the year I graduated college on my resume, I head into the roundfile. Do not pass go, do not even get a call from a screener.

    And yes, I have though about taking that piece of data off my resume, but doesn’t that just send the same message?

  25. Welcome to the wonderful world of tech, where, on your 40th birthday, you get your very own ice floe and a lovely mug of hemlock, so you can clear your ass out and make room for the people who really count.

  26. Welcome to the wonderful world of tech, where, on your 40th birthday, you get your very own ice floe and a lovely mug of hemlock, so you can clear your ass out and make room for the people who really count.

  27. “Another option is an attempt to find Angel investors in your geo location”

    Two things come to mind when I see this:

    1. I’ve been told it before: when someone in my age range wants a job, what we need to do is start a built-to-flip company. No one will hire you on the open market, but they will buy your company, and then you’ve got what you actually want. It was the first time I’d ever heard anything that made sense of too many of the me-too SiliVally startups.

    2. Whoops; even that won’t work any more. Here’s a quote from the recent Steven Levy article in Newsweek, A Boot Camp for the Next Tech Billionaires: “The old wisdom for investors in start-ups said you needed an experienced hand as a CEO. The Valley’s new wisdom: don’t fund anyone over 30.”

    When I turned 30, the Web didn’t even exist yet.

  28. “Another option is an attempt to find Angel investors in your geo location”

    Two things come to mind when I see this:

    1. I’ve been told it before: when someone in my age range wants a job, what we need to do is start a built-to-flip company. No one will hire you on the open market, but they will buy your company, and then you’ve got what you actually want. It was the first time I’d ever heard anything that made sense of too many of the me-too SiliVally startups.

    2. Whoops; even that won’t work any more. Here’s a quote from the recent Steven Levy article in Newsweek, A Boot Camp for the Next Tech Billionaires: “The old wisdom for investors in start-ups said you needed an experienced hand as a CEO. The Valley’s new wisdom: don’t fund anyone over 30.”

    When I turned 30, the Web didn’t even exist yet.

  29. “I don’t know anyone who isn’t fully employed right now”

    Another option is an attempt to find Angel investors in your geo location as someone us cannot move due to aspects of taking care of aging parents and etc.

  30. “I don’t know anyone who isn’t fully employed right now”

    Another option is an attempt to find Angel investors in your geo location as someone us cannot move due to aspects of taking care of aging parents and etc.

  31. Thats very true John – sad but true… Employees are just a number these days…. There is no loyalty any more….

  32. Thats very true John – sad but true… Employees are just a number these days…. There is no loyalty any more….

  33. I think companies are not yet realizing the shortage that is arising.

    But I agree it is amzing that companies are growing by leaps and bounds in spite of their HR incompetencies…

    Because the shortage is a myth. What they don’t want to do is commit to an employee one whit more than they have to . Then they wonder why people don’t have any loyalty to their employer. Where’s the return side? Where’s the non-fiscal side of it? Why do companies insist their employees treat them better than they treat those same employees?

  34. I think companies are not yet realizing the shortage that is arising.

    But I agree it is amzing that companies are growing by leaps and bounds in spite of their HR incompetencies…

    Because the shortage is a myth. What they don’t want to do is commit to an employee one whit more than they have to . Then they wonder why people don’t have any loyalty to their employer. Where’s the return side? Where’s the non-fiscal side of it? Why do companies insist their employees treat them better than they treat those same employees?

  35. I don’t disagree but that doesn’t help the person trying to get a job today.

    I no longer have any clients even accepting H1B’s…. Even the one’s that did back in the .com days no longer do. I think companies are not yet realizing the shortage that is arising.

    But I agree it is amzing that companies are growing by leaps and bounds in spite of their HR incompetencies…

  36. I don’t disagree but that doesn’t help the person trying to get a job today.

    I no longer have any clients even accepting H1B’s…. Even the one’s that did back in the .com days no longer do. I think companies are not yet realizing the shortage that is arising.

    But I agree it is amzing that companies are growing by leaps and bounds in spite of their HR incompetencies…

  37. Being able to bypass HR can sometimes be achieved by finding the right Recruiter to represent you. Often times firms work directly with the Hiring Managers and bypass the bottleneck that is HR.

    Maybe instead of working around the problem, people should start telling companies that they have no interest in wasting time with HR resume filters. Enabling the success of the problem by standing on your head to work around it is not going to fix it.

    I have found it challenging to find an abundance of qualified talent here in the Midwest recently. I have also found that Companies are being much, much more specific about what they are looking for.

    Of course they are. If you make sure that no one can meet your job description, pushing that H-1B shit gets much simpler.

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