EppsNet Archive: Jobs

Thomas Jefferson: Why is President Biden So Unpopular?

 

My fellow Americans – According to White House press secretary Jen Psaki (whom I would nail so hard that whoever pulled me out would be named King of England), the COVID-19 pandemic is to blame for President Biden’s poor approval rating, which has fallen to a new low in recent polling. Point taken, but of course Biden and the Democrats campaigned on the pandemic being the fault of Trump and the Republicans, who failed to “follow the science.” And yet after nine months of glorious science-based leadership in Washington, here we are, no better off than before as far as I can see. Psaki also failed to mention the botch-up in Afghanistan, an unprecedented border crisis (including migrants coming in already infected with COVID), inflation, consecutive dismal job reports, and ongoing debt default brinksmanship. Read more →

If All We Want Are Jobs

 

If all we want are jobs, we can create any number — for example, have people dig holes and then fill them up again, or perform other useless tasks. Work is sometimes its own reward. Mostly, however, it is the price we pay to get the things we want. Our real objective is not just jobs but productive jobs — jobs that will mean more goods and services to consume. — Milton Friedman Read more →

An Open Letter to My Former CEO

 

Today is my last day with Company X. I’ve really enjoyed working with my colleagues. That said, the events of two weeks ago really made me ill. To call an all-hands webinar, announce that the company is losing too much money, as a result of which 80 people will have their jobs taken away, then boom, meeting over. Not even the decency to take a comment or question. I feel like those 80 people probably did not lose the money, probably just did what they were told to do to the best of their ability. The responsibility for losing the money lies with whoever told them what to do, starting with the CEO. There’s a law of the sea, I think it’s a good law, that the captain goes down with his ship. Not that he grabs hold of 80 people and throws them overboard, then follows up with a… Read more →

Thomas Jefferson: Without Citing Any Evidence

 

My fellow Americans – I noticed during the Trump presidency that the press developed an affectation where they reported everything he said as “Trump said ‘blah blah blah,’ without citing any evidence.” [Emphasis is my own.] Why Trump was the only human being held to this standard was never clear to me, but I thought of it again this week and perhaps it’s time for a resurrection of “without citing any evidence.” For example, President Biden’s announcement of a victorious withdrawal from Afghanistan might have been better presented as “President Biden, without citing any evidence, called the American withdrawal from Afghanistan a success.” Or when the August jobs report was released, showing that the economy added a disappointing 235,000 jobs vs. an estimate of 720,000, to which the president responded “The Biden plan is working,” more meticulous reportage could have been “‘The Biden plan is working,’ said the president, without… Read more →

How Long Does it Take to Get Hired?

 

From LinkedIn News: How long does it take to get hired? That depends on the field of work you’re in, according to a new analysis by LinkedIn’s Economic Graph team looking at confirmed hires on the platform from June 2020 to March 2021. The data shows that technical positions take the longest time to fill (the median turnaround in engineering is 49 days). By contrast, everything moves faster in non-technical fields, such as sales (38 days) and customer service (34 days). I’m a software engineer. I did a phone interview with Company A, two managers on the call, we did a tech screen and the gist of it was, “Great job, we’ll set you up for the next interview a week from tomorrow.” Meanwhile Company B did one Zoom call and was ready to make an offer the next day. Top candidates are not going to stay on the market… Read more →

Do You Want a Programmer or a Pizza?

 

I teach programming classes for a living. The school has a Slack account and one of the things we use it for is to post relevant job openings. These postings come from the hiring companies and most of them unfortunately simply consist of a copy of the job description: Responsibilities, Requirements, Technical Skills. Bullet points. Trying to hire programmers like ordering a pizza. When I was a hiring manager, HR would try to run job postings like that. The problem was that I wanted to hire good programmers and good programmers have a lot of options regarding where they work. So just as a candidate needs to sell themselves to a company, a company needs to sell itself to candidates. One way of doing this is through job postings. So I rewrote the job postings to make them more enticing. To give you an example of what I mean, here’s… Read more →

Teaching Computer Science: Don’t Worry About Spelling and Grammar?

 

The following is part of the Code.org online curriculum, asking students to write a brief reflection on starting a computer science class. That seems like an oddball thing to say in an educational context. “Let’s talk about the instructions here for a minute,” I said to the class. “One: it doesn’t make sense to me to compartmentalize education like this. Like spelling and grammar are only important in an English class and this is not an English class so don’t worry about it. “We’ll be taking a holistic view of education here. I hope you’ll learn some things about computer science but I hope you’ll learn some other things as well. “On a practical note, you may find yourself competing for a job someday, and if it’s a good job, there are likely to be a lot of applicants. “No one wants to read a large number of resumes, so… Read more →

Life Gets Better After 50?

 

About 15 years ago, economists made an unexpected finding: the U-shaped happiness curve. Other things being equal – that is, once conditions such as income, employment, health and marriage are factored out of the equation – life satisfaction declines from our early 20s until we hit our 50s. Then it turns around and rises, right through late adulthood. — The Guardian So once you factor out all the things that make life miserable, it turns out older people can be just as happy as anyone else! Read more →

Separation of Families Considered Harmful?

 

Here’s a photo showing two girls in a “cage” watching a World Cup match, amongst dozens of other kids who are for some reason wrapped in foil. I’ve seen this photo and others widely circulated online recently as evidence of the Trumpenfuhrer’s crimes against humanity. But guess what? The photos were taken in 2014, when some other guy was president. Many people have a single standard for evaluating political activity: Is it being carried out by Team Red or Team Blue. Nothing is good or bad on its own merits. I don’t remember anyone on Team Blue being outraged about kids in “cages” in 2014, but in 2018 it’s a humanitarian crisis has to be denounced mercilessly, even if the evidence has to be faked. I haven’t heard anyone propose a viable alternative to separating parents and children at the border. I’m not sure Team Blue wants to find a… Read more →

Girls With Working Moms Fare Better?

 

Via LinkedIn: Girls who grow up with working moms are more likely to have careers themselves and to have higher paying jobs in the future, according to a report in Fortune, citing study data. The research found that, “daughters of working mothers in the U.S. make about 23% more than daughters of stay-at-home mothers.” This article is headlined — inaccurately, in my view — Girls with working moms fare better. Shouldn’t the headline stay with the facts and say “Girls with working moms make more money” instead of “Girls with working moms fare better”? “Fare better” seems to reflect an inappropriately narrow obsession with money as the only metric for measuring life outcomes. misrepresents facts to promote an opinion, i.e., “working moms are good for society.” Read more →

Fact Checking the Fact Checkers

 

PolitiFact has a article headlined “Donald Trump’s NRA speech, fact-checked”. Here’s a sample: “African-American unemployment has reached another all-time, in history, record low … And the same thing with Hispanic American unemployment, which is also at the lowest level in history — unemployment, lowest level in history. And women’s unemployment — women, many women — is at the lowest level in almost 20 years. Think of that.” The “fact check” starts out like this: As far as the numbers go, Trump is correct. It then goes on for another five paragraphs to say that Barack Obama deserves “at least as much” credit as Trump for low unemployment. That’s a fact check?! Trump didn’t even say anything about who deserves the credit, although the listener is invited to make a favorable inference. Had he added “. . . and I deserve all the credit,” it would be fair in that case… Read more →

Diversity in Tech Efforts Self-Defeating?

 

Panelists at the Inclusion in Tech summit lamented that we can’t tell if tech is doing better on diversity because the data stinks. My advice would be don’t worry about it. A lot of the noise around diversity in technology is self-defeating. If you’re a member of an underrepresented group, all you hear is that technology fields are hostile and awful and unwelcoming, you won’t be treated fairly, etc. And you wonder why certain groups are underrepresented? You’ve answered your own question. Why would anyone who wants to have a happy life pursue a career beset by unfairness and hardship? Why not instead be a meeting planner or a flight attendant? Asians are overrepresented in technology jobs but that’s a relatively recent development in the history of these fields. I don’t remember, when this transition from underrepresented to overrepresented was happening, hearing a lot about how technology fields were hostile… Read more →

Need a Job? Move to Iowa

 

If every unemployed person in the Midwest was placed into an open job, there would still be more than 180,000 unfilled positions, according to the most recent Labor Department data. The 12-state region is the only area of the country where job openings outnumber out-of-work job seekers. . . . Beth Townsend, head of Iowa’s department of workforce development, said Iowa has an abundance of low-skilled workers but is facing a gap when it comes to jobs that require some specialized training. “We’ve got a lot of adults who could be easily upskilled,” she said. In particular, she is trying to get more disabled people or ex-convicts into the workforce because they often face more hurdles in finding employment. — Wall Street Journal Need a job? Move to Iowa! Your only competition is disabled people and ex-convicts! Read more →

This is Where Your PDF Resume Will Take You

 

Received the following advice today: When applying for jobs, never send your resume in .docx format. Fonts don’t always get embedded and hiring managers cannot always open these files. Use PDF. Do we really want to work for managers who can’t open a Word doc? Imagine the world-class mentoring and career development you’re going to get from such a person. I mean, my wife can open Word docs no problem and she can’t even figure out how to turn on the TV. Thus spoke The Programmer. Read more →

Some Links on Work-Life Balance

 

Carol Bartz discusses the myth of work-life balance (Video) “Bartz Says ‘Work/Life’ Balance is a Myth,” Wall Street Journal, May 1, 2012. Beyond policies: Office culture must change (Article) Susan Dominus, “Rethinking the Work-Life Equation,” New York Times, February 25, 2016. The problem may be long hours not work-family conflict (Article) Robin Ely and Irene Padavic, “Work-Family Conflict is Not the Problem: Overwork Is,” Huffington Post, November 6, 2013. Managing work and life is an increasingly global problem (Report) EY, Global Generations: A Global Study on Work-Life Challenges Across Generations (2015). We know flexibility works, the challenge is execution (Article) Stew Friedman, “‘Having It All’ Is Not a Women’s Issue,” Harvard Business Review, June 26, 2012. The best way forward (Article) Gigi Liu, “From Work-Life Balance to Work-Life Integration– The New Way Forward,” Entrepreneur, March 31, 2016. When and where you work is increasingly the norm for many professionals (Article) Laura Vanderkam, “Work-life Balance is Dead —… Read more →

19 Insane Tidbits From James Damore’s Lawsuit

 

The Federalist recently published 19 insane tidbits about the Google office environment gleaned from the James Damore lawsuit. Keep in mind I’m a programmer, not a lawyer, when I say that Damore has a prima facie case of illegal retaliation: he engaged in protected activity — i.e., exercising the right to improve working conditions — by opposing several discriminatory practices, and was fired from his job. Damore wrote in his famous (or infamous) memo that “Google has created several discriminatory practices.” Classic case of opposition to an unlawful employment practice. The law does not require that the employment practice actually be unlawful, only that the employee believes the practice to be unlawful. Read more →

Two Reasons For the Low Number of Women in Computer Jobs

 

I saw this chart on LinkedIn with the heading “Chart: Women in tech continue to face uphill battle” and the hashtag #STEMSexism. The first reason for the low number of women in computer jobs is that we rarely hear about women in computing except in the context of pay gaps, harassment, discrimination, “uphill battles” and #STEMSexism. It’s self-perpetuating. “Computing is a terrible profession for women in so many ways.” Followed by “Why aren’t there more women in computing?” You’ve answered your own question. If you think computing is a hostile profession (I do not, btw), why do you want more women to go into it?   The second reason for the low number of women in computer jobs — sometimes the simplest explanations are the best — is that women prefer to do other things. Men and women are different and make different choices about their lives, as a result… Read more →

Tech Gender Bias: Men Not as Concerned

 

According to LinkedIn: Despite a string of revelations that women in tech face considerable headwinds — from persistent gender-based pay gaps (per Bloomberg), to limited VC funding for female-led startups (per Fortune), to sexual harassment (per The New York Times) — just 29% of men say that discrimination is a major problem in the industry, according to data from Pew. In fact, some 32% of men claim that it’s not a problem at all. Everything I read about gender discrimination in tech starts out by assuming it’s a real problem and that all reasonable people agree that it’s a real problem. Even the supposedly objective LinkedIn blurb above tells us that 29% of men “say” that discrimination is a major problem, while 32% of men “claim” that it’s not a problem at all, “despite a string of revelations blah blah blah . . .” I’ve worked in tech for 30… Read more →

What Does a Programmer Do?

 

I was asked to give a talk last week to a high school computer science class on “What Does a Programmer Do?” (I’m indebted to Jim McCarthy for the “lords and ladies of logic” section.)   Programming is problem solving. At the highest level, the problem that programmers solve is that people want to be able to do things with computers that they can’t do. And by computers, I don’t mean just the kind of computers you have on the desks here, I mean phones, watches, cars . . . more and more different kinds of devices are running software. So one good thing about being a programmer is that pretty much every field of endeavor now uses software and data. You can work at a tech company like Microsoft or Google or Twitter or Facebook, but you can also work in healthcare, finance, education, sports . . . you… Read more →

HireRight and the Background Check From Hell

 

I got a job offer recently contingent on a background check to be conducted by a company called HireRight. HireRight has an office right here in Irvine but for some reason, everyone I communicated with during the background check, either by phone or email, was in the Philippines. Why is that a problem? Well, if I were tasked with doing background checks on people in Orange County, it would be to my advantage that I live here, I work here, I know people, I know the companies and I know how to get things done. For the same reasons, if you wanted to do background checks on people in the Philippines, you’d be better off hiring someone in the Philippines to do them. The first communication I had from HireRight was this email: The dates of employment we have currently verified for your employer Company A differ from the dates… Read more →

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