It's becoming more and more apparent to me that working inside AWS, Google, Facebook, or Microsoft is a completely different career path than most of the industry outside these companies. The table-stakes kind of skills I was interviewing for at Facebook and Google, which used to be widespread across the industry, seem to be nearly nonexistent among the candidates I interview for my current company.

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@freakazoid As someone who's very intentionally avoided applying for those companies: how so?

@ari @freakazoid My guess would be cloud, cloud, kubernetes, etc. I’m curious to know the actual details though.

@vortex_egg @ari The cloud has created a new kind of "user" who is able to configure and specify (though with what quality who knows) infrastructures but has very little understanding of how anything works underneath. They understand practically nothing about how the Internet or operating systems work.

This shouldn't surprise me given the vast pay differential, but it's starting to make me think maybe I need to go back to Facebook.

@freakazoid @vortex_egg Yeah, I kinda get that tbh. I feel like part of this is also the fact that as an industry they completely lay off the class of people who knew how to do these things (sysadmins, netadmins, etc.) and just suddenly dumped it onto developers.

@ari @vortex_egg All the decent sysadmins and net admins are at Google, Facebook, AWS, etc too. They're mostly called SREs now. Of course, other companies also use the term "SRE" to mean "ops".

@freakazoid @vortex_egg That too. I had a friend who SREd at IBM for a few years before transferring to Redhat.

@vortex_egg @ari Most candidates couldn't even answer the "warm up" questions for any of the technical interview types. They can maybe script, but they couldn't write a non-trivial program. They might know what swap is but nothing beyond that. They understand that DNS translates names to IP addresses but can't tell you what else it can do or how it actually works.

@freakazoid @vortex_egg I mean that kinda depends on the level you're hiring at too. I took networking in uni but I dunno if I could answer your DNS question (Unless you're talking about like, the existence of MX and other record types, round robining, etc.)

@ari @vortex_egg Knowing that is a huge step up from what I'm usually seeing.

I dunno, maybe it's a good thing? But if that's the case then I *definitely* need to go back to Facebook before I get typecast as someone from that other tech industry.

@freakazoid I think a lot of it kinda gets back to one of the classic drums for banging, namely that what we do is a trade but it isn't really treated like one and there's a big tension there. We also have a lot of issues with requirements inflation ofc where qualified people see min reqs and go "Oh I can't possibly do that" while the unqualified but confident are like "I'll just fake it"

@freakazoid Like where I work we had a hell of a time finding "big data" people because they would keep applying but not know any actual practical aspects or have used them beyond like "I imported a csv file into druid once"

@freakazoid Eventually we shifted to just having recruiters look for basic java software development skills (you know, reducing specialist requirements) and we've had some better luck, though no standouts.

@ari In general job applications are a poor source of candidates. Your best source is internal referrals, followed by decent recruiters.

@freakazoid Yeah, it's not too helpful in our particular situation though (our entire team is in the US and we're looking for a candidate in Ireland for reasons I don't actually quite comprehend.)

@freakazoid On the other end "good recruiter" is an oxymoron as far as my experience goes, so maybe that one works 😁

@ari Are you looking just in Ireland or across the whole EU? You might have better luck looking in eastern Europe and having them move to Ireland.

@freakazoid That bit's above my pay grade to know for sure. Everyone we've interviewed has been a student completing their masters at an Irish university.

@freakazoid I'm guessing part of it is that the company doesn't want to actually pay senior dev prices, hence trying to recruit straight from grad school.

@freakazoid I don't think they'd be opposed to someone from somewhere else in the EU but I'm not sure they'd necessarily pay for relocation, if that makes sense. We're already known internally that we underpay people (Within the first few months of me being here my coworker pointed out that either of us could just cross the street and work at IBM for a 30% raise if we wanted to)

@ari It's depressing to interview people when you know there's a good chance they'll decline the offer in favor of a much higher one.

I imagine there are a ton of other places you could work and make a lot more, too. Especially now that there are so many companies looking for remote folks.

@freakazoid I (luckily? unluckily?) haven't been in on one of those yet. I've never been in an interview where I get a really strong feeling for the candidate here. At my last job I was mostly lowkey trying to get people to not accept an offer if they got one. That was a fun place.

@ari A pretty small fraction of the folks I worked with at Google in Dublin were actually from Ireland, and the ones who were Irish tended to be on the older side, so they probably got almost all their experience in industry. From what I've heard the education system there is not the greatest.

@freakazoid I *definitely* have no useful opinion on the quality of CS education in Ireland 😁

@freakazoid @ari To be honest, everything in this thread contributed greatly to my decision to get out of the software engineering industry.

@vortex_egg @freakazoid Oh I've absolutely been in the habit of telling people who think they want to do software to get a real job like plumbing, electrical, or theater for years. At least those people contribute to society

@ari @freakazoid I mean, some software engineering is contributing to society. I had fallen into the typecasting of doing backend engineering for silicon valley style internet software companies selling web-based consumer services that... frankly none of it needs to exist. None of it. I have never in my life had an interest in that sort of thing, but that's where my career took me. I had to gtfo.

@vortex_egg @ari It wouldn't be an issue if I weren't stuck living in Silicon Valley for the moment. I'd like to retire eventually, and I'm not really building up a savings right now. So it's a question of working forever in a job I find a little more rewarding, or work for a finite period of time in a job I don't really care about.

@vortex_egg @ari Though TBH the actual work at FB is likely to a lot more interesting than the work I'm doing now. Maybe I should see if I can convince Ahmad to hire me to do hardware stuff.

@freakazoid @ari I ended up doing what I think is they are calling β€œlaying flat” in Japan: I was living in SF as frugally as possible up until January when I straight up quit my job and moved somewhere remote with a super cheap cost of living.

Instead of working I’ve been taking online classes that interest me and got into a grad program for a future career change that I’m actually excited about. Not everyone can do that though; lots of long talks w/ my partner about it.

@freakazoid @ari I turned 40 last year and figured I had to either go after something I truly care about, or I’d just be interviewing at one tech company after another for the next 25 years, increasingly disaffected and wondering what I had done with my life.

Anyway, something about this thread just reminded me about all that.

@freakazoid @ari Keeping up with the new technology that’s popular at the FAANG companies is a whole thing: either it’s what you are into has a hobby and lifestyle outside of working hours, or it’s not. I had a long think about it and realized it wasn’t my thing.

@vortex_egg @ari I dunno, in a lot of ways the tech in use internally moved a lot slower. It's a much more constrained space. Plus I got to see and help out with a lot of the stuff getting developed at Facebook.

@vortex_egg @ari I mean, when you first join, it's kind of dizzying, but once you learn it, it doesn't change very fast. It has someone limited applicability externally, but I have found that the skills generalized pretty well. I had little trouble learning Kubernetes after learning Borg, for example, even though Nomad's paradigm is a lot closer to Borg's than Kubernetes's is.

@freakazoid @ari I never worked at any of the big companies, but there was absolutely a rat race to keep up with the jonses at the mid-sized places I worked over the last 15 years. Most of my co-workers busted their asses every evening and weekend to grind out new skills they weren’t getting a chance to learn on the job. And the interview prep for job searching was seriously a full-time job. So many leetcode questions and system design prep for things no company used.

@freakazoid @ari Every quarter some team would try to introduce an entirely new tech stack, or architectural pattern, or infrastructure paradigm that had recently been popularized by one of the FAANGs. Org-wide pivots and everyone being forced to reskill on a dime.

@vortex_egg @ari Geez. I have never worked that hard in my life. If anything I probably worked less hard at Facebook and Google than at most other jobs I've had. I've certainly never studied outside of work for skills I needed on the job.

Which is not intended as a brag; it's probably due to my privilege in some way or another, most likely because I have never had trouble finding a job if I've left a job or been fired (which I haven't been since '97). But maybe some people are working too hard?

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@freakazoid The flipside of this is a large part of why I largely checked out of IT a ways back.

I found that shops were looking for cloud-implementation technicians, but my (bare-metal, own-your-boxes) background 1) made the cloud tools relatively incomprehensible, 2) revealed many of them as information-hiding, and 3) suggested just what you've noted about the people using the technology: they can do an AWS deploy on instances, EC2, and S3, but have no idea of what a system does at root, or how to troubleshoot or remediate system issues. "Spin up a new instance".

For a long time I wasn't sure if I was becoming a dinosaur in the sense that mainframers were in the 1990s and 2000s, or proprietary 'Nixen ops were in the 2000s and 2010s. I'm still not absolutely convinced, but there's also a pretty sharp deskilling going on.

It's also weird in a way that old-school Mainframe was very solidly rooted in a single vendor's toolsets, and Unix/Linux from the 1990s through the 2010s, at least, with the GNU userspace toolchain, was not. Much of Linux, based in the cloud, is now back to vendor-specific tools, which of course satisfy vendor needs first (lock-in, revenue, licensing, certification training, etc.).

@vortex_egg @ari

@freakazoid @vortex_egg @ari Some of them understand different things though; they do think in terms of IO/second and network bandwidth etc - but then think about different clouds they could use with different characteristics.

@freakazoid We are routinely rejecting candidates right now (including people who are working for the mentioned companies) for failing to meet the kind of table-stakes skills you mentioned here.

I interviewed a candidate today, great guy, probably would be a great fit for the team and the role except for the fact that he was a worse developer than me.

I'm a bad developer, but mostly because I can't hold syntax in my head.

He was copying and pasting code instead of writing functions.

@ajroach42 People certainly manage to slip through the cracks in the interview process, and I think the companies have had to relax their requirements a bit. Once you get into one of those companies, if you're not in an actual software engineering role, there are a lot of teams where you can get by without really being able to code. I wouldn't be surprised to find that there are software engineering roles where that's the case as well; they're big companies.

@freakazoid My point, mostly, was that the skills drain isn't directly correlated to the company. It's universal, based on what I've seen.

@ajroach42 I do think there's a big issue because of the vastly different comp, though. The folks you're interviewing might be making less at their current job than you're offering. Which puts you in a different position than most companies, who are offering *way* less.

@freakazoid That's definitely true.

When we do find someone who can make it through, we mostly land them.

@ajroach42 @freakazoid All of a sudden I'm curious if I could pass this test. Probably not, if my experience coding today is indicative... XD

@Angle @ajroach42 In my experience the people who have done any programming who still don't pass have been doing only automation type stuff, which is pretty amenable to copy-paste and "linear" coding style. If you make programs from scratch that have actual logic in them, you'd have a decent chance of passing.

If you haven't tried out the Project Euler problems before, you might try seeing how far you can get on those.

@freakazoid @ajroach42 Right now I'm going at it tooth and nail with OpenGL. And winning, just barely! With some help from a friend and lots of trial and error. XD

@freakazoid @ajroach42 Well, my friends library, which is built on LWJGL, which is built on OpenGL, but still. XD

@Angle @ajroach42 Most people I've rejected for not being able to code well enough would not even make the attempt at OpenGL.

@freakazoid @ajroach42 Lol, maybe I should apply then. You hiring remote workers? XD

@Angle That's our other problem at the moment! We've basically ended all remote hiring for the year/indefinitely but probably just for the year.

I dunno about @freakazoid though.



Hmm. What's the position, and the company? I'd definitely be interested. Is this that network thing you were talking about earlier, or something else?

@ajroach42 @Angle That is one of the things I ask in interviews. It’s cloud consulting stuff, so mostly AWS, Azure, GCP, Terraform, Kubernetes, CI/CD, security, that sort of thing. Though we just got acquired by a data center company, so there will probably be more bare metal stuff in the near future.

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