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Biggest clue you don't want the job you're offered

by vroom (His Eminence)
on Apr 03, 2001 at 08:04 UTC ( #69190=poll: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Vote on this poll

Language/OS you'd be using
[bar] 263/25%
Commute/Relocation necessary
[bar] 103/10%
Work Environment
[bar] 153/15%
Pants required
[bar] 141/14%
Dress code
[bar] 169/16%
Poor wages
[bar] 154/15%
(vroom|CowboyNeal) working in the cubicle next to you
[bar] 57/5%
1040 total votes
  • Comment on Biggest clue you don't want the job you're offered
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(Ovid - development environment) Re: Biggest clue you don't want the job you're offered
by Ovid (Cardinal) on Apr 03, 2001 at 16:17 UTC

    Offhand, I have no problem with work environment, per se. If they want me to wear a suit and tie, if they're fine with me wearing blue jeans, if they prefer "dress casual", I really don't care. Free coffee, snacks, pinball? Been there, done that. WinNT, Linux? So what? (though I won't do mainframes anymore).

    Now I realize that many won't wear a tie or will only work with Linux and that's fine for them. What I want to know is how they develop their software? I'd prefer to work with a company at least level 3 on the software maturity model. Level 1 is strictly individual effort and heroics. All is chaos and documentation is practically scorned at. I have worked for three level 1 companies and I can tell you how excruciating it is.

    Now, this may just be me, but the level 1 companies that I have worked for like to offer their employees free beer after hours, some have ping pong and other games available for "stress breaks." Having Quake mini-tournaments in the middle of the day is not unheard of. Why do they do this? For the same reason that many companies offer extra time off when you work overtime: otherwise, the stress will kill you. With no serious organization in place, not only is the stress daunting, but the software quality suffers. It just ain't worth it.

    Unfortunately, I'm returning to a company that's level 1 and striving for level 2, but I'm going to take a chance as their new IS director has experience working with much larger organizations and he swears that he is going to improve things. Of course, they're also offering a good salary and I need to get back on my feet after my work abroad.

    Summary: Don't let the temptation of an easy work environment or preferred OS/language buy you off. If they don't know how to develop software, you'll hate your job.


    Join the Perlmonks Setiathome Group or just click on the the link and check out our stats.

Biggest clue you don't want the job you're offered
by Lexicon (Chaplain) on Apr 03, 2001 at 08:20 UTC
    Intellectual Property Agreement

    All your code are belong to us.

    It's even funnier when you work here.


      What you say!?

      (yeah, nondisclosure agreements are a pain too... )

        You have no chance to survive make your time
Re: Biggest clue you don't want the job you're offered
by dws (Chancellor) on Apr 03, 2001 at 08:29 UTC
    If you really want a clue about what life in a new company is going to be like, arrange to have your prospective boss take you to lunch, and let them drive. If they drive like a crazed lunatic, chances are good that they'll run their projects (and you) the same way.

      dws, you don't know how right you are. My company works very closely with a demolition company. The owner not only drives his car like a maniac (he did donuts on I93, one of the busiest highways in the state), but he also operates his machinery the same way. I saw him try to demolish a building that even I could have brought down safely and there were bricks flying everywhere. A couple of cars got hit and if humans weren't made with "dodging" capability, many people would have been whacked too.

      I guess what I'm trying to say is, your test is an excellent one and not only because it points out the type of work environment. Many people would endure that environment if it meant making more money. But what they don't understand is that if the owner doesn't have the self-control to (drive a car|run a business) it won't matter how much money they make because the job won't be there for long.

      The demolition company I mentioned above has actually gone under three times in the past decade. All due to litigation. The only reason why the owner is still in business is because he always has a "backup" company so that when his current company starts to go under fire he just transfers everything to the "backup" and dissolves the old company.

      This is a more extreme example of what you're talking about, but whose to say there aren't other bosses like him?

      Update: Due to several complaints, removed signature


        It most certainly sounds like this person's driving is the least of his problems!!

        Roy Alan

      But what if I also drive like a crazed lunatic?
        Then your chances of hiring me are very, very slim. :)
(dws) Re: Biggest clue you don't want the job you're offered
by dws (Chancellor) on Apr 04, 2001 at 02:02 UTC
    A couple of other non-obvious things to screen for when interviewing:

    Bureacracy. Ask people what the procedure is for buying a work-related book. Assuming that the answer isn't "we can't buy books" (bzzzt!), ask what the procedure is for being reimbursed. It's not uncommon to in Silicon Valley to have a "if you need it, go buy it and submit and expense report" or "ask me first" policy, but some places go overboard in how much time and expenese they'll incur to basically tell you "no". If a company is going to burn through an hour of administrative time to tell you that you can't spend $40 on a book that might save you 10 hours of work, they're being stupid. Life is too short to work for needlessly stupid companies.

    Lighting. As your eyes get older, the effect of florescent lights + basic, low-refresh rate monitors becomes harder to live with. If you're starting to have problems, make sure you won't be living in a veal-farm of cubicles, with no direct outside light, and no way to turn off the florescents. Life is too short to go home with eyestrain headaches every day.

      Eye strain? Talk to me about overall strain. Overtime is okay, but week before last I worked 72 hours.

      `No big deal' some people say. Well, I had a day off on Wednesday. The first 42 hours were on Monday and Tuesday.

      The proper staffing level of a company, so that employees aren't continually on call, means a lot.


Work Environment
by Boldra (Deacon) on Apr 03, 2001 at 17:11 UTC
    I turned down a perl job last year at because of the work environment in their london office. They had nearly 100 staff in one huge room. No partitions. No carpet. Telephones galore.

    If there is one thing that guarantees I'll hate a job, it's noise level. Give me a quiet little dark corner with no traffic, and I'll work like a demon. Put me in a noisy room full of sales-type-people and I'll barely be able to concentrate enough to look at pr0n the sales-type-people are emailling me.

      I worked in that Sportal office for three months last year. It wasn't the environment that put me off, but the fact the management weren't particularly clued up. How much confidence can you have in a company that uses StoryServer as its content management system?


      "Perl makes the fun jobs fun
      and the boring jobs bearable" - me

Re: Biggest clue you don't want the job you're offered
by lemming (Priest) on Apr 04, 2001 at 09:35 UTC

    Work Environment all the way, though I can see tie ins to the other choices.
    Is their flex time "Be here by 8am, 1 hour lunch, and you can take off at anytime after 5pm"? or is it actual flex time? What are the politics like? Do people seem to be in fear of something? Are they happy?

    I think dws's question about book buying is brilliant. It shows how they act in other areas as well. I had to write a five page report on why the company needed large capacity backup once. Bottom line: Pay $10/hr to pay someone to stuff tapes ~$300/week or pay $1000 dollars for a backup that would work everynight. I don't know why I stayed there as long as I did...
    These companies tend to overspend money at the last minute, but not when it can save money in the long run.

    Cube farms: I really truly hate them. It's not the noise factor as much as t might just be me being paranoid, but I can't stand having people walk up behind me and wait for me to notice them. Or loudly say "Hey!" and get offended when you wheel around like a mad ferret.

    Vacation time: I'm sick of the standard two week arrangement. I'm actually on a quest to get a decent wage and decent vacation. (My last job died due to complaints that I took too much time off. Of course I had given them when I'd be gone before being hired...)

    Hours: I've done the jobs where heroic measures are rewarded. "You worked over Xmas break? here's a crisp $100 bill!" It's rarely worth it. When the whole company is like that, why would they want to hire more people to get everyone down to 40 hour weeks?

Re: Biggest clue you don't want the job you're offered
by one4k4 (Hermit) on Apr 03, 2001 at 15:53 UTC
    Personally, work environment is a big deal to me. I think that a company that makes the employee feel more at home and less stressed about being -at- work, is a company that is more productive and just generally a fun(ner) place. And I think thats the longest run-on sentence I've ever written. As far as pants required.. if I work from home, I dont have to wear pants. :)

    Languages arent that big a deal. I've always gone along with the idea of "If I dont know it, I'll learn it. What could it hurt. Well, unless its Java"

    _14k4 - (
(crazyinsomniac) Re: Biggest clue you don't want the job you're offered
by crazyinsomniac (Prior) on Apr 04, 2001 at 01:49 UTC
    Language/OS you'd be using - as long as i cam dogpaddle, i am truly not that concerned.

    Commute/Relocation necessary - how far? is a car part of the deal?

    Work Environment - my corner? my music? client interaction < %50? bring it on.

    Pants required - $takejob=($pants_required>%70)?'consider $$ for final answer':'yes';

    Dress code - **see about pants.(I would like to own another suit, and not one I last wore when i was 4)

    Poor wages - what's a poor wage?(after diving for beer bottles in garbage cans, very little seems like poor wage)

    (vroom|CowboyNeal) working in the cubicle next to you - Will they be making fun of me/my ability? Can I make fun of them? What about alcohol while programming?

    Disclaimer: Don't blame. It came from inside the void

    perl -e "$q=$_;map({chr unpack qq;H*;,$_}split(q;;,q*H*));print;$q/$q;"

(kudra: because nobody else wants to work) Re: Biggest clue you don't want the job you're offered
by kudra (Vicar) on Apr 16, 2001 at 13:00 UTC
    The day before I started a new job I voted for commute, which turned out to be the right vote. My estimated 3 hour daily commute became a hypothetical 4 hour, a temporary 5 hour, and a grueling 5.5 hour daily commute in the 2 days I made it to work. The first day I didn't even go to work because there was supposed to be a train strike, which instead took place after I quit.

    The first day's commute took 5 hours. I figured I'd be able to trim that down once I got used to the route. The second day seemed to confirm that theory. I made it to the office in 2 hours and estimated the return trip would take the same time. There didn't seem to be much room for optimization beyond that as I hadn't missed any connections nor spent a lot of time waiting. Some waiting was of course inevitable in a commute consisting of walk, metro, train-with-levitating-room-only, train, and walk.

    I was seriously considering looking for another job by the time I squeezed in to the train on the way home. By the time I got off that train I was certain.

    The crowded train ride should have been a short trip from SW Amsterdam to SE Amsterdam. Shortly after the stop before mine, my ticket was checked without comment. I was wondering why it was taking so long when the train rushed through a station without stopping--a station NE of Amsterdam. When it passed through Hilversum as well without even slowing down, I started to worry. Finally the train did stop at Amersfoort, which is about 50 km past the stop I wanted (Duivendrecht).

    I got home around 21:30, still wondering how I could have gotten on the wrong train because I was certain the sign had listed a stop at Duivendrecht. According to the train company's website, the engineer, not I, had been on the wrong train. There's no escaping solidarity, so I quit (by email, as there was a strike the next day).

Re: Biggest clue you don't want the job you're offered
by ftforger (Sexton) on Apr 03, 2001 at 18:12 UTC

    How about 'what they make'. I help make medical equipment. Love it. Its rewarding. Its also a level 3 company. I was offered a lot more money to work in a much more relaxed environment, in a place with a much nicer climate, and I turned it down. Who wants to make another damn cell phone?

      A very good point. I used to work for a Co that made 3-page websites for tourist operators. Then I'd have to try to trick people to visit/stay on the site - making me feel like a used car salesman.

      Since then, the most rewarding work I've done is on community websites. There, (like here), you can pop into the chatroom and meet the users. I find it much more fulfilling to actually be producing something that the users enjoy. Vroom, you've got a good job :)
      Big agreement on the "What they make". My company is the #1 vendor of books to school libraries, and before that I was working at a sister company that made software for the library.
      # Andy Lester  AIM:petdance
      %_=split';','.; Perl ;@;st a;m;ker;p;not;o;hac;t;her;y;ju';
      print map $_{$_}, split //,
Re: Biggest clue you don't want the job you're offered
by mirod (Canon) on Apr 03, 2001 at 15:34 UTC

    Why is there no choice all of the above?

      OR 'Any of the above'
Re: Biggest clue you don't want the job you're offered
by providencia (Pilgrim) on Apr 03, 2001 at 21:38 UTC
    I think that dress codes or the lack of say a lot about any company or organization.
    I don't care what I am offered. I don't want to be told how to dress.
    Or "talked" to because I wear my favorite shirt with african masks printed on it with my
    Winnie the Pooh Bermuda shorts and some sandals.
    Especially if I don't meet the "public".

    And another thing I can eat a WHOLE gallon of Tofutti© for lunch AND dinner if I want!
Re: Biggest clue you don't want the job you're offered
by pandr (Acolyte) on Apr 16, 2001 at 11:45 UTC
    Reading this thread I got to think of a certain fortune cookie. It goes like this:

    "I went to a job interview the other day, the guy asked me if I had any questions, I said yes, just one: If you're in a car traveling at the speed of light and you turn your headlights on, does anything happen? He said he couldn't answer that, I told him sorry, but I couldn't work for him then."
    -- Steven Wright

    It is a joke, of course, but I find that it holds quite a bit of truth in it. It is the tradition that the (potential) boss quizzes you to find out if your skills are ok. But (for me, at least) it is also important to find you if my new boss (and my new co-workers) are smart guys (and gals). Chances are, that if you are the kind of person who reads Knuth for fun, you will be happy and work effectively with other people who share your interests. I am not bashing people who find physics or math boring -- just saying that people with similar interests usually communicate more effectively and hence have more fun at work.
Re: Biggest clue you don't want the job you're offered
by Caillte (Friar) on Apr 05, 2001 at 16:39 UTC

    Programming language is always a consideration, of course, but I absolutely hate working for people who think that as you are a professional you must wear a tie. Why? Does the pressure around the neck trap blood in the brain making you think better?

    $japh->{'Caillte'} = $me;

Re: Biggest clue you don't want the job you're offered
by Maclir (Curate) on Apr 09, 2001 at 05:50 UTC
    Well, the reason that I would have wanted to pick would be:

    The company that is offering you the job

    I have refused work in the past for companies that I would not work for - notably a large tobacco company. Not that I am rabidly anti-smoking, but I would not work for a tobacco company. I guess even if we have sold out bodies and minds, we still don't have to sell our souls or ethics.

      Goes along with "What do they produce?". My fiancee turned down a lucrative Ratheon offer because he refused to make [smarter] bombs. (He's EE with spec. in Digital Signals Processing.)
      I have refused work in the past for companies that I would not work for

      By definition, this is true, don't you think?


      Use of this advanced computing technology does not imply an endorsement
      of Western industrial civilization.
        If you would have had the power to read through the whole comment, he said that he would not work for a place that would go against his moral beliefs e.g. a tobacco company. Don't pass judgement on three words because that is too easy. Stop with the smart comments, and hear the full story before you reply.

        Almost a Perl hacker.
        Dave AKA damian

        I encourage you to email me
Re: Biggest clue you don't want the job you're offered
by jynx (Priest) on Apr 04, 2001 at 04:30 UTC

    After much thought, it does seem that i really wouldn't want a job with vroom.

    This is in no way associated with vroom himself, but more the fact that if the company has someone as good as vroom (who we know is good, because of this fine specimen) and they settle for someone as poor at perl as i am, they must be desperate.

    Which means they could be a web-startup (read: going down in flames in 6 months or less nowadays).

    Or it could be a non-web business that undertook such a large project with such a bad manager (hiring people to help after the project's begun can be a really bad idea :) that the business is sure to go down. If not the business, at least the department i got hired in. So some people will be downsized (like me), and that would make it a temp job which really isn't that worthwhile to me right now...

    nuf evah,

Re: Biggest clue you don't want the job you're offered
by jepri (Parson) on Apr 04, 2001 at 07:58 UTC
    Mwahhahahaha. I didn't realise I was the only one who went to work without pants. I have even done phone support completely stark-as. I hope the clients couldn't figure out why I would giggle randomly during the conversation.

    I didn't believe in evil until I dated it.

      You used to work at Apple too?
        this is my friend don as a third grader....weird!!!
Re: Biggest clue you don't want the job you're offered
by kha0z (Scribe) on Apr 11, 2001 at 09:24 UTC
    All these reasons are important... however, for me if I can't wear flip flops and shorts as they try to run me ragged and pressure me into bad coding (none have succeeded at this yet) to meet deadlines. Then why even try, to deal with the other reasons of not accepting a job?

    Good Hunting,

Re: Biggest clue you don't want the job you're offered
by blue_cowdawg (Monsignor) on Apr 15, 2001 at 01:22 UTC
    How about a job where the only person who fully understands the product the company is producing are the two founders? What are we making? Why should people buy it?
      Says blue_cowdawg:
      How about a job where the only person who fully understands the product the company is producing are the two founders?
      Wow, that brings back memories. When I first got out of school, I interviewed for a job where I would be doing the programming for a scientific experiment that was due to fly on the space shuttle. Sounds great, doesn't it?

      I went down to University of Maryland for the interview, and the folks there liked me fine. Everyone there was really nice, and it seemed like a good job in many ways. But there was one glaring problem.

      Nobody there could tell me what the experiment was about or what my programs would have to do. Nobody knew.

      They kept saying what a shame it was that I had come down to visit on the day when Dr. so-and-so wasn't around, because he could have told me everything. Hmmmm.

      I was too green to know whether it would be easy or hard to get another job offer, whether I was being wise or foolish in throwing away the opportunity. I hadn't yet learned that my instinct (Run! Run away!) was absolutely correct. But even then I knew the smell of trouble, and I didn't take the job.

      A year and a half later, when their shuttle went up, the apparatus wasn't on it.

Re: Biggest clue you don't want the job you're offered
by ademol (Initiate) on Apr 11, 2001 at 18:38 UTC
    We only use NT. or Unix ? What's that ?

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