Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Joel seems like a jerk in the resume article


I didn't bother to read the resume article at first, but after noticing the update about the love/hate feedback readers have I took a peek.

Joel comes across as arrogant. Overall the article rubbed me the wrong way. I think the advice about proof-reading and writing a personal cover letter is good in general. Too bad there is so much negative stuff around the real message. I guess in that respect the article is good as an example of how pissy the resume sorter will get after receiving 200+ resumes.

Considering that he's looking for summer interns I think his standards are a bit high. Many students have little or no previous experience applying for professional jobs or working in a professional office. Calling these people stupid for attaching two word documents to a blank email message seems unnecessary.

Also:
--
"One of the requirements for Summer Internship says that you need to interview in person in New York City. I am interested in the position but I stay in East Nowhere, TN." OK, that's nice, hon, you stay there. Another PS, I thought we said in the requirements "Excellent command of written and spoken English."
--

Hmm, I think Joel is a jerk here too. Stay and live can be used as synonyms. This person seems like a non-native speaker. If your summer intern really needs to be a native speaker of English that's fine. I think it's crass to dismiss foreigners just because they word their sentences a little weird at times.

--
If you think for some reason that your résumé will get more attention if you print it out and send it through the mail, that you'll "stand out" somehow, disabuse yourself of that notion.
--
I've seen the opposite advice in job hunting guides from a few years ago. Just because that's the way Fogcreek does it like this doesn't mean it's the best way for all job applications.

--
I don't think there's ever a reason to apply for more than three or four jobs at a time.
--
If HR departments guaranteed an interview for every applicant this might be true. Even a response saying "we aren't going to interview you" would be fine. But since there's no way to know if you're even being considered I think this advice is way off base.

NathanJ
Monday, January 26, 2004

I recall that most southerners I've met use the word "stay" where the rest of us use "live."  Every time I read that construct I hear it in my head with a southern accent.  So, correct or incorrect, I would chalk it up to a regional cultural-ism rather than poor command of the language.

McSqueeb
Monday, January 26, 2004

I think this sentance:

> I didn't bother to read the resume article at first, but after noticing the update about the love/hate feedback readers have I took a peek. <

predicts these two:

> Joel comes across as arrogant. Overall the article rubbed me the wrong way. <

I.e. reveals a pre-existing bias.

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, January 26, 2004

My money says that Fog Creek is about to hire more people shortly - Joel put this resumé article out, just to stir up a discussion prior to announcing open positions.

Then he will filter out the applications on the criteria in his article - and tell you all, "I told you so". ;-)

Patrik
Monday, January 26, 2004

Are you saying I am biased because I didn't read the article when I first noticed it? Does it matter if I am? I don't read a lot of job-hunting advice.

I didn't like the article. It brings back all the fears I had as a job-hunter that a single misplaced comma on my resume meant instant disqualification. Everyone wants to be judged by their real skills and abilities.

NathanJ
Monday, January 26, 2004

Joel comes across as arrogant.

And this is bad because...?

Anything, ANYTHING you find out about a company before applying is a plus.  Many companies share these traits but fail to mention them.  Now that you know what pisses off the guy filtering resumes, you know what to look at in your resume.

Going back to arrogance.  IF you do not like an arrogant boss, don't apply to fog creek.  Time saved...

What does surprise me however, is the continued failure of people to check spelling, punctuation, and meaningful sentence structure.  Why should Joel even need to write an article like this?  Perhaps he would have done himself and everyone else a favor by just eliminating the failures up front. 

I just wonder if the interviews go even further south, like "pear dimples for hairy fishnuts"
http://www.eorbit.net/pipermail/spielfrieks/2003-February/032872.html

MSHack
Monday, January 26, 2004

I think Joel comes off as slightly (only slightly, mind, not the whole nine yards) arrogant, perhaps, but he's certainly earnt the right.  I don't think you can begrudge him that, if you don't like it, don't read his articles or filter it out, whatever.

Anon
Monday, January 26, 2004

er, earned.

Anon
Monday, January 26, 2004

To Joel's "If you think for some reason that your résumé will get more attention if you print it out and send it through the mail [...] disabuse yourself of that notion", NathanJ responded "I've seen the opposite advice in job hunting guides from a few years ago. Just because that's the way Fogcreek does it like this doesn't mean it's the best way for all job applications." Well, duh. Joel was commenting on the failure to read directions: If the job posting says to submit your resume nicely calligraphed on vellum, gold leaf optional, then if you want the job, you'd better go find a parchment supplier. If, however, the company asks for plain-text resumes submitted via email, then a printed-out and snail-mailed resume is just as wrong as an html email with pink and purple text and a Word doc resume attachment.

Martha
Monday, January 26, 2004

Summer intern?  High standards?  He set the bar right about where I expected it would be.  I've applied for a lot of jobs in my short days.  The only times I've gotten interviews were for jobs where I researched the company (at least checked their web site to understand them) and put together a cover letter that neatly lines me up to every thing they request. 

I've put together cover letters and resumes that match every Joel looked for point for point for jobs that I've been qualified for and got no response.

You should look for decent grammar and punctuation.  A person who can communicate in written English clearly is not necessarily a good programmer, but there must be very few top-notch programmers who cannot write well.  To be proficient at grammar, you need to be well read (always a good thing), attentive to detail (essential for programmers) and a systematic thinker.

To be a good writer, you need to simplify... another good thing in programming.

(...waits patiently for someone to criticize some typo...)

intern
Monday, January 26, 2004


--
If, however, the company asks for plain-text resumes submitted via email, then a printed-out and snail-mailed resume is just as wrong as an html email with pink and purple text and a Word doc resume attachment.
--

No - you are incorrect. Unless a company specifically states e-mail resumes only then there is no valid reason to assume that snail mail resumes are bad. My sister got her last job by sending an email and a hardcopy resume to the company that hired her. The owner/interview thanked her for sending a hardcopy as well as an email.

Now that I read Joel's article I'm sure this dual resume strategy got her application trashed at other companies.

That is the whole problem I have with this article. It assumes people are idiots or don't care just because they do things a little differently than HR expects.

NathanJ
Monday, January 26, 2004

people are idiots, and they don't care. It isn't HR's problem.


Monday, January 26, 2004


--
I don't think you can begrudge him that, if you don't like it, don't read his articles or filter it out, whatever.
--

As far as the right to be arrogant ... Yes. Joel has earned the right to be arrogant. Saying it's stupid to send a blank email with two word attachments is arrogant and unnecessary name-calling.

But... I also have the right to criticize such arrogance. If you don't like it then you also have the right to ignore my comments :)



--
You should look for decent grammar and punctuation.
--

I have no problem with good grammar and punctuation. It is the other superficial application process things that irked me.

NathanJ
Monday, January 26, 2004

You're right, you should interview everyone who has the right qualifications, and they should be forced to wear a paper bag over their head JUST IN CASE you might judge them on something other than their skills alone.

Call me in the year 2020 when you've chosen someone.

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, January 26, 2004

I think Joel may be somewhat embarrassed by some folks in his profession - folks who should excel in logic, clear thinking, understanding a problem before they solve it, testing the results, living with the consequences. In this case there's not even a poor manager screwing up their effort or peers trying to sabotage their work.

tk
Monday, January 26, 2004

He may be a jerk, but he's my type of jerk.  Just a much more polished form of a jerk than I would ever be.

(a Raw Jerk.)

T.J.
Monday, January 26, 2004

--
You're right, you should interview everyone who has the right qualifications, and they should be forced to wear a paper bag over their head JUST IN CASE you might judge them on something other than their skills alone.
--

I never said that. Screening someone based on whether their cover letter is in-line or in a seperate document is ridiculous.

Why are you people so upset about that? Why is it ok to have an arbitrary screening process and it is not ok for people to complain about it? I am embarrassed by the illogical responses (such as tk's).

NathanJ
Monday, January 26, 2004

"Screening someone based on whether their cover letter is in-line or in a seperate document is ridiculous."

Compared to what? In case you've missed this whole discussion, the point is that there's such an overwhelming noise of resumés that such arbitrary judgements WILL be used because SOMETHING has to be used -- there are a lot of people who look great on paper, but obviously no one has time to interview hundreds of people, so separating the submissions by people who couldn't take the effort to polish their one chance seems fair.

Of course Joel really is pissing into the wind -- even if everyone took his advice (which they won't), you'd just be left to finding other arbitary techniques of filtering the submissions (perhaps, as someone said in another response, tossing 50% because they're "unlucky").

Anonymizer
Monday, January 26, 2004

I am all for what Joes says...but I am also curious how he treats those who he has called in for an interview and then rejected for some reason  or those whom he never calls.

Do the "rejects" get atleast an email explaining the reasons for why they are rejected or do they get the standard form answer crap "We have kept your resume on file...."

If someone does all that Joel wants on his resume and Joel decides not to call him or her does he atleats tell the guy "Hey I read your resume"

If not and if Joel thinks that just because he is hiring that he can get away not doing this then he should not be surprised that some people do the same to him.

Code Monkey
Monday, January 26, 2004


--
In case you've missed this whole discussion, the point is that there's such an overwhelming noise of resumés that such arbitrary judgements WILL be used because SOMETHING has to be used
--

I don't care what arbitrary judgement is used. Writing an article on how stupid people are just because they don't follow YOUR arbirtrary judgement is lame. And to reiterate for the STUPID I am not talking about grammar and punctuation mistakes.

NathanJ
Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Is it arbitrary to pint out that blank messages don't get past the spam filter? As I pointed out in another post Spam Bayes which Joel uses, flags these as junk mail, and your email won't even be seen. It is also pretty inconsiderate to insist someone has to virus scan and open a doc just to know what folder it  is supposed to go in, for the cases where the message is not automatically sent to the junk mail folder.

Nathan doesn't seem to have clicked that the advice about sending a hard copy was from a few years ago. Nowadays only the most backward of companies will not be storing all resumes online. You can send a hard copy AS WELL but it may well go into the shredder, and the same applies to faxes. I get 150 applicants a month; I can access any one of 3000 applicants resumes with two  mouse clicks, but to access paper ones I need to walk five minutes to the secretary's office and ask him to spend ten minutes looking for it. Guess who's more likely to get hired.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, January 27, 2004

--
I didn't like the article. It brings back all the fears I had as a job-hunter that a single misplaced comma on my resume meant instant disqualification. Everyone wants to be judged by their real skills and abilities.
--

Which strangely echo my fears that a misplaced semi-colon in my code might crash the Space Shuttle into the White House.

OK, that's not quite true because I right code for digital voice recorders, but I hope you get my point - anyone who isn't more-than-a-little paranoid about fiddly details probably shouldn't be writing software, because computers don't have a tendency to cover your mistakes for you by thinking "of course he meant the code below to be part of the loop." (Not yet, anyway)

The required level of attention to detail *is* a skill or ability and I have no problems judging people on it or my being judged on it myself. Unfortunately I've worked with (and still work with) too many people who HAVEN'T been filtered for it.

RobG_uk
Tuesday, January 27, 2004

"because I right code for digital voice recorders"

How wrong is the code before you right it ?

Damian
Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Aaagh! "write" not "right". Today's top tip - write your cover letter when you've had some sleep.

RobG_uk
Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Sorry, you're a no-hire.


Tuesday, January 27, 2004

I think the basic point of the post is as has been discussed in previous topics.  Even if you agree with Joel, which I do to a great extent, he doesn't come off very well in the article.  Sometimes the thoughts in one's head sound different from how they look on the page.

I am reminded of one of my favorite scenes in "Almost Famous".  The lead singer is told of his (accurate) quotes in a draft of the Rolling Stone article on his band and he exclaims:

"'Rock and Roll can save the world?' 'the chicks are great?'  I sound like a dick!"

name withheld out of cowardice
Tuesday, January 27, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home