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Honesty in companies

I saw a lot of preaching going on about how honest someone else out to be in their resumes. Let me give my experience.

Most companies are like a brothel. You ought never even to try to behave like you are the only virgin around. I have some bitter experiences in this regard.

In my first company, we were all given a bunch of tests during our probationary period. It was understood that those who performed well would get good programming jobs. Those who did badly would get f***ed up testing jobs. We were around 10-14 of us.

Everyone copied  and cheated in the tests except one or two like me. I did not copy and preferred to write what i knew.  Result--> I got the lowest marks among all the people. There was some talk about me along with some other low scorers being kicked out. I had a lot of tension for several months. Could not eat properly and could not sleep properly. All those cheaters never had the problem.
You cant imagine the hell i went through- all because i wanted to be "honest". No point. I was also so honest that unlike some others, i never even applied for other companies though i was given a very low pay. This was because i thought i should be "loyal".


It did have a happy ending and a sad ending. Later on they did not kick me out. Since some experienced people left the company, i was given a programming job. 1 year later on the CEO told me i was among the best programmers he had seen.
But i have resolved from then on that whenever i am in a brothel, i never try to show my morals. I will cheat the next time. I will also lie in my resume if necessary to get a job.

One sad ending was that the pimp i was loyal to (The CEO)
cheated me out of my last months pay though he promised it to me. From then on, i never trust anyone bossing over me. Every CEO is a bastard unless proven otherwise.

Regular poster but anonymous
Thursday, March 18, 2004

I think you picked the wrong moral.  Instead of cheating in the brothel, maybe you should avoid brothels?


Thursday, March 18, 2004

How do you know?. If i knew my boss was honest and i worked or applied to some honest company, i would not cheat.

But i would not cheat if, let say, i worked in a honest company and i knew the boss was honest.

Regular poster but anonymous
Thursday, March 18, 2004

I knew a company that, when one of its three rivals folded, hired that companies' engineers purely to stop its rivals hiring them. The rivals at the time were expanding and would have benefited greatly from the experienced engineers.

The first company did not need engineers at the time, and had no intention of keeping them.

The engineers accepted management's claims that they would have to be hired on temporary contracts while the paperwork was sorted out.

After a few months, the engineers were kicked out, with no jobs available anymore.







CEO On The Take
Thursday, March 18, 2004

Yeah, OK, "Regular poster but anonymous," I'm sorry you had a bad experience being honest, but with that attitude I wouldn't want you working for me, and I doubt if many other managers would, either.

Joel Spolsky
Fog Creek Software
Thursday, March 18, 2004

Yeh. You are right. I Need an attitude change from being extreme to sensible

Regular poster but anonymous
Thursday, March 18, 2004

> Most companies are like a brothel.

And all i got was this stupid pink slip!

son of parnas
Thursday, March 18, 2004

Being honest do not mean that you cannot look life as a war, and as a tactical game. Because in my opinion it is.

The question is what is more important to you, being honest in any case, or be successful in the eye of the society and others.

On the other side, it should be not black and white. You have on life, and there are 6 billion other lifes here. All of these means there are 6 billion different views on what honesty means.

Also you can be honest with your wife but not with your enemy.

Be creative and don't think being honest makes you a looser.


Thursday, March 18, 2004

Joel

Why do you think he's hell-bent to work for you?

Do you honestly think people who hangout here on a frequent basis would die to work for FC?

Just my 2 cents.

Brothers in arms
Thursday, March 18, 2004

Why do you think I think he wants to work for me?

I was just giving him the hiring manager's perspective.

Joel Spolsky
Fog Creek Software
Thursday, March 18, 2004

>From then on, i never trust anyone bossing over me.

Go live in a cave then...whiny boy.

>Every CEO is a bastard unless proven otherwise

Good...use that line in any interview you get and I am sure you will have more than enough material to whine about again.

Code Monkey
Thursday, March 18, 2004

I havent actually cheated since such an oppurtunity has not arose once again. But i have lied lots and lots in my resume. If there is a subject i know very well, i say that i have worked on it for 2 years.  Lets say, i am very very good at C++  but havent worked on it in a company setup. I would probably lie. But in the job i am in now, i did not lie to get it.

Well Joel, its all a matter of situation buddy. I can also imagine myself  lecturing the same lecture you gave me from your pedestal and have given it too. Fully understand it. I mean you have every right not to hire a liar like me and every right to preach.  But only when you go through fire will the cloth you wear be tested.

I dont mean the silly experience i had with my greedy boss.
It was a combination of several things over several years.
It took me around 3 years to turn from a honest person into one of those "Will do what is required" persons. To be honest, I cant say i regret it. I just dont give a damn.

Regular poster but anonymous
Thursday, March 18, 2004

You didn't go through hell because you were honest. You went through hell because you were hell bent on impressing a company and people that you knew to be DIShonest.

Being honest sometimes costs you in the short term, but in the long term it will make you happier. You lies catch up to you in one way or another. They'll catch up to the people in that company too.

So don't worry so much about what a lying company thinks of you. If they lie and cheat and decide you're not good enough for them because you refuse to lie, so be it.

At least if you can say you have integrity and dignity then you have something worthwhile. Jobs come and go. Can you really say you want to be a sellout to yourself over something so fleeting?

Sum Dum Gai
Thursday, March 18, 2004

It's the oldest story in the book: someone treats us badly, and we use that mistreatment to justify our own bad behavior.

I think it's wrong.  Even worse, it's not the least bit original.

Cognitive Dissonance
Thursday, March 18, 2004

I may not support outright lying etc., but this strikes a chord. Dishonesty is not the best policy, but then again honesty isn't always either. I'm sure we've all been there once or twice. I've seen the same story the OP mentioned and I have no doubt it was a completely different company.

Shodan
Thursday, March 18, 2004

Who's to say whats right or wrong in these chaotic, modern times? Seriously though, you arent lying until you get caught!

anon-y-mous cow-ard
Thursday, March 18, 2004

Perhaps "Regular poster but anonymous " should have been even more honest in the original situation. For example "Yes you are right Mr Employer, I do seem to have one of the lower scores, but might I suggest a different test method that would stop X kind of cheating, I'm sure the results may change".
Now this might (and probably) would mean you'd not get the job, however you leave Mr Employer with a load of engineers he could not trust.

nakedCode
Thursday, March 18, 2004

As far as CV's (resumes get called CV's in the UK) go, my opinion is that if you have the equivilant knowledge of someone the 2 years commercial experience in "random tech". Then put 2 years commercial experience on the CV.
Why?
Well, in an interview I said I had the level of experience of someone working commercially with C++. The note taken by the interviewer was "C++, no experience".
With all that said, I am still too honest on my CV and as such am stuck in a call centre (or "center" for the americans).

nakedCode
Thursday, March 18, 2004

If someone ended up in front of me and I'd discovered that they were claiming something that wasn't true, unless I'd had extraordinarily good vibes about that person already I wouldn't hire them, and I'd probably fire them if I discovered it later.

If you have a face to face interview with someone that misrepresents you, putting down no experience when you have had experience, whether commercial or not.  Then you call them on it there and then and you insist on them passing on the CV intact.

This means generally your CV won't get passed on of course if its an agent.

If there's a barrier to you getting employed that you believe no recruiter, no agent, no HR person is ever going to understand you to make allowances for; if you believe you're that special (and you might well be), then take your convictions of your worth directly to the manager.

Discover the company you want to work for, and work on them.  If its a development company, then get to know the support staff (if they're local), build a reputation with them.  If there are others that were at Uni with you, or wherever, use them, help them, help each other.

Whichever strategy you use, organise your attack so that you will get noticed.

Alternatively, if you don't have that conviction that you are special, that you can override the non-commercial experience, take any job that gives you that experience no matter how trivial.

Simon Lucy
Friday, March 19, 2004

ok, Whats wrong with saying "Excellent C++ Programmer" opposed to "2 years c++".  I'm much more likely to call someone with the former, even if it is partially to see if they're full of shit.

vince
Friday, March 19, 2004

----"Most companies are like a brothel. "----

No, they're not. If they were, you'd all get fired.

If you work in a brothel you can't
a) Spend three days getting the customer to reach an orgasm and then charge him for the time at an hourly rate because he forgot to put "sexual stipulation" into the specification.
b) Insist that he does it in the dark and in the missionary position because all this stuff about GUI's and the Kama Sutra is for wimps who can't understand the command line.
c) Alternatively insist that he does it tied up to a multi-layered framework using Java struts because it scales better, even though all they wanted was a quick one in the lunch break
d) Insist that he pays for a colleague to sit in and make notes on his sexual prowess when not substituting for you, because pair programming is the way to go.
e) Get away with your usual standards of personal hygiene (except for a very small minority of clients who probably all hail from Belgium or Yorkshire).

The truth is that brothel workers are not just more honest and provide better value than programmers, they even outperform programmers' products. They perform the same tasks over and over again with no degradation in performance or pleasure, and in general are much more predictable, reliable and unemotional than the average piece of commercial software which will throw a BSOD at you on the slightest pretext.

Stephen Jones
Friday, March 19, 2004

Stephen,

You should collect these gems, there may be a carrier in it :-)

Erik
Friday, March 19, 2004

A carrier, Erik? You mean with handles and the supermarket's name on the outside and everything? Wow!

(Sorry, just kidding you, I know what you meant.)


Friday, March 19, 2004

nakedCode:

So you're saying that because some interviewers are jerks, that gives you the right to be a jerk by lying?

Uh-huh, that sounds like the sort of person I want to be working with. Not.

If the company isn't savvy enough to actually look past magical "commercial experience" and instead actually find out if you're any good, do you really want to work there? Chances are they'll have more than their fair share of people who are crap, but have 10 years experience so they got hired.

Thanks but no thanks, I'll stick with telling the truth. It's not just the only approach I find morally acceptable, it's also the best practical approach.

Sum Dum Gai
Friday, March 19, 2004

Unless you're unemployed of course.


Friday, March 19, 2004

Regular, you seem to have grasped the first part of this principle:

"If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;"

Now try learning the second part:

"….Be honest and frank anyway."

Fernanda Stickpot
Friday, March 19, 2004

"Unless you're unemployed of course."

So being unemployed justifies lying?

I think it's a very rare situation where someone in a Western nation is in such a bad position that they need to resort to lying to make enough money to buy food. Until you run out of money for such essentials in life, I think you need your integrity more than you need a job.

So no, even if you're unemployed, you still aren't justified in lying. The fact that it's done out of a sense of desperation might make the act more understandable, but it doesn't make it right.

Sum Dum Gai
Friday, March 19, 2004

> (Sorry, just kidding you, I know what you meant.)

Yeah, go ahead, mock my spastic fingers :-)

Erik
Friday, March 19, 2004

I was referring to the "best practical approach" part of your post, not whether it is justifiable. If your intention is to get a job that you apply for and you cannot do so honestly, then the best practical approach is, obviously, not to be honest, if that gets you a job. I'm not saying it is a good idea, moral, or anything else, just that it may be that lying may well be the most practical way of achieving the goal. Whether you want to live with your conscience and possible conseqences of lying is where the questions of it being moral or even a "good idea" come in.


Friday, March 19, 2004

Stephen, your knowledge of brothels amazes.

Tapiwa
Friday, March 19, 2004

"If someone ended up in front of me and I'd discovered that they were claiming something that wasn't true, unless I'd had extraordinarily good vibes about that person already I wouldn't hire them, and I'd probably fire them if I discovered it later."

I suspect if you discovered it later you'd make a value judgement. Yes they told untruths but you need to balance that with their value as an employee. I suspect you'd be much more likely to confront them about it and see how they respond to it. Simply firing someone without due consideration would be the act of an incompetent.

Gwyn
Friday, March 19, 2004

Honesty always pays. Its like hygene, the first few times you let things slide, nothing happens and you think its ok then one day, your rich aunt gets salmonella at your house and writes your out of her will.

Cheats really don't prosper. They may gain annoying short term advantages but ultimately the honest get the inside track. If if you are always honest you never have the overhead of checking that your story is consistent with your back-story. Over time that gives you an edge.

Woodentongue
Friday, March 19, 2004

I used to do QA for a major brothel chain. It's a young man's job. You have to work ridiculous hours in semi-dark surroundings, banging away at the product, probing all the holes looking for bugs. It might be fun as a first job straight out of college, but after you settle down with the wife and kids you long for something more 9-to-5'ish.
Then I started in software development ...

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, March 19, 2004

Stephen Jones:

Given the fact you are an English major, you could write a book with the following title:

"A computer programmer tapped in a prostitute body and soul."

Would be a best-seller.

Cosmo Kramer
Friday, March 19, 2004

Ah, tapped, now I get to snicker

Erik
Friday, March 19, 2004

Fernanda,

That was a very nice saying. I will try ;-).  I mean i am not a serial liar. But i will not lie in my resumes any more.

I guess all these posts shamed me. It was true that i dont pay any attention to things like loyalty and truth when it comes to resumes and my boss.

Begin
          Call fRepent(bStinkingLiar)
End

Regular poster but anonymous
Friday, March 19, 2004

Sum Dum Gai:- Okay, if put in the situation mentioned in my last message. I would not lie to the interviewer, but I would not expose something that I felt was going to reflect badly on myself. i.e. "Yeah I work on loads of personal projects at home in C++" would become "yeah I worked on loads of projects using C++". If a mate wanted an app for his business that would take me half a day and I was doing it for him as a favour, instead of being "Yeah I did an app for my friend", that would be "Yeah I did an app for Mr X at Random Company".
I agree that when the interviewer I mentioned did that I should have done something about it, but it was one of the first interview I had after being made redundant.
I still don't lie in interviews or on my CV, but it does sometimes feel like I am going to have to come up with more and more inventive ways of avoiding lies to avoid being left on the shelf. I like holding on to my principle of honesty, but if the jobs ain't coming in I'll have to do something before the roof over my head is no longer there.

nakedCode
Friday, March 19, 2004

By repute English Majors are meant to prefer a little light caning to brothels.

Simon Lucy
Saturday, March 20, 2004

Keeps the code monkeys on the team up to scratch.

Actually over here I'm thinking of applying heavy lashing to those who overrun schedules :)

Stephen Jones
Saturday, March 20, 2004

> your rich aunt gets salmonella at your house and writes your out of her will

Damn. I was hoping she'd die of the salmonella and therfore wouldn't get chance to write me out of her will.


Monday, March 22, 2004

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