the bizarro world of tech recruiting

{ this is super old, from back when I was still interviewing for jobs, but I figure enough time has passed that I can post it }

The recruiter calls me over Skype. I’m feeling a bit nervous because I’ve just barely crawled out of bed, but I figure I can wing a recruiter call.

Our conversation starts off well - the recruiter is energetic and refreshingly optimistic. Then we start to talk about what’s expected on the job.

“We’re a startup,” he says, as if this explains everything, “We expect longer hours than a typical 40-hour week. But you’ll be okay with that, I’m sure, because you’re American and you’re probably used to a longer work week. Sometimes we hire Europeans who really like their four weeks of vacation, and we have to explain to them that we’re a startup.”

He says European as though he weren’t one, and it’s a bit bizarre. You live in Europe, I want to tell him.

But maybe in his heart and soul he has accepted all the worst aspects of Bay Area Values as his own. Maybe he lives by that stalwart Valley motto: We’re a startup! We can do anything, including exploit workers by paying them in fresh fruit and cheap beer. We’ll hire ‘interns’ whom we will conveniently neglect to pay a living wage to. We’ll bring in workers from overseas and tell them to work illegally using tourist visas. We’ll abandon them when we’re done. We’re a startup!

We keep talking, and eventually we veer off into other topics, like salary. He has an opinion on this as well, a very blunt one.

“You people from San Francisco are far too spoiled,” he tells me, practically shouting, “We don’t pay that much here!”

I want to point out that his city is just as expensive as mine, that it’s his city that charges $6 for a bowl of cereal (even if mine charges $4 for a piece of bread), but I’m having a hard time wording this politely. I decide to be conciliatory instead: “I guess I haven’t done enough market research on salaries here. But I did have a look at the cost of living comparisons on Numbeo…”

He cuts me off. “We’re a startup.”

Oh right. How could I forget.

I was biking down Market Street on a foggy weekday morning when I heard him come up from behind me. He was wearing maroon-colored pants, rolled up in typical commuter fashion, and as he approached the traffic light, he reached into his pocket to adjust the position of his phone. Then I heard him say:

“We’re really looking heavily for JavaScript engineers. Specifically, we want someone who understands how to build good visualizations and has experience with d3. Based on what you’ve just described to me, it seems like your experience would be a great fit! Do you have any questions for me?”

While he was waiting for Potential Employee to reply, Recruiter Guy reached forward to check the pressure of his front tire. A truck rushed forward, passing us with inches to spare.

“Oh, that’s a good question,” Recruiter Guy continued, completely unfazed, “We offer a lot of perks! We have a great office, catered dinners every night, a well-stocked fridge, and I genuinely think this is the best startup - ”

A bus honked as it passed us.

“ - the best startup that you could be working at in the City. I’d love to schedule a time - ”

We biked past a homeless man yelling obscenities.

“ - for a technical interview. We’ll have one of our senior front-end engineers speak with you. When are you free?”

We stopped at a red light again, and I was now behind him in the long queue of bikes, trying very hard not to laugh. This was some hardcore recruiting right here, dangers of Market Street be damned.

A friend of mine is a recruiter. Sometimes we complain about dating in the Bay over dinner - or more accurately, I eat like a horse and she does all the complaining. Guys in the Bay Area are too indecisive, she says. She wants someone who is ambitious and has earning potential, but she’s so tired of tech guys. Why is the Bay Area such a one-trick pony? I joke with her that our history is just catching up to us, that we’re forever doomed to be a boomtown with boomtown men.

At some point during the dinner, she comes up with a brilliant idea. “What if I used OkCupid as a recruiting platform?”

I stare at her in incomprehension.

“You know, I can create a profile, connect with a bunch of people, and if the dating doesn’t work out, I can say that my company is looking for engineers! No opportunity wasted.”

Of course.

She might as well start using Tinder for job hunting and LinkedIn as a dating app. I mean, we already know that sitting on BART has one of the highest success rates in landing an interview, so what’s wrong with yet another roundabout way of getting what you want?