The Personal Blog of Todd Sharp

Why I Didn't Apply For Your Job

Posted By: Todd Sharp on 8/18/2017 1:36 UTC
Tagged: Misc
I've been on a "silent" job hunt over the past few months. I say "silent" because I'm not in a situation where I have to find a new job, but I've been keeping my eye open for opportunities and new challenges. It's really the best kind of job hunt because I get to be picky and look for the perfect opportunity and if I don't find that opportunity I'm still employed and still happy doing what I do every day. I know it's kind of taboo to speak of looking for a new job when you are employed, but I'm not really sure why that is. Maybe it isn't anymore? Regardless, I have a great relationship with the team I work with and I love working with them. None of them will be surprised if they read this blog post (and that's how it should be - good teams, even remote ones like ours, should always communicate). (Side note: I'd love to keep working with them - so if anyone has an offer we can't refuse for a really talented and fun Grails/JavaScript remote team, let me know!) So, in the spirit of burying the lede, I wanted to write this post to share my perspective from a job hunter's point-of-view and share some of the reasons why I didn't apply for your job. I'm not the first to write this kind of blog post and not all of these are things that haven't been discussed before, then again, I think we're at the point where nothing that can be written about on the internet hasn't already been written about. So, here we go:

The Elusive Expert Polyglot

I hate to do it. I really do. But it has to be repeated first and foremost. Your posting has too many "required skills" and the amount of experience you're looking for is unreasonable. Is your team really looking for someone with C++, Java, 8 years of AngularJS, React, Spring, Ruby on Rails, Python, EmberJS, C#, COBOL, and FORTRAN? ALL OF THEM? Most teams I've ever been a part of specialize on one language or at least one stack. Java, for example. We use Groovy with the Grails Framework. We used to use ColdFusion (yeah, honestly - it was a great language at one time) which was still a dynamic JVM language. We write our build scripts with Gradle (using Groovy). We use Geb for UI testing. Basically, we stick to that ecosystem unless it doesn't fit. Since we write web applications 99% of the time the stack works for what we do. Now I will admit that the JavaScript framework world tends to be a bit of the exception to this rule. We've used a lot of different JS frameworks over the years - lately it's Angular - but we tend to stick with them and focus on becoming competent and familiar with them. If you're using all of them - and this includes server side tech - are you really an expert in any of them? So does your job opening require an expert in every language and framework or do you mainly use Java but you have a few automation scripts written in Python and that one little module that Steve wrote in Angular before the team decided to use React and you've just not gotten around to refactoring it yet?

Who Are YOU?

Job postings are your sales pitch to the job hunter. Tell me why your company is awesome! There are tons of companies I've never heard of - a lot of them do a really good job at summarizing their mission statement in a job posting somewhere. Some do not. If you can't explain to me in one paragraph what your company does, and more importantly, why you believe in the mission then I'm going to move on to the next job opening. Some job seekers might not care about this. Some are motivated more by salary and benefits than they are by working for a company that has a sustainable product that they truly believe in. I'm not that kind of person. Sure, I care about salary and benefits, but I also care about working for a company that has a viable mission. I don't want to be looking for another job in 6 months because the next big Catstagram couldn't make their funding last because the market for cat memes finally came to a grinding halt.

Can I Work From Home?

I've been part of a remote team for more than 6 years. I've been more productive in those 6 years than any of the 15 years prior that I spent driving into an office. Some people can't do it. There can be distractions at times, but for the majority of the time it works out for me. What is your corporate philosophy on telecommuting? With video conferencing, instant messaging and the latest batch of tools supporting group/team chat there really isn't much of a need for a developer to be in the office. You'll save money on me working from home too - you don't have to pay for my office space, desk, electricity, internet connection, etc. Why does your posting not even mention that remote work is a possibility or that it's stricly prohibited? I should know pretty quickly what your corporate stance on it is just by reading your job posting. I won't completely disregard your posting if you don't support it, but I'll think twice about it. Which leads to the next point...

Do You Offer Paid Relocation?

Some postings are clear on their policy for paid relocation. I suppose one could argue that it should be assumed that if a job posting doesn't mention paid relocation then the company does not offer it. Still, is it negotiable? What if I'm an absolute perfect fit for that job and you're having trouble finding a perfect candidate like me but I live 1500 miles away from your office? I've seen job postings that address relocation and even some that explicitly mention that they do not offer paid relocation and it isn't even negotiable. I can respect that. The ones that irritate me are the rare borderline "perfect" opportunities that don't even address the topic. I love working from home but I'd consider relocating for the right opportunity.

Why Does Your Website Suck?

If your posting doesn't do a good job at explaining your mission (it should, see my point above) then I'm going to visit your website to learn more about your company if the job sounds intriguing. Your website shouldn't suck. I should be able to click on menu items (seriously, I have visited sites where I couldn't even click on a submenu on the homepage). You probably have a "media" or "press room" type page on your site. It should be updated. If the most recent article in your press room is from 2013 I am going to assume that your company is stagnant and it is going to throw up a big red flag for me. If you use the cheesiest stock photos for your homepage I'm going to cringe a bit and wonder why you didn't take the time (or spend the money) on getting some decent images to create a great first impression for your users and potential employees.

Will You Sponsor An Upgraded Clearance For This Job?

This one is a bit specific, but, for jobs that require a clearance, will you sponsor an upgrade for someone who may have a clearance that is a lower level than required? What about people who aren't cleared? Will you sponsor them? There are a lot of jobs that require a TS/SCI with full scope poly - but there aren't a ton of people looking for jobs that have a TS/SCI with full scope poly. Someone with a Secret or Top Secret is likely a candidate for upgrade since they've already obtained one so the risk of them not being cleared is somewhat mitigated.

What Is Your Interview Process Like?

I'm not going to beat the drum much about my disdain for whiteboarding algorithms here, but your job posting should explain what the process is like for potential candidates. Some postings and career pages on websites do a good job of outlining this but most don't even mention it. I shouldn't have to go to a third party site like Glassdoor and be harrased into posting my own salary or corporate review just so I can read third party accounts of what it is like to interview with you. Can I submit a code sample? Is there a "technical test" required? Will there be a panel interview, or a one on one? Is there a whiteboard even on the same floor as where I'll be interviewing?


Ugh. I know. Tons of people apply for your jobs. It's hard to provide feedback to everyone. Still, providing feedback as to why you didn't chose me or even consider me for an interview is absolutely 100% helpful to me as a job seeker. Are there skills I need to obtain or improve? Does the fact that I only have an Associates degree not overcome my 13 years of development experience? Did I use the wrong keywords in my resume? Did my cover letter not grab your attention? Am I too experienced for this position? Yeah, wishful thinking on a lot of these, I know.

The Perfect Job Posting

In summary, here's what I think the perfect job opening looks like: