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    If we can collectively reject awful hiring practices, we all win. Employers already have most of the power in this relationship, so we need to band together and consider how each of our individual actions affect the community as a whole.

    I think maybe this has been done before, to great effect (eg, the forty-hour work week, etc.).

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        You must be lucky to live in a place where it’s cheap to keep your belly full and a roof over your head, and where programmers command such high pay, and has tons of places to work, in lots of different professions! If that weren’t so, you wouldn’t be so glib about leaving and going somewhere better. In fact, if such a place didn’t actually exist, you’d look like a heartless and uninformed child, which can’t be true, or else you youldn’t be here. So I’m probably missing something that unifies and resolves this apparent contradiction. Maybe you just forgot about how hard it is to pay rent in Silicon Valley without an SV salary, or what it’s like to have a partner with different skills and needs, or have children or family or community that would be devastating to leave behind.

        You claim that the members of the labor pool for programmers is already more powerful, individually, than the members of the capital pool, and therefore, it is not worthwhile to unionize. Maybe you’re right, which is maybe why the capital members have taken it upon themselves to organize collectively against labor. But why would you want to wait until you were desperate before you organized to realize your strength? Why wouldn’t you want to strengthen your position even more, especially when vastly more powerful forces will inevitably organize against you?

        You’ve also characterized the alternative to “leaving and going somewhere better” in a very strange and passive way: “sit around and hope a union will come along and fix things for you”. I’d ask for clarity on how you think unions actually work, and what kind of dynamic they would introduce to the labor market, but I suspect there wouldn’t be much coherence. Instead, I’ll just point out that “sitting around and waiting” to be saved by a union is an odd thing to do after pointing out that there are no relevant unions.

        Anyway, enjoy your coding challenges and unpaid overtime and no vacation accrual and equity that you can’t afford to exercise!

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          I deleted my comment because after I posted it, I realized that since you hadn’t specifically mentioned unions and figured it was out of line for me to go assuming you meant unions. But since it’s very clear now you were, for the benefit of other readers, the main point I made was that I literally can’t imagine a profession least in need of unions than software developers.

          You must be lucky to live in a place where it’s cheap to keep your belly full and a roof over your head, and where programmers command such high pay, and has tons of places to work, in lots of different professions! If that weren’t so, you wouldn’t be so glib about leaving and going somewhere better.

          I do live in such a place, I live in the US where even the poorest of the poor have better living conditions than half the world. I should have qualified my statements by saying that they apply mainly to western countries. I understand that in other parts of the world opportunity is not as easy to come by no matter what your skill set. If that’s the case for you, then it’s possible my comments don’t apply to you and unions might be necessary where you are.

          Maybe you just forgot about how hard it is to pay rent in Silicon Valley without an SV salary, or what it’s like to have a partner with different skills and needs, or have children or family or community that would be devastating to leave behind.

          There’s always the option to leave Silicon Valley. There are a lot of famous companies with headquarters there but the Valley does not in any way have a monopoly on tech jobs.

          Yes, I do have a partner with different skills to myself and we have children. I have already made one major move to get out of a shitty job and into a better one. And I would happily do it again if I had to.

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            But since it’s very clear now you were, for the benefit of other readers, the main point I made was that I literally can’t imagine a profession least in need of unions than software developers.

            Really? I don’t think doctors need a union either, but they have the AMA. Lawyers have the ABA. Other engineering professions have their professional societies. No, these aren’t formal unions, and they don’t have collective bargaining rights, but they do fulfill many of the same functions that unions fulfill for “blue-collar” workers.

            In fact, the more I look around at other professions, the stranger I think it is that programmers don’t have a union or professional organization.

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              I do find the argument that you can just uproot your whole life and move somewhere else with better work conditions to be extremely weak. People shouldn’t be put in a position to consider this a valid option in the first place. People have relatives, friends, children who need a stable environment, even just things they are used to and feel comfortable with.

              Consider how you might have come about that way of thinking, and who it really benefits to have people willing to do this, from a broader perspective.

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                I do live in such a place, I live in the US where even the poorest of the poor have better living conditions than half the world.

                Therefore, there is no place for unions in the US? P.S.: you have just admitted you don’t live in such a place.

                There’s always the option to leave Silicon Valley. There are a lot of famous companies with headquarters there but the Valley does not in any way have a monopoly on tech jobs.

                It, along with the other areas with a monopsonistic local labor market (Seattle, New York to a lessor extent), does have a near exclusive lock on the disproportionately large salaries you mention as an intrinsic benefit of being a member of that industry, and all those places are very expensive to live in. Some people might get lucky by living some place cheap while working remotely and getting paid with SV/Seattle/NY wages, but compared to the total number of jobs, that number is low.

                Yes, I do have a partner with different skills to myself and we have children. I have already made one major move to get out of a shitty job and into a better one. And I would happily do it again if I had to.

                How great for you! I’m sure it wasn’t a huge pain and you’d not put down any roots (kids making friends at school, etc.) and everyone was happier for having done so. That’s fantastic, and I’m not even being insincere, because even if it were true, it wouldn’t support the argument that it is, in general, easy and painless to do, and that reasonable people shouldn’t desire to not have to do that.

                You have not presented any argument against unions other than, “I don’t think we need them because the costs currently imposed on us by capital are either low enough that I don’t mind, or I’m somehow not paying them because I’ve been lucky or something.” Why are you so against the idea?

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                  I essentially agree about not uprooting, but the point about kids and school is probably a bit off. We considered it an argument for not changing countries. We also considered the problems kids (which we didn’t have at the time) would have integrating if we moved back. But a friend - a teacher of young children - set the record straight: Kids make new friends.

                  The biggest nope here is girls around puberty. They can be the worst psychological bullies, even deciding in advance to hate the new girl the teacher talked about.

                  With kids and a career, you don’t necessarily see your friends very often, at least IME. Moving should be such an upgrade that you can travel to see your friends about as often as you would otherwise.

                  Just something to keep in mind when considering a big move. We didn’t move for other reasons, at least not yet.

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                      I generally don’t do PDFs on the phone, but the middle link makes a good point about the age at which to move. I’m also quite sure that moving a lot can be detrimental. But moving like once at a less fragile age shouldn’t wreck the kid.

                      Same as what I’ve heard about divorces and relationships. There are ages when you should keep the facade going.

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            Reading the title and this comment, you might conclude, “coding challenges are awful hiring practice” and get on with your day.

            Don’t do this, the article is about how coding challenges can be improved and what prospective employees should expect out of employers who use them.

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            Upon completing the code challenge, you are told someone will get back to you, and they never do.

            Had this happen to me recently. Sent my resume and then they sent me a link to a test which I easily passed and then they reply saying they won’t be continuing with me because they think I don’t have the experience needed which can only be based on the resume I sent before taking the test. The company was obviously just using the test to filter the number of resumes they had to look at.

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              I think starting with a coding test is actually a good thing. In The Hiring Post, Thomas Ptacek wrote:

              Years from now, we’ll look back at the 2015 developer interview as an anachronism, akin to hiring an orchestra cellist with a personality test and a quiz about music theory rather than a blind audition.

              Well, the coding test is our blind audition. Just as a blind audition levels the playing field for orchestra musicians, starting with a coding test levels the playing field for us. Sure, for a candidate who looks and sounds the right way and has sufficient charisma, it may be harder to reject them if they get to have a conversation with an interviewer first. But for everyone else, a coding test is probably a better start.

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                I don’t see orchestra musicians and programming as being close enough for the comparison to work. An orchestra musician basically just has to show and up and play their instrument however the conductor wants them to. For a company looking to add a programmer to their team, raw programming skill is secondary to how well they fit in with the rest of the team from a social and teamwork stand point. Skill can always be improved but a toxic or apathetic personality can weaken or destroy a team.

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                  I don’t see orchestra musicians and programming as being close enough for the comparison to work. An orchestra musician basically just has to show and up and play their instrument however the conductor wants them to.

                  That’s not true. An orchestra musician has to do all of the other things that you’re describing. They have to get along with their section. They have to be able to interpret the conductors directions. But, first and foremost, they do have to be able to play their instrument with a level of virtuosity commensurate with the pieces they will be required to play. Orchestral music, just like software development, is a team sport, and a musician who isn’t willing to commit themselves to that teamwork will be similarly unsuccessful.

                  Skill can always be improved but a toxic or apathetic personality can weaken or destroy a team.

                  Why would that be any different on an orchestra than it would be on a software development team?

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                I personally prefer a reasonable coding assignment over a normal interview. IMO it’s reasonable and makes sense to have people write code as part of the vetting process for a job writing code.

                Whoever did the test in the shortest time with the “cleanest” code wins. Everyone else loses.

                Is this really a thing? I’ve never seen a hiring process setup as a direct competition before.

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                  The article talks specifically about coding challenges as the first step in the hiring process. It doesn’t argue against coding assignments after the hiring company has invested some resources itself.

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                  We use these tests as a minimal filter, not to actually test if you’re a good candidate. If you are a good candidate having a good day, our test will take you less than 20 minutes. I.e. we literally interview anyone who scored 66/100 (or, a D+), and if you pass that bar no one looks at your “HR” score ever again. Glorified fizz buzz (and that’s important/necessary).

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                    Companies are usually quite generous when it comes to fulfilling requests from potential candidates. However, they have no problem exploiting people who don’t have any expectations, and most of the interviewees don’t expect / demand anything when going into an interview.

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                      I always like to ask for a coding example, but not a test. I really just want to see how you write your code: commenting, variable naming, that kind of thing. I don’t care as much about how it works as long as it’s not abhorrent anti-patterns and craziness. The tests don’t really do it for me.