Facets: Issue 10

January 9, 2016

On Recruiting, Inclusiveness, and Crafting Better Job Descriptions

Cris Concepcion
"Don't optimize for discouraging undesirables. Optimize for encouraging the people who you do want."

In revisiting Safari's job descriptions, Cris Concepcion describes taking the crucial first step of asking minorities in technology about their job search process. He points out that we're "[optimizing] for discouraging undesirables," rather than encouraging the people we do want. He shows how the smallest turn of phrase can discourage a minority candidate from applying, due to impostor syndrome or a bias that is invisible to the recruiter, but starkly obvious to the potential employee. More tech companies could do with following in Concepcion's footsteps.

Hiring Isn't Enough

Catt Small
"I tried to convince myself that becoming someone else at work was normal; this denial made me hate myself. I began to begrudge every morning I came into the office."

In this true story, Catt Small describes with stark honesty how her first full-time job turned from enjoyable to damaging in a matter of months, at the hands of her co-workers. Ill-advised jokes from her boss and micro-aggressions from her peers lead to feelings of self-hate, rejection, and a terrible downturn in self-esteem. Her experience reminds us why environment and everyday behaviour matters, not just the hiring.

The Cool Girl Trap: Or, Why Sexism in Tech Isn't Going Away.

Kennedy Cooke-Garza
"Speaking up about these things, once you've already been established as a 'Cool Girl,' can at minimum make you a social pariah and at worst, impact your career."

Whenever we start a new job, we want to get along with— and be liked by— our new co-workers. Cooke-Garda, however, describes the dangers of changing our personalities so that we are liked, of falling into the "cool girl trap," that of becoming a woman who laughs along with the jokes for fear of offending. Once we fall into this trap, speaking up becomes all the more difficult, for fear of losing our 'cool girl' status. Another personal, cautionary tale about toxic environments that can manifest long after we're hired.

Technical Interviews are Bullshit

Anonymous Author
"It's always struck me as odd that an industry which regularly bemoans the lack of qualified software engineers...would choose employ an interview process which is known for a high rate of false negatives."

The technical interview has long been a staple of developer hiring, but it shouldn't be— at least, not in its current format. That is the idea posed by the author here, in a sharp rebuttal of the technical interview's supposed benefits. We are shown that, in fact, the code-on-a-whiteboard format can exacerbate impostor syndrome, doesn't build good teams, and doesn't eliminate bias. Practical alternatives are offered in its stead, ones which offer the same objectivity while empowering candidates to show their skills. These alternatives are technical but balanced, and deserve consideration.

Open Diversity Data

When looking for a job at a given company, you may know their public stance on diversity, but not necessarily if their actual employee population backs up that lip service. Well, Open Diversity Data exists to ensure that tech companies make that data public. The initiative offers a list of all the biggest tech companies— Amazon, Mozilla, Netflix, Kickstarter, Pinterest, and Trello to name a few— along with links to their diversity data. If they haven’t published their data, we are offered the chance to demand it. We are also encouraged to submit a pull request or an issue on Github if there is a company we want to see. The more people (and companies) that contribute to this by requesting and publishing data, the better.

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