Getting a good job

From: Chris Kennedy <>
Date: Sun Jul 2 14:29:48 2000

Richard Erlacher wrote:

> This supports what I've long maintained, i.e. that management doesn't know
> the difference between "good" work and what you get when your people are
> overstressed and overworked. Too many managers see labor as a pool at
> which to direct money, and whenever the number of man-hours per dollar goes
> up, they're proud, regardless of the quality.

This is very true, and hardly a new phenomena. It was 1982 when I heard
my VP of Engineering mutter the phrase "The logic analyzer you want costs
$50,000, but engineering overtime is free". It would be difficult to
claim that the situation has improved since.

> Likewise, that old saw about
> doing a good job doesn't wash any more in the face of management's behavior
> of buying lots of cheap help based strictly on credentials.

I'd agree, save for the fact that I can't really buy "cheap" labor in the
local market. The vast majority of B1-B holders make the same amount as
a US citizen because the immigration laws require it. The only way to tap
into the cheap market is to go the HCL route, where you get a couple of
token B1-B holders deposited on site who lob most of the work over the
pond to some guy getting paid in rupees. While that model works for very
specific tasks (like getting something ported to a new platform), it sucks
for others.

> However, that's the world we live in. As soon as the reality becomes one in
> which they can import two bodies from Bangladesh, who, by the way, probably
> have a better education and speak and write a better english than the
> typical U.S. engineering grad, for less than what they pay you, it's time to
> work up a current resume'.

I'm not sure it's any different from any other market. When the skills you
have become a commodity item then the only way to avoid suffering economically
is to evolve a new set of skills which are not.

> When you move on, make sure it's for more money, as every manager knows that
> more money's a good reason for changing jobs. They don't understand that
> you'd sometimes like to use that boat you bought with your last raise, and
> maybe seeing the kids on Christmas or the 4th of July might be nice.

It's certainly the case that this statement is true of most managers, but
that's largely because their management (in response to their shareholders)
are holding their feet to the fire (usually indirectly, via stock
valuation and bonuses). That's in response to all the competing firms doing
the same, including the guy in Madras whose banging out the same number of
hours but costing less to do it.

This isn't meant to be a defense of the situation; I'm just utterly unclear
on how one makes it better when someone in the next country over has
more or less the same skill set and is willing to work long hours for
less money -- save, as I said earlier, to keep retooling ourselves
with new skills in new technologies.

> Nobody will understand getting a job you like better if it's not for more
> $$$, and in today's market, nobody faults you for leaving, even after a
> short time, if you get 10% or better for making the move.

Actually, people *do* understand you taking laterals -- it's considered
a damning comment on the prospects of the project that you're leaving,
its management, the company in general or all of the above.

Chris Kennedy
PGP fingerprint: 4E99 10B6 7253 B048 6685  6CBC 55E1 20A3 108D AB97
Received on Sun Jul 02 2000 - 14:29:48 BST

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