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Re: What am I missing? (response to post by jhughes) | Reply
Well, the specific thing that soured me, and that prompted me to swear never again, was the incredibly abusive phone call I recieved from the agent in question, after the company he set me up with made me an offer and I turned it down.

When I met with the agent a couple of weeks previously, I spent at least fifteen minutes patiently trying to get it into his head that I couldn't give a specific salary requirement figure, since money was actually fairly far down on the list of things I was looking for in a company. I was much more concerned about working environment, how interesting the work was, how much opportunity it offered for me to learn and develop my skills as a programmer, etc., and at that point in my career I would have much rather worked for a modest salary at a company that offered those things than for a high salary at a company that didn't. The only way I could get him to stop asking was to describe a few different hypothetical cases, and give an approximate minimum figure I would consider for each one. I say "consider" rather than "accept", since programming jobs were plentiful at the time, and if I had offers from multiple companies I would have to weigh their relative merits against each other's and go with the one that looked best.

But of course he either forgot about all this, or simply disregared it, since all he remembered later from the conversation was that I had promised to automatically accept any offer from any company that was at least X dollars per year, where X was the smallest among the several figures I had mentioned (i.e. the absolute best-case scenario in terms of all other factors besides money.)

So he sets me up with a company that I already knew about, since they had advertised in the local paper every Sunday for the previous something like 12 years, but that I had never investigated before simply because their ad was so vague. (It was something like, "Programmers wanted, call this number...".) It turns out it would actually be a decent place to work, and they liked me enough to make me an offer. (Of course the agent had nothing to do with that. This company had their own system for figuring out who they wanted, and it didn't involve any input from third parties.) By an amazing coincidence, the figure they offered was exactly the same as the smallest one I had mentioned to the agent. (Which was pretty low, since I had used it in the context of a job that was so fun that I basically wasn't doing it for the money, so the figure was simply based on my minimal living expenses.) Anyway, by this time I already had offers from two other companies, and one of them was both for more money, and from a company with a better working environment, more interesting work, etc., so I said thanks but no thanks.

So five minutes later I get this incredibly belligerent call from the agent, who reams me for allegedly lying to him about how much money I wanted, screwing him around, wasting his time, etc. (And money wasn't even the issue. The company he set me up with had a policy of offering low starting salaries (or wages to be more accurate; this compay paid its programmers by the hour), and then giving near- immediate merit-based raises. So I have little doubt I would have ended up making more money there than at the company I did go to work for. That wasn't the point; I took the other job based on liking the environment, and the role I'd be able to play there better.)

So a few minutes into this tirade I finally cut him off, tell him never to contact me again, and hang up on him. And that's the last time I ever did, or will, deal with an intermediary when looking for work.
Re: What am I missing? (response to post by BradAustin) | Reply
hmm .. How long did you talk to agent ?

I feel that you give him too much information in one time and he forgot most of it.
Then discussing something very important - do not give too much information in one time.
Give only most important to know at this time.

As well - if you were unsure about salary - it was better to not tell any figures. This way your agent will not have any appology.

BTW, As for salary - this must be last thing people and companies must negotiate about.
You do correct thing - care more about job. Companies must do the same - care more about person they hire.

Salary is something regulated by market demand/offers, goverment law and your work performance.

I feel that good companies must have good performance bonuses - this must compensate low base salary/wage and keep workforce morale high.

BTW, Do not judge about all agents by your limited bad expirience. There are exists pretty good people who do good job.
Unfortunately - they are rare, just like in other field (like CS).
Re: What am I missing? (response to post by TAG) | Reply
> hmm .. How long did you talk to agent ?

It was probably something like an hour.

> I feel that you give him too much information in one time and he forgot most of it.
> Then discussing something very important - do not give too much information in one time.
> Give only most important to know at this time.
> As well - if you were unsure about salary - it was better to not tell any figures. This way your agent will not have any appology.

Perhaps I wasn't being clear. I wasn't *trying* to talk about salary, and I didn't just spontaneously volunteer 15 minutes worth of information on the subject. He just kept asking the same question over and over - how much money did I want? And I kept answering that there was no figure that would apply in some kind of general case, without even knowing the company. Show me a particular company, let me talk to them and get a good sense of what the job would be like, and then I can name a figure. It was only after I mentioned some figures (in specific hypothetical contexts that he completely disregarded) that he finally stopped asking. That's what he was waiting for. He just picked the most favorable (to him) number that I mentioned, wrote it down in a notebook as being the figure that I would accept for whatever job he found me, and ignored everything else. If I had never mentioned any figure, the interview never would have ended (at least until I got fed up and unilaterally walked out).
Re: What am I missing? (response to post by gt494) | Reply
> You say that you aren’t top-tier, but you are in 97th percentile.

I'm not sure how you're figuring that. I'm currently ranked 236 out of the 2836 people who have competed at least once in the past six months, which would be about 91.7 percentile.

Anyway by your own classification system there are two tiers above mine - reds and targets.

> As a hiring manager if you saw someone’s TopCoder rating would you use that at all?

That's a difficult question to answer. Since I've competed something like 50 times (including non-rated events), at this point I have a pretty good sense of what TopCoder does and does not measure. But most hiring managers don't have that experience. To put myself in their place I'd have to forget what I know, which is difficult.

If I personally was going to hire someone, being able to take my own TopCoder experience into account, firstly I would have my own screening process, with the first stage involving a set of written, technically challenging essay questions. If they had a high TopCoder rating (like in the red zone), but had difficulty with my questions, I would probably spend more time trying to understand where their difficulty with my questions lay, than if they didn't have such a rating. If they breezed through my quesitons, but had a surprizingly low TopCoder rating (like if they had competed a few times and never reached Div 1), I would probably spend more time trying to understand why they had so much difficulty with TopCoder. But that's about it. Ultimately it would have very little effect on the final outcome.
Re: What am I missing? (response to post by BradAustin) | Reply
Actually I should add that if a cantidate I was considering was involved with TopCoder (i.e. competed regularly, not just tried it once or twice and quit), that by itself would be a plus in my book simply because it shows they enjoy coding and solving CS problems enough that they do it for fun, rather than just because they get paid.

Re: What am I missing? (response to post by gt494) | Reply
1800 is 97th percentile? Then why does my card say that I'm in 93rd percentile?
Re: What am I missing? (response to post by Steven) | Reply
I think that is a great idea.
I'm alot older than most of you, having coded now for almost thirty years. I've done alot of stuff: software developer, management consultant, contract programmer, technical consultant, worked for IBM, SSA, Peat Marwick, others and yet I was amazed at the level of programming knowledge demonstrated here.
I pride myself on self-educating myself and have only begun to seriously study algorithms. But I do intend to compete and build up my java and C++ skills.
Believe me: I have know many programmers and the ones I knew were not as conversant with hard core programming knowledge so much as tool familiarity.
Alot of programming work involves just being a good team player. Unless you are coding games or trading systems or operating systems or compilers, most coding is relatively simple, bordering on drudgery.
I specialized in a non defunct language called "RPG"-Report Program Generator-- IBM's version of COBOL and while it has become more C like with RPGIV, most of my work was "maintenance". Not real sexy. Most programming work is not development or cool stuff unless you are in the right areas. I know because this is what I have been doing.
Now I do plan to get into more sexy stuff like trading systems which I really love and which I have done some work when I owned my own firm, but unless you are working on open source(which to me is the coolest--Eclipse, for instance), the real world of programming is not at all like top coder stuff. Most programmers in the real world, in my humble opinion, would view most top coders are "uber-geeks". I mean, don't get me wrong, I love this stuff, but most real world "professional" programmers do this stuff as a "job", and when it is over, they quit and do other stuff like raise families or engage in their various and sundry hobbies.
But back to the point: job entries color coded and perhaps with some indication of experience required would make this employment pitch more attractive.

My two cents.
Code Cruiser
Re: What am I missing? (response to post by gt494) | Reply
Here's my two cents. First, some background: I took the opportunity to sign up for Employment Services awhile back and for the most part I am glad I did and I really have to thank the people involved with it. Even though I have a decent GPA and a good attitude/work ethic, I had been having absolutely no luck finding a job, or even getting an interview for one. The career fair at the school I went to was basically a joke. I was almost to the point of giving up, but Topcoder helped me out.

Topcoder did get me an interview which I just got back from a few days ago. Finally, results :-D. I didn't get the job, but I'm still happy since I wouldn't have even made it to the interview stage without Topcoder. It would have been really helpful to have had another Topcoder member interview for the job and report back what happened in order to help other Topcoder candidates (like me ;-)), but unfortunately I was the first one to interview there.

The first job opportunity that Topcoder notified me about didn't turn out that great and I was about ready to give up. I had sent some questions to the company, through Topcoder, and waited about two months for a response. Finally, Topcoder informed me the company had not answered any questions asked by Topcoder candidates and had not reviewed any Topcoder candidates. This kind of left me a bit sour, but I know it wasn't Topcoders fault.

I agree with what some people are saying about Topcoder not being able to find positions that are in certain geographical areas. I'm from Idaho and wanted to stay in the northwest, but I've come to the decision that I'll probably have to move far away to find a job. I'd be a lot happier if I could find a job closer to home, such as in Washington or southern Idaho, but most positions Topcoder has found are located nowhere near here.

When I've talked to the Employment Services people at Topcoder, they have mentioned to me that they are really trying to find members to fill jobs. This is really heaven for someone trying to find a job. I have tried getting my friends to join Topcoder and do some SRMs, but for some reason they don't. One of them is career Navy and won't consider trying to quit unless he gets $100k salary (maybe he doesn't believe these jobs are that good). The other one is trying to get a job in Seattle for personal reasons (back to the job location problem I mentioned before). One thing they both mentioned was that they don't have the time to try SRMs. I think they also aren't willing to put forth the effort. At one point, I almost convinced one of them to become a member a couple years ago because I was winning money in SRMs, but after the prizes went away, so did his interest.

I do have one question though. Are the salary ranges really from $80k – $130K? I ask because out of the three positions I've been notified about, none were in this range. Two were less and one was more. Perhaps if there was a job that payed $100k, I could get my friend to try out Employment Services at Topcoder. I know it shouldn't be all about the money, but that seems to be important to him.
Re: What am I missing? (response to post by uler3161) | Reply
Yes, we have several positions that are paying in the $100K range. Some of the companies are Akamai, GoldenGate, ESPN, Gentiva, LimeGroup, UBS, DE Shaw, JumpTrading.
Re: What am I missing? (response to post by gt494) | Reply
here are my reasons for not using your services yet, in no particular order:

(1) i'm still in the university. So i'm not in need of a position right now. However, soon i'll have to write my diploma thesis, which could be done in a company... but TC is probably not the right place to look for such things.

(2) I live in Europe. I am willing to relocate, but switching to another continent is not what i want.

(3) I feel that my rating wouldn't help me anyway. That is a questionable point, because, as already mentioned, everyone crazy enough to get up 2am regularly to participate in a SRM deserves some credit.

(4) I would have to create a resume in english. I have no idea on what is important (that differs from country to country i guess), plus I have trouble creating a resume in my primary language.

(3) is not a big issue
(4) could be overcome by a collection of useful links and tips, or a faq
(1) nothing to be done about that
(2) it's the job of Topcoder to come up with more companies or with companies that are not only seeking employees in the US.

These are my reasons to not use your services so far -- but i might not be the only one with those reasons.
Re: What am I missing? (response to post by gt494) | Reply
I have another question, which is stronly related to yours :)

I am not old, not stupid, I've uploaded my CV, I've mentioned that I am looking for a job and I can relocate, I am always clicking "Yes, please please please give my information to Yahoo, Google, NVidia, Intel, Bill Gates and anyone else", I am quite high in the ratings - but nobody never contacted me with an offer.

Am I doing something wrong?
Re: What am I missing? (response to post by Olexiy) | Reply
If nobody contacts Olexiy, I wonder who will contact me. Anyway, I would like to ask a similar question: When, before the SRM, TopCoder asks whether we would like to have our contact information shared with major companies and we answer "Yes,please" what happens next? Do these companies have any immediate need or are they simply "fishing"? Also, if they have some immediate need, is this located to a specific place?
Re: What am I missing? (response to post by prekageo) | Reply
Maybe you guys aren't getting contacted because you aren't American? I've gotten one interview, and another contact (after I've accepted a job) from two big name tech companies, and I also got an email from a Topcoder rep who seemed to be interested in helping me find a job.

And I am significantly lower rated than both of you...
Re: What am I missing? (response to post by rrenaud) | Reply
Yes, I suppose this is the main reason, because relocating me costs much more than moving one from the US, so I think companies do that only for really TOP coders.
In this case it would be nice to have some notes nearby the job offers, like "For US citizens only" or smth like that, so we will be able to estimate our chances better.
Re: What am I missing? (response to post by Olexiy) | Reply
I agree that we should have more information about geographical location on the specific postings. We will look into adding that additional information.

In regards to companies hiring from outside of the US … As I mentioned in the other post it all pretty much depends on the company’s requirements, the number of H1 Visas that the government will issue, and the candidate’s willingness to relocate. We are working with companies that are hiring globally such as Yahoo, Motorola, NVIDIA and Google. We are currently in the process of trying to identify the correct people within each of these companies that are responsible for hiring in their specific areas. Once we identify them, and make sure they have a need to hire, we will look to source more candidates internationally.
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