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The Way Mashable Hires Developers Is An Insult

Friday evening, a link was posted to Twitter and passed around stating that Mashable was looking for developers.  Clicking on the link brought the viewer to a fairly empty page that contained only a form and the words “Apply to be a Developer at Mashable” at the top. I found this way to seek out a developer insulting to someone who spent years studying and honing their craft to be a developer.

For the uninitiated, the typical job hunting process involves a job posting stating the job, the parameters of the job, the level of the job, and possibly the pay range.  The job seeker sends a cover letter, resume and anything else the potential employer asks in the job listing.  If the employer is interested in the applicant, they are brought in for an interview, and if the employer likes the applicant, the applicant receives an offer from the employer.  In turn, if the applicant liked the potential employer and the offer, the applicant accepts the offer and becomes an employee of the company.  Of course there are variations in this process, like additional interview rounds and possible tests, but that is the most simplified.

Mashable’s barebones form gives the prospective applicant no information about the position, no information about the company, and no information about anything beyond the words at the top of the page.  From the look of the page, it could be a fake, but I am dismissing that possibility because I saw the link to the page come from reputable sources, including Mashable employees.  The minimalist page takes without giving back to the applicant and even then takes minimal information from the potential employee.

I did fill out the form, more to amuse myself than anything else, but the following is a break down of the form and my answers:

Personal info Name, contact info, current employment. Standard employment questions (none of which I need to reprint here)

Tell us about yourself in 100 words or less Not such a bad question. It normally would give the employer a feel for the person in their own words. Or it’s the start of an online dating profile, but I don’t know if Mashable is trying to hit on me. My original answer to this question was “I rock!” but the form demanded a five word minimum, so I upgraded to “I rock you like a hurricane!”

Skills The question “What skills do you have?” is followed by a list of check boxes of web developer skills. Not too out of the ordinary and I checked the applicable skills. This list was followed by a text box “Tell us about your additional skills.” I could have copied and pasted that section of my resume (or they could have just asked for my resume), but I just let them know “I’m a ninja!”

Live Examples of Work Two boxes for links to examples of work. Both mandatory. Most developers who wanted to have a place to show off their work would keep a hub site with links to their work so they do not need to send out multiple links. Again, a resume would have had the hub site and links to all the previous employers. I gave links to this site and Live Tweets, since they are two I own and would rather send traffic to my own sites than to previous employers.

Tell us more about your work “You ever see that movie Scanners? People look at my work and their heads explode, just like that.” I really felt I needed a good movie reference to bring my work together, so I went with a classic.

So what did Mashable learn about me from my answers? About as much as I know about their position. There are different kinds of developers and different levels. Are they looking for a Ruby Developer, PHP Developer, Sys Admin, DBA or something else? All of those were in the skill list, but who knows which they were actually looking for. And what level are they looking for? A junior developer who is just out of college, a senior developer with a decade of experience, someone in between, or someone else?

When talking to a friend of mine who is a doctor, I mentioned this to him, but he had no frame of reference. I explained it as a specified practice hiring, but you don’t know if it’s a podiatrist, eye doctor, or general practitioner. Each requires specialized knowledge that the doctor chooses to study and different practices require different knowledges that do not carry over to the other specializations. The same holds true for programming technologies. Then again, my doctor friend is fairly internet savvy but he had never heard of Mashable.

The issue isn’t whether or not I’m qualified for the position in question. It isn’t sour grapes from someone who doesn’t think they will get the job. I am a senior level developer with a well defined skill set. I find it insulting that this form implies that I’d want to be a developer for them so badly I would blindly follow this form.  I am at a point in my career where most of my work has come from friends and connections I have cultivated over years of experience and networking and would not seriously subject myself to an application process like this.

Is this how they seek writers and editors? Do their editorial and writing staff get treated this same way? The site reeks of sensationalist journalism and it appears that the same goes on behind the scenes. It just makes it feel like an unstable environment that diminishes the individual employee, an experience I would never recommend for anyone. But if you really want to apply – or just see what the form looked like – you can see it here.

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