Clueless Employer Phrase “Hit The Ground Running”

There are certain common HR/headhunter phrases.  Whenever someone says one of these, I mentally translate it to “I’m a clueless twit who doesn’t know anything about hiring competent workers.”  Of course, I try to be polite anyway.

One common phrase is “I want to hire someone who can hit the ground running.”  That’s a military analogy.  An expert paratrooper can land on his feet and immediately start running towards the next target.

When clueless people say this, they mean “I want someone who already has the exact experience I want.”

That is false.  If I want to learn PHP or .NET, I can easily look that up; it’s well documented.  The hard part of a new job is learning all the details of that employer’s business, and the weird ways their software is organized.  For example, at my last two jobs, they had lots of tables in their database with confusing names and no documentation.  Learning the details of their database is *MUCH HARDER* than learning SQL or PHP or .NET.  Learning the business logic is much harder than learning the details of a new language.

When an employer says “I want to hire someone who can hit the ground running.”, he’s really saying “I don’t want to invest anything in helping my employees learn new things.” and “I’m evaluating employees based on # of years experience in each language, rather than overall ability.”

It also encourages lying.  If an employer says “I want 20 years of .NET experience!”, then I should lie and say I have 20 years of .NET experience.  If I lie, I get an interview and may get hired, and that was a silly requirement anyway.  If I don’t lie, I get filtered out at the keyword screening phase.  Liars have a *HUGE* advantage over honest people.

Here’s another phrase that indicates the employer is clueless.  “I want to hire someone young that I can mold.”  In other words, they want to hire someone inexperienced that won’t know they’re being abused.  I’ve had headhunters say that employers would rather hire a recent college graduate than me, even though I have 10 years of experience.  They say “If we’re hiring someone with no C# experience, we’d rather hire a recent college grad than FSK, even though FSK is asking for the same salary and has 10 years of other experience.”

“I want to hire someone young that I can mold.” is a keyword that means “age discrimination”.  If someone says “I won’t hire anyone over 30!”, that’s age discrimination, but if they say “0-2 years of experience”, that’s not age discrimination.

Here’s another new “resume keyword” that’s coming up.  I see people demanding “MVC” experience.  The fallacy is that MVC is not a specific language.  It’s a style of programming.  You can write MVC style in ASP.NET or in Rails or in other languages.  In my experience, it leads to a mess, because you’re wasting time writing code that follows the MVC pattern, more than you’re writing the code for your actual project.  “MVC style” is a fancy name for a simple idea.  It enables clueless people to think they’re accomplishing something, as they write code that follows the rules.

I’ve noticed another huge red flag.  If you go into a business, and everyone is using Macs, forget it.  They’re a bunch of clueless twits.

I’ve noticed some common phrases that indicate the speaker is clueless.  “We want someone who can hit the ground running.” or “We want someone young we can mold.” or “We want MVC experience.” or “I work on a Mac.” all indicate that the person is clueless.

6 Responses to Clueless Employer Phrase “Hit The Ground Running”

  1. Anonymous Coward May 26, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    I heard that phrase back in the late 1990s in London from a recruitment consultant. I think the area he was recruiting for may have been finance – well there are a lot of financial jobs in London. Actually most of the UK’s GDP is now in finance.

    I agree too that it is a mark of dumb recruitment.

    When you are a software developer you have to learn new things all the time and any good programmer can teach himself (herself) from a book.

    It is stupid to screen out people just because they don’t have the right collection of 10 buzzwords.

    It is disappointing to learn that recruitment is as stupid now as it was well over a decade ago.

  2. Robert Ferguson May 27, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Hey FSK, I agree with you about MAC users. I’ve worked on Windows servers in my career an I will be the first to tell anyone that it has flaws and that I am sure Unix is more reliable. But for better or worse this is that I have done in my career and I do ok. Yet Mac users always seem to have such a chip on their shoulders make it seem like anybody who uses anything else is a “sellout” or is the devil. What’s up with that? Also what forms your opinion about them being clueless twits? I agree, just curious.

    • I do agree that UNIX/Linux is better than Windows. However, playing games, Windows is still better than Linux. I can always install cygwin to use grep and Linux tools. (Grep is so much better than Windows search.) My blog is on Linode/Ubuntu.

      At the job where I saw the Ruby on Rails disaster, the idiot who ruined the business owned a Mac. Reviewing, he had never used Rails before, made a “bet the business” decision on Rails, and failed. At that same job, I went to the NYC Ruby meetup group, and almost everyone had a Mac laptop. That was creepy.

      At the node.js interview, they were all using Macs. The head programmer had never used node.js before, and made a “bet the business” decision on node.js. They haven’t failed yet, but their website is pretty lame. At the interview, he said their website would be ready in 1 month (Dec 2011), and it didn’t go live until March 2012. Amusingly, their website is static HTML plus a few forms, making the node.js choice seem pretty silly.

      I went on a couple of other interviews where everyone was using a Mac, and they seemed more clueless than usual.

      Look at the famous “Mac vs. PC” ads featuring John Hodgman from The Daily Show. John Hodgman is an intelligent comedian. The actor playing the Mac was a douchebag. The “target audience” for Macs are douchebags. I thought those ads were amusing, because John Hodgman’s character was much more interesting and likable than the Mac character.

      When you buy a Mac, you’re paying 20%-50% more compared to generic Windows hardware. Apple has great marketing, tricking clueless people into paying extra.

      Amusingly, my sister observed that iPhone users tend to have an attitude problem, when she uses her Android phone (Motorola Droid 3). The locked-down iPhone app store prevents my favorite cell phone use, emulators and retrogaming.

  3. Anonymous Coward May 28, 2012 at 7:18 am

    I owned an Apple Mac in the 1990s and used the integrated graphics and word-processing package ClarisWorks with it. It was excellent software and very useful for university reports etc.

    However my next computer after that was a Windows PC and all subsequent ones after that were Windows as well.

    If it helps one of my managers (in a predominately non-Mac environment) bought a Mac into work. It might have been his personal computer or maybe he even convinced the computer to buy it for him. Unlike most of first-line management, this guy was not really interested into doing technical work. For most of the time, I didn’t like him at all. He didn’t stick up for employees. He didn’t do anything to fix a broken environment – if anything he made it worse. I didn’t particularly like him. He did delegate work evenly and caused lots of problems for me.

    • Anonymous Coward May 28, 2012 at 7:19 am

      > He did delegate work evenly and caused lots of problems for me.

      Sorry that should read

      He **didn’t** delegate work evenly and caused lots of problems for me.

  4. I have been seeing this stupid phrase (“Hit The Ground Running”) quite a lot now that I have been job hunting. It turns me off.

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