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By Jack Ganssle

Message From the President

Published 8/21/2003

"Dear Prospective Employee,

"Don't even think about sending us your resume unless:
1. You have 10-15 years experience designing high-speed digital circuits using VHDL or Verilog.
2. In a recent incarnation you were a PCB designer, and became expert at all aspects of manufacturing engineering.
3. You breeze through Windows and Linux application, DLL, and driver programming.
4. In your spare time you became an expert at both DSP and MPU programming, using advanced signal processing algorithms, in C, assembly, and Esperanto.
5. An MBA is a must - if you can't figure out what the customer wants, and deliver the entire package on time, we don't want you."

"We might be interested in you given all of these Godlike qualifications. But guess what? Engineering jobs are all moving offshore. You're competing with someone making $12k/year. Work here (we're a great outfit!) and you'll earn a pittance. More than those overseas competitors, of course. But even if you've got 30 years of experience. uh, rather like our qualifications demand. then we'll pay you about what the average new grad makes. Maybe a bit more, perhaps a little less. Accept your lot and stop whining."

"I work 86 hours a week and so should you. If your project is late plan to eat and sleep here. Your kids won't miss you all that much. And you should have known better than to start a family when there's work to do!"

OK - this is a bit of an exaggeration, but does summarize and only slightly parody a real employment ad sent in by an alert reader (http://www.signalogic.com/index.pl?page=jobs). At least I guess it's real; the ad could be a pretty decent, if bittersweet, joke.

I sent the URL to various friends for comments. Engineers were uniformly horrified. However, some managers sheepishly admitted that the ad reflected an intensified view of their own take on hiring today.

Capitalism is a great thing; it has brought us the phenomenal quality of life we enjoy today. But lim(as capitalism -> infinity) creates its own array of problems. The goal of any corporation is to make money for the shareholders. That means adroit management will maximize profits using every legal technique. A successful CEO will therefore minimize labor costs while getting the most productivity from the workers.

But this ad is egregious. It stinks of Nike's deplorable Asian employment policies.

An attitude like the one expressed at this web site undermines the profession of engineering. If this is the future of our line of work, how many intelligent people will get their EEs or CEs? Brilliant students will become lawyers or Madison Avenue types; only the mediocre will become engineers. The superprogrammer of the future would be one who vaguely understands pointers.

I do admire the author of this particular missive for being utterly up-front and honest. The dark subtext of engineering employment has long been OT. Does the company pay for overtime? Is it expected? How much is normal? Accept a job with this outfit and there's no doubt what management expects of you.

Is this ad representative of a new pattern, or is it just an unusual curiosity? What's your experience?

(Want real salary info - not just what is offered on that offending web site? Check out
http://www.eet.com/salarysurvey/2002.)