Lighter Side: Why you shouldn’t ask for career advice on the internet

by Nicola Middlemiss22 May 2015
Millions of people turn to the internet for advice every day but one man will be wishing he’d kept schtum after bosses spotted his job-related post online – and promptly retracted their offer.

The “anonymous” engineer asked users on question-and-answer site Quora whether he should accept an offer at Uber or Zenefits – the hapless applicant also posted a list of pros and cons for the two San Francisco-based start-ups.

Thanks to the list, it became apparent that the engineer was leaning towards Ubur, because he thought it had a “really good reputation” and could help him achieve his long-term goal of working at Google or Apple. He also expressed concern that Zenefits just wasn’t an exciting buzzword or brand.

However, Uber wasn’t offering the best salary package – some US$15,000 less than Zenefits.

Unfortunately, the engineer has his choice taken awayw when Zenefits CEO Parker Conrad spotted the post and decided to respond – “Definitely not Zenefits,” he replied, adding that the company was revoking the job offer.

“Mostly, it seems like where you really want to work is Google,” he wrote. “You should just apply there. If you’re able to pass our engineering interview, I’m pretty sure you could get a job there.”

“We really value people who “get” what we do and who *want* to work here, specifically. It’s not for everyone, but there are enough ppl out there who do want to work here that we can afford to be selective,” he continued.

“One of our company values is to have a bias towards action — which means that when people are hesitating / going back and forth about whether they want to work here, we usually view that as a bad sign,” explained Conrad.

“We don’t have terribly high regard for ppl who would choose where to work based on “buzzwords” and how big a brand it is (or simply to position themselves for later in their career),” he added.

Conrad’s move earned a mixed response from fellow Quora users – one mobile app developer called the reply a “tantrum” and told the young engineer; “The CEO revoking your offer after this perfectly reasonable question makes it sound like a bad place to work. … Lack of humility is a bad signal.”

However, another person agreed with the Zenefits CEO and likened the situation to a high school kid desperately trying to break into the popular crowd. “No one wants to hire someone who doesn’t appreciate the company or its people and is thinking about leaving before he even joins,” they said.


  • by DigitalLiteracy4EVA 25/06/2015 3:17:29 PM

    The title of this article is misleading. It should be called "Why you should develop digital literacy before asking for career advice on the internet". The internet is a very useful source of career guidance and information, but people need to have the skill (i.e. digital literacy) to source and critically analyse the content they are reading, understand the opportunities and weaknesses of the internet technology they are using (e.g. forums, blogs, social media), particularly in regards to anonymity/privacy and generate. This individual did what a lot of other people would do - he tapped in to the collective brain of the internet to try to gather information to help make a decision. His mistake was to make himself easily identified and did not adequately understand that he was, essentially, broadcasting in a public forum. A rookie error that unfortunately many people make but is easily avoided with a good dose of digital literacy.

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