[Baypiggies] Question about employment application forms

Alex Martelli aleax at google.com
Sun Oct 25 21:19:23 CET 2009

On Sat, Oct 24, 2009 at 7:42 PM, RYAN DELUCCHI <bender at onsrc.com> wrote:
> Actually, I've had better luck with salary.com and glassdoor.com.  And while
> the glassdoor reviews can be helpful: Do read them with a skeptical eye (as
> disgruntled employees tend to be more likely to write a review than happy
> ones).  I've noticed the same phenomenon with apartmentratings.com.

Excellent recommendations -- I second them all.  Such sites will allow
you to get some sense of what compensation ranges are realistic for
jobs somewhat comparable to the one you're applying for, in that
general geographical area &c.

When I interviewed for employee roles (as opposed to freelance
consulting ones) I was never asked what compensation I was looking
for, though reasonably often I was asked to state (and later in the
process document, e.g. through payslips or tax documents) my recent
compensation history.

However, being asked to advance a quote has always been pretty common
when you're bidding for a definite, time-limited consulting job: one
puts forward reasonable statements as to one's interpretation of the
tasks' scope (and disclaimers that scope creep _will_ increase
costs;-), then estimates a reasonable range for how many work hours it
will take to complete the tasks, and makes a quote based on how many
total hours one can manage to bill per year and how much gross income
one wants over the year.  Before stating the final requested quote
some fudging is good -- fudge upwards for a client that's highly risky
(likely to be difficult, will they actually pay in time, incompetent
personnel so getting the detailed info needed for the job may prove a
time sink, ec), downwards for the best clients (have given you good
contracts before, are likely to do so again in the future, have
personnel you know and trust, and so forth).

The general rule of thumb for contracting work (I mean real freelance,
not being hired as "temp" by an employer who really needs full-timers
but is too stingy to hire them;-) is that you can probably bill 50% of
the hours you're working through the year -- the rest is unbillable
overhead (administrative chores, marketing and selling yourself inc.
human networking, keeping your tech skills honed including going to
conferences and interest-group meetups, etc, etc).  I've always been
luckier than that in my years as a consultant (billing closer to 2/3
of my working hours rather than just 1/2) but it would be imprudent to
count on that.  (Also, of course, in picking one's target income one
must always account for expenses -- travel, tax and accounting
consultants, etc -- and the lack of benefits [in this country the
biggie's health insurance, but when consulting I was residing in
Europe so this wasn't much of an issue]).

Stating the required compensation for a full-time job shouldn't be
that different (though a bit simpler in some respects) than doing it
for consulting jobs.  Your target will depend on why you're looking
for work -- if you already have a good job and are only sniffing
around for a better one you presumably want to move upwards (unless
there are great intangible benefits in the new one, such as escaping a
dysfunctional current employer, moving to a startup with some
prospects of making a bundle on options &c, great upwards career
prospects, etc); if you're unemployed and have been searching
unsuccessfully for a while, setting one's target lower might be
advisable. Fudging up or down based on similar characteristics of the
employer as previously mentioned is probably still advisable (though
the characteristics here might be different, e.g., is the employer a
huge faceless firm where you'll be one more cog in the wheel or a
dynamic, small but growing company where your impact will be large --
are they at risk of imminent layoffs or bankruptcy -- etc, etc).

What you made in the past may not be a reliable gauge (e.g. maybe you
were lucky with options or restricted stock awards in the past, but
can't count on getting lucky again); what you can gauge about going
rates for the role, e.g. from sites like the above-mentioned ones, may
be more reliable.

And btw, as I've also mentioned in the monthly meetings, Google is
hiring -- with our usual high (and occasionally capricious, sigh)
threshold, but also with our old enthusiasm for hiring anybody who
does meet that threshold fired back up to white-hot levels. If you
haven't had contacts with Google hiring for at least a year and a day,
feel free to get in touch with me and I'll see if I can refer you --
most of our hires do come from employee referrals, so we're intensely
encouraging and rewarding such referrals.  The more info you provide
the better -- resume, references, cover letter, URLs from
http://www.google.com/intl/en/jobs/ , etc -- but please _don't_
provide "required compensation" info... in this way we're an
old-fashioned employer and (if we extend you an offer) the offer will
include the compensation we think we can offer you (to keep every
employee's compensation aligned with their prospective, and later
actual, contributions, and totally independent of the employee's
salary negotiating skills, previous salary history, and the like;-).



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