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Ask Slashdot: Why So Hard Landing Interviews In Seattle Versus SoCal? 506

Posted by timothy
from the seattle-freeze dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I have been trying to make the move to the Seattle, WA area. I liked the weather, the nature, the scenery and the tech environment. However, for whatever reason it seems like interviews are hard to come by. As a MS Stack software developer in LA, I barely had to do anything and recruiters always come knocking, either via LinkedIn or from past connections. Not to mention in general I got phone interviews for easily .8 of the positions I applied for. I wanted to finally make the move and fulfill a live long dream to live in Seattle. So I have been applying for positions in the greater Seattle, WA (King County) area. So far the ratio of positions applied to phone interviews is a dismal .1. Which is terrible considering the economy was much worse when I was actively looking for job in LA. Something isn't right because I am still getting offers for interviews here in SoCal, but not much from where I really wanted to be. What could I be doing wrong? Why such a contrast? Is the IT market in Seattle in poor shape? Or may be I just lack the proper connections in a new area? Am I just being screened out immediately for not being local? Or is it the prevalence of bigger corporations vs. smaller startups? And frankly as nice as the city is I can't move unless there's a healthy IT market to thrive by. I hope someone can point me in the right direction."
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Ask Slashdot: Why So Hard Landing Interviews In Seattle Versus SoCal?

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  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @03:29PM (#45611271)

    You seriously like the weather up here? Have you been here anytime other than July - September?

    I know a LOT of people that moved here after visiting in the summer... they don't realize what the weather is like most of the time.

    • by painandgreed (692585) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @04:02PM (#45611827)

      You seriously like the weather up here? Have you been here anytime other than July - September?

      I know a LOT of people that moved here after visiting in the summer... they don't realize what the weather is like most of the time.

      Maybe they're goth. Then the weather is perfect with just enough sun in the year to begin to bitch about it after your vitamin D level begin to build back up.

    • That's why they won't hire him -- they know he's insane.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      How much snow do you get from Septermber - June?

    • by Ichijo (607641)

      I was in Seattle the first weekend of May this year. I got sunburned.

    • by cusco (717999)

      I grew up in Michigan. It never gets as cold here in the winter or as hot in the summer as Michigan, the spring is beautiful without melting snowbanks creating lakes of mud, and we actually have FEWER days without seeing the sun here than we did there. I do miss autumn once in a while, which is beautiful in Michigan, but since generally the snow there starts in October I am quite content to do without it.

    • by Nyder (754090)

      You seriously like the weather up here? Have you been here anytime other than July - September?

      I know a LOT of people that moved here after visiting in the summer... they don't realize what the weather is like most of the time.

      I lived here my whole life (40+ years), the weather is great, year around. Don't like rain? You do when you realize it cleans up the smell of homeless peoples urine from the alleys downtown. Ya, spend time during the nice non rainy days and you'll wish it was raining every day.

      Plus weed is legal here.

  • Market Saturation (Score:5, Informative)

    by multimediavt (965608) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @03:29PM (#45611273)

    MS Stack software developer

    I am just taking a stab in the dark here as I don't really know, but maybe there are a lot of "MS Stack software" developers in the home of MS. If they got a ton of them already in town why import more?

    • by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @03:40PM (#45611521) Journal

      MS Stack software developer

      I am just taking a stab in the dark here as I don't really know, but maybe there are a lot of "MS Stack software" developers in the home of MS. If they got a ton of them already in town why import more?

      Good point. It'd be like applying for a job as a surf instructor at Venice Beach. Or being a hipster in San Francisco. "Hey, if we're supposed to be new and different, how come we're all dressed identically?"

    • by ampmouse (761827) <ampmouse+slashdot@ampmouse.net> on Thursday December 05, 2013 @03:50PM (#45611681) Homepage

      I am just taking a stab in the dark here as I don't really know, but maybe there are a lot of "MS Stack software" developers in the home of MS. If they got a ton of them already in town why import more?

      Absolutely correct. I work in Seattle on FreeBSD, and there are plenty of places looking for employees (Amazon, F5, Isilon, etc.) with a Linux/BSD background. If you want to work on the "MS Stack" you are more or less going to be looking for a job a Microsoft. The market here is completely saturated with Microsoft employees who are looking for a change of pace. They actually do have 6 years of experience developing on frameworks Microsoft released 5 years ago.

      • Re:Market Saturation (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 05, 2013 @04:08PM (#45611899)

        I can also confirm this to be true. Friends of mine that are highly specialized into Microsoft tend to work there and often have a hard time if they decide to leave. We have a major glut of people with Microsoft experience, given that the company is down the street, so you're competing directly with people who can say "I've done it at and for Microsoft". From what I hear from my friends that have worked there, it's also not uncommon to want to leave after you get a taste, which doesn't help you either.

        The Linux/BSD folks up here can find a new job pretty much whenever they like.

      • by rnswebx (473058)

        I agree with this as well. I work in the Seattle area as a linux professional and there is little difficulty in finding companies interested in my skillset. As others have said, there are huge numbers of MS folks here, which likely makes the market for MS stack developers very competitive.

    • by mark_reh (2015546) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @03:54PM (#45611737) Journal

      I believe the British would say that applying for a MS IT position in Seattle is like "carrying coals to Newcastle"...

      • I believe the British would say that applying for a MS IT position in Seattle is like "carrying coals to Newcastle"...

        Touché

    • MS Stack software developer

      I am just taking a stab in the dark here as I don't really know, but maybe there are a lot of "MS Stack software" developers in the home of MS. If they got a ton of them already in town why import more?

      I think this is part of it but I don't really think that the Seattle job market every really recovered from the .bust era. There were so many unemployed tech people in the early 2000's that hiring managers were literally getting thousands of applicants in just a few days for any job they posted. Things were just about to get better when the 2008 housing crisis put a stop on new hires and cost lots of people their jobs. In the last five years, I've seen people move away because the job market was so saturate

    • by hawguy (1600213)

      MS Stack software developer

      I am just taking a stab in the dark here as I don't really know, but maybe there are a lot of "MS Stack software" developers in the home of MS. If they got a ton of them already in town why import more?

      I think that's true - I was looking for a job in Seattle for a while, and had no trouble getting interviews as a Linux infrastructure manager, but the offers were low -- 20 - 30% lower pay than I was making in the SF Bay area. The pay difference was more than a years worth of house payments on my bay area house, so it wasn't worth the move.

    • by Sez Zero (586611)

      I am just taking a stab in the dark here as I don't really know, but maybe there are a lot of "MS Stack software" developers in the home of MS. If they got a ton of them already in town why import more?

      Or it could just be numbers, as in population.

      Seattle: 650k
      Los Angeles: 3.9M

  • I wanted to finally make the move and fulfill a live long dream to live in Seattle

    Get a Seattle address - not living local (if living local is a requirement) can be a disincentive. This is my experience as someone who recruits from time to time.

  • by ddt (14627) <ddt@davetaylor.name> on Thursday December 05, 2013 @03:30PM (#45611295) Homepage

    I'm hip-shooting, but it could be that as an LA resident, you're experiencing some prejudice. They go months in Seattle with nothing but gray skies and/or rain, and you have to remain productive. The lack of interest could be due to the perceived risk that you might not be able to hack the gloomy weather.

    I'm in the same boat, btw. I live in Santa Monica, and I love the weather here. I would prefer to live amoungst Washingtonians if for no other reason than higher quality conversation, but I know I couldn't handle the Seattle weather for long.

    • by Andy Dodd (701)

      Yup. As much as you might claim to not mind the weather, unless there is something on your resume that you actually HAVE long-term experience with similar weather, you're in for a rough time.

      I know in the past, managers at the location I live in (Southern Tier of New York State) have a strong preference to see that the applicant has spent at least 2-3 winters in the area or an area with similar weather. (e.g. grew up in the area, worked for an extended period of time in the area, or went to a school in up

  • Percentages (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 05, 2013 @03:30PM (#45611299)

    I'm guessing using decimal notation is throwing them. Check your resume and make sure it doesn't say that you give an effort ratio of 1.2

  • You're from California. That's the problem.

    • by Uloi (1996356)
      Actually this really is true. There is a general dislike of people from Cal. They blame people moving in from Cal for the outrageous cost of housing. And they think of people from Cal as being slackers.
      • Actually, the technical term is 'Californication'. I think it's illegal in Oregon.

      • by roc97007 (608802)

        Actually this really is true. There is a general dislike of people from Cal. They blame people moving in from Cal for the outrageous cost of housing. And they think of people from Cal as being slackers.

        Same thing in Portland, Oregon. I experienced a little hostility when I first moved here from California. It helped that I married a local (so I'm an Oregonian by marriage now) and that I refer to myself as a refugee, not a transplant. It also helps to learn the local politics and culture. (In Oregon, "bottle bill == good, sales tax == bad".) For instance, I'm pretty sure that in Seattle the rule is "friends don't let friends drink at Starbucks", which is considered "the Coors of coffee". You're suppo

    • You're from California. That's the problem.

      He's right.

    • Yeah that's probably it.

      To clarify further, they don't want you because you're in all likelyhood a Republican or libertarian or some sort of a conservative-leaning person. Lots of people are fleeing from California these days, but they're mostly right-leaning people fed up with liberal gov't policies of high taxes, high regulation, high debt, etc. We have awesome weather here, great ethnic cuisine, multicultural diversity, surf and ski on the same day. Nobody in their right mind would leave here unless they

      • by roc97007 (608802)

        Dunno about Seattle precisely, but it seemed like the people fleeing California to Oregon were looking for affordable housing in a place where they could also hold down a high tech job, and the tendency is towards liberal, because there are so many of them in California that it skews the results. I'm told that California immigrants can't understand why we're so hostile towards sales tax, for instance. Instead of blending into the culture here (as I tried to do) they instead try to force their environment

    • As a native son of native sons, let me underscore this. Keep the bastards out!

      Signed, Emmett Watson

      P.S. If you really want to understand Seattle, you better start [youtube.com] watching reruns of Almost Live.
  • by parallel_prankster (1455313) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @03:34PM (#45611341)
    I suggest look at the job postings of Amazon, MS and others and see what areas they most desire. I am a CS/ECE grad and in Raleigh and almost once a month I have someone from MS or Amazon ping me about a position. I know for a fact both Amazon and MS love CS programmers, algorithms, distributed computing etc. If those or other similar buzzwords are present in your resume on linkedin or elsewhere, you will get an email soon.
    • Do not try to land the job with your mind, that is impossible.
      To land the job you must realize the truth: There is no job.

      MS and other tech companies are lobbying for more H1B visa employees. In order to employ H1B visa workers they must demonstrate that they looked for local talent, but could not find any. They put out an ad in the paper, and then instruct their HR to find or invent any reason they can to not grant the position to any local workers, no matter how trivial. Then, they cry out that they ne

  • It's kind of different out here. Back in Detroit for interviews, I was normally put in front of a computer and asked to write code. Pretty practical, and I did well. For whatever reason, out here everyone loves the whiteboard, run though a binary tree on a whiteboard, wtf does that have to do what what you are actually going to be doing? Nothing, but Google, Amazon and MS all have you do it, so everyone else copies it. Hard to put you on the spot like that over the phone. Also your timing isn't t
  • No Homers (Score:5, Funny)

    by FrogBlastTheVentCore (3453879) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @03:44PM (#45611593)
    We're all full-up on Californians. Stop applying here, stop moving here, and for the love of god, stop building Mexican-villa style buildings everywhere you go. It looks terrible next to an evergreen tree.
  • by daemonenwind (178848) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @03:46PM (#45611621)

    There is, in the city of Seattle, a certain company with a legendary history in the world of computing. It has been known as... The Microsoft.

    Considering the turnover rate for Microsoft employment, Windows stack developers are probably as common there as waitresses with SAG cards are in LA.

    Your problem is that your skills are a rare commodity in LA but common as dirt in Seattle

    • There is, outside the city of Seattle, a certain company with a legendary history in the world of tech support. It has been known as... ACS, now a Xerox company.

      Considering the turnover rate for ACS employment, there's always space answering phones for Verizon Wireless through them.

      And half of the people I've worked with in the Internet industry ten years ago passed through their doors in the last five.

  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @03:51PM (#45611699) Homepage

    I've found that same problem before: recruiters look at the place where you currently live, not where you've said you're interested in working. So if I say I live in Los Angeles and am interested in jobs in Seattle, I'd expect to get lots of calls for... Los Angeles. When I switch and use the address of a friend in the area I want jobs in as where I live, suddenly I get calls for the right area. I don't see any way around this as long as the recruiters are ignoring the information in the profile this way.

    • by t0qer (230538)

      I've found that same problem before: recruiters look at the place where you currently live, not where you've said you're interested in working.

      Haven't had the same experience myself. For reference, I live in San Jose California. Here's a snippet of what I get.

      Rate $36
      Hi,

      Hope you are doing well !!!
      I have a good position for you with my client; This point of time I don't know whether you are looking for new job or not.But just thought if I can share the details and then confirm from you about your interest level for the opportunity.if you are interested and available send me your most updated resumes in word format and contact details.

      Job Title:Network Support Engineer
      Location:Las Vegas, NV
      Duration: 6-12 Months Contract

      Well, $36 is too low for me, and I live nowhere near Vegas.

      • by JustNiz (692889)

        I wouldn't consider any agent professional or even trustworthy enough to get my business if they wrote to me using grammar like that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 05, 2013 @03:52PM (#45611701)

    Supply and demand: people refuse to move to California because the taxes and cost of living are sky-high, so there are more openings that go unfilled.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 05, 2013 @03:56PM (#45611759)

    Most companies prefer local candidates. When they see that you are not local they may be crossing you out. They probably don't even want to pay to bring you up for an interview. You may want to note that you are looking to move at your own expense and like the Seattle area.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I can second that. I've been a hired gun for 10 years. I'm actually in the process of moving from Denver to LA on my own dime (cost of living and weather reasons) and most of the place I've talked to don't want to extend an offer to me until I'm already local.
      There used to be a time when I was jetsetting across the country on the dime of the company trying to hire me. They just don't seem to want to do that anymore and I challenge you to find a position where relocation benefits are offered for anything l

  • You aren't there (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jtara (133429) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @04:12PM (#45611957)

    It's pretty simple. It's because you aren't there.

    Move first. Then look for jobs. If you can't do that - forget it.

    Unless you have some very specific and needed skills, you need to already be local. And you won't fool anybody with a PO Box. Companies do not want to make the kind of commitment (if only moral commitment) that would be required, even if they don't pay relocation. It raises the bar for insuring it is a good match, and makes it more difficult for them to let you go if it doesn't work out.

    What it boils down to is your location is a complication to prospective employers. Why introduce a complication when (as others have pointed out) there are likely plenty of people with your skills who already live there? Nobody wants to screw around interviewing somebody who might or might not move to Seattle.

  • The Pacific Northwest has reached it's max quota of Californians. Sorry, but we really don't want any more. Please consider reapplying after you've mounted a roof rack on your vehicle, own a kayak, mountain bike and a pair of tele skis (road bikes and snowboards are for pussies and white rappers.) Also, you'll need to complete 6 months working as a barista in order to fully appreciate the nuances of coffee. Finally, if you decide to whine about anything and/or compare it to SoCal, you'll be deported.

  • Slightly off-topic, but I wonder if others have seen this. I'm pretty senior (15yrs+) and applied for a new job.After submitting a resume, I was invited to take part in a video interview. But here's the catch. The firm is local and no one is at the other end. Best I can describe it, you talk into your webcam while answering questions. I've never felt more de-humanized in a process. And these people expect me to work for them? Maybe for an entry level position but for someone over 10 years?

  • by Nivag064 (904744) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @04:41PM (#45612267) Homepage

    Remember that the need for Microsoft developers will soon decline, if it has not already done so.

    Most devices run Linux.

    Mobile phones are dominated by Linux, as are most other mobile devices such as eBooks, and Linux is gaining ground in tables with Android & Chrome O/S. Linux dominates servers: note that essentially all Valve, Dig, and Google servers (I expect that they probably do run the odd Microsoft server, although I have no evidence of this) run Linux - not Microsoft. At least 95% of the top 500 supercomputers run Linux.

    More and more companies and organisations are adopting Linux as their primary O/S on the desktop like the French Gendarmerie (http://www.zdnet.com/french-police-move-from-windows-to-ubuntu-linux-7000021479) and the local Government of a region in Spain (https://joinup.ec.europa.eu/community/osor/news/spains-extremadura-starts-switch-40000-government-pcs-open-source).

    At home we have 2 Linux workstations (3, if you count my old development box I normally keep powered down), 2 Linux laptops, 2 Android phones, an Apple desktop, and an iPhone - for 2 adults and a teenager. Note no Microsoft boxen.

    So for professional reasons, you should at least be investigating moving your skill base to Linux!

  • Seattle is Full (Score:2, Interesting)

    by lbmouse (473316)

    The last thing they need is more Californians. Try Portland or Tacoma.

  • There is, as of this writing, FOURTY-FUCKING-FOUR posts with the "About six months ago, I was overexerting myself trying to get rid of a terrible virus on a client's PC..." spam. The worst thing is, it's only a few users who posted those and all posted within the same minute of each copy. Isn't there supposed to be a timer to prevent more than X posts per minute? How are these jerks bypassing them?
  • why it's called the Emerald City.

  • No one in the "nice weather" parts of Cali is from there. No one...
    They are from China, India, Mexico, Russia, the UK, and of course the rest of the U.S.
    If you want to find Californians that were born and raised there go inland... Modesto, Bakersfield, Redding.

    I always get a kick out of people who live in Oregon, Washington, et al who bitch about people from Cali. More likely than not, they only lived for for ten or less years and are originally from Poughkeepsie, Hyderabad, Tulsa or Shenzen.
    I'm
  • It is impossible to get sh!t done in the pacific northwest, which is fine if you are in to that sort of thing. In addition, people in the Pacific Northwest have this idea that unless they band together and only "buy local", that the transformative power of poorly understood economic fallacy will magically create a closed loop utopia.

    I saw upthread people were suggesting Portland and Tacoma, which have the same problem turned up to ELEVEN.
  • I've been running into a similar problem trying to land a job in CA (my wife is a native and wants to move back). I'm in MI doing systems admin/project manager work for one of the 'Big Three', and while I get tons of recruiters calling me, they're all for local positions (although not all in the automotive sector which I guess is at least one positive). I've had very little luck landing interviews with any company in CA and I'm fairly sure it's because I'm not already in CA even though I'm not expecting a
  • Free your mind. The thing here is probably that it's tougher for tech companies in LA to recruit. I live in Seattle and you'd probably have to pay me 50% more to live in LA. Lots of people'd like to live in Seattle, for the reasons you describe, so there's plenty of job candidates.
  • by Qbertino (265505) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @07:40PM (#45614177)

    MS Stack software developer

    says it all. I almost stopped reading at that. MS stack is going bye-bye. And if there's one thing that is *not* lacking in *Seatle* it's MS 'talent'.
    Try this: Advertise yourself as a Linux stack guy of same skill level, and look how many interviews you get with that. I'd bet measurably more.

    Good luck.

  • by forevermore (582201) on Friday December 06, 2013 @02:00AM (#45616329) Homepage
    As someone who has had no trouble getting interviews in the past (outside of the year or so post-dotcom bust), and more recently as a hiring manager who has just as much trouble finding candidates *worth* interviewing as you seem to be getting those interviews, here's the best advice I can give out:

    1. Be honest about your address and intentions. If someone applies to my "local applicants only" job with an address in CA I don't even bother to read the resume. However, if you mention in your introduction email (cover letter?) that you want to move to the area and plan to be making a trip up in the next couple of weeks ("to visit some friends", "for a couple of interviews", whatever), I'll give your resume the same consideration as I would to a local candidate. I might even fast-track a phone screen if you look good, so I can schedule an interview to take advantage of that time you'd be here. Do your best to make your trip description emphasize how serious you are about looking for a job in the area -- it will bypass the concern a lot of small companies have paying to fly you into town for an interview (not worth it with so many great local candidates), and should hopefully prevent you from sounding presumptuous about expecting an interview.

    2. Find some good recruiters. I don't know a single tech worker who enjoys dealing with recruiters (most put off the same vibe as the stereotypical used car salesman) but there are a lot of VC-funded startups that hire exclusively through recruiting firms. Reach out to big guys like greythorn and volt, and do some searching on linkedin and other sites for smaller firms (which often have much more interesting work). Reaching out directly to them will help you get the message across that you want to move, and in turn they will help convince the hiring manager that you're worth talking to despite currently being out of state.

    3. You mentioned Seattle and MS in the same description. Be aware that there is a giant invisible line down the middle of Lake Washington. Though there is some MS stuff (at least on the web side of things, which is what I know best) in Seattle, there is a lot more of it on the East Side (Bellevue, Redmond) closer to Microsoft itself.

    4. It may help to get a local phone number, but honestly if you mark your non-206 number as "cell" and direct eyes toward your email address, I can't think how it would hurt your chances. FWIW, unless asked on a job application form at a big company, I'm not sure I've ever given my phone number out to a prospective employer until asked for it in order to schedule a phone screen.

    5. Yes, there really are that many good candidates in the area. You're competing with locals who are more readily available for interviews or followup interviews, so you need to stand out more than they do. And it's not just about weighing the costs of bringing a non-local candidate in for an interview -- I personally hate giving video interviews and will do everything I can to avoid them (I get so much more out of the interview if I can actually interact with a candidate; after all, personality-fit is as important as technical competence).

    6. On the other hand, there really are a lot of good jobs here, too (Amazon's hiring spree high pay has made it a pretty competitive market, too). Consider broadening your skill set. I know there is often a wide cultural gap between the kinds of devs who focus on MS vs Linux, but if I'm just looking for a good developer/engineer rather than a language expert, I'll be much more interested in you if your resume has more than just the one stack (Ruby+dotNet, dotNet+Java, etc). You could also take this as a "don't complain about picky companies if you're limiting yourself to a single technology subset".

    7. Be willing to work contracts. Microsoft itself is well-known for preferring to hire people through staffing agencies (corp-to-corp contract) rather than through direct hiring, and they're not alone among the larger companies. The staffing company becomes your employer while you work the contract (avoid 1099 contracts unless you fully understand the tax implications), and you don't have to feel too bad if you leave for a better gig a few months into the contract.

    Anyway, I hope this helps someone.

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