SRE as a Lifestyle Choice

Vector created by iconicbestiary
  • Resumes are thrown out unless they contain exact matches for critical keywords and all critical keywords at that. This can get pretty ridiculous when the positions are scientific or technical in nature. White House HR once tried to reject a candidate whose previous employer was Github because he didn’t specifically list experience with version control on his resume.
  • Since candidates have no idea which keywords on a job posting will be critical they produce 30 to 40 page resumes to cover as much ground as possible. Those long resumes are then scored higher even if huge portions of the work experience are not relevant to the position because they have more keywords in them.
  • Candidates are given a survey asking them to self-assess how their skills meet the requirements of the position. If you don’t give yourself the highest score on every metric you get rejected. Even if everyone else lies in the most horrible, blatant fashion and you are truly the most qualified candidate, because you didn’t give yourself 5 out of 5 mastery on every requirement, your application is dead.
  • Veterans get bonus points added to their score before candidates are ranked for hiring lists, but since everyone in the system is cheating by this point and no one has interviewed any of these candidates to verify their abilities yet, veterans with no experience are frequently ranked above qualified candidates. If enough veterans apply, qualified candidates might not even make the hiring list.

Principles of Reliability

  • Monitoring: How do we know when something is broken?
  • Budgeting: What level of performance do we need from this system? What are we optimizing for and how much failure can we withstand before we lose value?
  • Escalation/Empowerment: If on the ground workers realize the system is producing a subpart result are they empowered to fix it?

Mapping Vulnerabilities


  • Agency identifies someone as a subject matter expert (SME) for the purpose of reviewing and interviewing candidates who is not qualified.

Developing Job Listings

  • Agency uses language that scares off qualified candidates, particularly underrepresented groups
  • Agency fails to separate “requirements” from “nice to haves”, forcing qualified candidates out of the pipeline because they “don’t have all the keywords”

Resume Review

  • Bias: Reviewers approve/reject candidates based on gut feeling, inventing additional criteria to justify the decision. Candidates rejected for listing older languages on their resume, working at certain companies, attending college later in life or not at all.
  • Irrational escalation of standards: reviewers judge candidates stricter or not based on time of day, the candidate they reviewed before, perceived robustness of pipeline (Note: is it better to fill an open position ASAP or leave the position open for a bit to find a better candidate?)


  • Certain interviewers are scheduled for more than their fair share of interviews, burning them out faster.
  • Interviewers write questions that do not test skills actually relevant to the position
  • Multiple interviews overrepresent some competencies and underrepresent (or fail to assess at all) other competencies
  • Interviewers fail to accurately transcribe QA, making it difficult for the hiring manager to assess interviewer’s feedback

Hiring Committee

  • Hiring Manager Discretion: How and why to overrule interview feedback?
  • Interviewer scores an interview one way but the tone of their written feedback suggests something else
  • Candidate scores high in technical interview but demonstrates behavioral issues (ie What to do with brilliant assholes).

CAP Theorem for Hiring

Defining Antipatterns






Author of Kill It with Fire Manage Aging Computer Systems (and Future Proof Modern Ones)

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

5 Social Media Recruiting Tips To Help You Hire Better

Learn How to Push Past ‘Impostor Syndrome’

IR35 — What’s Changing?

Embrace a layoff with all your heart

How to Turn Your Career into a Sustainable Business Model

We Expanded our Target Profiles

My intro to consulting

What Do Medical Residents Need to Know About Credentialing?

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Marianne Bellotti

Marianne Bellotti

Author of Kill It with Fire Manage Aging Computer Systems (and Future Proof Modern Ones)

More from Medium

Why Do Managers Expect Respect?

Tim Cook’s Cubicle Problem

Inside Apple’s Return to the Office Request — Expensive Office Space

Break the Meeting Addiction Cycle

Apple: why a forced return to the office will lead to a brain drain

IMAGE: A picture of Apple’s headquarters circular building in a sunset