I blundered upon my messaging history on LinkedIn the other day, and noticed that it has, for the most part, transitioned from chats with IBMers that I was saying goodbye to (and the ever growing ex-IBMer population that I now know) to rather canned responses to headhunters.

Like contact requests from anybody I don’t remember having worked with, I ignore those from headhunters.  I’ll reply to the headhunter connect requests with a terse “Sorry, I don’t accept requests from people I haven’t worked with personally”.

Going through my replies to the last 10 headhunters who explicitly messaged me, it appears I’m pretty consistent, and most of my replies were fairly close to the following:


Thanks for reaching out. I enjoy my current work, which is challenging and interesting, the potential of the company I am working for, and my compensation. I’m not currently interested in a job change.


The company that you are recruiting for would have to offer really damn interesting work to get me to defect from LzLabs at the moment.

There were two headhunters that got non-canned responses:

1) A banking and financial sector headhunter got a more direct response:

Hi XXX, thank you for reaching out, but I’m not interested.

This may surprise people, but it’s a moral choice.

I picked up a microeconomics text from the bookshelf of our local Unionville recycling depot (the best priced second hand book store in Markham). That text book was packed with enough Hamilton and Lagrangian equations to make any physicist (or want-to-be physicist like me) at home.  Application of those techniques would surely be interesting, and I was being targeted by a recruiter for a company where that probably would have been possible.  However, it would take a lot more than that chance to make me work directly for a financial parasite.

Yes, I know that I spent 20 years working in the guts of DB2 LUW, which is a product that is used in many financial institutions.  Yes, I know that I am now working for a company with a mainframe solution that is going to be used by many financial institutions.  Both of these cases have a level of indirection that influences my attitude.

If I wasn’t employed, or I had my mortgage paid off, perhaps I’ll feel less hostile to the financial sector.  However, in the near term, I’m certainly not going to work directly for one of the leeches.

2) google.


I’m very happy with my current job, which is challenging, interesting, pays very well, and is with a company that has potential I find very appealing.

Google was previously a company that I found intriguing as a possible employer, but has recently demonstrated aspects of authoritarian political correctness that make it much less appealing. There is also evidence of political bias, anti free-speech tendencies, and censorship related to the google products that I find very unsettling given the power and scope of its technology. It is not at all clear that I would be comfortable working at google in its current state.


This response was one that surprised me when I wrote it, but I think it is honest.

I would have previously considered working for google if the conditions were right.  When I was at IBM, I never accepted any interview requests from google.  The rationale for that choice was knowledge that relocation was required for any interesting technical work at google (their Toronto lab was marketing only), and I made it clear that relocation was not an option in any correspondence.  I’ve been rebuked by colleagues for that hard line position on relocation, since interviewing at google is said to be really fun.

In recent times, I have been continually reading and hearing of political bias at google.  I’d expect a company that wields so much power to take a non-partisan political position, but they seem to have actively attempted to bias the recent opportunistic-psychopath vs narcissistic-idiot competition in the US, and also appear to be actively attempting to introduce questionable social engineering (biased search rank manipulation, selective demonetization, …) into their products.   In spite of this, even in recent times, had google had google offered up interesting work at interesting compensation levels, without a relocation requirement, perhaps I would have bitten hard enough to interview.

The recent James Damore fiasco is a game changer.  Damore’s primary crime appears to be have been the use of the psychological term neuroticism (a “big five” personality trait that seems to roughly be a measure of negative emotion) without explicit inline definition in his memo. If you are going to fire somebody and make them a scapegoat just to appease the diversity police, then you become uninteresting as an employer.  I just finished working for IBM, which seems to have made it their business to treat people as entries in a HR ledger, irrespective of competence.  It will take some hard sales work to pique interest in google when their HR department is evidently trying to be orders of magnitude more insane than IBMs.  Unless there’s some evidence of HR reform at google, I suspect google technical recruiting is going to get really difficult until their treatment of Damore has been forgotten.

IBM and government are both strong evidence that insanity scales with organization size.  With google clearly growing in size, I am not holding my breath for the chance that it will reverse any of its tendencies down the path toward organizational dementia.