Scarcity is no excuse for being a dick

This is going to be one of those cathartic posts. It will appear to be laden with humble-brags, but I’m trying to get some thoughts out of my head. Bear with me here.

My father is a 61-year old handyman. He works hard every day, breaks a sweat on an hourly basis. He pinched a nerve in his back once, and another time damn-near cut three of his fingers off while repairing a forklift.

I’m 25, and I sit in an air-conditioned office for 10 hours a day.
My salary is higher than my father’s has ever been.

I’m a member of a modern, snot-nosed, entitled minority called “computer programmers”. We are highly scarce and highly in-demand. We skip merrily from opportunity to opportunity, headhunted for our abilities and offered better money, better benefits and better working conditions than our parents have ever enjoyed. Yeah, we’re those punks that respond to offers of gainful employment by recruiters with tired exasperation, with condescension and – more-often-than-not – a smug attitude. We work in an ever-evolving industry that only knows one constant – growth, and it’s trending upwards. We’re in pretty-much one of the only future-proof industries out there.

I am filled with deep shame sometimes to call myself a member of this minority.
Scarcity is no excuse for being a dick.

Over the past few years, I’ve encountered many programmers who have this almost sadistic attitude towards recruiters and the Human Resources faculty in general. I have seen LinkedIn profiles openly requesting to not be “bothered” by recruiters. I have spoken to developers who have claimed to ridicule recruiters for their “n00bish” mistakes – for offering Visual Basic positions to seasoned enterprise software developers, and things of that sort. I have been one of these people in the past. I think we all need to take a step back and get over ourselves.

I think that we forget what a cosmic accident of history it is that we are where we are. We should all be, daily, contemplating our incredible fortune that our buttocks are not allergic to butter; we have all fallen into it ass-first.

When did we start to feel that we had the right to be such spoilt brats, that take such glee in vanquishing the innumerable invitations on LinkedIn from recruiters who want nothing other than to give us amazing jobs?!

I received this email a little while ago from the HR Manager at a company I had once wanted to work for, in Germany – a country where I would love to live & work in one day:


It’s emails like this that make me hope that I never forget what an ineffably lucky bunch of spoilt cunts we have all become.

I responded (I feel) quite politely and cordially, saying that I was not interested in the position at present, and thanking the person for their kind offer. I’m really happy where I am now and can’t imagine working anywhere else for a good long while. It made me reflect on what a privileged life we as programmers live, and we’re sometimes incredibly shitty human-beings because of it.

I’ll say it again: Scarcity is no excuse for being a dick.


I love what I do. I deeply love coding. I think about coding when I’m making the beast with two backs. I think about code in the shower, and in the car. I code in my free time. I never want this to end, but one day it will – and I hope then that those same recruiters will still take my calls if I’m looking for handyman work at 61.

Being a programmer in 2014 is like being a happily-married man, imprisoned in a bordello. There is so much temptation around, and it’s really exciting – and sometimes a little intimidating. It’s a truly wonderful, wonderful thing, this thing of ours – and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else, ever.

Long live coding! Be kind to each other.


  1. What world do you live in where programmers are scarce? We’re not that scarce. I’ve been writing code for almost as long as you’ve been alive. The job market is competitive, but that isn’t what this is about is it?

    The reason recruiters exist isn’t because our trade is a rare talent. Recruiters exist because of the abundance of programmers. They’re there to sift through people, not to mention they’re expected to sift through as many qualified people as possible in a given month. Not to mention they deal with all the legal stuff like background checks.

    It’s one thing when people are just being cock-suckers because they presume they’re better than someone else spinning a wrench. It’s a completely different thing to assume recruiters care more about getting you a job than they do they’re own. It’s like going to a strip club and thinking the girl giving you a lap dance has feelings for you.

    I’ve known good programmers get called to interview for a job, commute an hour to sit down and wait with a huge group of other programmers, do a 5 minute interview, and then never get called back. I know people that have sat on the phone with a recruiter for hours talking about an opportunity only to never hear about it again.

    Several years ago I was approached by a recruiter offering me a position doing front-end development for PNC Bank, she asked if I was familiar with jQuery and I responded that I wrote JavaScript quite well. I hung up the phone when she asked me what JavaScript was.

    I know a guy who is an awesome Python developer, but never could get a job through a recruiter because he got into legal trouble early in his teens. Then one time followed up on a lead by approaching the company directly a few days after being turned away by a recruiter. They hired him, giving him a chance instead of seeing him as a liability.

    I request that recruiters don’t contact me on LinkedIn. They still call me. They still write me emails and message me on LinkedIn. Many don’t care. All of them never hear back. If I need a job, I don’t need a recruiter to find one. It isn’t because I hate recruiters, it’s because I’m not interested in being a product.

    My grandfather wrote COBOL in the 70’s, put that aside and became a police officer, then later decided to go off an be a truck driver from which he retired from. My father was a factory worker pushing a button for most of my life, then a few years ago went to school for machining and now works in a small shop. Just because my career path and my decisions to choose what I want to do are different, and net me more money per year than my father or my grandfather ever have doesn’t bother me one bit. I’m also not even slightly ashamed to be a programmer, call myself a programmer, or even be apart of the greater community of programmers.


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