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Are we nearing the end of the Animal House?

Are we nearing the end of the Animal House? Featured Image

Over the past several months, I’ve noticed a trend that I’m *personally* not used to hearing: candidates asking me to just SKIP OVER the sell of “company perks” & work environment during a job presentation.

“Yeah man - I don’t care about all that” they say. “Let’s get back to the actual job.”

“Why?” I ask. “Don’t you want to hear about their culture and all this other cool stuff?”

“That’s not culture - that’s fluff. I’m looking to make the right career move for myself and I’m sorry, but I could care less what kind of beer they have on tap or how many Nerf guns get fired during a typical day. It’s honestly all I hear about lately. Grrrrrr.”

And so it goes….several times over the last several months…in many different forms from many different engineers.

They’ve told me they’re tired of the bullshit. They don’t care. They don’t need a fraternity/sorority for grown ups. “Everyone offers casual dress & free beer nowadays - it’s a given!” Well, we all know that’s not the case in ALL instances of course. But - more and more, IT professionals are PRIMARILY concerned about the SPECIFIC technology stack being CURRENTLY being used (not “where a company wants to go,” the people (and who they’ll actually work for/report to), and of course, the nature of the business they’re getting into. The softer “fluff & filler stuff” isn’t working like it used to. Hmmmm.

I have to say, I’m impressed! Are we nearing the end of an era here? Is the Nerf gun dead? Is the “Animal House” going back to where it belongs, on the campus of Penn State?

Don’t get me wrong, as a professional who’s been recruiting since the 90’s, I’ve seen it all - sign on bonuses, stock options, relocation expenses, bring your dog to work day, free catered lunches, free laptops, free haircuts, etc. BUT - over time, I always thought things snowballed a bit out of hand somewhere along the way. I mean…here I am selling a job AND a company (like the hard working sales professional I am), and along the way, I’m discussing pool tables, XBox gaming rooms, what kind of beer is on tap, free candy, what kind of chef comes in on Tuesdays, how much starch does the dry cleaner use, etc. And the list goes on and on and on and on and on.

Is it cool? Sure. Am I jealous? A little. Am I a hater? No.

Would I love to be a 20-something software engineer right now? ABSOLUTELY YES!

But, should these “benefits” be plastered all over company web sites as almost a PRIMARY reason to work there? Should it take up HALF of a job description? Should that really be WHAT I’m selling? Should there be an entire web page dedicated to it? I’m not so sure. A “P.S”? Sure. An after thought? Yes. A primary component of taking or not taking a job? Ehhhh. Not even close.

A couple of things out there (from some of the “big guys”) that I DO think are really cool…

1. Google - pays 50% of your salary to your spouse if you pass away for the next 10 years.

2. Netflix - pays you full salary for 1 year for maternity OR paternity leave

3. Airbnb - they give you an annual $2,000 travel stipend to use in one of their vacation rentals.

4. Microsoft - gives you an annual $800 spend to use for gym or fitness memberships to promote healthy living.

NOW THESE benefits are good. These I can sell. These blanket EVERYONE out there (for the most part). Young, old, male, female - they can all wrap their heads around benefits like these. As for the these other benefits I speak of….what if you DON’T drink (or at least not during work hours)? Couldn’t that make your company LESS appealing to some people? Hell, what if you’re in AA?! BTW - I’ve never fully understood the legality issue surrounding this.

And what if you DON’T care about becoming the “Black Widow” on the pool table or becoming the next gaming champ? What if you just care about keeping WORK at WORK and advancing your career? Couldn’t touting TOO much fun have an adverse affect on a candidate taking your job? Can’t open environments be TOO OPEN sometimes?

My point here is that maybe we should get back to the basics a little bit more. Job specs and websites having POINTED descriptions of what they want in a person (not laundry wish lists), maybe some mention of some solid, high level benefits that appeal to everyone, maybe even a “top 3 reasons to work here,” and then SURE, then you’re allowed to throw a picture of the team playing corn hole…or at a happy hour…or [insert social gathering “work photo.”].

And listen, I know the demographics speak for themselves, and honestly, it’s actually been fun selling these benefits to people and day dreaming about “WOW - if only they had stuff like this when I was in my 20’s!”…but, c’mon, let’s get real…let’s call it how it is - how much time are these people ACTUALLY sluggin’ beers, getting into a rowdy game of Call of Duty, or shooting pool? Are you really going to have a job if you’re the resident “pool shark?”

Wouldn’t it (or couldn’t it) be a little “cooler” to undersell and over deliver and have people see these things first hand during an interview or a tour of the office VERSUS THAT, in and of itself. being a primary reason for going to work there?

In my experience, (and only as an example) - let’s say you’re a single man, with a good job, lots of money, and drive a Benz…and you want to impress a girl. Isn’t it MUCH cooler to just pull up in the car for your first date filled with confidence (not saying ANYTHING about it), versus touting it when you first meet someone as almost a REASON to date you? I see the opposite happen many times and I think we all know how that story goes.

Maybe I’m crazy. And maybe I’m wrong. But from where I sit - I think the days of the Animal House MAY very well be numbered.

For now though. I’ll keep selling your foosball tables, craft beers, and black-lit gaming rooms ; )

And - if I’m wrong, and all of this is here to stay, maybe it’s time for me to finally get those TripleScreen embossed Nerf gun bullets!

Get after it -


Michael J. Butti hails from the Philadelphia suburbs, and is a highly regarded technology staffing expert, who has helped companies large & small solve their most complex staffing problems and has helped shape the Delaware Valley technology landscape since 1997. Michael is Co-Founder and Managing Partner of TripleScreen Search & Staffing, based in Downingtown, PA.

Follow him on Instagram @mikebuttiphilly

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