Why You Shouldn’t Expect a Company to Train You

Job TrainingManagers aren’t going to hire you if you don’t show a passion for a job’s core skills. That means that if the position entails developing data processes and programs with Python, you need to know at least the language’s basics. If you’re applying for a UX position and have never created wireframes, don’t be surprised if you don’t get even a phone interview.

How would you convince a manager to hire you without his preferred skills? Tell us by posting a comment below.

Why do companies think this way? One team lead I spoke with put it very well:

Our company is all about Linux. We want people who are passionate about Linux. If someone doesn’t even know the basics, well, it’s hard to see how they have the passion we’re looking for.

That doesn’t mean you have to know everything. This manager’s company will train people who need to learn Linux’s advanced features or areas they’re not experienced with. “We invest a lot in training,” he said. “But we’d expect an interest. So know the basics.”

This is where some people start to huff about training. They’ve got other skills and a solid track record, so why WOULDN’T a company just bring them on and teach them? They’ve never worked with Python,  but they  know C++. They don’t know wire frames, but they’re good project managers. All the company needs to do is make an investment in time and maybe a course or two, and they’d be ready to go.

Alas, that doesn’t solve the manager’s problem. He’s opened up a job because specific things need doing. While you’re being trained, the job’s still not getting done — or it’s getting done slowly — and other staffers are taking time away from their work in order to get you up and running.

When you’re looking for a job, the bottom line is this: It’s up to you to get the training you need to qualify.

13 Responses to “Why You Shouldn’t Expect a Company to Train You”

  1. Mark, you are wrong managers do want you to know everything. I would not apply for a job which I did not know the basics and nor do I believe most IT workers would. Most preferred list want much, much more than core skills. They want you to know software products that are not open source and are very expensive to learn on your on unless you work for company that uses that software.

    • Proud Paulbot

      ——-They want you to know software products that are not open source and are very expensive to learn on your on unless you work for company that uses that software.——

      I agree. I ran into this when I stupidly thought I could get into technical writing. I have writing experience–I worked as a copywriter for years–but I don’t know RoboHelp or PageMaker…and those programs cost $1,000.00 a pop. While I’m sure I could learn the programs at home, I couldn’t afford to invest two grand…not when I wasn’t working, or working a temp job for $10.00/hour, and couldn’t even pay my electric bill. Heck, even if I could have afforded it, it was just a bad investment. Two grand could be invested into starting a small business that could become wildly profitable, instead of investing it in software packages that I may or may never use.

      These employers want humans to be like microwave ovens, meaning you take them out of a box, turn them on, and they just perform at 100% peak from Minute One. Now, they can keep claiming that they “shouldn’t” have to train…but then they also shouldn’t be complaining about “shortages” of “qualified” applicants and DEMANDING that the gov’t force the taxpayers to pay to train THEIR employees.

      Further, the fact that they are continually complaining of a “shortage” is proof positive that there aren’t hordes of people who can just sit at home, go through some tutorials and become completely fluent in at least a half a dozen different programming languages…or who can afford to fork out thousands of dollars to buy outrageously priced software packages.

      Anyway, about the only thing that I’m “passionate” about at this point is making money.

      • Mark neither you or your phantom managers are gods. If they really believe in what they say print there names, what companies do the work for? I’m surr their bosses would want to know how incomptant they are. These sound like the type managers that decimated the American programmer entry level pipeline in favor of cheap h1b visa, now that that is not working out companies will have to rebuild that network. And that will expensive and messy.

        • I’ve never understood why every time managers describe what they’re looking for, they’re accused of thinking they’re “gods.” That’s just silly. And forgive me for finding people who’ll talk to me without getting PR’s approval. If they do that, it’s reasonable to agree not to name them. If you don’t like what they say, that’s for you to decide, but it seems short sighted to me. They’re giving you an idea of what they want to see in a candidate. All I can say is I hope when you’re looking for a position, you check your attitude at the door.

          So, I’m moving on from this thread. I’m saying that because I don’t want to be accused of disappearing. Besides, James, I’ll see you on the next one 🙂

  2. There was a time that companies would provide training, and that was before the plethora of tech-du-jour. I’ve been hired more than once for jobs I lacked knowledge of the programming language, or business. Sadly, I believe my greatest challenge now is my age.

    As others have pointed out; what tech do you learn? Python? Ruby (on or off the Rails), Objective-C? Even then you will have no actual experience. Oh well.

    • Proud Paulbot

      Before I gave up on tech, I looked at hundreds, maybe THOUSANDS of job ads. Never–not even once–did I see an ad aimed at people who self-trained at home. Every single ad I ever read required, at minimum, anywhere from two to five YEARS of experience in the required technologies. This included jobs denoted as “entry-level.”

      I also recall a conversation on the LA Times, on an article about unemployment. One of the posters claimed that there were “thousands” of job ads for applicants who knew various programming languages. This individual then went on to say that unemployed people should spend their days going through various online tutorials so that they could apply for those jobs.

      Another poster who identified as a recruiter for a tech company in Texas responded to the post. S/he scoffed at it and said that the notion of self-training at home was ludicrous. S/he said that s/he was, indeed, trying to fill dozens of positions for tech workers…but there was no way in heck s/he’d hire someone with no tech work experience, regardless of how many tutorials they went through.

      I cannot blame them. There really is no way to become proficient in these technologies other than in a work environment, but the type of entry-level jobs that used to “train” diamonds in the raw no longer exist. Thus, it’s not surprising there is no one to take senior positions.

  3. Fred Bosick

    The previous posters laid it out pretty well. But here’s another angle. Mark,do you actually think some guy/gal in India or China got themselves a bookshelf full of O’Reilly animal covers at home and just happened to luck into a telecommuting for a US based company?

    The galling part is not so much that there’s no training available, it’s that certain classes of potential employees get all they need(from the perspective of an accountant, anyway), while those who have allegedly intangible skills are passed over because they’re the wrong kind of headcount.

    The advantage of a microwave oven is that it does some things very well for a reasonable cost. The disadvantage is that it can only be a microwave oven.

    • Fred, to be honest, I think your “some guy/gal in India” argument is kind of a red herring. If you’re implying that companies are more apt to train a new hire because they happen to be of color, well, that’s just one of those old canards that won’t go away. Aside from the fact that doing so is illegal (according to an orginizantional expert I checked with), it simply doesn’t make sense from the point of view of the manager who’s faced with things he or she has to get done.

      Nothing in my post implies that it’s easy to get training. For many people it’s a huge roadblock. But companies don’t want to do it unless you’re a great candidate in other ways and shown enough interest in the technology to have learned at least the basics.

  4. Proud Paulbot

    —–since they’re the ones who do the hiring, I don’t see how they can be.—-

    *Just because* someone is a hiring manager means they cannot possibly be wrong? I do not follow that logic at all. Hiring managers are not gods.

    I think the fact that these companies continually complain of a “shortage” of “qualified” workers illustrates that they *are* wrong. Obviously, there *aren’t* hordes of applicants who have successfully trained themselves from the comfort of their living rooms…or there would be no shortages; self-trained geniuses would be lined up around the block, stampeding over each other to get into these companies.

    This is a problem of tech companies’ own doing. They have cut off the pipeline for entry-level workers, so there is no one moving up through the ranks–which means there are no applicants qualified to take senior-level positions requiring extensive experience.

    What, exactly, do these companies plan to do about the shortages they complain of so much…other than demand that employees train themselves or that the gov’t do it?

  5. JustinLReid

    I’m agreeing with the sentiments of some of these posters. I can understand “knowing the basics” but if there aren’t any training opportunities and the tech companies don’t consider online tutorials “experience” then how is it that you are going to get it? I guess there are Open Source projects under the Linux sphere that you can join, but if you’re struggling to make ends meet it’s hard to code when the power is going to be shut off.

    Unfortunately I don’t believe this is a phenomenon unique to tech, but a problem in the overall job market caused by the recession and rising class divisions. It seems more and more that a specific group of so called “baby boomers” and what have you are wanting to hold onto all the jobs for themselves and no one else. *Thank God* I actually had an internship that counts as applying skills like Python and Git, but that doesn’t make the double standard any better; that just makes me lucky.