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Browser Choice May Affect Your Job Prospects 374

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-god,-this-applicant-is-using-Lynx dept.
krygny sends this quote from The Economist: "The internet browser you are using to read this blog post could help a potential employer decide whether or not you would do well at a job. How might your choice of browser affect your job prospects? When choosing among job applicants, employers may be swayed by a range of factors, knowingly and unknowingly. ... Evolv, a company that monitors recruitment and workplace data, has suggested that there are better ways to identify the right candidate for job. ... Among other things, its analysis found that those applicants who have bothered to install new web browsers on their computers (such as Mozilla's Firefox or Google's Chrome) perform better and stay in their posts for 15% longer, on average."
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Browser Choice May Affect Your Job Prospects

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  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday April 12, 2013 @07:54AM (#43431267) Homepage

    Specifically, both being able to install a browser and staying in your job longer could easily be caused by a third factor, namely not being an idiot.

    • by The MAZZTer (911996) <megazzt@gmail . c om> on Friday April 12, 2013 @07:55AM (#43431275) Homepage
      Ah, but in this case, correlation is what the employer cares about.
    • by bsDaemon (87307) on Friday April 12, 2013 @07:56AM (#43431281)

      Additionally, having 5 web browsers installed and triple-booting operating systems might mean you get board easily and won't stick around at the job as long. I mean, still being on IE6 does show incredible staying power and loyalty, right?

    • by Chrisq (894406) on Friday April 12, 2013 @08:15AM (#43431419)

      Specifically, both being able to install a browser and staying in your job longer could easily be caused by a third factor, namely not being an idiot.

      You can't rule out a direct correlation - like staying in the same job makes you bored enough to start pissing about with different browsers

    • by Brucelet (1857158) on Friday April 12, 2013 @08:20AM (#43431453)
      Correlation doesn't need to imply causation for this to be relevant. It still means the employer is better off picking candidates who use a newer browser, and that job seekers are still better off using new browsers to signal that they're worthwhile, even if neither has causative evidence for why.
    • From the article, "Collectively, such findings suggest that algorithms and analysis of "big data" can provide a powerful tool to help employers sift through job applications. They might also make things fairer, by taking the personal prejudices of recruiters out of the equation."

      In other words, forget about applying individual judgment regarding the fitness of an applicant, let's use cookie-cutter search patterns instead. It'll be fine, you see, because it's done on "big" data, which everyone knows is way better than "little" data.

      The idea that this somehow takes "personal prejudice" out of the process is just laughable, of course. Following this program would do just the opposite: set the one-size-fits-all personal prejudices of search pattern writers into concrete, and then amplify it 10,000 times over with the aid of a computer.

      I am daily astounded by the tenacity of the idea that using a computer to do something somehow makes it less "personal".

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        It's exchanging one person's personal prejudice for another's. However, it's really a good thing: the personal prejudices of recruiters are stupid; if they can replace those with the personal prejudices of hiring managers, the companies would be much better off. The problem in hiring, for many companies, is that hiring managers (the guy you end up working under every day if you get the job, the guy who actually knows what you do, and probably did something similar when he was more junior) is separated fro

    • If A and B depend on a common cause C, I'd say, it's still causation.

      If A and B happen together just through merely good/bad luck (or because the researcher "carefully" cherry-picked his sample...), then it's just correlation.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 12, 2013 @07:55AM (#43431277)

    From the article "A study of 20,000 workers showed that more honest people tend to perform better and stay at the job longer. For some reason, however, they make less effective salespeople."

    Anybody surprised by this?

    • by Sentrion (964745) on Friday April 12, 2013 @08:44AM (#43431643)

      Reminds me of a cartoon I saw once. It showed a hiring manager explaining to a rejected job applicant: "no, actually your resume is quite impressive. The accomplishments at your previous employers are quite remarkable, and your commitment to your community service projects is commendable. But we are really looking for an unscrupulous ass-kissing minion to fill this position".

    • From the article "A study of 20,000 workers showed that more honest people tend to perform better and stay at the job longer. For some reason, however, they make less effective salespeople."

      Anybody surprised by this?

      Once upon a time, I was attempting to correct some misunderstandings a salesman had about a product I'd worked on, and he stopped me, saying that knowing the product too well would hamper his ability to sell it. I wasn't quite -- and I'm still not -- sure whether this was a dig at what he believed was poor product quality, or an admission that just making stuff up to please the customer worked better than the truth.

      Either way, the company's long since out of business, so I'll probably never know.

  • retire or are overdue for retirement...

    • by Chrisq (894406)

      retire or are overdue for retirement...

      You mean "And the one's who run IE6..."

    • retire or are overdue for retirement

      Not sure about that. People still using, say, IE6, browse obviously from work, ie from a retarded (literally) company - and since they want to leave, they're probably valuable candidates.

  • by shadowrat (1069614) on Friday April 12, 2013 @07:57AM (#43431293)
    But now that this is out, people looking for jobs are all going to switch to firefox and chrome. They probably still won't have whatever quality makes them good at the job, but they will have lived up to the expectations of the HR algorithm.
    • I had an economics professor once that wrote his thesis on using patterns to predict stock market trends. As he described it as soon as a pattern is recognized and published market investors jump on board, thus changing the parameters of the algorithm and ruining the pattern, which creates new trends.

      Rinse and repeat.
  • by Progman3K (515744) on Friday April 12, 2013 @08:00AM (#43431305)

    They'll only hire you as a sysadmin

    • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Friday April 12, 2013 @08:07AM (#43431345)

      I bet you still have to submit your resume as a .doc file, though.

      • No problem!

        mv resume.txt Resume\ \ \ .DOC.txt

      • by Theovon (109752) on Friday April 12, 2013 @09:17AM (#43431907)

        Oh, man. That drove me crazy. I had gone out of my way to convert my resume to a very nice and organized and readable and attactable format using LaTeX. Maybe I could have done better if I'd paid one of those services $1000 to tell me how to subtly color and place things better. But this beat the hell out of my earlier Word version.

        Then some head-hunter INSISTS that I give him a Word version because that's all his database will take. Sheesh. There's just no quick and easy way to do this, so I had to start with the original LaTeX source and make a new one that still looked lousy compared to the finished PDF.

        I'd like to think that my 16 years of industry experience and excellent research record in grad school were deciding factors. But I can assure you that the appearance of my CV make a big impact. Mind you, part of appearance is making it pleasant to read and easy to interpret.

        Your knowledge of basic psychology and a minimal familiarity with cognitive engineering IS TRULY an important factor in hiring and long-term job performance in many professions. Even if the employers don't realize they are considering this, they are considering it. You're screwing yourself if you don't consider the human factor in how your appearance on paper is going to be interpreted.

    • No because real sysadmins use curl.

      • by Chrisq (894406)

        No because real sysadmins use curl.

        mmm ... curl, vi and bash; the ideal browsing environment

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Real sysadmins telnet to port 443

    • by KiloByte (825081)

      I don't think a sysadmin who doesn't know about elinks is that hot, either.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      They'll only hire you as a sysadmin

      Tell 'em you use it so you can read the fnords.

  • most dev people have to do cross browser debugging so they install at least 4... do they get extra points?

    • by rnturn (11092)

      No. They get a warning from their boss that they should stop wasting time because IE is the corporate standard.

  • Well, the saying is "Nobody ever got fired for buying Microsoft software" (which is a variant from the original "No-one gets fired for buying IBM software [technically.us] (alternate reference here [infoworld.com] ). That might have to be modified to reflect this new reality: "Nobody ever got hired if they're still buying [or running] Microsoft software" ! :>)
    .
    Or, as many other posters have pointed out, being able to replace the stock software installed on your computer means you've got some smarts at least. IMHO, installing a full GNU/Linux distro on your system must make you a genius (not that Apple "genius bar" kind of genius either!)
    • Or, to an H.R. drone, unqualified because there isn't a "Microsoft" in there somewhere.

      Yes... they think that way. If they can think this way because you don't use Office and DARE to send your resume out in PDF format, they can easily think this way about an Open Source distro.

      I had a recruiter dress me down about this before. He had never heard of "Open Office" and I am not sure he had ever heard of Linux, either.

    • IMHO, installing a full GNU/Linux distro on your system must make you a genius

      Which would not be a good thing. First, geniuses know more than their manager. Then, geniuses get bored easily and will spend their "work" time on more interesting things... And finally, geniuses know how to set up a VPN or ssh tunnel from work to their system at home (or their system at whatever association they volunteer "their" time for sysadmin).

  • Time for HR to take Old Yeller out back and "process" his application.

  • subversive (Score:4, Funny)

    by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Friday April 12, 2013 @08:09AM (#43431359) Homepage Journal

    If your browser string looks like this:

    Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:20.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/20.0

    You're not a corporate believer and should never have a job... ever...

    -- your typical H.R. idiot.

  • by nimbius (983462) on Friday April 12, 2013 @08:12AM (#43431389) Homepage
    upon the type of work im doing. if i need access to a wiki article or something at work, netcat is fine. other times i might need to download the latest version of some software to test, so ill defer to curl (i understand its a resource hog, but im getting lazier as an admin in my old age.) One of the most frustrating things ive had to deal with at work however is sharepoint. Ive submitted several bug reports for the software but frankly, i cant get it to render properly in anything i use. even a full-featured monster like lynx cant handle it! For now ive worked around it by taking dd snapshots of the sharepoint san and parsing them using ed for the relevant articles.
  • And job candidates who customize their user agents are smart asses who will probably hack all of your systems.

  • by Clsid (564627) on Friday April 12, 2013 @08:16AM (#43431425)

    Why is it that in every field you always see a jackass like that coming up with totally unrelated methods to weed people out. Why not have them do the actual job you want and see how they perform. Even if you have too many applicants you can just have a first come, first serve policy, and based on the test of the first group, the best person gets the job.

    • Re:Random much? (Score:5, Informative)

      by rnturn (11092) on Friday April 12, 2013 @10:01AM (#43432371)

      ``Why is it that in every field you always see a jackass like that coming up with totally unrelated methods to weed people out. Why not have them do the actual job you want and see how they perform.''

      Short answer: because the people doing the screening have absolutely no idea of the skill set that's actually required to perform the job. All they know is that the hiring manager supplied them with a laundry list of things that Joe did for the company before he left -- likely because of boredom and there being no chance for career advancement.

      Long answer: Because they'd have to actually hire you, run you through the onboarding process, and put you in the position to evaluate your performance. In the meantime, the recruiter has been paid 25-30% of your salary as a fee. If you don't work out, the company would have to fight to get their fee back. My understanding is that many -- most? -- recruiters agree to refund that fee if the candidate turns out to be a complete bozo, it's still a hassle and the employer would, I'm sure, prefer to avoid if they can, hence the ridiculous requirements with insane years of experience, specific software versions, and so on. The downside is that the hiring manager winds up going through a much, much longer hiring process -- along with all the other staffers who participate in the interview process who are, frankly, getting more than a little pissed off over how long they've been doing Joe's job while the hiring process drags on and on. For some reason, nobody at the company seems to notice this. Or they realize there's a problem but don't give a damn because it doesn't affect the HR person's job.

      I saw an open position at a company where a friend's ex works advertised for over a year. Imagine what that's doing to the workload of people who are filling in for that open position. I never did learn from my friend whether they actually filled that position or whether they just divvied up the work for everyone else to do and saved the company the salary/benefits. Personally, if someone has all the years of experience and broad exposure to all the hardware and software that employers -- or HR people -- are demanding nowadays, I'd be wondering why they aren't looking for a higher level job and not a simple parallel move where the only thing that's changing is the company that's paying them. "Wow! We're impressed that you did X, Y, and Z for your employer for 5-8 years. How would you like doing the exact same thing for us?" Doesn't sound so tempting to me.

      But I sense we're drifting off the topic of browsers, aren't we. (heh heh)

  • What are we measuring here? Which browsers are best or whether people who care enough to take an extra step and fit themselves with the browser of their preference also care enough to do a better job?

    They probably brush their teeth more often too and are more considerate lovers, if only of themselves.

    I think we should be able to vote on what gets called a "study".

    • My guess is that they are measuring the adaptability / ability of decision-making from individual. A guy who only uses what is available, even when what is available is bad, is different from a guy who tries to change the bad situation to better.
  • by 6Yankee (597075) on Friday April 12, 2013 @08:28AM (#43431517)

    ...you find yourself stuck with IE6 on XP, and installing Firefox is a sackable offence.

  • I seriously disagree (Score:5, Interesting)

    by slashmydots (2189826) on Friday April 12, 2013 @08:31AM (#43431535)
    Anyone stupid enough to fall for browser advertising or co-installers has Chrome. Those people would NOT be allowed at my company. At my repair shop, 99% of people with Chrome claim they don't know how they got it. They usually also have a ton of malicious plugins in all browsers.
  • by rnturn (11092) on Friday April 12, 2013 @08:39AM (#43431607)

    Gosh, it's nice to know that my employer sees me as a good bet to stick around after I was hired. But I can remember having to resort to using my wife's Windows laptop to even apply for jobs at many companies because their damned web site would not render properly unless you used IE. I had found that company's jobs sites that employed a popular (*cough* Taleo *cough*) to run their job listings and application process were pretty bad with Firefox compatibility (making you re-enable all the add-on toys that many FF users turn off due to their annoyance factor and their security holes). The absolute worst, though, were the "homegrown" HR pages.

    Aside: let's not even get into the requirement for a Word version of your resume when applying for a UNIX- or Linux-heavy position. Again, the wife's Windows laptop was handy since all the other computers in the house have been Microsoft-free for the last ten years or so. Saved me from having to schlepp over to the local public library with my resume on a USB drive just to make Word versions. The Word/Office files that are created from LibreOffice/OpenOffice are considerably larger than the same file created directly from MS-Word, sometimes larger than the company's upload limit. (Clever means of filtering out older, more experienced UNIX/Linux people with longer resumes?)

    • by Theovon (109752)

      Yes. Of all of the university HR systems on the planet, it's the one at YALE that won't work with anything other than IE.

  • by TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) on Friday April 12, 2013 @08:43AM (#43431633)

    I know damn well I would never hire or keep someone if they insisted on using IE 6.

    Also, I have no tolerance to work for a company that forces IE 6 on me, so chances are I would quit before they get around to firing me.

    • by MacTO (1161105)

      Congratulations. You're fired, before you get around to quitting. Seriously. As an employee, your role is to do the job required with the resources provided. If you cannot do so, or choose not to do so, you have no place in the workforce.

      (You are free to offer your input, but a refusal to comply with reasonable demands placed by your employer indicates that you are likely to present ongoing issues for your employer. Demanding that employees use IE6, particularly if it is restricted to internal networks

  • I think it's prudent to use IE at most job sites. I've had difficulties in the past using Opera. The last thing a job applicant wants is to have the resume submission process go haywire because of a non-standard browser. Since company job boards are likely designed for IE, why not use it, especially if it reduces your chances for errors ?
  • Considering that some of the most brilliant engineers I know still use some VERY antiquated technology and software, but have customized and adapted it over the years to integrate with newer technology to do things that no off-the-shelf software can do.

  • That this is absolute bullshit.
  • "Among other things, its analysis found that those applicants who have bothered to install new web browsers on their computers"

    How do they distinguish those who installed a new browser from those that let their boyfriends, brothers, friends, etc. install a new browser?

  • I'm using Lynx, whose the power employee NOW?
  • If an employer required me to use IE to apply, I'd think long and hard whether it's really worthwhile. My current employer has adopted a new HR system which will soon require a Java applet to apply and if I wasn't already employed that might be enough to dissuade me. (Already working here, I know Java is non-existent internally, but as a new applicant, I'd assume it was a Java shop).

  • Having more than one browser should NOT be a deciding factor on your productivity. For all we know, using more than one browser maybe a forced issue simply based on the incompatibilities of some websites towards a preferred browser.
    And for all we know, more than 1 browser, could also mean, less work, because being at your desk and producing isn't synonymous with being at your desk and browsing websites.
  • I am a rare one! :P

It's a naive, domestic operating system without any breeding, but I think you'll be amused by its presumption.

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