back to article You're crap and paid too much for the little work you actually do

You’re not getting paid as well as you should. I know this not only because you’re bothering to read this, but also because most techies are crap at extracting cash from their employers. It shouldn’t shock you too much to learn that I, as a City headhunter and former contractor, focus quite hard on money - so here's a few ideas …


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  1. disgruntled yank


    "As a City headhunter and former contractor, it shouldn’t shock you too much..." I suppose nothing at all would shock me, had I been a City headhunter.

  2. Tom 38

    Dominic, your articles scare me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Scary in a good way

      This is, bar none, the best article on this subject ever written. It is frighteningly accurate for pretty much anyone who works for a large company.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

        Re: Scary in a good way

        Yeah, it's so good I'm going to have to fake a firewall issue and block the minions' access to El Reg - can't have them learning truths like that!

        On the subject of faking, we used to have a very crafty backup admin I was alwasy hearing good things about. This in itself was suspicious enough seeing as he was lazier than the average BOFH. What he did was he'd pick a bigwig to impress and then introduce a delay into the overnight backup of their desktop. Then, he'd be in just the right place in the morning when the bigwig was unable to start work because their desktop was slow. "Leave it to me," he'd say, disappear and undelay the backup, then call back in ten minutes to say; "It should be OK now, I fixed the <insert technical gobbleydegook here>." It was amazing the number of people that thought he was brilliant!

      2. bun

        Re: Scary in a good way

        yeah - This article contains all of the important information I learned in my Masters in Management Information Systems.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Yeah, it should at least have a friendly "Advice Dog" image somewhere.

    3. AdamWill


      Really? I love them.

      They illustrate that there is a set of utterly incompetent companies out there large enough to keep someone like Dominic in gainful employment. This means that those of us who work at competent companies that value engineering can continue to feel fairly good about our future prospects...

    4. Jerome 0

      It's not every day you get to read a line like "the time I was punched at IBM’s labs was my own fault".

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. DJ Smiley
    Thumb Down

    I stopped reading after the first point

    Because first its "don't improve the backup process because no one notices" soon becomes "Don't have a backup process because no one notices".

    We all know what lies that route. The problem _is_ management. They are lead to believe by some reasoning that IT don't produce value for a company.

    This is only partially true, the same way traffic lights don't produce money for the goverment.

    Without them, there would be chaos and with chaos there is a loss of income from formally reliable sources.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I stopped reading after the first point

      I was going to write a really scathing note in reply to your post, but actually I'm just going to sit here smiling and hoping there are more people like you out there, cause then I'll just look even more amazing to my boss in comparison :-)

      Thanks for the pay rises, Mr Socially Incompetent!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: AC 13:19

        Nothing to do with being socially incompetent, I am paid to do a job and that's what I do. Yes that means a lot of what I do doesn't get noticed but I take that as I sign that I am doing my job well making I.T. transparent to the end user.

        You carry on making it look like you are working hard in front of the boss while actually achieving nothing. When I take a 2 week holiday and something fails causing it to fall down around your ears and you don't know how to make it all better I won't be remoting in to fix it just to save your job. When the boss demands to know what went wrong and who is at fault for all the downtime, I'll just point out all the time you wasted showing your face while I produce fully documented disaster recovery procedures that you didn't know about as you never bothered asking about them.

        1. Ian Ferguson

          Re: AC 13:19

          ...and meanwhile you'll never get a pay rise or promotion prospects in ten years because nobody knows what you actually do.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. TheOtherHobbes

          Re: AC 13:19

          Actually, someone socially skilled would probably just blame you.

          If they're convincing enough, you'll be the one who loses *your* job over someone else's mistake.

          I'd like to say this never happens, and I'd like to say even more that no one is really that manipulative and cynical.

          But. Sadly.

          Then again, all the psycho-chimps gravitate to the City. So there is still some relative sanity elsewhere in some parts of IT. And you might - *might* - get lucky.

        3. gr0undzer0

          Re: AC 13:19

          I'm all about integrity but the sad truth is the people who move up are often times not the biggest producers.

          Why the heck would you move up someone who does an amazing job at a lower tier? If your best helpdesk tech is always productive and making the team look good why are you going to move him up and loose your most productive member of helpdesk?

          Bosses never go after the culprit of a problem they go after the person who feels most guilty for the problem. This is because it is easier to try and get more out of a employee who wants to be a good employee then it is a slacker.

          If you think they can just get rid of the slackers your dead wrong. Its nearly impossible to get rid of the trash with all the laws about now.

          1. Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

            Re: AC 13:19

            Actually, in the UK it is not *that* hard to get rid of crap people, you need to follow a procedure, including actually telling them what their actual bloody job is and ensuring that you're not doing it because of sex/age/race or perceived sexuality.

            As a director of my firm I have had to sign contracts where we promise not to discriminate not just against LGBT but people we think might be LGBT

            My point about "visible productivity" cuts both ways...

            Even at Capita most staff genuinely want to do their job well, indeed when I've seen severe workplace stress it is often caused by people being prevented from doing what they see as a good job.

            However they often don't know, or worse think their job is something very different to what the firm needs, partly because they often have never really been told, or were told once years ago and senior management was too busy playing golf to actually tell each of the troops what was needed.

            For the avoidance of doubt, I've been there.

            When next I meet the senior Reassuringly Expensive Lawyer (tm) we have on call I'm going to pick his brains about "how to fire crap techies", might be an article if I can condense it to a short enough piece.

    2. Yag

      Like it or not...

      but this remains the sad truth...

    3. Ian Ferguson

      Re: I stopped reading after the first point

      Are you working because you want your company to do well, or because you want more money?

      Neither is wrong or right; but you need to make a distinction. When you say "The problem _is_ management" you mean productivity suffers because of management. If you're solely focused on improving productivity, maybe you have a point; but if you're thinking about your career and pay, you're off the mark.

      To be honest none of us should be leaning too far one way or the other - don't lose sight of honesty and productivity, but also don't lose sight of fair recompense and career prospects.

      1. Pete 2 Silver badge

        The problem _is_ management

        The fundamental issue is that no matter how brilliant an IT-er we (all) are. No matter how many problems we fix / avoid / shift the blame for, the amount we can earn is limited by how well the employer does as a whole. No matter how many hours we work, what new applications (bug-free: of course) we implement or business processes we improve if someone above our pay grade makes a monumentally stupid decision, we're still in a sinking ship.

        Sure, you can leave and explain to the next manager how all the people at his/her level in your last job were all idiots. But that won't win much in the way of sympathy - and if you make a habit of it ... well, nobody want to employ a job-hopper.

        Probably the best that you, as an IT person, can do is to plant some pr0n on the relevant manager's PC and get them kicked out (the good of the many outweighs the good of the one) before they do irreparable damage to your pay prospects. However, there's only a limited amount of smut available and a seemingly endless supply of duff managers.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The problem _is_ management

          lol about more duff managers that smut :)

          >the amount we can earn is limited by how well the employer does as a whole.

          It is also lilmited by their will not to give you more money than absolutely necessary. Their success is not yours.

        2. Fat Bob

          Re: The problem _is_ management

          "However, there's only a limited amount of smut available..."

          Hi Pete 2, let me introduce you to this thing we like to call the internet. And later, we can talk about rule 34...

    4. fLaMePrOoF

      Re: I stopped reading after the first point

      Obviously this article is way too subtle for all of the Gary McKinnons out there...

    5. JohnG

      Re: I stopped reading after the first point

      The problem is management of the sort described in the article. There is a tendency amongst some managers to "pick up and run with the ball" for only as long as more senior managers are interested, switching from one shiny ball to another, never actually completing anything. The snag with this is that whilst things like backups and security are normally uninteresting to senior management, you can bet that they will take a keen interest if backups or security are found to be inadequate and important data is lost or compromised. The only way to ensure such mundane but essential activities are addressed is to highlight the risks associated with their failure to management - if they then choose to live with the risk, that is their prerogative.

    6. JDX Gold badge

      Re: I stopped reading after the first point

      You missed the point. The articles isn't "how to be good at your job", it's "how to get paid more". It's up to you to choose which you prioritise.

    7. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Comprehension of English

      The article didn't say "don't improve the backup process because no one notices". You used quotation marks when you were actually paraphrasing - incorrectly.

      The actual quote was "No one really cares if you’ve made the backup process run 50 per cent faster unless it’s stopping work", which seems to be entirely plausible in many situations... for example, a back up made after office hours. No one will cares if it takes 4 hours instead of 2 if they are not going to be in the office for another 14 hours, hence not "stopping work".

      And besides, the article's author was only using it as an example, so don't read too deeply in to it.

      So whilst you're digesting that, let us introduce you to Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V. I find it useful because neither my memory or my typing is perfect.

      Neither is my knowledge. So if I encounter an article or a process that runs against what I think I know, I give it thought and consideration. If I was right, no matter. If I was wrong, then I will have learned something, possibly making my job easier.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I stopped reading after the first point

      > "Don't have a backup process because no one notices"

      Yes; I worked at a startup where it was obvious to everyone that we needed to start doing backups, but no-one was volunteering to actually organise it. It was a case of "who will crack first". In the end, I did. Obviously it didn't improve my "Continuously Visible Productivity", but it probably did help the company in the longer term.

      It comes down to this: is it better to focus on your personal "CVP", or on making the company successful? If the company is small and you have share options, it is probably better in the medium to long term to focus on making the company successful. On the other hand, if you're working for a mega-corp, you are a small cog whose contribution is negligible to the overall productivity of the company - so, it's better to focus on things that directly benefit yourself (CVP).

      Most people would prefer to work for the former kind of employer. They do exist. (Or, work for yourself.)

    9. Ru

      "No one really cares"

      The problem with the notion of *Visible* Progress is that the invisible progress is still pretty damn important. No-one cares you made the backup process 50% faster... until something goes horribly wrong and all that backup stuff is suddenly a priority and Questions are being Pointedly Asked about why more time was not spent streamlining this crucial task. So you're unrewarded if you do deal with these things before they become and issue, and you're in trouble if you don't. Yay!

      I suffer a lot less from this sort of issue now I'm a codemonkey and not a sysadmin, largely because the people I'm working for actually understand the issues involved (sorting out a good test framework early on fails the CVP requirement, but it can prevent months of suffering later) and this is actually the most important thing.

      If No One Really Cares, it is time to polish up your CV and look for new employment, or you will forever be an inconvenient business expense and your work will always suffer as a result.

    10. Peter Mc Aulay

      Re: I stopped reading after the first point

      The reality, though, is that nobody cares about backup processes. What counts is restore processes. (Demonstrating the need for the latter so you can fund the former is left as an exercise for the reader.)

    11. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @DJ Smiley - Traffic Lights

      Just for the record, around where I live they installed traffic lights on three junctions that had previously had none, and the roads went from smooth constantly moving traffic (in all directions, lets you argue that side roads were not getting proper service) to one huge fecking traffic jam, literally overnight, so I'm less than sympathetic to people who claim that there would be chaos in absence of traffic lights.

      Most junctions don't need them. A few do. Some than do need them don't have any. As always, it's a case of using the right tool for the right job and not just applying blanket measures in the belief that it will magically fix everything.

      1. ShadowedOne

        Re: @DJ Smiley - Traffic Lights (@AC 16:55)

        Sounds like CVP at work. Smoothly flowing traffic, smoothly flowing anything really, rarely gets one noticed after all.

    12. Andrew Punch

      Re: I stopped reading after the first point

      "I reduced the disaster recovery *risk* in the backup system"

      You just need to sell your work with the right business terms. BOFHs have their own jargon and managers have theirs. If *we* do the translating then *we* have the power.

    13. Corinne

      Re: I stopped reading after the first point

      "Because first its "don't improve the backup process because no one notices" soon becomes "Don't have a backup process because no one notices"."

      Actually it's very simple to ensure that people DO notice this type of thing. You just need to write a proposal first, which explains the cost benefit analysis (including ofc the non-tangible benefits), remembering to add a really scary section on the potential damage if you DON'T do the work. and send it round to everyone who could possibly have any influence on the matter.

      Make sure that your name is on it and that you send it out rather than your boss to ensure that he/she doesn't sneakily change the name & claim credit. With a bit of luck and care you can turn a comparatively small bit of routine enhancement into a full on project - instant good profile for you :)

      1. Gazareth

        Re: I stopped reading after the first point

        Of course, you are making the assumption there that people will actually read your proposal...

        1. Corinne

          Re: I stopped reading after the first point


          You just need to get the covering email and it's title right - emphasise either the massive cost benefits, or the scary results of not doing it (or both). Don't call it "Proposal to do something boring & techy" but "Proposal to prevent terrifyingly scary thing from happening and save £xxx at the same time"

    14. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I stopped reading after the first point

      Sadly, whilst you're correct that it can lead to the kind of fuckwitterry I get called in to fix at least twice a week (about equal to the astounding incompetence exhibitied by some IT staff) the article is entirely correct to my nasty cynical mind.

      Basically the article is saying make your managers happy and they'll make you happy in return. To do that you need to make yourself look good and nobody is going to reward you for shaving 2 hours off the backup routine or reducing the size of a database by 30% by clearing out accumulated cruft unless, and this is important, it was seen to be a problem.

      Don't fix stuff that isn't broken I suppose you could say, even if it rankles with you on a tech level. If you really can't cope with knowing you can improve something then make it an issue with management first before you fix it and play the hero. Unless of course you're entirely satisfied with your reward for all that hard work being the satisfaction of knowing your systems are working fine.

  4. Ian 62

    No surprises, but it is a bit depressing...

    That it is true. :(

    Maybe we've all missed the trick, we should be taking the example of the city bankers, we should be going out and partying everytime something gets done.

    If we party hard we must be successful, so we need paid more, which means we can party harder.

    Oh..Wait.. Then didnt go so well did it.

    1. Arrrggghh-otron

      Re: No surprises, but it is a bit depressing...

      Given the number of minor tweaks (read: things that users do wrong or break and I fix for them) I do in a given day, if I celebrated every one of them I would be partying so much I would be broke and/or dead in months...

  5. Ian Rogers

    So cynical... hurts. But I suspect it's true.

    We all know someone who produces nothing but glossy presentations and brown-nosing the big boss. Unfortunately I have integrity and self-respect so I'm happy with a lower bonus.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So cynical...

      Not cynical enough.

      I know someone who got a job because he was dating (screwing) the manager's daughter. He was that kind of guy.

      10 years later, he makes 5-10 times what I make, on the other hand, unlike him, I've never been stranded overseas because I got drugged and robbed by a prostitute.

      1. chr0m4t1c

        Re: So cynical...

        Were the daughter and the prostitute two different people?

      2. Gazareth

        Re: So cynical...

        You make that sound like a bad thing!

  6. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    To thine own self be true?

    I've tried some of this kind of thing in the past, but maybe I'm not a good enough actor or just got fed up living a lie, because I couldn't sustain that level of bullshit in my working life.

    You have to be honest with yourself, and maybe for some of us INTJs and INTPs, constantly sucking up to PHBs and pretending to be "team players" is just not worth the (potential) extra money. That way madness (or at least major stress) lies.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: To thine own self be true?

      You poor INTs. I'm an ISTP and I have both cunning and guile. Your excellent perceptive ability to see the reality of the big picture must be depressing for you. I merely ignore it, focusing on tiny details in the present moment. Such as "what can I do to make myself look good right now?". It's kind of relaxing although it can get me into some scrapes from lack of planning...

  7. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Productivity != Profitability

    IT staff don't get paid what they're worth to the company - that's almost certainly true. The sad fact is that most of us get PAID FAR MORE than the profit they bring in would support. Sure, there are other requirements: such as meeting legal/financial obligations, but for most people in IT - whether programmers, testers, designers, support people, project manglers, QA-ers, planners, or trainees there is no direct connection between what they do and their employers' income. You cannot point to a line of code and say "I wrote that, and it earns us £1,000 a year."

    At best, IT people can say "without us, the business would be much less efficient and have to employ many more staff, to do things manually." However that's full of intangibles, suppositories, and guesswork. Luckily no CEO has ever challenged that theory (like no CEO ever has the cojones to go into the datacentre and press the BIG RED BUTTON to see of the D.R. plan actually works).

    On the flipside, this does mean that an IT-er should be able to write a reasonably credible account of themselves. Since nothing is tangible, accountable or verifiable you can easily say "I earned the company £X,000 last year (where "X" should be greater than your salary and expenses, employers NICs and office rental). and no-one will be able to challenge it. It could fall apart if some sharp-eyed HR person spotted that the entire justifications of the IT team came to more than the company earned - but that'll never happen: they're all too busy trying to justify their own, even more tenous raison d'etre.

    1. Jimbo 6

      Re: suppositories

      We all (occasionally) want to tell the boss where he can shove it, but did you mean 'suppositions' ?

    2. Steve Knox

      Re: Productivity != Profitability

      Actually, Pete 2, most companies do have accounting methods in place to justify HR, IT, and all of the other support departments. Some even go as far as creating income statements per department. At the very least, each major budget item should be justified in terms of cost savings or income.

      If that isn't happening in your company, then it's Accounting who are not worth what they're being paid (perhaps as well as IT).

      1. Pete 2 Silver badge

        @Steve KNox

        Yes, I know about the "funny money" accounting principles used to justify projects. God knows I've written enough cost cases myself. Some - maybe 1 in 10 do turn a profit and are extremely successful. However most IT-ers can draw no link between what they have achieved / produced in any given day, month or year and any measurable income, let alone profit.

        To take someone else's example: what is the "profit" from last night's backup?

        I've been quite lucky in that I've spent a lot of time automating a lot of IT processes. In that respect I can make reliable statements that a given piece of AutoIT3 code saves a specific number of person*hours per year. Or that a named shell script saves so-many IT administrator-hours per week. That shows a direct relationship with money going out the door. However I can't do the same for the time spent in a weekly team meeting or project review.

        As it is, companies don't run on money; they run on budgets. So, as long as you have some (imaginary) money left in your budget at the end of the project/period, nobody seems to care how you got there - or if it could be done better, faster or cheaper. The successful teams aren't the ones that achieve their goals, they're the ones who manage to wrangle a larger budget than their needs require (and therefore gain a reputation for coming in "under budget"). Those are the ones who get the rewards and recognition, not the guy who's 100 lines of optimised code invisibly saves a £million a year.

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

          Re: @Steve KNox

          "To take someone else's example: what is the "profit" from last night's backup?"

          There is a case study.

          An accounts department does it's backup at the end of the *despite* policy being twice a day.

          Power fails 5 mins before backup.

          Teams pends about 1 week of dept time recovering.

          The case study is for *accountants* not IT staff.

          Let me suggest the take away from this piece is "It's not what you do, it's what you're *seen* or *perceived* to be doing" that will raise *managements* opinion of you (which is highly unlikely to raise your opinion of them) which matters if you have *any* interest in a higher standard of living.

          It's very sad. It's also very *true*.

        2. Steve Knox

          Re: @Steve KNox

          Pete, Pete, Pete.

          You've totally missed the point. You're right in that companies do run on budgets. But at the end of the day (okay, actually at the end of the fiscal period), those budgets HAVE to match the REAL money earned and spent.

          That's the job of Accounting. And if they are unable to highlight and explain any discrepancies -- right down to saying "Project X simply ended up costing more than it earned/saved" or "Department Y's budget has been significantly out of line with its actuals for X periods" then they're not doing their jobs. And if the head of Accounting isn't able to take those findings to management and get real results, like cancelling Project X or slashing Department Y's budget, then the Accounting head and/or management aren't doing their jobs. (No department should be able to come in significantly "under budget" for more than a few fiscal periods without serious investigation.)

          You're describing a dysfunctional organization. If you see this consistently, it's possibly a corrupt organization. I have seen quite the opposite of what you describe in the companies I've worked for, so I can assure you that it doesn't have to be this way.

        3. gr0undzer0

          Re: @Steve KNox

          I find this hard to believe what with all the panic I get from users. In my company I get someone who shows up and says.. "This contract means 53 million dollars if we get it. Our meeting with the customer better go off perfectly in every way." This means how well I plan for this setup technically may lead to good or bad perceptions about our company and how it is run. The projector better run and the backup better be ready. The laptop better not go to sleep mode or shut down in the middle of the presentation, the slide show better be as smooth as butter. How is this not directly related to how much money we can earn?

          In a simple example. I have a user come and say this proposal has to be on the desk of our customer now but I inexplicable destroyed my laptop .. recover it so we can win the contract. I do so they win the contract.

          I wont argue we that anyone cares because they don't. I helped win the contract I might even get a nice email to my boss .. but my boss will forget.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Productivity != Profitability

        Perhaps Accounting understand the difference between System I and System II in cybernetics.

        These methods are artifices designed to cram a misunderstanding of systems theory into a simple spreadsheet. They are insane. If this isn't happening in your company, you win, because you are lucky enough to have a company that is run by business people and not bean counters.

        What is required from the support systems should be determined externally to those systems, and budget should then be determined from requirements. It's an iterative process which is why it never happens as long as managers believe they "run" the company in a "top-down" manner. Or as long as support staff think they know what the rest of the company needs, without actually asking it ...

        In the human body, the kidneys can't pick up a ball, or a woman, but if you don't have kidneys you wouldn't do very well at those things. Somehow kidneys get the budget they need. There is no way for your kidneys to lie to your body and start hoarding resources because they managed to invent a reason why kidneys are a profit center. There is no need for kidneys to justify their existence relative to your higher goals. They justify their own existence because without them, you die. These points bear serious consideration when designing support structures for a company. At the very least you need to acknowledge that these *are* support structures, and have different rules of engagement than the production side of the enterprise.

        See the NHS reforms, etc.

    3. kirovs

      Re: Productivity != Profitability

      My friend you are an idiot or a recent MBA graduate. Most likely both.

      Intangibles? Suppositories (haha, good one, learn English)? Yes, company websites are simply for the kicks and laughs, not for generating revenue. Yes having 15 more secretaries is good... for the unemployment statistics.

      Oh, sharp eyed person? What is that- the people who pick up the most competent person for the next "rightsizing"?

    4. Anonymous Coward

      big red button

      No, but I know a senior system administrator who did.

      It took dismantling the stand-alone console on the Bull DPS-90 and a call to the tech support line to get it reset because their CSE (my dad) was only told about this process in the hardware support training class...they didn't actually do it because of the pain it causes.

      On the other hand, he demonstrated that it did EXACTLY what it said it would in the manual. It was really quiet, and cold, in the data center for an hour while it was being reset because my dad doesn't curse.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Productivity != Profitability

      At my last job, I could point to a project I'd done and say, that makes us 2 million quid a year, minus my salary for the time spent on it (a rounding error). I know where the money went too, 800k was one senior manager's bonus, 1.2m was another's. I got a 3% raise along with the rest of the department. Then I quit.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Productivity != Profitability

      Aside from having personal written practically an entire major retailer's ecommerce site, which was unusual event, which means you meant "most of the time", I'd have to in the main agree with you.

      Though, few, if any service economists would say the cost centres of a company are paid on what they earn a company. Earnings are no better than savings though.

    7. Convinient bug

      Re: Productivity != Profitability

      I remember a guy who had a bug in his code, and customer's site was generating a lot of ( network ) traffic ( too much ), which they had to pay for, ofc ( by request or MB or something ). He couldn't fix it because the traffic would drop too quickly and it would be to obvious that in previous months, we were overcharging them. So he had to make a special ( time dependent ) function that would "slowly" reduce trafic ( over months ), but in a less visible way.

  8. Captain Underpants
    Thumb Down

    Given the research that shows that quality of life tends to level out at around 60K per annum, and that Dominic's advice is basically "Learn to be more of a Massive Bellend in order to get greater financial success", I think I'll stick with trying to be an at least occasionally decent human being who understands the concept of hidden productivity gains and makes do with a modest (yet still greater than the average) salary.

    God knows that the last 5 years of finding out yet more disasters from financial services companies don't exactly make me feel a great deal of faith in the City's values (which, let's be honest, pretty much boil down to "MONEY, AND %^&*ING LOTS OF IT!").

    1. John A Blackley

      One man's......

      'Massive Bellend' is another man's 'person who knows how to conduct a conversation' - preferably without reference to acronyms that nobody outside of a small group of esoterics is the least bit interested in.

      There are very, very few businesses that are there for the benefit of the IT department. For the rest of them, IT is just another utility.

      1. Captain Underpants

        Re: One man's......

        @John - I agree that IT is a utility. So's electricity, but I don't expect someone from EDF to choose between stopping by my desk on a daily basis to say "See the way your workstation's turned on and running? That's 'cos of the power to the building that....*self-satisfied pause* I provided." or cut power off every now and again just to make the point that we take 'em for granted.

        The problem Dom's alluding to is that management depend on utilities they can't usefully measure, and he's encouraging players in the provision of said utilities to perpetuate that state of affairs by only focusing on those IT deliverables that can be easily and frequently measures, which for many organisations means ignoring a bunch of other things they should be doing. Easy example - warranty costs. My organisation requires me to buy at least a 3 year warranty with all computer equipment - since our main supplier is Dell, that means we get 3 year (or more) NBD onsite, with phone support from the folks in their Scottish callcentre (who're damn good and very helpful). I've frequently had to have the argument about whether the warranty is "Worth it", and do you know how I win it every time? I explain what happens to those users who insist on getting a MacBook Pro - how if their hard drive/motherboard dies, it's a call to Apple (so far so good), followed by scheduled collection in 2 days time (one day for the courier to do a drive-by dropping off the collection box and then legging it before you can put the box in it - and no they won't accept any other box - then another day to get them to come back and pick the damn thing up), then another week between getting to the repair centre, getting fixed, and getting sent back. So on average, a knackered Dell laptop will normally be up and running within 24 hours of making the call (real hours, not "working hours"). With Apple, it's more like a week and a half.

        How do you usefully and frequently demonstrate that, short of taking a hammer to someone's laptop and then showing them the warranty process, and working out the hypothetical cost of their lost productivity?

        Extrapolate the attitude he takes to backups and you don't end up checking that the backup process is actually generating usable backups, or that your DR solution (assuming you've got one beyond "RUN AROUND SCREAMING LIKE A HEADLESS CHICKEN") actually works, or that any low risk, high impact contingency plans you're tasked with implementing will work. None of that's as good as making sure you're the guy who's seen to fix every problem that comes up with The Big Guy's Laptop, right?

        1. Tim99 Silver badge

          Re: One man's......

          Unless you work for a company that has less than ten users "Why don't you have loaner computers?"

          After many years experience in a business environment I note that, on balance, MacBook Pros are somewhat less likely to fail than professional level Dell machines - It is also likely that the Apple kit has the same components across machines, so duplication of the user's environment onto the loaner is easy - YMMV.

          1. Captain Underpants

            Re: One man's......


            I work in a university, with the attendant joy and entertainment that a variety of funding sources brings with it. If I sometimes have to work to convince people that a warranty is worthwhile, how easy do you think it will be to convince people to contribute some of "their" funding money towards a "wasted" spare machine? (Especially when that money could go on an iPad or a junket...)

            On top of this, given the variety of hardware and software requirements amongst academic users, it's very hard to define a standard environment that will easily let them swap to a different machine and resume work. As a result, it's actually much easier to get people back up and running by fixing their main machine than to get them switched to a replacement machine for a week or two.

            1. Tim99 Silver badge

              Re: One man's......

              OK, sorry for my original comment. I know that acedemia is a special place with special funding and politics - That is one reason why I took my science qualifications elsewhere...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    you get work in a not a huge company where people actually respect you all the way up and down the chain. Where you actually get a small raise each year without asking for it. Where the most stress you have is reinstalling the crashed server that nobody misses for better part of 2 weeks.

    Where you are actually able to walk into the bosses office and TALK to him like a normal person and he actually takes in your input.

    I don't rake in big money but what I do gives me quite a bit of extra and it's a low-stress workplace and that's always a benefit for me. And I get to be as cynic and pessimistic as I want to be without having someone bother with me.

    And all because I'm good at what I do.

    1. Steve Knox
      Thumb Up

      Re: Or...

      This is scarily similar to what I was going to post.

    2. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: Or...

      The author is correct in as much as the tactics do work in some companies, notably those with poor management. I have 'played the game' it does work, but having also worked at companies where the managers have been 'promoted from the ranks', know your job well, and can recognise your performance it can be career suicide.

      Personally I wouldn't want to work for a company that puts too much value on window dressing and not enough on real performance but I respect others do. Walking in and raping the company for everything you can get is fair game, there's plenty of companies would do the same to you. Luckily I work now for a company that actually pro actively rewards its better employees and there is daily interaction between most levels of staff, the joys of a SME :)

  10. jason 7

    He who bullshits most.....

    ...or looks good in an expensive pink shirt and cufflinks.

    Seen it all before, talk the talk, make yourself out the big 'I AM' then get the project, pretty much screw it up by pandering only to the Directors rather than the folks who need it, blame your staff and hope for a re-org to move you to another top project leaving the more capable people to clean up your mess. Rinse and repeat.

    Oh and make sure you play regular golf with the boss and hang on his every word like a Mini-Me.

    The most often phrase when we more able folks discussed those kinds of people (especially after they got yet another promotion) was "but what's he actually delivered?"

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: He who bullshits most..... Pink Shirts

      Much like the Dilbert cartoon titled "What Your Work Clothes Say About You". In four parts, but one was a sharply dressed colleague ("Be nice to me because I will be your boss next month") and the last was hairy and bearded, wearing sandals, shorts and a tie-died t-shirt: "I am the only one who knows how the IT system works. Treat me like God"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: He who bullshits most..... Pink Shirts


        1. Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

          Re: He who bullshits most..... Pink Shirts

          We need to distinguish between Pink shirts and pink shirts.

          Some of you have read my banking career guide where I explain the virtue of Pink shirts, as in Thomas Pink two fold Egyptian poplin cotton which are both well made and look good and shirts which are merely coloured pinkm though I do have one pink Pink shirt.

  11. jason 7

    If everyone just concentrated....

    ...on the visible stuff. Most companies would cease to function after a few weeks.

    There needs to be those that sacrifice the BMW, free healthcare and share options in order to keep everyone else in a job (including those bell-ends).

    No one recognises that though.

    If the mindset mentioned in this article is the only way to get anywhere then that's wrong. Very very wrong. Needs to be tempered a little.

    1. Anonymous Coward 101

      Re: If everyone just concentrated....

      Oh sainted one, thou shalt get thine reward in Heaven! And ye benighted BMW drivers, free healthcareites and share option worshippers shalt be smote in ye fiery pit.

  12. Yag

    Oh! Dominic Connor is back!

    Brace for impact, it will get hairy in there :)

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Delivery Capita

    I resent the remark that Capita deliver, I attend the offices at Capita sites and so far have not seen any evidence of them delivering anything! Please remove that slanderous comment from your article.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Delivery Capita

      "Even if you work for Capita, you occasionally actually finish something useful"

      I must admit; it did seem far-fetched.

  14. Tony S
    Thumb Down

    True, but...

    A couple of points worth noting. Dominic's article is predicated on the assumption that everyone wants to get more money because that is the only thing that motivates them. This is actually not the case. Abraham Maslow wasn't 100% correct, but his hierarchy of needs is still one of the best ways of defining what motivates people. Once you have sufficient money to pay your bills with some left over, and you feel secure in your job, then the pay becomes less relevant than the need to feel that you are achieving something of value; Maslow referred to it as "Self-actualisation".

    Whilst it is necessary to walk the line between doing the right thing and using a "pile of bullshit words" as he indicates, I would refer to Wm Shakespeare "To thine own self be true". It doesn't matter how much bollocks you spout, if you are no damn good at the work, you will get found out and your arse will be toast. If you do a good job, you can go home at the end of the day and sleep well. If the employer doesn't appreciate it, that's just life.

    "you want to live in a house as big as mine" - Dominic, I don't know how big it is and to be blunt, I don't give a toss. Dick swinging is for emotionally stunted people; it doesn't matter how many toys you have, you can't take them with you. What is more likely to happen is that the tax man will take a huge chunk, and then the relatives will fight over the scraps like wild dingos. The real things of value cannot be paid for in cash. Hearing your child's first words, watching your son's first game of football, or taking your 16 year old daughter to her first formal prom; these are things beyond the dreams of avarice, worth more than all of the bonuses, expense accounts, fast cars and pointless titles. The problem is that quite often people do not realise this until it is too late; and you NEVER get a second chance.

    1. jason 7

      Re: True, but...

      I remember sitting with a bunch of pink shirts that were talking 'money and lifestyle'. Going on and on about how much they earned and the stuff they bought with it.

      As for me I'm happy with a modest lifestyle, a small home that costs pennies in mortgage, the small car is paid for and costs next to nothing, paid off my credit card etc. etc.

      They then got round to disposable income. They then found out that even though I earned half as much, I had more than twice the disposable income any of them had.

      They were really shocked, but not about asking how they could increase their disposable income by following my example, all they wanted to know was "why the hell aren't you driving a Porsche??"


      1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

        Re: True, but...

        Reasons to not drive a porsche are as numerous as the stars in the sky, top of the list being "!they're all basically the same car". I'd rather drive a nice old E-type jag or a big old 67 mustang, but that's because they appeal to me on an aesthetic level.

        As long as I have enough room for my hidey hole and my computers, I'm happy. :)

        1. Paul 129

          Re: True, but...

          Um actually, got a Boxster. Driving it makes me smile every time. I would recommend a Porsche to anyone. Tiny crappy house, can't afford a decent laptop, but Bloody Happy in the car :-)

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: True, but...

      What he said. Every word is true.

  15. Antoine Dubuc

    Oh, do grow up for the love of God.

    I worked as a software tech support for production printing for Xerox for three years and I made more coming in than half the team members who were there for ten years. Why? Because I had a reputation for knowing my stuff, sure, but most of all because I could translate my natural joy of working with technology to others. I made customers like the stuff. I made them happy. At meetings I brought good points and did mostly the common sense things this guy talks about. So sure, of course I made a lot more money. I never kissed ass. I never said anything if I didn't have anything good or and useful to say. I never talked badly about anyone else. I always endorsed good ideas in meetings, be them from my boss or colleagues. And I never was stupid enough to go to meetings to score points or stay negative shit that doesn't help anything. I was not the best, but because I gave the impression to customers and colleagues that I really cared and was doing all that could be done, which was mostly true at least from my skillset, customers loved me and so did my boss. If you are socially perverted and can't avoid making people lose face, or you can't stop saying sarcasms, maybe scoring points, etc. Then of course you'll get the salary a turd like you deserves. People who don't get what this guy's article is saying are hopeless by now. Its simple common sense. In four words: Don't Be An Ass.

  16. Scott 19


    Most people work outside the London bubble.

    And I work for a company of 300,000 IT professionals if your not willing to do the job the bloke in the next cubical will or is this aimed at the top end earners, the article doesn't specify? (If you earn under 60,000 a year please ignore sort of warning).

    Are you just trying to prove you are the BOFH in human form?

    1. WatAWorld

      Re: Most

      If you want to work as a battery hen, fine you'll be paid as a battery hen is paid.

      But I've consulted at some of the world's biggest computer companies, probably including your employer.

      Not all 300,000 jobs are like being a battery hen. You should migrate yourself over to where you can be visible and detected.

  17. fLaMePrOoF
    Thumb Up

    This article is now going viral across Facebook, top stuff!!!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If I.T. is so worthless

    Lets all just pull the plug. Every admin, techie etc around the world for just 1 hour pull the plug all at the same time. Let's see how worthless they think we are then.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: If I.T. is so worthless

      I'll admit that I like to work, and love what I do....but I don't love it that much.

  19. Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

    Dominic responds...

    Tony S is right I am taking money as the objective because I can usefully explain how to get more in a shortish article. I'm working on a "happy" piece but is much harder,not least because it's subjective. However, a good part of "happy" comes from being treated better, money is just one expression of that and my points help you to be appreciated more.

    @DJ Smiley, I'd ask you to look at this the other way round. Why is it that vital work like backups is actively ignored by senior management ? Until it goes wrong of course. Do you think anyone on the RIM even knew what business continuity meant until millions of Blackberries stopped working ?

    1. Tony S

      Re: Dominic responds...

      Dominic, it's interesting to see that you have been following the comments; is this because you are proving Maslow's hierarchy? You've put togther an article which is outside of your normal remit (I presume that you are not being paid for it?) and you are keen to get the recognition for your efforts.

      It is hard to put a value on some things; that is why sometimes all we can do is go back to the money. But that will only ever have a limited efficacy; at some point, the money matters so much less than the satisfaction that comes from a good job, well done. Perhaps that could be the principle behind your next article?

      As it happens, I am my own harshest critic; I know exactly when I have done a good job, and you had better believe, I can self-flagellate like a 12th century monk when I don't get it quite right. The company will not know and probably won't care; that's OK, because I will know. I will do what I can to make sure that they know, but I won't blow my brains out if they simply will not do things the way that I want. And if they don't think that I am worth the extra few pounds, then fine. At some point, I will move on, and they will then have to take a chance on a replacement.

      That is life.

      1. Matthew

        Re: Dominic responds...

        Tony S - I think you misunderstand Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. I suspect that you are mistakenly assuming that money is a hygiene factor in Herzberg's Two Factor Motivation Theory.

        Money is not mentioned, but all of Maslow's needs can be met by an individual with money, and most importantly as we progress 'up' the pyramid money makes these needs easier to meet. Allow me a couple of examples (in ascending order):

        Physiological - A limited amount of money is required for food and shelter. A little more money will not meet more of this need once the basics are provided for.

        Safety - Additional resources provide the perception that you are protecting yourself/family from ill-health, unemployment, etc.

        Love / belonging - While money can't provide (proper) friends and family, it can, for example, allow travel to see distant family. And the first person to suggest that money doesn't improve the opportunities for sexual encounters is living a dream (see Bernie Ecclestone).

        Esteem - Money provides the means for enhancing self-esteem & confidence (bigger car/house/Bulgarian Airbags) over the Joneses, as well as providing a very simple means of keeping score.

        Self-Actualisation - Money provides the opportunity to seek self-actualisation. Those on the breadline don't really get the option of exploring "what they really want to be". They are too busy attempting to meet the lower needs first.

        Remember that these are defined by the individual for themselves. You may not agree that these examples meet your needs, but whoare you to tell others whether this applies.

        1. Tony S

          Re: Dominic responds...


          I would suggest that you are mistaken - the whole point of Maslow is that money is NOT the answer. Yes you need a certain level to meet the basic needs, but once past that, as you say yourself it provides no extra benefit.

          As for money getting you more action; I know someone that is getting a lot more than Bernie and he doesn't have to spend in a year what Bernie spends in a night. Why; possibly because he treats the women right (or he is hung like a horse, don't want to ask!) Sarkozy is another one; money and power are great aphrodesiacs, but eventually, you will want someone that you can actually having a decent conversation with. How do you measure love? Damned if I know, but I can say for sure that money won't play a huge part.

          If your esteem is bolstered by cars / houses great; but these things can become of less value after a certain point. If you are keeping "score", then good for you, but what is important to you might not be to others; you could be chasing a rainbow.

          As for self-actualisation; money can help, but it won't guarantee you achieve it. And the problem is that if you spend too much effort chasing money, you won't have time to achieve anything else. I know of many people just over the breadline who are doing exactly what they want and are pleased with their lot - and they wouldn't change anything for a fortune.

          Look around the world and see who the happiest and most contented people are. And yes, each to his own, and good luck to everyone in their search for happiness.

      2. Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

        Re: Dominic responds again

        Apparently "Dominic embodies everything that is wrong with the world ", which @agentgonzo thinks is news, even though the fact that I'm a City headhunter is plain to see, so of course I am.

        @Tony S, I do get paid, but no one ever got rich writing for the tech press.

        Yes, I like recognition and part of what I'm saying here is that the buzz from recognition and getting paid better are consistent with each other, I suggest that higher paid people find that the same work output is more valued, simply because it is more expensive.

        @Pericat is right, I've read Macchiavelli and some of that has leaked into my writing.

        Several people say they don't like working for large corporates, fair enough, but my experience is that there is stupid politics, obsession with "face time" and lack of recognition for actually useful work in firms of all sizes, I've been in a two man shop, a 300,000 body IT behemoth, and much in between. I don't see a positive or negative correlation in life quality.

    2. That Steve Guy

      Re: Dominic responds...

      IT as a rule are always judged by failures in the systems so how do you measure how useful we are?

      People expect things to just work, they have that much of a sense of entitlement, if something goes wrong they demand you fix it immediately, if you don't your incompetent.

      Nobody thinks what a good job we are doing when things are working, we are always measured on failures and responding to failures and that is why we are undervalued.

      Paying for IT is like insurance, you don't like paying for it but when things go wrong suddenly you need it.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Filtering the message out tells me,....

    "its as much as game of politics as technical prowess".

    True enough, have seen capable techies who condescended to certain managers hounded out of jobs or denied credit.

    Frankly, I know its a game, so I play the abrupt techie and my boss soft-pedals the target, with me preventing us getting walked all over and him looking good finding the equitable solution. And I know he will look after me (as best he can) because I help him in this way.

    I also code utlities and write procedures to pass on my expertise to my team-mates, but there is always a "bank of work" still for me to do, that I promote each time I hand something over. Stay visible, stay useful.

  21. SoaG

    Industry Standard Lie

    Sure they all got the same raise, whether 4% or $4,000.

    That's not to say they were all the same before the raise and thus aren't the same after.

    Nor that they all get the same bonus

    Or benefits

    Or sent to the 2 day conference in Cancun and why don't you stay down an extra week and take the Mrs.


    Smart management will give the appearance of egalitarianism to those looking for it and still find any number of ways to reward individuals.

    Sure, they could lie about it. Why bother when it'll just piss them off when they find out and it's easier to rescind or redirect who gets the extras doing it the other way.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Scott 19: I think you've missed the point.

    Re "Re: AC 13:19": I think you've proven the point...

    I think I understood some of this when I saw how my university worked. Either way, I've always worked for small local companies. The few interviews I've attended at larger companies over the year has only confirmed by decision.

    I went for an interview at Accenture once (I know... the money sounded good...) They had a sort of briefing on how the techies were structured. I was horrified. By the time it got to the actual interviews, I was wondering if it would be rude to "disappear".

    1. Neil McDowell

      I left the Accenture 'interview' after the first roleplay! I had a beer...hence beer

    2. AdamWill


      You worry about being rude to *Accenture*? Way to reinforce stereotypes about the English. :)

    3. Scott 19

      Not real

      Nope I didn't miss the point, be a good little butt kisser and you get a raise, it ain't hard to read between the lines of this pretty light piece of blogging.

      The intresting part will be to see if anyone takes this advice and gets a raise because in the real world the best way to get a raise is to move jobs.

  23. Semaj
    Thumb Down

    You really are everything that's wrong with both the recruitment and development industries.

    The real lesson I am picking up from your articles is to pay close heed to my inbuilt bullshit and numpty detector when dealing with recruiters and contractors alike.

    1. AdamWill


      I actually liked this post rather a lot more than the first series.

      This one is very clear that it's describing a situation that exists. It makes no value judgments about that situation (well, the ones it implies are fairly universally negative). It just describes it.

      Many people might like things not to be this way. Dominic doesn't really engage with that. He's just saying that, at least in the world he moves in, this is how things work, and this is how to behave if you want to make loadsamoney. He doesn't say that's what you _should_ do.

  24. This post has been deleted by its author

  25. Seanmon
    Thumb Down

    All this is probably true.

    But I'd prefer to be paid a little less and remain a decent human being.

  26. Graeme Sutherland
    Thumb Up

    I've found that managers are easily impressed by shiny baubles, like a slick transition in a GUI, but don't understand why you might spend days working out how to handle the badly formatted and undocumented JSON spewed out by a third party web service.

    The root cause is that programmers operate in a very abstract field, whereas managers deal with the concrete. That's a big culture clash, and since they're in charge, we're going to come off worst.

    Dominic's article is about managing the managers, and knowing how the game is played. Sure, not everyone is motivated by earning more, but being able to hang onto what you've got in an era of shrinking incomes and rising costs is a good thing. And being seen as someone who gets things done means you're likely to be given the more interesting projects. That strikes me as win-win...

    I don't get the hostility. We live in an imperfect world, deal with it.

  27. Keep Refrigerated


    It's not something that is ideal, or something we want to hear, but the article is for the most part true - sadly it's not how much or what you doing - it's what you are seen to be doing. Visibility is the key word.

    However I've found an easy way of building up visibility is to introduce things like reports and statistics. Don't wait to be asked for one, look for ways you can compile statistics on either business processes or infrastructure... if you can spot a trend, or something wasteful that can be reduced, immediately email the report with a useful summary to those you consider the relevant stakeholders - they will lap it up.

    What's even better is if you can find a relatively easy report to compile that creates an ongoing demand for up to date stats - you'll find a lot more people will take an interest in your work - even if they don't understand what you do fully. I don't get much thanks for my code improvements or bug spotting and fixing, but it's amazing how much thanks I get for providing the occasional bit of SQL and an Excel spreadsheet!

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

      Re: Visibility

      You could call them "TPS Reports"...

      1. jason 7

        Re: Visibility

        There are reports and there are reports. Just make sure yours are actually required and read.

        I sent the exact same weekly report to my boss that he demanded we all complete for 6 months till he moved on, after a few weeks I didn't even bother changing the date on it.

        Gave me an extra hour to do some work each week.

        I never knew if he twigged. I guess if he did there was nothing he could do about it really.

  28. perlcat
    Thumb Up

    Most guys are taking this article all wrong.

    That's because they're thinking like an NPC, only dimly aware of the big picture, and consumed by the role.

    You *are* supposed to do a good job. However, getting recognition for that in terms of cash/promotions isn't tightly associated with the actual work you do/value you represent. It is tightly associated with the Powers That Be's *perception* of the actual work you do/value you represent.

    That's the way it has to be. Most managers are technically unskilled labor. Their skills (well, some of them have skills) lie in relational stuff -- how things work as a team, how you appear in public, etc. Dominic took a page out of Niccolo Machiavelli's book on this as an exaggeration - but only slightly so.

    Making a backup run 20% faster doesn't translate to a benefit to your boss. He can't take that to his superior, and he can't present this to anyone as a benefit -- because he has no way of proving the benefit. Probably doesn't even know what a backup *is*. In fact, sitting there, head down, doing this sort of thing will actually hurt you in the long run, as then you get a rep as a person who works on obscure things of only marginal benefit -- even if the reality is that the place would fall apart when you leave. How you present that information is a tangible benefit to you and your organization. It would be far smarter to show to your boss that if backups take too long, they impact production, and downtime from that can cost X amount of money. That's something that flows uphill, and later comes back in the form of folding money for you. That's a *lot* better than sitting around, feeling misused because your salary hasn't kept pace with the times, isn't it?

    Dominic's not saying "don't do good work" -- but instead, "pay attention to how your work is perceived, and rewards will follow".

    Truer words never were spoken.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I must be doing it wrong

    Doing a decent job with plenty of give and take on both sides for a fair wage keeps getting me more work.

  30. Psmiffy

    The 3 B rule

    My colleagues and I have often noted this and seen it in action, and to an extent have played the game ourselves but only as far as was worth it to our self esteem.

    We called it the 3 B rule: Bullshit Baffles Brains.

    You need to walk the manager walk, be their buddy and sell whatever work you have done, blow your own trumpet. It nets you the money and the big projects but unless that truly is your nature, you will come out feeling like a bit of a phoney.

  31. SiempreTuna

    He's absolutely right

    Dominic is absolutely right: if you want to get anywhere in any company, you have to play the political game. Forget the self justification and whining: if you can't do the politics, you can't get the big bucks.

    Of course, what Dominic doesn't say is that all that sh*t is like REALLY hard work. You end up spending your whole life working out who to suck up to; who to put down; how to make yourself look good; how to make others look bad - or better, make them selves look bad (major ommission there, Dominic: all your stuff needs everyone else to look bad to work best) etc etc.

    I just can't be a***ed. My house is plenty big enough.

  32. Matthew

    It's quite funny really

    Everyone is slamming the PHBs for not understanding what I do </plaintive rant>, but I read the point of these articles as an attempt to change our perceptions of the world by seeing it from the other guys view.

    If you can't articulate the benefits of why improving the back-up speed by 20%is good to your boss then how would he know whether it is important. The manager has an opportunity cost - if you are working on X then you cannot work on Y.

    Too be perfectly honest, if someone has shaved 30 mins off a perfectly good overnight back-up job when there are incidents affecting a revenue generating system, I'd consider the back-up job enhancement a complete waste of time.

  33. GarethJones
    Thumb Up

    This is the very reason...

    ...why I won't work for large corporates, I did in the past and found that there was far too much office politics involved in EVERYTHING, with people back stabbing the brown nosing their way to the top.

    I would much rather work for a small Software house, were everyone is on first name terms and people know what you do, as they are interested in you as a person, rather than a bum on a seat.

    OK, my pay may not be as good as if I worked in a large company, but the quality of my working life more than makes up for it. I have enough to live on and a bit more besides, that's all I need financially. Chasing more and more money, does not make the job any better, it might make you feel better in the short term but underneath it all, you are still going to be unhappy, if it's a crap job with little or no recognition

  34. agentgonzo

    Dominic embodies everything that is wrong with the world

    Maybe I just work for a good company and have managers who aren't utter tools. My managers understand what I do and have got the braincells they can rub together to be able to understand that someone who sits down quietly, always delivers things ahead of schedule and has his software pass through all review processes painlessly is worth more to the company than employees who make a lot of noise and come in on weekends to 'go the extra mile' and get their stuff fixed *just before* the deadline. Meanwhile I've been sitting on the beach all weekend relaxing because my stuff worked first time.

    Sure, they get an extra few hundred quid for overtime but at the annual review when all my boss can do is shower praise on me for always being the one who produces things without fail and without drama, I then suggest that my pay is below industry average for someone of my ability and two months later I get a few £k pay raise.

    Maybe I'm just lucky and have intelligent managers rather than grade-A tools like Dominic to work with (and yes, I have (unsuccessfully) used Dominic as a recruiter before - he's just as much of an asinine moron on the phone as he sounds in this article).

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I used to spend a lot of time and effort on making re-usable components.

    As time went by, I realized that it wasn't in my best interest; I did not feel that my employer recognized the value I was creating and when people found issues or needed new functionality (or when they created new branches of the source code instead of using the dlls), it became my problem.

    I now only try to make things re-usable if I (personally) will be able to re-use them in the near term.

  36. Johan Bastiaansen


    So you believe the server is gonna die and we're all going to be hunted down and killed like dogs.

    If you say: "the server is going to die and we're all going to be hunted down and killed like dogs". You get demoted.

    If you don't say "the server is going to die and we're all going to be hunted down and killed like dogs", well, then the server dies and everybody is going to be hunted down and killed like dogs. And then you get fired.

    It really is a can't win - can't win situation isn't it?

    Let's not kid ourselves people: if you're executive, you're f*cked.

    If your managerial: you're fine.

    The problem is: if everybody is managerial, we're all f*cked.

  37. Johan Bastiaansen

    I was positive to my boss the other day

    I congratulated him on his fine imperial clothing. Now where's my raise?

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The past is evidence for a pay rise, not a cause."

    Article was worth reading for that sentence alone, because it very succinctly and memorably encapsulates an important principle. Past performance and loyalty (the latter moreso) is worth nothing in itself to a large, faceless, amoral corporation- whether or not it should be. They've already had the benefits of that and only care about what they can get out of you in the future.

    As the sentence implies, past peformance is valuable as evidence of your potential future performance- you're not being paid for it in itself. But then, that one sentence said what I took two paragraphs to paraphrase anyway, so go figure!

  39. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Is he lying?

    If you think so ignore him.

    Is he wrong?

    Then if you don't *care* about getting another salary rise ignore him as well.

    But note this. I'm *very* well aware that some offices have people in them is whose *only* friend is the MD or CEO.

    They don't care.

    They just take care *never* to turn their back on their co-workers.

    If you've never had to deal with one of these f***ing weasels you're very lucky. The *only* good news is they are *occasionally* almost as smart as they make themselves out to be.

    The one's I've know followed the play book to the let. But note you don't have to *be* a weasel to get the spot. It's just that the ones I've met *have* been.

    If you are not, you get to keep the weasels *out* and other people get to work for someone they *accept* rather than merely tolerate.

    let me suggest the simple idea that (in meetings) don't come up with a problem without having a *solution* (even a bad one) thought up first.

    Your choice ladies and gentlemen.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This does nothing...

    ... to disabuse me of the notion that banking is full of shallow nitwits that put second hand car salesmen to shame. Only it's completely pervasive to the point that employees aren't better off than the customers. I think that the 'B' in 'B' Ark mightn't have stood for 'hairdresser'.

  41. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Fish Size v Pond Size

    Me, I'm happily swimming around in the small pond, and being noticed without having to do something either heroic or outlandish.

  42. WatAWorld

    It is true in Toronto

    All of the points Dominic makes are true in Toronto. Sadly they took me 30 years to learn, CVP being an exception.

    I'd had a vague feeling that something like the Continuous Visible Productivity principle was at work -- I'd seen people doing trivial but visible work get pay hikes and promotions they "didn't deserve". And I myself had gotten unexpected pay hikes and promotions for doing comparatively minor things.

    But it is only now reading this, age 55, that I finally get it. CVP rules, and so do Dominic's other points.

  43. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    From down among

    the robots.

    I read your piece with some degree of interest, and come to a degree of understanding why my pay is crap.

    Point 1 is well taken, what you are saying is that I should'nt bother with the latest tool catalogs, or the tooling salesman, or indeed attempting to re-engineer one of our production lines because the boss does'nt understand what I do, and the only way to impress him into giving me more money is to do it when he finally wakes up and demands that I do improvements.

    But us geeks are'nt like that.

    We like the systems to run as smoothly and as quickly as possible so that we have to spend as little time at work, the most time down the pub and still get everything done.

    Screwing up to get more money generally means not screwing up does not get you fired.

    I can mis-program a robot to spraypaint the wrong bit and have to spend 30 mins re-programming, but I could jam the painting arm through the fixture and do £10 000 of damage... that wont make me a hero for fixing it in 5 hrs, that will get me down the dole office.

    As for intentional screw ups... hello court case

    Saying positive and supportive things at meetings.

    Jeez you're having a laugh..... Our production meeting are not some happy clappy time to make everyone feel better, they are there to ensure that difficulties in production are brought out, aired, and resolved, so that in future the work can be done quicker, cheaper and we can all go down the pub sooner(see point 1)

    If we have to avoid stepping on a delicate little ego, simply because they set the pay rates, then nothing will get resolved and the whole meeting because pointless (although we can play 'buzzword bingo' with anything said by the new line manager)

    As for the chocolates for completing a task...grab some reality dude, because 9 times out of 10 the line manager will come along, discuss what you've done while eating all chocolates, then forget everything the following week at the pay appriasals.

    So I've have come to the conclusion that my pay is crap because I'm good at my job, dont create 'problems' for me to 'solve', speak the truth, and dont bother with all the silly pointless office politics, because in the main I'd rather spend my time down the pub instead of brown nosing the latest in a long line of junior managers


    PS congrats on getting my longest ever el reg comment,

  44. Muscleguy

    Be noticed

    Making yourself noticed is good advice. I'm a scientist and my first post graduation job after a while the boss took to telling me I wasn't working hard enough because to him I left just before 6pm to pick up the kids. What he didn't see was me coming back in the evenings. So all I did was make sure I was in the visible part of the lab when he came up to his office from boozing in the institute bar. I worked no harder, I just made sure the work I did was noticed. It may as well have been presentism as the comments stopped while my productivity remained much the same (there is only so hard you can work).

    I have almost always worked for a boss who does not understand a major part of what I do and who doesn't much care to know. This meant making the boss appreciate the nature of work a hard task, but still worth attempting, without being obsessive about it.

  45. dodgy_gooner
    Thumb Up

    As someone who previosly worked for a large part state owned bank, this was exactly their way of working. You were actively encouraged to increase your profile to senior management usually by sending pointless emails about quite frankly pointless pieces of work. It was bred into the culture and if you did not play the game it genuinely did affect your pay and any potential bonus you were likely to receive. Add to this the fact that they also believed that 20% of staff had to be underachievers it made the culture quite interesting to say the least.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How to be crap and succeed...

    Antoine, while you do have a point, I'm not sure you're the kind of person Dominic was talking about.

    Here is the kind of person I think Dominic was talking about. I once worked in a largish company where there was a woman who claimed to be a 'systems architect', but in reality was just egregiously incompetent on all levels. She knew nothing about the technical aspects of the system, and wasn't interested to ask; instead she made promises to the customers which couldn't be fulfilled without disproportionate time and effort. She took no notice of the customers either; when they made a request, she rewrote it to read what she considered the customers would really want, again without asking them.

    In other words, she designed solutions which weren't feasible for people who didn't want them. Therefore she produced considerably less than nothing of any value - indeed she just got in everybody's way; she wasted everybody's time and resources, and just generated very large quantities of low-tech, low-quality, unusable work for other people to do.

    And that's the point; she did it *so well*, presenting it to management in interminable meetings speaking in an oogly-woogly little voice, batting her big brown eyes behind power specs and an 80's bob (think Kate Silverton doing a Tinky-Winky impression and you're most of the way there).

    After I'd heard the third or fourth manager describe her as a 'guru', I decided it was time to go and work elsewhere.

    Which, because (unlike way too many of the people in these large companies) I'm not crap, I was able to do.

  47. Triggerfish

    Interesting article

    I uess I have to say so true as well.

    Also explains why a lot of businesses are so fucked up and see 95% of their employees as minions.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    All true, unfortunately

    I think Dominic has it right on most, if not all counts. I recognised the CVP ploy years ago and have unfortunately come across the rest as time has passed. I've tried to play the game half-heartedly, but failed cos I don't have it in me.

    I'd much rather do what is needed and do it right than worry about higher-ups' perceptions, and it's heartening to see so many commentards with similar views.

    I think if you're going to play this game you've got to go all the way, because if you're going to lose your self respect and the respect of your colleagues, you'll need the big bucks to compensate.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a deliciously cynical read

    Unfortunately, all too much of it rings too true. For those who wonder why people they view as incompetent arses are promoted above them, this article is a great primer.

    Sadly anonymous because I wouldn't want beloved employer seeing my name above what I wrote there.

  50. Stevie


    I was once farmed out to a man who ran a project which was the product of two different large organizations with a history of non-cooperation. The system would only work if everything was swiss-watch locked-down. Naturally it never happened.

    I swept in, assessed the technical and political issues and announced that I thought I could stop the suite breaking for a day every time there was a database upgrade. This was greeted with "Meh" and I was gradually sidelined and messed around by the very manager I was trying so hard to help until I quit.

    It was only after I transferred out of this operation that I reflected that said manager had a reputation as a firefighter without peer. Things would go publicly and catastrophically wahoonie-shaped and he would sweep in, loudly coordinating several departments and over the course of a few hours he would wrest a victory from the ashes of disaster. He'd built a very successful career out of this behaviour.

    My offer to fix what was systemically wrong was not the gift from the gods I had in mind, but a threat to his very livelihood. No wonder he would cut me dead in the corridors some days.

    I'm not fond of the things this article's author writes, nor of his style, but in this article he has hit the nail on the head and those arguing otherwise ought to think again.

    However, it isn't enough to be loud. That just makes you annoying (and in all likelihood a Unix SA). You have to be loud and visibly productive, like the article actually says.

  51. TheOtherHobbes

    The problem isn't management

    The problem is that humans have the collective intelligence of yeast.

    We're at that collective sweet spot of believing that self-interest is god, while not understanding that a lot of people and thing depend on a lot of other people and things to keep working for them.

    So yeah. Fine. You get your big house. And then you get screwed by an even bigger predator.

    Because that's how the world works, and you're supposed to smile and take it.

    Except it doesn't. Not really. Humans do best when we collaborate usefully. That's what makes good stuff happen.

    As for the rest - we should probably do what some tribes people do: when they notice someone is behaving like a sociopath, they round them up and throw them off a cliff. [1]

    There's no good reason why working in the City should make anyone immune to this.

    [1] Jail or forced gardening leave on benefits would do too.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He's absolutely right

    and that's why we're so riled about it.

  53. James 47
    Paris Hilton

    Dominic's House...

    was probably paid for by his city-hotshot lawyer wife. I'm surprised she didn't get a mention.

  54. Charles Manning

    Sell value, not skills

    The PHBs and bean counters don't understand skills. They understand money and value.

    If you say something about LAMP stacks, they'll think they're paying huge money for some guy that knows about desk lights.

    Instead tell them about specific stuff you did and the value. eg:

    The year before last the servers were down for 20 hours causing us to lose $2M in revenue. I fixed the problem and reduced down time to 10 hours per year, so last year I saved $1M of revenue just doing that. Next year I want to reduce that to 5 hours or less because I want to improve company revenue.

    Your manager gets some glow, but also has some ammunition now to use when securing a pay rise.

    "Last year John saved us $1M. I want to give him a $10k pay rise. That is only 1% of what he saved us last year."

    much more convincing than

    "John knows heaps about lamps"

    1. James 47

      Re: Sell value, not skills

      One of my colleagues saved our ex-employer £25m by proving a software bug wasn't our fault. He got a £500 one-off award.

      Dominic's right, play the game. The fastest way to earn more pay is to change employers. I joined my previous employer as a grad and, after 7 years, am probably earning half of what I should be. And new employers are also interested in your current salary too. It's not unheard of for them to reduce pay offers for new roles because you were earning so little in your previous job. It's in your interest to maintain your salary level.

  55. K

    El Reg...

    I demand you get this genius to write more articles, this was very informative..

  56. Wombling_Free
    Thumb Up

    Would you rather be right or wealthy?

    "If the mindset mentioned in this article is the only way to get anywhere then that's wrong. Very very wrong."

    Maybe. But it IS the only way of getting somewhere.

    I have in the past few months deduced some of these ideas from first principles, and put it into practice in my current job hunt.

    Result? salary gone from $75K with no icing to $120K with 10% super, share options, staff discount card (major supermarket / liquor store / department store chain? 15% discount? why, yes!), allowance for phone, laptop, conferences, salary sacrifice for gym, rent, bills, and a20% performance bonus.

    So I have to smile a bit more; I get to pay off my near-melting credit card and look forward to significant increases to my Lego collection.

    Have I sold my soul? maybe.

    Do I care? no.

  57. Why Not?
    Thumb Up

    Thanks Dominic

    Again a slightly tongue in cheek but very true article.

    Don't suck up, don't crap up either. I was the worst for this, always saw the problems, always complained loudly, always ended up sidelined. Now I politely plant the seed (takes some practice) withdraw & wait or as above suggest a solution.

    Do the stuff that NEEDS to be done properly & quickly (pop them in your report). Advise about the things that SHOULD be done (pop them in your report). Then suggest projects that have clearly identifiable savings / benefits (pop them in your report).

    Put them all in words a manager can understand with the risks/benefits, they may not be ELF lords but they get paid more than you for a reason - everyone else understands THEM.

    Discuss them with your manager, you will agree on a list of things to do, he will tell you the benefits or who to find them from. You get some cool projects and some of the things that should be done in your list. (with a little bit of luck some other people get the manky other ones) DO THEM WELL and make sure everyone enjoys working with you. Make sure everyone knows it went well.

    SMILE - In a big companies people can hear you scream, and they find it annoying!

    Took me ages to learn that!

    Maybe no pay rise but a lot less stress.

  58. Rampant Spaniel

    IT Departments don't make a profit.

    I found this very interesting. It is a minefield but one of the best methods of dealing with it that I have personally experienced was giving departments their own IT budget and them having to pay for services from the IT department. It resulted in a situation where without having to know many technical details, other departments could appreciate where the money went. There suddenly was very little wastage (many additional printers, monitors, laptops etc were returned, reduced software costs alone saved us a fortune, suddenly managers found they could dock a laptop and do without a desktop etc) and also we could reinvest the money we were wasting into core projects to improve service. We didn't cede much by way of power, we just found a way of letting managers know that doubling your department size cost real money and laying off half the department and leaving 150 PC's idle in a room also cost money. It was also great to see departments taking an interest, normally I was a little cautious about suggestions from other departments but the beancounters actually volunteered to use kyocera printers to save on costs as they believed they didn't need 'better'.

    The IT department got revenue from other departments based on their usage but also we did have a capital projects budget for bigger back end expenditures. It probably wouldn't work for every company but it did help people ascribe value to what we did without over complicating the situation. Departments also got to reinvest part of their savings into their own departments.

    Does running a backup make a profit, yes (hopefully) if you are charging for it! (and can do basic maths).

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And this is why so many businesses are crewed by incompetent brown nosing morons. Luckily there are some people who for whom pride in your work is more important than kiss-arsing your way up the corporate ladder, otherwise nothing would ever work.

  60. T J


    Yeah its a pity but the article is basically right.

    You really have to lie and cheat and steal in the IT workplace, more than in any other.

    I think this explains the massive rise in consultancies, ppl are getting well sick of this neanderthal crap.

  61. KarlK

    Paid as little as possible

    Don't forget that the job of your Boss or of HR is not to pay you what you are worth, but what is the minimal amount that will keep you around. (Provided you are doing a good job).

    I learned this from a good friend and former HR person at a major multi-national when I asked her how she figured out raises or hiring packages.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A fantastic article!

    A brilliant read, and the comments are as entertaining as the article.

    Like it or not, working for someone else is a big game and just like Minecraft, Halo and every other game there are special moves you can pull to get more points, easter eggs and traps. This article sums that up.

  63. Melanie Winiger

    Good stuff

    Enjoyed the article and will now be praising my excellent manager at this morning's Team Meeting. He's great, I love him and we're doing well.

    I thank you all!

  64. rsharp

    Oh dear...

    I find it quite ironic that a "Recruiter" has got the gall to call anyone else "crap". Recruitment Consultants are some of the most clueless, brain-dead people I have ever met. It's like they're the only people in the world who are so completely and utterly disconnected from reality. If you are an employer they just play the buzzword bingo numbers game and send you a handful of completely unqualified candidates and if you are a candidate they just dump you in a database and use you like fodder.

    No seriously, I'm not generalising here, you are all completely and utterly useless. I am yet to see a single agency defy the stereotype.

    You may not be aware of this in your own little microcosm of talentless office-monkeys but this feeling is widespread:

  65. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    did anyone else thing on seeing the picture at the top.

    "Incoming message from the Great Big Head"

    Just asking. It is *very* big.

    None of which changes the *point* of the article.

  66. Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter
    Thumb Up

    Another response from Dominic

    @rsharp and others make the point that recruiters are despised as if I didn't know, even though the very first article I ever wrote on the subject was called "My life as a leech". I don't require personal admiration from the readers of my careers articles, since we both know it ain't gonna happen, except maybe if you find the ideas useful, if you don't then I apologise.

    I am also a C++ developer having been a contractor for over a decade and one test I'd ask you to apply is whether you'd read the article differently if I had introduced myself as "one of the guys" ?

  67. Scott 62

    TL;DR: be an arsehole, get ahead.

    The sad part is, it's true, if you come into work, quietly get on with your job, kick arse all around but don't make a fuss, you WILL be overlooked.

    Whereas if you make a song and dance about everything you do, management will assume you have more worth.

  68. Matthew

    Corrollary to CVP?

    I'd like to propose the Corollary to Continuous Visible Productivity - despite a long continuous history of invisible productivity enhancements, an IT Bod is regularly caught surfing El Reg during office hours. What would the reputational impact to the IT Bod be?

    1. a cynic writes...

      Re: Corrollary to CVP?

      I think it's called CPD.

      1. auburnman

        Re: Corrollary to CVP?

        I thought it was P45?

  69. Gazareth

    Cheers Dominic

    Another highly entertaining article. Love the way everyone interprets them differently & the discussion they provoke as a result :)

  70. vgrig_us

    just shows you even best of headhunters are incompetent morons

    "One serious programmer explained to me that “if the system goes down for 30 minutes, you’re incompetent. Bring it back after five hours and you’re a hero”."

    "Serious programmer"? Don't you mean a "serious sysadmin"? I bet you still don't know the difference between the two. It's from morons like you i get 5 emails a day about "software development" jobs - and i'm a sysadmin.

    Headhunters are ignorant and insist on staying ignorant - guess is a job requirement...

    Other than few gross inaccuracies though - article is ok.

  71. Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

    I do know the difference between sysadmin and programming

    >>"Serious programmer"? Don't you mean a "serious sysadmin"?

    No, a programmer, a mix of SQL and C++ as it happens, Altough only a mere headhunter might I ask you if you've ever heard of debugging ?

    He wrote some code, a while later the server died, he got it back again by writing some code, I call that programming, maybe it could have been better programming.

    >>I bet you still don't know the difference between the two.

    There is some chance that you'd lose that bet, since if I could draw your attention to the article you've just read, I'm a programmer as well.

    >>It's from morons like you i get 5 emails a day about "software development" jobs - and i'm a sysadmin.

    Strictly speaking it is from developers who work for morons like me who write s/w that does that sort of thing, there is some irony that you confuse the two roles in the provess.

    Given that I am a moron who employs incompetent programmers to spam you, then might I suggest that you treat us like you would and other buggy system that you are not in a position to fix, but must work around ? You say you are a sysadmin, so do what you're good at.

    It may be my fault, but it is your problem, try to design your CV so this doesn't happen, give this problem some thougt and come back to me on that.

    Headhunters are ignorant and insist on staying ignorant - guess is a job requirement...

    Other than few gross inaccuracies though - article is ok.

    1. Mallorn
      Thumb Up

      Re: I do know the difference between sysadmin and programming

      "It may be my fault, but it is your problem"

      I think that might be the best bit of advice you've given and one that seems to have escaped the notice of most of the commenters here. It's also good advice for academia too - not that we get to negotiate pay rises! However in general you have to work around the problems with the system until you get to the point where you can fix them...and replace them with different problems of your own making which others will then have to live with! ;-)

  72. Dinky Carter

    Raise? Not a rise?

    Oh bollocks, everyone's "transitioned" to using another Americanism, but this time I hadn't even noticed.

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    i wish I'd read this when I was still working.

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Holy Jeebus!

    They're letting this idiot write more articles after the last fiasco? (

    God help anyone that works with him or for him!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Holy Jeebus!

      Dominic may be many things - but an idiot, I think not. And neither do the people who attend his CV clinics.

    2. Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

      Re: Holy Jeebus!

      There are two types of articles, those that tell you what you want to hear and those that tell you want you need to know.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Holy Jeebus!

        You're absolutely right. I think that the following article covers both of those quite nicely.

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