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Engineer asks Quora which job offer to take. CEO replies: not ours.

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.
Won’t be joining them.

Asking for career advice on the internet is great until your would-be boss gets involved. An engineer who was weighing job offers from Uber and Zenefits, both startups in San Francisco, mused about the pros and cons of each in a public post on Quora, the question-and-answer site. A few hours later, one of the offers was revoked.

The engineer said the best reason to work at Uber was its reputation, which would “really help me move to companies like Google and Apple, which is something that I want to do in the distant future.” The negatives were that Uber didn’t seem to need him all that much and wasn’t willing to negotiate on salary.

Zenefits had great people, accessible leadership, seemed to really desire the engineer, and was offering more money. But it didn’t seem as compelling a ”buzzword” to have on a résumé when applying to a company like Google in the future, the engineer said.

That reasoning didn’t sit well with Zenefits CEO Parker Conrad (fresh off an enormous $500 million fundraising round). The question on Quora was titled, “What is the best way to start my career: Uber or Zenefits?” Conrad began his reply, “Definitely not Zenefits.” He also said the company was revoking its job offer, though later removed that part, saying it “didn’t seem fair” to make that public.

It’s preserved in this screenshot:

A spokesman for Zenefits confirmed that the job offer was revoked and that the reply on Quora was from Conrad, the company’s CEO.

Here’s more from Conrad’s reply:

Mostly, it seems like where you really want to work is Google (“I think that [Zenefits] isn’t as exciting a brand name to have on your resume when applying to the likes of Google.”). You should just apply there. If you’re able to pass our engineering interview, I’m pretty sure you could get a job there.

He also wrote:

We really value people who “get” what we do and who *want* to work here, specifically. It’s not for everyone, but there are enough ppl out there who do want to work here that we can afford to be selective. One of our company values is to have a bias towards action — which means that when people are hesitating / going back and forth about whether they want to work here, we usually view that as a bad sign.

The problem doesn’t seem to be that the question was asked, but that the poster publicly aired doubts about the company and motivations that weren’t in line with Zenefits’ priorities. Many people work early career jobs with a different destination or goal in mind. But if you admit that, you’ll never get past the first interview.

Revoking the job offer so openly might seem like a bit of an overreaction for someone that’s just entering the job market, and some people called the move harsh. Still, the poster seems to have forgotten a cardinal rule of the internet: Never post anything publicly that you wouldn’t want a current or future employer to see.

Uber, for its part, used the exchange for an extra bit of recruitment, with a company spokesman plugging the startup’s talent and mission. It’s not clear if the job candidate, who remains anonymous, has accepted Uber’s offer.

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