Tale of Survival #1: Saying No to a Respectful Recruitment Attempt

How I survive: I say no.

How do I say no?

Email Exchange in May 2016

To: Alison (at my github email)


Hi Alison,

My name is [FIRST NAME] [LAST NAME] and I’m an Engineering Lead at [COMPANY NAME]. I know you might not be looking for new job opportunities, but I thought I would reach out to see if you would be open to having a conversation about some of the work you’re doing and about some of the problems we are solving here.

Your interest in data modelling(sic) and business intelligence is particularly relevant. We recently rebuilt our [CUSTOMER] analytics platform on [TECH], [TECH], [TECH], [TECH] and [HOSTING PROVIDER], and we’re in the process of building a set of high-quality data models to help our [CUSTOMERS].

If you are open to talking about what we are doing, the engineering team and culture or anything at all, please reach out. If not, feel free to delete this email. Either way have a great week!




I just heard a [COMPANY] dev speak at [EVENT], so yes I’m willing to talk to you. He was smart and a(sic) good guy and [COMPANY] pays him to do open source work, you didn’t randomly try to connect with me on LinkedIn, and your email was respectful so I’m willing to talk to you/[COMPANY NAME].

Please know I’m only taking consulting clients right now though and I don’t allow any client over 20 hrs/week of my time.

If you’d still like to talk to me I prefer email, Slack, SMS or anything else written. Let me know what times might work for you this week.



Hi Alison,

Thanks so much for the reply. We’re looking for people as we expand our data team — these are full-time positions, at one of our labs ([CITY], [CITY], [CITY], and [CITY]). With your current consulting business, is this something that you would even consider entertaining?


Thanks for following up. I originally typed a response and then sat on it because, well… honesty is hard and I don’t want to be rude to someone who is obviously a respectful person.

The short answer is no. I won’t ever entertain working full-time for one company ever again.

The longer answer is as follows. I’m tired. I’m tired of being the one with all the responsibility and none of the authority. I’m tired of being the one translating between business and developers and making everything happen and fixing other people’s messes even after I warned them in detail how and why their idea wasn’t going to work ahead of time and training junior folks because no one else wanted to/knew how to/prioritized it and doing the more thoughtful code reviews and all of that thankless work that resulted in making me an analyst or a project manager instead of the technical lead, team lead, department head, and/or architect. I’m tired. Exhausted really. So I’m not going to do full-time W2 work anymore. I’m not gonna go back to the land of being under-paid, the lack of bonuses or raises or credit or even acknowledgement of my work while making other people millions of dollars anymore. Now, I’m going to make me millions of dollars. That way I can build a non-toxic work environment where individuals are valued so I can make a home for all the other individuals who are just as tired as I am and hopefully save some individuals from having to experience that pain in the first place.

I know you personally have a high probability of not being like the people who make and contribute to the toxic environments that make me tired. I bet you’re actually a pretty awesome person given the little I know about you so far. I’m just being honest.

If not being able to recruit someone like me ticks you off I would encourage you to speak up the next time someone is treating an individual poorly. If you want information about how to do that I teach Ally Skills Workshops and do other inclusivity consulting as well. I have 4 workshops coming up in June in Chicago but I do travel to put on the workshop as well. More information can be found here: http://allyskillsworkshop.instapage.com/ if you’re curious.

And of course, if you want a great data consultant on an hourly basis in the future please let me know.

Alison Stanton
Chief Problem Solver, Stanton Ventures

How I survive: I say no.

Why do I say no? Because I have boundaries and I don’t bend or break them for other people. They are boundaries and they keep me safe.

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