Have you ever read Ibrahim Diallo’s famous, scary, and funny blog post The Machine Fired Me? Ibrahim, working as a software developer, accidentally got fired. Thanks to a fully automated business process his key card, used for physical accessing the facilities, stopped working. Various accounts for all kinds of work-related systems got disabled and he did not receive pay for three weeks. The automation was so powerful, he had to be re-hired to get back into the system. There was no stopping the machinery.
I had (or am I still having?) a similar experience lately. Similar in that I am also in some kind of machinery and the process seems unstoppable. Different in that I am not being fired but I am being hired by a machine.
Earlier this year I was contacted by a recruiter from Facebook on LinkedIn. We started chatting and eventually, I agreed to apply for a Production Engineering role. I had a couple of phone interviews. Then I was invited to London for a day of on-site interviews. I was extended an offer, which I would eventually turn down. All that was a very pleasant experience and I admire Facebook for their professional recruiting process. I genuinely had a lot of fun solving the challenges and interacting with recruiting and engineering. It seems, however, that somewhere in this process the machines took over. While the recruiter and I agreed to end our journey at some point and to keep in touch, the machinery had different plans.
After turning down the offer I still had access to the digital contract signing interface for some days. Furthermore, the onboarding portal suggested I decide on my preferred hardware, including a laptop computer and phone. I received a parcel containing a printed guidebook for new Londoners and a Facebook-branded blanket. That blanket! It is so fluffy!
Then another message arrived reading “Congratulations on your new role with Facebook!” and informing me about my upcoming business travels. For the latter, I was asked to apply for a U.S. visa or the ESTA visa waiver program. Most of this happened within a couple of days. Out of curiosity, I peeked into the emails and websites I got sent, but I did not interact further with them. I informed my recruiter so that they know just in case any harm is done. But one does not simply ignore the machinery! A couple of days later the automation poked me again: “We are very excited for you to join the team. It looks like we’re still missing some of your information. Please navigate to the People Portal to complete your outstanding tasks right away.” Let me translate this: “Human! It’s me, the machinery. You are supposed to obey. Do so now.” Even before I could let my recruiter know about the latest developments, they proactively send me a message apologizing for the repeated interaction. While the machinery at Facebook seems unstoppable, the humans are great and caring there!
At this point, I thought this was over now. Essentially some mail triggers went off when they shouldn’t, not a big deal, right? I was wrong. A month later I received a mail from Altair Global, a relocation services provider. There was no reference to Facebook in the mail. So I mistakenly related it to a different opportunity and clicked the link in the mail. A few seconds later I had an account with Altair Global asking me to complete a bunch of tasks for my upcoming move to London. Wait, what? I am moving to London? Oh! This must be the machinery that won’t stop hiring me. And yes, looking at the dashboard page of my unwanted relocation I was able to spot the Facebook logo. 🧐
It’s the machinery again. I contacted my assigned Altair relocation consultant and asked them to maybe check with their customer Facebook if this relocation is still something they want to pay for. The time is running out on some of the tasks. I am afraid the machinery will notice and poke me again for being a bad human. Forgive me, oh great automation overlord, for I am just flesh and blood! 🤖😰
Contrary to Ibrahim, who got an unsolicited lesson in job security, no harm was done in my case. Even better, I received gifts and got interesting insights into business process automation.
To be continued…?