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I saw this question and it made me curious about a different but somewhat related question. Briefly, the linked question asks whether it is professional, as a potential employee, to declare in a contract that you refuse to work with certain technologies. In particular, the question used Excel as a specific example.

Would it be seen as unprofessional to informally mention, (e.g during an interview,) the following:

  • You do not like working with a given technology, because you find that it is a source of frustration and dangerous unexpected behaviours.
  • If you find out that it is being used in the company for something core to the company's products, you will argue vociferously that the given core functionality should be re-implemented in a less dangerous technology at the earliest opportunity.
  • If need be, you are willing to perform the re-implementation yourself, simply to avoid being employed somewhere that stakes so much on such a rickety piece of technology.

Given that this message is delivered in a way that does not demonize any current the users of such technology, at worst labeling them as unaware or misguided by bad conventional wisdom, is such conduct unprofessional?

(My actual feelings on the matter shouldn't make a difference to the response to this question, but I'll explicitly mention that I do not have these strong feelings about Excel in particular, or any other piece of software at this time. I'm merely curious about whether this would be considered professional.)

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  • Many people make errors in software - errors in code is not limited to Excel...
    – Solar Mike
    Oct 6 '20 at 4:36
  • Declining to work with technology without trying to understand of why technology is used/considered somewhere is unprofessional. There are valid reasons when small macro in VBA would make much more sense and be more efficient then a huge custom <insert your favorite language> application. Understanding flaws of the technology and knowing when to use something and when not would be more wise.
    – AlexanderM
    Oct 6 '20 at 4:52
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    @SolarMike Agreed. As the parenthetical at the end of my question was meant to clarify, I have no beef with Excel in particular. I was more interested in the abstract question if/how can someone voice a concern about a technology without being unprofessional. I considered not mentioning a specific technology at all, but on other questions on SE people have critised my questions for being too abstract, so I left it in.
    – Ryan1729
    Oct 6 '20 at 5:51
  • @AlexanderM I think we would agree that broadly speaking, the actual technologies in use today, do not seem so horrible that one should have a blanket "NO <Technology X> EVER" stance. I was thinking more in the abstract, that is, if some technology that was sufficiently bad that the opinion outlined above was warranted was to show up, which options would an prospective employee have to avoid working for a company relying on this hypothetical, rickety technology, while remaining professional.
    – Ryan1729
    Oct 6 '20 at 6:07
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All that you mention seems to be more constructive approaches, stances, and polite communication in general than saying "I won't work with X technology, period.", or asking for a contract that states that you won't ever work with X technology.

The phrasings you use are more of the form "I would work with X technology if needed or required, but I would prefer using Y as it is better because [reasons], and we should move to Y as soon as we can", which is a more professional way of expressing that X is not the ideal technology.

This also shows flexibility from your part, as well as a positive disposition to work on projects despite the possible drawbacks or challenges involved (because let's be real, every project has at least some drawbacks or challenging aspects, and a company can't take the luxury of discarding every project that comes their way only because they don't use the "perfect" technologies).

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  • I was once recruited to do certain tasks. The problem they were facing was that they used right tool but their expected outcome was from using different (but also right) tool. Imaging trying to ride 100 miles in an hour in a car that only goes 90mph. It turned out the upper-managment was aware of that and it was purposeful decision. Oct 7 '20 at 10:09
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First, I think this is unprofessional for the exact same reasons why the behavior in the other question is unprofessional, although perhaps it will be seen as a little bit less prima-donna-ish, since you are not insisting that the right not to work with the technology is an absolute condition for you to work for this employer. So it’s still unprofessional, just to a slightly lesser extent.

With that said, I think a more important question than the one you are asking is this question:

What can you hope to gain by stating such a thing informally?

To which I would argue the answer is “nothing”. In the other scenario of adding a contractual clause, at least in the (unlikely, but still possible) scenario where your negotiation gambit is successful, you gain a contractual right to refuse to work with the technology. Here you don’t gain any such rights. In a future scenario in which your boss asks you to work with the technology you disapprove of, the fact that you informally discussed this scenario during the negotiation stage won’t give you any special rights: you will be in exactly the same situation as any other employee being asked to do something by their boss.

In short, I don’t see any good that can come out of saying such a thing.

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