Pencils Down

This weblog is about my experiences in software development

Browsing Posts tagged Job Hunt

Experience: 5+ years
Must have: Core Java, J2EE, Spring, Hibernate, Web Services

I run a job site and am on the mailing list for quite a few contractor type roles. I am guessing close to half of the listings look like the above ‘requirements’.

I have even called a few agents asking if there really aren’t more requirements for the position. They have acted confused, as if they had no idea what I was talking about.

As opposed to the more typical job description with:
– contract or full time?
– contract length, w2 or not, …
– what industry?
– what kind of company?
– tools and methodologies in use
– list of mandatory skills
– list of optional skills
– list of would be nice “if you have developed an xyzzy before”

I can tell these jobs are not being filled as the same job offering comes through on feed after feed, week after week.

Who can afford to have these agents working that don’t produce? Maybe they don’t get paid unless they do produce. Then who is paying their bills?

Joel Test

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Saw this used on a job site to evaluate a position. Neat quick-and-dirty evaluation of a new position: A good company gets a 12.

The Joel Test

  1. Do you use source control?
  2. Can you make a build in one step?
  3. Do you make daily builds?
  4. Do you have a bug database?
  5. Do you fix bugs before writing new code?
  6. Do you have an up-to-date schedule?
  7. Do you have a spec?
  8. Do programmers have quiet working conditions?
  9. Do you use the best tools money can buy?
  10. Do you have testers?
  11. Do new candidates write code during their interview?
  12. Do you do hallway usability testing?

The Worst Developer Job (Boston)

Job Responsibilities for a horrible Web Developer Job at a company you will HATE:

-Achieve 100% code accuracy in all 300+ required programming languages. If 99% accurate, termination.

-Argue with all product development teams in an aggressive manor wherever possible for optimal productivity.

-Conduct design and code reviews. If a bug is found, termination.

-Maintain a low awareness of industry issues and trends, particularly in regard to web technologies. (If you are looking into latest trends you are wasting company time, termination)

-Provide technical leadership and make fun of on ALL new developers as they are on-boarded.

-Give 100% accurate time estimates.

-Contribute to documentation and arguments amongst co-workers where required .

-If you share how to identify and implement ways to improve how we build software in any way, termination.


-A-holes are promoted within the first 6 months.

-12+ years experience designing and developing highly scalable web apps on the Microsoft platform

-Hands-on expertise with ASP.NET, C#, C++, SQL, CSS, HTML, JavaScript, jQuery, AJAX, Ruby on Rails, Node.js. If not expert level, termination.

-Passionate about having a hatred towards co-workers, wants to stay hands-on, enjoys coding in dark (locked) closets, enjoys being chained to their desk. (recommended)

-Able to organize and clarify complex business fights in the office.

-Familiar with Agile development processes.

-Able to work in an Hierarchical company where nobody gives a S*#! about your opinion.

-Self-motivated and willing to work all weekends and holidays.

Benefits (If asked about any of these, termination)

-Competitive salary (If you are not an expert programmer, you will not get paid)

-No time off. Even if sick. If sick, termination.

-$1,000 bonus if you never talk in the office

-Grade D Health and dental insurance

-No group life, short-term, and long-term disability insurance

-Opportunity to work in a small, high stress, impossible to grow startup environment

-Ping-pong and foosball tables for superior hand-eye coordination. If you give into temptation and play these game in the office, termination.

-Paid in Trident Layers. (used)

– $25,000 Base Salary. Pay increase after 8 years.

If you want to find a tech job that doesn’t suck, apply on …

Someone on craigslist made this excellent post:

Date: xxx
Reply to: xxx

Designers do.
Photographers do.
Graphic Artists do.

Web developers create software. Something that does something. Think Verbs.
Most successful developers work on projects that are not open to the public.
Even with the public facing sites we work on, the look and feel is not typically done by us. It’s done by a designer.

If you’re not getting good replies to to your ads here, try taking out the ridiculous insistence that developers send you a portfolio of their work.
Ask instead for a resume, CV, or description of their work.

  • it’s NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
  • Compensation: no pay

PostingID: nnnn

Had to read this one a couple of times before I realized ‘Overweight’ wasn’t just a cute term for ninja:

Overweight Web Designer Needed (city)

Date: date, time
Reply to: xxx


I have 10 web sites which I need re-organized into 1-2 great ones, with SEO, Store, Downloads and much more.

So I need someone who has both the design and back-end skills, as well as some biz dev (ie traffic, SEO, stickiness, marketing, etc.) ability.

BUT, I only need one person, and here are two musts:

1. Person must LIVE in city state
2. Person must be overweight and be open to support on this. I am proposing part barter as I have helped people lose weight and keep it off


  • Location: city
  • it’s NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
  • Compensation: $500 plus solving your weight problem forever using only food & habits

Fear and Hesitation

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I have been in the unlucky position of looking for a new position in the current environment.  I had thought from past experience that early January would be a fruitful time to look.  Also, given the financial turnaround that most firms have experienced in the last two years I had expected some reasonableness on the job front.

Instead I see an environment full of fear and hesitation:

  • Companies have avoided doing lots of work for some time that has to be done or they may go out of business
  • New product development deadlines are approaching that must be done or vc’s, funding sources, etc… will pull out leaving the entity at risk of surviving

Given the pressures to get something done there is a constant stringing along of candidates for budgeted work.  First contact a week out.  Initial meetings scheduled in another week.  Decision time possibly in another week.

I think these projects are funded.  So, money is not the issue – they will try to bargain, but that is the norm for everything.

There are candidates available to do the work with the skill set.  So, a dearth of prospects is not the issue.  I know job postings are getting swamped.

There is a definite timetable for producing the product, feature.  Hiring managers have the experience to know how long the pieces will take.

There are specs on what has to be done.  There isn’t much vagueness involved.  Gone are the days of napkin idea products.

There was a quote from the lead singer of the Fine Young Cannibals (yes I am that old and yes I really liked the band’s music) to the effect not making a decision is making a decision.  In other words the companies that are delaying projects are effectively deciding to go out of business.

It’s not rational, but fear isn’t rational.  It’s emotional.  I think mixing emotions with business is a disaster.

Small Companies

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Interviewed at a small company.  They have a hold on a market niche for the last n years.  They have mostly been together for the last n years.  The prototypical lifestyle company.

Now one of their own is leaving.  All of that assumed understanding over the years is showing up as a lack of communication and follow-through.  The developer leaving has been off the range for years:

  • home grown web service – doesn’t like SOAP
  • obscure database – has a neato auto-maintenance feature, but nothing else
  • no ORM – it works much faster without it.  developed his own higher-level constructs like Expression builders.
  • really extensive app server – but there are just customers, orders, etc… in there.  what is all this code doing?
  • ignored the selling product – it uses MySQL, how yucky.  it’s mostly a Swing app, how uncouth.

Worst of all management had no idea what this guy was doing.  When they asked about interfacing some 3rd party app – he said sure, and started coding something homegrown.  When they asked about integrating the selling product – he said sure, and started coding the next homegrown section.  Piece after piece after piece.

What a nightmare.

Ah, the joys of looking for a new contract.  This was one of a stream of emails from an agency as to each little keyword that was in the job description.  Another was “Spring MVC” which I was told was some special version of Spring and I obviously don’t have experience doing that so my resume will not be forwarded to the manager.

It makes you kind of wonder what kind of people go for the agent job.  I bet they believe in that old saying about a good salesperson being able to sell anything.  Who cares if you don’t have a clue about what this ‘person’ does or has been doing for a living?  Your job is to cross off every word in the job description against the same wording appearing in the resume.  You don’t need no stinkin knowledge.  (Apologies to that old Bogart film)

This was at a pretty good agency as well.  Pretty good in the people had a clue, at least a few years ago.  I guess times change.  People do anything for a job.

Of course, I am curious how well the agent’s resume matched up to the agency job description.  But I don’t think I really want to know.

I know of company that is getting a big project soon.  Current pm staff is swamped, so they decided to look for a ‘technical’ pm.  I didn’t think it would be unusual for a pm to know something about programming or database queries and the like.

They got hundreds of responses to the job posting, but not one qualified by having any technical skills!  The job description was pretty explicit about the expected skill set required for the position.

Why would this happen? 

Are pm’s so caught up in the latest from PMSI (?sp) that they are ignoring the auxiliary skills needed for the job?  How far does that go?  Is using Excel a stretch?

Or are all the current technical pm’s with the skill set satisfied with the current employment.  Again, unlikely.

Talked with a big shop in town.  Met with a founder and a vp.  Got along great.

Job was mid-level, so had to talk to sw director and an architect.

Director went over a standard question list for all developers.  Great.

Architect interjected random questions.  Most of them did not have an answer, were trick questions, or otherwise pretty off tangent.

And the coup-de-grace: Gee, I graduated about the same time you did.  We must be the same age.

Gee, if I known you guys were jerks I would have taken my tape recorder.