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Bad job requirements (Java edition)

So I worked at a large company porting the AWT to another platform in '96-'98; took 3 years off to do Direct3D drivers; and then have worked on Java and Swing heavily for the last year and a half;

and I just got rejected by a recruiter for a job where they needed experienced Swing developers because "I only had one year of Swing". I could teach a class in the stuff and am currently leading a team in it; but hell, the AWT isn't Swing, so it doesn't count, right? (We were looking at it in beta way back then but I left before the first release which actually used it - 1.2).

Don't tell me again that companies can't find qualified employees.

Mike
Friday, July 18, 2003

Hahahah ... those crazy recruiters ...

Alyosha`
Friday, July 18, 2003

I feel your pain. On the other hand, if you know your recruiter couldn't tell the difference, you should know enough to prechew the details. Your resume and what you say should be beneficial to matching you to the right people, not confuse them.

Anonymous
Friday, July 18, 2003

One job I applied for had a web-form where it asked how long you've been using xxx skill, and what level you were at it - advanced, intermediate, beginner, expert... that kind of thing. It's annoying to fill out, but if you want the job enough you do.

I put an ad out for developers on a site that (I didn't know it at the time) used one of those forms.

Well, every single resume came back looking almost exactly the same:

C++ 4 Years Expert
Java 3 Years Expert

and so on. How am I supposed to distinguish between the guy who really knows what he's doing and the guy who lied on his resume? The guy who has been surfing hotscripts & sourceforge all day to get his job done praying something exists already and the guy whose written several enterprise level applications from the ground up?

There's absolutely nothing pointing to what they've actually accomplished with these skills, and no way to add it. Only in the cover letter section, and most of these applicants probably send so many cover letters that most of them are along the lines of:

Thanks for looking,

Regards,
John Smith

So now I have 80 resume's that I have to narrow down semi-arbitrarily so I can choose an handful to actually interview.

My friend was interviewing people for a job a few years back and her boss wanted them to have 5+ years of JSP... At the time JSP was only around 3 years old. She had to fight for someone with 3 years JSP experience and 5 years Java experience because her boss didn't think he was qualified enough.

Let's face it, people are not numbers, and you can't hire based on numbers alone.

www.marktaw.com
Friday, July 18, 2003

"Let's face it, people are not numbers" - Citizen #813494522

Now there citizen #813494522, you have already been worned once about this forbidden term 'marktaw'. You are required to use your unique identifier and would be well advised to do so.

Some Friendly Advice from the Ministry of Identity
Friday, July 18, 2003

To take devil's advocate, this teaches us that resume inflation is really vital.  Someone who's not on top of tech will see meaningless buzzwords.  There's a point where it's fine to overstate your experience as long as it's right in spirit.

Ted Vaughn
Friday, July 18, 2003

I think Mike has described why so many projects fail.

With that kind of obvious incompetence the person they hire is bound to fail; unless they get lucky and hire a smart person. But if obvious experience eludes them, then their project is doomed to fail.

Mickey Petersen
Friday, July 18, 2003

Not sure anymore where I got this idea from (was it here?), but I maintain three versions of my resume.

1).  A version for recruiters, which spells out things as clearly and redundant as possible, and also uses all relevent acronyms.  For example, I don't say "I wrote the program using ATL", I say, "I wrote the program using ATL (Active Template Library) using Microsoft Visual C++ 6.0 in C++ on Windows NT 3.51, Windows NT 4, and Windows 2000."  The goal is to get as many (honest) buzzwords in front of their eyes as possible.  I mean, how many times have you had a recruiter ask you, "Is C++ the same thing as Visual C++?"

2).  A version for the client.  When I get to the interview, I hand them a version of my resume that makes it clear that, no, I didn't just copy acronyms out of a book.  Then I explain why I have two versions of my resume, and we have a good laugh at the recruiter's expense.  Not a bad ice-breaker, actually, if handled correctly.

3).  An HTML version.  This one I post online, with links to scenned-in letters of recommendation, web-sites of former employers, articles I've written in print magazines, source code, etc.

Like someone else said, don't blame recruiters for not knowing that, even though you didn't say so, you actually *do* know C++ - but because your resume only says, "five years of MFC experience", they missed that little factoid.  Just make their lives easier, and they'll work harder to get you a job.  Look at it this way: if I told you that I was proficient in "gerunds", would you automatically know that I knew something about verbs?  Or lizards?  Or is it polymers?  No one can know everything, and I don't pay them (in effect) for their technical acumen - I pay them to get me a gig.  Anything I can do to help them is in my self-interest.

Grumpy Old-Timer
Friday, July 18, 2003

I agree with your point about gerunds, except that I think your analogy is mis-targetted. (sp?)

I would, in fact, expect a recruiter for grammarians (is that a job?) to know what a gerund was. I'm shocked at how little we expect from technical recruiters -- how can they possibly be of any use, even as a simple screener? It would seem like they'd be getting such a high rate of false positives and false negatives to be about as useful as a random sample.

For more background: this company (the one behind the recruiter) had a previous bonehead manuever 15 months ago (before I got this job) where their own recruiter rejected my interview because I hadn't done any OOP (I guess I had been working in Procedural Java all that time). A current cow orker had a similar session with them. I talked about that with the first of the two recruiters I spoke with this week (the first one had his act together better than the second one) and we shared a good laugh, and then he told me she had been let go for incompetence... so I suppose there's a ray of hope.

Two different recruiting firms, by the way; I responded to the second one only because the first one hadn't corresponded in a couple of days after a fairly promising phone call. This job may be crap; or it may be as good as mediocre; but my current job is stressful enough to at least make striving for an interview worthwhile. The location of the new job would be a big plus; so I suppose I'm giving it more effort than I would if it was out in the 'burbs where my current job is; if they were both geographically similar I'd probably have long since written them off.

Mike
Friday, July 18, 2003

Programmers should have an easy time getting a job.. Just write a job-getting program and send it to all the recruitment firms & potential employers.

www.marktaw.com
Friday, July 18, 2003

PS - i was tempted to use the ID "THX 1138" rather than the human readable "marktaw"

www.marktaw.com
Friday, July 18, 2003

*Professional* technical recruiters are SUPPOSED to know enough about the various programming languages and operating systems in order to know their similarities and differences and how transferrable the skills are, as knowing those things makes a material difference in their ability to make a good match between companies and workers.

An athletic recruiter for American football would know enough about the skills and physical characteristics that make a player able to play each position, whether they might be good at another position than the exact one they have already been playing, and how they would fit in with the existing skill set on the team.  They would know things like whether a wide receiver would have a decent chance at being a good kickoff returner.

Technical recruiters should be subscribing to technical magazines and reading technical publications on the Internet, just as the athletic recruiter would be an avid reader of various sports publications.  They should know enough about technology to realize that anybody with 5 years of .NET experience is a liar, and that somebody who wrote servlets to run on Tomcat will also be able to write them to run on WebSphere. Otherwise they are incompetent and doing a disservice to themselves, their clients and job applicants. Unfortunately, incompetence seems to be the rule and not the exception.

T. Norman
Saturday, July 19, 2003

I own small israeli company and 3 of 5 my current workers are certified by Sun and IBM.

If you believe that you are experienced and know the job, you should search here and there and nothing else will help.

Evgeny /Javadesk/
Tuesday, July 22, 2003

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