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New Position/Company Description: interesting?

The company where I work has an opening for a systems engineer, and I'm writing the requirements and doing the hiring.  Following is the paragraph describing, in general, the position and the company (I'm not posting the actual requirements, the name of the company, or my email address, to avoid the appearance that I'm posting a want ad here).  Does this make the company sound interesting, like a good place to work, like a company where you would want to be?

"The position requires a person who balances talent and skill in the development of computer systems with the level head and common sense so necessary for success in a business.  We’re a manufacturer of commodity housewares and pet products with a home-grown system: there are great opportunities here for someone interested in developing new business systems, but only if the cost analysis supports it.  Most IT departments are 80% maintenance, 20% implementing off-the-shelf "solutions"; here, it’s 80% new development, 20% supporting your new development.  [The company] is a small company where every voice matters, and we have a president supportive of anything we can do, if we prove to him that it has business value.  [The company] is part of a multi-national company, so global networking and multiple-facility deployments are common.  Quality matters here, since the best way to reduce maintenance and tech support is to build it right the first time.  We are in the process of developing coding standards and development procedures that will support a high standard of quality in the software we write, but we're not process junkies.  We want something that works correctly, doesn’t crash, and gives us the opportunity to learn something at the same time."

Justin Johnson
Tuesday, July 22, 2003

"balances talent and skill"?  How does one do that?

The rest of it sounds like it is making too many promises... it attempts to justify itself. 

e.g. I would think that if you are looking for people interested in quality, they already know the benefit of it.

Joe AA
Tuesday, July 22, 2003

"talent and skill" at development is balanced against "level head and common sense" in business, but I take your point.  I hadn't questioned whether or not I was overselling the company.

Justin Johnson
Tuesday, July 22, 2003

"We are in the process of developing coding standards and development procedures that will support a high standard of quality in the software we write, but we're not process junkies."

How long have you been developing??  I would be scared off if you are just starting to document the basic development procedures now.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

There's just a couple of clauses that sound inhuman to me ( inhuman in the sense described in ): the first clause ("The position requires a person...") might be better as "We want someone..." (the rest is, correctly, more first-person, full of "we"s and "here"s); and later, "We are in the process of developing coding standards and development procedures" might be better as "we are developing" or "we have developed", or it might be better omitted entirely ... or if you want to talk about it, can you put more thought into what you mean when you say that you're in the process of developing a process without being process junkies?

The last sentence doesn't quite follow from the 2nd-last: is the thing that doesn't crash and from which you learn something the software, or the development process? What more precisely are you hoping to learn?

Continuing to nitpick the first sentence, are not "talent" and "skill" synonyms? Can you be more specific than "development of computer systems", for example by saying 'software development' or 'systems integration'? Do you really need a level head, or might having common sense be enough? "[...] so necessary for success in a business" also sounds like marketese to me: instead of rewriting it, you could simply omit it given that you go on to mention "cost analysis" in the next sentence.

Applicants might be more interested in "We’re a manufacturer with a home-grown ??? system" than in "We’re a manufacturer of ??? with a home-grown system".

When you say "small" company I'd prefer to see that quantified (how many people total, and how many in the IT department). I'd like to know more about who I'd be working with (the only person you mention is "a president supportive").

I'd also vaguely like to know whether you and your multinational are profitable.

Christopher Wells
Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Justin - I have to respectfully disagree with Joe and DJ.

On Joe's point, people you want to hire know the benefits of quality code, but the best people want to know that *you* know it too.

On DJ's point, it doesn't seem surprising to me at all that a small company wouldn't have previously spent time documenting its processes - doing so only becomes more efficient than person-to-person communication when you reach a certain number of developers.

Maybe your company isn't as good as you make it out to be, but it's nice to see an employment ad that sounds like a real person wrote it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

I'd split it up into 3 paragraphs:  "The position...  We're a manufacturer...  Quality matters..."

Taking part in a company forming its dev procedures sounds interesting.

However, the "We’re a manufacturer...' sentence doesn't flow well to me.  It seems the point of that paragraph is saying how awesome you are and yet you also filter out anything without a good business case.  I think the 1st sentence should make this dualism clear.  A later sentence could introduce what your company specifically does.

These are nitpicks though.  You expect a qualified person to notice you're a rationally enlightened company.  My 2 cents.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

I stopped reading after the first few lines.

Job adverts are sales opportunities don't over complicate just say what you mean.

Simon Lucy
Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Excellent comments, all.  Thank you; this is exactly the sort of feedback I was looking for.

Justin Johnson
Tuesday, July 22, 2003

The statements that you are a "small company" and "part of a multi-national company" sound a bit contradictory.  A multi-national company sounds big.  A multi-location company loses some of the benefits of smallness, no matter how far apart the branches are.  You rewrite this a bit to make it clear how this affects the development environment.  As written, it is confusing.

The idea of having coding standards and a development process is good, but it raises the question of why you are doing that just now.  How does it fit in to the overall history of the software development group?  Is it a new group?  Has there been some change?

While the statements about coding standards and process are good, isn't there anything else you can tell us that would indicate that the company is serious about quality (besides the meaningless boilerplate style statments like "Quality matters here..." and "every voice matters").

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

I'm trying to be as succinct as possible, since this may go in a newspaper ad.

Justin Johnson
Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Regarding the difference between "small company" and "part of a multi-national", we are a small company for our market: just under 500 employees, with an IT department of 6, including myself.  The parent company is about ten times our size, though, with facilities in 5 different countries.  How would you describe that in a way that captures both ends truthfully?

Justin Johnson
Tuesday, July 22, 2003

It sounds like you are trying to claim that your employer is a small company, but you have to put in a lot of conditions to make the claim and it's a rather weak claim.  I would not think of a 500 employee company, let alone a 5000 employee one as small, no matter how big the competition is.

My recommendation:  describe the department (only 6, that is rather small) and its relationship to the rest of the company (a manufacturing company) and the kind of development being done.  Give an idea of the future that an individual will have with the company (if it is worth telling about).

Try to be honest.  You want the place to sound interesting, but interests vary, so make it interesting to the kind of person who would want to work in that kind of environment.

BTW, here is another statement that needs rethinking:  "there are great opportunities here for someone interested in developing new business systems, but only if the cost analysis supports it."

Huh?  I want to see that cost analysis before signing on.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Justin, overall it's quite nice. Your last paragraphs show you know about software. Your comments about supportive management invite response. The opening waffles. Trim that.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Justin, please don't get overwhelmed by the nitpickers here.  Sure there might be room for improvement, but I beg you to resist any advice to overly smarmify / slickify your ad, or blather the usual empty phrases for conformity's sake.

Listen to Andy.

Your thing is admirably and refreshingly free of the usual HR officious jargon

I think that's probably very smart.

I get the impression that there's a lot of folk out there who are getting very tired of the bull.  Your thing makes you sound like a bunch of civil human beings who are more interested in substance than appearances.  I think it will appeal to good people.

John Aitken
Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Yes but if it were a newspaper ad the company would be broke just in lineage costs.

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Dear Justin,
i would like to know,
what do you think about hire overthesea?

you description is very interesting to me, and i would like to know more about it.


Valentin Semak
Thursday, July 24, 2003

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