Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

Questions and Comments

Define a bright, talented programmer?

How do you prove yourself as such?

Doesn't it all come down to being scrutinized by HR?

I'm really confused about how the heck one goes about obtaining a position with an IT department.  It seems most places are locked up tight by the HR department.  If you don't know anyone or you don't have the exact degree/experience you aren't getting in?

How much work does it take to get an IT position?

How do you list personal programming achievement on your resume?  Are these valid?

(By the way Joel, I think your article in the Programmer's Paradise catalog was a tad unrealistic.  Not the trends mind you, but the idea that software is business.  Businesses are run by people, not software.  Software may help make decisions but in the end it's the people who work for the company and their attitudes and work ethics that account for the success of the company.)

Friday, September 5, 2003

I don't think this situation is unique to IT jobs, but rather to tight job markets. My experience so far has been it is who you know in the company that is hiring during this economic downturn. You are competing against several hundred resumes - anything from the inside helps.

Good Luck!

Friday, September 5, 2003

I too am disheartened with the snobbery that is being practiced by HR departments in the IT sector. I myself do not hold a degree in Computer Science and at every step in the last six years have found it extremely difficult to negotiate a decent position. Only by comparison, I believe that I am an above-average programmer to say it in the most delicate manner. Inspite of this, I have been turned down, like all of my creed, right at the door because of the initial screening where they ask you only about your degree. Enter the Ambassador Hotel where interviews for the company XXX are being conducted. There'll be an unholy fat man in an impeccable white shirt, cotton silk trousers and the most expensive tie. He will look at you from a 100 meters distance and say, "Oh God! you? You could have asked me on the phone. We are only looking for MCAs and M.Techs from IIT. Its such a waste you've come." And you will be asked to go back. Or sometimes, you will end up with HR people who know nothing about the answers to the questions they will ask you in a written test, except for the correct option out of the four multiple choices. A handful of those questions will be mis-printed or incorrect. Sometimes, the interviewers will be obnoxious fascists who would pick you for an hour's round of a bout with gauntlets charged at you about every other language on the Earth but the one you have mentioned as your skill set. I've faced one interview where I believe they did it for pleasure. One of them was, it was told to me by the duo, an author of VC++ books sold in India. And they asked me all other things but Visual Basic, which I had mentioned as my primary skill set. And their tone was indignant, "Oh! you don't know nothing. Your resume is so full of all the technological buzz-words and you know nothing about Optical Character Recognition (OCR)." They never asked me what I wanted. They never asked about Visual Source Safe, or Visual Basic or the Win32 API.

Then, there will be people who will not like to hear "No" for an answer in an interview. And they will ask you all theoritical questions of very less practical value. Some of them will read out Drucker's favourite questions from a hand-out. They will ask, "Describe ten situations where you proved your leadership skills in the past ten assignments." or "What are the most important qualities of a leader?", "How do you describe yourself in 57 words?"

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Friday, September 5, 2003

The last time I was hard done at because of the lack of the appropriate degree, I took a firm resolve that I will do something about it, however small, in my own scale I will be an agent of change. Since then I have begun writing letters to many large and small IT companies in India so that they question their cast-in-stone iron-clad policies about hiring only engineers. I've so many guys around me who do not know anything. Worse are those who do not know that they do not know anything. All of them have fantastic degrees.

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Friday, September 5, 2003

The problem is that we live in Lake Woebegon, where _all_ the programmers aer above average.  Strong and good looking too.

Friday, September 5, 2003

Where is the Lake Woebegon reference from?

Saturday, September 6, 2003

It's from Garrison Kieler (sp?).  The sig should have been a hint.  I think there, all of the kids were above average.

Saturday, September 6, 2003

The women are strong, the men are good-looking, and all the kids are above average,
in Lake Woebegone.

The Real PC
Saturday, September 6, 2003

Dear Satyaish,
                        If you are primarily a VB programmer then you will be expected to know normal office software and technology because that is the market you are dealing with. So it does sound strange that you don't know what optical character recognition is.

                        And are you sure you are applying for he right jobs. If you are a Visual Basic programmer without a degree you won't be considered for any of the "hardcore" programming jobs. In fact you should be looking at applying to nin IT companies who need people to automate their office processes.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, September 6, 2003

>"Only by comparison, I believe that I am an above-average programmer to say it in the most delicate manner. "

Over 80% of programmers believe they are above average ;)

Saturday, September 6, 2003

Hello Stephen,

Thanks for your advice. Its a sad thing that I do not have much chances of doing heavy duty programming, which I'd love to do, with my limitation of programming only in Visual Basic. How do you think I must break out of this limitation?

I did my graduation in Commerce and then my masters in Cost and Works Accountancy, and my Company Secretaryship, after which I completed a 3 year software development program from the National Institute of Information Technology (NIIT). But I do not hold a degree in Computer Science like the ones being asked for these days. I am currently employed with a software development company wherein I shoulder the responsibility of executing a project from scratch and delivering it to the overseas client.

Back then, I did not know what OCR was. Besides that point is the fact that I do not find myself any worse off than other Visual Basic programmers nor do I find any of the others better than myself. I know, by the standards of people who visit this forum and by the standards of Joel readers, who are essentially very intelligent people with high IQs, I might score low on the scale, but on an unbiased comparison, and if track record is anything to go by, I find myself often taking charge of complete projects and delivering them - whether they pertain to office automation or telecom billing or CDR generation (with mediation in VC).

Visual Basic *is* my primary skill set but I do have a background with C++ and Java and happen to love programming in Win32 API SDK, but only as a hobby. I have not been involved in a real time application written in VC or MFC or Java.

And our friend with no name might agree that some of the 80% of those believe correctly.

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Saturday, September 6, 2003

> Over 80% of programmers believe they are above average <

But only 50% are above median.

If 80% of programmers are above averate, this indicates that 20% of programmers are quite useless and draging the avarage down. This would also imply that there are almost no super-programmers, but quite a few of bad programmers.

char* full_name()
Saturday, September 6, 2003

The 80% believe they are above the median, not just the mean.

Saturday, September 6, 2003

I don't have any skills, experience, or degree. But I am a very hard worker, easy to get along with and quite sincere. I am also a good cook and I have a nice suit.

Why will they not give me a job as Director of IT Development? Or as Senior Project Engineer? I know I could do it if only given a chance! I probably know more than all those phds who are so full of themselves and they really know nothing compared to me.

The IT market sucks! It is so unfair I am not given a really good job!

Freshton Powell III
Saturday, September 6, 2003

Am I the only one who feels like sathayiash's posts read like some sort of postmodern mcsweeny's-style humor article?

Saturday, September 6, 2003

Nope! That makes the two of us actually, rz.

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Monday, September 8, 2003

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home