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Upcoming shortage?

Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
I was just chatting with a recruiter last night. This woman is a "good" recruiter in the sense that she understands the difference between someone who knows HTML and Javascript, and someone who does VB, and someone who creates entrperise applications.
She said she has more open jobs right now than in the last 2 years, having trouble filling htem, and predicts that in about 3 months there will be a shortage of qualified software engineers. I think I tend to agree. I'm finding lots of software engineers, but most aren't who I want to hire. They seem unqualified. Perhaps they are better than I think they are, but they just don't come across that way.
It'll be interesting to see what happens if this continues for an extended period of time.
--Mark
Al Newman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 30, 2003
Posts: 716
The same thing happened 20 years ago, the aftermath of another crash in the software industry. There was a shortage of qualkified people for many years after.
Employers have been able to be perfectionists for 3 years now, but not much longer I think. They're going to have to hire people who are less than perfect and grow with them. That's what happens when you 'rightsize' 30% of the profession out of the profession, eh?


SCJP1.4, SCWCD
Al Newman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 30, 2003
Posts: 716
A comment:
"They seem unqualified. Perhaps they are better than I think they are, but they just don't come across that way."
Being out of work for a time does one's self-confidence no good at all. They probably are (or *will be*) better than you think they are. But not perhaps just yet....
HS Thomas
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 15, 2002
Posts: 3404
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:
I'm finding lots of software engineers, but most aren't who I want to hire. They seem unqualified.

By that ,Mark, do you mean no certifications or degrees or lack of experience ?
regards
Alenka Shtykel
Greenhorn

Joined: Oct 24, 2003
Posts: 16
I wonder if I'll ever be in the position of conducting interviews with potential employees. hm..
Rufus BugleWeed
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 22, 2002
Posts: 1551
It's like Matloff says
The best way to finish a project on time is to hire smart programmers, not programmers who have some particular skill set. Studies show that there is a 10-to-1 range in productivity among programmers.
Employers are shooting themselves in the foot with their current hiring policies, actually increasing their labor costs rather than reducing them, and increasing time-to-market for their products, rather than reducing it

You need the perfect candidate with 3 to 5 years in your technology base that everybody else wants to. Nobody will invest the slightest amount in the formation of intellectual capital when it comes to hiring.
Mark I think you've said that engineering talent is basically a commodity in the eyes of management. Now when come to hiring somebody, it's no longer a commodity. You have to have people who worked on Oak and were on the Struts alpha release.
The market is flooded with talent. Its good management that turns lemons into lemonaide. It's talented management that's in short supply.
Al Newman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 30, 2003
Posts: 716
Originally posted by Rufus BugleWeed:
It's like Matloff says
Nobody will invest the slightest amount in the formation of intellectual capital when it comes to hiring.

Truer words never spoken. Indeed, for the last 5 years I've worked for organizations which destroyed intellectual capital by refusing any investment at all except for that needed to complete the current project.
They eat the seed corn.........
Originally posted by Rufus BugleWeed:
Mark I think you've said that engineering talent is basically a commodity in the eyes of management. Now when come to hiring somebody, it's no longer a commodity. You have to have people who worked on Oak and were on the Struts alpha release.
The market is flooded with talent. Its good management that turns lemons into lemonaide. It's talented management that's in short supply.

Precisely correct....
S. Palanigounder
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 03, 2003
Posts: 145
A recruiter told me yesterday that he still received
two hundred resumes for one openning....
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by HS Thomas:

By that ,Mark, do you mean no certifications or degrees or lack of experience ?

Surely you jest? Certification? Me? :-p
Lack of competance. One guy with 12 years experience couldn't explain a hash table. Another had communication issues and lacked technical curiosity. Another just wasn't impressive.
Fortunately I found two very strong candidates as well.
Originally posted by Rufus BugleWeed:

Mark I think you've said that engineering talent is basically a commodity in the eyes of management. Now when come to hiring somebody, it's no longer a commodity. You have to have people who worked on Oak and were on the Struts alpha release.

Yeah, engineers are a commodity item, but like, say, scotch, there are different levels of quality. The good stuff just happens to be in short supply right now.
--Mark
Carlisia Campos
sanitation engineer
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 22, 2001
Posts: 135
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:
I'm finding lots of software engineers, but most aren't who I want to hire. They seem unqualified. Perhaps they are better than I think they are, but they just don't come across that way.
It'll be interesting to see what happens if this continues for an extended period of time.
--Mark

If most of what you are finding are not fit for what you are looking for, there are many things you, as management, can do, such as training and offshoring. If you were not able to find a perfect fit today, how long would you be willing to wait to find it until you decided it's time to pursue another course of action, and which would it be?


i blog here: carlisia.com
Carlisia Campos
sanitation engineer
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 22, 2001
Posts: 135
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:

Lack of competance. One guy with 12 years experience couldn't explain a hash table. Another had communication issues and lacked technical curiosity. Another just wasn't impressive.
--Mark

Can you give us an idea of what the average technical experience in terms of years for these candidates is? And what was actually the number of years that you advertised you wanted?
On a similar subject, do you think that there are a lot of employed people waiting for some good positions to open to change jobs? Perhaps they are not in the market yet?
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Carlisia Campos:

If most of what you are finding are not fit for what you are looking for, there are many things you, as management, can do, such as training and offshoring. If you were not able to find a perfect fit today, how long would you be willing to wait to find it until you decided it's time to pursue another course of action, and which would it be?

I generally believe in hiring good people and training them into the skills they need. But those aren't viable options at my current company for a few reasons. We have no VC-funding and are currently trying to get products out in late Jan. I can't afford the long term investment at the moment. I suppose if I had no choice, I would, but since maybe 1 in 50-60 candidates does have the skills I need, it's just a matter of finding and filtering.
Also, this company isn't able to train workers. Before I arrived, there was no documentation! I'm trying to get things organized, but we're not at the level of being able to train people into good habits and processes. Also, I may only be here a few months. It's not clear what the leadership situation will be then.
I should note one decision I'm working on. Today I called a kid from an ivy-school with an EE background. He seems reasonably smart. His work experience is pathetic--he wants to do software, but got stuck doing meanial sys admin and QA tasks (not that either of those role is inherently meanial, but rather he jot the meanial jobs in those roles). On the one hand he's probably a good investment. On the other, I actually fear that this company won't be right for his career, since we can't give him the guidance he needs.
Offshoring is something I am very unlikely to do. We actually do contract out some work, but to companies in the US. I don't think most of our work can effectively be communicated overseas.

Originally posted by Carlisia Campos:

Can you give us an idea of what the average technical experience in terms of years for these candidates is? And what was actually the number of years that you advertised you wanted?

It varies. The positions are listed at Craig's List (which might be a good resource for you and other Boston folk--of course, they have sites for most major cities in the US) posted on Fri, Nov 7th (the 3 listed for "Cambridge, MA"). I'm looking for what's now sadly known as "mid-career" of 3, 4, and 5 years. Of course, those are loose estimates. I never require hard things like that, since you'll inevitably miss out on rising stars. In fact, I may take a sys admin who technically only has 3 years a full time work, and no college degree, but seems very qualified.
The unqualified people are more unqualified because they don't have the right skills. For example, for the network admin job (see listing) we're looking for someone to do 24x7 support of Linux production servers. We get people who have primarily fixed desktop computers and installed patches on windows machines for 10 years. yes, they have been a sys admin for 10 years, and may know Linux, but they don't really have appropriate experience.
Originally posted by Carlisia Campos:

On a similar subject, do you think that there are a lot of employed people waiting for some good positions to open to change jobs? Perhaps they are not in the market yet?

Yes! I think people are afriad to change jobs now. I also think anyone underpaid, which will often be top people, will flee as soon as the market turns around.
--Mark
Alenka Shtykel
Greenhorn

Joined: Oct 24, 2003
Posts: 16
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:

Yes! I think people are afriad to change jobs now. I also think anyone underpaid, which will often be top people, will flee as soon as the market turns around.
--Mark

Do you ever hire entry-level people or only experienced? :roll: From my understanding you generally require people with a lot of skills.
HS Thomas
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 15, 2002
Posts: 3404
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:
Surely you jest? Certification? Me? :-p

What particular (paper) qualifications do you look for , then , that would tell you that this person is suitable to be interviewed ?
A CS degree wouldn't necessarily teach the Hashtable better than a certification IMHO.
I wish the powers that be held a contest, certified vs non-certified on technical questions just to settle the issue whether certification is worth it, once and for all.
regards
[ November 14, 2003: Message edited by: HS Thomas ]
Al Newman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 30, 2003
Posts: 716
Lack of competance. One guy with 12 years experience couldn't explain a hash table.
If you go in for an interview at Mark's company, for gosh sakes pull out your old copy of Sedgwick and review the hashtable. For good measure memorize the details of all the sorting algorithms as well.
You have been WARNED! :roll:
[ November 14, 2003: Message edited by: Alfred Neumann ]
SJ Adnams
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 28, 2001
Posts: 925
pull out your old copy of Sedgwick

For sure. I've has a few interviews (which I didn't get the job) where the only tests were stright out of Algorithms in C. Kind of,.. "here's a marker, go to the whiteboard and write in pseudo code a bubble sort algorithm, then do me a quicksort..."
Personally I can't imagine those places would be much fun to work for, 18 months spent drafting functional specifications, then project gets canned because of cost overruns..
I'm sure Mark's shop is different though
Al Newman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 30, 2003
Posts: 716
Originally posted by Simon Lee:

For sure. I've has a few interviews (which I didn't get the job) where the only tests were stright out of Algorithms in C. Kind of,.. "here's a marker, go to the whiteboard and write in pseudo code a bubble sort algorithm, then do me a quicksort..."
Personally I can't imagine those places would be much fun to work for, 18 months spent drafting functional specifications, then project gets canned because of cost overruns..
I'm sure Mark's shop is different though

I generally believe in hiring good people and training them into the skills they need. But those aren't viable options at my current company for a few reasons. We have no VC-funding and are currently trying to get products out in late Jan.
I'm trying to get things organized, but we're not at the level of being able to train people into good habits and processes. Also, I may only be here a few months. It's not clear what the leadership situation will be then.

I'm not sure it's a good place to work. Sounds like Chaos City to me....
Obviously not Mark's fault, and Mark sounds like an enlightened kinda guy. On his first management job. I've been there too (and at about the same age that he was). The good news is that we managed to sort out the chaos - eventually. The bad news is that it was draining as hell......
Good Luck, Mark. Hope you don't need it.....
Kevin Thompson
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 04, 2001
Posts: 237
The problem has always been that the people who interview technical applications HAVE NO CLUE!
I am been in IT for 15 years now, and overwhelmingly management can not differentiate between these categories: (and I am not only talking about in an interview - I am taking about in the workplace after people have been at work for months - or in some cases for years)
1. Workers who produce a qualify product. Are conscientious. Dedicated. Test their own work and have a sincere interest in being productive and useful.
2. Workers who produce nothing, or piles of junky code that is useless.
Why is this you say?
It is because these types of personal traits are more highly valued than technical competency ==>
-attractive personal appearance (young & handsome)
-self promotion skills (always saying ME! ME! ME! ME! ME GOOD! ME GOOD!)
Once in a while, very very rarely, will someone with legitimate technical competancy be in the role of interviewer/manager.
Kevin
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Y. Shtykel:

Do you ever hire entry-level people or only experienced? From my understanding you generally require people with a lot of skills.

I do hire entry level people when appropriate. Our third developer (I didn't post the qualifications, since I get plenty of entry level resumes without the additional posting) will probably be entry level. But right now the architect is a guy who is a junior at MIT (taking a year off) and non of these guys have more than about 2 years experience, so I need some seniority currently to balance things out.
Originally posted by HS Thomas:

What particular (paper) qualifications do you look for , then , that would tell you that this person is suitable to be interviewed ?

Look at my job postings. :-) I provided the link in a prior posting.

Originally posted by HS Thomas:

A CS degree wouldn't necessarily teach the Hashtable better than a certification IMHO.
I wish the powers that be held a contest, certified vs non-certified on technical questions just to settle the issue whether certification is worth it, once and for all.

That's true, which is why I'm willing to a hire a guy without a degree. My feelings towards a degree have come from a correlation I have found between certifications and poorer skills. I make no claims about causality.
Originally posted by Simon Lee:

For sure. I've has a few interviews (which I didn't get the job) where the only tests were stright out of Algorithms in C. Kind of,.. "here's a marker, go to the whiteboard and write in pseudo code a bubble sort algorithm, then do me a quicksort..."
Personally I can't imagine those places would be much fun to work for, 18 months spent drafting functional specifications, then project gets canned because of cost overruns..
I'm sure Mark's shop is different though ;)

Based on what? :-p
Seriously. I find it's useful to ask some basic technical questions and even some brain teasers to get a sense of how people think. Personally, I expect everyone to get the hash table question, but I want to see how they explain it. Likewise, I often ask how garbage collection works. If someone knows it, I'm very impressed, but that's less than 5% of the candidates. Mostly I ask them to think about how they might implament it and see what they say. (If you search this forum for my name and garbage collection you'll find a long post I did on this question.)

Originally posted by Alfred Neumann:

I'm not sure it's a good place to work. Sounds like Chaos City to me....
Obviously not Mark's fault, and Mark sounds like an enlightened kinda guy. On his first management job. I've been there too (and at about the same age that he was). The good news is that we managed to sort out the chaos - eventually. The bad news is that it was draining as hell......

This is a startup. No, I mean a real startup. We did get $10M in funding and buy mahagony desks for everyone. This is a bunch of guys on a shoestring budget who worked out of their living room up until 6 months ago. It is Choas City. That's the kind of challenge I like. :-)

Originally posted by Kevin Thompson:
The problem has always been that the people who interview technical applications HAVE NO CLUE!

You hit the nail on the head. Most can't distinguish between those who can produce good work, and those who can sling buzzwords and throw something together which will cost more to maintain than to rewrite from scratch.
--Mark
Al Newman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 30, 2003
Posts: 716
It is because these types of personal traits are more highly valued than technical competency ==>
-attractive personal appearance (young & handsome)
-self promotion skills (always saying ME! ME! ME! ME! ME GOOD! ME GOOD!)
Once in a while, very very rarely, will someone with legitimate technical competancy be in the role of interviewer/manager.
Kevin

You left out the damage-limitation skills. I worked with an 'architect' who had entirely neglected to elicit the user requirements for network availability reports (as well missing as things more basic, like security). Until the pre-delivery walk-through. I wound up doing the development on a crash program to patch the deficiency on no budget and no time, and what we actually accomplished was next to a miracle. In a couple of months of 15 hour days. But we blew the schedule.
In the meantime the architect was busy sliding out from under the responsibility. I got the emails forwarded by a friend on the distribution list. Interesting lesson in what can happen behind your back.....
The guy gave a good presentation I have to say, and was a primo fellatist and a world-class tuft-hunter. Shame about the architecture though. Last I heard they were still patching it, 18 months after delivery.....
One tip, folks. Never work with a 'Big-Five' consultantcy if you can avoid it. Or even in the vicinity of one.....
[ November 14, 2003: Message edited by: Alfred Neumann ]
Rufus BugleWeed
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 22, 2002
Posts: 1551
You're looking for people with 3 to 5 or strong entry level. Same as everybody else. Let's see if you graduated from college at 25 and had five years of experience you would be 30.
Is it really hard to find people who understand gc and hash tables? Any scjp 1.4 should know these issues, cold. Save yourself time, just interview people who are certified.
Of course you're mainly interested in people who are working. They should be working for a brand name company. They should have a clean and crisp appearance. They should have 3.0+ gpa from a decent college. You are not really interested in nerdy types.
You want them to give up a position they are established in to go to work for your dot bomb which is in a continual state of chaos. They are working for companies with established places in the market. They get sent to conferences like java one. They are working 40 hour weeks. They are making pretty good money and have respectable benefits. They never worry about their paychecks bouncing.
You can offer them real excitement and challenge.
It's not an upcoming shortage. The unemployement rate could might go to 12% and you will still be having trouble. Since you can't find anybody you might consider these cheap Indians. This H1-B status makes them defacto indentured servents and they will live 6 to an apartment in Boston's crime ridden low rent districts.
Hey Mon, I'm going to America!
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Rufus BugleWeed:
[QB]You're looking for people with 3 to 5 or strong entry level. Same as everybody else. Let's see if you graduated from college at 25 and had five years of experience you would be 30.

True, this probably is the most in-demand type.... however all my jobs are "4+ years" or "5+ years" etc. I'm more than open to more senior people.
Originally posted by Rufus BugleWeed:
[QB]Is it really hard to find people who understand gc and hash tables? Any scjp 1.4 should know these issues, cold. Save yourself time, just interview people who are certified.
Of course you're mainly interested in people who are working. They should be working for a brand name company. They should have a clean and crisp appearance. They should have 3.0+ gpa from a decent college. You are not really interested in nerdy types.

Yeah, actually it is. maybe not hadh tables per se, but fundamentals. For developers, it's basic data structures. If I ask about a sorting algorithm, I don't care if you know the particular speed, but I do care that you know the concept of Big O and reocgnize that some algorithsm are O(N^2) and some are faster. We had a sys admin candidate the other day (I didn't screen him, came from a recruiter before I started working here) who didn't have a good grasp of how file systems work!
I don't care if they are currently employed--I don't hold that against people. I don't care what they look like. I don't care about their grades so much or college (although top colleges do get bonus marks). Nerdy is fine. We take all types. One of the best guys I ever worked with is a man who I would lock in a cloest if customer ever came to visit; he also wasn't a great team player. But you give him a challenging task and put him in a corner and he loves it. The trick is reocgnizing people's strengths and weaknesses and optimizing the tasks by them.

Originally posted by Rufus BugleWeed:
[QB]
You want them to give up a position they are established in to go to work for your dot bomb which is in a continual state of chaos. They are working for companies with established places in the market. They get sent to conferences like java one. They are working 40 hour weeks. They are making pretty good money and have respectable benefits. They never worry about their paychecks bouncing.
You can offer them real excitement and challenge.
It's not an upcoming shortage. The unemployement rate could might go to 12% and you will still be having trouble.

I'm not convinced that I'm having trouble. It's certainly better than when I was hiring back in 2000. It's just a very noisy process.
Some people like startups. I could work in a more structured environment, instead I wanted to work for a place where the current culture is putting out fires. Instead of being an auto-mechanic for a new fleet of 2003 cars, I said I want a fleet of beat up clunkers which need a lot of work. I like the challenge. (BTW, that's not a comment on the people, just the process.)
Others also like a startup culture. It's more flexibile. You get more input into the product. You get more expsoure to the entire development process. It's more casual. Oh yeah, we also offer a 40 hour work week. (It took me some getting used to. :-) Most places I know work far more than 40 hours a week.
Yes, there are good people hiding in companies which are stable. I can't touch them today. C'est la vie.

--Mark
Matt Cao
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 03, 2003
Posts: 715
Originally posted by S. Palanigounder:
A recruiter told me yesterday that he still received
two hundred resumes for one openning....

Hi,
What is the source for that recruiter to collect his resumes? This is how you should break down to see if that recruiter telling the truth or just snow you for his purpose. Imagine of a pyramid.
1. Personal Contact - 1 to 10
2. In-house Job Posted - 11 to 100 (vary depended on company size)
3. Newspaper - 500 to 1000
4. Internet - 1000 to world population
Regards,
MCao
Matt Cao
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 03, 2003
Posts: 715
Originally posted by Kevin Thompson:
The problem has always been that the people who interview technical applications HAVE NO CLUE!
I am been in IT for 15 years now, and overwhelmingly management can not differentiate between these categories: (and I am not only talking about in an interview - I am taking about in the workplace after people have been at work for months - or in some cases for years)
1. Workers who produce a qualify product. Are conscientious. Dedicated. Test their own work and have a sincere interest in being productive and useful.
2. Workers who produce nothing, or piles of junky code that is useless.
Why is this you say?
It is because these types of personal traits are more highly valued than technical competency ==>
-attractive personal appearance (young & handsome)
-self promotion skills (always saying ME! ME! ME! ME! ME GOOD! ME GOOD!)
Once in a while, very very rarely, will someone with legitimate technical competancy be in the role of interviewer/manager.
Kevin

Hi,
This is very common in a large already established company. Mediocre KA higher rank usually keep their jobs for ages. Intelligent Lone-Wolf get axed every time company need money.
Regards,
MCao
Matt Cao
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 03, 2003
Posts: 715
Hi,
Did any of you notice there is a new type of start-up? These companies are delivered products for Defense. They are all over the map in US. Some have higher contacts with those well established companies that left over from the Cold War. Others are just sheer intelligent. As you know intelligent people like to hang around with themselves.
Regards,
MCao
Al Newman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 30, 2003
Posts: 716
Is it really hard to find people who understand gc and hash tables? Any scjp 1.4 should know these issues, cold. Save yourself time, just interview people who are certified.
MCAO, I'm a SCJP 1.4 and I don't know gc and hash tables cold. Not right this moment. Oh, it's only a short review to read over the collections and garbage collection sections of the proper book, but right now I'm up to my ass in Ant and extracting Cactus thorns from my butt! Not to mention ejb.
If I go talk to Mark before doing that review I'm going to look like an idiot and he's going to put me on his idiots list. Why should I bother?
In my view it says more about Mark that it does about the ones who don't cut the mustard......
BTW, you are perfectly correct about the ease of finding people with *enough* hashtable and gc knowledge. It's not hard stuff, but many of us don't have it memorized. Mark wants it memorized, perhaps because that's his own personal style....
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Alfred Neumann:
BTW, you are perfectly correct about the ease of finding people with *enough* hashtable and gc knowledge. It's not hard stuff, but many of us don't have it memorized. Mark wants it memorized, perhaps because that's his own personal style....

Honestly, I don't think I've worked with a developer who can't explain what a hash table is. If a candidate doesn't know when to use it, that does concern me.
While some of the questions are arbitrary, I have found that in generaly candidates who answer them well tend to be worthwhile and candidates who don't answer them well aren't as strong. I ask a number of questions and don't dwell on whether someone missed any one of them. now if the candidate has taken a data structures course and knows the other stuff, I'll assume he just forgot about the hash table and just may be rusty. But in general, that question seems to be a good filter, especially in conjunction with the others.
I probably do miss a few good candidates this way. But a basic 10 minute phone screen that is 90% accurate and misses 1 out of 10 good people is much better than no screen and wasting 1.5 hours of worker time interviewing around 3-4 times as many candidates. It's not baout being "just," it's about "good enough."
--Mark
Tony Collins
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 03, 2003
Posts: 435
OK Mark, what about somebody from an embbeded background, a very challenging discipline but they might not know the ins and outs of a hash table. But a good software engineer is a good software engineer, they learn very quickly. That is why you only see <25 year olds, you're too inflexible. You should know that you've been around the block.

Tony
Tony Collins
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 03, 2003
Posts: 435
Additionally when you say 4+ years you mean 4+ years of j2ee or some other fad technology, that's why the 30+'s are on the dole. It's not their fault it's the fault of lazy recruiters, most of whom can only work on the buzz word level. IMO. I have been refused jobs as I haven't enough Java experience, the 5 years of C++ don't mean a jot.
What happens when you're on your arse because you haven't the C# experience.
Tony
[ November 14, 2003: Message edited by: Tony Collins ]
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Tony Collins:
OK Mark, what about somebody from an embbeded background, a very challenging discipline but they might not know the ins and outs of a hash table. But a good software engineer is a good software engineer, they learn very quickly. That is why you only see <25 year olds, you're too inflexible. You should know that you've been around the block.

A good point about embedded people. I'll ask some embedded friends and see what they think. Personally, I think anyone with a CS background should know this. Heck, many high school programming classes cover this! In all the companies I've worked in, hash tables were used commonly enough that everyone knew what they were--much more commonly than binary trees, for example.
How do you know if I'm too inflexibile? :-) What are my needs that my decisions aren't meeting them? I'm getting lots of poor resumes--that may be a result of how I posted the job (although based on other job postings and general comments, I'm more tempted to believe it's a product of the economy). Again, I'm not trying to bend over backwards to make sure we see every good candidate; rather I'm trying to get us a good employee as quickly as possible.
Think of the enigneering triangle of cost-time-scope. Here my dimensions are time (get them hired quick), cost (how much time of myself and my developers must be spend interviewing candidates), and scope (how great a candidate can I get, how certain can I be that I got the best one out there). Now with the triangle, you can set any two dimensions, but the third must vary.
In my case, the unit cost per developer time is very high. I want to minimize this dimension as much as possible. I'd also like to keep the time dimension small. This means scope must vary. It's not a matter of taking a bad candidate (although if I reduce the other two enough, that will happen), but rather a matter of saying if I have 10 candidates who are all good enough, is it worth the extra time and cost to get candidate #1 (by ability ranking) over candidate #4. I don't think it is in this case. To put it another way, if I have to decide among 6 qualified candidates instead of 10, I may have left off candidates #1 and #2 from the group of 10, but it's still good enough given my constraints.
--Mark
Tony Collins
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 03, 2003
Posts: 435
But your complaining you can't find older candidates! So nobody gets trained and in 5 years time all the work goes abroad. This happened in England when Thatcher killed the apprenticeships, now you can't get a plumber or a spark. Plumbers are earning >60k per year and university graduates are mixing cement.
I worked in C/C++ for years, I learn't Java and passed SCJD in three months. It's not that tough, though i haven't 4 years EJB, J2ee etc on
my CV so I'm useless. The main job of a software engineer is requirements capture, design and bug fixing, all independent of the compiler.
[ November 14, 2003: Message edited by: Tony Collins ]
HS Thomas
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Joined: May 15, 2002
Posts: 3404
As an aside, how much is a developer allowed to know of a start up's business plan and it's client base ? Not that it would take long once hired to find out.
Are stock options part of the package of working for a start up ? Has your company offered any to promising developers ?
regards
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Tony Collins:
Additionally when you say 4+ years you mean 4+ years of j2ee or some other fad technology, that's why the 30+'s are on the dole. It's not their fault it's the fault of lazy recruiters, most of whom can only work on the buzz word level. IMO. I have been refused jobs as I haven't enough Java experience, the 5 years of C++ don't mean a jot.
What happens when you're on your arse because you haven't the C# experience.


Well, I don't know about other companies, but if you read my posting you'll notice I don't require any minimum number of years in any technology. I fully believe anyone who can do one language can quickly pick up others. Given two equal people, sure I'll take the one with the more relevant background, but intelligence and raw ability often faw outweigh technology experience.
Originally posted by Tony Collins:
But your complaining you can't find older candidates!

Really? I don't recall saying that. Perhaps you can provide the quote to refresh my memory.
Originally posted by HS Thomas:
As an aside, how much is a developer allowed to know of a start up's business plan and it's client base ? Not that it would take long once hired to find out.
Are stock options part of the package of working for a start up ? Has your company offered any to promising developers ?

For a second round we have them sign an NDA. Personally, I don't join startups unless I have a very good idea of what the numbers are. I usually ask to see their business plan. Many developers don't even ask. Some ask basic questions like "how many customers?" but that's it. Most don't seem to care, or rather, don't realize that they should care.
Stock options may be part of it. Traditionally (meaning before the boom) stock options were used to entice employees to continue with the company through difficult times, and to reward directly for good products producing comany growth. They became an entitlement during the boom. I just see stock options as one of many forms of compensation. They talked about stock options for me, and I told them it wasn't appropriate given my potential brief duration with the company.
I don't know what other employees are compensated in terms of stock options.

--Mark
Tony Collins
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Joined: Jul 03, 2003
Posts: 435
Well in the "I don't get it thread". You may recall, a very concieted title considering a lot of "older"(>25) people are having trouble feeding their kids and paying their rent.
You apparently can't see why us "older" workers are having trouble. Your quote, I must admit, was ambiguous. Though I know why us older workers are having trouble and I believe you do as well.

Tony
sunitha reghu
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 12, 2002
Posts: 937
Originally posted by Rufus BugleWeed:

It's not an upcoming shortage. The unemployement rate could might go to 12% and you will still be having trouble. Since you can't find anybody you might consider these cheap Indians. This H1-B status makes them defacto indentured servents and they will live 6 to an apartment in Boston's crime ridden low rent districts.
Hey Mon, I'm going to America!

What do you mean by the word "cheap indians". Let us say for example Mark gave the job to an indian. do you curse that Indian or try to improve your skills. You better clean your tongue and pls dont make these kind of smart ass comments. That is not nice. This is not the first time you making these type of dirty comments. Hope I am not hijacking this thread.
Long long time back your great great grandpa said the same sentence.
Hey Mon, I'm going to America!.
Instead of making these kind of stupid comments why cant you answer some ques in other forums instead of job discussion and MD.

John Coxey
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 24, 2000
Posts: 503
Mark:
- What specifically made you not want to hire these folks?
- I am asking so that I (and the other folks on the board) do not make the same mistakes.
- Is it a technical issue? Education?
- Just curious.
Thanks,
John Coxey


John Coxey
Evansville, Indiana, USA
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Tony Collins:
But a good software engineer is a good software engineer, they learn very quickly. That is why you only see <25 year olds, you're too inflexible. You should know that you've been around the block.
<br /> <br />
Originally posted by Tony Collins:<br /> Well in the "I don't get it thread". You may recall, a very concieted title considering a lot of "older"(>25) people are having trouble feeding their kids and paying their rent.
You apparently can't see why us "older" workers are having trouble. Your quote, I must admit, was ambiguous. Though I know why us older workers are having trouble and I believe you do as well.

I believe your argument is based on a faulty assumption. Your asusmption based on the first post is that I'm only seeing young folk. It's not clear to me where you got that idea, but if you read me post, I never said that. I did say
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:
I'm currently hiring and frankly I don't understand the trouble older people are having. Yes, we're a startup with most people under 25. However, I need to find people who have been around the block. From the resumes I'm seeing, they're correlating to older workers.

Let me rephrase this:
The workers I seem to prefer are older. I am not selecteding them based on age, but there is a correlation between age and how likely I am to interview/make them an offer.
Originally posted by John Coxey:
Mark:
- What specifically made you not want to hire these folks?
- I am asking so that I (and the other folks on the board) do not make the same mistakes.
- Is it a technical issue? Education?
- Just curious.

Often it's that they lack fundamentals. They can describe what they've done, and they can clearly do it again, but they don't demonstrate an ability to do new things in the future. By fundamentals I mean things like data structures and algorithms. I'm ok if people are rusty on any particular data structure, but if people generally aren't familiar with concepts like hash tables, binary trees, and linked lists, they often can't build good class hierarchies. As you know, I'm the first to dismiss CS educations as mostly useless; however there are usuaully 2-3 classes which are useful, and data structures and algorithms is one of them. It's not for any particular knowledge per se, but just as importantly how the students learn to think about problems.
I don't know how to describe it well. It's kinda subtle. You need to have general intelligence. I want to see "intellectual curiosity" that you like programming and actively learn about programming. (But don't ramble.) I want details of what you've done. If you can only describe your prior work in general terms, it doesn't help me. You need to be able to quickly and easily describe the technical challenege and how you overcame it. This is critical, both because I get a sense of your technical capabilities and because I see how well you communicate technical concepts.
--Mark
HS Thomas
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Joined: May 15, 2002
Posts: 3404
I did work for a start-up and in the grand scheme of things it probably was a good way to go about changing things around.
The developers didn't seem to care two hoots about stock options (some had the carrot put in front of them). The developers just wanted to work for the best company they could, with the best technology, put to the best use. They would have loved it if they had the opportunity to build a team. As to the start-up idea I had that idea when I was at Uni and it was quashed at every turn since. I guess there's more to start-ups than meets the eye.
Taking up stock options is a way of getting people to commit to an idea. It's interesting that Mark hasn't.
I think Mark would prefer people stock options, team building and stuff like that...
regards
[ November 14, 2003: Message edited by: HS Thomas ]
Tony Collins
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Joined: Jul 03, 2003
Posts: 435
Well maybe I overreacted. Sorry. But my pet hate are employers that say they can't find the people when they put nothing into training and development. It will end in tears, there are lots of very bright people out there not working. As I said earlier just look at the problems we have in England finding tradesmen, all due to the destruction of training in the eighties.
Tony
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Tony Collins:
But my pet hate are employers that say they can't find the people when they put nothing into training and development.


True--although engineers aren't totally blameless. But this I mean, most engineers coming out of school take a job based on salary, location, technology, etc. Rarely do they ask about opportunities for personal growth and development. Even a few years out, many don't include that as a criteria for taking a job with a company. My father (an MD) used to have written into his contract that he would be sent to 2 conferences a year. I haven't always been so formal, but have made it clear to my companies when I seek employment that I expect to be sent to JavaOne.
The problem is, when company B can't find someone qualified, it's because company A didn't providing training 5-10 years ago. And maybe the reverse is true, too, A can't find someone because B didn't train people, but this is too long of a feedback cycle.
My current company didn't offer medical benefits. I told them they had to change this because 99% of the candidates see this as a negative and it will hurt our ability to find talent. They are no going to start offering medical benefits. That's "instant" feedback (on the order of months) for a company. We need to create the same feedback system, the same penalties, for comapnies which don't work to grow their employees.
My friend is about to start a job at TI. They generally don't hire MBAs or outside people as managers, instead prefering to traing their own people. They need to have good programs or they will suffer.
of course, in the next year or so, many enigneers will be happy to take any job they can get, and this won't even be on the list of things to care about it. Hopefully once people feel better about the job market, they'll remember these lessons.
--Mark
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://aspose.com/file-tools
 
subject: Upcoming shortage?