Monday, June 7, 2010

I am a Web Project Developer. This is how you attract me to your company...

First, I scan employment ads looking for keywords the same way you scan resumes. I'd rather be contracted than hourly, so I look for the type of position offered as either "contract" or "consultant". If the word "salary" pops up, I will read that one too. Salary is the best world for web project design and development managers. You can rest assured that this first step eliminates most job offers. I'm not the least bit worried about that.

Hourly web developer? In house? No thanks, I don't want to work in a boiler room with irate management constantly changing the terms under which I'm supposed to be productive! This week it's all Java, next week the flavor is Ruby and I'm supposed to redo the entire site overnight. You can do that, right? No. I'd need to be three people AND like you. I live by contracts that have my productivity measured by outcome and final product.

Second, when you overuse technology terms I delete your email, ESPECIALLY when you mix and match incompatible technologies! That tells me that you're going to micromanage me, and that you don't know anything about what I'll be doing. GOOD websites require a development path that you're unlikely to understand - or even allow.

Third, expressly listing all Microsoft's most recent software does the opposite of impress me. I delete those job offers without even looking at the money offered. I can't stand working for people who have no idea what I do. The presence of ANY Microsoft trade names in your job offer or advertisement is a giant red flag visible from space.

A: The web runs best and longest on linux servers. Less downtime, less maintenance, and no licensing headaches. Microsoft has only one goal: To get all your money. They have no goal of being an excellent software producer or they'd have gone open-source ages ago. Linux has only one goal: To be the best software. That's where I want to be.
B: Microsoft tools, development, and education is horridly expensive. You have a limited pool of skilled people with Microsoft, whereas anyone can use and learn linux for free. I'd prefer to have my budget dictated by the product, not the license.

Finally, the world uses linux voluntarily. People are forced to use Microsoft. That alone should tell you something! You think MSFT is better? I have bad news for you. Every major OS on the planet right now is derived from UNIX, even MSFT's systems. The primary difference is that MSFT's take on *nix is called "NT." That still stands for "Not today, and not Tommorrow." Is that the way you want to operate your company, with software that fails to deliver on promises?

Don't cripple me with bad software and then ask me to be a wizard for your company!

Also, posting .ASP, .NET, and C# in your employment offer has a certain appeal to it, and here are comparable levels of appeal:
- Graphic artist wanted, must know how to use MSFT "Paint."
- CEO wanted, must know how to spin around in her chair while speaking.
- Air Force Pilot wanted, must know how to make airplane noises with your mouth.
- Layout Designer wanted, must know how to use "Internet Exploder 5.0".

I could go on.

What to do?

DO state what the purpose of your web project IS.
DO state that you are open about which tools may be used.
DO listen and look for LINUX respondents to your advertising.
DO avoid overloading the job offer with lots of buzzwords.
DO avoid wish-listing the employee skills. Do you want one person or a horde?
DO avoid insinuating, or expecting, that I will want to wear "several hats." I do NOT.

Best practices?

Accept that people like me are highly intelligent, self-employed, and often own other companies. I own two. We want to do our best for you. It's in my nature, for example, to want to finish everything that I start.

I do NOT interview well. I am shy, joke too much, and interrupt. I'd prefer you asked me math or programming questions. I'd rather take a test than interview. Be aware that highly technical people can be loose on the human interactions scale. I prefer machines to most people. The machines are smarter.

Do expect that if you hire a genius, you'll get someone with their own ideas who'll want to merge with your company - not be consumed by it.

Do attempt to hire people for ingenuity, initiative, and education. Don't fear including self-education. Lots of geeks are self-taught. If someone offers books by someone called "OReilly" as their education, don't be surprised. Also expect to see more than one school. I've been in 12 different colleges.

The technology job market requires constant re-evaluation not just of your business, but of my skills. I'm constantly having to learn new things. That does NOT mean that what you want to do requires all the newest things! Many "web 2.0" ideas are completely rehashed from the nineties and can be accomplished with XML.

If you want real genius, ask for code samples or software demos instead of a resume.

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