Where are all those great developers?

by Cem Basman

Joel on finding great developers (and how to get them anyway maybe):

The great software developers, indeed, the best people in every field, are quite simply never on the market.



Seth Godin has some interesting thoughts on the concept of job interviews and why they fail to get what they're supposed to get. I personally doubt that his alternative will be put into place in too many organizations, though.

Ragnar Schierholz, 2006-09-06

I absolutely go with Seth. And you, Ragnar.

Cem Basman, 2006-09-06

Such people are never on the market for a variety of reasons though - it's not always what one might think. For example, I'm an average developer and I rarely see anything that is appealing in terms of advertised jobs (either the work is rubbish, the employer is sub-par, or the reward is ridiculously low).

So if I'm not impressed at what's out there, I doubt whether a seriously good developer would be.

It's all about networking anyway eh!

Ben Poole, 2006-09-07

Ben, you are too humble .

I see a big tendency in companies (or is it a tendency in big companies) to try to eliminate the need for good developers. With ISO9000, CMMI and all the other processes management creates the illusion that a developer is an exchangeable resource. So no more "Entwickler-Helden" (developer heroes). On the same time they celebrate their management heros.

Of course with this mindset they create the mediocre results they try to avoid.

:-) stw

Stephan H. Wissel, 2006-09-07

Ben, you are very right. Having been on the job hunt over the past couple of months, I experienced exactly that. I wouldn't be so bold either, to call myself "great". But probably I'll be above average if one goes by the formal qualifications.
Jobs that are out there in job postings are typically lower than what I'm looking for. Hiring agencies (public or private) typically get even lower position openings to fill. The only exceptions are headhunters probably, but you can't apply to those, they come to you or they don't.
What's really getting you somewhere when looking for a "better" job is connections. And it's obvious why, I think. The analogy with marrying is not too far off. For an important position you want someone you can be sure she/he will be doing a good job. And if you know the candidate already or if a candidate is being recommended by someone you trust, well that's a good start.
Yes, of course, if you hire the wrong person and find out about that soon after she/he started, formally you can easily lay her/him off. But if it's a fairly important position, even worse when an externally exposed position such as management board, what impression of your organization does that leave at your partners'? Basically, you're not selecting your new hires carefully enough. So you want to be sure you're hiring the right person in the first place. And how do you know? Well, now go on and read Seth's post. ;-)

Ragnar Schierholz, 2006-09-07

After reading Seth's post yesterday I occasionally began reading "blink" by Malcom Gladwell. He suggests instead of having an interview one should vistit the applicant's rooms for half an hour.

Well, I am with Ragnar, though ;)

Sascha A. Carlin, 2006-09-07

Sascha, good point ... but unfortunately normally you never got the chance for it ;)

Cem Basman, 2006-09-07

I believe we can summarize some of the above by saying that, amazingly, also the contrary is true, i.e. "where are the great jobs"?

I have often felt like all the best jobs had already been taken by somebody else and over the years I have come to the conclusion that the good jobs are usually not given away by advertising or via agencies.

But perhaps I feel like this because I have spent most of my working life here in Italy... ;-)

Pieter Lansbergen, 2006-09-07

Pieter, my personal experience in this matter is:

You don't wait until you are given, but you take things. You take a job. You take a project. You take a customer. You take an opportunity. Don't wait. Take.


Cem Basman, 2006-09-07

Pieter, Cem, I think what you're saying isn't contradictory. If you're looking for a new job or for projects, keep an eye on your environment. People you work with, people who know you can recommend you. Goods jobs probably are there, but as you say, Pieter, rarely on the open market.

Ragnar Schierholz, 2006-09-08

Mmm. I'm supposed to be good, but I have difficulty finding good projects - ones that do interesting things, and ones that pay market rates for my qualifications. I'm now working at the same hourly rate - but with far more restrictions - than I did when I started contracting in 1995. Sucks, eh ?

We'll never get back to the fantastic days in 1998-2001 - where my rate was twice or three times as it is today. One chap I know made ¢250,000 in ONE year.

Why ?

Well, I see Portal and Workplace as the new "sexy" platforms that customers are investing heavily in, and paying top dollars - between ¢500-¢1000 a day - for experienced top-quality developers. (Which actually makes me feel worse, as I'm workspace and portal qualified..)

The notes shops that I have came across tend to have a hard core of "average" guys working as permies, and tend to be very insular. No connections to other systems, no BlackBerry. No value-add, really. And the guys they try and hire ?

Well, no-one likes hiring guys better than themselves, and no-one likes hiring guys that get paid more. I'm seeing more "time-management" and "process-management" managers, who have absolutely no idea of the technology.

So how do we change this ?

We make Notes sexy again. Zollar and the "Notes is Dead" message really killed us far far more than sometimes we think. Notes is still regarded as a unsexy, legacy system, and a mediocre mail system at that. Despite its obvious strengths.

Time for IBM to actually extract its finger from its arse, and start marking the product - as an actual solution - again?

---* Bill

Bill Buchan, 2006-09-10

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