Lessons of Failure
Humans + Software Development = Always Interesting

May/11

16

Translation Guide for Software Job Listings

I’ve been doing a considerable amount of candidate interviewing lately and after some serious impedance mismatch on what we got over what was advertised, I decided to browse the general software developer job listings to see if there was a better way to ask for resumes.

Turns out this is a hard problem to get right…but there is a host of subtle double-speak and hidden agendas in the job listings that I thought amusing upon analysis.

So without further ado, I present the Lessons of Failure Translation Guide for Software Job Listings (taken from actual phrases of real job listings):

Must be facile in multiple languages“:  You’d better know everything from COBOL to Arc, and we’re gonna test out your knowledge of building encryption from scratch in FORTRAN as a coding test.

Proficiency in at least one modern programming language such as C++, Java, or Perl“:  Our idea of modern involves the band Nirvana, Netscape Browsers, and Bill Clinton as president.  Wait until you hear about our stock option plan!

We offer a fast-paced environment“:  We’re running around in circles so fast, you aren’t going to be able to catch your breath between releases, requirements changes on the night before we push code out to the users, and last-minute-client-demands shoved in before we go to QA.  Sleep?  Life balance?  Conjugal visits on the weekend?  Hahahaha…

Working with a mentor and a team of experienced test and industrial engineers“:  Someone is going to stand over your shoulder and criticize every keystroke until you submit completely to their twisted notion of authority.

To be successful in this role, you must be a motivated and enthusiastic engineer“:  You’d damn well better be cheerful about that looking-over-the-shoulder thing.

be someone who embraces challenges.”:  You have no idea the kind of crap we’re waiting to pile on top of you, sucker!

High energy/self starter with the ability to work independently within the firm’s demanding and highly focused environment.”:  We’re a pressure cooker, so you’d better be like a good pot roast or this isn’t going to last long.

Salary and benefits, commensurate with experience“:  We will do everything in our power to pay you the bare minimum to get you in the door.

Must understand Software analysis, code analysis, requirements analysis, software review, identification of code metrics, system risk analysis, software reliability analysis“: …until we get tired of analysis and demand that you start coding because the release is running late already.

Maintain standards compliance“:  …as long as you deliver the release on time.

We offer flexible schedules“:  How are nights and weekends for you?  They’re open?  Not anymore…

Team player“:  Can you take orders without back mouthing us?

Work for a start up“:  It’s 2 guys, an espresso machine, and a shared Linux server from Craigslist in this other dude’s apartment.  But we’re close to funding…no really!

But really, the crowning joy of this search was the following “Software Programmer Job Description” kept on an HR resource site.  I’ll let the insanity speak for itself, which reads like something simultaneously out of the 1970s and 1990s.  If you ever encounter such a listing, run my friend.  Run away!

And in case you were poised to tear things up in the comment section, maybe this will help:

</humor>

What phrases and translations have YOU found in your tenure as a developer?  Sound out below!

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5 comments

  • Simon South · May 16, 2011 at 8:28 am

    “Humor”? What? I found your translations to be shockingly accurate.

    I’ll add one: When a company says, “We’re Agile,” I’ve found it usually means, “We’ve discovered we’re completely incapable of planning or documenting anything, so now we don’t even try.”

  • Amber Shah · May 16, 2011 at 8:45 am

    That’s cute, but the conjugal visits really takes the cake ;)

  • Lorenzo G · May 16, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Can’t obviously recall where, but last time I checked there was a job placement agency here in Italy that was looking for people with at least 10 years experience in PHP as well as C, C++, C#, and java.

    Too bad that when the announcement came out neither PHP nor C# had been around for that long..

  • Tom · May 17, 2011 at 2:28 am

    Stopped looking. Too many buzz words or just catch-all skill sets.
    Nice entry though.

  • Mitchell · June 19, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    I think every tech job offering should come out and say what they really want: Either youthful interns fresh out of college which they will train, or experienced older expensive serious programmers hired to make a company money now. The former is a “corporate culture” social circle jerk, and the latter a serious business that needs show its stockholders a dividend by getting a job done right. Tech companies who hire programmers still seem to be a bit bipolar on that. Sorry, you cant have it both ways.

    Down here in Texas we have a saying in business, “You can have it good, fast, and cheap, but pick two”.

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