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Hiring people lacking relevant skills for a job

 
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I think it all comes down to knowing someone that can get you in. IT is not the hardest thing in the world, and there are many people who can build information systems. In cases like it is human nature to hire your friends and family. Thats how the industry is in Canada.

All this talk of certifications and exsperience has some truth to it, but the biggest factor is connections.
 
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Those guys who've been around the block a few times should have the experience and wisdom to recognize changing trends and be adequately prepared for them, right?


Well yes and no, if you think everyone in this world can control their destiny, I think you've buried your head in the sand.

One terrible problem with this career field is one can't really afford to invest a lot of time and effort into a new technology until they can sell it. And one cannot sell it until they have experience in it. Of course young people and those who stick with a given company through thick and thin may be given opportunities to work in new technologies.

Nobody can remain young. Some people, through no fault of their own, may find themselves looking for a new gig.

If you are really good at predicting the future I'm surprised you even have to work. Certainly one who can see the hand writing on the wall could just buy stocks that are sure to go up.

Perhaps you are one of the many who thinks a person should work a nine hour day in the office, survive an hour commute, and come home to bang on the keyboard all night and on the weekends.
 
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Originally posted by Homer Phillips:
Well yes and no, if you think everyone in this world can control their destiny, I think you've buried your head in the sand.



One cannot control their destiny 100%. Nor can one surrender to external forces and simply get tossed around like a piece of flotsam. I have the capacity to make meaningful differences in my life and career - not always, but at times. If you do not wish to do so, then don't be surprised when the results are not to your liking.

One terrible problem with this career field is one can't really afford to invest a lot of time and effort into a new technology until they can sell it. And one cannot sell it until they have experience in it.



That depends on who you are selling stuff to. When it comes to identifying new technology, the only person I need to "sell to" is me. When one compares today to what was available 15 years ago, it's an order of magnitude or two cheaper to start dabbling in new technologies. Hardware is dirt cheap (especially if you don't need top of the line). There are thousands of open-source pacakages that just didn't exist fifteen years ago. All you need is a mimimal investment of money, a moderate investment of time and a significant investment of interest and passion.

Of course young people and those who stick with a given company through thick and thin may be given opportunities to work in new technologies.



If you're waiting for others to give you those opportunities, then yes. Have you ever thought to ask YOURSELF for an opportunity? What's stopping you from dabbling?

Perhaps you are one of the many who thinks a person should work a nine hour day in the office, survive an hour commute, and come home to bang on the keyboard all night and on the weekends.



Actually, I do a fair bit of that, and there are other times I don't. The whole point is that you can wait around for other people to give you opportunities, or you can start making your own. I spend a considerable timing running a web site with just under 1,000 members. I'm almost done porting it to Tomcat and mySQL, and it's proving far more interesting and useful career-wise than the dreck I do for money.

If you look at your job as something to pass the time from 8 to 5 and don't invest anything else into it, then you are going to do poorly. Education and practice is a continual process throughout one's career, and if others don't hand those opportunities to you, then you need to proactively search them out.

I've worked with lots of older folks in computer-related fields. And the most successful ones were those that recognized when a particular skill was losing its lustre and worked like maniacs to make the bridge to something new. Good employers still pay well for documented skills, no matter what your age is. Crappy firms seek out the lowest cost, and they produce crud.

The pragmatic, adaptable folks always managed to stay employed because they recognized that their career was a work in progress and always needed updating and refreshing. If I get someone who's been doing the same thing for the last 10 years (at any age), I'm not going to be as interested as someone who's got passion, interest and documented adaptability. That's life and competition. Want a nice job that ends at 4:45 with absolutley no possibility for discrimination? Work for the DMV.

Cheers!

Luke
 
Prem Khan
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Nobody can remain young. Some people, through no fault of their own, may find themselves looking for a new gig.



Exactly....

FACTOID: Im 25, I get 35K/Year for J2EE/SQL. After Tax I get about $100/day
I can easily make that in tips as a waiter at an Indian restarunt in canada.

I am so tempted to do that. Can someone give me a good reason why I shouldnt do that ?
 
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Luke said:

If you have no demonstrable Java skills then you should be compensated like someone who's coming in based on potential - like the young college student. I've been programming for over 20 years in Basic, Pascal, Assembler, C and now Java, and to claim that someone can pick up a new language to the point of someone fluent in it within 90 or 180 days has not been verified in my professional experience.



Did it really take you the same amount of time to become fluent in Java as it took you to become fluent in your first serious programming langage?

Are you really suggesting that someone already possessing high scoring SCJP, SCJD, SCBCD, and SCWCD certifications (check out the SCJD in particular) will now take more than 180 days to be fluent in Java?

I once ran a Tandem Computer project and every one of a dozen programmers went from zero knowledge to fully productive in TAL, an Algol-like assembler, Pathway, an online transaction language somewhat related to COBOL, and various Tandem utilities, in less than 180 days.

One fellow, admittedly not an average programmer, was doing system mods to SNAX, Tandem's network SNA driver, in 90 days.

Your experience is so at variance with mine that I can't account for the difference.
[ June 20, 2005: Message edited by: Mike Gershman ]
 
Mike Gershman
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Mark said:

I disagree about the IT [age] discrimination and see little evidence.


OK Mark, what would you accept as evidence? I cited several professional recruiters. Would you accept Wall Street Journal, New York Times, or ComputerWorld articles? I don't think I can get you a signed confession.

The lack of discrimination against youth does not argue against the presence of discrimination against older IT workers.

Yes, but this is practically a self-evident truth.


Mark, are you agreeing with me on this?

I thought you brought up 12-year-old programmers as evidence against age discrimination. Help me out here.
[ June 20, 2005: Message edited by: Mike Gershman ]
 
Mike Gershman
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I promised to show that Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Michael Dell all became Fortune 500 CEO's under age 30.

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were both born in 1955.

Apple joined the Fortune 500 in 1983, just before Scully showed what experience could do by nearly wrecking the company.

In 1985, Microsoft was bigger than Apple, so Gates qualifies by transitivity. I'll go to the library if you doubt me.

Michael Dell, born in 1965, became the youngest Fortune 500 CEO in 1992.

While these men were not hired into the company, they were heavily funded by some green-eyeshade types who understood that talent can trump experience, even at the top.
 
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Originally posted by Mike Gershman:

Mark, are you agreeing with me on this?

I thought you brought up 12-year-old programmers as evidence against age discrimination. Help me out here.




Once again, you wrote [i]Certifications, unlike years of paid industry experience, are credentials you can earn regardless of age.[i] I pointed out that 5 years of experience does not always correlate to someone in his late 20's. That was my only point there.



I stand corrected on the Forutne 500 CEO's, there were some under the age of 30 (although none hired). And yet I'll bet it's harder for someone under 30 to get hired as a CEO of a Fortune 500 company than for someone over 30 being hired as a Java developer. (In any case, I won't really belabor the point about whether or not there is discrimination among CEO's.)




Originally posted by Mike Gershman:

OK Mark, what would you accept as evidence? I cited several professional recruiters. Would you accept Wall Street Journal, New York Times, or ComputerWorld articles? I don't think I can get you a signed confession.



Have you ever seen me accept anecdotal evidence?

As for articles in the newspaper, nope, I've seen newspapers make too many glaring errors.

Here's a what I want: a study, one which meets reasonable standards (e.g. one a sociologist might perform), has a sufficent sample size, and a reasonable methodology. All of which is documented.


--Mark
 
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Originally posted by Shawn DeSarkar:
Exactly....

FACTOID: Im 25, I get 35K/Year for J2EE/SQL. After Tax I get about $100/day
I can easily make that in tips as a waiter at an Indian restarunt in canada.

I am so tempted to do that. Can someone give me a good reason why I shouldnt do that ?



If you're in Toronto you are grossly underpaid. A job as a waiter at the Babur would certainly pay a lot better, but they appear to prefer gentlemen over 40 with impeccable manners.
 
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Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:


Have you ever seen me accept anecdotal evidence?

As for articles in the newspaper, nope, I've seen newspapers make too many glaring errors.



It's too much, Mark. Age discrimination exists - though not universally I will grant you. I've seen too much of it personally to believe otherwise. Too many situations which inexplicably don't work out. 'Young' cultures in which a vague 'he doesn't fit' is the sole reason given for a no-hire.
 
Luke Kolin
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Originally posted by Mike Gershman:
Did it really take you the same amount of time to become fluent in Java as it took you to become fluent in your first serious programming langage? Are you really suggesting that someone already possessing high scoring SCJP, SCJD, SCBCD, and SCWCD certifications (check out the SCJD in particular) will now take more than 180 days to be fluent in Java?



I think in order to properly answer that, I need to clarify a bit. It's not too difficult to learn the basic syntax of a new language, especially if it is syntactically and conceptually close to what one knew before. It's a different matter to understand the broader styles and patterns used within a language to allow a developer to successfully interact with others, either when taking over an existing project or forking the code.

When I was 20, I had a tracking system written in Pascal I was attempting to sell to a branch of the Ontario government. To increase its allure, I decided to port it to C - never having coded a single line of C before in my life. I managed to do most of it in 30 days - and it worked quite nicely.

Now, I do not know how a trained and experienced C developer would look at my code. It was pretty much a direct port of the Pascal code, and since the two are quite similar it was pretty straightforward (except for the strings - the horror! the horror!). For almost any PAS file, there'd be an equivalent C and H file. Again, it was just my code directly ported by me, with no one else involved. A real C developer might have pulled his hair out at this.

I've found that even when one is experienced with Java or a language, there is a certain learning curve that is needed to learn "how" things are done, and how code is broken up in real life. I don't believe for a moment that it's five years, but I do think that one should be moderately to heavily immersed in some decent-sized codebases for 12-18 months to get some real-world seasoning. Even now, I've found that for moderate to large code bases, it takes someone 90-120 days just to get a handle of what gets done where. If there's a problem in functional area X, where are the two or three most likely places for it to occur? That's 90 to 120 days when you already know the language.

Again, I don't dispute that you can learn similar languages quickly. I learned C very quickly, and picked up x86 assembler over the course of late summer and fall when I was 16. It can be done to the point where you're productive and competent, but I question how effective you would be in working in a group environment, when your style and skills have evolved in a particularly independent direction.

Does that clarify what I'm trying to suggest?

Cheers!

Luke
 
Homer Phillips
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Fluency in 90-180 days. A top notch person with drive will be a technical powerhouse in 365. Many new college grads are burning out at 365.

Not a good fit - now that's arbitrary and capricious.
 
Prem Khan
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If you're in Toronto you are grossly underpaid. A job as a waiter at the Babur would certainly pay a lot better, but they appear to prefer gentlemen over 40 with impeccable manners.



I live in edmonton, and no Indian place here perfers to hire people over 40. And iv had the offer to work at one.

I just wondering what would be the advantages for me to stay in the IT/tech industry. If when I turn 40 they turf me, that is a disadvantage. Not having credentials speak for themselfs(like in other jobs) is a disadvantage. This industry is a mess.
 
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I just wondering what would be the advantages for me to stay in the IT/tech industry. If when I turn 40 they turf me, that is a disadvantage. Not having credentials speak for themselfs(like in other jobs) is a disadvantage.


Don't even try and guess what will happen in 15 years from now, it's tough enough to guess what will happen in the next five years.

Why stay in IT? The answer must be whether you really like your job. Many people in this business like solving problems by using IT, and so can't imagine themselves in any other industry. If you are one of those, then stay in IT, you will not be happy as a waiter.

You are right, however, to be concerned about the future as outsourcing has grown so much in the past 20 years and looks as if it will continue to grow. What I can suggest is that you gain both IT and non-IT skills. Let's face it, employers do need their techies to be good at communicating, so make sure that you can communicate to everyone both in writing and verbally.

Do get some business knowledge, you will be far more effective than those who have little. The day will come when your project or your job is being assessed for outsourcing. You can argue that although you are more expensive than those guys in India/China/Vietnam/Philippines, you have proven that you can deliver the goods because you know the business processes and data, because you are onshore and can communicate well.

None of this is easy, but you need to be proactive in being gainfully employed for many years to come.
 
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I'm one of those who will take chance and do what I like for next 15 years - IT. If they kick me out after that, well, at least I lived my 15 years and enjoyed what I did.
You can never know how job market will turn, so much is happening, nothing is guaranteed. So why not to do what you like the best. You've got one life - enjoy it.
If it makes you happy to be a waiter just because you make there as much money as engineer - go for it. Most important to be happy with what you do today, tomorrow you may not even exist.
 
Prem Khan
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I like programming/development, but what I dont like is useing those skills to build something that is not mine, in order to make other people rich.
 
Luke Kolin
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Originally posted by Shawn DeSarkar:
I like programming/development, but what I dont like is useing those skills to build something that is not mine, in order to make other people rich.



Then go into business for yourself.

Cheers!

Luke
 
Prem Khan
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Got any ideas for that ?
 
Sania Marsh
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Originally posted by Shawn DeSarkar:
I like programming/development, but what I dont like is useing those skills to build something that is not mine, in order to make other people rich.



Shawn, I'm starting to think you will never be satisfied.
Those who you work for are people like you, they made a decision to take a risk, invest money, and try something. They risk every day - new project can turn to be a failure, new employee may be just a waste of money, the market can turn different direction. They could loose everything. What do you expect when someone takes such a huge risk?
Noone is stopping you from doing the same.
 
peter wooster
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Originally posted by Shawn DeSarkar:
Got any ideas for that ?



I've had lots of ideas in the past that would have been winners if I had acted on them. I've got lots of ideas now that may be winners, but I'm saving them for myself. And as the future unfolds, I'm sure I'll have lots more ideas that could be winners.

For now, I'd say find an area that you really care about, something from a hobby or other passion, that is not well served by current technology offerings. Figure out how to do it so that it answers your needs. Find a few other like minded people and then do it. When it works to your satisfaction, its probably ready for market.

Don't believe that just because your idea has been done already that it isn't a good one. Note that Goodle wan't the first great search engine, and it probably won't be the last. BMW started in car manufacturing building clones of the Austin, they've come a long way since then.
 
Mike Gershman
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So when Mark says "There has been zero evidence provided for this [age discrimination]", he means:

Here's what I want: a study, one which meets reasonable standards (e.g. one a sociologist might perform), has a sufficent sample size, and a reasonable methodology. All of which is documented.



OK, I guess this is why eveything written on this BB about age discrimination fails to impress Mark.

I'd like to know how to get direct scientific proof of age discrimination when the employers whose cooperation you would need have everything to lose by giving you access to their hiring process. HR people may not know Java, but they're not idiots. For example, most employer-based job sites (except colleges) don't compile your EEO data until after you pass the first screen. Until then, you're not a real applicant, you're just making an inquiry.

Luckily, legal proof of illegal activity is based on the weight of anecdotal evidence. For civil penalties, this is judged by a preponderance of evidence standard. It may not be scientific proof, but the penalties are real. The problem is getting the government to work this issue with pairs of testers, fines, hiring quotas (oops, I meant goals), and publicity. As I said before, this is a work in progress.
 
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Shawn:
> I am so tempted to do that. Can someone give me a good reason
> why I shouldnt do that ?

me:
Do you imagine that with hard work and dedication to your craft, that in 10 years you won't be making more than $100/day? Perhaps even much more? And are the prospects the same if you were working as a waiter all that time? I know quite a few people that supported themselves through college doing waitering and 'odd jobs' like that, but not a single one was sorry to leave it behind after they were done college. They all thought the tips were great (more than great some days). But every one of them traded steady and secure income that saw them (on some weeks) take a loss, for the not steady, not secure nature of 1) part time waitering and 2) a bitchy public that is less and less inclined to tip well.

If you can very much imagine that you will still be stuck in a bad salary, go-nowhere job, then I'd suggest (as another person has) that you are in a bad job, not a bad career. Even for Edmonton, you seem to be underpaid. I can't determine your experience from your age, so maybe the salary is what that company pays entry level.

Just this last weekend we had an advertisement in the Winnipeg Free Press for "web developer" that was (yes, i know) PHP/Mysql and the *starting* salary was advertised between 38k and 40k. I do very simple two-tier web stuff (no EJB) and I'm above 45k. But... I had to fight tooth and nail for that money and it took 2 other programmers quiting, and me having both feet out the door before the employer realized that "hmm, ok. Maybe I need to pay more"

Depending on your skill (how valuable you *really* are) and your ability to self-sell (how valuable your employer *thinks* you are) you may be able to get more money from your current employer, either short term or longer term. If this is just not going to happen, or the time spans involved are too large, then look for a different job, but don't jump out of the career just yet.

Also, don't fool yourself. No matter where you are, Canada or US, it's "who you know" that factors in quite heavily. Perhaps they're more shy of that in the more litigious US market but I can't imagine it doesn't play a role.

And uh.. don't take this the wrong way, but... you will need to send your resume and cover letter through the spell checker. You can try to explain your spelling with "well, javaranch doesn't have spell check". But everyone posting here has that same 'disadvantage' and on this thread alone, everyone else seems to clear that hurdle with no trouble. (none of them had spell check either).

At my current employer, I'm only one rung down the ladder from where resumes get looked over, and the day that I do take that step up, my first qualification will be "if there is a single spelling mistake, it automatically goes to the bottom of the pile. More than one, it goes to the trash."
 
Prem Khan
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I can't determine your experience from your age, so maybe the salary is what that company pays entry level.



Please help me determine my level of proficiency.

I am the only programmer in my organization of about 5000 people. I almost single handedly built a system that deals with literaly millions of medical records on a MS SQL server database. It has an HL7 inbound interface that fills it will a big load of complex data everyday from the laboritory infomation system. The web front end for business flow / user interaction and reports is served with an apache tomcat server that I am responsible for and uses apache torque as a data persistance layer. I use the myFaces implemention of Java Server Faces for the forms, for reports I use Crystal Reports launched from jsp against a crystal enterprize Report application server.


Ohh wait I must have a spelling mistake in there, I couldn�t have possibly built a system like that ! That it for IT professionals to do
 
Don Stadler
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Ohh wait I must have a spelling mistake in there, I couldn�t have possibly built a system like that ! That it for IT professionals to do



I think I mostly agree. A CV littered with spelling mistakes may reveal lack of attention - and it irritates me. So I might downgrade it some. But the #1 factor should always be 'what has this person accomplished'?
 
Sania Marsh
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Shawn, is this project only project you worked on? Have you worked on team projects?

The complexity seems to be well fit for mid-level developer.

By the way, I thought spelling issues on resume are disappearing as Word is evolving.
 
Prem Khan
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As far as accually geting payed for development yes it is my first programming job. I have worked in a team environment before, for a final project in college.

My current job kind of is a team environment in the sence that I work with some people that tell me what features they want, and we negotiate times and final deliverables. They also draw up word documents on what some reports should look like.

I guess mid level developer is a relative thing these days because some jr developer jobs require 3 year of exsperience.
 
Mike Curwen
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Shawn,

from your description of your work, I'd say you're being underpaid. Your actual worth seems out of sync with what your employer *thinks* you're worth.

The guy that figures out how to get employers to realize actual value in employees (and sells his knowledge only to employees, in a nice little 10-step booklet entitled "getting the most buck for your bang") is going to be a very rich person.

I don't know how you can make them realize these things. Do you know if anyone has done an ROI type analysis on your system? Meaning: "We used to spend this much money processing these records, and now we pay 1/20th that cost". If that can be *shown* to them in a glossy report type thing that executive types seem to love... maybe *that's* how you get your raise.

So if they have that executive level person, start building a relationship with that person. If not.. lead the charge. What do you have to loose?
 
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