My Candidate Description
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, I’m treating you to a strange post. Consider this experimental art of a fashion, I suppose. Odd as it sounds, this isn’t addressed to you, though I encourage you to read it, hope that you enjoy it, and suggest that you consider doing a version of it yourself. You’ll see why shortly.
If you’re a recruiter, you’re reading this because I sent you this link in response to an email, a message through social media, a message through SO Careers, or something else similar. Let me first say that I thank you for coming here and taking the time to read this. I mean this sincerely; as a blogger who pays attention to various forms of analytics, I’m aware of how many people drop off from a call to action, so I’ve already lost a good chunk of people to whom this is sent. The fact that you’re here and reading means that you aren’t dialing for dollars in volume the way so many of your colleagues with an “URGENT REQUIREMENT FOR A JAVA DEVELOPER IN TEST” seem to do.
Now, I realize that what I’m doing here may come off as a bit flippant or cocky, but I assure you earnestly that this is NOT my intention. As you are no doubt aware, I receive a nearly endless stream of contacts from people looking for software developers, software architects, dev managers, etc. This post, for me, is mainly about time savings. But it’s also a polite but insistent suggestion that we stop playing by old rules that no longer make sense. Gone are the days of a company putting out a job description and waiting for the “lucky” applicants to prove that they’re good enough. You know it, and I know you know it because I’ve spent a lot of time in your situation over the last few years, desperately trying to hire developers in an economy that saw all promising candidates disappear in the two days between a phone screen and a “let’s bring them in for a chat.” It’s harder for companies to find developers than vice-versa, no matter how many free cans of soda and ping pong tables your clients or you are offering.
So what I’m posting here is my candidate description that will serve as pre-screening for inquiries about my availability for work. Assuming your company or the company on whose behalf you are searching seems like a good match for my description and meets the must-have requirements, I may be amenable to further discussion over the phone. I say may because I’m quite happy with my current work situation and have almost more contract work than I can handle, so I simply don’t have much spare time.
I am an experienced programmer, software architect, team leader, CIO, coach, and technologist that enjoys working with a wide variety of programming languages, frameworks, and tools. The majority of my recent development experience has focused on the .NET framework, though over the years I have worked with C++, Java, and a number of other languages. Projects range from low-level driver and kernel module programming all the way up to user interface design. Types of applications run the gamut from home automation to rigorous code analysis to line of business applications. My more recent work focuses more heavily on software craftsmanship coaching aimed at developers and IT management consulting aimed at IT managers and other positions at the periphery of software teams.
My passion for working with technology extends beyond the workplace and into my work under the umbrella of my LLC. I do various types of traditional consulting projects, but I also produce software-related content for public consumption. I create developer training videos for Pluralsight aimed at intermediate to advanced programmers. Beyond that, I am also an author and active technical blogger.
Must-Have Requirements for a Candidate Company
- Must be open to B2B contract work (unless you’re looking for a dev manager or CTO, in which case, I’d prefer a conversation first about why you’re staffing that role and potential alternate solutions)
- Must be open to considering initial arrangements of less than 40 hours per week.
- Must actively practice or encourage clean coding practices (CI, TDD, SOLID, continuous refactoring, etc.) or else want to bring me in with a mandate to get your team doing these things.
- Remote work arrangement possibilities are a non-negotiable necessity for development work, though occasional travel for site visits is fine (for programming, a bit more flexible for coaching).
- I will not consider W2, exempt arrangement for software development. Not even for a number that you think will make me swoon as if I’ve been told I’m the prettiest belle at the ball. Contracting a must.
- Provided I give reasonable notice, time off or with other clients must not be an issue for you.
- Position must allow creative control of software work product.
- For interviews, no brain-teaser-oriented interviews or algorithm-centric interviews (see “The Riddler” and the “Knuth Fanatic” from this excellent video about interviewing anti-patterns). I strongly prefer code reviews and evaluation of my public code samples and am just not interested in discussing why manhole covers are round or in reliving college coursework from 15 years ago.
- Regardless of language and framework, access to the latest bits is critical for me.
- If you’re McDonald’s and you’re hiring me to build you a recipe database, I will sign an NDA agreeing not to distribute your recipe to your competitors. Anything more strict and/or that restricts my ability to do freelance projects in any way at all is an immediate deal breaker.
- I enjoy working on .NET technologies and in the connected (mobile or web) spaces. I’ll happily code away in any language, but C#/.NET is my favorite these days.
- No expense is spared on software development tools, and I can have my favorite text editors, productivity add-ins, etc.
- I have the opportunity to contribute to company blog or public thought leadership in general.
- I’d love working for a developer tools company or one that specializes in software development and surrounding expertise. If there’s developer evangelism in-role, even better.
If you’re still reading, thanks again for taking the time and paying attention all the way through. I know this seems strange, but I appreciate you humoring me, and I believe that this will save a lot of time in the long run for me and for you. As I often tell people that I’m coaching, “it’s almost always better to fail fast and obviously,” so better you shake your head and move on to the next candidate rather than have you, me, and a phone screener all waste time only to have it come out after an hour of conversation that I’m not interested in signing an NDA and starting a W2 gig.
Readers, to address you once again, I suggest you do something like this as well. Don’t settle; the market is too good. And don’t let people on the hiring side convince you that you should be lucky to have a job. I’ve tried hiring people who do what you do, offering generous salaries and a score of 10 or 11 on the Joel Test, and it was really, really hard. Don’t settle for the first thing that comes along. Make your list, be patient, and be picky. It will pay off.
nice job, it’s a really good idea doing it this way !
Glad you think so. Felt a little strange, but I view it as a potential time saver.
I delete all these “URGENT REQUIREMENT” emails.
They are always from people from one country with no idea how to recruit. once I asked ‘why is it so urgent?’, the guy answered with ‘they must hire somebody in 3 days’….right. I really want to work in this company.
I always delete those emails from those people from that country (it’s close to Pakistan and Sri Lanka. y’all know what i’m talking about). it’s always positions in other states. they don’t care.
Yeah, a company needing to hire someone in three days is pretty weird and it’s hard for me to imagine a world where that’s a good sign.
An example: Intelliswift has contacted me dozens of times, with the same “URGENT” need, even after I’ve asked repeatedly that I be removed from their database and never be contacted again. I even tried a massively unprofessional cursing-out. Still, I get the emails…
Ah, I’m not the only person who thinks most of the “Developer in Test” jobs sound particularly unpleasant.
I kind of like this idea. I bet something shorter but similar on my Linkedin profile could be pretty helpful
Yeah, I always read those and think, “if you spent even a fraction of a second actually glancing at my background you’d realize this email is not just useless, but counter-productive.” That kind of thing makes me setup a filter.