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Losing the will to live

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  • User profile image
    irascian

    I have spent the last couple of weeks weeding out CVs and conducting telephone interviews. It's like walking through treacle, backwards and I'm losing the will to live.

    It's a few years since I last did this but man, things seem to have got even worse than I remember them. The industry seems to get more and more full of bulls***ers with each year that passes.

    We're primarily using two of the biggest UK agencies (the others have all fallen by the wayside - presumably because expecting an "ASP.NET lead developer" to actually know what ViewState is or to know that code to be invoked as part of application start-up shouldn't be written directly into a file called web.config is beyond a reasonable expectation) but the quality even from those agencies deigning to service us is absolute crap. Some of the CVs are like hilarious exercises for 6 year olds. How can an IT recruitment agency pass on kindergarten CVs full of nothing other than "I'm a nice guy" statements! What on earth do these agencies do to earn their money?

    A couple of nights ago I had dinner with the guy who actually got me my current contract and who is now helping us try and find more developers. He is all excited about their new in-house system that has just been introduced in the last week because - wait for it - it enables KEYWORD searches so he can "find the right candidates". I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at his assumption that this would dramatically improve the quality of service he was offering.

    Then there's the idiots who's CVs who look legit but can't answer the most fundamental of questions. Tonight we had one "lead developer" who told us, "not to brag or anything but I'm in the Top 10 of the world's best web developers". Asked what he based this on he told us "I write stuff in 200 lines of code that other developers take 1000 lines to do". When asked to provide samples of his code we could perhaps look at and learn from the answer was "I don't provide code. My experience speaks for itself". I wasn't totally surprised when, having finally prised a URL out of him, we found a very basic table-driven HTML site with the querystring from hell, a few inline stylesheets and a bit of javascript code.

    Agencies typically earn between 10% and 25% of what the contractor gets for the life of a contract placement. And this is for simply passing on paper CVs that they clearly don't do ANY kind of check on, while any idiot who's looked at XP seems to think he's an "Enterprise developer".

    It is too depressing for words.

    So....

    How do you guys cope with the whole recruitment process? Any tips for those of you in the UK on good agencies that actually look at CVs before simply removing the candidate's name, replacing it with a number and putting their logo on it?

  • User profile image
    Maddus Mattus

    My advice would be to always do a telephone screening. Try to sort out the rotten eggs as early as possible.

    .Net is hot on the market these days and everyone is an expert.

    As to your lead ASP.Net programmer, if I made a website for myself, it would be the crappiest piece of sh*t you would ever see. Because otherwise it would never ever get the job done.

  • User profile image
    jamie

    hire people with no degrees that are self taught and can think on their feet / young / that want to learn / that you can mold = dont use agencies - place ads / then view their work to date (portfolio / apps) 

    it's like in restaurants..  do you hire the snooty chef or promote that prep cook that is busting his blls .. and knows things YOUR way Smiley

  • User profile image
    Tom Servo

    Someone teach me the skill of bullshitting, because I sure as hell don't find an IT job, while talentless dickheads actually do. And don't even ask how that annoys the hell out of me.

    jamie wrote:
    hire people with no degrees that are self taught and can think on their feet / young / that want to learn / that you can mold = dont use agencies - place ads / then view their work to date (portfolio / apps)

    I'd be swimming in offers, if the real world would go by that.

  • User profile image
    Sabot

    Geez Ian, I'm with you on this one! Recruiting in the UK is hard, no wonder so many firms are sourcing overseas.

    A couple of my friends have strongly recommended Abraxas as a recruitment company that know it's 'a from it's e' but I can't personally vouch for them, I still maintain all recruiters are blood-sucking scum and prefer to network to get roles, hey maybe this is what you should do? It may actually be more worthwhile and less time consuming than it sounds, and there is enough ways to do it from LinkedIn to local .Net groups.

    Mind you many of my clever developer friends are leaving the industry to become plumbers, turning to Java or specialising in such stuff as Biztalk, I don't know if this is a large trend or just in my micrososm.

    I did laugh out loud the other day in an interview where this guy waffled on for 30 mins about how he wanted to do AJAX and not ASP.Net or erm ... Javascript. I got so bored with the other guys not wrapping up I actually got up left the room and went to the vending machine for a coffee, when I came back no-one took the hint, ug, I knew I should have put me feet up on the desk and shut my eyes and got 40 winks "Let yourself out on the way out!"

    Well there is always Bazza and Webbo!

     

     

  • User profile image
    JeremyJ

    We have been looking for a principal .NET developer for a long time.  So far we have not found anyone to pull in for an in person interview because no one seems to be able to pass the phone interview.

    I would rather we never fill the position than hire someone that would just drag the whole group down.  I was shocked at the lack of qualified developers out there.  We briefly tried using head hunters but the results were so laughable that we gave up on them.

  • User profile image
    ScanIAm

    I feel for you guys.  There are more and more .net jobs out there now, and there is no excuse for not having even a mild knowledge of what the technologies are used for. 

    Then again, I've lost a few opportunities because I usually tell the truth to the interviewer.

    Them:  What is your experience with <insert tech-of-the-day>?
    Me:      Not a bit.  I know it does <list off features, uses> but I've never had a chance to use it.  I will say, though, that it interests me and within a month, I'll know it better than most.
    Them:  Don't call us, we'll call you.

    Most employers that I've found expect their devs to have 'masters' knowledge of the entire field.  What they don't understand is that it's essentially impossible to find that.  So they pick the guy that lies his way through the interview and 6 months later they are back looking for another developer.

    Meh, there isn't a technology out there that can't be learned if you are willing to just go to battle with it Smiley

  • User profile image
    apwcodemonk​ey

    This is a major issue that I think the whole of the UK is facing, it's been a topic of discussion between a few of us on Twitter recently. 

    I know I experienced it last year trying to find decent developers up here in the North East is really difficult and it seems that I am not the only one in the area, it was also discussed at the last VBUG Meeting we had up here.

    Little options around at present to getting good devs, latest suggestion is to get Grads in and train them up - but they have to have enthusiasm and a willingness to learn and not only be concerned with making a quick few quid.

  • User profile image
    littleguru

    is it really that bad over there? *seeing great times coming up on the horizon*

  • User profile image
    Colin Angus Mackay

    apwcodemonkey wrote:
    This is a major issue that I think the whole of the UK is facing, it's been a topic of discussion between a few of us on Twitter recently. 


    And Code Project.

    We've interviewed people with 2 to 20 years experience. The last guy we hired had just 2 years experience because he was the one that passed our technical test. The only one that passed, and we still have a position open.

    Our technical test is a simple test. We give the candidate a spec for a very simple application that is loose enough that they can make design descisions that enable them to show off their skills. It can be completed in about 2 hours. We walk them through the spec first so we know they've understood it and have an opportunity to ask questions. They have an opportunity to speak with us at any time, look up any references from our library or look up the internet. Afterwards we talk them through what they've done.

    The number of people that produce practically nothing is amazing so there isn't much to talk about.

  • User profile image
    littleguru

    Colin Angus Mackay wrote:
    
    apwcodemonkey wrote:
    This is a major issue that I think the whole of the UK is facing


    And Code Project.

    We've interviewed people with 2 to 20 years experience. The last guy we hired had just 2 years experience because he was the one that passed our technical test. The only one that passed, and we still have a position open.

    Our technical test is a simple test. We give the candidate a spec for a very simple application that is loose enough that they can make design descisions that enable them to show off their skills. It can be completed in about 2 hours. We walk them through the spec first so we know they've understood it and have an opportunity to ask questions. They have an opportunity to speak with us at any time, look up any references from our library or look up the internet. Afterwards we talk them through what they've done.

    The number of people that produce practically nothing is amazing so there isn't much to talk about.


    Are you perhaps allowed to tell us how such a spec looks like - I mean a sample of an application they need to build?

  • User profile image
    blowdart

    I rejected all 3 candidates today. They were either too junior, too smug, or too wrong in code and couldn't accept that I was right.

    And 2 of them weren't in suits.

    I *hate* interviewing. I think of the 30 I've seen this month I've said yes to 2.

  • User profile image
    MB

    irascian wrote:
    Tonight we had one "lead developer" who told us, "not to brag or anything but I'm in the Top 10 of the world's best web developers".


    LOL... I'm also in the Top 10 of the world's best web developers.

    Unfortunately, my units are millions.

  • User profile image
    jamie

    <paul> well maybe..i was..sort of on..the team that invented it</p>
    <dilbert> NO ONE invented ecommerce! </d>

    Wink

  • User profile image
    Johnny​Awesome

    I have a lot to say on this, so you can probably just scroll the mouse wheel and read someone who can be more succinct.

    This is obviously a huge issue or there would not be recruiters getting fees they do. The fact is; weeding out humans from a face to face interview is big business because people are more savvy these days on how to game systems (IMHO).

    With the entire world "googling" things, generally speaking, people now have a good concept of buzz words and writing for automated systems. So, some of the older automated systems really do not work at all these days. So, you're web portal for resumes and the search functions your HR uses, are long dead.  If the available services can't screen worth a damn, then it sounds like there is room to start a new venture in the UK.  Anybody want in on this? Smiley

    On my resume, over the section that lists technologies and the experience level I have with each, I humorously titled the section "Mandatory Buzzwords … but at least its accurate".  I found that most places did appreciate my honesty, but like ScanIAm mentioned, it also shuts you out of a lot. I KNOW a lot of technologies I could easily handle if ever in an environment where it was required. But, since I have not yet, its sometimes foolish to dismiss people for that, I feel. I had used SubSonic but never nHibernate and that was a disqualification. That never sat well with me, because its like telling a candidate "this is beyond you", and not always "there are plenty of other candidates who have used this".

    However, out here in the humble little village of San Francisco, like many other places; I find the opposite problem of finding talent. Posts for positions are drafted so inadequately and HR/Recruiters are so inept that hours of my time have been spent interviewing positions that were not relevant to me.

    My favorite thus far being the 2 hour drive, a day from work, and a lot of gasoline money down the drain to go to a face-to-face (after a phone tech screening) for an "ASP.NET" position only to discover they wanted a seasoned PHP developer.

    They're reasoning?

    "ASP.NET developers tend to have worked with other languages and have stronger programming skills."

    That's nice and all, but um, I WAS NOT LOOKING FOR A PHP POSITION.

    Another example was a posting that I saw the other day looking for someone with 3 years experience with C# 3.0! Wow. Unless they really meant they wanted Anders Hejlsberg, the normal developer probably needs a time machine to meet that quota.

    Ineptitude goes both ways and can be as equally frustrating. The fact of the matter is, the field is getting so complicated and widespread people will tailor resumes to meet the demands. Want more honest applications? Stop drafting bulletins that perhaps only a handful of people globally actually fulfill. If you were applying for a job you wouldn't request a million dollars a year, 4 days off a week, and a helicopter. So, draft reasonable and honest postings and get more reasonable responses.


  • User profile image
    Detroit Muscle

    Can't you just hire someone with a basic programming background and train them? Isn't the whole point or .Net that you don't have to understand computers to be able to write software?

  • User profile image
    Colin Angus Mackay

    littleguru wrote:
    
    Are you perhaps allowed to tell us how such a spec looks like - I mean a sample of an application they need to build?


    No, we don't want it to get out on the internet and then have people prepare specifically to write that application in our office. We want the candidate to come in blind and we present them with it.

    Trying to keep the description as generic as possible: The application takes in some data (the source is up to the candidate) and uses it to populate some controls on a form. Which data is displayed depends on the state certain controls are in. How they get the data from its source to the controls is also up to the candidate.

    There is a completed sample for the candidate to look at. So far no one has had the bare faced cheek to use Lutz Roeder's Reflector on the working sample to reverse engineer it.

  • User profile image
    Colin Angus Mackay

    Detroit Muscle wrote:
    Can't you just hire someone with a basic programming background and train them? Isn't the whole point or .Net that you don't have to understand computers to be able to write software?


    WTF!!!

    Who ever told you that you don't have to understand computers to write .NET needs to be taken out back and shot for the good of society.

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