Coffeehouse Thread

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UK Developer Jobs

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  • Skriker V1.0

    Hi All, I currently live in the UK (Glasgow), up until now I've been working in various tech support jobs, Im planning on a career change and wanted to focus on development, can you let me know what your opinions are on the UK Job market for developers?

  • W3bbo

    Obviously having a CS degree helps a lot because it indicates that the holder is (or is meant to be) strong on the fundamentals, knows about algorithms, and writing good quality correct software, whereas with self-taught developers the employer is taking on an element of risk by hiring someone who can churn out a solution, but would it necessarily be a good one? Then there are real-life problems that can be solved intelligently with elements from graph or set theory that your typical self-taught developer won't have any notion of.

     

    So it really depends on what kind of industry you're thinking of getting into and your current theory base. Writing LoB software that does the usual database/UI stuff doesn't require degree-level understanding of CS and pays well, but things like games programming and high-end financial institution jobs do tend to require the degree (most job ads I see say they prefer Masters holders too).

  • Simo

    Here's 2p from my perspective (London based and working for financial institutions).

     

    Dev market is fairly healthy with many banks and investment houses making investments in their processes, workflow and organisation (general getting their house back in order). Previous two years-ish saw a lot of investment in the Risk management area, ie shutting the very large barn door after the credit-crunch horse escaped. With the 20/20 hindsight goggles on we had 5+ years of making hay before that, largely working for traders/front-office and whatever their whim of the day was as all the filthy lucre rolled in.

     

    Market-wise I think if you had 5+ years of investment bank experience with about 8+ years of working you'd be looking at contract rates like:

    Excel VBA: £500-£600 a day

    Good C#: £600-£700 a day

    C++ and err 'real-time' <cough> C#: £800+ a day

    Project Manager to look after devs: £800 - £1,000 a day.

     

    Permanent rates would vary from £50 to £100k+ as well as a bonus.

     

    NB these are London rates where rent in town is easily £500 a week & a 50 hour week is normal.

     

    Add more money if your product knowledge is as good as the business in a particular area. Take money off if, despite having the experience, you're a little young in years. Yes - it's age discrimination but suck it up and bank the experience, you'll hit your thirties soon enough.

     

    Re Webbo's point of go get yourself a CS degree. I don't disagree but... in my sector we look at a slightly wider range of academic subjects for graduate intake. Mostly science(incl. computer), maths & engineering - expecting to see a good degree result from a good University. Plus all the other stuff like aptitude for working in a business, presumably some HR personality testing to see if the candidate fits etc. Anyway, if I was given two CVs: somebody with a 2(ii) in CS from 'the University of the Middle of England' or similar and somebody with a 1st in Physics from Imperial. I'd be speaking to the Imperial person first.

  • Dr Herbie

    Simo said:

    Here's 2p from my perspective (London based and working for financial institutions).

     

    Dev market is fairly healthy with many banks and investment houses making investments in their processes, workflow and organisation (general getting their house back in order). Previous two years-ish saw a lot of investment in the Risk management area, ie shutting the very large barn door after the credit-crunch horse escaped. With the 20/20 hindsight goggles on we had 5+ years of making hay before that, largely working for traders/front-office and whatever their whim of the day was as all the filthy lucre rolled in.

     

    Market-wise I think if you had 5+ years of investment bank experience with about 8+ years of working you'd be looking at contract rates like:

    Excel VBA: £500-£600 a day

    Good C#: £600-£700 a day

    C++ and err 'real-time' <cough> C#: £800+ a day

    Project Manager to look after devs: £800 - £1,000 a day.

     

    Permanent rates would vary from £50 to £100k+ as well as a bonus.

     

    NB these are London rates where rent in town is easily £500 a week & a 50 hour week is normal.

     

    Add more money if your product knowledge is as good as the business in a particular area. Take money off if, despite having the experience, you're a little young in years. Yes - it's age discrimination but suck it up and bank the experience, you'll hit your thirties soon enough.

     

    Re Webbo's point of go get yourself a CS degree. I don't disagree but... in my sector we look at a slightly wider range of academic subjects for graduate intake. Mostly science(incl. computer), maths & engineering - expecting to see a good degree result from a good University. Plus all the other stuff like aptitude for working in a business, presumably some HR personality testing to see if the candidate fits etc. Anyway, if I was given two CVs: somebody with a 2(ii) in CS from 'the University of the Middle of England' or similar and somebody with a 1st in Physics from Imperial. I'd be speaking to the Imperial person first.

    I'd agree with Simo that for writing Business Software (e.g. customer code to encode business processes) a CS degree might be a minor help in getting an interview, but isn't really regarded as necessary -- experience takes precedence. 

     

    Most of the people I've been responsible for hiring didn't have CS degrees. We give a small coding\TSQL test at the interview too see if interviewees know their stuff.

     

    Herbie

     

     

     

  • Simo

    Dr Herbie said:
    Simo said:
    *snip*

    I'd agree with Simo that for writing Business Software (e.g. customer code to encode business processes) a CS degree might be a minor help in getting an interview, but isn't really regarded as necessary -- experience takes precedence. 

     

    Most of the people I've been responsible for hiring didn't have CS degrees. We give a small coding\TSQL test at the interview too see if interviewees know their stuff.

     

    Herbie

     

     

     

    hah - yes. 'Experience takes precedence' is a much more succinct way to put it. We only care about what you've been up to for the last five years and can you demonstrate the skills you're claiming at interview.

  • vesuvius

    Dr Herbie said:
    Simo said:
    *snip*

    I'd agree with Simo that for writing Business Software (e.g. customer code to encode business processes) a CS degree might be a minor help in getting an interview, but isn't really regarded as necessary -- experience takes precedence. 

     

    Most of the people I've been responsible for hiring didn't have CS degrees. We give a small coding\TSQL test at the interview too see if interviewees know their stuff.

     

    Herbie

     

     

     

    I have dealt with a few recruitment consultants, and the usual stance is "they want someone with a minimum 5 years commercial C# experience"

     

    In one place, I sat a test  where they wanted me to demonstrate MVVM with master details in 30 minutes, in another it was adding and retreiving data to a database where you could change the data source with minimum issues, in an hour - incidentally, I pissed all over that one.

     

    For the most part, the experience I have gives me a certain confidence, jumping about from place to place ensures you learn a lot and are extremely flexible and adaptable.

     

    The degree is only really of importance once you are applying for senior or managerial roles, where they look at your whole history on the whole, good qualifications means less explaining and really does boost your chances. Even if you look at politicians, they get judged on what university they went to 30 years ago. it's more of a way to say that this individual conforms to the expected academic history so it is important to have your degree in some cases - mostly when you work for someone else as a wage slave.

     

    People also seem quite interested in the fact that I am a mechanical engineer that became a computer scientist, so a CS degree isn't always the main thing.

  • W3bbo

    Simo said:

    Here's 2p from my perspective (London based and working for financial institutions).

     

    Dev market is fairly healthy with many banks and investment houses making investments in their processes, workflow and organisation (general getting their house back in order). Previous two years-ish saw a lot of investment in the Risk management area, ie shutting the very large barn door after the credit-crunch horse escaped. With the 20/20 hindsight goggles on we had 5+ years of making hay before that, largely working for traders/front-office and whatever their whim of the day was as all the filthy lucre rolled in.

     

    Market-wise I think if you had 5+ years of investment bank experience with about 8+ years of working you'd be looking at contract rates like:

    Excel VBA: £500-£600 a day

    Good C#: £600-£700 a day

    C++ and err 'real-time' <cough> C#: £800+ a day

    Project Manager to look after devs: £800 - £1,000 a day.

     

    Permanent rates would vary from £50 to £100k+ as well as a bonus.

     

    NB these are London rates where rent in town is easily £500 a week & a 50 hour week is normal.

     

    Add more money if your product knowledge is as good as the business in a particular area. Take money off if, despite having the experience, you're a little young in years. Yes - it's age discrimination but suck it up and bank the experience, you'll hit your thirties soon enough.

     

    Re Webbo's point of go get yourself a CS degree. I don't disagree but... in my sector we look at a slightly wider range of academic subjects for graduate intake. Mostly science(incl. computer), maths & engineering - expecting to see a good degree result from a good University. Plus all the other stuff like aptitude for working in a business, presumably some HR personality testing to see if the candidate fits etc. Anyway, if I was given two CVs: somebody with a 2(ii) in CS from 'the University of the Middle of England' or similar and somebody with a 1st in Physics from Imperial. I'd be speaking to the Imperial person first.

    £800 a day for writing C#? It counfounds the mind. I've long been considering working in that sector for a while if I didn't make the grade for doing a PhD, and this just makes the propostion all the more attractive.

     

    Question: what counts as "experience"? I've been writing .NET code since late-2004 and developed a number of commerical applications, does that mean I can claim to having over 5 years' experience in the platform? Or does only proper full-time employment count?

  • Lee_Dale

    W3bbo said:
    Simo said:
    *snip*

    £800 a day for writing C#? It counfounds the mind. I've long been considering working in that sector for a while if I didn't make the grade for doing a PhD, and this just makes the propostion all the more attractive.

     

    Question: what counts as "experience"? I've been writing .NET code since late-2004 and developed a number of commerical applications, does that mean I can claim to having over 5 years' experience in the platform? Or does only proper full-time employment count?

    I very much doubt anyone will get near £800 a day unless in a niche financial sector.  Typically C# development is between £250 and £400 a day in London.  I'm doing SharePoint stuff at the moment and towards the upper end of the pay for that type of development and thats around £550 a day. 

     

    Also £500 a day for doing Excel + VBA? I very much doubt it.  That may be what consultancies and recruitment agencies are charging but I very much doubt it reflects what the dev is getting paid. I've been contracting for over 5 years and never seen rates like that even before the recession hit. 

  • Simo

    W3bbo said:
    Simo said:
    *snip*

    £800 a day for writing C#? It counfounds the mind. I've long been considering working in that sector for a while if I didn't make the grade for doing a PhD, and this just makes the propostion all the more attractive.

     

    Question: what counts as "experience"? I've been writing .NET code since late-2004 and developed a number of commerical applications, does that mean I can claim to having over 5 years' experience in the platform? Or does only proper full-time employment count?

    Good question. 'Experience' is quite specific ... and really means 'delivering production code in an investment bank'. So sorry, but proper full-time employment only. However, experience of developing commercial applications, or any other examples of writing code for a customer is fantastic experience that you should draw on. Have anecdotes & stories ready whenever you're asked about that.

     

    Now just to pour some cooling water on any potential "£800 a day for writing C# - I'll be a millionaire..." thought process.

     

     

    - Check my previous post. I'd be expecting a professional C# 'real-time capable' contractor to have atleast  eight+ years full time development experience and a decent number of recent years writing 'real-time' C# apps in an investment bank situation.

    - There's always an element of unwillingness to pay you a contract rate too much over your previous rate. Hence, questions about how long have you been contracting, what rate did you previously charge, etc.

    - You're more likely to hit £800 a day writing C++ than C#

    - Off the back of an undergraduate degree, £800 a day is a goal for your late 20s not the pay for your first job.

    - The investment bank sector is a very venal, shallow world. Dominated entirely by money. All the clichés are basically true and you will find yourself working long hours so that some senior a-hole in the business can take home his million+ bonus. 'Working for the man' has no better example than working in a supporting function in an investment bank. I probably shouldn't bad mouth my own industry, I've done ok out of it, but I've been quite disillusioned by it post credit-crunch. I had a grandstand seat whilst I watched the industry practically destroy itself in the desperate rush to make every cent it could, resulting in it having to be saved by the state and the subsequent cost to us all. I've also seen the brain drain at first hand as year after year graduate engineers & scientists get sucked into the world of moving money from A to B in the most complicated fashion possible. They could have been doing something far more useful for society.

     

    Webbo - basically the thought of you weighing up PhD vs Investment Bank career saddens/worries me. I guess it's best to find a job you love to do. Some people love their investment banking career, I don't think I like those people any more.

     

     

     

     

  • Simo

    leeappdalecom said:
    W3bbo said:
    *snip*

    I very much doubt anyone will get near £800 a day unless in a niche financial sector.  Typically C# development is between £250 and £400 a day in London.  I'm doing SharePoint stuff at the moment and towards the upper end of the pay for that type of development and thats around £550 a day. 

     

    Also £500 a day for doing Excel + VBA? I very much doubt it.  That may be what consultancies and recruitment agencies are charging but I very much doubt it reflects what the dev is getting paid. I've been contracting for over 5 years and never seen rates like that even before the recession hit. 

    Am going by my own experience... I think the important point might is I probably am coming from a 'niche financial sector' perspective.

     

    I have no experiance of jobbing developer work, where every new project is a new industry.

     

    Those rates are either what I've charged or as a manager what I've paid - discounting recruitment agent %. For the Excel+VBA developer I should have added previous business experience/knowledge would be assumed. ie that's about the rate for an Excel/VBA developer that can just be put on the trading floor and work directly with the business. I guess that is pretty niche.

     

     

  • Pace

    Hands on development experience. This is what employers want. 
     
    I know a few recruiters that don't even look at quals. They look at work experience, they pick the good looking ones, get them in the door and gauge the person once they are there to see if they could fit the role / know their stuff.
     
    That simple. 

  • ScanIAm

    Pace said:

    Hands on development experience. This is what employers want. 
     
    I know a few recruiters that don't even look at quals. They look at work experience, they pick the good looking ones, get them in the door and gauge the person once they are there to see if they could fit the role / know their stuff.
     
    That simple. 

    Ugh.  It's even worse than that.  I will admit that I don't have a clue how businesses in the UK hire, but I'd bet that they hope to filter on the same things that we do in the US.

     

    That said, and I apologize to anyone on this site that already knows this stuff, but

     

    1) can you follow directions?  Really?  Did you read the design spec?

    2) can you investigate how the current software is written and expand upon it?

    3) if you run out of ideas, will you at least investigate the current software enough so that I don't have to simply hand you the solution?

    4) If it gets difficult to figure out, will you at least make an effort to code it to the point that you don't understand? 

    5) Do you understand encapsulation (*sp?)

    6) will you accept that when you can't figure it out, my solution might be right?  Will you avoid telling me that it might be 'slow'?

    7) Do you have friends that we can hire to replace you?

     

    I swear to all that is holy, I will never work a consulting job again.

     

    Edit: changed the enumerations.

  • Lee_Dale

    Simo said:
    leeappdalecom said:
    *snip*

    Am going by my own experience... I think the important point might is I probably am coming from a 'niche financial sector' perspective.

     

    I have no experiance of jobbing developer work, where every new project is a new industry.

     

    Those rates are either what I've charged or as a manager what I've paid - discounting recruitment agent %. For the Excel+VBA developer I should have added previous business experience/knowledge would be assumed. ie that's about the rate for an Excel/VBA developer that can just be put on the trading floor and work directly with the business. I guess that is pretty niche.

     

     

    Ok that makes more sense, I've worked in the financial sector but never really gained the hard core knowledge and never really wanted to stay there.  I prefer to be product expert if I can hence the SharePoint work I'm doing at the moment so I'm more immune to certain industries going * up.  Thats why I've never had a day without work in 11 years.

  • Skriker V1.0

    Thanks for all your input and thoughts, common theme here seems to be experience, in my case I have plenty of experience in desktop support, programming has been a hobby that has been put on the shelf until now, what do companies class as experience?

     

    I plan to complete a HND Software Dev and then a finial year of a Bsc, from that point of view, what would you say is the next best step after completing this, look for intern positions, try going to a recruitment agency?

     

    Thanks again. Smiley

  • blowdart

    Skriker V1.0 said:

    Thanks for all your input and thoughts, common theme here seems to be experience, in my case I have plenty of experience in desktop support, programming has been a hobby that has been put on the shelf until now, what do companies class as experience?

     

    I plan to complete a HND Software Dev and then a finial year of a Bsc, from that point of view, what would you say is the next best step after completing this, look for intern positions, try going to a recruitment agency?

     

    Thanks again. Smiley

    Use your college/university first. They tend to have contacts to place newly qualified people. Recruitment agents don't.

     

  • Ian2

    Way back when I did a 3 year sandwhich course at Gloucestershire University (HND in Computer Studies).  My second year placement was great and towards the end of my placement year  I applied for a full time Systems Analyst post, got it, and completed the course part time.

     

    It worked well for me.

  • Dr Herbie

    Ian2 said:

    Way back when I did a 3 year sandwhich course at Gloucestershire University (HND in Computer Studies).  My second year placement was great and towards the end of my placement year  I applied for a full time Systems Analyst post, got it, and completed the course part time.

     

    It worked well for me.

    Note:

     

    Fresh out of an HND with one year placement experience > Fresh out of Uni with CS degree and no workplace experience

    (IMHO)

     

    Herbie

     

     

  • Ion Todirel

    Dr Herbie said:
    Ian2 said:
    *snip*

    Note:

     

    Fresh out of an HND with one year placement experience > Fresh out of Uni with CS degree and no workplace experience

    (IMHO)

     

    Herbie

     

     

    In short term perhaps, CS degree > no CS degree

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