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Quality Programmers

Discussion in 'Off-topic Zone' started by Sam I Am, May 24, 2012.

  1. Sam I Am

    Sam I Am Unfriendly and Aloof!

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    There just aren't many of them. :laugh2:

    We are a primarily Java shop. (our primary application is a JBoss cluster) We interview endless amounts of candidates and 98% don't fit and a huge portion don't even seem to be qualified to actually be programmers. We are even willing in some cases to hire someone with lots of aptitude and concept understanding, but maybe not have heavy Java specific experience. Even that is a no-go most of the time.

    If we were in St. Louis, Detroit, Salt Lake City, etc. I could understand having some troubles finding talent, but we are in New York freaking City!

    This speaks volumes about not just the American school system, but about the laziness of the coming generation and the lack of push to keep America a technical super power.

    I was learning to program in BASIC when I was still in elementary. Not in some class at school. I was learning this on my own. Today, kids are more interested in what is on TV or what their friends are doing on Facebook or Twitter, it's very depressing.

    One last thing. Recruiters should be beaten and stabbed, then shot and killed. They tell applicants to put stuff on their resume that they have no experience with. You see it on their resume, you ask them a question about it. They stare at you blankly. You ask them why it's on their resume. "(insert recruiter's name) said I should put it on there".

    Our reply? "Thank you, we're done." (call recruiter) "Thank you, we're done."

    It takes a lot of time to interview candidates. Don't freaking waste our time lying to us. We will find out you are lying.
  2. 03EBZ06

    03EBZ06 Need2Speed

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    I have four degrees and one is BS in CS and I hated programming, it simply wasn't my thing, I'm a hardware guy. It was challenging to me and spent countless hours trying to figure out what went wrong with my programs, but what the hell, it was paid by the company so its all good. I know I'll never be a programmer, nor do I want to, I'll stick with engineering. :laugh1:
  3. perrykemp

    perrykemp Well-Known Member

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    Our shop is primarily Java with smaller amounts of C#, C, C++, and Ruby mixed in.

    We've also had similar issues finding good college graduates and a few years ago we shifted to dramatically increasing the number of interns we pull from local colleges. As a rule, they have to be no further along in school than being sophomores and it gives us at least 2-3 years to evaluate them, train them, and get them familiar with how development practices.

    Before they graduate, typically 6-12 months out, we make the ones we like full-time offers and take-over their payments for their remaining tuition.

    Overall, the process has allowed us, to a certain extent, to control our own destiny in terms of replenishing /expanding our developer staff.
  4. Sam I Am

    Sam I Am Unfriendly and Aloof!

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    Actually, same here. Which is why I manage / build infrastructure these days. My language of choice is Python, but for work it's mostly utilities that I create. (games at home)

    If I program every day, I suffer from terrible burnout. In infrastructure, I work on OSes one day, services (http, SMTP, databases, etc), storage or networks the next. The third day, I maybe writing utilities to automate or perform some service. I just can't write software every day. It's just not my thing either.

    This is good information. Thanks for that. Anyone else have experience in finding great candidates? Doesn't matter what field you hire for. It's ideas I'm looking for.
  5. Reality

    Reality Administrator Staff Member

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    I have always classified people who know how to program as either coders or programmers. Coders create straight-forward, usually ugly code with little to no consideration beyond today's goals. They see a problem or need and solve it as quickly as possible. Coders view programming projects as items on digital conveyor belts. Programmers think beyond the problem or need at hand and attempt to anticipate future expansion or extension of what they create. They try to foresee possible issues and eliminate them while they develop. Programmers are slower developers than coders, but the payoff is usually work it in the long run.

    Beyond their development styles, there is another huge difference between coders and programmers. Coders think incrementally. Coders will job hop for even the smallest amount of salary increases. Programmers understand the the bigger picture of benefits, working environment, etc. while coders tend to focus mainly on their salary. Most programmers enjoy the "comfort factor" of where they are and while they will job hop, it will take a serious offer for them to act on it unless there are outside factors involved.

    Most programmers these days are growing up with programming languages that are a lot more forgiving of poor programming techniques. The languages tend to be built around OOP which makes it very easy for them build-a-program like you would Build-A-Bear. While a lot of the programming languages I learned when I was younger are now obsolete, most were strictly structured and were not very tolerant of sloppy coding. I still use the techniques I learned in those languages in projects I develop even now.

    The biggest problem you have now with most developers is that if they are really good at what they do, you cannot afford them or you refuse to pay them what they can make elsewhere. If you do hire them, they will likely be working for another company within a year most likely after you have invested a lot of money and time in them to learn everything you do.

    #reality
  6. Doomsday

    Doomsday Rising Star

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    The thing is most companies dont ask their IT candidates technical questions. Through the years I have worked at several large companies and the people who interviewed me never asked me any specifics about my experience. I see you have worked with SMS (systems server management), that is good.

    When I went to work for Gambro Healthcare I had 5 interviews with various people and not one person asked me a single question to verify if I actually knew any of the stuff that was on my resume. The last guy even said to me, "I am sure you have been asked every technical question so...". It is kind of comical.

    I think a lot of people are not really that knowledgeable so they are afraid to ask questions because it might expose their own deficiencies or something.

    I typically have to interview 20 plus people to find one decent mid level php / Zend framework developer. One thing I would suggest is phone interviews, it will save you a TON of time and help weed out the candidates that are just flat lying about their skill level.
  7. Sam I Am

    Sam I Am Unfriendly and Aloof!

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    Yes, I know exactly what you mean. Now, I (myself) don't hire many programmers. I can think of ideas to ask a candidate to determine if they are a coder / programmer, but it would probably be a drawn out question and take the candidate quite a bit of time to answer. Do you know of an easier way to determine which type of candidate you have? It would be an implementation question I'm sure, but not necessarily design patterns. (we already ask those questions)

    This actually relates to people I would hire also. When planning infrastructure upgrades. Though, the questions are a bit easier to work out (less detailed) than say for a programmer.
  8. Bill Wooten

    Bill Wooten Active Member

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    I've been shocked at the quality of resumes I see now when I interview technical candidates. I'm usually interviewing for architect level positions, so I put a higher premium on communication skills than I would an entry-level developer.

    9 out of 10 resumes I get contain spelling or grammatical errors. When I see that, the candidate automatically has a hole to dig themselves out of. If they don't show the due diligence to get their resume correct, why should I believe they will do it for a client document.

    The overall quality of candidates just seems to be declining.
  9. Reality

    Reality Administrator Staff Member

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    When I used to interview people, I loved to ask no-win questions. By that I mean questions that had no obvious "right" answer.

    For example, if I was interviewing a programmer, I would ask questions like this:

    Q) If you are working on software for a client and the client wants something done in a way that you know you will have to change or rewrite in the future, will you do it the right way or the way the client wants?

    The key is the use of the words "right way". Everyone immediately thinks "the client is paying us so do it their way" but the "right way" comment makes it more complicated. The ideal answer for this question is that the programmer will try his best to find a solution that will please the client and reduce the chances of having to rewrite the code in the future. Most coders will pick one or the other answers (the right way or the client's way) instead.

    I know the ideal answer may seem rather obvious once you hear it, but the coder thinking process works just like an IF-THEN-ELSE statement. If presented with two options, a coder will chose one of them even if neither option is perfect. A programmer will try to find a third option before settling on one of the two less-than-ideal options.

    #reality
  10. arglebargle

    arglebargle Well-Known Member

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    Interesting read. Resume puffery seems to be the norm now.

    Not from personal experiance, so take it with whatever amount of salt you'd prefer: Read an article recently about an engineering firm that would only hire engineers who had some sort of 'hands on' hobby. Didn't matter what to them, could be carpentry, car mechanics, welding, whatever. Their rationale was that they found those people were better at real world problem solving.
  11. JackWagon

    JackWagon Well-Known Member

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    Show me the guy that wants to sit in a cube for months ... working dilligently on the program the company wants implemented, talking to slim to few people. Then only get 3% raises due to the economy. Realizing the only real reason they are around is because noone else knows how to do the work. The people above them usually have no idea on what they are managing ... but know some VP somewhere so they got put in charge of everything.

    A programming career is not the easiest or most exciting in the world thats why there arent lots of very good people in the field. However it usually pays pretty well if you know what you are doing, dont mind getting woken up at midnight if the code has a problem, and will never get paid what you are actually worth.

    Frankly ... most companies dont want to pay you ... they dont want to pay for testing ... they really dont care if their software is good or not. They want it to work ... and they want to not pay a lot for it in terms of salary and time ... period.
  12. Sam I Am

    Sam I Am Unfriendly and Aloof!

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    I've worked for companies for short periods of time and long periods of time. The most important thing to me when working at a company is the atmosphere at the company and interesting work.

    What you have described is a job someone like me would never take, but that doesn't mean someone like me wouldn't be a programmer.

    What I'm saying is you've got it all wrong in relating the two. Sure, that happens, but it happens because that is the way some jobs are programming jobs or not.

    As I noted earlier, I just can't be a programmer for a living. It just isn't my thing, but I do in fact very much enjoy programming. I've also had Infrastructure jobs like I do now that I left quite quickly because the job had that type of atmosphere.

    To me, atmosphere / working condition are top priority for me. Money is important too, but if you give me an awesome place to work I would be more than happy to work there for less money. Though, the money counts too. I must be able to pay my mortgage ;) For instance. I own a home here in the NE. That isn't a cheap prospect. I was offered a job by Google, but I had to reject it because it wouldn't pay my mortgage. I'm sure it was an awesome place to work back then, but it wouldn't pay my bills. If it could have, I would have been working for Google at less than I make today. (it was prior to working here. I love where I work now. The atmosphere is great and the people are great)
  13. JackWagon

    JackWagon Well-Known Member

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    Thats great that you enjoy where you are now ... but complaining about not having enough candidates or valid candidates just irks me. When 75-80% of the companies out there treat their programmers like i described you cant complain about valid candidates. The companies are creating them that way. Their only option is to conform or they are leaving the field for more interesting work where they can succeed.
  14. 5Stars

    5Stars Here comes the Sun...

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    I was a IBM mainframe programmer for the Dod for 23 years. I have a Bachelors Degree from the University of New Mexico and got hired by the DoD and as an intern and went to Columbus, OH. for a three year internship.

    When I got there, I thought I knew how to program, but the three years there taught me things that I never learned in school. I learned Assembler, Cobol, Database application, C language, and a gaggle of other related stuff pertaining to the DoD.

    I programmed for missile systems, inventory, procurement, and other weapon systems.

    Today, ask me any question about a PC and I can only tell you the basic stuff! I don't know HTML, Java, or any of those other languages. However, I do know how to use logic (which is what makes a good programmer anyway) and can come up with an algorithm or flow chart, hierarchy chart or whatever documentation needed to actually start the coding process to accomplish what the client needs or what the specific application is for.

    It was a fun career and I retired as a GS-13. You want to ask me a question about a PC or how to code a PC application? Ask someone else!

    ;)


    For Sam I Am...if there are any typos or grammar errors in my post, tough!
  15. JackWagon

    JackWagon Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for posting ... and thanks for your working in the field. Good people are hard to find in every business field. Not just programming. And most companies are not in the "top 100 companies to work for". It the other companies that drive the industry ... not the top 100 most liked companies.
  16. Sam I Am

    Sam I Am Unfriendly and Aloof!

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    If everyone else treats them like that, we should have thousands of top quality programmers lining up to get a job here. It doesn't suck here.

    The last programmer to leave here on their own was a girl named Veronica. She left to go work with several of her friends from college. She gave us 4 weeks notice. About two weeks into that notice, she told us she thought she was making a mistake and would probably rather stay here the take the new job.

    The door was open for her to stay, but she said she felt bad about reneging on the acceptance from the other company not to mention her friends that put their neck on the line to get her on there.

    It's a shame because she didn't see it the same way I do. I put my happiness first. I wish her the best and I hope she is happy with her new position, but if I had doubts like she did. I would have apologized to the other company and my firend, but I would have never left.

    I can't stress enough how important enjoying where you work is.
  17. Sam I Am

    Sam I Am Unfriendly and Aloof!

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    Does not compute. Does not compute. Does not compute.

    Fatal Error: Invalid Null Pointer Exception for: UNKNOWN.

    :laugh2:
  18. JackWagon

    JackWagon Well-Known Member

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    It is just easier to find the next gig. Not worry about the environment and get the rate you want. You can work through anything for a year. There are payments to make ... mouths to feed ... mortgages to make.
  19. 5Stars

    5Stars Here comes the Sun...

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    Well, at least I did not have to get up in the middle of the freaking night to try and find the problem that caused this error! And, to top it off, that error was probably put there by some other fools program. Now, I have to spend a couple of hurry up hours trying to decipher what the hell that other programmer was trying do do!
    :bang2:

    I was taught structured programming. But, some of the old DoD programs were written in what we would call spaghetti code with recursion all over the damn place! Try following some code like that!


    :eek: :confused:
  20. Sam I Am

    Sam I Am Unfriendly and Aloof!

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    Some Cobol for you.
    Code:
    DO-FIRST.
         GO TO DO-SECOND.
    
    DO-SECOND.
         GO TO DO-FIRST.
    
    :laugh2:

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