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Post Job Opportunities That Attract Talent

Earlier I talked about the opportunity descriptions that I would like to see. Having these done poorly is a huge pet peeve of mine. Some of this is just the fact that companies go through recruiters. There are many, many good recruiters out there but, quite frankly, there are many others that simply don’t know how to get what clients need — and quite, frankly, some of the clients don’t seem all that in tune with it either. This post presents a case in point.

I was submitted the following opportunity description:

*Must have automation

*3D mapping group

* QA/Development (ex developer that is committed to testing is prefered

* Tester of Web Services

* Develop complex test cases

* be able to program in XML

* understand one of these scripting languages; XML, SQL, Shell, Phython

That is verbatim what I received. I was asked if I was interested or if someone else might be. Now, let’s say the company themselves actually posted this, as opposed to a recruiting firm mangling what they were told. If the company truly can do no better than this, it would be up to a recruiter to have the pulse of the industry and know that this is — pardon my opinionated stance — utter crap.

I responded by saying “Thanks for getting in touch. I can pass it along but I have to say that most people I know are not going to be interested for the same reasons that I would be cautious.” Then in order to help the recruiter and give them an honest assessment of why I said that I gave them a breakdown of what concerned me.

First — they spelled Python wrong. I mean, c’mon. Enough said on that.

Second, the “QA/Development” is a bit odd. My guess is that they simply don’t make the distinction between testing and quality assurance. They certainly wouldn’t be the only ones but given some other issues with their description, this merging of categories ends up looking problematic.

Third, you don’t have an “ex-developer.” If the developer is committed to testing, the candidate you want applying for the position should realize that they have to build test solutions — and thus are still a developer, just with a different focus. Certainly, if you are going to do automation — as the opportunity sort of states — you won’t be an ex-developer. In reality, I told the recruiter what they should have told the client: they want a tester who is committed to developing test solutions as has the experience to back it up. The focus shift there may be subtle but it’s crucial in the industry, especially if they want someone who can develop “complex test cases.” That means the candidate knowledge of test techniques should be demonstrable, which you are not necessarily going to get if you just seek, in their words, an “ex developer that is committed to testing.”

That brings us to their need for someone to “understand” scripting languages. Where to start? Avoiding the most obvious problem there for a moment, it really depends if the company just wants general experience or if they are looking for a specific language. They would likely be better off just saying something like “Demonstrable experience in a scripting language (Ruby, Perl, Python, etc).” The “demonstrable” part is important there because it should be clear to the candidate that they will be asked to back this up during an interview.

I focus on the scripting in particular because we then get to the obvious problem: they seem to have a few category errors there. For example, SQL is said to be a scripting language by them. It’s not. It’s a 4GL declarative database language. Perhaps they just link “scripting language” and “programming language” together or something. I don’t know. But they also list XML as a scripting language. It’s not: it’s a markup language. (Or, in a pinch, an expression language.) You can use SQL or XML with a scripting language, but most developers (and testers) would not call SQL or XML “scripting languages.”

“Be able to program in XML” is a bit vague. Again, XML is not a programming language. So are they using XSL, for example, to put a declarative language around XML? Are they writing scripts that parse XML? Are they using something that compiles the directives specified in XSLT files into some language so they can process XML? The skill set you are seeking matters here. People will have very differing skill sets when it comes to this type of stuff so what it means to “understand”, as per their requirement, will be different.

I told the recruiter that all of this may seem like nitpicking but (1) I was genuinely trying to be helpful and (2) depending on the kind of person the particular client is hoping to get, they should actually desire exactly this kind of nitpicking.

After giving this information to the recruiter, I checked the opportunity description again about a week later. None of the above was rectified. Not even the misspelled Python.

I left off the communication by saying “Again, I’ll pass the info along and see if anyone has interest.”

As expected, no one had interest.


This article was written by Jeff Nyman

Anything I put here is an approximation of the truth. You're getting a particular view of myself ... and it's the view I'm choosing to present to you. If you've never met me before in person, please realize I'm not the same in person as I am in writing. That's because I can only put part of myself down into words. If you have met me before in person then I'd ask you to consider that the view you've formed that way and the view you come to by reading what I say here may, in fact, both be true. I'd advise that you not automatically discard either viewpoint when they conflict or accept either as truth when they agree.

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