Op-Ed: Show me the skills and show me the money

skills wordle Note to folks interviewing for a senior developer position: I see you have been productively working as a consultant for quite some time and you have broad experiential knowledge. I respect that, coming from a similar background, really, I do! You are not interviewing for a consulting position anymore, though, with an esoteric and fleeting requirement that pretty much paves the way for a generalist. Even though you have a great breadth of knowledge, show me that you are an SME in at least one discipline that I have an expressed interest in. If I’m looking for a LAMP developer, show me that you are an 8 or above (on a scale of 1-10) as a front-end, PHP or MySQL developer. An additional tip: if you bill yourself as an expert in front-end, PHP or Java development, you MUST have SOLID knowledge of a framework. (I would extrapolate that to any discipline that is claimed in a resume: Imagine the absurdity of a Windows developer who doesn’t know MFC!) In the PHP world, this means Zend (usually for corporate positions) Cake or Symfony. In Java, Struts or (my preference) Spring. Front end developers pretty much need to have solid skills in jQuery/jQueryUI. YUI/Ext is acceptable and, for IBM shops, for goodness sakes, learn Dojo! Just billing yourself as an FE dev without solid knowledge of a Javascript framework just won’t fly anymore.

On the flip side: Employers grousing that there aren’t enough skilled developers to fill open positions, stop complaining and offer more money! If you can’t fill a position, you need to up the ante! For some reason, this basic economic truth is hostage to a wholly imaginary salary cap for developers in broad swaths of the technology industry. When the legal profession was heating up in the ‘90’s it wasn’t uncommon for starting associates to earn more than 2nd or 3rd years simply because the demand outstripped supply. I don’t recall hearing complaints that our education system was failing us by not producing enough lawyers.

On a personal note, thanks to my former manager for taking the chance on me as I made the transition from consultant to FT employment over a year ago. I probably failed the skill requirement I just set forth (although I was probably just fluent enough in jQuery to squeak by) but you took a chance on me and really set me on my FT path. I hope my simple guide will help others in my shoes make the transition.