back to article You can't find tech staff – wah, wah, wah. Start with your ridiculous job spec

In a recent IDG survey, the number of execs worried about a skills gap in IT grew from 49 per cent in 2016 to 60 per cent this year. Other surveys shore up this finding as well: a Cloud Foundry Foundation survey from late 2016 had 64 per cent of respondents worried about getting the skilled staff needed. “Is there a skills …

  1. Warm Braw Silver badge

    Bucolic programming

    The problem with this is that management equates the high salaries paid to skills-shortage staff in hotspots like Silicon Valley with exceptional talent. If they expand their horizons, it's to acquire people they perceive as having lower skills and for that they'll skip Ruritania and head for India as they also get significantly lower costs.

    They're not going to go searching in Cedar Rapids or Bradford because there must clearly be something wrong with those people if they've failed to make it in San Francisco or London.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bucolic programming

      Many years ago BT wanted to hire software folks, but found it (unsurprisingly) hard to attact them to the delights of Ipswich (this was in the days when everything shut at 5pm, and a deep pan at Pizza Hut was the highlight of a night out).

      Instead of trying to attract the talent to HQ, they took the jobs to the talent, opening software centres in Newcastle, Belfast and London. It worked, they got many high-quality engineers and although they have since screwed up by outsourcing everything to India it showed that the principle is sound.

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: Bucolic programming

        they have since screwed up by outsourcing everything to India

        One of the reasons there are lots of IT companies in the M4 corridor is that it was becoming difficult to find IT talent in New England, when that used to be the technology hub. A lot of those jobs have moved further east as well. And that's the issue: once the principle of outsourcing is established, it gets pursued to its apparently logical conculstion.

        I know a number of talented engineers working in Newcastle - but they don't work for companies with a local presence and are people who have moved back from the hotspots, retaining previous relationships and networks. Much more difficult if you're starting a career.

      2. leftside

        Re: Bucolic programming

        Ipswich is still the same today.

    2. Tom Wood

      Re: Bucolic programming

      Interesting you should mention Bradford. We're a tech firm based on it's outskirts and we're certainly not alone in this region. And yeah, we struggle to recruit good engineers too.

      1. Tom Paine Silver badge

        Re: Bucolic programming

        Split the difference between local and London market pay rates?

  2. James 51 Silver badge
    FAIL

    The talent is out there but most businesses treat staff as a cost and do everything to drive it down. No training in case they get poached and people get treated as interchangable. Of course there is plain pig headedness. I place I worked at flushed several million down the toilet as the only person with the authority and ability was moving due to a partner's relocation and there was a strict no work from home policy (unless you were on support out of hours then you could do everything you could do in the office from the comfort of your couch). Years later no one had either the courage or the authority to pick that baton up.

    1. Cynical Observer
      Thumb Up

      @ James 51

      No training in case they get poached and people get treated as interchangable.

      In another life, I was a software trainer (most enjoyable job ever) and your point came up one day in class. This was the first course one of the delegates had been sent on for years - for the very reason that his boss was afraid that the staff would get trained and leave.

      Quick as a flesh, one of the other delegates responded

      "Go back and ask him, how bad might it be if they don't train you and you stay?"

      1. IceC0ld Silver badge
        Pint

        Quick as a flesh, one of the other delegates responded

        "Go back and ask him, how bad might it be if they don't train you and you stay?"

        wasn't that the 'famous' quote from El Branston ?

        or was that the 'Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to' one, never certain which came first, either way, it makes THE point on training

  3. Lith

    I think some of the skills gap problem is that the job spec goes through hr.

    After they add a whole bunch of acronyms they heard once while watching Silicon Valley, the number of people with those skills drops to just about zero.

    1. collinsl

      Then you get the idiots who say "must have 10 years experience in docker"

      1. kain preacher Silver badge

        or 10 years with windows server 2016.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Rant

          Then there’s the ones where it says (for example) “must have experience of SCCM and SQL 2008”, and you put down the fact that you’ve got experience of Altiris and SQL 2005 and the muppets shoot you down in flames evening thought it’s the same damn thing with a different splash screen.

          Another one listed a dozen things, of which I knew ten – the twelfth was “Lotus” Domino. As I said to the droid from the agency, you’re never going to find anyone in this small town who knows Domino, because nobody bloody well uses it.

          Rant 3: applied for a job with Dimsdale Council online. Question 1, page 1: provide two references, name, address, phone number, etc etc. Now as you, I and everyone knows, references are no longer a thing for a multitude of reasons. But these fields on the web page were mandatory and I couldn’t click any further. Emailed the HR muppets and the reply was “If you could ask e.g. a policeman, JP, Head Teacher someone in a position of authority.”

          Well, funnily enough, I don’t hang out with policemen or head teachers, and this isn’t a sodding passport application. So I made an official complaint.

          http://www.commitstrip.com

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Then you get the idiots who say "must have 10 years experience in docker"

        I suspect that this might stem from their ISO 9000 implementation specifying such nonsense. Whoever wrote the quality manual is patting themselves on the back saying "we only employ the highest quality staff" when it translates to "we only employ liars".

        I do, however, habitually suspect ISO 9000 as being responsible for a lot of bad management.

    2. Christoph Silver badge

      And then HR slap on their standard requirement that anyone programming in a particular language must have X years previous experience in that language.

      Even when the language was created less than X years ago.

      And back when you could still specify age in job adverts I remember seeing one requiring a degree, X years experience, and < Y years old. Working it out there was a window of about one year of age where someone could just possibly satisfy all three requirements.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's even better in the public sector. In order to hit a roughly competitive pay grade (the public sector tends to pay a bit less, but to get it in the same ballpark) HR will hack technical job descriptions to make them look like management posts.

      Memorably, I once reviewed a job description for an NHS organisation that was colour-coded. Blue text was stuff the hiring manager could edit. Red was inviolate and MUST NOT BE CHANGED etc.

      The blue text ended up being a few paragraphs at the bottom of the second page. All the other required skills were "leading and collaborating" and suchlike. I felt quite sorry for any potential candidates trying to understand what the actual job was.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "In order to hit a roughly competitive pay grade (the public sector tends to pay a bit less, but to get it in the same ballpark) HR will hack technical job descriptions to make them look like management posts."

        I had roughly this sort of experience. In order to make a competitive offer (e.g. they couldn't match the company care) they nominated the post as management. Fair enough, it involved systems management. One of the amusing aspects was that a little later the grade was given company cars. However HR eventually started having problems with the notion that what was essentially a technical post didn't have much people management content.

    4. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      After they add a whole bunch of acronyms they heard once while watching Silicon Valley, the number of people with those skills drops to just about zero.

      Alternatively, the specs are real, but the *ONLY* person remotely qualified for the job is the person who just left it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @jelabarre59: I'll second that. Often when wanting to hire a replacement for someone who is leaving, managers will list the skill-set of the departing employee rather than specify what the new one actually needs. It's laziness really. I have a varied set of skills from working for over 20 years as a desk developer. It still amazes me that my list gets used in replacement ads when only a small sub-set is actually required. Things like that really shrink the talent pool you can target.

    5. plrndl
      WTF?

      "Skills Gap"

      I once saw a modest IT job, at an extremely modest salary, advertised in the London Evening Standard. The list of requirments was so long, that literally no-one alive could possibly have ahcieved them.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't worry your PHB's

    There is plenty of really top notch skilled staff just waiting to work for you in India.

    Well, that's what British MBA/PHB's seem to think. I've lost count of the number of my former colleagues who have been 'righsized', 'downsized', 'let go' as their employer moves the whole IT department to Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai or Kolkata.

    Mine went this time last year. I've been 'on the bench' so to speak ever since.

    There is no sign of this trend letting up.

    So? What Skills shortage? There are plenty of people out there but the agencies want a 1,000,000% match to a job spec that can't be filled by anyone. This might be by accident but personally, I think it is deliberate. Then the PHB can state that they can't find anyone so they'd better sent the job to India.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't worry your PHB's

      There are plenty of 'under the radar' jobs that involve reviewing and fixing the execrable muck churned out by the Indian code-shops everyone's outsourced to. Look for anything mentioning Quality Assurance, mentoring or Partnerships: 95% chance this is what the job will be about. Slightly soul-destroying work, but it puts food on the table, and you can keep your dev skills up and current by simply throwing away the crap from India and writing it yourself. Friends of mine are making very good second careers doing this, and as long as a monthly salary/daily rate is all the credit and recognition you seek, you'll do ok.

      A/C for obvious reasons. But good luck getting 'off the bench'.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Don't worry your PHB's

      "Mine went this time last year."

      This is the time to g freelance. You can then charge an appropriate fee for sorting out the problems they brought on themselves. For IR35 reasons, of course, it might be better to sort out problems that other people brought on themselves in like manner.

  5. Nick Z

    Not knowing how to look can make it hard to find

    An experienced IT recruiter, Gayle Laakmann McDowell, say in her book Cracking the Coding Interview that doing well in a typical coding interview requires totally different skills from those of everyday work in the IT industry.

    She also says in her book that employers don't mind getting false negatives and rejecting good workers, as long as they eventually find somebody good.

    I think this says a lot about why so many employers are having such a hard time finding good IT staff. They are testing people for knowledge and skills that have little to do with everyday work. Which leads to a lot of false negatives.

    The problem is that employers don't know how to look for good workers. And that's why they are having such a hard time finding people.

    1. Tom Wood

      Re: Not knowing how to look can make it hard to find

      That's certainly not true of everywhere. A lot of what gets written about recruiting software engineers implies the employer is awash with candidates and it's a case of whittling the list down to the number of vacancies.

      In my experience that's often not the case, at least in the regions we work in. Our interviews are very real-world, and of course still many people don't make the grade.

      1. Lysenko

        Re: Not knowing how to look can make it hard to find

        Our interviews are very real-world, and of course still many people don't make the grade.

        I'm sure I wouldn't. I have software deployed in C, C++, C#, Go, Python, SQL92, JavaScript, TypeScript and Kotlin on 4 different embedded ARM architectures plus Linux, Windows and FreeRTOS.

        Can I remember the exact syntax, APIs, class libraries etc for all of them off the top of my head? Of course not. As with law (my other subject), you pull all the relevant information from archive into active memory to deal with the case you're handling, then flush most of it again when you context switch to something else.

        If you ask me a programming question "cold" you'll get an answer in procedural Pascal. I can't remember map/reduce syntax in every damn language off the top of my head and I'm not going to try. As with law (again), the key to productivity isn't remembering every precedent verbatim it is knowing: that a precedent exists, where to find the details and how to apply it to the problem at hand.

        1. John G Imrie Silver badge

          Re: Not knowing how to look can make it hard to find

          I once got a job, instead of the other candidate I was up against, because when asked a very technical question, my response was 'not a clue, I'd have to go and look that up', rather than waffling, which is apparently what the other candidate did.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not knowing how to look can make it hard to find

          "Can I remember the exact syntax, APIs, class libraries etc for all of them off the top of my head? Of course not."

          Big thumbs up to this comment which shows the totally erroneous thinking of interviewers on this subject.

          I spent around 17 years contracting, going from C# in one job to UNIX shell scripting the next, followed by SQL and JavaScript after that and so on, as the job demanded for 6 months to a couple of years depending on the term of the contract.

          Quite often you'd find the client didn't actually know what he really needed so you'd end up working on something quite different once they realised, or you suggested it, and you hardly ever used one tenth of the skills originally asked for.

          In my experience the software, language, skills, or whatever, you are using are only instantly accessible mentally for what you've been using for the last 6 months, after that of course you'll remember the gist of that skill but you won't remember the niceties and you won't be as "sharp" as you were with that skill mid job a few years ago.

          The truth is for the stuff you don't know you get a book, browse the web or get some training to get the required skills, and rely on a helpful IDE to prompt you, what most managers seem to forget is that when they bring in new software or a new language their existing staff miraculously manage to master it after a few months, and unless it's something very esoteric it's likely to be based on something familiar anyway, but somehow this doesn't apply to interviewees unless they have managed to memorise the answers from multiple vendors certification course questions.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Not knowing how to look can make it hard to find

            "I spent around 17 years contracting"

            I didn't spend quite that long freelance - I retired instead - but I did find that a lot of work came from existing contacts, word of mouth and repeat business. It bypassed all the HR crap.

        3. PghMike

          Re: Not knowing how to look can make it hard to find

          Yup, even remembering exactly what the interface is to a string package you haven't used for a year takes a search for me. Javascript, Objective C, C++, C, and Python all have slightly different versions, and I'm just not going to remember the parameters to substr in something I haven't used in > 12 months.

        4. Tom Wood

          Re: Not knowing how to look can make it hard to find

          Our interviews are very real-world, and of course still many people don't make the grade.

          I'm sure I wouldn't. I have software deployed in C, C++, C#, Go, Python, SQL92, JavaScript, TypeScript and Kotlin on 4 different embedded ARM architectures plus Linux, Windows and FreeRTOS.

          Can I remember the exact syntax, APIs, class libraries etc for all of them off the top of my head? Of course not.

          Absolutely, and what about me saying our interviews are very real-world made you think I'd expect you to know all the syntax etc?

          In the real world, people use Google. They look at books. They ask people for help. No, we don't let people use Google in our interviews but we do give people help and drop clues. It tells you more if someone can pick up on a clue and run with it rather than stare at you blankly (or argue that your clue is wrong). If someone says "I'm not sure but I'd look it up" I'd ask them what they would look up - it's no good searching Google if you don't know what you are searching for. It's no good reading an answer on StackOverflow if you can't understand it and tell the good answers from the bad ones - so we give people code to read and ask them to find what's wrong with it, and why. Would this code work? Could it be done better a different way? What do you mean by "better"?

          etc

          Still, I've had more than one candidate who couldn't write a 'for' loop without help...that much I do expect you to know, in at least one language...

        5. Phil Endecott Silver badge

          Re: Not knowing how to look can make it hard to find

          "I have software deployed in C, C++, C#, Go, Python, SQL92, JavaScript, TypeScript and Kotlin on 4 different embedded ARM architectures plus Linux, Windows and FreeRTOS.

          Can I remember the exact syntax, APIs, class libraries etc for all of them off the top of my head? Of course not."

          I'd hope that you'd be able to get close to the right suntax for whichever one of those you claim you were using last week.

          And I'd also hope that, unlike some of the interviewees I've seen, you would not totally freeze up and refuse to write anything at all in that situation.

          1. Lysenko

            Re: Not knowing how to look can make it hard to find

            And I'd also hope that, unlike some of the interviewees I've seen, you would not totally freeze up and refuse to write anything at all in that situation.

            It would depend. If you wanted me to code sketch a process I would do it in Pascal. I don't actually use Pascal for anything, but it is the best language (IMO) for explaining things because you can add type declarations, pointer math, manual memory management etc. (if you need to) while staying within syntax and it avoids the temptation to use syntax sugar like map/reduce which can easily cover up the fact that you don't really understand the algorithms you're using (e.g. people who claim "map" is more efficient than "for" but can't actually read the generated assembly language).

            I'd you wanted me to do a "fizzbuzz" then I would probably refuse. I know how to do it in one line with Python, but that's a party trick, not professional programming, and I wouldn't be good fit for an organization impressed by party tricks.

      2. Nick Z

        Re: Not knowing how to look can make it hard to find

        Perhaps there is a problem with the whole concept of hiring people on the basis of an interview.

        Because it's a well known fact in statistics that any kind of human performance is distributed on a normal curve. Any single sample can be anywhere on that curve. It's not representative at all of the person's typical ability and performance.

        The smaller your sample, the less representative it is of the person's general ability and performance.

        A person's performance over months and years at school or on a previous job is much more representative of his or her general ability than any coding interview that lasts for an hour or two.

        Relying a lot on interviews is bound to produce a lot of false positives and false negatives. This is just common sense from a statistical point of view.

        But employers don't seem to realize this for some reason. It's as if they still living in the Dark Ages, before statistical science was discovered.

        1. Lysenko

          Re: Not knowing how to look can make it hard to find

          It's as if they still living in the Dark Ages, before statistical science was discovered.

          A surprisingly large number of people still fall for Gambler's Fallacy, but even those who don't are often guilty of faulty reasoning and imprecision.

          For example, given the premise:

          "if I toss this coin five times and get 'heads' every time, what is the sixth toss likely to produce?"

          ... the 'enlightened' person may answer that the sixth toss has a 50:50 probability whereas the gambler's fallacy predicts that it is time for "tails". They're both wrong. There is only a 3.125% chance of tossing "heads" five times with a fair coin so the balance of probability is that the coin is loaded or some other trickery is at work. That means the likely outcome is either "heads" again or else the answer will dictate the outcome by causing the tosser (oooh, err) to alter his technique.

          1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

            Re: "Gambler's Fallacy"

            This is Bayesian, yes? But the probability that your five-heads coin is crooked depends on the prior probability of you obtaining - accidentally no doubt - such a crooked coin. If they are very rare then you are probably just looking at luck and a fair coin.

            I expect without checking that it's physically difficult anyway to make a coin which favours heads over tails, except of course by printing heads on both sides of the coin which is rather a giveaway. Of course, making sure that when the referee inspects the coin, they aren't inspecting the one with two heads, is just a matter of dexterity.

            1. Lysenko

              Re: "Gambler's Fallacy"

              This is Bayesian, yes? But the probability that your five-heads coin is crooked depends on the prior probability of you obtaining - accidentally no doubt - such a crooked coin

              All you know I that I am going to toss a coin. You have no data regarding my intentions or the provenance of the coin, so your analysis assumes facts not in evidence.

              As an example of why this matters (and this will be a very brief synopsis), I was asked to do a code review to determine why there was a huge spike in serious bugs being reported by a (actually "the") major customer. This was a departure from previous experience with no major staff or technology changes (though there were new releases) and the dev team claimed they couldn't reproduce most of the problems.

              After a quick read through, I found no major code quality problems, which is exactly what the in house dev team had reported. Management thought that the devs were covering for each other, but no-one had considered that the customer might be lying (law is my other field). A bit of targeted "debugging" established that the customer owed a lot of money and had a cash flow problem. The bug reports were deliberately exaggerated/fabricated as part of a customer strategy to avoid paying. Assuming facts not in evidence (in this case, customer integrity) resulted in futile expenditure running to thousands of pounds and serious damage to team morale.

              That was my point about the coins. When there is only a 3.125% chance of a fair test producing the results to date, the balance of probability is that the test isn't fair.

          2. Adam 1 Silver badge

            Re: Not knowing how to look can make it hard to find

            > There is only a 3.125% chance of tossing "heads" five times with a fair coin so the balance of probability is that the coin is loaded or some other trickery is at work.

            No. As more than 32 people who have commented on this article so far, I would expect one of them to have tossed 5 consecutive heads on a fair coin.

      3. TonyJ Silver badge

        Re: Not knowing how to look can make it hard to find

        "...In my experience that's often not the case, at least in the regions we work in. Our interviews are very real-world, and of course still many people don't make the grade..."

        This isn't always fair.

        I have 20 years of experience across various roles. Asking me to recall things ad-hoc that may be obscure or esoteric proves memory not experience.

        Mind you then there's the interviews where the person interviewing you has a networking background (I don't) then wants to drill down into network architecture.

        And says stupid things like "well wouldn't you use BitLocker as a start to securing your Office 365 implementations...?"

        And we're not talking the application suite here.

        Testing memory ain't the same as testing knowledge and is why so many "professional" certifications aren't worth the paper they're printed on.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not knowing how to look can make it hard to find

      Typical recruitment process is that companies employ an agency. The agency find that the client is not very good at specifying what they want, so the agency says "What about skills X, Y, or Z?", and the client goes "Yes, all of them!". Then they move on to qualifications, and the client is still clueless. Agency says "Well, do you want a CompSci degree?" "Yes, Yes, of course yes!". "Do you want to restrict that to upper tier universities?" "Of course". And any degree, or cut off at a 2:1 minimum?" "Oooh, yes,2:1 and above". So although they only needed somebody good at X & Y, they've ruled out the 40-60% of people who haven't been to university, they've ruled out the 90%+ that didn't graduate in CompSci, then they've ruled half of that tiny group out on the basis of grade, and they've put in an overlay of "skills in Z" which isn't really important here.

      Now, what's going on here is that the recruitment agency are trying to create a person spec because they'll only get paid when somebody is hired through them, or (for other contracts) when they put forward candidates meeting the spec. From ther point of view, they want a simple shape sorter that is easy to operate, screens out the people the client doesn't want, and bingo, its payday. Unfortunately, given the way companies tend to unwittingly gold plate the specification, this means they narrow down the pool of candidates to a miniscule subset, and then try and recruit people who can do the job so easily that they already have all the skills, stand to learn nothing new, and there's no reason why they should apply for such a Grounghog Day job. Recruiting managers rarely say "All I want is a good, experienced developer with skills in X, able to understand Y, couldn't give a toss about the academic education, but needs to fit into our corporate environment, and has suitable prior experience."

      The vast majority of managers complaining about skills shortages are talking out of their arses, and their companies can't find skills purely because they rule so much of it out on spurious grounds.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not knowing how to look can make it hard to find

        Ah, that education thing.

        Aged 50 I went for an interview with a 'big consultancy'. The HR womble spent 50 minutes trying to understand why I had no 'A' Levels but claimed that I had a 2:1 in Engineering and an MSC.

        Even showing her the degree certs didn't cut it.

        She hadn't a clue what an ONC/HNC was.

        By the time you are 50 what you did or didn't do for A Levels does not matter.

        I called it a day as regards working last year. I get my state pension next month and you know what, I don't miss it. I'm doing an OU degree now and loving it.

        1. disgruntled yank Silver badge

          Re: Not knowing how to look can make it hard to find

          Hah! A friend of my wife's, a woman then about 50, applied for a job with an electronic publisher. The latter asked her what her SAT scores were. (Note to those from outside the US: this has nothing to do with P/NP. The SATs are the Scholastic Aptitude Tests that American teens take when applying to college.)

          1. Woodnag

            Yup

            Been asked for my transcript a few times by US recruitment, and got bewilderment every time on disclosing that UK universities don't do that.

          2. James O'Shea

            Re: Not knowing how to look can make it hard to find

            My answer to questions like that is “They were good enough to get me an academic scholarship to Notre Dame, that’s what they were.” Tends to shut the idiots up. For those in heathen lands which know not The Fighting Irish, it ain’t easy to get an athletic schoarship under The Golden Dome, and _much_ harder to get an academic one; actual students aren’t trained monkeys performing under bright lights to make the school vast amounts of money. (Notre Dame Stadium currently seats in excess of 82,000; before that, more than 54,000. They have failed to sell out on home football Saturdays exactly once since 1963, and before that exactly once dating back to 1947. The school has a deal with NBC, every single home game is televised nationally, and NBC pays hansomely for the priviledge. For some strange reason, none of that mountain of cash filters down to the trained monkeys. Cynical, moi? To be fair, one of my suite mates, I spent most of my time there in a five-man suite, was a starting linebacker until he messed up his right knee really good. The school let him finish his degree even though he couldn’t play any more. Some places <cough> Ohio State</cough> would have bounced his ass out so fast he’d have trailed Cherenkov radiation.)

          3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Not knowing how to look can make it hard to find

            "a woman then about 50, applied for a job with an electronic publisher. The latter asked her what her SAT scores were."

            ISO 9000 strikes again, no doubt.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Depends What You're Looking For

    If you want a bum on a seat, then hiring is easy.

    And I don't buy the "HR are blocking all the good people" argument. Any sensible hiring manager has back-channels to recruitment agents/friends/former colleagues that allow them to short-circuit the HR checks.

    What we're really talking about is hiring people who are able to program, who enjoy programming and aren't asses. There are fewer of these people about.

    There are a surprising number of developers who can't code. And by can't code I mean fail when doing a FizzBuzz test with a pen and paper. Once you dump this group of people you look at the next hurdle: is the person someone I can work with with and who will fit with the team. There are a surprising number of people who fail this test as well, and we shouldn't discount how much damage having an ass in your team can cause.

    How do you get access to a larger talent pool? Go to a big city. There are more people and more chance of hiring. You also want all your people in one place: face to face communication helps them gel as a team (the after work beer, team lunch, general banter) and encourages impromptu help/design/peer-programming.

    You could do all this with remote workers but it's harder. There's less of a personal connection and the team has less opportunities to gel. I currently work in a multi-location team and we do plenty of screen-shares and conference calls to discuss problems and do design but it's at the London hub where new ideas come out because we have a chat when going for coffee or after work over a beer.

    Hiring good people is hard. Not much of a story, but there it is.

    1. Daedalus Silver badge

      Re: Depends What You're Looking For

      "There are a surprising number of developers who can't code. "

      Make that "astonishing". I tend to get the reputation of "The Guy" because I use modularity, structure, patterns etc. and don't just cut and paste example code. Of course if feels like climbing Everest in your underwear sometimes but results are gotten and they tend to be good. Not so with the C&P brigade or the "screw the design spec, I need this piece so I'm going to grab it even if I introduce pathological dependencies in the process" people.

      Unfortunately the people who preside over chaos are the least well equipped to understand who can be expected to clear it up rather than make it worse. I did a major cleanup of a process once and got the cycle time down from weeks to hours. What got me noticed? Presenting the output in HTML instead of bog roll text.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Training spend

    PHB's see all training as a cost, and lump it all together. Therefore all of the corporate policy rubbish that gets pushed down the tree from senior management gets to eat the budget before any work-relevant training is even considered. So it's perfectly possible that the PHB perception that they're paying enough for training is correct, even while the employees are also correct that they're not getting enough training to do their jobs.

    This is part of a bigger problem. Current corporate culture is focused on keeping authority (and the budgets that go with it) more and more concentrated at the top of companies, as it's part of the justification for increasing executive pay while suppressing everyone else's. The result is we get to enjoy C-level flights of fancy at the same time as coping with the joys of budgetary constraints on the daily grind. Unfortunately there's not much to be done about this until investors realise what damage this kind of board level hubris is doing to companies.

    Yeah, I'm not holding my breath for that either.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Training spend

      "PHB's see all training as a cost, and lump it all together."

      Not entirely. Management training is fine. It might be completely irrelevant to the tech job but it becomes compulsory. If someone's handling their tech job well they must be promoted to management so they can be replaced by someone who can't do the job as well. The fact that the tech abilities are at best orthogonal to management abilities is irrelevant.

  8. Whitter
    Meh

    Not specific to IT

    companies claiming there aren't enough "good people" and "failing schools/education" is commonplace, and for very common reasons:

    a) They won't pay enough to recruit the skilled people that are already present (except at C level)

    b) They won't pay enough to keep the skilled people they already have, so typically leak skills

    c) They won't provide training to create new skill sets of use to them

    d) HR interpret all requests for "would be nice to have" as "must have", resulting in impossible skill sets

    e) They want to replace experienced staff with new-starts to reduce staff costs but retain all the benefits of expert staff to maintain company performance. Hint: you can't.

    f) Poaching good staff can be more difficult than you think: its not just about money. Skilled technical people expect a combination of poor management and no loyalty from most management, certainly faceless new management, and thus need to factor-in the risk of being replaced at the drop-of-a-hat by notionally (and erroneously) cheaper new-starts by a potential new employer

    1. Loud Speaker

      Re: Not specific to IT

      There is also a problem in that programmers sometimes talk to each other - and when the word gets around that the PHBs have a reputation for bullying tech staff, discriminatory behaviour, imposing impossible deadlines or failing to take advice from people who actually know what they are talking about, it is unhelpful to the recruiting process.<p>

      Offering only about half the going rate for the job is also an unhelpful strategy. (Mr Dyson, I am looking at you on this one).

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Could we have an article written by someone who doesn't think he's auditioning for a comedy scriptwriter job and that sticks to the point rather than meanders all over the place trying to tell 'jokes'?

    1. Woodnag

      Sure

      Thanks for volunteering!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      Take my mother-in-law...

      ...I wish someone would!

    3. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Could we have an article written by someone who doesn't think he's auditioning for a comedy scriptwriter job

      Where would be the entertainment value in such an article? Besides which, humour is a good teacher.

  10. haiku

    The Missing Elephant

    One of the 'elephants in the room' missing in the discussion thus far is the age-old (weak pun intended) problem of age-ism: on one's fortieth birthday all IT skills are lost and one becomes totally unemployable.

    1. RyokuMas Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: The Missing Elephant

      Started my current job 16 days before my 41st birthday... :P

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Missing Elephant

        Started mine 18 days after my 41st..

    2. ma1010 Silver badge

      Re: The Missing Elephant

      Have an upvote! Some fellows are lucky enough to avoid this, but many of us ARE victims of ageism, including myself.

    3. Wiltshire

      Re: The Missing Elephant

      Unemployable? Age-ism?

      Not here. I started my current BI/SQL job at the age of 61. My (relatively) old age and decades of scar tissue experience is proving to be a valuable asset for a rapidly-growing firm struggling to build secure, stable and scaleable systems. It's fun being a mentor as well, being able to predict the consequences, and help people Choose Wisely.

      I'm old enough to be the grandfather of some of the people I'm working with, but we all get on happily. It might be because of a rather unique perk of the job, we can bring our dogs to work with us. :-) And my wife / Financial Director has no plans for me to retire for many years to come.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Language? we've heard of it

    Got as far as reading 'consternated'

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Language? we've heard of it

      Ditto. It's amazing how flexible the English language is - it just takes seconds to create gibberish.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    “Well, our free coconut water is organic! And we have three fridges full of craft beer!”

    Throw in a couple of cucumbers and a spatula and I'll take it.

  13. ShortLegs

    Recruitment. The mai problem (I have faced) is HR. Not just for the "people specs" others have raised, but for being overly involved in the process.

    Couple of examples.

    At One company, despite offering fantastic salaries, we were getting NO applicants. So I went direct to agencies. Lots of candidates. HR visited, asking me to stop. When I queried the lack of applications, I was told the "old" filter was as follows

    This job will lead to an increase of >£5000 over current salary - bin.

    CV not in company format (!!!) - bin

    No experience in company market - bin

    So HR had a new policy, complete with technical tests to filter candidates. Aye, they had tests. Thy had culled questions from the various tick tests offered by MS, Cisco, et al. My third line team tried the tests, and "failed"... because the exam-correct answers do not reflect real world answers, or in other cases were flat out wrong (sh int s0 being my favourite, followed by MS insistence that an MS Server build with more than one NIC MUST have IP routing enabled). I finally had two applicants... one was plainly using someone else's CV (asked how he would trouble shoot network level issues, replied "we plug into the black box"), the other claimed he didn't recognise the NMT software running on the workstation he was asked to demonstrate because he was "used to the Windows version".

    Another company, potential managers were given a list of 15 skills/competencies, and asked to list them in terms of strongest to weakest. One candidate grouped them into 3 groups instead, strongest, strong, weakest. HR rejected him because they couldn't compare how his skills ranked against another... this despite the obvious flaw that, for example if one ranked "strategy, policy", and another "policy, strategy", he did not mean that the first candidates' strategy skills were stronger than the seconds, because it was a subjective self-assessment, not an objective measured test!

    I could go on. But as we all know, there is no real skills shortage. Just a common-sense shortage at management level.

  14. Doctor Huh?

    Bucolic programming

    Nicely said. I live in New Jersey (a nice part -- no, really, there are nice parts), and I get calls from headhunters to work in New York. I explain that to work in NYC, I would be signing up for 60-90 minutes on the train each way, plus whatever time I would need to spend on the subway or walking to whatever hip, happening location the company has selected, or I'm signing up for a bus adventure. Either way, I would be buying a stressful 3-4 hours of commuting every single working day.

    My current commute is a 35-45 minute drive (one direction) through farmland, along rivers and a canal, and through quaint villages. Were I so inclined, there are 3 places where I could buy fresh-from-the-hen eggs on the honor system, and I can pick up farm-fresh vegetables on my way home from any number of little stands.

    I would have to be an idiot to give this up.

    1. Daedalus Silver badge

      Re: Bucolic programming

      "I live in New Jersey (a nice part -- no, really, there are nice parts)"

      Yep, been there. Northwest among the hills and lakes, or south among the swamps. Prefer the hills and lakes myself, some good skiing up there.

      Myself I tolerate snow up to the knees and a post-industrial city nearby for probably the cheapest suburban living in the fine state of NY. Could have gone to Massachusetts, but who wants to?

    2. Woodnag

      You you name the area please?

      Just curious, I'm stuck on the west coast, so not going to pollute your region with my relo.

  15. Dr. G. Freeman

    Put this to Human Remains for our Assistant Lab Tech job,

    "for the advertised Assistant Lab Technician role, we require the applicant to have at least two PhDs (with postdoctoral roles), 50 years experience in similar roles, three Nobel prizes, be able to speak Fluent Aramaic, Sanskrit, Latin, Klingon, and Phoenician, have clean drivers' and pilot licences, and at least five years experience of technologies that haven't even been released yet."

    They are currently translating it into recruiter-language

    1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
      Facepalm

      That

      reminds of the junior sys admin job posted by the local council

      "Trainee sys admin needed, good for a starter job, training provided, must have 5 yrs prior experience of sys admin in the councils IT department"

      1. Daedalus Silver badge

        Re: That

        File under "Internal Candidate"

        1. Chris King Silver badge

          Re: That

          The thing that clues me in to "internal candidate" roles is the qualifications/certifications or other bits of paper the "intern^H^H^H^H^Hdeal" candidate should possess - usually the exact combination the "chosen one" already has under their belt.

          1. J. Cook Silver badge

            Re: That

            "The thing that clues me in to "internal candidate" roles is the qualifications/certifications or other bits of paper the "intern^H^H^H^H^Hdeal" candidate should possess - usually the exact combination the "chosen one" already has under their belt."

            Or, they are trying to replace a guy they let go or left, but tried to get back only to find that the guy either immediately got a job somewhere else and/or told them to take a long walk off a short pier.

            Those indicators include things like multiple years of experience on a combination of extremely esoteric hardware, software, and skill sets. (usually for items that are 'legacy' PBX systems, the ad-hoc scripting system the last person was using to manage/interact with it, etc.)

            No, never seen anything like that. :D

    2. Chris King Silver badge

      I'm surprised they didn't add "Must be accompanied by both parents".

  16. Synonymous Howard

    "dress like an adult too"

    At that point I stopped reading .. and it had been going quite well until then.

    I was employed for my lateral thinking, problem solving and communication abilities not my sartorial elegance.

    Having worked in both academia and 'business' I found that the best people to work with were scruffy and/or odd/crazy and the worst people were clean shaven, sharp suited, forked-tongued MBA types.

  17. Christoph Silver badge

    And then there's the problem of writing your CV to fit what the recruiter expects.

    There is a huge amount of advice out there on how to write a CV.

    Every single piece of such advice is directly contradicted by someone else's advice.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmm.

    I'll work for anyone with a fridge full of craft beer in the office...

    Some points seem to be missed though...

    IT is often now very specialised as soon as you get under the code. Understanding how to wrangle virtual machines, monitoring, devops, deployment automation and orchestration etc. These then feed into the culture and solution choice of your business and its solution providers. Very arcane in some areas. These environments are often populated by people that have been around a bit and saw the methods develop. These are hard to replace, and hard to train in the experience needed to wrangle (mangle) at the expected sped.

    I have found neither vocational or computer science graduates reliable to find people that are any good. There are people that can easily pass academically that find it hard to work in the real world, and similar for vocational. Challenge ism at least in my experience, its hard to get rid of the people that "just don't get it" regardless of how they have trained up. Technology is as much art as science and logic after all.

    On a side note, anyone else notice a few missing words in the article, seemed almost unfinished...

  19. fran 2
    Flame

    ...and don't forget to mention the execrable and idiotic "culture fit"

  20. adam payne Silver badge

    It certainly doesn't help when unimaginative managers and HR departments slap must have a degree on every job advert that goes out the door.

    Experience above a degree every time I say.

  21. Ol' Grumpy

    "d) HR interpret all requests for "would be nice to have" as "must have", resulting in impossible skill sets"

    This and this again.

    The amount of job advertisements out there that are just technical laundry lists is beyond belief. "We want a Windows guy! but they must know everything about Linux, databases, networking, firewalls, soft development oh ... and how to make a good cup of tea too!" .... sheesh.

  22. Mephistro Silver badge
    Happy

    'There is no talent shortage'

    On the contrary, there's a huge sortage, in the "managerial talent"* department.

    *: Oxymoron alert?

    ;^)

  23. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Over-selling a company

    Perhaps I'm odd, old or just old fashioned, but what I'm looking for (when I am) is a decent job which I believe I may enjoy doing for a decent salary in a reasonably decent company.

    I am not against perks and the like, but when it comes to talk of IPO, share deals, how all the staff meet up for a daily bladdering, gym workouts, and how working for them will be like being a member of some utopian community, it actually puts me right off, especially when that all comes wrapped in a game of buzzword bingo.

    I'm not particularly boring, a bit introverted, perhaps, but I just like things to be how I prefer them, left to get on with my life how I'd like it. If I wanted to be a member of a glee club I'd have tended towards the creative arts not engineering.

    1. Swarthy Silver badge

      Re: Over-selling a company

      When a company makes a big deal about on-site gyms, lunches delivered, and everyone hanging out at the bar just down the street; I tend to interpret that as "you will never see your family again, because you'll be working 80 hour/weeks."

      What good is getting paid well if you never get a chance to spend it?

    2. Chris King Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: Over-selling a company

      "...how all the staff meet up for a daily bladdering..."

      They're doing Morris Dancing in team meetings now ? Sheesh.

      Next thing you know, someone's going to shout "Hey Nonny Nonny" and I shall have to call the police.

      (With apologies to Mr E. Blackadder)

  24. Shameless Oracle Flack

    Good piece, correction on Oracle and outsourcing

    This piece makes lots of good points about hiring and location. With respect to Oracle and outsourcing, outsourcing is IBM's gig. In traditional outsourcing, you don't change your infrastructure, you just hire cheaper people to run the same system (i.e., your mess for less). Oracle's cloud approach is to leverage automation to reduce the headcount for complex, repetitive, manual tasks that don't add value, just like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google in their own clouds. This frees up headcount for application development, at the PaaS or SaaS layers. if you can just buy SaaS application software and not program, why not do it? That's just software engineering best practice. Further, Oracle is aggressively promoting its low code development environments that allow lines of business to develop their own software. So no, Oracle is not against companies or governments doing their own software development, were against doing software development that is expensive, complex, costly, and risky while adding very little value to the business.

  25. tiggity Silver badge

    job ads get ignored

    By me, very often

    When I look at the HR speak & random contradictory guff

    Here are a few lines (and my translations / comments) from a recent one

    "Takes responsibility for continuous self –learning. "(translation: we provide no training)

    "Positive and constructive minded

    Takes the lead and makes decisions in critical times and tough circumstances.

    Has a ‘can do’ attitude, counteracting the negativity of others, putting a positive spin on things.

    Displays enthusiasm, is animated, infectious, encouraging and positive."

    Translates as: If the code / architecture is bad / insecure or similarly not fit for purpose then try and hide its a POS and slap down for "negativity" anyone who says maybe we should make a good product

    When one of the lines is:

    "Advise on security and performance aspects of applications."

    Then bound to be lots of non positive comments/. perceived negativity as always security & performance issues to be found (and lot's you cannot do very much about in terms of underlying hardware, OS, 3rd party applications etc) so which one of these requirements has to give way?

    Fully glory of job spec blurb below.

    Role Objective:

    The candidates will have to love writing code in a dynamic and multidisciplinary environment and take pride in writing elegant bullet proof solutions that our customers interact every day.

    The Company seeks a .NET developer to implement high performing technical solutions. You will be responsible for developing, enhancing, modifying and/or maintaining applications that serve multiple industries

    · Design, build and implement cutting edge solutions to complex problems in a .NET/MS SQL environment.

    · Design and implement middle-tier business objects, components, web services, and database systems using a variety of languages like C#, JQuery and T-SQL in MVC or Web-Forms architecture patterns.

    · Stand-up and deploy environments in Azure, AWS and private dedicated environments

    · Perform hardware/network-related troubleshooting while fulfilling the creative vision of the project by working closely with the Front End Developers and Data Architects

    · Advise on software architecture and how your work is deployed in production

    · Advise on security and performance aspects of applications.

    EXPERIENCE

    Essential

    • 7+ years of professional experience working within the Microsoft development stack using several of the following technologies:

    o Microsoft Visual Studio (2010+),

    o Microsoft SQL Server (2008+),

    o .NET 4.5+/MS SQL development environment with a focus on digital (web) platforms on n-tier architecture systems with MVC4/5 pattern and WCF or WebAPI framework.

    o Advanced knowledge of Front End technologies and best practises in AJAX, HTML, JavaScript, JQuery and CSS.

    • 5+ years System design/Architecture experience

    • 5+ years Technical Analysis experience (liaising with Business analysts in refining requirement

    • Experienced or well-versed in Scrum/Agile methodologies

    • Can articulate a senior level understanding of database and SQL concepts (Strong SQL and T-SQL skills)

    • Hands-on development.

    Desirable

    Working with RESTful APIs using JQUERY

    Angular JS

    Experience of Test Driven Development/Behaviour Driven Development including continuous integration.

    SKILLS/ ABILITIES

    Essential

    Ability to translate and clearly formulate technical issues and solutions to the issues

    · Excellent problem solving and analysis skills

    · Excellent communication skills- written and verbal

    · Recognises and develops potential so that the team has the necessary knowledge, skills and experience.

    · Excellent presentational skills.

    · Intervenes if warning signs of problems occur within own area of responsibility.

    · Forward thinking. Proactive rather than Reactive.

    DISPOSITION

    Essential

    · Customer focussed

    · Excellent time management skills

    · Positive and constructive minded

    · Takes responsibility for continuous self –learning.

    · Takes the lead and makes decisions in critical times and tough circumstances.

    · Has a ‘can do’ attitude, counteracting the negativity of others, putting a positive spin on things.

    · Displays enthusiasm, is animated, infectious, encouraging and positive.

    · Uses appropriate language, uses a style they are comfortable with but that suits the occasion

    · Attention to detail

    · Identifies and takes up opportunities to coach others on a formal and informal basis.

    · High levels of integrity and honesty

    · Positive approach to change and good sense of humour

    · Calm disposition

    · Full UK Driving Licence

    1. A K Stiles

      Re: job ads get ignored

      The listing seems to be missing these extra lines...

      location: London

      Starting salary £16k with potential for performance related bonuses

      1. Chris King Silver badge

        Re: job ads get ignored

        "Starting salary £16k with potential for performance related bonuses"

        TRANSLATION: The bonus actually goes to your boss, for keeping salary rises to a minimum.

        El Reg, we need a "Been There, Done That" t-shirt icon !

    2. onceuponatime

      Re: job ads get ignored

      "WHAT THIS COMPANY OFFERS YOU:

      Competitive hourly wage and optional consultant benefits during contract period. Commensurate salary and benefits will be provided after the contract period."

      From a contractor after I told them what I want to change jobs. I like where I'm at so it'd take a lot to encourage me to move.

  26. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  27. onceuponatime

    I've had multiple contracting companies call for an F5 admin that must know F5 inside and out and be ready go go running. The same company is looking but since F5 must be all they know (and I don't mention F5 since I've only given it a cursory glance in my CV/Resume.) Could I learn it in a couple days? Sure. I mean I've had to master SCCM in 2 days. That's not good enough though. Same with Crisco....I mean Cisco certs. I know enough Cisco CLI to get myself into trouble and could learn the rest if needed easily. Only piece of paper I have is my college degree and 15 years of experience as an admin.

    On the flip side are the tier 1 helpdesk positions that keep calling. Sorry mate, not what I'm looking for thanks.

  28. Archtech Silver badge

    Simples

    From reading the article, this is a purely artificial problem. It can be condensed to:

    The stupid bastards want something for nothing. Tough.

    1. onceuponatime

      Re: Simples

      No, they want a unicorn to appear and grant them three wishes. Sadly they killed the unicorn years ago.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Simples

      "The stupid bastards want something for nothing."

      s/some/every/

  29. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    Writing or typing?

    Not even ruminants can "orally ruminate".

  30. Jonathan Schwatrz
    Alert

    This, so much this!

    "..... it’d be nice if people actually wanted to work at your company because the culture was welcoming....." Only last week, whilst visiting an industry marketing company - "We have a big problem recruiting, and high turn-over of staff". A quick glance round the office saw many stressed faces, not one happy person in the whole building. Our second meeting I witnessed the sight of two employees - a project manager and a "creative developer" (someone that hacks HTML, apparently) - having a screaming match in the middle of the office and no-one else even missing a beat! If your office is a stress factory then don't be surprised if it really limits the number of people who want to work for you. If you're walking into an interview then always try and get a look behind the scenes and count the happy faces.

    1. onceuponatime

      Re: This, so much this!

      I went to one interview and the HR drone I met was super nice..............in the "I have to be nice because I am told to." Talked to the IT people and the strain from not saying anything negative was visible..................

      Sometimes happy is too fake to be happy though.

  31. phat shantz

    You gotta know the territory

    As the intro line to the "Music Man" went, "but ya gotta know the territory!" But Professor Harold Hill didn't know the territory. His was a huge scam.

    Hiring in technology is like the salesmen on the railroad car in "Music Man." If you are successful, "you gotta know the territory." But nobody in HR knows the technical territory that will guide them in finding the right person for the technical job.

    Nobody in management seems to know. And most of the time, nobody in charge of IT knows, either. They're all selling the "Think Method," Professor Harold Hill's technique whereby boys learned to play their musical instruments by "thinking about the Minuet in G."

    These folks are scamming everybody around them. They don't know the territory. They don't know the people, the problems, the products, or the markets. No wonder they fail.

    It would scare the knickers off of the C-level if they knew just exactly how complex technology has become. That makes finding the right technical hire very difficult because YOU HAVE TO KNOW WHAT YOU NEED BEFORE YOU CAN START LOOKING FOR IT.

    There. You made me yell.

    The solution to this is to find the one-in-a-thousand who can do networks and systems and security and cryptography and back-end in .NET and Java and Node.js and who can do front-end in .NET and Bootstrap and PHP and Angular and MVC and MVVM and jQuery and Knockout and can do the data store in SQL and Sybase and Hadoop and who can do data warehousing and analysis in R and who knows UI and UX and Agile and Scrum and CI and CD and can manage the junior developers and directly interface with the department heads.

    And that doesn't even address the truth in all work that about four percent of the programmers are exceptional, about ten percent are really good, and everybody else is okay to horrid. So if you plan on developing a product that demands that all workers are exceptional, then you can find one-in-twenty five; if they even apply. (Most of the four percent are comfortable already or are independent and work their hours, their locations, and their interests.)

    The only way to change that (for a time) is to bribe them with so much money they can't resist.

    The real way to handle this is to a) realize management and HR and company "leaders" don't know anything about technology, b) they can't define what they need so c) they can't describe the jobs, and d) they don't know how to design a project plan so that there are a couple of exceptional leaders, a few really good drivers, and a whole lot of learners, average producers, and growing/learning apprentices.

    No, no! On the contrary, by the time a department gets the budget and the approval for a technical project, the need is so desperate and the demand for results is so outlandish that there is no time to think -- only time to deliver; and deliver an exceptional product. The only way to do that is to find a number of those folks in the Upper Three Sigma range of the curve and hope they can work together long enough to go over budget, beyond deadline, and deliver a nearly-usable product.

    Does anyone really wonder why failure is the only option?

  32. kbb

    Remote working

    I live close enough to London to be caught in its vortex, but far enough out that it takes me a couple of hours to commute in. I get the emails from recruiters about positions. Some of them have even actually read my CV and informed me of jobs that I could do. "Remote working for some/most/all of the time?" I ask. "No, you have to be on site," I am told, over and over again.

    I can (and have) worked remotely and, if anything, I've been more efficient. My home office is set up the way I want it so I'm comfortable and less distracted. If someone really, really, *really* needs me they can call, but other than that it's email or some other messaging service, things that I can turn off if I need to focus on a problem. It's difficult to turn off your co-workers in an open plan office. (And, as an aside, if there's anyone in a position of political power reading this, please put forward a motion banning people from installing Sonos speakers in the office!)

    Widen your talent pool, trust the people that you hire, but don't screw them over by offering peanuts just because they don't have to pay London prices.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do they *really* have to be on-site 100% of the time?

    Tip to widen the talent pool: Allow remote working at least some of the time.

    How often do you go to work, push buttons for the whole day and then go home without ever really talking to anyone? Or if you do, it could be done just as easily with a phone call or a shared screen via e.g. Skype?

    I'm sure I'm not the only one who would work a bit further from home if I only had to go there a few days per week.

  34. AdrianMontagu

    What always amazes me is the gap.

    That is - some people have amazing skills AND can use them well.

    And - some people in the workplace - you wonder how they got that far.

    It seems to me that what is important is whether you can apply your skills well (or even learn to do that). I have looked up to some and then realised - they have built a monster - now how do we get out of this mess!

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And another thing

    Put the sodding salary in the ad. You've clearly budgeted for it, you clearly know how much you’re willing to offer, stop trying to play poker with me. Funnily enough, I'm not going to spend half an hour filling in your eight page form, then take a day off work to go to the interview and then find out you're willing to pay £15k less than I'm on at the moment, you dodo. That’s a stupid waste of your time and mine.

    And the ones where it says "salary neg." - that means "salary negligible".

  36. 2Fat2Bald

    Outsourcing

    There is a definite problem with outsourcing. If you think most people lie on their CVs, it's nothing compared to what a lot of outsourcers do at the pitch meeting. Several times I've seen entire departments outsourced, only to come back as contractors a few months later because the people who took the job on couldn't actually do it - but the boss can't admit it was a massive mistake and bring the jobs back. Sometimes it's their ego, sometimes it's the exit clauses.

    The really charming one is when they ask the staff who's job is being outsourced to fly to India (or wherever) and train their replacements in the job they're just been made redundant from. And often the outsourcers blame the empty when their staff can't cut it "Oh, they didn't help at all - I think they had a bit of an attitude after being made redundant!".

  37. CitizenJimserac

    Lack of skills ? Shortage of "skilled" talent ?

    This one is so old it has a white beard.

    That's the current lie to cover for the fake "need" for H1B Visa people.

    THERE IS NO "SKILLS" SHORTAGE. There are plenty of skilled engineers, programmers and other technical people out there, unemployed or underemployed.

    What this is about is companies trying to get "skilled" help FOR CHEAP MONEY.

  38. asickness231

    Deaf Ears

    It took me almost a year to find a job out of college. I was succesfully employed during college with a very great (read well managed) hardware concern in SV. They went down hard, and i was up a shit creek with no paddle.

    The best I was able to do after that was less than 2/3rds of what i made as an intern, and management is intragnisent to say the least. The problem is very obviously no the "pool" of employees". It's idiotic employers who simultaneously bemoan a lack of tech talent, yet are unwilling to either foster an environment of technical expertise or hire people who are willing to. "never program wearing a suit" is advice I've heard many a time. Yet that seems to be the only job available.

    Also how about an obligatory we have a huge tech staffing problem were I currently work.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where? Dulles

    My last contract gig was in the Dulles area of Virginia serving a client located in DC. DC is a hole, and anyone located there has recruitment problems. In contrast, I rented an entire house in the Dulles area for $1,700 a month, an easy eight mile commute from my office. Lots of very large IT shops there, including most/all of the giant defense contractors and IT contractors. If you want some real fun, both the NSA and the CIA have large offices there.

  40. Dave 13

    Braindead hiring practices

    Just had our new boss (less than 2 months in the job) hire 2 additional headcount without any input from us individual contributors. He was looking for folks with certs while if he'd have asked us we would have told him how little that actually benefits us in our jobs. What'll likely happen is those folks will land in our group and be clueless, requiring additional cycles to bring them up to speed. Go figure.

  41. grenac

    If the IT job market were dating sites.

    Imagine that instead.

    Now think of what every posting would be like. Yep, every lass would be posting "Must be Brad Pitt, but with Billions and really kind and patient .. fighting with his bear hands for world peace .. " and every chap "Must Angelina .. . " - you can all fill in the rest (blah, blah .. if you've seen enough job ads). With of course a few chaps wanting the Brad Pitt, etc.. and vice versa (the other way around in English) again. But all in the same vain.

    Then realise that what is actually required in 99.999997% of cases is along the lines of "Loving husband and good dad required, .. greate sense of humour ..". Or whichever variant of the dating ad-type that is your choice.

    How did this requiremnt get so badly transformed from one version to the other?

    The answer is mostly simple, and it seems to happen even where the original requirements are pretty unreasonable to start with (or not). It is that the requirement gets magnified and distorted by the people in the middle. They then also get to pick the square peg that fits exactly that size square, no bigger, smaller, stonger or longer - than the, in reality hugely complex mix of shapes that could fit. Whether that process is via hiring managers, HR folks, agents, fellow workers or 3rd parties - or just all of them one after the other.

    It is as if no-one is allowed to post their profile on any dating site, or come to tat post there own reply. They have to be posted up there by the "matchmakers". These various matchmakers are spread out across 10,000 different dating sites. They work for folks who manage to convince the retired pensioner with barely enough to live on. Convince them that - yes, they can afford Angelina (now she's divorced from Brad) to come and be his Tea Maid and work for biscuit money.

    This is not exactly how it works. The reality is more complex. But, unfortunately this tends to be the direction in which the whole system pushes everyone. In a business where tales of love potions and unicorns abound. The real story is that neither recruiting nor IT are easy - or have easy fairy tale solutions.

    I think that, as this atricle implies, most of the responsibility has to go back to the hirers. They have to take more care and more control over how their requirement gets from them to any job candidates. From getting the spec right (which you can just use to review CV's / resumes against), to making sure that the job ad is not too over-presecriptive (I query a few sites myself and phone the agents who have messed around the ad too much), keep the instructions to HR or the agents as simple as possible. And, basically - take back control.

  42. Naselus

    Did I hit a nerve with the Friedman thing? This is like the third time you've brought it up...

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