For as long as I can remember, writing a personal bio has been a tough challenge. You know how this goes: you’re applying to a conference, writing a resume or creating an “About Me” page on your website. You have to write down information about who you are, what you’ve accomplished and what you think other people will find interesting about you. All of a sudden you’re frozen in fear: writing about yourself is hard! You don’t know where to start, what to say or what other people will think. Writing a personal biography sucks.
I feel it’s time to do something about this problem. And so, I’ve begun developing a new service called Build A Bio. The Build A Bio service will connect you with a copywriter who will craft a biography for you. All you’ll have to do is answer some straightforward questions honestly. No more trying to guess what other people find interesting; no more struggling to write in the third person; no more fear!
Robert Half Technologies has released their annual salary guide, highlighting what they expect the average salaries to be for various technology positions in the new year. As much as I like to get worked up over salary data as the next developer, I simply cannot trust Robert Half Technologies to be honest about their salary calculations. Let’s consider a few points.
Years ago, I worked for a company that had a strictly governed bug fixing process. The bugs to be fixed per release were specifically regimented, right down to the amount of hours available to fix each issue. Developers were expected to meet or beat their estimates, and failing to do so meant overtime (since the deadline was immutable). With effectively every working moment spoken for, there was never any free time for innovation, invention or creativity (at least on the schedule). Developers were effectively bug fixing or feature building machines, with no input into the process or product features.
Unfortunately, this seems to be an all too common trend in the development industry. Employers, who love the ability to measure things, disdain the fact that engineering is first and foremost a creative art, that cannot be effectively measured. They attempt to install artificial measures of productivity like tests written, lines of code added, bugs solved, and number of bugs reopened by the quality assurance team. Sadly, these measures all fail to effectively measure the effectiveness of development teams, because the developers themselves see immediately through the schemes, and learn quickly to game the system.
It’s been a little over a year and a half since I left the daily grind of a commute and began working from my home office. It’s been an amazing year filled with challenges, adventures, struggles and blessings. I’m like most developers: I relished the idea of having a quiet place to work, of getting more done, and of getting back 2 hours a day that I previously spent on commuting to and from my job.
I’ve learned a lot in my year of working from home. There have been some great moments, and some low ones. Overall it was a great move. So what is working from home really like?
One of the things about the PHP field is that developers are highly sought after, and good developers are prized. While anyone can slap “PHP Developer” on their resume, most companies have gotten good at weeding out the pretenders from the real deal. This means that for a highly qualified developer, interviewing should be an easy step towards receiving an offer.
Of course, the interview process is not always about the person, their qualifications, or their skills. Sometimes it’s about personality, team fit, or corporate culture. Those interviewing you may not be the people you work with daily or even semi-regularly. They may be HR people, vice presidents, leaders of product management teams, sales people, or others. As a highly qualified developer, it’s important to understand the audience.
In my career as a software developer I’ve been lucky. I’ve been lucky that finding work has never been terribly difficult. The longest I’ve ever been out of work is a month and a half. Six weeks might seem like a long time, especially in software; in my case I was unfortunate enough to experience a two-week delay in my interviewing thanks to the Snowpocalypse of 2010 and the aftermath of that event. When I’ve actively looked for work I’ve been pretty fortunate to have a good resume, good skills, and most importantly, a strong job market for the particular field I’m in.
What I’ve often struggled with is finding the right job. There are lots of bad jobs out there; many developers are in them. I’ve been in them. You know the type: jobs that have managers who think that being salaried means they own your every waking moment. Jobs with non-compete clauses that would force you out of your profession if they were enforced. Jobs that advertise for “good under pressure” people or “detail oriented” individuals.