Wednesday, June 8, 2011

RFC: Operation BTFO (or, "yes, Pedro's employer is hiring programmers again!")

The dark secret of software development in the DC metro area is that it is harder to recruit for good programmers than what it takes to write the actual code. I really feel the pain for anyone struggling with recruiting for programmers in this town.
My employer, who runs the most kickass, greatest little web shop in the DC Metro area, is now looking for one or more programmers to add to our band of misfits. This is a permanent, full-time (not contract) position. The company is based in the DC metro area with locations in Old Town Alexandria, Fairfax, Reston, Baltimore and the Maryland backwoods where the Blair Witch is rumored to still be roaming about.

This is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national orgin, marital status, age, disability, disabled veteran, Vietnam era or other eligible veteran status.

What we want:
  1. Programmers” that grok programming, not somebody that is proficient in one language and can’t deal with anything else.
  2. Our weapon of choice is This is not a requirement for hire, but you must learn it in a reasonable time. Our last hire walked in with solid programming experience and literally zero knowledge of .net, and he had no trouble whatsoever picking it up (it was actually a bit scary how fast he learned it!).
  3. We are all proficient in generic (ANSI) SQL, not specialized in one given flavor. We want people that understand SQL well enough to switch between products with minor adjustments. The idea here is that a programmer needs to understand relational databases, and he/she must really understand ANSI SQL as a language instead of only knowing enough SQL to survive in SQL Server or Oracle.
  4. Troubleshooting skills are critical, there is no way around this. If you can’t troubleshoot, we don’t want you.
  5. Communication skills are critical. Our programmers deal with customers directly, and can’t afford to fall back on the project manager. We ride the phones a lot, it is a reality of life for our line of business. If you are the kind that doesn’t like to talk on the phone or that can’t write coherent emails, please don’t bother.
  6. 99% of the programming that we do requires a high degree of autonomy with very little supervision. Our ideal programmers understands how to fill-in the blanks from general guidelines. If you need every deliverable broken into 20 bullet points stating every little thing, this is not the kind of job for you.
  7. We are BUSY and we frown on clock punchers. Our boss has a really simple way to deal with grumpy overworked programmers: he throws money at us until we shut up. Expect to work like hell and be rewarded handsomely for it. To offset this, we have a really kickass flex schedule which relies heavily on our ability to operate autonomously. This is not a sweatshop, just extremely busy.
  8. We are process-oriented to a fault, which is one of the reasons why we are so popular with our customers. What to an outsider looks like an infuriatingly detailed process/plan/etc. is a carefully crafted masterpiece that is the product of our combined skills and experience dealing with that situation in particular. Chaotic people that like to run around like chickens with their heads cut off don’t need to apply.
  9. We pride ourselves in our ability to overcome any technical hurdle. Our customers keep coming back to us because instead of saying that something cannot be done, we are ready and able to offer them multiple alternative approaches.
  10. Individuals that show initiative and an autonomous streak while keeping in mind the big picture. Notice how I keep saying autonomous instead of independent. The idea is not to let one programmer carry a project alone, but it is important to let the programmer know that micromanagement will not be tolerated.
What you get:
  1. Challenging work. We will give you migraines from the puzzles that you have to deal with.
  2. We are busy in the middle of a recession. While others don’t know where the next project is coming from, we are always wondering how we are going to fit one more project.
  3. We have a very tight technical team, and our management speaks geek. The good news is this means that management usually understands whatever technical approach you are trying to pitch. The bad news is that it is almost impossible to get away with a bluff on technical merits.
  4. Very competitive compensation, including quarterly bonuses paid based on billable work (the more you bill, the bigger the bonus), not on performance appraisals that are adjusted against a Bell curve behind your back.
  5. The usual health, etc. that everyone else gets.
  6. 100% telecommuting. Right now we are scattered over the mid Atlantic states. We have had employees on both coasts, basically it all depends on your specific workload. The company provides laptop, VoIP phone, company card, etc.
  7. Flexible scheduling. Again, this depends on specific workload.
How the interviewing process works:
  1. You will send me or one of my peers your resume/CV and cover letter.
  2. ???
If you are interested, please send me your resume and cover letter and we’ll take it from there. Principals only, please.

BTW, in case you couldn't figure out, BTFO means Bail The Frak Out. Or something like that.