Thursday, March 19, 2009

Unfathomable Job Descriptions

I saw this one a while ago but it seems to have been resubmitted. I guess they couldn't find anyone the first time around:

An exciting and highly successful company here in town is looking for a Senior Linux Engineer to add to the team. This person needs to be one of the best of the best in the Linux world. You should be able to learn the software and hardware architecture and help with future platform architecture. You must have a track record of building mission critical web applications in a Linux environment, which will include expertise in PHP, XML, etc. You must have strong networking experience including TCP/IP, DNS, etc. as well as experience with Load Balancing and Switch Management. You should understand Web Services and know Object Oriented Programming techniques. This is a perm job, so a good job history is required. For immediate consideration, please e-mail your resume to the information below.
Let's run down the list of "problems" with this job description:

1) It's a "Senior Linux Engineer" position and yet nothing in the job description points to Linux
2) They want the best of the best in the Linux world. Again, nothing in the job description points to Linux

The job description then goes on to point to requiring expertise in PHP and XML among other things. Beyond that it wants experience with Load Balancing and switch management and some general networking concepts. While very important skill sets to have, NONE of these are Linux specific.

In fact the only thing Linux specific it seems that the job has it that the environment runs Linux.

This is a fairly misleading job title. We have four distinct roles here:
1) Linux System Engineer (assumed from the title)
2) Network Engineer (more than just an administrator)
3) Dveloper (specifically it appears PHP and XML. They hint a general OO concepts)
4) Architect ("You should be able to learn the software and hardware architecture and help with future platform architecture")

Now I don't know about anyone else but this is a pretty tall order to fill. At least they didn't ask you to be the DBA as well. I'm a many hats kind of guy but this is insane. Based on my experience I can surmise the following about the position:

1) It's a small shop.
Very small, imho. I've been in small shops where I did both the system and network side of things but they actually had a developer if not multiples. In larger shops, the network and systems teams are distinct.
2) You will never stop working.
They want one person to do EVERYTHING. Let's forget for a moment that, while you might find someone who has two of the items on the list, finding three is a big order and finding all of them is next to impossible. Let me explain why.

Someone who has the experience they want has probably targeted his career to one specific area. While I've done all of these things at various points, I've really nailed down the final path I want to take. My path ahead lies in architecture. I detailed this in another post so I won't rehash here.
There are exceptions but let's address the second implication of that. Someone with that level of experience has been in the industry a while. That means they're probably older. You might have someone who came right out of high school which might put them in the late 20s by this point. If they haven't "settled down" yet, they probably will eventually. Even if that doesn't mean a family, it does mean a more "healthy" life and work balance. Again, there are exceptions.

There's also the question of quality. Can I do all of those things? Yes. Would my performance in one area be lackluster compared to the others? Sure. That would be in PHP. While I've had the positions where I did three of those things, the most PHP I've done in recent years is nowhere near the capacity as the others. As you progress in the "corporate world", you get more focused via corporate structure. Many of the earlier companies had me doing all of those types of things but as I went along, my responsibilities got targeted through shear neccessity. Again, at most companies there's at least a division between developement and systems/network and at the larger companies, development, systems, databases and networking are all distinct departments.

The kicker for the whole thing is the salary range: $95,000.00 - $105,000.00

That's not that bad in Atlanta. I have no information on the location of the company. The problem is that, depending on how much expertise they want in any of those areas, that salary is good for just ONE of those positions.

I'm not going to be all hypothetical about what the situation is at the company but my guess is that they're a small shop and one guy WAS doing it all. Maybe for a lot less than the salary posted. He moved on for whatever reasons and now they're in a lurch. He was working on X application and it had all of these components to it. Maybe he built out an environment and now they don't have anyone to finish it. The other option is that this person is still with the company and is getting burned out quickly and in need of relief.

More thank likely, this just happens to be an over-agressive recruiter. I could be wrong but this sounds like a bunch of requirements and preferences lumped into one position.

Side note: PHP is not a Linux technology. Nor is XML.

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