Web Software Architecture and Engineering – Life on the Bleeding Edge

Archive for the ‘Human Resources’ Category

Hiring Woes in the ColdFusion World

No I’m not going to speak about the lack of CF developers. Quite the opposite, I think there are plenty out there. The quality? Well, that’s what we’ll mention here.

Over the past 8 years, at my current position as an executive who also develops actively, I’ve reviewed probably over 300+ resumes, and phone interviewed over 200+ CF folks alone from all over the world. There are some things you learn along the way as a hiring manager – how the market for talent works, the general capabilities of CF developers, and what their typical strengths and weaknesses look like.

I did want to mention two recent resumes and hiring experiences that both went south. This is advice for all CF folks, as I’ve waited to write this to make sure nothing I said would be personal or negative, rather that I could put a positive spin on things and give advice.

As a developer, there really needs to be a focus on self-improvement. In most cases, I don’t find that – I’m surprise how many people “settle.” For me ColdFusion enables each and every day to accomplish an overall vision I have for the projects that I work on – ColdFusion is not the goal in and of itself, nor is the pay check that drives me. I couldn’t work in an environment which gave me access to ColdFusion, but restricted my ideas on how to improve the projects I worked on, or paid me a high salary – but denied me a voice.

Very few developers (roughly 2% from experience) have anything to show for self-improvement. Have they kept up on blogs, read books, attended a conference, tried new techniques, improved their understanding of object-oriented (if not aspect-oriented) programming? What drives them? The answer I usually get is that they are interested in new techniques and approaches, it’s just that their work environment never provided them the opportunity to do so. This to me is a red flag – I expect any serious developers to have their own work environment at home, and work on their own pet projects on the side.

But I tend to forgive the developers, and blame the management in those companies for not fostering innovation. How often do folks meet to exchange ideas in your department, present on new findings, and are given time to develop new ideas on their own? As a manager, I think less about micro-managing or macro-managing, but finding opportunities for my folks to shine. I want to always market my team to the rest of the company as a high performing, well motivated team.

And that’s what sets our company apart, and that is also what leads to problems in hiring. I often talk, in the first round of interviews, about my philosophy, how the team is run, and how we’re simply different. This gets people VERY excited and I get them thinking about how they can contribute to this environment, what skills they bring, and what they’d like to learn. I often tell them that they can expect the first 90 days to be like a tidal wave – we use so many bleeding edge ColdFusion techniques (the rights ones, not all), that it can be very overwhelming.

The problem occurs when people come with years of experience, but that doesn’t translate to necessarily years of accomplishments. You may have worked for 12 years as a ColdFusion developers, in senior roles even, but if you have never touched a framework, then that is a problem. One year of experience here, I often say, is worth 3-5 at other places.

If you are serious at getting better as a developer, then you have to find an environment that is going to support (and push) you. That in itself is worth a lot.

And that’s where the problem is. I recently got two resumes from folks – who each had 12+ years of CF development experience, but I could not say they were truly senior (in my perspective). Regardless, I was willing to offer opportunities to them as Senior folks, with the understanding that they would be able to pick up all the exciting things I talked about.

And then… the focus turned to salary. Do you want to guess what both of them were asking for? Well, here it is – $130K-$135K annually plus benefits.

I was dumbfounded. I am no position to offer that kind of salary to anyone. Heck, even I don’t make that kind of money, and I’m a Director! You have to do your research: we’re a small company (less than 50 folks), and you have to add the value given by a supportive work environment.

I’m not saying we can’t attempt to meet your needs, but seriously… You know that old saying – you dress for the position you want, not the one you have? Well, that applies to CF developers as well. If you feel you’re worth a ton of money, then exhibit the qualities of a world-class developer. If I asked you to rate yourself on the scale of journeyman to master – where would you fall? Do you have experience leading a sophisticated team – often times filled with people who are smarter than you? No. Have you worked with OO frameworks in CF for 9 years like me? No. (I celebrate my 9 year anniversary with Mach II next month!) Are you a master of both the back-end and front-end languages? No. Do you have the communication skills to interface with all sorts of different stakeholders? No.

So what then qualifies you to ask for that much? Well – the answer usually is: “I can make that much consulting.” Well, if you want to pay for your own health insurance, forgo benefits, and work in an environment that really is not going to make you a better developer, and for a company that isn’t truly committed to ColdFusion as a development platform of choice, then go ahead. But if you want to earn a real salary, and be given the opportunity to prove yourself, and work your way up the ladder, then I’m here to support you and am all for that. But be real.

There is nothing at my company that say that you can’t make that kind of money, with benefits and possible bonuses, it’s quite possible. But you’ve got to also have the pedigree and focus to enable that. If you’re overly focused on salary, then I’m sorry – I have something to offer that is worth so much more.

There is probably more to say, but I’ll stop here. I’ve probably already said too much.


We’re Hiring in SoCal Again!

We’re looking for good senior folks. More details @ http://www.ecivis.com/our-company/careers/.

Let me know if you have any questions! We’re open for mid-, sr, architect, or even manager position!

Sr. Web Application Developer – ColdFusion

Location: Pasadena, CA
Telecommute: Not available
Salary: DOE
Relocation: Available

eCivis, the market leader in providing web-based solutions to local
governments (software as a service) is seeking an advanced-level
developer who lives to push ColdFusion and object-oriented web
development to the edge. If you have experience in working with
frameworks and combining new technologies with solid development
practices, we want to talk to you. Join our growing team as part of
the product management and software engineering departments building
innovative web-based enterprise applications. This position directly
interacts with all departments and significantly impacts our client
base. Learn more about us at www.ecivis.com.

The Sr. Web Developer / Architect will drive the direction of the
company’s technology solutions, define and implement best practices
and build lean, powerful and extensible functionality. This position
offers significant responsibility and growth potential. You will work
closely with key stakeholders and wear many hats.

•       Assist in the design and development of object-oriented web applications based upon best practices.
•       Ensure proper operation and intelligent enhancements of existing web-based products and services.
•       Ensure development consistency and strive for continued development innovation.
•       Maintain best practices to meet department goals and assist in adapting the department to future changes in technology.
•       Help assess risk related to technology and resources, and assists in minimizing that risk.

•       Passionate about Creating Great Products and Innovative Features
•       Driven and Realistic: Good estimator of time and effort
•       Proactive about Self-Improvement and acquiring new knowledge and skills
•       Motivated team player and ability to lead independent self-managed projects
•       5+ years developing complex ColdFusion applications
•       Advanced knowledge of ColdBox, Mach II, Model Glue or other OO Frameworks
•       Understanding of ColdFusion Best Practices and Design Patterns
•       Solid communication skills: Written and Verbal
•       Demonstrated documentation and code-testing skills
•       Strong understanding of complex SQL database-driven products
•       Strong knowledge of JavaScript libraries and CSS
•       Obsessive problem-solving and debugging skills

•       Product Development Experience
•       Git and/or Subversion Experience
•       Active in open source projects
•       Understands scaling and performance

If you meet these qualifications, we invite you to submit a resume and
cover letter, including a complete salary history via e-mail:
technology <at> ecivis.com.
Please no phone calls or postal mail. Only qualified candidates will be contacted.

eCivis, Inc., is an equal opportunity employer. This position is for full-time employment in Pasadena, California.