Yardmaster in railroad yards working, Amarillo, TX, 1943. By Jack Delano via Library of Congress Collection (LOC)

Why Managers Should Not Write Technical Job Postings

E. Forrest Christian Computers/IT, Managing Leave a Comment

A friend of mine encouraged me to tell this story which I watched unfold first hand while a software development manager for a mid-sized consulting firm. One of my best developers — a software architect, really — started laughing in the middle of the day. We all needed something to release the strain of our bi-weekly drop work, so all us meerkats gathered around his desk.

“Look at this!” he said, and pointed to some small sort of print that was in an email.

Apparently he had just gotten an unsolicited solicitation to apply for a job doing .NET work. Now at the time .NET was brand new: it had only been officially on the market for some months and it had only been a couple of years since it had started beta.

We all knew this because part of the project was migrating the client to .NET. He had been an early alpha tester, the people who work with software applications before it even gets solid enough to start beta testing. It was an elite group, these .NET alpha testers, and he had bragged a couple of times about it. He quickly reminded us of it again, and then demanded that we look at the advert.

Squinting, we told him that we would prefer him to tell us whatever point he had.

“They say that they’re looking for a .NET developer, which has only been out for a few months now,” he said. “But then they say that they require ‘at least 5 years .NET experience.’

“Even I don’t have five years’ experience. I’m not even sure that the Microsoft engineers who created it have five years.”

Yes indeed, the great “must have experience in something that was just created” strikes again.

If you were wondering why your large institution (bank, insurance firm, governmental agency, etc.) can’t keep it’s computers working, you need look no further than idiots as managers.

It’s inevitable, having an idiot as a manager of technical staff. I’ve been one (both manager and idiot) so I know of which I speak. The trick to being successful is knowing and admitting that you’re an idiot.

Why this is true is something that until now I’ve only described orally to clients. But perhaps it’s worth describing in more detail.

Image Credit: Yardmaster in railroad yards working, Amarillo, TX, 1943. By Jack Delano via Library of Congress Collection (via Library of Congress collection)

About the Author

Forrest Christian

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E. Forrest Christian is a consultant, coach, author, trainer and speaker at The Manasclerk Company who helps managers and experts find insight and solutions to what seem like insolvable problems. Cited for his "unique ability and insight" by his clients, Forrest has worked with people from almost every background, from artists to programmers to executives to global consultants. Forrest lives and works plain view of North Carolina's Mount Baker.  [contact]

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