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Vacancy: Jack of all Trades, Master of None!

Date:  Tue, 6th-Apr-2004prevnext

Tags: Commentary

A new vacancy for a Web Programmer appeared on jobs.perl.org. I always check these out to see what "the man" is offering. This one really made me laugh...

The full job title, as advertised, is "Web Development / Internet Support / Web Programmer".

Let's look at the job description:

We are curently (sic) looking for a self-motivated individual capable of turning their hand to web development, systems administration and support. This is a small company and therefore the role will be both hands-on and varied. With a minimum of A Level education (or equivalent), the successful candidate must be able to work both as part of a team, and as an individual. They should be able to demonstrate hand coding skills in either PHP, Perl or similar and should have experience of Unix/Linux in an internet environment. Excellent progression for the right candidate within this exciting and dynamic environment.

Now immediately this looks worrying. This vacancy demands a candidate who is a programmer, a designer (in most cases these are mutually exclusive), a system's administrator and a tech support guy! So, unless I'm very much mistaken, the employer has a minimum of four vacancies here?

The advert goes on to list the desired skills:

Solid understanding of Unix/Linux, HTML, Email, FTP, TCP/IP and the Internet Programming experience any of: Perl / PHP / ASP / C++ / VBA Dreamweaver / Fireworks

Yikes - we're adding even more distinct skills here and why is a "solid understanding of ... TCP/IP" required? Does a web designer need to understand TCP/IP? Does a programmer? Does a bus driver need to know what the chemical components of tarmacadam are?

There are additional "desired" skills:

Development in Perl and Interchange, HTML/DHTML, MS Access, Support and admin of Apache, Sendmail, MySQL, Unix/Linux, NT networks. Firewall and router support and administration.

So they also want a DBA, an MCSE, a security expert and a network engineer and, oh come on, MS Access? You can't be serious.

Now to me, this looks like an advert for at least eight distinct jobs, but no - this employer is looking for all these conflicting skills in one superhero. Now, I'm a realist, I know that many computer people have combinations of skills like this. Hell, if it weren't for the MS Access bit, I could do it myself. But employers have to realise that some skills are not complimentary and some, by definition, are full-time posts in their own right.

I'd hate to be the unfortunate soul who lands this job. That poor person is going to find himself overwhelmed in a very short time if he is going to try to perform all of these roles properly. The key word there is "properly". System's Administration is a full time job, network security is a full time job, database administration is a full time job, programmers need to be totally focused on their code if they're going to have any chance of keeping the bugs at bay and designers design.

Employers recruiting technical staff need to appreciate that there are many different IT disciplines. These roles aren't interchangeable if they are going to fulfilled competently.

So what about remuneration for our poor superhero? This eight-in-one employee is obviously going to be well rewarded for his diverse skill set. The unique individual would surely expect a minimum of £60,000pa...

Our hopelessly optimistic employer is offering a truly magnificent salary for the successful applicant of, wait for it, £15000pa! That is not a typo. £15K for performing the work of an eight-man team! Surely this is a belated April Fool's joke? I earned more than that when I was a humble "operator" - sixteen years ago!

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