Open mouth, insert foot

18 Jun
June 18, 2012

It’s good to know that EA execs haven’t lost that insight and vision they’re renowned for, as leaders in the gaming industry.

“We’re not doing those massive, Steam-like 75% off sales on Origin,” says EA exec, shortly before Origin launches a massive, Steam-like sale on Origin

The older you get, the more frighteningly apparent it becomes that the primary skillset of many professionals involves conveying the appearance that they possess more competency than they do, in fact, possess.

The world does begin to make more sense when you realize that, though.

9 replies
  1. Kimari says:

    Not so coincidentaly, that is also a primary skill one needs to learn in order to actually get a job anywhere.

  2. gareth says:

    Well, I don’t know about that. Presenting yourself well, sure. Blatantly and confidently pretending to know something you don’t know? I’ve never done that, and most attempts at that in job interviews that I’ve seen have achieved the opposite results.

    Granted, I’ve only been in programmer interviews, never business execs. :/

  3. Kimari says:

    Mmmhhh, that may only be an issue where I live then. Job listings for programmers are too plentiful but at the same time require such a knowledge base that nobody under the age of 30 could properly fill those spots.
    So, in the end, the best liars are the ones that get hired.

  4. c. says:

    Care to show a couple of examples, kimari?

    When you hit 30, you’re long past the point when most of your selling points are in tech “knowledge base” area.

  5. Kimari says:

    I may be exaggerating a bit, but companies were asking for university students that knew how to program in mySQL, java, c#, c++, php, html, css, javascript and maybe python. (For reference, at my university the only languages that we actually learned to /some/ depth are pascal, c++, java and php)
    And all the people I know that are working today as programmers (5 or so, if I recall correctly) got their work by lying about how much they knew. One of them lied about knowing C#, another guy lied about knowing aspect oriented programming, another one got a job for as3 programming when he knew almost nothing of the language, and some others I can’t recall.

    Anyway, I know this is far from universal. All I’m saying is that this is what I’ve seen so far.

  6. c. says:

    Very strange, to say the least. It seems to me that either you live in a rather strange place, or you are a bit confused about the job market.

    Couple of points:

    1) Good Unis don’t usually teach languages/tools, students are expected to learn these by themselves. There are two main reasons:
    i) there is nothing difficult in learning new languages and tools, uni is not needed here, on the other hand learning by yourself numerical analysis or recursion theory is not easy
    ii) uni is about education first and foremost, less so about bolts and hammers (your phps and javas)

    2) Big/medium companies usually have graduate openings, and companies are often competing to get the best graduates. And while it is certainly a plus to know your svns and mysqls, it is not as important as getting good grades and a degree from a reputable uni. The logic is simple: if a person managed to get an A+ in quantum physics he is definitely smart enough to learn a mere javascript/mysql and if he managed to get first class honours – he is responsible and hardworking enough. Small sweatshops usually operate differently, they don’t invest into graduates, they are looking for an immediate-impact type of employees.

    3) At any rate, (sensible) companies don’t usually expect their new junior employees to have such a strange collection of skills as “mySQL, java, c#, c++, php, html, css, javascript and maybe python”. It just doesn’t make sense. An embedded developer doesn’t need no css and a frontend web developer doesn’t need c++. On the other hand, it is nothing strange to expect even from a junior java backend developer to know java/sql/maven/spring/version control etc. Again, learing tools is usually the easiest part of the job.

    However, Gareth’s blog is not a place for such discussions, so let’s leave it here.

  7. Kimari says:

    I’ll leave it here, but I do need to add a little something before the discussion ends.
    1) Bullseye! Right on the mark there.
    2 and 3) The companies that I’m talking about are actually really small (less than 50 people), so they want to hire somebody that knows a little bit of everything, so they can shuffle the guy around as needed. I can name examples if you want.

  8. gareth says:

    Lol, I swear, I leave you guys alone for 1 evening… 😉

    Nah, it’s cool, I don’t mind discussion.

    It may be different in different places, agreed.

    For myself, I’ve been lucky enough to have had the experience of being on both sides of the job interview process, and what was looked for was good knowledge of, and experience with for more senior positions, of a c++ like language, the kind of general knowledge of stuff like SQL and networking that you get from a Uni degree, and a sense that the person was good at the discipline of programming as a whole, that their ability to analyze problems and create code to solve them was strong.

    This was why we’d set programming projects for candidates. More than anything, it was to see their approach to solving the problem. The difference between people who were good at analyzing problems and creating well-structured code to solve them and those who weren’t, was fairly obvious.

    It was assumed that if they had that they would pick up any extra knowledge of languages etc as needed. It’s easier to pick that up than to teach how to think like a programmer.

    Of course, it’s different if they are looking for a more specialized programmer. If you’re a web dude, they want web dev xp. And, if you’re in an area where there is a large supply of programmers relative to the available jobs, competition may be much stiffer. Skillset would be the differentiator.

    In my experience though, finding someone who is actually a GOOD programmer, even amoungst Uni comp-sci graduates, is scarily rare. o_o

    We struggled to fill positions.


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