Scott Baron has an excellent post on the silliness of specifying years of experience in a given technology as a meaningful indicator for job performance. I couldn't agree more! Merely specifying the quantity of exposure someone has had to a given technology has to be one of the most widespread stupidities in hiring.
By those yearly standards, I would probably qualify as a rookie programmer with just over 1 year's worth of experience in Ruby. Ignoring the fact that everyones a rookie at something or another in programming, this is just silly.
So if this is the best your HR manager can do, coming up with a laundry list of technologies and attach year counts, you need to get rid that person (or department!) post-haste. Oh, and you need to start subscribing to Johanna Rothman's blog Hiring Technical People and listen to her talk on ITConversations — alongside Jerry Weinberg, she has the best hiring advice I've come across.
Challenge by BurnedOut on February 22, 18:15
I find posting such as the one Scott describes quite funny. Simply because on paper, I have 10+ years of experience in my chosen field and to be honest, I look like I'd be a great catch for any technology company.
Realistically though, I'm completely burned out. I realized it in my last job, pulled myself out of the industry, and went back to school to work on a degree in a completely different field than computers.
Hiring someone like me, with over 10 years of experience would be a *bad* idea for any employer. :)
Amen to David and to BurnedOut. I couldn't agree more. I've been programming since I was 14, and have 0 minutes experience with Ruby. Yet, give me a month, and I'd probably say my knowledge in the language was fair to advanced. :)
Challenge by Tim Bates on February 22, 22:23
This came up in conversation over lunch at my workplace just last week. We were discussing terrible programmers, a fairly common topic of conversation given my line of employment, and how some have the tendency, once they've solved one problem successfully, to use that same solution for every subsequent problem, no matter how relevant. The comment was made that some people "don't have seven years of experience, they have one year of experience... seven times!"
That right just like Steve McConnel said: if one had failed to learn language in one year (s)he will not learn it 3 times in 3 years ...
Challenge by Ali Khan on February 23, 13:33
There are actually two kinds of experience , one in a specific area e.g. programming language, networking , system administration etc. and the second the overall experience in the industry. An overall experience in a specific industry gives the level of matuarity that may be a requirement for the job. Over the last three years I have been looking for a job as CTO in any IT development company. But it seems that besides having a 10 years experience in development and managing projects , I don't qualify for such job... :(
Challenge by Tony Kemp on February 24, 1:41
Tim, what you are referring to is often called "cargo cult programming" - here is the definition in the Jargon File.
I'm incredibly lucky to be employed my a couple of managers who actually understand that it is more important to hire programmers who can figure things out, learn new things quickly, pick good tools *even if they don't know them yet*, and so on. It seems rare. When I am called as a reference for a colleague, I try to get some of this across to whomever I'm speaking with. It's just mind-numbing how much of this industry seems to be filled with the notion that "prior experience in x-technology is a prerequisite to hire."