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The Job Posting - Do I really have to be the SQL God? Expand / Collapse
Posted Monday, May 9, 2011 7:43 AM
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James Stover (4/21/2011)
Sometimes in large organizations - particularly government - you will see jobs advertised with very specific skills and experience. I've never been able to prove this, but I am almost certain these jobs are written for either 1) the person already in the job who has to re-apply for whatever reason or 2) the person who already works, wants the job and is required to apply the job along with everyone else. Basically, the manager writes the job spec so that nobody else other than the person they want in the job is qualified. I'm not saying it's good or bad, just that I'm certain it happens.

in government yes

by law all government jobs have to be advertised for some amount of time. so if someone likes you and wants to promote you into a better job they have to advertise the job first to give other people a chance. to get around it they write the skill set to what you can do so that they have eliminate others
Post #1105434
Posted Friday, May 24, 2013 2:12 AM



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Great article! Some really good pointers there!

There's no kill switch on awesome!
Post #1456321
Posted Friday, May 24, 2013 3:24 AM



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When I saw "visionary Database Administrator" I would have thrown my hands up and run screaming. That means, "We break all the rules, regularly, sometimes even on purpose, we know it, and we really don't care. Your job is to cover our asses so we all come out smelling like roses. But not you."

I already had that job. A couple of times. I don't want to do it again.

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Post #1456342
Posted Friday, May 24, 2013 4:57 AM

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Funnily, I remember reading this article when it was first published! Its truth is still spot on today, as it was then. Nothing has changed in the world of recruiters, or companies that don't understand what they're asking for.

I'm surprised they didn't correct the "then" issue on this new publish, especially after the drawn out discussion about it. It is irrelevant to the discussion, but I have no control when my brain grinds to a halt, mid sentence, for a tiny recompute. Don't worry, it doesn't bother me, I'm no grammar or spelling expert, and I should care less about such things. That said, my reading flow gets interrupted, like a cat walking over your keyboard while you're trying to read something.
Post #1456384
Posted Friday, May 24, 2013 6:02 AM
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Great article.

I think I almost applied for that job in Colorado when I was looking earlier this year.

One thing I have found over the last 18+ years of working with SQL, is that the required and wanted skill sets change with the economy. When the economy is good, the job postings tend to be more "focused" in what they need, when the economy is bad they throw everything at the wall and hope they can find an expert senior DBA for a junior or mid level price.
Post #1456421
Posted Friday, May 24, 2013 6:52 AM


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Evil Kraig F (4/14/2011)
Jeff Moden (4/14/2011)
Grreat article, Craig. If people actually study what you wrote, they'll be able to spot and separate the "dream jobs" from the "jobs for Bob" from the "SQL God" jobs and the "We need something so let's ask for everything" jobs. For anyone actually looking for a job in our line of work, this should be a huge help.

Thank you.

That's my hope. This originally had about 10 example postings in it showing different difficulties, but the length got a bit overboard. My hopes is there'll be enough interest that to organize a part two to this with more particular examples of problems, but we'll see. I'm hoping this article (and a few of my others, both published and yet to be written) will help both sides of the fence.

Craig, this is helpful to both job hunters and recruiters. However, I fear that the vast majority of recruiters will not read nor care. I want to know the names of recruiters who will read this and take it seriously. Those are the responsible ones I would like to deal with. I am so tired of the kitchen sink list of requirements. Thanks for the article. Well done.

Post #1456461
Posted Friday, May 24, 2013 8:09 AM
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Oh this is old; I thought my emails were with new articles.

Sorry but I don't really see anything wrong with these job applications except for the MSRS and VB parts. Job descriptions for Oracle are much more demanding in terms of tech/experience (most similar to the "bad" ones except some wanting experience with more tech options.

That first job description is pretty much a joke for a senior DBAs job description. All it asks for is for someone who happens to have stumbled into a company that has an above average sized database and who is able to store sizing information to a table on a scheduled basis to monitor growth size (lol). It doesn't specify years of experience (which I agree with for the reason later) but it doesn't give any ideas in regards to expectations with the role.

The first "bad" one is basically saying they want a good all-rounder; my guess is they wouldn't be asking you to do everything at the same time but you should be able to take up any of the roles allowing each of the team to be able to dabble in each. Basic skills for the DBA are: backup & recovery, query & instance tuning, user maintenance/security management, design & implementation, architecture & design for HA, monitoring state & reacting to it (not just storage), client installs & documenting the company process for the formerly mentioned.
If you're a "senior" and you don't have experience in these areas then I'm afraid many of those "senior" years were wasted in the comfort of a daily routine.

The "Lead" role (2nd) is much better than the first one and is similar to some job offers in Oracle. To me, the "bad" one is a typical description for a company with a lot of databases & using a lot of different tech (clustering, mirroring, shipping, olap) so they need someone with most of that experience too. It only becomes "too much" for the 15 year career DBAs that have spent the whole time in 1 small company with 2-3 DBAs, 4-6 instances and maybe one cluster; what I tend to label journeyman DBAs.


Post #1456522
Posted Friday, May 24, 2013 9:20 AM
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Great article - I ignored the rants by the 'English major'. I recently went through this process a few months ago and had a mix of job postings similar to the ones you showed, but leaning more on the 'SQL god' side. The absolute worst was one that demanded everything listed in the last example you showed, PLUS - Oracle DBA, MySQL DBA, Sybase DBA, PostGRES DBA, 'etc.' [what else do they want in the universe?], plus SharePoint Server expert, plus - and I am not kidding - the ability to build a server using spare parts from other servers. I actually did a phone interview with this company to confirm these points and they were in deadly earnest. That was last November, and AFAIK they are still searching for their 'SQL god' as I have seen slightly modified forms of the same job description since then. The impression I got from that and other interviews was that (a) the hiring firms (search agencies) had no idea what was really needed for the job, nor did the actual hiring companies, (b) the hiring companies actually expected every DBA to be a 'SQL god' or they were no good, (c) any applicant not listing EVERY requested point on the resume rarely got to the interview point, and (d) asking detailed, pointed questions during an interview similar to the ones you listed in your article (to define vague or questionable areas) meant the applicant was 'not a good fit' meaning 'you are not good enough for us'. The really sad thing is that my 30 years' experience in IT and 11 years' experience as a SQL Server DBA means that I know what it takes to get all the skills they demand, and I know only a few people who are Microsoft MVPs who could honestly meet their 'requirements' - yet because I honestly told them what I knew and did not know, they turned instead to the flood of resume applicants who list all the buzzwords and say they know all the skills, yet are in their early 20s and cannot possibly know what they claim. I agree with something said in a book that used to be published for job hunters ('What Color Is Your Parachute?') that stated the job hiring system in this country is Neanderthal and has little relationship to actual applicant skills/knowledge and job requirements vs. wishes. I have sat through dozens of SQL Server DBA interviews where the interviewers asked various technical questions - yet even when I suggested this approach, none were willing to actually start SSMS, connect to a SQL instance they were having problems with, and have me show them on the screen (they driving the controls, of course) what I would look at and what conclusions I would draw from what I saw on the screen using activity monitor and other built-in tools. Yet a real DBA would actually do that daily - why then would they not be willing to use a 'test drive' with an applicant to quickly sort the sheep from the goats?
Post #1456580
Posted Friday, May 24, 2013 9:48 AM

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Nice article. I've had a lot of these same thoughts when reviewing postings. I have been sent to interviews by contract companies before where the actual job requirements were nowhere near what the contractors told me. Sometimes it is a breakdown between the IT manager and the recruiter who wrote the posting and sometimes it is the contract company trying to be sneaky by fitting a person to a job that they aren't qualified for. It's very frustrating and embarrassing to get blindsided in an interview because you thought you were applying for a different position with a different skillset. I now scan, re-scan and ask a lot of questions about every posting before even submitting a resume.

Hopefully some recruiters or at least some IT managers out there are reading this article and reevaluating their understanding of what a reasonable job posting is.
Post #1456591
Posted Friday, May 24, 2013 10:21 AM



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Thanks for the kind words folks, and I'm glad people can still get some distance from this article.

Dird, I'm sorry you disagree but just because it's common doesn't mean it's accurate. The presentation assumes one thing, your interpretation another. My experience differs greatly from yours, as I've written.

The reason the article wasn't 'repaired' was it just didn't seem important enough at the time and this is simply a reposting of it.

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