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Hiring A DBA Expand / Collapse
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Posted Monday, June 19, 2006 9:10 PM


Grasshopper

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First off I would like to thank everyone for reading my article on SQLServerCentral.com. With printed articles you may not always get an idea on how many people read it. I was overwhelmed by the number of reads. I even more appreciated the comments to the article. What makes this topic what it is, is the fact that everyone has a different experience. I would like to however like to address a couple issues that people mentioned. I think the blog that Jon added had some great notes.

There was a post or two that mentioned that this is relevant to many positions. I do agree with this. When I sat down and started to write this article and speak on this topic it was because of the large number of candidates that I saw that did not have these skills that I talked about. I would love to mention some of the horror stories that I have had, but there are just too many.

Someone commented on my mention of keeping eye contact during the interview. I would like to clear up that if this was the only thing that I did not like about that interview then I am sure I could overlook it. In the article I made some statements that will have its exceptions.

Another exception or maybe a miscommunication in the article was the reference of 10 years of employment. So I would like to clarify, if a candidate had 10 years of employment I may float them to the top of the pile. Maybe I overstated this a little. The reason that I float those resumes to the top of the list is because I like to see the dedication to an employer. As an employer I can assure you that it is very costly and time consuming to get people up to speed. This however, does not mean that this is the only candidate that I would consider for an interview.

If I were to list the order of importance of what I look for in a good candidate it would all depend on the current workload and staff. If I can afford it I would always prefer to hire someone with a can do attitude over a senior skilled person. Sometimes the workload would need someone who can jump right in. In short, you can’t teach people the desire to succeeded and push forward. SQL Skills can be learned.

The most commented on statement was the clothing issue. I have to admit that I do want to see someone that takes this serious. It may not have to be a suit and tie. But I would not want to see jeans and a T-Shirt. Alone this would not disqualify a candidate, but I take it seriously.

I have copied this set of comments on my blog http://cssql.blogspot.com/ this is where I do most of my on-line reviewing and posting. If you have any questions please let me know. I would be more then happy to answer them or discuss them. Thanks again for reading and commenting.

Chris Shaw



Post #288673
Posted Tuesday, June 20, 2006 8:40 AM


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Thanks for the clarification Chris.  I just find it a little annoying, based on my experience, that a candidate who has been at the same job for 10 years gets priority over a candidate who has an equivalent 10 years of experience, but with different companies.  I understand that employers don't like to see "job-hopping"; however, there are a lot of factors beyond a candidate's control that can affect his/her resume:

  • The company he/she worked for might have gone out of business (a lot of experienced DBA's, programmers and other IT folks out here have at least one failed dot-com listed on the resume),
  • The company you worked for might have had to "downsize" or outsourced your position,
  • You might have a break in employment due to military service, which by law cannot be used as a reason for not hiring (see the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act or USERRA),
  • The person might have been doing short-term contract work (very common when the job market is soft and there are no full-time jobs to be had)

Personally I would probably think highly of a candidate with 10 years of employment at two companies over that period.  After all, he/she has:

  • Worked in two different organizations with different missions and/or different plans to achieve their missions,
  • Dealt with two different sets of managers who probably have different management styles,
  • Most likely had varying duties and job responsibilities at each organization,
  • Probably been exposed to, and gained experience with, different technology at each job.

Not to knock anyone who was lucky enough to hold onto the same job for 10 years, but all of that (to me at least) adds up to a better "quality" of experience.

Overall, excellent article.  Thanks!

Post #288803
Posted Tuesday, June 20, 2006 2:31 PM
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I am with you, Mike, for last 3 years as a contractor, I changed job 5 times, almost every 4 to 6 months, I will switch to another company's project.


Post #288900
Posted Wednesday, June 21, 2006 4:25 AM


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Great article, very informative

quoteWith the "one job in ten years" policy I'm sure my resume would at the very bottom of the pile...

quoteOH - I do agree with Mike C about not putting the 10 year employment stint at the top of the pile...

quoteNot to knock anyone who was lucky enough to hold onto the same job for 10 years...

I think it is easy to confuse length of employment with the number of jobs and job titles and experience, they are not the same.

Length of service shows loyalty. I have know some associates that gave very good plausible reasons for regular changes in employment but quietly admitted (but never to the boss) that they 'never stay in a job for more than 2-3 years'

The number of jobs. What is a job? Is it the actual employment, the different work or 'jobs' that you do that encompasses your employment. Which is worse, a person that sticks at one 'job', or someone who regularly changes because they can't make up their mind or find the work difficult (known these), or vice versa.

Job titles, what's in a title anyway. I've more of those that you can throw a stick at, not all were meaningful or even described my 'job'

Experience, which I consider as very important. It does not matter whether you had single or multiple employments, it is your experience (and knowledge) at doing the 'job' that matters.

A DBA, a whole DBA and nothing but a DBA, if that is what you are interviewing for then if that is all the interviewee has done, it does not matter as long as they have the experience you require for the post.

My job title is 'Software Engineer', but my 'jobs' are varied, analyst, programmer, developer, webmaster, DBA (of sorts) 'Jack of all Trades' (but never a master) and therefore consider myself to have a varied wide level of experience in a span of 23 years of employment. I wonder where would I be in that pile.




Far away is close at hand in the images of elsewhere.

Anon.

Post #288988
Posted Wednesday, June 21, 2006 8:54 AM


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"Length of service shows loyalty."

I agree, but it's not necessarily an indicator of the employee's loyalty to the company.  A job change on my (or your) resume might very well be an indicator of our employer's loyalty (or lack of) to us, or management's inability to run a fiscally sound business.  My point is that I wouldn't want to hold a job change against a candidate because of factors far out of his/her control.

"I have know some associates that gave very good plausible reasons for regular changes in employment but quietly admitted (but never to the boss) that they 'never stay in a job for more than 2-3 years'"

There are plenty of folks like that - and to them I say quit your day job and go into consulting   With consulting you get to switch up jobs regularly, which keeps the nomadic DBAs, programmers and cable splicers from getting bored.  Some might argue that consultants don't have as much "job security" as full-time employees, but personally I don't see a lot of companies touting job security as one of their prime benefits.

Post #289077
Posted Thursday, June 22, 2006 6:49 AM
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"Length of service shows loyalty."

I totally disagreed with this. What year is this ? You spent 10 years with a company, first of all, all you had was the experience in that company, you did not expose to the outside world.  Your company's technology may not be the most recent.  Second, over the 10 years in the company, what had this person done ? The same thing - backup, restore, install SQL Server, implement developement to production.  I met a DBA working in a company for 10 years, he could not even write a decent DTS package and stored procedure. That's the resume you wanted to put on the top of the pile.  Besides these days people changes job every 2 to 3 years is a norm.  Actually those people I found had more business and technical experience.  Especially if you are a contractor, you work in a company for six months and then another one for six months, it does not mean that person is not good.

Certification - maybe you think is important.  I did it once.  All I did was reading the book in and out and I passed the exam and got the cert.  Did it mean I knew more? I don't think so. I used to work at Xerox, all their repair engineers required to get a MCSE, all of them got it.  Half of them did not even know how to turn on the computer.

The company I used to work with and the company I work right now both said it is very hard to find a good SQL server DBA and SQL Server developer.

My last company after months of search they hired a bimbo for DBA.  The first day of I contacted her, I found out I knew SQL server more than she did.  Nothing what, it was the impression the manager had on that person, some people can spot a good candidate, some can always find loser.  I remembered years ago, my manager hired four people, none of them could do anything, six months later, they all got fired, including my manager. Ha Ha!!!

Another important thing is making sure that person can fit into the department and the company culture.  Otherwise you may  have to go thru the interview in a few months.

Post #289321
Posted Thursday, June 22, 2006 7:12 AM


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quoteYou spent 10 years with a company, first of all, all you had was the experience in that company, you did not expose to the outside world

Not to sound rude but... what planet you on. I have plenty of experience with many different companies in the outside world. Just because I have worked at the same company for a long time does not mean I have tunnel vision and I have found on occasion I know more about how other companies work than their own employees do!

quoteSecond, over the 10 years in the company, what had this person done?

Oh! please, plenty and varied, a job and job title does not restrict your knowledge and experience only you do.

quoteThe same thing - backup, restore, install SQL Server, implement developement to production. I met a DBA working in a company for 10 years, he could not even write a decent DTS package and stored procedure.

That is a lack of knowledge and experience, nothing to do with loyalty.

quoteBesides these days people changes job every 2 to 3 years is a norm. Actually those people I found had more business and technical experience

My experience is the opposite.

quoteEspecially if you are a contractor, you work in a company for six months and then another one for six months, it does not mean that person is not good.

Does not mean they are good either. I have met many, many contractors who knew less about databases than me and even when I knew nothing. And even now I know of contractors who have no breadth of knowledge due to specific restrictive contracts.

I am not saying that frequent movers are better or worse than long serving employees, only that you need to know the circumstances.




Far away is close at hand in the images of elsewhere.

Anon.

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Posted Thursday, June 22, 2006 10:56 AM
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I am just talking about my experience.  What I said definitely applied all the  people.  I did not mean to offend people.

I did met some people working for the same company for 10 years doing exactly the same thing and they refused to learn anything new.  As a matter of fact, my company just fired one.

Every person has his own perspective.  One VP of a company said I never worked for a job more than 5 years, it meant I had no loyality and did not hire me.  Another company said I could hold on a job for 5 years, it was excellent.

Everyone is different.  I went to many interviews and I also interviewed many people.  It also depends on your own experiences.

You have good experiences with people working for a company for a long time and have bad experiences with people working for 2 to 3 years and my experiences was just opposite.

Please don't get angry. It is just my 2 cents.

 

Post #289430
Posted Friday, June 23, 2006 2:17 AM


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quoteI did not mean to offend people.

No offence here

quoteI did met some people working for the same company for 10 years doing exactly the same thing and they refused to learn anything new.

Yep know a few of them   Even had some bleating about no opportunities to learn other things and when you offer to help them and suggest they learn in their own time I got some funny looks

quoteEvery person has his own perspective. One VP of a company said I never worked for a job more than 5 years, it meant I had no loyalty and did not hire me. Another company said I could hold on a job for 5 years, it was excellent.

Very true. One man’s chalice is another one’s poison. Loyalty can be very subjective at times and can work both ways, would you want to work for a company that would sack you after 2-3 years. May suit some people but not all.

quoteEveryone is different. I went to many interviews and I also interviewed many people. It also depends on your own experiences.

Again, very true.

quotePlease don't get angry. It is just my 2 cents.

Not angry at all  sorry if I gave that impression
Just my pennies worth.




Far away is close at hand in the images of elsewhere.

Anon.

Post #289616
Posted Tuesday, June 19, 2007 2:32 AM
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great article. i have a question though. you say

Length of service shows loyalty."

 

I am not long out of college, and have been 18 months in a SQL server Admin role with a small bit of dev. I definately dont want to spend my career in this company but i plan to have a minimium duration of 2 years. I came up with this figure by talking with recruitment agents. they say the same thing, loyalty to a company counts very well in your favour when going for a job, and here in Ireland 2 years is respectable for a young person not long out of college. But 2 years is a big step from 10 years. and i really want to stretch my legs, as after 2 years, I dont feel my current company will have much more to offer me. I will have learned most of what I can learn in this role and would like to gain more expirience while I am still young.

In your interview process, would moving from a company after 2 years due to not being challenged or wanting more expirience count against me?

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