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How Do You Find a DBA? Expand / Collapse
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Posted Monday, May 11, 2009 7:29 AM


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I'd like a good definition of what a DBA is as well. Or better yet a range of Database related job titles:

DBA - The A stands for Administrator (which implies different things to different people)...
database developer - someone with programming experience as well (like .Net - not just T-SQL).
BI developer....

I've seen a lot of job ads that say DBA, but really want a programmer who can access a database...



Post #714094
Posted Monday, May 11, 2009 7:39 AM


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It's not just an issue regarding DBAs. There are several closely related and legitimate job roles that involve using SQL and databases (reporting, programmer analyst, etc.), and it's amazing how hard it is to find people for those jobs as well.

I just think there aren't enough people training on and learning database theory and real-world SQL and database tasks. Heck, most days I find another area of SQL that I don't know as well as I should, and then I have to try to learn it while I am also responsible for all of my other work.

And that's not even counting the difficulty some people and organizations have in understanding what a DBA is, or why one is even needed.

So along with those (including those in the "how hard can databases be" crowd ) who deliberately fudge resumes in order to make it seem like they have DBA experience, there are many others who are honest and well-intentioned, but who may not realize the scale of the DBA job. So they may show up and disappoint you if you're hiring, or they may be scared off when they read a genuine DBA job description.

There should really be a DBA major in colleges, or at least a comprehensive computer science minor that includes realistic DBA tasks - SQL with procedures and error handling, performance tuning, db theory and applications, backups, recovery (including testing backups), and so on. I know there are specific CS courses offered, but it really is a field unto itself once people realize what is involved.

And ironically, most other professionals depend on DBAs - businesspeople, doctors, lawyers, professors, police officers, pro athletes, and so on. And not just in the way that lots of people depend on certain basic items (paper, fabric, food), but in a way that requires someone with a lot of ability and knowledge of databases to keep things running for that particular organization or even that particular location. I don't intend to disparage providers of paper, fabric, and food, of course, since those are staples of civilization. I just mean that needs that a DBA serves are of a different and more specialized category, yet they paradoxically involve a multitude of disciplines - the db products themselves, programming, networking, security, hardware, etc.

Sorry, this reply went off track. But I do think it is relevant to understand what might be affecting the size and quality of the candidate pool.

Just my two cents....
- webrunner


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"A SQL query walks into a bar and sees two tables. He walks up to them and says 'Can I join you?'"
Ref.: http://tkyte.blogspot.com/2009/02/sql-joke.html
Post #714105
Posted Monday, May 11, 2009 7:42 AM


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ChrisMoix (5/11/2009)
I'd like a good definition of what a DBA is as well. Or better yet a range of Database related job titles:

DBA - The A stands for Administrator (which implies different things to different people)...
database developer - someone with programming experience as well (like .Net - not just T-SQL).
BI developer....

I've seen a lot of job ads that say DBA, but really want a programmer who can access a database...


Here's one from the Occupational Outlook Handbook. It may not be perfect, but I like that handbook because it is a good start on helping to define professions. But I noticed that DBAs are still not broken out into their own field. They are listed as part of computer scientists.

http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos042.htm

- webrunner


-------------------
"Operator! Give me the number for 911!" - Homer Simpson

"A SQL query walks into a bar and sees two tables. He walks up to them and says 'Can I join you?'"
Ref.: http://tkyte.blogspot.com/2009/02/sql-joke.html
Post #714113
Posted Monday, May 11, 2009 7:43 AM
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ChrisMoix (5/11/2009)

database developer - someone with programming experience as well (like .Net - not just T-SQL).


From personal experience (10 years) I'd say that the .NET stipulation is misleading, you're likely to end up with a .NET Developer who has dabbled in database development

Post #714115
Posted Monday, May 11, 2009 8:13 AM


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Here comes a curveball. Instead of focusing on the best way to find and screen DBA talent, spend that time looking for an excellent technical recruiter. Hiring talent is a specialty. If you don't do it every day, odds are you are going to do the process poorly.

Looking for a good recruiter also provides you with a better payback on your time. If you are in the business of managing personnel one constant is turnover. A good technical recruiter is a resource you will use for a long time. You may have to go through three of four to find the right one, but it will be worth it.

On the issue of cost, if you use a good recruiter your odds of placing your candidate on the first try are much higher. Compare that cost with going through 2 or three poor candidates over a years time.

BTW, I am not a recruiter, but I have seen the value a good one can bring...
Post #714152
Posted Monday, May 11, 2009 8:57 AM
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I have some suggestions. For one, don't hire a title or a list of qualifications. Instead, hire a person who has talent who could perform the job. Be willing to train someone who isn't a perfect fit. It's hard to believe but no one is perfect.

Next, if you want a DBA, you're going to have to define what that is in the job posting. Then list skills you want in order of importance. List no more than five skills that are a must; list no more than five that are important but can be learned through training; list no more than five that are nice to have. A laundry list of skills is meaningless if they're not in context of what the position entails.

After that, you need to sell your organization. Why would someone even bother to apply if they don't know that you're a good organization to work for and they would want to work there. You expect applicants to prove to you why you should hire them. You need to prove to the applicant why they should work for you.

Post #714195
Posted Monday, May 11, 2009 9:09 AM


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webrunner (5/11/2009)

http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos042.htm

- webrunner


Interesting link. I think it's a hard thing to define, and such a small % of people that it's not as well understood as developer, sysadmin, etc.







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Post #714210
Posted Monday, May 11, 2009 9:14 AM


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Bob Griffin (5/11/2009)
Here comes a curveball. Instead of focusing on the best way to find and screen DBA talent, spend that time looking for an excellent technical recruiter. Hiring talent is a specialty. If you don't do it every day, odds are you are going to do the process poorly.


I agree that this can be valuable, but a good recruiter tends to be an individual, not a company. And they are as likely to move on as your hires. Which means that you can easily lose that investment.







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Post #714219
Posted Monday, May 11, 2009 9:29 AM


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Part of finding a good recruiter is one who is committed to the business. One that is successful, has lots of experience, and enjoys the work. So I disagree that you are as likely to lose a good recruiter.

Might be bleeding into another topic post: "What makes a good technical recruiter." ? At least five years experience, great references, etc.

I do agree that it is an individual and not a company. This gets back to building your network. If the recruiter leaves company A to company B or to work for himself as a recruiter, then you follow them.

Good recruiters, just like good DBAs, exist. Once you find the good one, you have a specialist that you can call on when you need him.

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Posted Monday, May 11, 2009 9:32 AM


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A few articles on what a DBA is:

What's a DBA?

DBA Job Description: What type of DBA are you?

Becoming a DBA







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