The Job Posting - Do I really have to be the SQL God?

  • OCTom

    SSChampion

    Points: 11755

    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.

    Tom

  • Dird

    SSCertifiable

    Points: 5081

    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.

    Dird


    Dird

  • rsgardner2

    Old Hand

    Points: 320

    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?

  • Ken Wymore

    SSCoach

    Points: 16592

    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.

  • Evil Kraig F

    SSC Guru

    Points: 100851

    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.


    - Craig Farrell

    Never stop learning, even if it hurts. Ego bruises are practically mandatory as you learn unless you've never risked enough to make a mistake.

    For better assistance in answering your questions[/url] | Forum Netiquette
    For index/tuning help, follow these directions.[/url] |Tally Tables[/url]

    Twitter: @AnyWayDBA

  • huishi.ca

    SSC Veteran

    Points: 259

    hi Craig, nice posting. From my experience, all job description are for ideal candidates which

    never exist in reality. If the job descriptions fits 60% of what I am doing now, I will shoot.

    Often times, the employer themselves don't expect you to fit every single line of the job description,

    they probably copied somewhere via google.

    My 2 cents, don't be panic, just keep trying...

  • Chrissy321

    SSCoach

    Points: 15486

    I need help in writing a job description for a senior administrative DBA. Can someone suggest an appropriate forum on SSC.com where I can do this?

  • Steven Willis

    SSCrazy Eights

    Points: 9893

    Chrissy321 (5/24/2013)


    I need help in writing a job description for a senior administrative DBA. Can someone suggest an appropriate forum on SSC.com where I can do this?

    How about something like this?

    T-SQL Developer

    We are looking for a T-SQL developer. We don't care what you know about Oracle, MySQL, Sybase, or DB2. That you know all six levels of the normal form or that you graduated from MIT won't impress us (well, maybe a little). What we want is someone who can look at a problem and develop a competent solution. That means that your code won't bring our production system to its knees a few years from now because you accidentally created a scalar function within a WHILE loop inside a trigger that only fires at midnight on February 29th.

    Minimum competencies:

    1 - You know the names Steve Jones, Brad McGehee and Jeff Moden--and why anyone would care.

    2 - You know how to use Google, BOL, and MSDN--with extra credit if Pinal Dave ever helped get you out of a jam.

    3 - You heard somewhere the term "Red Gate"...or was that a movie...hmmmm.

    4 - You can split strings--or put them back together--using set-based logic only.

    5 - You can describe and explain the purpose behind a "numbers" or "tally" table and how that relates to the term "RBAR".

    6 - You know the difference between a table scan and an index seek (sorry if I start to get too technical here).

    7 - You know the difference between an SVF, a multi-statement TVF, and an inline TVF.

    8 - You know what "INFORMATION_SCHEMA" is and have actually made use of it.

    9 - You know what a "heap" is and why anyone would care.

    10 - You never, ever use the terms "field" and "record" unless you are doing an inventory of your livetock (and prepared for Joe Celko to set you straight).

    At the conclusion of our interview you will be asked to generate some code examples. You will have no resources other than a standard SSMS installation with Red Gate's SQL Toolbelt pre-installed. (Ooops, just gave away the answer to #3). You will be allowed unlimited access to the web. And for Pete's sake you will surely have a thumbdrive in your pocket with your personal library of links, scripts, functions, and stored procedures. If you can't learn from experience then you are probably not a good candidate for this position.

    Which reminds me of perhaps the most important qualification of all:

    UPDATE dbo.EmployeeSalaries

    SET Salary = 0

    WHERE LastUpdateDate <= GETDATE()

    If you've never run a query like this and felt your heart fall to the floor with a big thud, then either you are way too inexperienced for us or you're a good liar. The ideal candidate for this position has made every mistake possible at some time or another. If you don't consider this truism to be valid, then you really have made your first mistake and just wasting our valuable time.

     

  • Evil Kraig F

    SSC Guru

    Points: 100851

    Hey Chrissy,

    A number of folks (myself included) would be happy to help you nail down your requirements and the like and help with the presentation. The best forums for that would be (you've gotta scroll down aways in the list) under the Career header. Either "Employers and Employees" or "Job Postings" would be appropriate for it.


    - Craig Farrell

    Never stop learning, even if it hurts. Ego bruises are practically mandatory as you learn unless you've never risked enough to make a mistake.

    For better assistance in answering your questions[/url] | Forum Netiquette
    For index/tuning help, follow these directions.[/url] |Tally Tables[/url]

    Twitter: @AnyWayDBA

  • Evil Kraig F

    SSC Guru

    Points: 100851

    ROFL Steven!

    Where the hell did you find that?! 😀 :w00t:


    - Craig Farrell

    Never stop learning, even if it hurts. Ego bruises are practically mandatory as you learn unless you've never risked enough to make a mistake.

    For better assistance in answering your questions[/url] | Forum Netiquette
    For index/tuning help, follow these directions.[/url] |Tally Tables[/url]

    Twitter: @AnyWayDBA

  • SQLRNNR

    SSC Guru

    Points: 281243

    Steven Willis (5/24/2013)


    Chrissy321 (5/24/2013)


    I need help in writing a job description for a senior administrative DBA. Can someone suggest an appropriate forum on SSC.com where I can do this?

    How about something like this?

    T-SQL Developer

    We are looking for a T-SQL developer. We don't care what you know about Oracle, MySQL, Sybase, or DB2. That you know all six levels of the normal form or that you graduated from MIT won't impress us (well, maybe a little). What we want is someone who can look at a problem and develop a competent solution. That means that your code won't bring our production system to its knees a few years from now because you accidentally created a scalar function within a WHILE loop inside a trigger that only fires at midnight on February 29th.

    Minimum competencies:

    1 - You know the names Steve Jones, Brad McGehee and Jeff Moden--and why anyone would care.

    2 - You know how to use Google, BOL, and MSDN--with extra credit if Pinal Dave ever helped get you out of a jam.

    3 - You heard somewhere the term "Red Gate"...or was that a movie...hmmmm.

    4 - You can split strings--or put them back together--using set-based logic only.

    5 - You can describe and explain the purpose behind a "numbers" or "tally" table and how that relates to the term "RBAR".

    6 - You know the difference between a table scan and an index seek (sorry if I start to get too technical here).

    7 - You know the difference between an SVF, a multi-statement TVF, and an inline TVF.

    8 - You know what "INFORMATION_SCHEMA" is and have actually made use of it.

    9 - You know what a "heap" is and why anyone would care.

    10 - You never, ever use the terms "field" and "record" unless you are doing an inventory of your livetock (and prepared for Joe Celko to set you straight).

    At the conclusion of our interview you will be asked to generate some code examples. You will have no resources other than a standard SSMS installation with Red Gate's SQL Toolbelt pre-installed. (Ooops, just gave away the answer to #3). You will be allowed unlimited access to the web. And for Pete's sake you will surely have a thumbdrive in your pocket with your personal library of links, scripts, functions, and stored procedures. If you can't learn from experience then you are probably not a good candidate for this position.

    Which reminds me of perhaps the most important qualification of all:

    UPDATE dbo.EmployeeSalaries

    SET Salary = 0

    WHERE LastUpdateDate <= GETDATE()

    If you've never run a query like this and felt your heart fall to the floor with a big thud, then either you are way too inexperienced for us or you're a good liar. The ideal candidate for this position has made every mistake possible at some time or another. If you don't consider this truism to be valid, then you really have made your first mistake and just wasting our valuable time.

     

    Can I borrow that for future job postings?:w00t:

    Jason...AKA CirqueDeSQLeil
    _______________________________________________
    I have given a name to my pain...MCM SQL Server, MVP
    SQL RNNR
    Posting Performance Based Questions - Gail Shaw[/url]
    Learn Extended Events

  • SQLRNNR

    SSC Guru

    Points: 281243

    Evil Kraig F (5/24/2013)


    Hey Chrissy,

    A number of folks (myself included) would be happy to help you nail down your requirements and the like and help with the presentation. The best forums for that would be (you've gotta scroll down aways in the list) under the Career header. Either "Employers and Employees" or "Job Postings" would be appropriate for it.

    +1

    Craig is spot on there. Many here would help get your job reqs nailed down.

    Jason...AKA CirqueDeSQLeil
    _______________________________________________
    I have given a name to my pain...MCM SQL Server, MVP
    SQL RNNR
    Posting Performance Based Questions - Gail Shaw[/url]
    Learn Extended Events

  • SQLRNNR

    SSC Guru

    Points: 281243

    Evil Kraig F (5/24/2013)


    Hey Chrissy,

    A number of folks (myself included) would be happy to help you nail down your requirements and the like and help with the presentation. The best forums for that would be (you've gotta scroll down aways in the list) under the Career header. Either "Employers and Employees" or "Job Postings" would be appropriate for it.

    +1

    Craig is spot on there. Many here would help get your job reqs nailed down.

    Jason...AKA CirqueDeSQLeil
    _______________________________________________
    I have given a name to my pain...MCM SQL Server, MVP
    SQL RNNR
    Posting Performance Based Questions - Gail Shaw[/url]
    Learn Extended Events

  • Jeff Moden

    SSC Guru

    Points: 996676

    Steven Willis (5/24/2013)


    Chrissy321 (5/24/2013)


    I need help in writing a job description for a senior administrative DBA. Can someone suggest an appropriate forum on SSC.com where I can do this?

    How about something like this?

    T-SQL Developer

    We are looking for a T-SQL developer. We don't care what you know about Oracle, MySQL, Sybase, or DB2. That you know all six levels of the normal form or that you graduated from MIT won't impress us (well, maybe a little). What we want is someone who can look at a problem and develop a competent solution. That means that your code won't bring our production system to its knees a few years from now because you accidentally created a scalar function within a WHILE loop inside a trigger that only fires at midnight on February 29th.

    Minimum competencies:

    1 - You know the names Steve Jones, Brad McGehee and Jeff Moden--and why anyone would care.

    2 - You know how to use Google, BOL, and MSDN--with extra credit if Pinal Dave ever helped get you out of a jam.

    3 - You heard somewhere the term "Red Gate"...or was that a movie...hmmmm.

    4 - You can split strings--or put them back together--using set-based logic only.

    5 - You can describe and explain the purpose behind a "numbers" or "tally" table and how that relates to the term "RBAR".

    6 - You know the difference between a table scan and an index seek (sorry if I start to get too technical here).

    7 - You know the difference between an SVF, a multi-statement TVF, and an inline TVF.

    8 - You know what "INFORMATION_SCHEMA" is and have actually made use of it.

    9 - You know what a "heap" is and why anyone would care.

    10 - You never, ever use the terms "field" and "record" unless you are doing an inventory of your livetock (and prepared for Joe Celko to set you straight).

    At the conclusion of our interview you will be asked to generate some code examples. You will have no resources other than a standard SSMS installation with Red Gate's SQL Toolbelt pre-installed. (Ooops, just gave away the answer to #3). You will be allowed unlimited access to the web. And for Pete's sake you will surely have a thumbdrive in your pocket with your personal library of links, scripts, functions, and stored procedures. If you can't learn from experience then you are probably not a good candidate for this position.

    Which reminds me of perhaps the most important qualification of all:

    UPDATE dbo.EmployeeSalaries

    SET Salary = 0

    WHERE LastUpdateDate <= GETDATE()

    If you've never run a query like this and felt your heart fall to the floor with a big thud, then either you are way too inexperienced for us or you're a good liar. The ideal candidate for this position has made every mistake possible at some time or another. If you don't consider this truism to be valid, then you really have made your first mistake and just wasting our valuable time.

     

    BWAAA-HAAAA!!!! Absolutely freakin' a-w-e-s-o-m-e! That's not only the best and most refreshingly honest job description I've ever seen but it also contains the best interview challenge in the world! "Bring your guns (brains, Google-Fu, and thumbdrives) because there's gonna be some shootin'"!

    On the serious side, allowing a candidate to bring his "guns" is a brilliant idea! The only thing that I might do is monitor how he used the internet... did he use Google-Fu or did he go to a forum and post an "urgent" request for help?

    --Jeff Moden


    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.
    "Change is inevitable... change for the better is not".
    "If "pre-optimization" is the root of all evil, then what does the resulting no optimization lead to?"

    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)

  • quackhandle1975

    SSChampion

    Points: 11055

    Great article, you should see some of the SQL DBA/Dev job descriptions in the UK, especially for contract roles, some of them even ask me "Do you pronounce it 'Squrl Server?'" :crazy:

    Then, as posters have previously pointed out, I see job roles are looking for the SQL God (does that even exist?) but we sure ain't gonna pay you for all that knowledge. :angry:

    qh[/b]

    [font="Tahoma"]Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. – Carl Jung.[/font]

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