November 2014 Archives

Breath-taking honesty

An essay has been making the rounds about how much you (developer type person) are worth for hourly-rate. It is breath-taking in its honesty. This person sets out a pay-rate scale based strictly on public-access reputation markets and evidence of community activity, with a premium on community contributions. To get top dollar, you will need to tick all of these boxes:

  • Have high-rated open-source libraries on GitHub.
  • Have a StackOverflow reputation over 20K.
  • Vendor-based code certifications, such as those from Oracle (Java) or Zend (Php)
  • Evidence of mastery in multiple languages. So, Ruby AND Erlang, not Erlang and maybe Ruby if you have to.
  • Published talks at conferences

If you don't have all those boxes ticked, you can still get paid. It just won't be enough to live on in most hot technical job-markets. The author is also very explicit in what they don't care about:

  • Cost-of-living. With fully remote work, location is elective. Want to make boatlads of cash? Move to the Montana prairie. You won't get more money by living in London.
  • Education. Masters, BA, BS, whatever. Don't care.
  • Past employment. Blah blah blah corporate blah.
  • Years of experience. I call bull on this one, since I'm dead certain that if they see "10 years of experience in Blah" this job-reviewer is going to look more critically on the lack of an auditable career than someone with 2 years.

Before long we're going to get a startup somewhere that will take evidence of all of the first list of bullet-points and distil it down to a Klout-like score.

One not-mentioned feature of this list is it means there are a variety of career suicide moves if more companies start adopting this method of pricing developer talent:

  • Working on closed-source software.
  • Working for a company that doesn't contribute to open source projects.
  • Working for a company that doesn't pay to present at conferences.
  • Working for a company that doesn't pay for continuing education.
  • Working for a company that has strict corporate communications rules, which prevent personal blogging on techical topics.
  • Working for a company with employment contracts that prohibit technical contributions to anything, anywhere that isn't the company (often hidden as the no-moonlighting rule in the employment contract).

Career suicide, all of it. I'm glad the systems engineering market is not nearly as prone to these forces.

No, I'm talking about that fancy wristband some of you wear, the one that talks to a smartphone. That's a monitoring system, but for your body.

We're IT. We do monitoring systems, so lets take a look at this one!