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Top twelve IT skills

Spotted over on SysAdmin’s Diary, a reference to an article in Network World Asia entitled 12 IT skills that employers can’t say no to.
It’s an… interesting list:

  • Machine learning
  • Mobilizing applications
  • Wireless networking
  • Human-computer interface
  • Project management
  • General networking skills
  • Network convergence technicians
  • Open-source programming
  • Business intelligence systems
  • Embedded security
  • Digital home technology integration
  • .Net, C #, C ++, Java — with an edge

Good grief.
Sometimes you have to despair. Let’s take a slightly less naive gullible buzzword-friendly analysis-free look at that, shall we?

Machine learning
Not machine learning, the AI field with years of development and reseach, but how to construct SQL statements to extract data efficiently from large databases.
Mobilizing applications
WAP. And HTML for small screens. And common sense about how to do UI on small screens. Palm pilot programmers, you’ve been doing this for years.
Wireless networking
Network administrator who knows about 802.11 and Bluetooth and a few others, particularly the whole bit where you don’t send your credit card details in the clear on a radio link that you can receive from a mile away with the right kind of gear (ps. that means the kind of gear anyone can buy in any amateur radio shop for a lot less than your subsequent monthly repayments will end up being). Or, as we used to call them, network-administrators-who-know-what-they’re-doing.
Human-computer interface
How the average user expects the computer to operate. Well, this is a fair enough thing to seek out in someone who’s going to do UI design, but is the company going to pay for the double-blind user trials and listen to them?
Project management
You have to wonder, with management horror stories already fuelling at least one rather well-known comic strip, what’s the ratio of how many people out there actually do know how to do this to how many people out there will claim to know how to do this? My guess is it’s a shockingly low number…
General networking skills
I find it a bit hard to believe there are developers out there who don’t know this sort of thing.
Maybe it’s more accurate to say that I find it a bit hard to believe that there are people who claim to be developers out there who don’t know this sort of thing and get away with it.
Network convergence technicians
Network-administrators-who-know-what-they’re-doing. Seriously.
Open-source programming
In other words, all that OSS has achieved in the eyes of some recruiters is to highlight those who would normally have been described as “well motivated”.
Business intelligence systems
In other words, are you a complete code geek, with no idea of what happens outside the server room, or do you happen to know that Mary in accounting needs to know how much was spent on kitchen supplies last week rather than what was spent on coffee, and what was spent on tea, and what was spent on sugar and so on. In my youth, we used to call this “cop-on”. Or “common sense”. Or “not being a <expletive deleted>”.
Embedded security
No, they don’t actually mean Embedded security, they just mean computer security, and they don’t mean as a specialisation, but as just another component in your skillset, and at the level of “Don’t save passwords in plaintext in a public file”. (This would also qualify as “cop-on” IMHO).
Digital home technology integration
Installing your fridge so it can talk to your TiVo so as to know when to order more beer and nachos (the day before the all-Ireland football finals). Seriously? This is a job now?
.Net, C #, C ++, Java — with an edge
“someone with Java who can also be a team lead or a project coordinator”. Good grief. If you want a programmer, hire a programmer. If you want a project manager, hire a project manager. If you want a team lead, internally promote a developer with the necessary skillset and time on the project. Hire someone who claims they can do it all, and you’re liable to get someone that can’t do anything properly…

The annoying thing is, I can’t tell if this is a bad article written by someone who doesn’t understand the industry; or if this really is what recruiters seek. If it’s the latter, it’s a bloody good reason to keep PHBs away from job requirement documents and let the techies write them. I mean, seriously. You want a PHP coder who’s got experience working in a Symfony framework and postgresql? Ask for that. Don’t ask for a “self-starting, well motivated open source developer with general networking and database skills and a history of working with clients to fulfill diverse requirements in a deadline driven environment”. Because the last time I checked, that just described working.

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