July 16, 2008
I was recently contacted by a company to help draft some screening questions for PHP developers. These aren’t intended to be a complete interview, but more something to help the first level of phone handlers to check some basic competency with PHP. I ended up putting together 3-4 questions for 3 levels - beginner, intermediate and advanced. Along with the questions I had to give enough of an explanation such that a developer who didn’t know PHP (think Java devs) would be able to gauge the interviewee’s answers with some degree of comfort.
Given that this was a paid engagement, I’m not going to reproduce the questions here (turned it in this morning), but do wonder what questions you might consider acceptable (or unacceptable) for screening PHP developers.
Is asking about basic variable syntax too basic? Session handling basics - would those be ‘beginner’ or ‘intermediate’ these days? Security questions - should knowledge of complex XSS attacks be considered only the purview of the ‘advanced’ developer?
July 10, 2008
There’s a number of new PHP job postings at webdevjobs.com made in the last couple of weeks. We had a slowdown during the July 4th holiday, but that looks to be starting to pick up again. Haven’t seen any PHP postings *after* the 4th yet, but PHP is still the largest block of listings at webdevjobs.com. If you’ve got a job to fill, post the details over there!
Also, if you’d care to help spread the word, you can pull in the PHP listings (or any other listings) for display on your own site by using the site’s PHP job widgets. For an example, just look in the right hand side bar of this blog. Thanks for helping!
June 24, 2008
TheDailyWTF is a site known and beloved by many a developer eager to take pleasure and enjoyment from the (often bone-headed) mistakes of lesser colleagues. It’s all in good fun, right? If you’ve not yet been to TheDailyWTF.com, head over and have a laugh, or perhaps a cry, at some of your industry brethren.
While there, you’ll notice “non-wtf” job listings in the left sidebar. These are from ‘thehiddennetwork’, a network of blogs established to show job listing to blog readers. There are about 50 job blogs and sites in the network, but you can browse all the job listings directly from TheDailyWTF.com. Purchasing a job listing from the site will get your job listing shown on all the blogs in the network, as you might expect.
As for job listings, there’s not a *huge* amount - about 60 as I write this today - so browsing shouldn’t take to long to see if there’s something that strikes your fancy. There’s no specific search method, which I found odd, but you can filter by technology and location. An ‘indeed.com’ method of free-form text searching would be more useful, but as there’s not thousands to search through, this probably isn’t warranted (yet?). You can subscribe to the listings via RSS, as with most other systems.
June 23, 2008
I came across this article on Yahoo the other day, suggesting that over 50% of people lie on their resumes.
This is one of the things in the PHP Job Hunter’s Handbook I tried to stress. Do not lie. There’s no reason to do so, and many reasons not to. If you’re found out, especially if you’re hired, it puts everyone in a tough position, and you may find your way out of that job again pretty quickly. The interviews in the book had the same advice - don’t lie, and don’t try to present more than you are actually competent in.
Showing enthusiasm for a subject and willingness to learn something is far preferable to most people than claiming you really know the subject, then being put in a position where you have to perform, and falling flat. Many in the tech world are probably familiar with the story of Bill Gates claiming Microsoft had a BASIC interpreter ready, setting up an appointment, then writing it (with Paul Allen) in the intervening weeks. And they clinched the deal. Sounds heroic right? Well, for everyone of those types of stories, there are dozens over at http://thedailywtf.com (the Paula Bean story springs to mind, but there are many others).
You may think it’s harder to get your resume to land you an interview if you don’t inflate it. There may be some truth in that in some situations, especially in larger companies that rely on automated keyword checking in resumes to sift through incoming resumes. The article referenced above refers to this as a ‘false consensus’ belief, but there may still be some truth in it. At smaller companies (the majority of those doing the hiring, if I recall correctly!) resumes are more likely to be reviewed by people who can spot exaggeration or outright lies, and your honest resume will be more likely to be followed up with.
So, have you ever lied on a resume? Ever known anyone who has (if it wasn’t you)?
June 20, 2008
phpclasses.org has recently opened a job market for PHP professionals. The site, run by Manuel Lemos, will offer two distinct services, aimed at serving different needs.
The focus of the first site - http://phpclasses.org/professionals - isn’t like that of a traditional job board, where employers list their job and candidates contact the employers. This site promotes the reverse - professionals list themselves and their skills in a database. Potential employers can then search for developers with specific skills. For example, I can search for someone in the UK with at least 4 years of PHP, 2 years of C, and 1 year of Zend Framework experience.
The options listed to classify yourself seem mostly rounded out, but as this is a new system, I’ve no doubt it’ll expand some as Manuel Lemos (the site’s founder) gets more feedback. I was first shown the system a few weeks ago and suggested some small changes to Manuel, who implemented them rather quickly.
There’s already several hundred developer profiles in the system, and the system allows you to browse on a Google map, to get an idea of where the developers are located.
The idea if somewhat reminiscent of Zend’s old site which allowed developers to list themselves in a browseable database. There was no explicit classification system in Zend’s version, and they’ve since abandoned that approach, probably preferring to focus on their ‘Zend Certified Yellow Pages” approach.
The second site - http://phpclasses.org/jobs - is more of a traditional job site, where employers post job listings and invite applicants to contact them. An interesting angle to this is that the system allows employers posting a position to list certain requirements and to filter incoming candidate applications according to the list. This will ideally allow employers to not have to sift through as many applications as they might otherwise have to.
June 19, 2008
Craigslist isn’t just one site, or it is, depending on how you look at it. Craigslist offers (usually) free classified listings, and has geographically targetted sites aimed at most major metro areas in the US and around the world. Most city sites have 3 categories where PHP jobs would be listed “Software/QA/DBA/etc”, “Web/HTML/Info design and “Internet Engineering”. While it’s a valiant effort, it’s not a distinction that many employers can make, and so many general “web” positions get placed in one or more of these without too much consideration for the finer distinctions between “Software development” and “Internet engineering”.
The Craigslist value is one that I’d initially dismissed a few years back. *Most* positions were freelance only, or with much smaller companies that were simply looking to save the cost of putting an ad on monster.com. That doesn’t seem to be the case today as much. In some markets, Craigslist charges to put up an ad, but it’s cheaper than competing services. In many markets, it’s still 100% free to post Craigslist job ads. A side-effect of this is that there’s more recruiters using Craigslist than other sites. Not a bad thing, but something to be aware of.
Another weird aspect of CL is that anonymity it affords the poster. Almost every poster chooses to have their email address anonymized, so when you reply, you’re replying to a completely unknown entity. If the poster doesn’t put the company name in the post, you’re almost applying blind. It’s an odd position to be in. It’s hard enough to write an intelligent response to someone’s post when you don’t know the company.
Compounding the problem further, some people just can’t write. I believe monster, for example, will have people help you write your ad, so your money isn’t completely wasted. No such hand-holding on Craigslist. There’s more than a fair share of job listings which look like they’ve been written by a fifth grader, and sifting through the junk postings (even those that were well-intentioned) takes more time on Craigslist than it does on other sites.
But it’s not all bad! I’ve actually found posters on Craigslist to typically be more responsive. Well, I might just be measuring the ones that responded! I typically use a tracking URL to my resume so I can tell when each recipient visits my resume site (or if they do). Usually I have a view the same day, sometimes the same hour. I haven’t seen that level of consistency on other sites. Bear in mind, though, I’m primarily just dealing with the Raleigh, NC Craigslist - your experiences will likely vary greatly based on the market you’re in.
Craigslist offers RSS feeds of your search results, so keeping up with new postings can be pretty easy. It’s also pretty easy to write your own spider to search and find what you’re looking for on Craigslist. I’ve written one before, and may republish it here if I get time (and/or if there’s any demand!)
What’s your experience with using Craigslist for job hunting?
June 18, 2008
Hey there! If you’ve got a question about the PHP job market - either as an employer, job seeker or freelance contractor, post it here. Or email me at email@example.com. Or perhaps you’ve got a question about my recent book - the PHP Job Hunter’s Handbook. Again, feel free to drop me a line via email or directly here. Thanks for dropping by!
June 16, 2008
Dice.com is one of the old standbys. It’s been around forever, and typically has a fair amount of listings, though I’ve found the job listings there to be sometimes very ‘recruiter-heavy’, if you know what I mean. That’s not necessarily *bad*, but personally not my cup of tea.
Dice is a technology-oriented job board, though there’s still plenty of what you might consider ‘non-tech’ jobs listed (accounting, for example, though I know accountants use technology!) Searching for PHP today, for example, I get 2575 jobs listed, but as I can only see 30 at a time, and I can’t page to back easily, I need to take their word for it that all of them are PHP related. A downside of “PHP” as a word is that when searching, systems often pick up the “php” in a URL in a posting, totally skewing the results. Even if they don’t have 2500+ PHP listings, Dice generally has enough to keep you busy.
Dice offers an RSS feed of your search results, but from what I can tell it’s not as flexible as the Indeed.com customized RSS feeds. For instance, jobs aren’t sorted in whatever format I was sorting them on the main site - they’re just a feed of results.
Like some of the others we’ve looked at, you have the option of searching for ‘telecommute’ only positions. Unlike other sites, this option is buried a bit below the surface. You’ll need to run an ‘advanced search’, then click the ‘telecommute’ checkbox at the bottom of the screen. Definitely unintuitive, but once you know where it is, you’re good to go.
June 13, 2008
I’m somewhat surprised that I can talk to people in 2008 and they still haven’t come across indeed.com. If you’ve not been in the job market for the past 2-3 years, it’s possible. However, if you’ve been in the job market and aren’t aware of indeed.com, you owe it to yourself to check it out right now.
Again, we’re looking at a site which doesn’t have a specific focus on PHP, nor indeed even web development. Indeed.com is a job listing aggregator, taking postings from numerous sources around the web and making them searchable from one location. Just entering “PHP Raleigh, NC“, for example, will bring up a large listing of PHP job listings in and around Raleigh, sortable by ‘relevance’ or ‘date’. You might be forgiven for thinking you’re at Google, between the spare graphics, white/gray/blue color scheme, Google ads on the site, and all around spartan appearance. Who knows? Perhaps Indeed wouldn’t mind being bought out by Google.
An interesting feature is the ability to grab an RSS stream of any search you do. I can grab the RSS feed for the “PHP Raleigh, NC” search above, put that in my reader, and be kept up to date with new jobs that match that criteria. While not mind-blowing technology, not every job board offers this sort of approach to incorporating new technology in to the process.
Posting - you don’t post directly to Indeed.com. They harvest sources from around the web. If you’ve posted on one of the other major boards (CareerBuilder, etc) it’s likely that your post will show up in Indeed.com as well. There are some APIs you can use to feed in your job listings directly, but it’s not as simple as just filling in a form and having your data injected immediately. Use of the APIs to add job listings to your site is encouraged, if somewhat limited in what they’ll allow you to do with them.
(Note - I’d previously asserted that Indeed indexed Craigslist, but was in error. The post was updated to reflect this new information).
June 12, 2008
Crunchboard.com is one outgrowth of the popular TechCrunch.com blog, whose family of sites include MobileCrunch, CrunchGear and TechCrunch UK (that I know of). TechCrunch itself is extremely popular among early adopters and “cutting edge Web 2.0″ types, so opening a branded job board was probably a natural extension for TC to get in to. With so many readers also involved in startups and new development, many of them will likely need a way to find like-minded developers. At least, that’s how I imagine the thinking went.
Like AuthenticJobs, CrunchBoard isn’t exclusively a PHP job board, but does have a good proportion of its listings relevant to PHP developers. At this writing, there are 87 job listings, and a search for PHP returns 18 - about 20% of their listings are PHP-related. I’ve found the job positions listed were a bit more heavily skewed towards the California region than some other boards. That might be because I’m not noticing it with other boards as much, or because there’s simply more PHP development jobs in California. Given that TC is based out in CA, and many of the sites they write about are also out there, Crunchboard itself may have a slight CA bias that isn’t as noticeable in other boards. This is just supposition on my part though.
As with AuthenticJobs, posting to Crunchboard isn’t free. It’s a flat $200 per listing - cheaper than some services, more expensive than others, depending on your needs. Given the TC audience and readership, a posting here is likely to get you someone more up to date with current events in the web tech world. Whether that’s a good thing or not is up to you and your needs.