Monday, January 09, 2006
I'm not sure why, but lately I have been thinking about my "skill set": those things I know how to do that make me special. In Napoleon Dynamite, the hero brags about his skills: "You know, like nunchuck skills, bowhunting skills, computer hacking skills...". He also makes note of his sidekick's skills: "Well, you have a sweet bike. And you're really good at hooking up with chicks. Plus you're like the only guy at school who has a mustache.".
In interview situations, my skill-set is often an issue. It's not enough to demonstrate that I am a competent C++ programmer or that I know something about Microsoft Windows; many recruiters/interviewers want a very fine-grained description of my skill-set. They want to know how many months I have spent using Active Data Objects (ADO) in Visual C++ 6.0 Service Pack 5 with Windows XP. Then they want to know how many months I've spent using ADO with Windows 2000, which is really the same thing. In such interviews, I suddenly remember an Important Engagement that requires me to terminate the interview. Life is too short to spend it working for morons.
So, here is my short list of "Skills I Have Acquired:"
- computer programming, database administration, systems administration, and all sorts of other techie stuff (my most marketable skills)
- managing a small software-development team
- writing documentation
- giving presentations to clients, potential customers, or upper management
- flying a small single-engine airplane
- handling a small sailboat (and tying various kinds of knots)
- making my nieces smile and laugh (the most satisfying skill I have)
There are, of course several skills I wish I had which I don't have yet:
- driving women mad with desire
- flying a helicopter
- scuba diving (I'm working on this)
- use of firearms
- playing the piano or guitar
- drawing, painting, or sculpting
- skating backwards
Remember the HR weenie doesn't know that those skills are the same. And probably neither does the clue-impaired manager.
It's like in 1999 when HR weenies were clamoring for people with 10+ years Java experience -- a language that had it's first public release in 1995.
Those who had 10+ years in skills easily applicable to Java (eg: OOP design and C++ experience) grimaced and told the recruiter "yes".