With iron pen and with lead

Family portrait
Family portrait

My family was here for Christmas. My mother and father and brother joined my husband and sons and I in the cold turning of the year. Puzzles were solved. Puddings flamed. And even in the cold of New England winter, my mother and brother would put on their coats and boots and go for a walk.

A statue from Lindenwood.
A statue from Lindenwood

I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed the walking and talking. We took long turns around the Lindenwood Graveyard, where I walked when I labored with my youngest son. In between pointing out my favorite gravestones (Yes, I know it’s weird that I have favorite gravestones. Whatever.) we talked. We talked about family history and lore. We talked about my brother’s new call and pastorate in Denver. We talked about the boys and how they were growing. We talked about my sister and her family and how we missed them.

“You know,” my brother said “Some people think I must not care much about my family, to be willing to move so far away from them.” We laughed.

“Well,” I pointed out, “We four families do now live in all four continental US time zones.” I can see where someone who counts on proximity and constant familiarity would look at the facts of our family and think us unloving and unconcerned. Nothing could be further from the truth.

And then we turned to Job. I’m reading the Old Testament in my Humanities Book Club. This is the club that brought me Herodotus and Thucydides. We’re on year five and semester three. Semester three includes selections from the Old and New Testaments. It doesn’t say, in it’s lovely calligraphy, just what the selections are.

So as the resident Christian, I was nominated for the picks. What do you select? If you need to give a cultural grounding in Christianity based on readings of the Bible, what do choose? What do you leave out? Do you follow the lectionary and disavow all knowledge of Chronicles? That’s where the really good stories are! You must read Genesis, of course, but can you understand modern conservative Christianity without Leviticus? Of course there have to be the Psalms. And if you don’t read Isaiah, the New Testament will feel more random than ordained.

For the first session, I decided to stick to the Pentateuch. That led to a long discussion on whether God was in fact cruel for hardening Pharoah’s heart. It is an interesting thing, as a born and bred Biblically-saturated Christian, to start from scratch in explaining the God of Jacob to someone who has never read the Bible, and is starting at the beginning. The Old Testament God is much harder than we remember in our Sunday School lessons.

So after that, I had to tackle propose that we tackle Job and Ruth. Ruth because Ruth is the very definition of faithful love, in my book. Job because I love Job, and I think that Job speaks to one of the great questions religion must answer: why do good people suffer and bad guys do well?

That’s what I talked to my pastor mom and pastor brother about there on the hill between the tombstones. Job, and what Job tells us in his hard but beautiful poetry.


Oh that my words were written down!
Oh, that they were inscribed in a book!
O that with an iron pen and with lead
they were engraved on a rock forever!
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that at the last he will stand upon the earth;
and after my skin has been thus destroyed,
then in my flesh I shall see God
whom I shall see on my side.

Job: 19:23-27

As I explained to my mother and brother, what I love so much about Job (in addition to the words which are some of the best poetry in the Bible) is that it takes that great problem of understanding WHY God chooses to do what He does, or why there is suffering… and basically replies that the answers are beyond our understanding. Thane said to me the other day, “I wish no plants would ever die, mom.” I look at the glory of a flower, and I understand it. Isn’t it sad that the daffodils fade in the matter of days? That the glory of the spring lilacs is so fleeting? But do you not, fellow grownup who has studied any part of biology, understand that if no plant ever died… the entire planet would cease to function and we along with it? Well, perhaps so does God look at his creation and understanding it in a way we cannot, and sets it upon courses that we, with all our wisdom, cannot understand.

Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind: …
“Has the rain a father,
or who has begotten the drops of dew?
From whose womb did the ice come forth,
and who has given birth to the hoarfrost of heaven?
The waters become hard like stone,
and the face of the deep is frozen.”

Job:38:28-30

In other words, “What do you know about any of it? Nothing!” I find that liberating. I don’t understand because I can’t understand because I am not actually God.

Grey and I were recently watching NOVA (again – the third episode) and it showed how the universe was at its most orderly at the moment of the Big Bang, and with entropy comes increasing chaos and unpredictability. I found myself struck by the thought of an omniscient, omnipresent, immortal presence. After a certain amount of order, the first few eternities, wouldn’t you be tempted to create a moment of chaos – of free will and chance – out of your order just to be delighted for a moment by the joyful and chaotic complexity? It does not mean you do not rejoice in the daffodil’s bloom – to the contrary – but autumn is a marvel too.

So this I explain to my kinfolk.

“Well,” pronounces my brother, “I always thought of Job as the ultimate book of messianic prophecy.” (This earned him a say-whaaaa? My earlier snippet aside, there’s not a whole lot of Messiah going on.) “Job,” expands my brother, “when he accuses God of being an unfair judge, wishes that there was someone who could argue his side against God. “There is no umpire between us, who might lay his hand on us both. If he would take his rod away from me, and not let dread of him terrify me, then I would speak without fear of him.” (Job:9:33-35) “That right there is what Jesus does for us, and what grace is for us. Jesus is the umpire, and grace is the taking away of the rod of judgement.”

Huh. Ok. Cool!

“You know,” says my mom, “Job was never my favorite book.” And we talked instead of the New Testament, and the calling of Christ, and how hard it is to pick hymns when you need to get the bulletin done.

We walked together, hands in our pockets and breath glimmering in the moonlight, and were a family headed down the hill and back towards home.

My family’s two pastors at my brother’s ordination. The bald one in the middle and the lady standing next to him singing.

Back in the saddle again

So I went back to work today. My extensive period of absolute leisure came to a close. Of course, it was significantly impacted by having no daycare on Monday, and Thane having a “vomit every 12 hours stomach bug” for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. But oh! The Tuesday!

Ah well. Isn’t that how it always happens? I did not program a DROID app. I did not clean the attic. I did not finish transferring things to the new computer. I did not conquer Mt. Laundry. I did play a bunch of FABLE, do three PT session, get excused from all future knee-related work, make a gourmet meal and take care of a sick little boy.

Anyway, I’d forgotten how darn tiring newness is. Everything was new today. New routine, new kind of commute (bus! at least until the T cancel it!), new worries (will I make the bus?), new failures (didn’t have enough money on my Charlie Card because the bus is an express, forgot my Kindle and really needed to have headphones for online training but didn’t), new people, new cultural expectations. Phew. New is hard. But I think once I get past the new and into the rhythm, this is going to be a pretty cool thing! Heck, their first expectation for me was to get a fully functioning IDE up and running on my computer. Niiiiice. I’m back, folks!

My Second Career

We 30-somethings have spent our lives being prepared for a working life that looks very different than our parents’ and grandparents’. I remember when I graduated from High School hearing that a person my age could expect to have seven careers over their lifetime. Of course, at the time, I had no clue what one career I might pick. In retrospect, I had a blithe confidence that whatever career I ended up doing would be awesome and I would be awesome. Perhaps I would be a wealthy scholar, of um, something. Ah, the hubris of youth!

I went off to a fine fine liberal arts college and got my incredibly useful double major in English and Medieval Studies. You’re almost holding your breath waiting for the cold reality-bath that I seemed destined for at that moment, aren’t you?

But…. my esoteric studies in Wind Instrumental Ensembles in Italy from 1450 to 1620 had inadvertently inspired me to get some useful skills. (NOTE: That’s actual heritage 1999 HTML going on there folks! AHAHAHH! I’d forgotten the Web Rings! Those were all the rage….) I’d built on this experience to have, by the time I graduated, roughly 3 years experience doing websites. This was in the year 2000 (pre-bust), when very few people had more than three years, and anyone with a pulse could get a programming job. That’s exactly what I did.

I tell this story nearly every time I have to explain to someone how an English/Medieval Studies double major ended up programming.

The entire first decade of the 2000s I spent on variations on that theme. I learned a medium-niche programming language called ColdFusion. I got pretty good at MS SQL Server development (coding queries, etc.). I can do an inner join with the best of ’em.

Across three separate jobs, I kept trying to move from programming (which I was unexpectedly pretty good at at) to a job that required talking and writing. If you were to draw up a list of the things I’m best at, talking and writing are probably right up there. I once won $1000 in a contest doing impromptu speaking on the Constitution. I am unafraid of presentations. I like meeting people. I like talking. I’m a rampant, unrepentant extrovert. And I spent ten years programming?

So in February I got this new programming gig in a totally different language (which I didn’t know) in a much larger company (going from a 16 person company to a 6,000 person global company). There was talk of the “succession planning team” (which I think must be mythical since I’ve never heard of it since). I thought that maybe this was finally time for me to break out of the code-mines. I’d become… I dunno… a project manager! Or maybe manage a small team of coders?

Since then, it’s been a whirlwind. I did to a tiny tiny bit of programming in that new language — exactly one function. Then I suddenly got assigned two large, really large, projects to manage. And we got acquired. And I got moved around. And suddenly everything I thought I was working towards I got. Bing! Your first genie wish arrived!

Holy cow.

This is it. I’m into my second career. There are no IDEs in my new career. I do not write code. I am expected to know a bit about all the acronyms and be in depth about none. My key skills are multitasking, interpersonal relationships, paperwork, fantastic note-taking, question-asking and presentation-giving. It’s a moving, spinning target with words that I thought were generic buzzwords suddenly taking on terrifyingly specific meanings. I am the one who tells people how we take an idea and make it happen. I have to update the budget. I talk a lot about making sure we’re in alignment.

I am learning so very much. I flip between terrified and excited. I don’t even know how to talk about what I’m doing. Do I sound bombastic and self-centered when I talk about the people, the politics, the circumstances of my job? This new career is of the kind that can suck you in and demand your entire personal life if you let it…. how do I not let it? I have a gazillion and one friends who are programmers. I could bounce things off them and my husband if I felt out of my depth. I have, well, pretty much no friends who are doing what I’m doing now. Who do I bounce things off? Or do I tie them up tightly and keep them inside? This new career is Corporate with a capital “C”. Nylons and ties Corporate. I have a Blackberry. Everyone seems to have a BMW, unless they have an Audi. How does that relate to my personality and identity… to who I really am?

When I was in high school, I did Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), mostly because you got out of class and went places where you could meet cute boys. I did extremely well at typing (my typing speed is still one of my secret assets). But I could never even imagine myself in the buzzword world of the Keynote Speakers, the swank unreality of plush hotel lobbies with fountains and glass elevators and stultifying conference rooms. Now I find myself wondering if I should find out if there’s a local chapter and volunteer with them.

All this has really shaken me. It’s hard to talk about, because it’s a very good change. Any sort of “working through” this sounds like bragging in my head, so I don’t do it. And I really can’t blog about the specifics because, uh, that’s career suicide and stupid to boot. But work is taking a tremendous amount of my intellectual energy. I come home really tired. I hardly ever have “extra” time at work that I can spend doing things like blogging. You might have noticed by my frantic “Please, at least one update a week!” pace here. I’ve held the line on hours worked, but somehow it seems like my days are even more compressed.

And I still don’t know if I will succeed at this, if I want to succeed at this… what success looks like and whether I’m willing to accept the consequences of success.

Thus my transition from Career 1 (programmer) to Career 2 (Business Analyst).


Have you made career transitions? What career number are you on? Have you found them hard or easy to make? What was your favorite and least favorite career? What did you do when you found yourself succeeding faster than you can adjust your self-image? What’s the biggest career-related adjustment you’ve ever made, and how did you do it?

What I learned from my job hunt

Dressed up for my interview
Dressed up for my interview

So as has become abundantly obvious, I just finished a successful job hunt. This represented the first time I’d actively looked for work in over 9 years. (I was poached for the position I had last. Ah, 2003!) I was intrigued by some of the things that were different now than I remember, I learned a few things, and I got some feedback. I figured that maybe what I learned would be a little helpful.

I should mention that my experience was highly influenced by my location and skill set. I live in Boston, which is a pretty darn good job market. I have a highly technical background with 10 years experience divided between pure programming and project management. For this market, that seemed to be a selectively in-demand skill set. I’m not sure if my advice applies if you’re coming out of finance or manufacturing, however. So your mileage may vary.

1) The jobs available are not online to be found. YOU have to be online to be found. I would say that 80% of the jobs for which I was well-qualified were NOT on any of the job boards. Right now, hiring departments are getting ground down under the weight of all the people who say they’re sending out hundreds of resumes and not getting any responses. In order to counter this, tons of companies who have jobs are not willing to post them on their website or on Monster.com. They simply don’t have the resources to wade through the flood of resumes, 95% of which will not be suitable, that they’ll get if they post anything.

So instead, they are calling recruiters. The recruiters aren’t posting any but the hardest to fill positions. They’re trolling Monster and Dice for resumes. The jobs they’re calling about, you cannot find by yourself. So if you are looking for a job, your first step is to make sure your resumes are on the job boards and are up to date. Change them regularly to look “active”. Be extremely polite to recruiters, and if they call for a job that doesn’t work, let them know what you ARE looking for and ask if they have anything else that might suit you.

Early on, there was a posted job I was extremely excited about. It sounded right up my alley. I applied through proper means. I did research and figured out the email address of the would-be-boss of that position. I used my network to find a back door to get my resume in. I got absolutely NO feedback from any of these three methods. I’m guessing they had either filled it or were just swamped. But the recruiters have consistently called with interesting positions that weren’t anywhere else, and they could only find me because my online information was relevant and up to date.

2) Think hard about your acronym set. I’m a programmer, and my resume is pretty much a laundry list of acronyms. How it works when they’re deciding to interview is that there’s a set of acronyms they need, a set of acronyms it would be cool to have, and the set of acronyms you offer. You almost always have to match the one or two they NEED, and then the rest are a bonus. Initially I was all over my main ones: Coldfusion, SQL, FLEX, Javascript, CSS, HTML, AJAX. I was taken by surprise about which one actually made a big difference in how my resume was approached: SAAS. That stands for Software as a Service. It’s not a technology. It’s not a methodology. It’s really how technology is delivered. But for recruiters, it was an important acronym to match up. For some hirers, they were excited that I had a background in that, since it apparently said something about my background and experience I hadn’t realized. So look around at what you do. There may be some descriptors you haven’t considered that are assets.

3) The interviews you bomb are your chance to get better. I like people. I like learning new things. Interviewing (you’re going to hate me now) was actually a lot of fun for me. Even if you don’t get the job. Even if you totally and completely blow the interview, it is a fantastic opportunity for you.

The first interview I went on, I blew a bunch of highly technical questions, and it turned out that I wasn’t a great fit for their open position. But I consider that interview a total win. Here’s what I did to make it a win.

  • Make friends with the interviewers. You may not match that position, but what about the next one? Or maybe the next company they’re at? Or if you’re ever in a position to hire? Interviews are really a fabulous opportunity to grow your professional network, and shouldn’t be passed up. Plus, it’s a joy to meet new people and get to know other people who do similar things. Look at it that way, instead of being adversarial.
  • Never make the same mistake twice. In that interview, they asked me what I knew about the HTTP protocol’s various methods and to discuss the HXTML specifications and how they were different. I had No. Clue. I got as far as “get” and “post” for HTTP (after having to think for a minute to remember what it stood for!). Then I was asked about security (like SQL Injection attacks), and it became obvious I wasn’t as well versed in that as I could have been. I clearly failed that portion with a big ol’ “F”.

    Now I could’ve argued that those questions were completely irrelevant to what I was going to be asked to do, and that 15 minutes with Google would clear it all up. That would’ve been true. I could’ve been angry to be asked such off topic questions. But what I DID do was decide that while I’d gotten tripped up on those once, I wouldn’t be tripped up twice. I went home and read a book on HTTP. I went online and read about XHTML. And my husband also had a book on Deadly Security Sins in Programming, which I read appropriate section of.

    (If you’re curious:
    -HTTP has eight methods: get, post, put, head, delete, trace, options and connect.
    -XHTML has additional constraints over HTML including: Case sensitivity, requirement for closing all tags, quotes are ALWAYS required around attributes, boolean values must be made explicit, and you cannot have implicitly created tags like head or body.
    -Security is a bear. Obviously you have to be careful not to permit unescaped values into your database which can be executed, but my conclusion is “gosh, it’s hard”. I’d never considered how to make sure that the data doesn’t execute when you read it back OUT of the database!)

    That company actually ended up not hiring me for that position, but tried to make a different one just for me that would play more to my strengths. That didn’t work out, but now I have friends there. It’s a small world. It never hurts to have friends.

    4) Print your resume on nice paper and bring 3 copies. Chances are excellent your interviewer will have a crappily formatted, web-printed copy of your resume done on bad printer paper, which will look like all 500 other resumes currently piling on top of their desk. Printing a copy of your resume ahead of time shows you’re prepared. There’s a tactile sensation that’s a pleasure with better quality paper. I recommend an ivory paper so there’s not mistaking you went out of your way to make an impression. (Also, don’t worry too much about length. My resume took 3 pages because I have 3 pages of experience to talk about. That didn’t seem like a problem. If I’d tried to get it to 2, I don’t think it would’ve been as strong. After about 5 pages, though, consider eliminating some of your less relevant experience and having different resumes for different skill sets.)

    5) Get to know the person at the front desk, if you can. Best case scenario, they’ll give you information about what’s happening, help you avoid stupid mistakes, and cheer for you. Some particularly smart interviewers ask receptionists afterwards what THEY thought. Worst case, you didn’t spike yourself. The receptionist at the second place I interviewed helped me with some minor issues, and offered moral support by cheering for me and saying he hopes he’ll see me soon. Now, when I show up for my first day of work, I’ll at least start out with a friendly face!

    6) Send. A. Thank. You. Note. Yes, it’s the 21st century. Yes, people have email, Twitter, Facebook, Linked In and text messages. Do it anyway. Step 1, before you even interview, should be to go to a NICE stationery store and buy NICE thank you notes and make sure you have stamps that are not Simpson themed. When you get home from the interview, sit down immediately and write a thank you note to every person whose business card you got during the process. Talk about how grateful you were for their time. Explain how excited you are (if you were) about the position. Close by saying how you hope to be working with them soon. Mention something the two of you talked about.

    It seems super obvious, but especially in technology that sort of formality and politeness can really set you apart. Everyone mentioned that they were very grateful for the notes. I think it showed that I’m the kind of person who knows what the proper protocol is and can execute it quickly and graciously. How I treat my interviewers is a sign about how I’ll treat my clients if I work for them.

    7) Do your research!!! I’m not being innovative on this one. Pretty much every job hunting advice column says this. But it makes a huge difference. I’m pretty sure that the tipping point for the job I got was that I’d not only done research, I’d practically google-stalked them. I had read their employee handbook, was up on their financials and latest products, could talk about their corporate history, had a question about a previous big technology decision, knew my interviewer’s last two huge projects, knew what she looked like, and had done a sample application in the new language they would be asking me to program in. This was particularly great, since I didn’t have a lot of time to review the offer. By the time it came, I felt like I was already part of the team, I knew so much about them.

    The very first question my second interviewer asked was “Why THISCOMPANY?” and I was able to give an essay for an answer. I suspect that was all she was really looking for.

    So that’s what I did. I’m not sure how big a difference the finer points made, but it gave me confidence to know that I was doing the very best I knew how. Good luck to you, in your job hunt!

  • Amusing job posting

    I was just contacted by a recruiter who wanted to know if: 1) I was available 2) I had any friends 3) I knew of any good ColdFusion boards. Striking out on 1 & 2, I sent him the classifieds section of the ColdFusion boards. Just idly looking, if found a job posting with the following. I find it hilarious — such sad and sordid tales the writer must have experienced! Thank God I work where I do!
    ————————-

    Please ONLY respond if you:

    1. Have RECENT experience with Cold Fusion & SQL Server (NOTE: 3 years ago is NOT recent).

    2. Are available to work at least 35 hours per week RIGHT NOW (NOTE: 20-25 is not equal to 35).

    3. Are willing and able to speak on the telephone during business hours, return calls, and you’re able to communicate well in English. You must also have a telephone number at which we can reach you – and not by appointment only. If you object at all to speaking on the phone, please do NOT respond. If you tell us later that you don’t like to talk on the phone or prefer email, you’ll be immediately taken off the job.

    4. Are the type of person who calls the project manager if you don’t understand something in the spec. Making assumptions and doing things your way is NOT acceptable.

    5. Understand that a deadline is a deadline and must be met. Missing any deadline without our prior approval means that the project will be reassigned.

    6. Are familiar with working on sites hosted on web servers of hosting companies AND understand what FTP is. If you’re a programmer and you don’t know what FTP is, we really don’t want to hear from you. Also, if you don’t know where to find files on a web server, you don’t have the experience we’re looking for. Files are not always in the root!

    7. Have a developmental server and computer set up that you can use to work on and the necessary tools to complete the job. You must be ready to start work. NOTE: If you do not have these tools and are willing to work onsite here where we do have the tools, you may still respond.

    8. Are willing to work initially for a short time with no money upfront realizing that you will only be paid some money when we see some work done. (We are willing to pay incrementally when we see an area of the project completed and we’ve tested it to ensure it works. In certain instances, we’re willing to allow you to show us work on your server if you are nervous about payment. While we can’t pay for any entire element while we’re viewing it on your server (unless you give us FTP and database access), we’ll be glad to make a partial payment once we see that portion working properly and then pay the balance when you move it to our server. We’ve been burned too many times. We realize you may also have been burned but we do want an ongoing relationship with you. We’re a business and we’ll sign a contract with you ensuring payment.) If you write code that doesn’t work properly, we can’t pay for it. You are welcome to take it with you as it’s of no use to us and we don’t want it.

    PLEASE DO NOT RESPOND IF:

    1. Any military body you were in erased any part of your memory which now prevents you from remembering the spec (even if you just read it 2 seconds ago) or when the deadline falls.

    2. You are egotistical, rude, argumentative and/or aggressive — particularly to women. Please go do that somewhere else.

    3. You are a nervous wreck on the verge of a breakdown because: (a) your marriage is on the verge of falling apart and you’re emotionally unstable as a result; (b) your child(ren) scream(s) 23.9 hours a day which makes it too hard for you to work; (c) your wife/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend doesn’t like you freelancing and/or demands that you take care of the baby for 12 hours a day and you think you can do our work before 6 a.m. and after 11 p.m. and still stay awake and conscious and not give us complete and utter junk — you can’t; or (d) any other reason not mentioned. If you need constant handholding and compassion from us in order to avoid having a complete nervous breakdown which you’re always on the verge of, we can’t help you, sorry. We can’t be your marriage counselor, psychotherapist or your confidante. If you need any of the above, please find them elsewhere.

    4. More than 2 projects at a time puts you over the edge with stress about getting them done; whereas less than 2 projects at a time also puts you over the edge with financial worries. We have many projects and we need a person who can multi-task. If you can’t, don’t respond.

    5. You’re the type of person who uses profanity or inappropriate material in naming your variables or in your testing. “Got really drunk last night” is not appropriate in a business environment. Naming variables after sexual organs is also not appropriate.

    6. You believe in abandoning projects BEFORE they are finished or missing deadlines you set for those projects. (Even if you are the greatest programmer on earth, we’re not paying you if the job isn’t finished and finished ON TIME. It’s worth nothing to us otherwise.) If you frequently use excuses for missing deadlines, PLEASE do not respond. We are really not interested in hearing that you need another 2 weeks to complete our 2 week project because: your mother died three times in a year (unless you really do have three mothers — and next time we hear that, we’ll ask for proof!); your unexpected house closing prevents you from working (the closing is NEVER THAT unexpected, we’ve bought houses); you have to go to a wedding at the last minute in another state; you suddenly have to move out of the area; you have unexpected friends from out of town that you need to socialize with; you forgot the deadline and thought you said 20 weeks for the project instead of 2 weeks; you did too many drugs in the 70s/80s/90s and can’t think straight anymore; you thought the deadline was just made up to make you work harder; you had ‘top secret’ classification in the military and they erased your memory when you got out and you can’t remember everything you used to be able to; you hired your buddy to do part of the work and he let you down and didn’t do it; you found out you’re losing another job and feel depressed about it so you can’t work; your wife/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend doesn’t like you working so much and needs to hold your hand while you watch TV for four hours a day so you can’t meet the deadline; your pet tarantula died and you’re too depressed to work; you’re hung over; your sister’s mother’s aunt’s niece’s daughter got picked up by the cops and you need to disappear for 2 weeks; your internet connection died but you’re still able to send ridiculously long emails explaining what happened — you’re just not able to do any work for the next week; you can’t connect to the database anymore because the hosting company upgraded to a different version and you don’t want to download the trial version upgrade because big brother could be watching you; your laptop crashed and even though you have 6 other machines on hand, you’d prefer to rebuild your laptop for the next month than to do the work that we’re paying you for; you forgot that your friends were going to have 3 beach picnics and 4 parties when you said you’d do the work and you completely forgot your aunt’s 61st birthday, your best buddy’s kegger and your husband/wife’s family reunion picnic, and you’d prefer to attend those than get the work done.) etc., etc., etc.

    We’ve already heard all the most outrageous excuses and we’re REALLY NOT interested in hearing any others.

    6. You are a prima donna programmer who thinks that you can do the work your own way, deviating from the specs, and that we should find it acceptable. We won’t. There is ONLY one spec: OURS. Not the one that exists in your head. Not the one you think it should be. Just the spec you were sent. If you don’t want to work on that spec as we’ve written it, then tell us that upfront. But don’t deliver something else. That’s not what you were hired for. It may be absolutely brilliant, but it isn’t what the customer asked for so it’s useless to us and we cannot pay you for it. If you don’t understand something in the specs provided to you, don’t ever ASSUME. Call. If you think something is stupid, CALL. If we say do it anyway, do it. We know the client. We’ve been over all the “stupid” things with the client.

    7. You are not able to comment and document the work you complete.

    8. You believe in bidding on a job for one price and then decide later on that you want more money to finish the work that you bid on in the first place or you think that doing the job is one price, actually making the work live, is another??? PLEASE NOTE: If the specs change, we expect you to want more money. If they don’t change, we WON’T pay you more to do the work you bid on. If you underbid the job because you didn’t read the specs, whose fault is that? It’s not ours.

    9. You do not understand that in order to bid on a job that requires modifying work that already exists, you need to FIRST take a run through the front end of that project and review any existing code. It is not acceptable to later on say that you didn’t realize there were other pages that this needed to work with because you didn’t go through all 3 pages of the project before you bid!!! Nor is it acceptable to say you missed the deadline because it took you longer than expected to review the existing code or there was a learning curve with the existing code. Reviewing the existing code before you bid, solves this problem. I don’t care if you were a DBA for 100 years, no one is so brilliant that they don’t need to review the existing code!

    10. If we have a tense moment or we say that we don’t like the way you did some work and that it’s not absolutely perfect and you’re not the greatest programmer God ever put upon the earth and/or, we don’t constantly stroke your ego and reassure you that you’re wonderful every 5 minutes, you go off and sulk like a baby and when we try to call you to discuss it, you let the answering machine get it, listen to our message and then respond seconds later with a nasty mean email. Be a grown up, pick up the phone and talk about it.

    11. You’re incapable of doing preliminary testing. If an element of a project contains a link to add an item, a link to modify an item and a link to delete an item, then all 3 of those should work BEFORE you say it’s done. If there is an image to be uploaded in one of those links, test it. Don’t say later that it works as long as the image isn’t modified! That’s one of the features of the project! It’s not done until it works!

    12. You don’t understand that a deadline is a deadline. You set the deadline. If you miss it and tell us on the day the work is due, the work is useless to us. No excuse covers that. NONE. If the spec consists of 5 areas and you deliver 3 of those by the deadline, the work is NOT complete by the deadline. Making excuses about how well you’ve done the 3 areas and that you were going to complete the other 2 areas within the next few days is not good enough. You set the deadline. Deliver the work on or before the deadline. ALL the work, not some of it.

    Sadly, ALL of the above situations and examples have happened with other developers we’ve subcontracted work to during the last 6.5 years. We’re looking for someone who is serious and wants to make some money working with us. We’ve got so much work that we’re turning away projects right now because we don’t have the right people working with us. We don’t want to treat you like a kid and certainly don’t want to be your mother or father. Are you a grown up? Can you communicate normally and talk on the phone? Do you want to make some money in return for work? Can you meet deadlines you set? If you are solid and reliable, with verifiable references (your best buddy from high school, your cousin or your girlfriend are not acceptable references), and are looking to form an ongoing relationship with a web development firm and make serious money working for us over a long period of time, we’d like to speak with you. We will provide more details as soon as we speak with you.

    Otherwise, if this isn’t right for you, we totally understand and wish you all the luck in the world.