[A picture of private offices at Fog Creek Software] Alert! This ancient trifle retrieved from the Joel on Software archive is well-past its expiration date. Proceed with care.

Joel on Software

27

by Joel Spolsky
Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Reminders:

  • Thursday morning I'll be giving a free lecture at UC Davis
  • Friday evening,  7:30 PM, I'll be meeting up with a huge group of Joel on Software folks at Au Coquelet Cafe, 2000 University Ave. at Milvia, in Berkeley, California. Tell them you're with the "Joel" group.
  • Not in California? I'm working on a Fog Creek open house in New York Real Soon Now.
  • Anywhere else? Join our Meetup group and hang out with other Joel on Software readers in your city on Wednesday, February 18th. So far 28 cities in the world have hit critical mass (5). The London group is already up to 29 members!

In the meantime entertain yourself with some of Rory Blyth's inspired comix.

This one's a riot: "Ooooooh! I know! We could print out the data, scan it in, and then paste the image into Excel!".

And some disclaimers:

  • The remark yesterday in tiny print could not possibly be homophobic, because I'm gay and thus granted automatic diplomatic immunity from all charges of homophobia.
  • Putting spaces in front of commas is really not that bad, but I stand by my claim that it's not very professional looking, and, merely as a point of information, at least on the resumes I get, this particular error occurs on 37% of cover letters from people with Indian names and 0% of the cover letters of people without Indian names.
  • Anyway talking about punctuation is really, really boring, so please let's stop.
  • There's nothing like 100,000 incoming links from Slashdot to uncover those rare people without a sense of humor... but you can't tell people, "no, it's a joke, you just didn't get it" because the one thing common among all people without a sense of humor is that they inevitably think they have a very good sense of humor; your joke just wasn't funny.

In the spirit of the escalator

The number one best way to get someone to look at your resume closely: come across as a human being, not a list of jobs and programming languages. Tell me a little story. "I've spent the last three weeks looking for a job at a real software company, but all I can find are cheezy web design shops looking for slave labor." Or, "We yanked our son out of high school and brought him to Virginia. I am not going to move again until he is out of high school, even if I have to go work at Radio Shack or become a Wal*Mart greeter." (These are slightly modified quotes from two real people.)

These are both great. You know why? Because I can't read them without thinking of these people as human beings. And now the dynamic has changed. I like you. I care about you. I like the fact that you want to work in a real software company. I wanted to work in a real software company so much I started one. I like the fact that you care more about your teenage son than your career.

I just can't care about "C/C++/Perl/ASP" in the same way.

So, maybe you won't be qualified for the job, but it's just a lot harder for me to dismiss you out of hand.


Have you been wondering about Distributed Version Control? It has been a huge productivity boon for us, so I wrote Hg Init, a Mercurial tutorial—check it out!

Want to know more?

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About the author.

I’m Joel Spolsky, co-founder of Fog Creek Software, a New York company that proves that you can treat programmers well and still be highly profitable. Programmers get private offices, free lunch, and work 40 hours a week. Customers only pay for software if they’re delighted. We make Trello, insanely simple project management, FogBugz, an enlightened bug tracker designed to help great teams develop brilliant software, and Kiln, which simplifies source control. I’m also the co-founder and CEO of Stack Exchange. More about me.

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