I’ve been looking at software developer jobs on Seek.com.au and what I’ve found has shocked me. Most of the job advertisements are what you would expect. There’s the usual “must have 5 years experience with X” and “Computer science degree mandatory”. Occasionally you’ll see the jobs expecting candidates with 10 years experience with something that’s been around for 2 years.
What’s shocking is that an increasing number of job advertisements are seeking rock-stars, ninjas or pirates. It makes no sense(Scott Hanselman agrees).
Rock stars, ninjas and pirates are not known for their programming skills. Yet, that seems to be what recruiters want these days. Let’s look at why you don’t want rock-stars, ninjas or pirates working for you.
The Rock Star
Language of choice: Java
Rock stars have one great advantage and that is they’re extremely good at what they do. They know their code back to front, they can make it do things that shouldn’t even be possible. Hire a rock star and you’ll get high quality work.
Sounds good? Yeah, that aspect is. Don’t forget all the other reasons rock stars are famous. There’s a reason that everyone has heard the phrase, “drugs, sex and rock’n’roll”. So unless you want to explain why your new hire is in the lunchroom doing lines of coke with a bunch of strippers, you shouldn’t hire a rock star.
Language of choice: C
Ninjas, like the rock stars are extremely professional when it comes to their craft. Unlike the rock star, you don’t have to worry about sexual harassment lawsuits or drug problems.
But don’t think that the ninja is going to cause you any less problems than the rock star. Sure, the ninja is quiet most of the time, diligently writing code. It’s when the CEO of your rival company suddenly goes missing is when your real problems start. Ninjas are know for their violence and over the years many people have been assassinated by ninjas. In the past it was a lot easier for ninjas to cover their tracks. These days forensic has advanced enough that it’s almost impossible for ninjas to get away undetected. When the evidence of that missing CEO leads right to your office, you’re going to wish you were dealing with the decadence of the rock star.
Language of choice: Python
There’s the ongoing debate about whether pirates or ninjas are cooler. I’ll leave that up to you to decide (if you say pirates, you’re wrong). But hiring someone because you think they’re cooler than a ninja is bound to turn out bad. Admittedly there doesn’t seem to be as much demand for pirate programmers but I have seen it occasionally.
Pirates are the worst choice you can make when choosing which programmer to hire. To start with, pirates are not known for their professionalism, so there’s no guarantee that you’ll get decent work from them. And then there’s the fact that they combine the worst traits of the rock star and the ninja. They’ll destroy your office with their wild drunken parties, all your female staff will be referred to as wenches and anyone who gets in their way will get violently assaulted.
To make matters even worse pirates will take your code, copy it and sell it to your competitors. There’s just no upside to hiring a pirate to code.
Rock stars, ninjas and pirates are cool in their own ways. They just aren’t a good choice when it comes to employing them to write programs. Too much risk for not enough benefit if you actually get what you’re asking for. I’d like to see this silly trend die, but before that I am hoping to see at least one job advertisement for a samurai…