It takes skill to write a job specification. My first employers failed miserably
In summer 2004 I graduated from Nottingham Trent University, with a 2:1 in BSc Software Engineering, and thus the next logical step was to get a job.
I couldn’t get a job. There wasn’t much out there.
That’s a lie, actually there were a handful of positions about, and I went to a lot of interviews, but in the now-classic tale of graduate woe everyone wanted a graduate with two years experience, despite that being a contradiction in terms.
Eventually, in October 2004, I succeeded. This was mostly due to the fact that having attended so many interviews I was quite the dab hand at showcasing myself in front of others, and this improved confidence clearly paid off when I was offered a handful of jobs in one week, after months of nothing.
The other day, as I drew a piece of A4 from my stack of re-used notepaper, I turned it over to find that once upon a time it had been the job specification for this very first job. I read it and had a contented chuckle to myself; of all the skills and experience it asked for at the time I had just my degree, Visual Basic and SQL to my name (and good interpersonal skills, that almost goes without saying), so the other 99% of what was listed couldn’t have been that important, and ultimately turned out not to be, as I quickly picked up what I needed to know whilst on the job.
This was 2004, and I appreciate that the art of constructing a job specification has come on a little since then, but this spec was poor, even for then. The contents were utterly uninspiring and irrelevant, and in the spirit of sharing here it is, reproduced in full. Read and mock at your leisure:
Graduate Vacancy Details
Date: 15 September 2004
Job Title: Analyst Programmer
- Software development specific to business needs – determine requirements and provide software that is integrated to Trifid and fit for purpose,
- Technical support – hardware and software,
- Security – backups/operations if and when required,
- IT procedures – maintain, enhance, compliance,
- User training – new and existing software, best practice.
Bull Escala business server, HP/Bull servers, PCs, Dell laptops, HP Printers, 3Com and Cisco network infrastructure, Siemens Realitis and Hicom PABX.
Operating systems and software user
Aix 4.3.2, Pick D3, Trifid Integrated Business System, Windows 2000/Advanced server, Citrix XP thin client, Active Directory, Windows NT, XP, 98, Lotus Notes 6.5, Microsoft Office, SQL, Visual Basic, IIS, Intranet design and maintenance, Arcserve and Veritas backup software, McAfee anti-virus products, Netware 3.2.
Desirable – formal programming qualifications.
Minimum – Aix, D3 Pick, Databasic, Visual Basic, ODBC, Manufacturing.
Ideally – Trifid Integrated Business System, RPL
Willing to embrace new technology, logical, professional outlook, self-starter. Logical, good interpersonal skills required – must be able to liaise with all levels of business system users, analyse business requirements and provide software that is integrated to Trifid and fit for purpose.
Internally with all departments, externally with computer industry suppliers.
- Trifid user training – On-site, sit with each user department for 1 or 2 days,
- D3 Pick operating system (if required) – On-site,
- Databasic (if required) – On-site,
- RPL (if required) – On-site,
- ODBC and Visual Basic (if required) – On-site.