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An open letter to all recruiters

On behalf of all candidates

Posted in Personal life, Business, Misc, Career

Dear recruiters,

Sometimes you call. In this call you offer the supposed perfect job opportunity to work in the outstanding perfect company: The company has amazing benefits, the salary is great and the environment is outstanding.

Sometimes you are serious and focus only about the position. Sometimes you are friendly and love to talk about your dog. And, of course, sometimes we can notice that you don’t want to talk. That’s ok, everybody has the right to be different. And we all have bad days. Personally, I prefer the friendly ones. Only because they make me believe that I am the most special person in the world. And when you call me in my bad day to make me feel special, you totally won. But the serious ones are good too.

There is only one thing: Apparently you have some issues on matching my profile with the job offers you are presenting to me.

Allow me to explain.

Most of the offers I get from you are “C# Developer”. And yes, I know C#. But the problem lies in the field and also the projects. Mostly this kind of position would lead me to work in a company where I will go very deep into C# and never see anything else. For example, some company where I should work on a system to control, let’s say, traffic lights. Would I work there? Maybe. But it's not a good fit.

See, I am a web person specialized on the ASP.NET stack. In my line of work I need to understand a bit of front-end so I can make a good quality back-end, matching them together in a nice result for the client. This is what I have been doing most of my career. If you doubt just check my Linked In profile. Go to my specialties and certifications so you will see that they are mostly focused on web.

But it's alright, I still like you.

I believe it’s not your fault. You might have goals to reach and you might not have enough time to check a a lot of profiles thoroughly. All of this is understandable. And it’s ok for me as I can say that I am not interested in case you offer something which is not a good fit.

But I care about you. I care about the time you are devoting with me and other candidates which are not a good fit for the positions you are presenting. We know that every candidate you interview who is not a fit makes you lose money (time = money). And your company is losing money as well.

So, here is the advice: Try to understand the position you are going to offer and also try to learn a little bit more about the candidates before the call. And don't shoot e-mails crazily about random job offers only because there is one key word matching. It's not about keywords anymore - it's about meaning. Of course, sometimes I would be motivated to change everything. It can even happen that, some day, I will really be interested to work programming for NASA and see my code going to other galaxies.

But not yet.

In my perticular case, I am focused on web. After all, I am a web person. And since I am a web person you can talk with me about websites developed and I will gladly listen to any offer you will present related with the ASP.NET stack.

Sincerely,

Davidson Sousa

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Unprofessional people and the oxymoron effect

Why is it bad to have colleagues like this and how to deal with them?

Posted in Personal life, Workplace, Career, Czech it out!

The first time I heard the word oxymoron was during a job interview in 2010. We were talking about my skills and how it was my previous job when he asked me if I had some difficulties here in Prague, while working. At that time I said that I didn’t notice anything so drastic but, yes, I had some problems. At that time thought it could be culture related since I am from Brazil. When I described which problems he said that I was facing a common oxymoron around here. I asked what is it and he gave me some examples. The last example was “Czech professional”.

Disclaimer: I am not targeting any nationality, but as I live in Prague the percentage of local oxymoron is higher. For sure someone living in a different country will see this pattern in a different nationality.

Oxymoron, if you don’t know, is when contradictory set of words appear in the same sentence. Like civil war, noisy silence, living dead, seriously funny and so on.

The problem I was facing was related with people who were thinking they own the office space and you would break the status quo. We all know people like this, no matter the place in the world they come from. I have 2 examples very vivid in my memory:

  • A person who goes beyond his/her job description and gets activities from other people thinking it’s doing something good, but then blames others when things start to be problematic because of his/her own proactivity (“this was your job!”);
  • A person who treats the office like his/her home and takes everything personally (“I’ll not do anything for him/her because he/she screamed at me last week”).

Of course, there are situations where both examples are in the same person.

When people behave as mentioned above the office starts to become a toxic place. And it’s easy to notice: The team leader (or manager) only needs to pay attention on where is the bottleneck. Sometimes, in some projects, a bottleneck is caused by performance of 1 or more team members. But in a toxic office the performance is not the issue, but the person itself.

If you want to recognize this behavior you should pay attention to:

  1. Self-proclaimed office stars (“Nothing would work without me”);
  2. The one who makes himself/herself busy by getting tasks from other colleagues, and blame them when something goes wrong;
  3. A person who takes everything personal in the office;
  4. The classic apple polishers.

How to deal with them?

If you are not a team leader or manager I’d recommend you to report it. The leader should be responsible for this kind of conversation. But, still, it’s difficult even for the leader as it doesn’t depend only on him. The person should be willing to understand the issues and change. Not everybody has enough self-awareness and also not everybody would be willing to accept that he/she is part of the problem. But as we say back in my country, there is always an old shoe to a tired foot. Which means this person might be a perfect fit in another department or company.

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Leave the office! See what you need to work anywhere you want

Do you know those days you don't want to be in the office? Here is what you need to work anywhere you want!

Posted in Personal life, Workplace, Misc, Tutorials, Career

When I started my career as software developer all I could have was a big desktop computer. It was an Intel Celeron 300 MHz with 32 MB of RAM and a HDD of 4 GB. Such beauty would never let me to have the mobility I am able to have today, although I am still far from being as mobile as I want.

But what do you need to become a “work anywhere professional”?

The basic checklist is this:

  • A nice place
  • Good devices
  • Internet connection
  • Tools
  • Concentration

Now, let’s talk about each item.

Place

The place must be nice, preferably with a table where it's possible to place all your devices (more on that later), and calm unless you have a good concentration level (more on that later). Most of people think of places like Starbucks or McDonalds but, actually, it would depend on the kind of work you do and how connected you must be. For a writer, who doesn’t need to be online all the time, work in the woods would be a nice thing. But for a software developer, who depends on internet connection, it would be a bit more complicated.

Good devices

The very basic is a notebook and a mobile phone with a good data plan. In my particular case I have a 17” Lenovo as main computer and a 10” ASUS Transformer as side computer. If I am traveling or going to a place where I know I will need a computer, I take the ASUS. The keyboard is comfortable enough to write and the touchscreen replaces in a very nice way. In addition, I have Visual Studio Express here and it works fine for me.

Another thing to keep in mind is battery time. My Lenovo can work up to 3h with Wi-Fi turned on while my ASUS works up to 10h in the same conditions. Given that I assume I will not find sockets anywhere I go a good battery time is very important. Not to mention that I can it also to recharge my phone, at least to keep alive for longer time (if necessary).

Internet connection

You have 3 possibilities here: Connect over Wi-Fi, use your mobile data plan and share the internet with your notebook or work offline.

It’s clear that Wi-Fi is the best alternative here. However, you can’t expect to find free Wi-Fi with a good speed anywhere. And I am not even talking about how unsafe that would be. Connect over mobile and sharing the internet to your notebook is to be the best option if you have a good (big and fast) data plan, except if you are on roaming.

Tools

The idea here is to have everything to make the transition from your portable machine to your stationary machine as seamless as possible. Except, of course, for some software you can’t install on both due hardware limitations.

Assuming that you have internet connection, you can make use of tools like a private VPN, online file services (OneDrive, DropBox, Google Drive), online repository (TFS Online, GitHub) and others. As a developer, I consider all of them important, although I don’t have a private VPN. Yet.

Concentration

The best here is to be self-aware: If you know how much concentration you are able to have in the moment you decide to leave the office, you will pick the perfect place for you. For those who can work only in a silent environment a Starbucks would not be the best place.

Conclusion

My case is a very specific one. I love what I do but I am far from being workaholic. But sometimes I need to work on something small or go somewhere where I could use a computer. Today, for example, I started this article watching children play indoor soccer in the morning. It was noisy, messy and I was using my ASUS on my laps. Luckily, that place had a good internet connection and I could save this text in my OneDrive in order to finish on my notebook later.

Keep something in mind: Find balance. It doesn’t matter if you have an outstanding data plan if you are abroad most of the time as you will need to use roaming. Or even, you have the best of everything but you can’t concentrate in a café.

And remember: The best alternative is always the alternative that suits you.

 

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A short story about my return to Czech Republic

What happened in this month of hibernation after my arrival?

Posted in Personal life, Czech it out!

Hibernation. This is what defines what I was doing during the last 30 days. No, I wasn’t in deep sleep like bears… I meant that I toke some vacations from myself in order to make some analysis of the environment here in Czech Republic as I needed to get back on track. And since I spent 6 months in Brazil you can imagine how different these countries are…

The first thing I’ve done after arrive was to get a new notebook. My old one now belongs to Alena but she doesn’t seem to get along well with it. It seems that she has created a kind of bond with her old machine but, after some time, she will accept the change. I hope :)

Another thing I’ve started to do is to try to move a bit more. And since I have a Kinect at home I started playing Your Shape: Fitness Evolved often, in addition to walking outside. I have to confess: The first week was very painful but now everything seems fine. And I feel a bit more alive, less anxious and with better concentration. Maybe I am going to write few articles about this soon. A huge maybe because sometimes I really need an extra motivation for exercises. But I guess my current 91kg are very motivational...

Then we have Windows 8 RTM releasing! Since I am an MCT I could get it on August 15th via my TechNet subscription. How does it feel? Is it amazing? Do I like it? Well, I am going to write kind of review about that in few days but the answer is: I love it! But stay tuned for the review.

So far this is everything what happened during the last weeks. Yes, I know... I didn't do anything so much interesting since I spent 99% of my time at home. We have even planned a short trip to Belgium but, unfortunately, we couldn't go.

Ah, of course... I have started looking for a job while waiting for 2 great things which might happen in few weeks. Whichever seems better (money + environment), I will pick it. But let’s see. Whatever happens I will post here. But probably all recruiters are on vacation around here or, which could be worse, there are really few .NET positions around here.

Stay tuned!

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Carrer move: From .NET Developer to Microsoft Certified Trainer

When the crisis comes it's time to make a career move. That's why I went to the education field!

Posted in Personal life, Career, Czech it out!

There were some changes since the beginning of the year. From the moment that Europe got hit really hard by the crisis I was wondering about my next career move. There was a very low demand of .NET Developers last year and some HR managers even suggested me to move to Java since its demand was much higher. But I didn’t and still don’t want. Nothing against the technology itself, it’s just that I love the Microsoft stack.

Also, if we talk about place to live, Czech Republic isn’t such a friendly country as people might wonder. Don’t get me wrong, the country is wonderful. But if you don’t speak the language you will get into troubles with very simple things. Ok, there are some websites like expats.cz which helps a lot but you can check with any foreigner living in Prague: Czech people seems to complicate a lot their lives over there.

So, the first change was my return to Brazil. Not for life, but for just 6 months. The reason was the crisis – which I have mentioned above – and also invitation from my friend to come to São Paulo and work in a training center with him. Technically I would come to “save his life” as he prefers to teach Database related topics but lately was teaching.NET stuff. As result I am working with him as a trainer at Ka Solution, which is the largest Microsoft Gold Certified Partner for Learning Solutions (CPLS) in Latin America, since January.

As second change I became Microsoft Certified Trainer. Check the details on how to be a MCT here.

I am enjoying quite a lot this routine of trainer. I would say that the main difference between a trainer and a developer is the level of stress. While the developer is constantly under pressure the trainer’s life is much more relaxed. The trainer has, of course, a huge responsibility since he is the one who will share his knowledge with others creating, then, a new set of developers per class.

Of course, I am aware of this responsibility and I guess I am doing well.

Another difference is the money at the end of the month. As developer, generally, it doesn’t matter how much you work as you will always get the same money. As trainer I feel it’s quite fair to get some coins according to the amount of classes I get. If I work a lot, I get a lot of money. If I work less, I get less money.

Until this moment being a trainer is financially advantage for me.

I have to think about my next move. As I am not planning to quit the education area I guess an English speaking country would be quite interesting. England and Ireland are some of the obvious choices. But we will see.

Stay tunned!

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