20 October 2019

#035 - Jack of All Trades, Master of None

It's an honest phrase that I'm convinced would not go down too well with the HR team when reviewing your job application, never mind during a job interview.

However, the reality is - if someone is SO good, they wouldn't be applying for a 'regular' job in the public sector. Instead, that top-notcher would likely reach out to a Fortune 500 company or become an entrepreneur and pursue their great ambition.

For organisations and establishments within the public sector, soft skills typically trump technical skills.

When I was revising my curriculum vitae recently, I chose to scrap my list of 'skills' which consisted of a shopping list of software and technologies that I have used in the past. Instead, I chose to weave these worded technologies and software as part of my descriptive duties and responsibilities throughout my given roles.

I shared in last week's reflection that I also made the effort to update my non-disclosed portfolio website. I say non-disclosed, because I don't advertise it freely. I like my false sense of anonymity on the Interweb.

I have also been deliberate to NOT reveal my source code for my personal side projects in the form of a GitHub profile link. The reason being is that I use private repos on GitHub. And at the time of writing, I am not involved in any open source projects. However, it doesn't stop me from using open source technologies to create working solutions and viable prototypes.

Nonetheless, I will happily disclose the web links to commercial projects that I have been involved in. I personally believe this is typically what prospective employers care about (i.e. work-related projects that they can contact your referees to confirm your involvement).

I am not afraid to share my source code of my personal projects with prospective employers ONLY if they take a genuine interest in my self-taught knowledge and practical skills in software development. For an advertised technical role, you do hope that the prospective employer will explicitly request to see your code and/or projects. My only personal annoyance with my side projects is that I have been weaving a secondary project in the form of a custom API and it's something that I am experimenting for a potential commercial product.

I also have a pet peeve about technical roles for organisations and establishments within the public sector, because there are hardly any technical or practical tests. Why is that?

Why should a candidate appear to bluff their way in verbal conversation, when it's easier to test them on the spot and ask them to code a simple program (or discuss the intricate code of their portfolio project), or sit with someone from the interview panel in the form of pair programming, or browse through a team mailbox, or study a project design brief, or respond to live tickets and queries in a real-world environment.

It is my long-term personal ambition to work for a specific multinational company with the view to work alongside smart boffins and creative individuals and contribute to assistive technologies and educational tools for all users.

Perhaps I am setting my own bar too highly as I scope out a very niche but important role, but I would rather use my skills for good and make a positive impact in life. I hope to pilot such prototypes using open source technologies, which I will likely target for 2020. My only hindrance is accelerating my foundational knowledge in JavaScript and C# to achieve this short-term goal.