Saturday, March 06, 2010

Revenge of flowcharts

My other gripe regarding automated job search application goes towards Texas Workforce Commission. It makes you fill out an enormously long profile that lists various aspects of a programmer's work, and asks you how much experience, if any, you have in each of them. Then it matches you with jobs based on how much overlap there is between tasks you are experienced in, and ones required by the job.

One minor imperfection of the Texas Workforce Commission job match system is that sometimes it sends you email notifications of job matches, but when you login into the system, it says you have no new matches. It's a bit annoying. Occasionally, though, it's possible to find the missing job posting by searching the TWC site. One time I was able to find a .NET developer job it notified me about, but didn't show in my job matches. When I viewed the posting, it said I wasn't qualified for this job. I was surprised, because on the surface there were no requirements I didn't meet (such as programming languages or business areas I haven't worked in). But there is a button that lets you compare your qualifications to the ones required by the job. Clicking the button revealed that I am not qualified because I checked "none" in the profile box asking for years of experience in... creating flowcharts.

I thought creating flowcharts was something my mom's generation of programmers (hi, mom!) did before they punched holes in the cards to feed to a machine. :-) I haven't had to create a flowchart in my entire 13 years in the industry. Well, this job is at a government agency, but still... If they use .NET there, they can't be complete dinosaurs.

And then flowcharts had their revenge on me. I am volunteering for a nonprofit that want developers to do some coding -- for free, of course, but the developers benefit by having something to put on their resumes, learn new skills, make networking contacts, etc. So far I haven't done any coding yet, because project managers (who seem to be overrepresented among the volunteers) are still setting up the infrastructure for the group communication, collaboration, sharing documents, etc. We have not yet written specifications for the piece of software we will be writing, but one of the project managers has created -- you guessed it -- a flowchart of users' expected actions when they login to the website. So... I don't know. The person who wrote it was half a generation older than me, but maybe flowcharts still have their uses?

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