Red Flags in Software Developer Job Descriptions

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For some reason I’ve been reading a lot of job descriptions for junior devs lately and that has naturally left me with an inordinate number of opinions. I have, with great effort, condensed them here for you, dear reader.

The following aren’t pulled from any specific listings because these types of awfulness transcend the individual - and because that would be dickish. But their spirit should ring true to anyone in the trenches of the job search process.

“Wordpress Developer - Degree + 10 years experience required”

This is not to dunk on Wordpress but - it is not the LHC. There’s a certain amount of inflation to be expected when it comes to job requirements (you should always cut the number of years asked for in half when considering applying somewhere) but people get ridiculous. Rigorous compiler work is not a prerequisite for building a shopify theme. In addition to being a potential tell for a demanding workplace culture in general - or a complete lack of technical understanding on the part of leadership - inflated expectations can set you up for failure.

Those the gods wish to destroy they first call promising.

“PHP Contractor - 2 Months”

Short, time-bound, contracts can be a great stepping stone for a young developer, or a good stint for a freelancer looking to focus on one project for a while, but they can also be sources of ennervating, aggravating legacy work. And the presence of a lot of contractors employed on short terms can also be indicative of a short-termist culture: There’s a natural inclination to burn through people that way, because of the financial and organizational incentives.

“Early Stage Emmployee / Technical Co-founder / Person to Make My Thing”

Being a technical co-founder or “First Engineer” often means that someone has a brilliant, unicorn-level idea and they just need that tiny part of the entire product / platform / paradigm-shifting technology to be built by someone technical (like you). Ideas are incredibly cheap. Don’t invest significant effort unless there’s compelling market validation, great compensation, or both.

“Technologies: Coldfusion + jQuery”

Your job search shouldn’t be driven by what’s fashionable in tech, but popularity and the market for a skill are important factors, since they influence a career track’s employability and profitability. The market for Coldfusion devs isn’t too hot (or even a thing) and jQuery simply doesn’t have the complexity or potential power of a full JS MVC. Companies advertising outdated stacks open you up to the risk of building the wrong sorts of skills, which can have far-reaching effects on your career.

These have just been a few of the red flags that I’ve encountered, but there are many and more every day. Just like in any relationship, one red flag might be offset by a redeeming trait or focus (maybe?) but in a certain variety, or combination, it becomes too much to ignore.

And you deserve better!