Re: "not technical enough"

Subject: Re: "not technical enough"
From: "Jane" <judydh -at- total -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2000 13:56:01 -0400

Thanks, all, for your responses. Also for the contributions on the wonderful
thread about Getting Your Resume Together.

I think a little bit of my technical impression problem is my resume.
Beautifully laid out but it's got a proper three or four pages crammed into
two. Certain things get shirked because their relevancy might only pertain
to a few people whose desks my cv might fly across. So I talk about
accomplishments more than technologies.

I also think a little bit of it is my enthusiasm in interviews. Maybe I
look, in an interview, more junior or more egotistical or less serious than
I actually am. Maybe not, as well, but I know I run the risk sometimes.
Digression: There was a little job that called me out of the blue one day;
they'd gotten my resume off Monster. I went in that afternoon, they asked me
about my experience, they asked me some solid technical questions, they told
me about their company, I told them about my interests, and I got so damn
excited about the match that I grinned like a dork, tossed my hair at least
once, and then when I walked out of there I went up to a chain link fence,
gripped it with my fingers, and bashed my head against it, muttering "I
turned into a Barbie, I turned into a Barbie, I turned into a Barbie". Sigh.
I then went for a coffee with a friend and told them I blew the interview.
Went home and found an offer on the voicemail.

What also annoys me when they say "you're not technical enough" is that a)
they didn't ask me enough technical questions to know the depth of facts I
know, or at least references I can access, or b) they aren't qualifying what
kind of "technical" they mean. There are jobs where I know exactly what they
mean when they say that to me. After all, I can't write on every topic under
the sun. But when I'm trying to get into companies where there's a certain
amount of Java or other software development for a client or standalone
application for a workstation, and they say I'm not technical enough, I feel
like I'm in the same Catch-22 I was in in from spring 1996 until spring

Incidentally, I have a B. Sc. in Biology from 1995. Unfortunately, I haven't
witnessed many purely scientific or at least statistical principles used in
the creation of new products that I've documented, so I'm plum out of luck
in applying my knowledge from university. My degree basically helps me cross
borders, that's all. I also have three years of writing experience, one of
which was in telecom, one in software development, and one in contracting
mostly for web companies. While I would say I'm a beginner in Java
programming, having taken one course, I've done enough in it to converse
somewhat intelligently about object-oriented programming issues. Entirely on
my own, I learned how to do some basic web design, and how to create valid
CSS for HTML documents and also create valid XML documents. Despite this
internet knowledge, I don't want to be a new media type. I like hosted
applications and client-server technology and neato online documentation,
but I definitely get the feeling that hardcore geeks, software developers
and the like, think pure internet, dot-com stuff is a little boring or

If I had stuff to do with databases, I'd learn more of that. I know
principles in theory. The thing is, I'm not technical enough to build web
systems or transactional systems or functioning CVS repositories and
software builds from scratch all by myself. And that, first, takes money,
and second, an idea, and third, some collaboration, and presto I'd have a
company all of my own. Which maybe is where I'd like to go eventually but I
don't want to be a pointy-haired manager; I want a *career path* to get me
there with as little BS as possible.

I don't know what I'm ranting about at this point. I'm not really ranting.

OK, here's the next step: I was thinking through the last round of
interviews (this would be excellent to counteract any non-technical
impressions) that I needed a question sheet of my own to ask my interviewers
about their company and technology. Does anybody else have a canned sheet
like this, or a couple of trusty questions to grill or impress the


who _generally_ keeps her last name off this list out of pointy-haired
manager paranoia!

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