Industry Experience

I don’t get it. Why do so many jobs and contracts seem to insist upon having experience in a particular industry when, in the overwhelming majority of cases, the specific industry in which we work has no bearing upon the nature of our work.

I have worked across many industries, but each time I talk to a recruitment agent I get similar questions: “Have you worked in X industry?”, “I won’t put you forward for Y unless you have worked for Z”.

It’s the wrong question. Have I worked in Media? Investment Banking? Accountancy? Property? Logistics? It doesn’t matter. No, really. It doesn’t. I have worked in all of those industries and a few more besides, and the nature of the industry was largely irrelevant. A friend recently suggested that you need Investment Banking experience so you understand the inordinate bureaucracy and dreadful boredom that come with working for an Investment Bank. A little unkind, but I know where he’s coming from.

What is relevant is the type and nature of systems with which you are working. Are they mission critical? Zero downtime? Very High Transaction rate? Enormous Data Warehouses? Hundreds or Thousands of databases? These questions have relevance. A high transaction rate OLTP in a Bank is very similar to a high transaction rate OLTP Web Retailer.  The challenge with these systems is a different to that of an enormous data warehouse, but it’s still fundamentally an RDBMS. Data is data is data. We don’t need industry experience – it doesn’t help us in the same way as it helps Business Analysts or Project Managers or even Developers.

The recruitment problem for DBA’s is that recruiters don’t know the difference between OLTP and Data Warehousing; a large proportion simply keyword match (the great ones don’t! – and there are genuinely great recruiters out there, in small numbers) so you need to ensure you have all of the relevant keywords on your CV – I have even been asked to amend my CV to put Word and Excel on there! WTF? Unfortunately you also need to be careful, otherwise you’re probably getting job adverts sent through for Cobol Programmers, Websphere Guru’s and all manner of support and helpdesk staff. I removed IBM Assembler Programmer from my CV about 10 years ago, although I suspect there are not too many jobs left for that skill set now.

UKOUG Management & Infrastructure SIG – New Date

To blatantly steal this post from Martin Widlake, as I’m Deputy Chairman of the SIG, and I’m also presenting:

I ought to just mention that the UKOUG Management and Infrastructure SIG has moved from Tuesday September 20th to Tuesday September 27th (so two weeks from today). It had to be moved as we had a bit of a problem with the room booking. It will be in the usual venue of the Oracle City Office in London and is, of course, free to members of the UK Oracle User Group. {If you are not a member, you can come along for a fee – but if you are interested in coming along to see what a UKOUG Special Interest Group meeting is all about, send me a mail}.

So, if you fancy some free information about:

  • Getting the best out of your intel hardware (and BIOS in general) {Steve Shaw from Intel}
  • The latest on Oracle GRID and OEM {both presentations by customers not Oracle, one by Niall Litchfield and one by ‘Morrisons’,though Oracle supported us very well by finding one of the customers!)}
  • A presentation and discussion on Outsourcing by Piet de Visser
  •  A consideration of how deep into the technology real-world DBAs need to go to solve issues (Martin Widlake and myself)
  • An Oracle support update

Well, register for the event and I’ll see you in two weeks!

A little rant about DBA’s

Well, a while ago I was doing some interviews for a client for a Production support DBA. This was for a short term contract to look after a few systems while the incumbent was off doing more interesting project work. The thing I discovered was the absolutely dire level of knowledge displayed by the interviewees about Oracle. Things that I regard as fundamental to the understanding of how Oracle works were simply unanswered.

Q: What’s the difference between and instance and a database?
Q: What does “nested loop” mean in an execution plan?
Q: Name the memory areas within an Oracle instance.

Several candidates answered these either very badly, or not at all. Not at all? Any you say you’ve been working with Oracle since Oracle 7 and you can’t answer these questions? You have been working with Oracle for 10 years and you can’t name the PGA? or ANY components within the SGA?

If you are reading this blog, I suspect that you know the answers to the above questions. You’re the sort of person who spends a little of their own time doing research. I don’t think the questions are demanding (or are they? please tell me they are not.) Who actually hires these people? Are these chancers and charletans deceiving everyone, or just deceiving themselves.

And they were all OCP certified. How? And how little does that certification mean in reality. A tick on a CV / resume to get it past the box tickers in HR and agents.

You know, I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed in the lack of professional standards that you sometimes come across in our industry.

(Note: this post has been delayed to protect the guilty)

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