How NOT To Advertise Your SharePoint Position

SharePoint is a monster huge product, so it’s understandable that there is going to be plenty of confusion figuring out what type of position you need to fill to meet your business requirements.

Companies really need to research this more carefully or it is going to be impossible to fill your positions when you advertise like this.  I’m not trying to make anyone look bad here, I am merely trying to highlight the problem in the industry – and it’ s global.  No-one is getting this right.  Companies are confusing the roles between developers, architects, IT Pros, super users, business specialists and trainers.  Determine what you are trying to accomplish on your platform and research what roles will fulfill that.  You don’t need a SharePoint developer to configure document libraries.

I often hear how SharePoint positions stay unfilled for years at a time.  Yes there is a shortage of good skills in this space globally, but posting entirely unrealistic job specs is compounding the problem.

The following random job specs are sourced from Career Junction, IW, Career Web, Pnet and Jobs.  Each has an explanation as to why they don’t work.  And then a couple that do work :

Ok so there’s travelling involved – what kind of administrator? Server, site collection, helpdesk?  What do they have to do, permanent, contract, etc etc.  Nowhere near enough information here.  How do you expect top notch candidates to take you seriously?

If I was looking for that many architects and developers, then there must be a big custom developed project in on the radar.  Surely the most important requirement then would be technical ability, not communication and presentation skills.  Again, not nearly enough information on the specs.

If you’re looking for a SharePoint Associate Consultant, then SharePoint knowledge should be compulsory, not beneficial. If you’re looking for a SharePoint person, then you need SharePoint development skills, not Microsoft developer skills.  What skills do you mean?  There are over 200 Microsoft products. But then it’s clarified a little with the .Net requirements. I fail to see how those degrees can in any way make you proficient in SharePoint, I would rather require SharePoint certification.  They need a developer, not an associate consultant.  That implies a totally different level of interaction with the platform.  This spec comes across as the company not having a clear understanding of what they need.  This could lead to the potential employee being shunted from pillar to post.  Not a very enticing job offer.

They are looking for a developer but want that person to manage the entire environment?  That’s not what developers do, that’s what architects and IT Pros do.  Document library management and changing ownership? That’s something that site collection administrators and site owners do.  Creation of application pools?  IT Pro. Migrating websites?  IT Pro.  Upgrading websites?  Maybe, depends if there is custom development on those sites.  This spec covers 3 completely different roles.

How are developers going to grow Knowledge Management for the business?  You need Knowledge Managers for that, not SharePoint developers.  Web / graphics design is a completely different development competency, as is K2 workflow.  How does that tie into the Knowledge Management plans?  This spec covers 4 different roles and in no way explains what you will be achieving if you take this job.  KM is it’s own specialised field.

Another spec that requires a supersonic human being. Developers are not responsible for network security, network specialists are. Configuring and administering the environment?  IT Pro and architect.  Managing permissions?  Site collection administrators and site owners.  That whole last bullet point – all IT Pro an architect.  Developers are not meant to perform duties like this.  They build web parts, event handlers and custom workflows – the only part in the spec that made sense.

Wow, that’s some training being offered by the company.  I’d like to apply.  Glad it’s a permanent position because that person is going to be there are very long time getting trained up to to do all that.  The only thing relevant to the job title is the development of InfoPath forms. You can’t expect the same person – let alone a junior developer – to do helpdesk support, train end users, manage the servers, implement an ECM solution, and migrate and upgrade the platform.  Once again, all completely different skill sets and roles.  The person they are looking for doesn’t exist.

So What Works?

Yes, perfect.  All ties in perfectly with what they need done.  Comes across as organised and focussed.


Another clear and concise example. Good understanding of their business requirements.

I’d let it slide because the role is that of a SharePoint Specialist, not developer.  There are people that have this range of skills.

Do you see how important it is to get this right?  Do your homework.  Good skills are rare!  If you want to attract them, you have to be worth it.  Having a flaky job spec is not a good start. It’s giving the impression you have no idea what you want or even understand the problem.  Environments like this are red flags to the top skills in SharePoint.

About Veronique Palmer

Empowering people one at a time.
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24 Responses to How NOT To Advertise Your SharePoint Position

  1. Pingback: Top 10 Tips for Success with SharePoint #9 | Doing IT Differently

  2. Handy list by Jeremy Thake of all things SharePoint roles :

    http://www.diigo.com/user/jthake/roles

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  3. Pingback: Top 10 Tips for Success with SharePoint #9 | Chamonix Vue

  4. Brilliant post for recruiters here!!! VERY relevant in the SharePoint space.

    http://gregsavage.com.au/2011/06/22/two-killer-questions-great-recruiters-ask-every-time/

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  5. @ Reece – I can actually not believe you did that. You clearly did not read one word of the post. #Fail.

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  6. Reece says:

    Communicate Personnel is seeking a SharePoint Intranet developer to be based in the North of Johannesburg. Salary Neg .
    Please contact Reece 0116222723

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  7. Read an interesting article on HBR today, hiring companies should keep this in mind :

    http://blogs.hbr.org/ashkenas/2011/05/get-your-moneys-worth-from-con.html

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  8. Sadie, you are quite right. There are more and more people tired of working for big corporates, so this does offer a unique opportunity for people with the fortitude to make it work.

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  9. @Lance – going to disagree with you on “Any CONSULTANT … should have both communication skills and domain expertise in addition to technical skills”

    If you are a single consultant, sure you are spot on, however companies should be careful in that space with the super single person who can talk, code & understands business. IMHO you should be hiring consultants that are in a team of atleast a PM, Dev & Analyst. Not all need be on site all the time, but you need those three roles and between them a good ecosystem of communication can occur. So you can take a brilliant but introvert developer and pair him with someone he trusts in a PM role that can do the communication to him and pair them with an analyst with good business understanding thus providing the best to a customer. This is maybe more expensive (3 people vs 1 super person), but has signficiantly lower risk as knowledge is shared across a team and also helps everyone be better. Not always possible I understand due to budgets, but it is the better option when possible.

    “I disagree that SharePoint-specific development skills should be a requirement. ” – I completely agree here, especially for 2010 onwards. Having good ASP.NET skills is a great starting point for developers and many can be trained easily from that, but that assumes teams (someone needs to train them etc…) and I think if you are looking at smaller team of more super cross skilled people for internal then making sure that they have SharePoint from day one is essential.

    @Sadalit – About your idea “I’m wondering if there’s a tremendous opportunity here for people who want to work part-time”. There is definately aspects that can be done part time and the obvious things like design, development etc… I would suggest you have full time admin & power user in house as those are going to be needed all the time, but the rest can be brought in as needed. It is also important to have inhouse experts when dealing with consultants because how else will you know what they are saying is right unless you hire other people to check the first group… and that is getting expensive 😉

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  10. Veronique, outstanding article with great visual aids! Unfortunately I don’t see this kind of recruiting ending anytime soon, especially for smaller organizations who are just getting started with SharePoint, and who have the need for 4 or 5 separate skillsets (everything from developer to admin to business analyst to trainer) but can’t afford to hire 4 or 5 separate resources. I don’t think it’s that folks don’t know what they’re hiring for – but more that they really feel they need it all in one package.

    But maybe they don’t need all five roles full-time? I’m wondering if there’s a tremendous opportunity here for people who want to work part-time. Thinking of some of the stay-at-home parents I know who would like to get back into the workforce but not 40-60 hours a week. Or college students, or retirees who would be OK with a small income… It would require training and experience of course… just thinking out loud here.

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  11. I generally agree with you. We’ve worked with hundreds of enterprise and mid-sized customers on SharePoint projects, and I would guess that 90% of them are woefully understaffed for all SharePoint roles. Most of the failed SharePoint implementations I’ve seen are staffing failures first-and-foremost. Having said that, I’m a bit concerned that you put a lot of stock in the word DEVELOPER and don’t appear to believe that things such as communication skills or domain expertise (e.g. KM) are useful. Any CONSULTANT working with SharePoint should have both communication skills and domain expertise in addition to technical skills. I advise my corporate clients of the same. It’s 2011…companies don’t have the resources they use to, everybody is over-worked, and the days of hiding a developer and sliding a pizza under the door are long gone. Lastly, I disagree that SharePoint-specific development skills should be a requirement. We have over 50 SharePoint consultants on our team, and over 80% of them came to us with only C# and ASP.NET. A great developer can learn SharePoint. It’s not easy, and does require passion, but teaching SharePoint to a great .NET developer is far easier than teaching communication skills and business acumen to someone who doesn’t believe in either.

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  12. @Rob, thanks for the advice. I’m sure people will consider that.

    @Mizer, too true. Passion is what you’re looking for. 🙂

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  13. Mizer says:

    Nice piece of article..Companies need to understand their environments more concerning hiring someone to put permanent. Its good to learn new things but that has to be backed by passion as well.People wont be forced to be admins when theri real passion is with development or anything else.@ Veronique..good example you made.People think, when one says they know Sharepoint, they know everything about it.

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  14. Piece of advice for people looking who do not understand the difference between an architect, developer, admin etc… get hold of Microsoft Consulting Services to help. Sure they are expensive (I think it is R1 500 per hour) but would you rather spend R10 000 for example and higher the right person or higher the wrong person you can’t get rid of and keep paying R30 000+ a month to the wrong person?

    What can you do with MCS? Well they understand the domain, so they can help craft and specify requirements. You could even get them in to help with interviews or maybe setup a quick interview test to seperate the good & bad!

    BTW I don’t work for MCS or Microsoft and have never done this – but I can’t see why they wouldn’t be able to assist this way.

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  15. @Nick x 2 and Andy – it’s hard to place blame, the recruiters don’t have an easy task either, trying to figure out all this technology. Glad it’s helped you a little though. Have a look on my website for more job descriptions if it will be of more assistance. That way if your clients through unrealistic specs at you, you can maybe bring to their attention that they’re doing it wrong (tactfully of course). 🙂 It could be tricky to convince them of course, but then at least you tried. Also by doing this, you set yourself apart from other recruiters – you’ll be someone who cares and also knows their industry well.

    http://www.letscollaborate.co.za/Resource-Centre/SitePages/JobDescriptionsIndex.aspx

    This issue is certainly a global one and I agree completely that it’s gotten worse. It’s so hard to find a solution for this! I know competition in recruiters is fierce though, so that doesn’t help. I understand the challenges of getting the candidates CV to the client first – but doing that without understanding the job on offer or the skills the candidate has is going to backfire. As is happening all over the world. So really, is it worth it. By taking ownership and Truly becoming a subject matter expert will shoot you to the top of the foodchain. No-one does it.

    @Benjamin – yep, spot on again. And having those one man rockstars is also very risky for companies. What happens if they leave. Quite right about the architect role. The other one that does the rounds is administrator – covers all manner of evils.

    @Gail – wow, really. That’s kinda saddening. I wonder if it’s because all these products are getting too big and making them impossible to recruit for? I donno.

    @Lou – glad I could help! I know how you feel. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called and told “we have a brilliant SharePoint developer job available, are you interested?” Uh, no, I’m not a developer. 😉

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  16. nick says:

    Yes that’s all good sense but so often overlooked by those placing adverts. Either they don’t understand what they are looking for or are too lazy to do it properly. Neither bodes well for those thinking of applying.

    I will certainly remember this for our next recruitment.

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  17. Great post!

    I agree with your points entirely.

    Many companies try and get away with hiring “SharePoint Developers” to fulfil every job role and it just doesn’t work. Another classic is the “SharePoint Architect” with no indication as to whether the role is on the development or infrastructure side (companies normally want the person to cover both).

    Hiring a SharePoint “rockstar” can work up to a point but there comes a time when specialisation is required to do things properly. Anything else is a risky compromise.

    Like

  18. Nick Deacon Elliott says:

    Excellent post!!

    I find this useful as I’m a recruitment consultant that works heavily in the SharePoint market; it highlights to me the importance of an accurate and detailed job advert/description.

    I think that it is crucial to have an accurate job description in order to attract not only technically correct professionals on the market but people that are going to be happy/challenged in the role to keep them motivated daily.

    A problem I come across sometimes is that if the organisation is undergoing a new implementation they often don’t know what they are actually looking for in terms of resource – making it difficult to advertise correctly – that is where you have to be more consultative and advise them.

    And….Richard best of luck to you in your new job. I hope that I explained the job clearly to you – I know that you will have a fantastic future there.

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  19. Great post, we’ve had the same issues here across in the UK for a while now and doesn’t seem to be improving. If anything it’s getting worse with the growth in agencies purporting to be ‘ Sharepoint recruitment specialists’.

    It’s difficult however to pinpoint whether it’s the organisations or recruitment agencies or more likely both who are at fault here – not doing their homework/due diligence before going to print is nothing short of incompetence and is clear evidence of neither party taking the position/need seriously enough.

    Fail to recognise the required mix of experience & skills needed for particular roles will ultimately bring the stability, overall success of your deployment and management therein at serious risk of failure.

    Like

  20. Gail Shaw says:

    So it’s not just SQL Server-related jobs ads that are like this. I’ve seen several SQL job ads for a *junior* administrator (or developer) that I could not possibly do. Heaven help a junior who gets the job,

    Like

  21. Lou says:

    YES! finally some one has tackled this issue dead on! The amount of time I have been put forward for a SharePoint Job, and then it turns out I don’t even have 5% of the skills needed. This is a brilliant piece of work V – I am forwarding to about 15 ppl as we type.

    Congrats on the new job Rich!!

    Like

  22. It happens all the time! I just can’t understand it. You wouldn’t expect ONE person to install and run SAP in a company, why do people assume that with SharePoint? It’s madness.

    Congrats on your new job – that’s they key thing. Know when to get out!

    Hope the post helps your manager understand the problem.

    Like

  23. Totally agree with this. I must admit that I am trying to do every kind of role where I currently work and it’s almost impossible.

    The company who I currently work didn’t get a proper explanation by the consultants that initially installed SharePoint for them about what SharePoint is and what kind of resource is required to keep SharePoint running and progressing. Couple that with the fact that there is only just about enough money for 1 post let alone several and albeit paying way below the market standard.

    I will be leaving here on the 25th May and starting a new position so I have forwarded this blog post to my manager as a good starter guide!

    Excellent post!

    Rich

    Like

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