I'm no rockstar, you're not Google, and that's ok

| 3 min read

The IT sector is known for using hype and various superlative about developers: things like "Java rockstar", "Wordpress Guru" or "Front End ninja" can frequently be found on job posting, even from "serious" companies.

On the other side, companies tend to present themselves as "disruptive", "market leader", "world changing" or "future unicorn". Every job is to be taken at an "incredible" company, with "very competitive" salaries as a "unique opportunity".

I used to find that childish. I think it's actually harmful and that it needs to stop.

It's harmful to developers

Despite what some people seems to believe, development is not a gift given by god to the worthy nor an arcane knowledge requiring incredible and unique capabilities.

It's a skill set that can be learn and taught to pretty much any one (to certain degree - but that's true of all skills) - the same way you can learn to fix your bike. The outrageous salaries that we can get in the industry are not linked to any specific importance but to some very basic economics (ie: supply and demand).

By hyping us as "rockstars", the company is putting unreasonable expectations on the delivery - they want greater than life "heroes" able to "save the day" - which means than when they are going to get, "me", ie a human being with good and bad days, good and bad ideas and a capacity for mistakes, they are probably going to feel it does not fit the bill - no one does.

The "hero/rockstar" rhetoric has a second problematic side - it tells the story of individuals winning (or losing) on their own, removing any responsibilities from the system (ie: the company), how it is setup, etc.

Most bad development I've seen did happen under bad circumstances - from unclear or changing requirements to imposed deadlines to previous bad technical decisions. Pushing the "hero" narrative is starting a narrative of the employee having the full responsibility of the win or the fail (well, of the fail at least).

So: development is a skill, and being a developer is... a job. You know, like other people are postmen or truck drivers or finance analysts.

It's harmful to companies

Positioning every company as "disruptive" or "future unicorn" (saw that on actual job postings, I'm not joking - I wish I was, but I'm not) is also putting unreasonable expectations - there on the candidate side. This would mean a real unique place of work, plenty of growth opportunities (after all you are going to grow a lot, right?) and Google like salaries & perks (right?).

Most companies are not offering anything like that - this message is a combination of basic boasting, lame attempts at showing themselves as different (by saying what every other company is saying) and possibly preparing staff for the "hard work" needed for such a spaceship.

This will inevitably lead to employee insatisfaction, which itself will lead to people leaving (if/when they can) or doing the bare minimum.

So: your company will probably not "disrupt" the world nor being the "next Google". It's just a company. Hopefully it do sell enough so that it can pay its employees. That's a already a nice success.

Let's get back to earth - it's not that bad down here

I'm no rockstar - I'm a guy doing programming as I generally like it and making it my job as it put food on the table. I try to do my job the best I can, knowing I have good and bad days, tasks that I love and others I dislike and so on.

Your company is not Google (Google is not that great for all people anyway) - you are a profit driven structure trying to get enough money to live and maybe even expand at some time, hopefully without killing your employees.

You don't offer me an "incredible opportunity" - you propose to pay for my time and skills for a while. If things go well, we may make a bit of a journey together, I may grow in skills, responsibilities and salary and you may get more value from me.

That's a less fancy story, but a more honest one.

You and me are not that "special" - and that's ok.

Opinions? Let me know on LinkedIn!