Slinger's Thoughts

August 11, 2009

So how would you rank experience?

Filed under: SharePoint — slingeronline @ 5:18 pm

Unfortunately I am looking for employment again.  No grudges against my last employer, but times are tough, and I understand.  In the process of interviewing for another job however, I have noticed something.  Many employers in a way to gauge how much experience I have, ask how many years I have been doing what I do.  I won’t delve into how someone can’t have 10 years of experience with MOSS, that one seems kind of obvious.  But the value of the experience you have as opposed to how long you have been doing what you do seems to me that it would probably be a better measure. How do you measure the value of experience though?

As an example, a SharePoint administrator might have 6 years of experience, but if all he ever did during those 6 years was manage permissions in a farm, that experience probably won’t be very useful to a prospective employer.  He would likely get more value out of someone who had built a MOSS farm, torn it down, built it up again, customized the whole mess and tailored it to a company’s specific needs, including researching, qualifying and installing 37 aftermarket features in the farm, and trudging through SharePoint Designer to build workflows that automate the most mundane tasks.  Obviously the latter person in the example has more experience, but what if it only took him 6 months to gain that knowledge?  Why isn’t there a way to measure experience other than “how long” you have been doing what you do?  And even then, are you good at doing it?  I have a “Code-Monkey” symbol that I am proud to display on the back of my monitor where it can be seen by everyone.  I have a ranking system in my mind, that I use to describe my skills.  I am by no means an expert, but as far as administering a WSS 3.0 or MOSS farm, I think I can manage fairly well.  You may wonder what the other ranks are in my personal ranking system.  Lucky you, I’m going to let you know.  Keep in mind though, this isn’t necessarily my rank as far as SharePoint administration, more along the lines of SharePoint developing.  I am not a developer, but I have nothing but respect and admiration for those that are, and someday I hope that I can be.

The first part of the ranking system, defines the type or work, be it coding, system administration, network administration, database administration, etc.  Basically I would pick your profession from within the IT realm, and that will define what you do.  The second part of the ranking system would be how good you are at it.  For this example, we will use my experience in coding, just to make it easy.


Someone who knows little to nothing about how coding works. Not that the individual is a moron, but they aren’t likely to understand complex ideas like math and feeding themselves.


Like me, unable to write any code of their own from scratch, but can scrutinize code, possibly determine the coder’s intent, and can “monkey” with it enough to make it useful to themselves.


Probably not very adept at writing complex code, but is able to write simple code from scratch. Able to easily reverse engineer code and rewrite sections of it according their needs.


Can write complex code, but may need to research some aspects if they are unfamiliar. 


Able to convert a vague concept into clear and concise code.  Rarely needs to refer to any reference manual and has best practices memorized and knows which best practices are best to follow and which ones fill up space on technical bulletins.


The Gurus are the mentors, the teachers, of those with lesser knowledge than themselves.   It is also likely that the guru knows more than one way to solve a problem, and all of the solutions will be equally viable.


There is a commercial I hear on the radio for Dos Equis Beer, about the most interesting man in the world, and one of his abilities is to speak Russian, in French.  I thought that this concept would best describe the Code-God.  He is able to write a C# program, in PERL.

So, as far as my skills go, I’m a code-monkey, web-ninja, system-slinger, network-moron. Obviously the skills I described for each rank don’t directly apply to the other disciplines, but that’s ok.  I’m sure that you guys will enjoy trying to figure out what makes each rank unique for each discipline.  I also think that employers would do well to stop asking “How Long have you been doing this?” and ask a better question, like “How well do you know what you do?”  “How long” doesn’t answer the question of what I know, just how long I’ve known it.


1 Comment »

  1. […] I think that there should be some basic common sense that hiring managers apply towards the candidates for positions that they are offering. The first thing is to completely throw out the concept of “overqualified” because there is no such thing.  I want someone to prove to me how someone can be “overqualified.” I know how to prove that someone is underqualified. If they do not have enough experience, if they don’t have a certification, if they can’t prove knowledge of the product or process, etc. As a matter of fact, I wrote a blog post that was semi related not too long ago. Read about it here. […]

    Pingback by Dear Employers, Please explain to me how someone can be “overqualified.” « Slinger's Thoughts — January 10, 2011 @ 8:26 am

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