Do programmers get the respect they deserve?

Technical recruiters give me the impression that their shallow knowledge about the craft of programming almost always is paired with strong opinions about it.

Most of them try to use buzwords, that they read about on the Web or a for dummies book, trying to impress or even evaluate seasoned developers who have spent years in the field.

I recently received an email from a recruiter for a job opening with an interesting to me description so I decided to reply (something that I have not done once during the last couple of years).

I was astonished finding out that all he had to say to me, after going through my 5 pages resume was to point to me to the fact that I did not have much of C++ since most of my C++ experience was in VC++!

I tried to convince him that VC++ is just an implementation, of the platform neutral and standardized language C++, but he did not seem to accept it. More than this, he seemed to have no understanding of the differences between dynamic and static programming paradigms, treating Java as a completely different language from C# in the same way as python or lisp!

Although I made it clear that I had a pretty extensive server side experience, created pattern recognition software using genetic algorithms, neural networks and Bayesian probabilities, spend years developing data base centric applications, he still said that I was looking more like front end developer, since I also have done a lot of it and my resume of course is full of things like ASP.NET, Jquery, php or to go even further MFC, ATL, ActiveX!

I also tried to explain to him, that beyond a certain level of expertise, the programming language or the framework are becoming details in the full spectrum of the skill set of a senior software developer and what it matters the most is his understanding of algorithms, his ability to draw the proper separation line between abstractions and generalizations, his passion to solve problems and more than anything else his talent. Of course from what I understood, my speech did not seem to alter his views and opinions besides the fact that for political reasons he did not confronted me directly.

This reminded me of comparable experience I had in the past, interviewing by one of the top C++ authorities of the world when the very first thing he asked me was a logic puzzle, completely ignoring anything that had to do with my resume!

Of course, I refused to give an answer, stating that although I can see some value in this type of a question, still it is of secondary importance and this type of questions should be asked in the end of the interview after having a good understanding the experience and accomplishments of the candidate.

Needless to say, this was the end of the interview and I still believe I did the correct thing something I will repeat under the same conditions any time in the future.

The conversation I had with this recruiter only asserted my view that the programming industry as a profession has not evolve as it should and programmers are not getting the respect they deserve. Not only outsiders but even people who should have known better. keep on treating us, programmers, as second class (overpaid) professionals whose competence and abilities are easy to be justified by almost anyone, they are easy to replace and always need to prove themselves.

Can you even imagine of a similar situation where the role of the computer program is now played by a medical doctor, a lawyer or a civil engineer? I really do not thing any recruiter would ever try to challenge any of this professionals when it comes to topics related to their expertize.. Unfortunately the same is not true for software developers…

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