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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Job Hunting in the UK: Exact Match Required

Tip #2: Exact match is required by the recruiter!
Not just the recruiter but the company where the vacancy exists is also looking for an exact match. But the recruiter is usually more selective than the company itself, perhaps because he/ she cannot judge the "ability" to do more than what's written on the CV. So, for example, if the advertised position lists 7 skills and one of them is programming in a Unix environment, and you don't have that skill, there are good chances that you'll never be called.

To my surprise, I have seen advertisements with the words "Java mulit-threading Programmer needed". Didn't mention multi-threading on your CV? Bad luck. Multi-threading is yet another important keyword.

This kind of specialization is partly due to the large pool of candidates available to recruiters here (unless you are from a very niche market such as programming embedded linux in wifi routers).

Since it doesn't make sense to write every tool that you have ever installed (even those which you never actually used) on your CV, you have to be very selective in defining your own profile, and target only those jobs. You can't, under normal circumstances, have experience of CruiseControl.NET and Maven at the same time, for example.

Job Categories for Programmers

Apart from mobile and web development, following are some of the programming job types which are abundant at the least in London:

1. Investment Banking/ Trading: This is the most highly paid job type. The ads usually require C++ and Unix with strong multi-threading and SQL experience along with STL and Boost. So one good profile could be: C++, Unix, Multi-threading, SQL, STL and Boost. In the same category, there are requirements of Java programmers with C++ background; there the "keywords" could be Java, Spring, Hibernate, C++, Multi-threading and SQL.

2. Set Top Boxes: Related to digital TV, this is not-to-be-ignored area, specially if you are a C++/ Java programmer. Usually comes with similar requirements as those of investment banking except, of course, the domain knowledge is difference, and Hibernate/ SQL knowledge is not important.

Technology Stack

Knowing C# is also beneficial for Java/ C++ programmers but only at the Winforms level. Here is a quick review of the technology stack used at most companies outside the embedded systems and web development markets:

1. C++ is used for algorithmic and performance intensive work. It's also used where hardware interfacing/ network level programming is used. It's important to have work experience on Unix, STL and Boost for most of the jobs.

2. Java is used for server side programming. Comes with the requirements of Spring, Hibernate, TDD and SQL most of the time. Did I mention that "multi-threading" is important?

3. C# is used for the client side GUI. Winforms and WPF (and sometimes WCF) are also important. Further, if you are a C# programmer, you ought to know CruiseControl.NET or other CI stuff.


  1. Ouch. The reality of job hunting is very similar in the US for the most. Your experience might differ, but I found that it was more productive for me to search positions I'm interested in than leaving it up to head hunters. It's also been my experience that a company that is looking for keywords in resumes is probably not one where you'd enjoy working.

  2. "Keyword" search is usually done be head hunters. Further, unfortunately, almost 95% of jobs are advertised via a recruitment agency and not by the companies directly here. In fact, you don't get to know the name of the company till the recruiter has short-listed you. Did I tell you that I hate this kind of screening?

    I had one situation in which I came to know that the position was for a gambling company AFTER I had applied and had been short listed amongst the pool of applicants for further processing---thanks to the recruiter for informing me as I am not interested in building gambling systems.

  3. Anonymous12:43 PM

    what about the job market for SharePoint and other MS-server side technology stack?

  4. Yes, there is a huge demand for both. Just that one has to be patient as they need almost a 100% match, and nobody seems to be in a hurry to hire.