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The article about Google using an algorithm in its search for better employees got me to thinking about what makes a good programmer-type employee?

If you read the job ads (I am looking for some short term contract work at the moment so it's relevant to me) you would think the perfect employee knows nothing but technologies X, Y and Z, has good verbal and written communication skills, and is willing to be work for peanuts. Yet some of the brightest programmers I have known or worked with were often times irritable, had poor communication skills, were capable of learning 12 new technologies a day and wanted to be paid well. Yet other programmers I have known and respected were completely the opposite.

Most of the average programmers I have worked with have been pretty poor at not only learning and applying new technologies but even going slightly beyond their comfort zone in the areas they are supposed to know.

It is odd how the job ads (and talking with recruiters as well) seem to indicate that all the client will accept is precisely what is written in the job request. If you do manage to get hired, you find the actual job and the people you work with bear little or no resemblance to the initial demand.

Of course there are jobs where you need to know X, Y and Z and nothing else, and the environment never changes, but I think the reality of the software industry is that everything changes.

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