The Software Engineer

As I go through the process of reviewing CVs for a software engineer position we have open, and keep seeing acronym list after acronym list, I’m reminded of the discrepency that seems to exists between my concept of a software “engineer,” and that of so many people out there marketing themselves as such.

In school, I recall a strong emphasis that engineering is more about understanding and process, than tools or techniques. It’s as much about the practical world, as it’s about the theoretical. It’s about knowing how to analyze and decompose a problem, before trying to solve it. It’s about seeing the big picture, finding sensible solutions to problems that exist in the context of constraints, and understanding that the last 10% of a solution can cost as much as the first 90%.

These aspects are common to all fields of engineering — electrical, chemical, software, etc. — but they seem to be often lost these days in the field of software engineering. That’s why, for me, there’s a clear distinction between a programmer, and a software engineer. And the latter is becoming increasingly difficult to find.

Technorati Tags: business, engineering, software

One thought on “The Software Engineer”

  1. Interesting point.

    Something to keep in mind though:

    I myself have a Computer Science degree with a Software Engineering specialization. After almost 15 years in this industry, most of which have been as a contract developer, I have found that the only way to get my resume through the doors of HR is to put those “acronym lists” on the top of my resume.

    If I don’t, the resume gets filtered out because I don’t have the “right” technologies or experience for the job.

    No matter how many times I explain to recruiters, HR managers, hiring managers, etc that the specifid technology is not as important as knowledge of the theory and process behind software engineering, architecture, or even just programming, I still get the question “but do you have 5+ years experience in xyz technolgy?”

    I believe the problem you’re describing is a symptom of the problem created by the automation of filtering resumes for jobs through software or the outsourcing of recruiting to “head hunters”.

Agree? Disagree? What do you think?

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