Looking to Hire a MySQL DBA or Developer?

“Why can’t I find an MySQL DBAs or Developers?” This morning I got a message from a very perplexed Human Resources person on why their ads on Linkedin were not getting any results. Several such emails, calls, or messages make it to me each week and I would like take this opportunity to cover this subject. MySQL DBAs and Developers are out there but there are reasons why they are not interested in your job posting.

1. Provide details — “Exciting new position in rapidly growing start up in an expensive city and we want you to know how to program in every programming language, be a recent university graduate (hopefully PhD or higher), with ten years of experience but please be under twenty three years of age. Must prefer stock options and left over pizza crusts over a regular salary. And be flexible.” No, most ads are not quite that bad but several are very, very close.

Spell out what you want — A DBA or Developer is judging you on your ad. Companies that write poor ads tend to have poor mission statements, memos, and other general communication faults. Put in the general requirements such as number of servers, seven-twenty four three sixty five operations, general industry, and what good/service you provide. Then go heavy on what your candidate should have for skills. If you need a Developer to write in Java, Perl, C++, and have a smattering of Javascript as a need state those up front and put your want list later.

2. Be realistic — “Great opportunity in McMurdo Sound Antartica, but no relocation.” If you are in a small market, you need to chase down local and nearby talent pools. Check with local user groups — MySQL, PHP, Linux, etc. Sometimes someone with experience with another database is looking for greener pastures. Check with local schools, consultants, and ASK YOUR STAFF.

3. Grow your own — Does someone in your organization have some skills over lap or, more importantly, an interest in the subject? Training someone already hired may seem expensive because your training budget is cut to the bone but it can be cost effective if you look at the time and costs of drug screens, background checks, on-boarding process paperwork, etc.

Looking only for the pot of gold means you will miss a lot of rainbows.

4. Developers like to develop. Many prefer to maintain or re-factor older code. If you are looking for a bright shining programmer and stick them with legacy code of dubious worth, you will take the shine right of them. Other Developers love to create from scratch. Realistically present how much new coding versus support code is required or you will lose the Developer and have to start again from square one.

DBAs like to admin databases. If your schemas have been de-normalized, broken apart, reassembled, and then de-normalized again but you expect a DBA to wave a magic wand to provide high performance during their first hour on the jobs — you need an attitude adjustment. DBAs can work miracles but having to be Sisyphus ten hours a day will not attract the talent you want. If things have ‘gone to Hell in a hand basket’ you need to mention this in the pre-interview or interview.

5. Do not stick with ‘the DBA, he must’ — Many ads are written using male pronouns exclusively. I am a big fan of the epicine ‘he’ but many ads are written in a way that instantly turns off female job seekers. There are many talented women who want a chance but are not going to single handily battle a Neanderthal group when there is more demand than supply. This is not political correctness — it is keeping you from cutting off a high percentage of qualified candidates.

6. Yes, mention pay scale. MySQL DBAs and Developers are in demand and spending a day interviewing only to find that the jobs pays very low is frustrating. MySQL is not a toy database and going cheap is going to cost you sooner than later.

7. Answer your responses. If someone answers your ad, send an acknowledgement even if it is a simple ‘We got your resume’ reply. Hearing nothing back while their resume makes the circuit of HR, Senior Staff, Project Staff, Junior Management, and hiring managers for a few months will discourage anyone. The candidate will more than likely take another job while you wait for the feedback from the manager who is on an extended tour of the other hemisphere.

8. Target your ad — “The DBA must be able to program in C, C++, C#, RPG, COBOL, Javascript, Ecmascript, PHP, ALGOL, assembler (68000 and 6502), and R” is not going to catch the eye of any DBA. IF you want a Developer who can also admin your MySQL instances, please state that in your ad.” If you want someone to mainly be a DBA but be able to help find fault in code, you need to acknowledge that.

9. If you ad draws ZERO responses, it may be your ad not the group where you posted.

I generally refer folks to the Jobs board on forums.mysql.com and their local user groups. Linkedin is good but some of the various MySQL-centric groups seems to have almost as many HR staffers as MySQL professionals.


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