Programmers are a commodity… right?

A month or so ago I noticed a quite odd advertise on the billboard just outside the department I’m working at KTH, going more or less like this:

C++ junior programmer wanted!
SQL, Javascript and Actionscript a plus
Call 0123 for more info

First two things that came to mind were recruiter fail and man, this guys must be really desperate to put an ad here. Now, while the ad isn’t odd in itself, the place where they decided to hang it is certainly not the most suitable at the campus: the department is purely humanistic and there is no chance on earth to find a programmer over there. Well, except me (maybe they know I’m working here! Creepy! :-\ ).
But then I was even more staggered when, after a couple of weeks, it was replaced with the following:

Flash/actionscript programmer wanted!
No working experience required
Call 0123 for more info

It might have meant two things: either they found the guy the wanted and now they’re looking for an additional flash dev or (my bet was on this one) they couldn’t find anybody and they decided to aim lower. I knew I betted on the right horse when yesterday the ad was replaced once more:

Offering internship!
Do you have any experience with HTML/web site building?
Call 0123 if you're interested!

Fellow developers, shouldn’t we all start to charge more?



  1. Nathan · March 19, 2010

    Programmers are a commodity.
    Lawyers are a commodity.
    Managers are a commodity.
    Dentists are a commodity.

    Experts are not.

    In any given field, probably 80% of the practitioners can do an adequate job and at least complete the tasks required by their position. In my experience, that number narrows to about 40% if the requirement is that the job is performed on time, on budget, and performed correctly the first time.

    The question for the employer is simply whether the task at hand requires a “cog” or an expert. Most businesses require both.

    • andreadallera · March 19, 2010

      Agreed. But: I don’t really know exactly what these guys are looking for, still I’m pretty sure (because of the ads) they’re having an hard time finding it. I won’t say programming as a profession is special, because it’s not, but from my experience even finding just a good coding “cog” is a huge win from the employer’s perspective.
      What I think it happened is that those guys went looking for somebody “ready for industry” into the university, and they hit the wall. I know a lot of very, very smart guys that are studying CS: I’m sure one day they will be awesome hackers but they will need a lot of experience under their belt before they can provide real value to a “real world” project.

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