Tim's Weblog
Tim Strehle’s links and thoughts on Web apps, software development and Digital Asset Management, since 2002.

My (honest) résumé

I’ve got a nice job and I’m not hunting for a new one. This allows me to have some fun writing an uncommon resume – honest and personal. Not the polished, impersonal copy you’d use in a real-world job application. (Please remind me to delete this blog post if I’m actually searching for a job someday…)

I usually describe myself as “a passionate Web developer working on Digital Asset Management (DAM) software.” (You’re not familiar with the “DAM” term? Think image databases and newspaper archives. More in my list of DAM resources.) I do have a passion for Web development, DAM and information management, software architecture, quality, user experience, honesty, communication, and customers. (Not in that order.)

If you want to hire me as a developer, note that I’m not a “real programmer” in the sense that I have no Computer Science degree. Yes, I’ve been working as a full-time programmer (“senior developer” and “software architect” if you’re into fancy titles) since 1997, but in German bureaucracy that’s not always sufficient. It also means that I don’t do advanced mathematics and I’m not passionate about algorithms. (If you want me to sketch a quick sort algorithm during the job interview, I’m out.)

Unlike you probably expect from a good developer, I also haven’t learned a host of programming languages. No C, C++, Java, Ruby or Python experience, I’m afraid. I’ve been intentionally sticking to PHP, SQL and JavaScript for more than a decade now – not because I wouldn’t be able to learn other languages, but because I find it not that interesting to solve the same problem in a new language just for the sake of it. (I prefer solving new problems, or improving existing solutions.) If you need me to work in another language, though, and can pair me with an expert I can learn from, that’s fine with me.

I enjoy exploring related technologies and disciplines: I dived into XML, XSLT, Unicode, LDAP, Nagios, VMware, Solr, Topic Maps, Linked Data, Hypermedia APIs. Tried to figure out how to document software and projects. Managed and implemented customer projects from end to end. I love to communicate so I started using screencasts, Wikis, blogging and Twitter. I appreciate having had the freedom to discover and introduce a lot of these things to our company, and I expect similar freedom from my next job.

I regret not having spent more time working on open source projects. Aside from the occasional PHP bug report and a few small tools I published, I didn’t contribute although most of our software is built on open source.

I have the little-known degree of “Diplom-Dokumentar (FH)”, which is roughly equivalent to a bachelor in information science / information management. This profession is about structuring, researching and disseminating information; I love it. I could work as a newspaper archivist, build taxonomies and metadata guidelines, help researchers find scientific articles and facts, or organize your company library or large intranet. Unfortunately this job market is small in Germany and continues to shrink. (Update: See my blog post Where have all the librarians gone?) But programming was my hobby, so working as a developer to produce software for archivists was something I could identify with.

Being able to identify with the stuff I’m working on is very important to me. I’m sorry, but I won’t do browser games, software for the financial industry or work on ads. If I think your company is offering boring or pointless services or products, I’m not interested as I don’t consider myself primarily a software developer: Code is just a means to an end. My purpose is to help share information and/or creative works to delight or educate people.

What kind of person am I? First of all, you likely want to hire someone younger than me. Born in 1972, I’m quickly growing too old for the German job market. I’m an uncool non-hipster, not drinking, not partying, no sports. Just a family guy. A bit risk-averse and very loyal, so I’m likely to join you for the long term.

And I’m serious about spending time with my family: I want to travel as little as possible. I prefer office hours from 9 to 5, to be home in time to see the kids. Which doesn’t mean I’m not willing to work more: I’m known for working late, on weekends and even during vacation. My customers have got my mobile number and can call me anytime in case of emergency. But I’m doing extra time on my own terms, at home, when the kids are in bed. You let me go home in time and allow for the occasional “home office” day, and I’ll see that the work gets done (unless the work load gets unreasonably high). I’m also not into after-work activities and weekend retreats. (If you don’t value team building activities enough to do them during work hours, why should I?)

If I may say so, I think I’m a good communicator and can explain things well. I’m very empathic and a good listener; I care about people and harmonious relations. Working in a team – tackling huge tasks together, or playfully exploring and validating ideas – means a lot to me. But I’m also an introvert and sometimes like to focus on a single task all by myself. Then I put on the headphones and ignore everyone around me to get stuff done. (I hate working in a large room full of people, by the way…) You’re welcome to drag me out of my cave if you feel I need to spend more time with the team. I’m full of ideas, curious, and always learning. I love taking responsibility and having freedom, and I think I’m a good “manager of one” until you’re piling too much work on my desk.

I can be very patient with customers, and very impatient with pointless meetings and dumb policies. I hate lies. From you, I expect good, humble, transparent, team-driven management in some form of “agile” environment. See my blog for lots of quotes on what I consider good management.

I’ve never been a team leader, i.e. I have no “management experience”. But it’s something I would consider doing, and I often think about my hypothetical approach to leading a team.

How about you? Please send me a link if you dare to publish your own “honest resume”…