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Jean-Michel (agent double)
Jean-Michel (agent double)

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Your Career Questions... and my Answers

As a writer, I like answering real questions people have because I know for sure that at least one person is interested in what I may have to say.

In turn you may be interested by some of my recent career-related answers.

😇 What Makes Working in Tech Truly Rewarding?

Lots of smart people with a culture of sharing knowledge

🔬 Specialization vs. Generalization: Which Is Better for Programmers?

I'm a specialist in one thing: learning new things, which includes teaching others.

💃🕺🏻 Is it easier to work alone than to work with others?

The tradeoff is that when you work alone, you work faster especially initially, whereas when you work in a good team, you can go far together.

👌🏻 How do I figure out what I am good at ?

Every time I watch people on linkedin and think about it I feel like I haven't had expertise in anything throughout these 5 years

What people put on LinkedIn is a bunch of self flatering lies.

Don’t compare your back-of-stage to everyone else’s front-of-stage

  • Test lots of stuff.
  • If you don't like it, stop.
  • If you like it, do it more.

💨 Describe programming in three words

Build, Measure & Learn

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🦸🏻‍♂️ Coding Heroes: Who Inspires and Motivates You?

It's sad that I can't find it, but there was an article/interview with a lone Google engineer who explained how he was doing the grunt work of keeping Google Scholar alive and making it 1% better. A maintenance task that is not in the top 100 priorities of his company. Meanwhile his colleagues were launching hype soon retired new products and chasing promotions.

He chose instead to make life a tiny bit easier for some of the best minds of our time to produce their work.

That I find inspirational: forget your ego and make an impact by removing obstacles for others to do their best work.

❤️ How and why did you start contributing to Open Source?

Important question because OpenSource had a very profound impact on my career.
At some point, when I was interviewing, people told me "Oh, you are the author of refreshVersions? We use it and it's pretty cool".
And I cannot empathize enough how much this changed the conversations I had with those companies.
Suddenly I was not anymore the incompetent liar until proved otherwise.

But contributing was a long time in the making.
I was interested in the philosophy of open source long before I actually started contributing heavily.
And when I started contributing, I did lots of mistake, like a cloning a repo of perfect strangers, not talking with them, doing a huge amount of work, send a PR and hope for the best.

I gave my tips on how to do things better than that here

💯 What Is Your Greatest (Unique) Strength as a Developer?

As a team lead, I started at my last job to emphatically and regularly say that I didn't have the answers, I merely had lots of practice in turning my ignorance into questions that could then be answered with Google/Wikipedia/My IDE/Whatever.

So during our Slack meetings, I started the habit to share my screen, say "I don't have the answer here but what I would do is to ask me whether xxx, so I would search for yyy in zzz (do it live). Oh here I find that xxx but I wonder if yyy so I would do zzz (do it live). Oh guys I think we have the solution now".

After a few sceances, my colleagues were like "holy shit, I'm now pretty sure I could find the answers myself by using the same method".

IMHO Socrates would have been the best developer of his time

The Socratic method is a form of cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presuppositions. It is named after the Classical Greek philosopher Socrates and is introduced by him in Plato's Theaetetus as midwifery because it is employed to bring out definitions implicit in the interlocutors' beliefs, or to help them further their understanding.

😛 Need a Good Laugh? Tell Us Your Favorite Coder Jokes.

That's a great question, and after reading it, I totally needed to write down my own collection of programming wisdom.

“The three chief virtues of a programmer are: Laziness, Impatience and Hubris” ― Larry Wall,

There are only two really difficult things in programming: cache invalidation, naming things and off by one errors.

UNIX is sexy: who | grep -i single | date ; cd ~ ; unzip ; touch ; strip ; finger ; mount ; gasp ; yes ; uptime ; unmount ; sleep

Some people, when confronted with a problem, think "I know, I'll use regular expressions." Now they have two problems.

There are two major products that come out of Berkeley: LSD and UNIX.  We don’t believe this to be a coincidence.”

Even more at ➡

😤 I want to be $jobTitle but my company doesn't care. What can I do?

My view is simple: Job titles are mostly meaningless.

What is important for you?
That someone has the title of writer, or that she write cool books?

Therefore the question is not what a senior developer is, it is what a senior developer does.

Once you know that, you can do those things long before you give yourself the title. If you feel like it obviously, no pressure. You can lead before you are officially the lead of your team. You can organize retrospective, compare alternatives, think about architecture, train your colleagues, ... long before you have the title of senior developer.


🧐 Which Questions Should You Be Asking at your Technical Interview?

My first favorite question to ask in a job interview is simply

Why did you choose to work here rather than somewhere else?

I never not ask it. Partly because it feels good to turn the tables a bit, but really because it gives you very interesting insights.
Even non answers are interesting, because working there is probably not a good idea.

My second favorite question

Can you tell about a time where you as an employee noticed that something wasn't working well, decided to talk openly about it, and the company changed something as a result?

A great question because we developers are problem solvers, which also means problem detectors, and I don't want to work at places where that's considered annoying.

😓 Sloan's Inbox: Surviving A Job Performance Plan: Is There Hope?

I am on a performance plan and I may be fired, is there hope?

Yes, there is always hope.
It is like a romantic relationship possibly getting to an end.
It may hurt, in fact it usually does, but it never means that you are an inherently bad person
Or that the other person was a bad a person.

The worst case scenario simply means that you were not meant to be/work together.
I have been fired two times in 15 years.
Both time, this had a very positive impact on me after the initial shock.
Not a general rule obviously, but a possible outcome.

That's all for today

Hi, I’m Jean-Michel Fayard.

Please send my article to a friend that needs it.

On my website, I have Careers Resources for Developers, and if that's not enough, you can ask me a question.

Top comments (6)

ant_f_dev profile image
Anthony Fung

I used to be in a team where the turnover rate was fairly high. After a few years, I had been there the longest (other members had come and gone from the company). I mentored the new juniors, helped the new seniors to gain domain knowledge and find their way around the codebase, and helped other teams to debug and integrate their outputs into the main product.

I asked for a promotion to senior, but was declined. I asked in a one-to-one for a list of things that would change their mind. They told me they'd get back to me on that and never did.

I agree that titles are mostly meaningless, but it's disappointing when things you do aren't recognised.

jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel (agent double)

It's absolutely disappointing and that's precisely why it's better to be cynical about them and consider them meaningless.

danbailey profile image
Dan Bailey

That's when you move on and find a job that will value your work.

freddyhm profile image
Freddy Hidalgo-Monchez

The Socratic method is my go to technique when a junior developer asks me for help. That "ah ha" moment when they realize they found the solution on their own is priceless. Sometimes it's not possible due to time & energy levels, but when it is, the payoff is big.

brense profile image
Rense Bakker

Thats cool with the comment thing, how do you do that? Are they embeds?

jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel (agent double) • Edited

Yes, embed with the permalink to the comment (not the thread).

Feel free to steal the idea like an artist!