Engineers, Pirates and Job Postings

Software engineering job ads fall into two types: the corporate and the quirky.

The corporate ones are for jobs with titles like “Software Engineer III” or “Junior Salesforce Developer, Full Time.” They’re straightforward lists of skills and attributes, usually accompanied by a section indicating the perks of the company. Perks are usually fun things like 401k matching. There’s nothing wrong with a corporate job ad, just like there’s nothing wrong with the job it advertises. Many of them are a lot of fun and a potentially great opportunity. A corporate job ad usually just indicates the presence of an HR department.

Then there are the quirky ads. These are meant to be fun and to convey the idea that this is great group of people who are great to work with, often in smaller companies. Usually they’re forward looking, with consumer or cloud based offerings. According to the quirky ads, software engineers are either pirates or ninjas.

The emphasis is less on skills and technologies and more on general all-around awesomeness. If you’re interested in working hard but with a lot less definition, these are the jobs to consider. For example, you may spend the morning debugging the database and the afternoon pushing CSS around the screen. Perks include things like breadth of learning experiences and “a chance to change the world,” but probably don’t include 401k matching.

Neither type of job is better than the other. Some people like the corporate jobs, and some prefer the quirkier opportunities.

Which one is your cup of tea? Tell us in the comments below.

No Responses to “Engineers, Pirates and Job Postings”

  1. Tyler

    No, I have done both, the corporate job is better. Trust me. The “fun” job ends up being a 80 hour per week sweat shop. The employees are usually less skilled too, as the smart developers took jobs that pay well and have good hours.

    • Oh pooh. I could turn that around and say the corporate job is the one where you’re a cog in the wheel, never get to explore new technologies, and you’re lucky if your boss’s boss even knows you exist, let alone has plans for your advancement. One of my “low-paying” startup jobs ended up paying off my 5-digit student loans in one fell swoop.

      You’re right about the longer hours and generally younger and less experienced co-workers, though. As the OP says, pick what you like. Nothing wrong with preferring one over the other. Nothing wrong with changing your opinion as you go along either.

  2. Do “quirky” adds actually utilize words such as ninja, and pirate? Somwhere I read that using such words in your online persona is rather like walking the plank, or commiting ritual suicide; it’s a career ender.

    • Catherine Powell

      RMS, sure people actually do use those words in job ads. A quick search found the following examples (all on the company websites):
      – Spotify is seeking a “Software Engineer (Web Dev javascript ninja)”
      – Freecause wants to hire a “Node.js Ninja”
      – ShermansTravel wants a “strong front end ninja / rock stars/ pirate / guru / ”

      Whether you want to use those terms to describe yourself, or want to work at a place that uses those words, well, that’s up to you. I personally think it’s the job ad version of bell bottoms – no one’s going to die over it, but we’re all going to be a bit embarrassed about it in twenty years!

  3. thagrasshoppa

    I *always* refrain from use absolutist phrases when I post online…

    Seriously, both approaches have merit, but at the end of the day, you have to go with what you are comfortable with.


  4. These “Quirky” jobs usually get the low end talent. If you go to work somewhere because they have a ping-pong table in the lunch room you are not too bright. Just saying.