My friend Aaron over in MCS Federal posted a recruiting blog post a little over a week ago here: http://blogs.technet.com/b/fdcc/archive/2010/10/02/job-opening-app-compat-guru.aspx.

Well, he’s gotten a pretty good response back – with more candidates that look pretty good than the federal team currently has headcount for. So, I started looking around in the Commercial business (which, unlike federal, doesn’t have the same requirements around U.S. Citizenship) to see if we have headcount (I knew we had demand) and it turns out that I can find some also.

So, we decided that we would pool our resources to do a single round of app compat recruiting. If we can possibly coordinate it, we’re looking to get together a big pile of folks doing app compat within Microsoft to run a single, consolidated app compat finals day.

Interested?

Here’s what makes a great app compat gal or guy at Microsoft:

  • Ability to deal with bulk, and help whittle down a large pile of potential problems to a small pile of actual problems and a plan to address them
  • Ability to talk to developers, designers, IT administrators, and business users
  • Ability to remove reliance on a single tool and instead apply a good process to a collection of tools, bonded together with human intellect
  • Ability to persuade people without authority
  • Knowledge of Win32-level details of how Windows works, and/or wire-level details of how IE works – in other words, a general ability to get to the bottom of things

Ah, yes – that last one, it’s a kicker. See, when people call Microsoft for help, they don’t just want someone to set up yet another ACT server, they want someone who can get to the bottom of things. Who, when necessary, is going to be able to whip out a debugger and figure out what’s going on. Someone who intuitively is able to look at a set of baffling symptoms and start narrowing things down quickly.

Those who have been most successful have traditionally spent at least a bit of their career writing Win32-level code in C/C++. Not necessarily in their last job, and not even necessarily for commercial software. But, if you are the sort of person who even tinkers with that for a bit just because you just have to know what’s going on under the covers? Perfect.

But, what’s in it for you? That’s the hardest part of our job. Taking someone who can understand how code and platforms work at that level, and then convincing them to take a job not writing code? Sometimes not so easy. But, for everyone who I’ve talked into this, it’s been a win. The feedback I hear from alums of app compat tours of duty include comments like:

  • “Helped me really understand how Windows and IE work at a very deep level – I’m a much better developer today as a result.”
  • “I learned to think of software as living in a diverse ecosystem, and saw the complexity of managing the next 100,000 installs of that software instead of just the instance on my machine.”
  • “Working with app compat made me appreciate the importance of designing software to last for a dozen or more years, since that’s what seems to happen an awful lot.”

Sound awesome? It’s had me hooked for 5 years and counting. If you’re interested in taking on a challenging position which is in incredibly high demand, further mastering your understanding of one of the most complex app platforms in the world, and coming out the other side a better developer and/or technologist, then let’s get your name in the hat. We’re hoping to get our finals day together soon. Both Aaron and I are specifically aware of US-based positions, but we’ll forward along your resumes if you are elsewhere, as the demand is definitely worldwide.

appcompatguy at microsoft dot com, or use the email me link on this blog. Happy to answer questions or get your name into the hat. Hope to hear from some of you soon!