"Many companies will not hire beginners, period," Burleson
However, Burleson said, there is hope for junior DBAs.
Companies that are not willing to spend $120,000 annually for
a seasoned professional will sometimes take rookies and train
them. Burleson suggested the health care industry and
universities as two places that new DBAs should look for that
critical first job.
Government security clearance key for veterans
Then there are the veterans. DBAs who have more than 10
years of experience, who hold advanced degrees and who have
specialized skills are still in strong demand.
Knowledge of Oracle financials, SAP, PeopleSoft, 9i RAC,
9iAS and Unix are qualities that carry weight, Burleson said.
Also, government security clearance is something that gets
many Oracle DBAs past the first round of resume cuts. In
addition, development skills such as Java, Windows, J2EE and
portals lend candidates a competitive advantage.
More important, Reames said, a candidate's skill set has to
match a company's needs. "They really need to have every
skill," Reames said.
"If the job calls for someone with data modeling," she
said, "and I don't see any specific data modeling experience,
I'll discount it."
In addition to specific technical skills, Burleson says,
many companies are looking at educational backgrounds,
preferring to hire candidates who have graduate degrees or
MBAs. Companies value DBAs who have an understanding of
finance or accounting, the business processes that DBAs
Follow-up calls, first-round interviews
For both groups, there are some basic ground rules to
getting through the critical first round of interviews.
Simply getting the resume in as early as possible can help.
With 120 to read, Reames might not see each of them before she
finds enough qualified candidates to interview.
Candidates should call recruiters too see whether their
resume was received, she said. "Don't be afraid to call to
follow up," Reames said. "It may give you an advantage, and we
may not have looked at the resume otherwise."
Applicants who make the first cut are usually interviewed
on the telephone. It's important to remember that the person
conducting the interview may not have a technical background,
Burleson said. At this point, candidates are being judged on
their non-technical qualities. Communication skills are
crucial here, experts say.
Because communication skills are so critical on the job,
Burleson recommended that candidates provide potential
employers with writing samples, preferably ones that have been
published. Several online sites, including this one, accept
submissions of technical tips, he pointed out.
Real techie talk
The handful of applicants who survive the telephone
interview can expect an interview at the job site and what
Burleson calls the "teching" of the candidate. He advises
interviewers to ask specific questions, such as "What is the
default password for the sys user in Oracle?"
There's no faking answers to those questions, and an
interviewer can easily judge the technical skills of the
candidates. "Only a practicing DBA knows the answer is 'change_on_install,'"
Burleson said. "A seasoned DBA can spot a faker instantly."
Then comes the last stage, on-site meetings with a
company's IT staff. These meetings typically last about half a
day, and this is where the potential hires will really be
tested. Sometimes there are open-ended questions, such as
"What would be the first thing you would do if an end user
complains that performance is poor?" The answers to these
questions can be very revealing, Burleson said, because they
don't have one right answer, and they show how candidates can
think on their feet, or how innovative a DBA is.
Perhaps more important, this final interaction is where the
intangibles, like interpersonal skills, are judged. Having a
DBA who is a team player is a priority for most, if not all,
companies. In many cases, the intangibles make the difference.
"I've seen companies reject the most technically qualified
candidate. It happens all the time," Burleson points out.
"DBAs have to be able to play well with others."
Finally, Burleson said, forget casual Fridays.
"It's the kiss of death to underdress for an interview," he
"Appearance does count."