The cover letter bullshit!

The animal that threatens us is a “cat”. The most dangerous animal there is. It eats meat, children’s flesh in particular. After lacerating its victim with its claws, it devours them with sharp teeth. The face and whole body of the victim.

The father – Dogtooth (2009)
Image from


So, what is a cover letter? A letter with additional detailed information about you, on why you are qualified for the job. You should include specific information on why you’re a strong match for the employer’s job requirements. It actually is a sales pitch of yourself and skills.A cover letter usually, accompanies your resume you send out. Possible employers use them as a way to screen you, and determine if they would like to interview you. Cover letter is from the 50s, it’s an old idea that has to be retired.

So if I match or not will be determined by a piece of paper? Yes and no! If you are not included in the next steps of the process, it will be why you failed to impress them with your cover letter, even if they never met you! On the other hand, if you are successful to the next stage and meet you, they might use your cover letter against you, like in the movies: “Everything you say will be used against you….” Even a spelling error might be your failure!

What you should write in a cover letter, and why it’s pointless

A cover letter is to highlight the qualifications you have for the job: Then why is the CV for? Why should’t I add more details into my CV? And by qualifications we mean what? Technical qualifications? Personality qualifications (team player open minded etc?)

Explain why you want to work for the specific company/organization: The answer is simple. I want to work because I have to make a living, put food on the table and pay the bills. If I were a millionaire I would have other priorities. Yes, yes, I know… We have to strive for excellence, to become better professionals and try to work for the best employers like Google, Microsoft etc. Well true, but are you sure that you really fit into their world? But in order to work for them, you would lie for sure!

Add well formed enthusiasm as a selling point: This is true. I have done it. And is the biggest lie you have to write! To be enthusiastic about what? About their code base that I haven’t seen, the colleagues and the managers I never met, the company’s culture that is completely unknown to me? If I have to be enthusiastic about the job description, the big salary (if there is one), the company’s name or the size, I will pass! What is the point of working for a big company and suffer cause of toxic people around you?

Behind the curtains

Are we completely sure that an HR manager, HR team member, recruiter spends time reading a CV and a cover letter of dozens or hundreds of candidates? I believe not! But I am sure that they use the cover letter as leverage to push candidates more. They don’t want the best ones, but the most obedient ones!

One thing I have never understood is that how a HR person/recruiter knows if the candidate writes the truth or lies in the cover letter? How do they verify that? Also, which are their priorities? How do they evaluate their candidates? What is their evaluation process? Do they have one? And if the do, you as a candidate should be aware of it!

The best way to know a candidate, and a candidate knows the company, is to meet and talk! It doesn’t matter if it via Skype or in person, but there has to be a meeting! Cause in the end what you actually hire, is a personality that has to work well with other personalities.

Enough with the recruiters and the HR circus

I respect every profession, from the simplest one the most complicated one, but under one basic criterion. To offer something to our every day life. HR and recruitment, as it is applied today, is a completely abuse to everybody and leads nowhere.

  • What is the point a recruiter with no IT background at all, asking me IT questions?
  • Who writes the job description? A technical person how probably knows their shit, or a recruiter?
  • What is the point talking to a recruiter that works for a completely different company than the one I applied for? I will never see them again, but they decide my fate.
  • Why can’t I just talk with the people I am going to work with? If they don’t have the time to do it at that moment, how can I be so sure they will spend time later to train me, if I am finally hired?
  • How do I know the recruiter is really a professional who do know their job by qualifying the best (that they actually don’t know who they are) cover letters, and not the ones they like based on their personal taste?


Interviews in general suck today a lot! Cover letter is just part of the problem. Another problem is the online coding tests platforms. But this is for another day. In order the companies to find an efficient way screening the candidates, they ended up humiliating them by adding useless processes besides the interview itself.

I totally respect the interview and evaluation process when is done correctly, and by correctly I mean with respect to the candidate. I want to work for a company, that primary respects me as a person, and then as professional. I am not a soldier at a military campus training and being evaluated daily, and I don’t want to be scared at the same time, that if in the end of the day my results are poor, I am going to be kicked out.


Explaining software to business people, and business to programmers

Dilbert saves the Agile day



Business people are completely different than us. Their point of view is sometimes so far away from ours, that in the end, there might be no overlap at all. Every domain has its own principles, its own constants, and that’s why we must setup a common ground, in order to achieve productive communication and it the end quality software.

My truth, your truth

Before setting up any principles with people different than you, the first step to identify their truth, their principles that lead them to design/build/work. For business people those pillars are for sure two: time and money. Yes, those two! Of course there are more, but but the last square will always be those two. Do you know what programmers hate? Deadlines (time)! Although this sound totally against the every day’s life of a programmer, it is true. And the reason is simple. We are craftsmen, not a factory’s production line. And as craftsmen we have one principal, a principal to rule all the others in software development, and this one is software quality. If your house constructor needs more time to finish building you will him all the time he asked, even under pressure. I am sure, no one of us would live to an half built home.

Communication breakdown!*

So what is wrong? What happens and we deliver bad software? We can’t blame the tech stacks any more. We have powerful languages, libraries, cloud, tasks automation, experience and knowledge to solve almost any known problem in the business world (AI is still on the go). So what is left to check? What is always has been the problem! People!

Businesses do not always define IT services. It’s more a perception question than a size one. And after one is defined, someone has to explain to the IT guys what to do. In all of cases, the IT department has not a clear view of what the business does, and is unaware of the business priorities. A lot of business people, consider the IT department as a black box. They don’t care how they work, they just expect the final result (software) and clients happy! Well, software development is not a vending machine!

On the other hand, the IT department needs to know what the company does. Let’s take under consideration the following example: A company named iBuildBuildings is mixing cement. The cement takes less than an hour to harden once it’s mixed, and it has to get where it’s going before that. A client called in because he was having trouble dispatching the truck and the IT guy says, “I’m going to lunch. I’ll deal with it when I get back.” That’s showing he didn’t understand that it hardens.

No matter how good your software is, or if the server was 100% up all year long, the cement guy doesn’t care about that. Well he should, but in that specific moment, the problem, was not the bug in the software, bug the IT guy who didn’t care about the business needs.

I am IT, can I contribute to business?

A lot of business decisions are made upon IT feedback. Is this good or bad? It depends. If everybody knows their places, their responsibilities, their goals, their limits, the business needs, then probably is good. If not, then we have communication breakdown.

When an IT guy talks to a business one, he has to speak in terms of money and time, not in technical terms.

For example:

A small deliver company that is called iDeliverEverythingAndEverywher wanted to update their smartphones. If the IT department is trying to contribute by talking on smartphone CPU speed, version, OS it will achieve nothing. It has to speak in business terms. To explain that the new smartphones can handle GPS better, and will speed up deliveries.

A lot of times, the IT guys make things more complex and tend to cause more problems in the business, than they solve.

Time is killing software quality, for the sake of money

Everyday thousands, maybe millions, decisions are made in the is fashion. But let’s set the record straight here. Any software that is developed with the wrong people, with less people, with ambiguous or half described requirements, underfunded and with time pressure is gonna suck big time. An application of that kind doesn’t create problems only at the moment, but for the future times to come, by generating a technical debt.

For a company that doesn’t have a lot of time, money or people, any decisions on software implementation must be extremely lean. No one can afford to waste a huge amount of time and money, thinking about processes that give no value to the business or to the clients.

If it is not clear, what the process does and what will offer to the business value, there is no time wasting on thinking about that. Also half solutions must be avoided. They are worst than taking no decisions at all.

Only the processes that are going to have a measurable impact matter. Once the strategy is laid out, you can understand the process, you can see what needs to be worked on.

That is way software development must NOT be a black box for business people. Time and money are wasted on wrong decisions that were meant to be right.



In the end what really matters is to initially understand what is the problem that needs be solved? But processes have not value if the principles are not defined. All parts must contribute, but on the same principles. The goal view must be same and must not deviates influenced by the department you come from.

English language and programmers

The more you know who you are and what you want, the less you let things upset you.

Bob Harris – Lost in translation (2003)
Image from FocusFeatures


For the past, almost, two years, I have been working in H2020 EU projects. In simple terms this means that I participate in consortiums with partners from all around the European Union, so I have to use my English language skills almost every day.

My mother tongue is Greek, so my English is not perfect. But I try, and I try a lot my speaking and my writing to be as correct as possible. I try to improve daily as much as possible, and the reason is simple: I am a professional, and there is no room for excuses!

Usual excuses

  • Lack of opportunities to practice English.You can watch a movie, read a book, or find people online to practice it!
  • Lack of time. This is the biggest excuse ever! Instead of using the Spanish or Italian or whatever translations of a technical manual, use the English version. Grammar, vocabulary, terminology are all in there.
  • Not understanding everything. Well, you understand some or a lot!, So engage into the conversation, make mistakes and improve your English language skills!
  • No one corrects me. Besides the fact that you can find a tutor to support you, practicing and checking now and then a grammar and a vocabulary book will actually help you a lot you to make less mistakes.

The impact

Not improving your English language lead to bad professional impact. It’s not that it makes it more difficult to communicate with your current partners, but keeps you away from the labor market, at least the part of it you are interested in.

I could write down at least three to four examples, of failed communications cause the other party didn’t speak English. And those incidents didn’t occur to a small local city but in the center of Brussels!

And to be totally honest, English is not enough anymore. Speaking languages like German, Chinese, Russian, Spanish is a huge advantage. And the reason for learning those languages is simple: Those languages are spoken to many countries that are markets to services and products provided by the companies you probably want to work for.


Don’t keep yourself out the IT industry, or any industry. English is nowadays part of the basic skills, not the extras. Even I, at the age of the 36 I am planning to take German language courses.

Do programmers suck?

I  can’t rely on my memories

Rachael – Blade Runner movie (1982)
Image frame from the “Blade Runner” movie (1982)


Programmers are people, not aliens. Well maybe not the most social ones, but still people. They carry their own personalities, emotions, culture, and set priorities based on their interests, as everybody else! Why programmers should be the exception? The reason is simple: Programmers work in teams by default, even if it seems otherwise!

They are always part of a team, even if that team is consisted by the sole programmer and the client. Programmers, at least, always need a domain expert who might be a colleague, a supervisor, the client, the product owner of someone else. Of course, those kind of teams are not (always) efficient but sometimes this is all we might get.

The key issue is that programmers are trained to be programmers, but they are not culturally educated to work as team members, nor in universities, nor when in business line. We prefer to work alone, with minimum distractions, we avoid meetings like vampires the garlic, and assembling a team of programmers for a project is not an easy task, at all.

Not everybody want to participate to a team, at least quite actively, and sometimes they might not like their teammates for numerous reasons. So in the end, what we have are programmers as units addressed as a team, and those units only care to make their boss happy, or themselves. Additionally, what happens when we set a team of junior and senior programmers? Without the right principles and processes, that team is going to collapse in no time!

The bad programmer

All the bad programmer types below, that you have read about them again and again, are based on bad attitude, not lack of skills.

  • Don’t just copy paste code. Copy pasting itself is not bad. Not knowing what this code does, and why is bad! If you are not aware of the consequences don’t paste till you are sure.
  • Dirty code. Don’t just write code that works. Write code that is understandable by others, and by yourself after some time. Follow a variables naming guideline, indentation, coding style, avoid fat objects etc (clean code is going to be an article in the future).
  • Don’t avoid testing. Avoid testing is not bad for the project itself, it is mainly bad for your and your colleagues. Testing help us reduce technical debt, fix unpredictable code, remove useless or/and old code if it exists, help us keep things under control.
  • Learn the domain.: Focus and learn the domain you are working on, don’t just develop a feature or fix a bug. Knowing the domain help us write better code, develop the expected, by the clients, behaviour of the system, and utilise this knowledge in the future. Programming without understanding the domain is like shooting in the dark.
  • The rigid programmer. Always learn new languages, new frameworks if needed. Don’t feel side if you have to program using another language. Try leaving your comfort zone, and embrace something new!
  • The super wow solution. Complicates problems ask for simple solutions. Over-engineered and complex code works for a short time and crashes after a while. This adds to the technical debt, and the later the debt it handled, the worse!
  • The not case! How many times we have heard by our colleagues, or even by ourselves the following phrases: “I did’t write this”, “It is not my problem”, “It is not my fault, it is X’s fault ” “I can’t (don’t want to) fix it”. Negative attitude leads to negative responses, so be careful.
  • The wanna be hero. Huge ego is bad for the team. If you are the best and most experienced programmer in the team, do not enforce your personality or ideas to others. On the contrary, teach them, guide them, give them a change to listen and understand you. It’s not your project, it’s the team’s, and the company’s, project. Huge ego is equal to low productivity.
  • Avoiding documentation. Clean code is a must. But sometimes extra comments or documentation are needed. Especially, besides the technical details you have to describe the domain details to add value to the provided solution. Do not forget that one day you might leave the company. What you will leave be behind must be clean, transparent, well described and detailed.

Programmers soft skills

Again, programmers are people as everybody else. And every professional who respect themselves, their colleagues, their bosses, the companies they work for, they must be honest, open minded and modest, they must listen but not speak, share and not keeping to themselves, understanding, supporting and not judging are skills that are needed. Programmers, unfortunately tend to fight like artists. Who is the best artist, whose methodology overrule the others, whose work is most important? No matter if a programmer works as a freelancer, or for a company the concept is the same. You have to play nice, by the rules and with others. Unfortunately, reality is different. Not all programmers have a business culture, nor companies either.

So how do you build a culture? First of all this is perpetual process, and doesn’t complete after a specific period of time. Be honest to yourself and to others and open minded. Read books, watch talks on YouTube. No programmer is perfect, nor in skills, nor in personality.

Always try to work for companies with transparent, crystal clear culture. It’s the best feeling to know since day one what is your role, your responsibilities, your limits, the etiquette, with whom you will work with and why. If things are always blur, or change all the time then quit and find a new job! A long as you allow yourself into a rotten environment, in the end you will rot also.


Unfortunately, a lot of programmers and companies are ignorant and selfish. They think they know something when they don’t, or they have no idea that there is something more to know. This mentality leads to poor project results and in toxic relationships. Many software companies, don’t attempt to improve their employees, their principles, their processes and lot of programmers aren’t willing to improve themselves.

Feeling flexible and taking liberties at work is good, but if the company doesn’t align back you back to the company’s philosophy and principles if you diverge, that both you and the company are not disciplined.