It has been a while since I last posted to Brown PHP.  My life has been going through a large transition recently.  I just landed a new job (more on that later), and moved because my wife also accepted a new position in a different location.  If that were enough of a stressful environment, I have been re-factoring the Informative Post over the last month trying to get it ready before I begin my new job.

Enough about my own struggles, lets focus on the topic at hand.  Michael Kimsal’s new book,  PHP Job Hunter’s Handbook.  I pre-ordered this book a few months ago, and read the PDF version all the way through before I received my hard copy.  Not a big deal, but makes me regret ordering both.  I guess I can just add it to my collection of PHP temples of knowledge!  In this post, I, Douglas Brown, will be reviewing the PHP Job Hunter’s Handbook and giving a fairly detailed review of my own experiences.

First, let me begin by talking about the author, Michael Kimsal.  I am a subscriber and active listener to his podcast at WebDevRadio.com, from which he discusses current events in the web community, and not just PHP.  He is a well respected PHP contributer with a wide array of knowledge with many different languages.  I find him always willing to help another PHP member in need , and he recently started his own PHP job listings board to also help the PHP community.

What the book covers:

  • Finding a Full Time Job
  • Training and Certification
  • Contracting and Freelancing
  • Applicable Technologies You Should Know
  • Interviewing Tips and Tricks
  • Advice from Those Doing the Hiring
  • Advice from Fellow PHP Developers

It wouldn’t be extreme to go as far as saying that the book covers too much territory, but for it only being 106 pages, it’s a fair conclusion.  He mentions that this book is not meant for advanced PHP programmers who have been around the block a time or two, but more targeted towards beginners, to help them get started.  The book fits the bill for that purpose.

Does it contain any useful information?

It doesn’t give to much information that could overwhelm a “noobie” PHP programmer, but it does give just enough to help them get started.  I for example, have never had a professional PHP programming position.  I do this for my hobby.  What I do professionally is C and C++ programming.  So you can understand why I love PHP so much.  I did get quite a few nuggets of information from the PHP Job Hunter’s Handbook.  I got a few PHP job listing sites that I have never heard of to add to my bookmarks.  Also what types of information that the HRs look for when going through PHP cover letters and resumes.

So like I said above, I was able to absorb a lot of information from this book that I had no knowledge of previously.  However, there is also a lot of knowledge in here that can be picked off the web faster than opening a book.  It’s nice that it has been grouped together for a quick reference if needed.

What is missing?

The only two things that I would have liked to see in this book would be a whole encyclopedia of example PHP cover letters and resumes.  Don’t get me wrong, with all the information that he provides in the book, you can easily make these out for yourself.  This is a Job Hunting Handbook however, and I found it lacking that it didn’t contain any of these in the appendix or somewhere.  If added in the next Rev, 2 or 3 of each would improve the book to give new PHP programmers something to go off of when they are compiling their own.

Would I recommend this book?

If you are new to PHP and don’t know where to find all the great places to find jobs, and information, absolutely.  If you are not new with PHP and you already know where to look for PHP jobs, and what employers are looking for when in search of an experienced PHP programmer, probably not.  Like I mention before though, Mr. Kimsal did not write this book for that audience.

Did it help my job search?

It did and it didn’t. :)   I did find a new job, but not in a PHP position.  I also never really had that much time to do all the different techniques that Michael Kimsal recommended to help the search.  The new job I did find was a Software Engineering position working with C and C++, which are my bread and butter.  I’m sure that I learned something from this book that helped me land this new job though.

I hope you got a better understanding about what to expect if you yourself are looking into a PHP career and would like a little help finding that first job. Maybe sometime in the future, I’ll be approached by a company offering a PHP postion that is too good to pass up, but until then, it’s still my hobby! If you have any questions, please feel free to leave comments. Take care!