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Many advertisements for s/w engineering jobs say , "...we work on cutting edge technologies..."

Once a guy from job consultancy described it like "this company works on cutting edge technologies" . When I asked for what the "cutting edge" technology is , he answered Struts .I was a little surprised .

What defines a technology as "cutting edge" ?

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Nothing defines a technology as cutting edge. It is quite naive to assume every phrase in a job ad has a well defined meaning. –  Kim Mar 22 '11 at 5:11
The people in the marketing department of whatever company produces the technology in question. –  Tim Post Mar 22 '11 at 5:19
@Vinoth: The target audience consists of naive, easily impressed people looking for a job. –  Kim Mar 22 '11 at 5:26
They lied, there are cutting edge technologies and struts definitely isn't one of them. –  tactoth Mar 22 '11 at 9:24
It means they can't afford to pay well, so they want to wave shiny toys to attract recent grads who won't mind the pay if they can brag that they're working with "the latest stuff" and get to throw lots of excitingly chunky buzzwords around. –  TMN Mar 22 '11 at 16:23

9 Answers 9

You need to sharpen your BS detector <;-)

Just skip these sentences when reading job posts or product descriptions. They mean nothing and are formulated by marketing people for the sole purpose to disrupt attention. I once worked with a company that advertised their system as cutting edge but the IDE they used (proprietary language) was so outdated it was no longer possible to acquire a licence legally.

Just see them as you would any advertising, they are all the "best there is" or some other sort of superlative description. Once you skip all the Marketing talk whatever remains will give you an idea of reality. You will notice however that sometimes not much remains as real content. Then you know you are dealing with a "Marketing Driven Enterprise", I usually tend to stay away.

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But seriously, dropping that and going to our scalable cloud based CDN delivered elastic platform will dynamically boost your ROI through virtualizing your conversions by Q3. It's totally cutting edge and really researchy. Did you read the white paper?? (DUCKS) –  Tim Post Mar 22 '11 at 5:56
@Tim: <brain explodes> –  Newtopian Mar 22 '11 at 9:15

A cutting edge technology is at the front of the adoption curve. You're either working with pre-release or technology that has very recently been released. Of course the idea is that you are leveraging this technology to get some kind of advantage in what you do. Technology for technology's sake, while great for resumes is not so great for business.

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Excellent point. I just wanted to add that the term often connotes a degree of risk. You're using the latest and greatest, but you also have to take care not to "cut yourself." –  Karl Bielefeldt Mar 22 '11 at 17:55

This is simply diction to attract prospective employees.

From a company's point of view, they're spending money on advertisements to attract potential software engineers to work for them. The companies play a numbers game here, where the larger the number of candidates they can shortlist, the better it is for them (more choice).

It is a weak, yet subconsciously powerful, phrase that does not mean anything; its main goal is banking on people seeing it is exciting because it looks new. (Any 'technology' can be described as 'cutting edge' because the phrase is relative.)

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Simple. Whatever technology my company is working on is cutting edge technology.

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+1 for making me laugh :-) –  Péter Török Mar 22 '11 at 8:51

it simply means they follow every hype like it's the best thing since sliced bread, and as soon as it hits the inevitable dead end they jump to something else and expect their entire staff to master that new thing in their spare time within a few days.

IOW it's an unstable work environment where you're expected to put in tons of unpaid overtime studying new and poorly evolved things all the time or become obsolete and be discarded.

Now if the company were involved in creating that hype, that might be interesting (e.g. it'd probably have been great fun working with Rod Johnnson to create Spring), but it'd still be unstable.

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According to wikipedia, "cutting edge" represents the forefront, or position of greatest advancement in some field. "Advertising" is a form of communication intended to persuade an audience (viewers, readers or listeners) to purchase or take some action upon products, ideas, or services.

Maybe we should read ads with a cum grano salis ;-)

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Cutting-Edge is out in front of what everyone else is using. The problem with trying to place any real meaning in a job advertisement is the level of understanding of technology of the person who wrote it. If there is one instance of say using a beta version of something, they feel justified in claiming cutting edge.

"We only hire the best people." But that is based on their ability to define the best people. They may feel they are stating the truth, but that doesn't mean they are correct.

Take a look at the source of a web page and you can claim you are familiar with HTML.

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Anything with the word "Cloud" in it ;) No but seriously, "cutting edge" seems almost as big of a buzzword as "Cloud" and "Frameworks" and things like that.

Real Cutting edge technology would be something that vastly improved over something else that was a standard (to me).

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In my experience, it's clue you don't want the job.

If they are lying, then you will take the job expecting to use cutting edge technolgy and find yourself working with VB6 and SQL Server 2000. And that promised upgrade to the latest beta version of the real cutting edge technology is going to happen "next month" which is a code phrase for never.

If they aren't lying to you the situation is almost worse. Often it means a place where the latest thing comes and goes faster than you can learn it and you never get any actual product out the door. This usually means that the job won't be a viable place to work for very long before they go bankrupt and your paycheck bounces. Occasionally there is a place that really is developing the next great thing or using the beta version of it, but those places often don't need to advertise much for devs, they find their new employees at conferences giving papers or selling their books or through people they met at sites such as this.

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