So, you need to hire a software developer. Do you know how? Can you tell if a developer actually knows what they’re talking about, or if they’re just blowing smoke?
It’s tough for non-technical people to evaluate technical expertise. Most fall back into patterns of narratives like “They sounded like they knew what they were talking about” and “We seemed to click”. These are great feelings, but they are subjective, and they can lead you to make uninformed decisions.
In this article series, we will take a look at some of the things that non-technical people who need to hire technical people must do.
This isn’t always the case, but many developers have a very visible footprint on the web. Some will have blogs where they write about what they are working on. Others will start and maintain or actively contribute to open source projects. Then, of course, there is social media. All of these come together to give you, the interviewer, an overall picture of the person you are interviewing.
The big three pieces of the profile are as follows:
- A traditional resume
- A LinkedIn profile
- A GitHub profile
Any of these are good for reviewing a developer on paper.
If you are part of a large organization, your HR department is going to be involved in this process. I’ve never found a situation that HR couldn’t make worse. Even if you are not a technical person, you are the expert when it comes to your particular situation and team. Insist that HR send you each and every application, whether they think it meets the criteria or not.
I advocate scanning resumes and profiles. I’ve been in situations where I’ve had 150 applicants for a single position, and there was no way I was going to be able to read all 150 resumes with enough time to interview and hire. The downside of scanning is that you will most likely discard a viable candidate. It’s not optimal, but as with everything, it’s a tradeoff.
You should scan for tools, technologies, and keywords. If you are hiring a junior developer, the tools and tech that they’ve used are not nearly as important of factors as they would be if you were hiring a senior developer. Juniors are not expected to know things; they are expected to be able to learn things.
On the other hand, you should never dive too deeply down the rabbit hole of technologies to use. Scan for the primary language you build with. Do not scan for a specific framework. If you are hiring a Jr developer, you’re going to have to teach them that anyway. If you are hiring a Sr developer, you’re hiring the ability to learn new things. A senior developer who knows how to code and understand REST and Object Oriented Programming can pick up whatever framework you are using and learn to code in the state your team has adopted.
A review of a brief resume will show you the work history. These days, gaps in work history aren’t automatically labeled as red flags, but if you see too many of them, you may want to ask about it. For the most part, the resume will show you whether the person has a work history and the companies that they’ve worked for, and it should also give you an indication of the technologies the person has deployed/worked with.
The resume should give you an idea of the companies that you will want to contact for references. If the references provided by the developer aren’t representative of the companies they say they have worked for, that may be a bit of a yellow flag and a topic of discussion for the interview.
If the resume is longer than two pages, it may not be worth a thorough review. A quick scan for the technologies you use or keywords can help you quickly discard unlikely candidates. Honestly, if the resume is longer than two pages, I usually ignore everything past the second page.
The LinkedIn Profile
I don’t know if LinkedIn has tools available to premium users that help job posters filter resumes, but if they do, look into those. For those of us who aren’t premium members, we can bring up the resume in a browser and start scanning. You can use the FIND feature in your browser to quickly scan for important keywords. (e.g. PHP, Python, Java, etc.)
I do know that many people put a lot of time and effort into building and maintaining their LinkedIn profiles. Once someone has made the cut, it would be time well-invested to go back and review their entire profile to get a feel for the person and the projects they have worked on. However, for the first round, keyword matching is the fastest way to filter–especially if you have a lot of profiles and just a little time.
The GitHub Profile
Unless you have a background in software development, you probably aren’t going to be able to look at the code that the developer has written and decide if it's good or not. You can, however, look at the repositories in their profile and the technologies that they primarily work with. Look for technologies in your stack.
Once you’ve reviewed one or more of these profiles, you should have an idea of whether the person is worth an interview. The whole point of the resume or profile is to pique your interest.
Reviewing technical profiles can be a daunting task for non-technical people. In many cases, you will find your time better spent on other aspects of the hiring process by bringing in someone who knows what they are doing for this part of the job. Gun.io is just the kind of partner you need to get the job done.
We have a team of talent advocates that are all software developers themselves. They know software development and are in a position to review all aspects of a candidate’s profile to help you zero in on the one or two that can come on board and move your project forward.
Whether you’re looking for some temporary help or your next full time developer, let Gun.io help you find the right person for the job.